Detailed Lebanese & Lebanese Related LCCC English New Bulletin For October 30/2018
Compiled & Prepared by: Elias Bejjani

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Bible Quotations
His master commended the dishonest manager because he had acted shrewdly; for the children of this age are more shrewd in dealing with their own generation than are the children of light."
Luke 16/01-08: "The Lord Jesus said to the disciples: ‘There was a rich man who had a manager, and charges were brought to him that this man was squandering his property. So he summoned him and said to him, "What is this that I hear about you? Give me an account of your management, because you cannot be my manager any longer." Then the manager said to himself, "What will I do, now that my master is taking the position away from me? I am not strong enough to dig, and I am ashamed to beg. I have decided what to do so that, when I am dismissed as manager, people may welcome me into their homes."So, summoning his master’s debtors one by one, he asked the first, "How much do you owe my master?" He answered, "A hundred jugs of olive oil." He said to him, "Take your bill, sit down quickly, and make it fifty."Then he asked another, "And how much do you owe?" He replied, "A hundred containers of wheat." He said to him, "Take your bill and make it eighty."And his master commended the dishonest manager because he had acted shrewdly; for the children of this age are more shrewd in dealing with their own generation than are the children of light."

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

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Titles For The Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on October 29-30/18
Lebanese Cabinet to be formed shortly after LF cedes grounds/Georgi Azar/Annahar/October 29/18
Ministry of Justice proves stumbling block in cabinet formation/Makram Rabah/The Arab Weekly/October 29/18
Report: Israel Solf Sophisticated Spy systems To Saudi Arabia/Jerusalem Post/October 29/18
Israeli Minister Tours Abu Dhabi's Grand Mosque Days After Netanyahu Visits Oman/Reuters and Haaretz October 29/18
Israel Has Operated in Syria Since Downing of Russian Plane, Source Says/Noa Landau/Haaretz/October 29/18
Is Canada's Government Funding Terrorism/Tom Quiggin/Gatestone Institute/October 29/2018
European Human Rights Court Backs Sharia Blasphemy Law/Soeren Kern/Gatestone Institute/October 29/2018
Syria's Solution Rug/Ghassan Charbel/Asharq Al Awsat/October 29/18
You Are Not Your DNA/Faye Flam/Bloomberg/October 29/18
Can Iran escape the backlash of biting sanctions/Sabena Siddiqui/Al Arabiya/October 29/18
‘New Europe’ and the ‘mighty people’/Abdullah bin Bijad Al-Otaibi/Al Arabiya/October 29/18
Identity politics and the threat to individualism/Adil Rasheed/Al Arabiya/October 29/18
Ghannouchi, Khashoggi and other goals/Mashari Althaydi/Al Arabiya/October 29/18
Iran’s Economy Is Stagnating Even Before New U.S. Sanctions Hit/Patrick Clawson/The Washington Institute/October 29/18
Impact of Iran sanctions key to future of oil market/Cornelia Meyer/Arab News/October 29/18
Iran’s ‘Resistance’ Bloc Rises amid New U.S. Sanctions/Mehdi Khalaji/The Washington Institute/October 29/18

Titles For The Latest LCCC Lebanese Related News published on October 29-30/18
Lebanese Cabinet to be formed shortly after LF cedes grounds
Hariri receives the Grand Duchess of Luxembourg
Berri meets Duchess of Luxembourg, Polish delegation
After Doubts, LF Declares Participation in Government
Lebanese Forces party says to join government despite unfair share
New Govt. Hurdle as Hizbullah Insists on Representation of Sunni Opposition
Kataeb MP Nadim Gemayel Voices Concern Over Hezbollah's Dominion
Foucher visits Jounieh Central School: Macron will visit Lebanon soon
General Joseph Aoun: Army takes all precautionary measures in vicinity of Mieh w Mieh camp
Riachy presents list of LF ministers to Hariri
Spectacular ‘Japanese Music Concert’ at ESA Business School on Wednesday Oct, 31
Sleiman meets Kardel, says justifications obstructing cabinet formation no longer valid
Ministry of Justice proves stumbling block in cabinet formation
Draft New Government Line-Up Emerges
Jumblat Slams Last-Minute Govt. Hurdles as 'Costly, Absurd'
Richard Visits Deir Ammar Power Station Operated by Private U.S. Company
FPM Says Helped 'Brothers' LF in Getting 4 Ministerial Posts

Titles For The Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on October 29-30/18
Report: Israel Solf Sophisticated Spy systems To Saudi Arabia
Israeli Minister Tours Abu Dhabi's Grand Mosque Days After Netanyahu Visits Oman
Israel Has Operated in Syria Since Downing of Russian Plane, Source Says
Abbas Receives Omani Envoy Carrying Letter from Qaboos
Wife, Sons of Rifaat Assad Refused UK Citizenship
Iraqi PM Calls for Securing Syria Border to Counter ISIS Threat
Egypt: Parliament Seeks to Shut Down Political Islam Sites
Washington Committed to Supporting Coalition In Yemen
Kuwait Rejects Dropping Membership of Sentenced MPs
Female suicide bomber wounds 9 in Tunisia's capital
Woman Blows Herself Up in Tunis Injuring Nine
All 189 on Board Crashed Indonesian Jet Feared Dead
Turkey Pressures KSA on Khashoggi Body as Prosecutor Visits
Merkel Takes First Step Towards Exit after Poll Drubbing
Synagogue Suspect Appears in U.S. Court in Wheelchair
The Latest LCCC Lebanese Related News published on October 29-30/18
Lebanese Cabinet to be formed shortly after LF cedes grounds
Georgi Azar/Annahar/October 29/2018
BEIRUT: A new Cabinet is expected to be formed in the next 48 hours, bringing to end a six-month-long deadlock after LF leader Samir Geagea agreed to be part of the government albeit under unfavorable circumstances. Speaking to reporters Monday, Geagea appeared to succumb to the conditions imposed by the Free Patriotic Movement, accepting a diluted bloc of ministries. “If the tables were turned, we’d try to be fair with the allocation of ministries,” he said, accusing his Christian rivals of attempting to pile pressure on his party to capitulate to their demands. The highly anticipated news conference laid to bed concerns that the LF would abstain from the new Cabinet, after ceding ground and accepting the position of deputy prime minister, as well as the Ministries of Labor, Culture and Social Affairs. The LF faced an uphill battle after Progressive Socialist Party leader Walid Jumblatt struck a deal with President Michel Aoun, giving up the nomination of the third Druze minister. This left Geagea alone to try and thwart the FPM’s onslaught, given the latter's parliamentary bloc of 29 MPs compared to the LF’s 15. After Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri told the LF that a Cabinet would ultimately be formed with or without their inclusion, Geagea relinquished his claim to the much coveted Justice Ministry currently occupied by FPM affiliate Salim Jreissati. Hariri is expected to present Aoun a final draft lineup this afternoon, sources familiar with the negotiations told Annahar, despite a major obstacle yet to be resolved. Sources have maintained that Hassan Nasrallah refused to name his ministers before Hariri approves the appointment of a pro-Hezbollah Sunni candidate in the Cabinet, a demand vehemently opposed by the Premier. Hariri has continuously rejected the 6-MP-strong Sunni bloc's demands to be included in the Cabinet, arguing that they lack affiliation to a major party.
Hariri receives the Grand Duchess of Luxembourg
Mon 29 Oct 2018/NNA - Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri received today at the Center House the Grand Duchess Maria Teresa of Luxembourg and the accompanying delegation, in the presence of Minister Ghattas Khoury and his advisor Nadim Mounla.Hariri held a lunch in honor of the Grand Duchess and the delegation, during which talks continued. It is worth noting that the trip of the Grand Duchess to Lebanon intervenes in the framework of the forum "Stand Speak Rise Up to end sexual violence in fragile environments" that she is organizing in Luxembourg in March 2019. As President of her Foundation, Goodwill Ambassador of Unesco and Eminent Advocate for Unicef, she will visit survivors of sexual violence, especially among the displaced, to gather their testimonies and support them in their quest for justice and reparation. She will also learn about microfinance projects to improve the situation of the displaced, and about NGOs she intends to support in the future through her foundation. Hariri also met with a delegation from the World Bank, headed by the Mashreq Regional Director Saroj Kumar Jha and the Senior Director for Energy and Extractives Global Practice Riccardo Puliti. Talks focused on projects related to CEDRE conference.

Berri meets Duchess of Luxembourg, Polish delegation

Mon 29 Oct 2018/NNA - Speaker of the House, Nabih Berri, on Monday welcomed at his Ein Teeneh residence, the Grand Duchess of Luxembourg, Maria Teresa, and broached with her the situation in Lebanon and the region, the issue of Syrian refugees, and the significant burdens that Lebanon suffers in this regard. In the wake of the meeting, and in response to a question about the lengthily awaited cabinet line up, Berri said that he anticipated “something to happen today”. Berri later welcomed a Polish delegation, headed by the President of the Polish-Lebanese Parliamentary Friendship Association, MP Pawel Piskorski, accompanied by the Lebanese International Businessmen's Federation, and the Arab Polish Club for Culture and Economics. The Polish side welcomed the establishment of the Lebanese-Polish parliamentary Friendship Committee and reiterated its desire to maintain permanent cooperation between the two committees. “This should stimulate investment and enhance trade and economic relations between Poland and Lebanon." The delegation told Berri about the meeting to be held on Tuesday, during which a strategic cooperation agreement between the Union and the Arab-Polish club would be signed to stimulate investment between the two countries. During the meeting, the President of the Lebanese International Businessmen's Federation reiterated the importance of the visit, which includes senior officials from both Lebanon and Syria, with a view to developing strategic cooperation between Poland, Lebanon, and Syria. “Lebanon plays the vital role of a bridge for Polish companies wishing to participate in the reconstruction of Syria,” he said. Separately, Berri met with Kuwaiti Ambassador to Lebanon, Abdel Al Al-Kunaii. The pair discussed the current developments in Lebanon and the region, and broached bilateral relations between the two countries.
After Doubts, LF Declares Participation in Government
Agence France/Naharnet/October 29/18/Lebanese Forces chief Samir Geagea on Monday said his party will be more useful from inside the government, noting the LF decision to partake in the future government dismissing all doubts a day earlier that it would do otherwise.
“The Lebanese Forces decided to participate in the government despite injustice made to us, because our presence from within is more useful,” declared Geagea in a press conference. He listed the number of ministerial portfolios allocated for each parliamentary bloc in comparison to those allocated for the LF. He said the Strong Lebanon bloc (of the Free Patriotic Movement) alone, was allocated three key portfolios. Pointing to attempts to exclude the party from the future government, he said: “Their intentions are to exclude us because we have proven ability to stop bargains mainly the ones linked to the electricity deal.” He said the six-month delay to shape the government was the result of attempts to undermine the LF. The LF has agreed to be given the deputy prime minister post, the ministerial portfolios of social affairs, culture, and labor which President Michel Aoun (FPM founder) has claimed before.

Lebanese Forces party says to join government despite unfair share

Reuters, Beirut/Monday, 29 October 2018/The Lebanese Forces party will join a new national unity government despite an unfair offer of cabinet posts, its leader Samir Geagea said on Monday, indicating the major obstacle to an agreement has been resolved.
“Inside the government we can be much more useful,” Geagea said in a televised news conference, though he said the share of cabinet positions offered to his party represented an “injustice”.Rivalry for cabinet posts between the Lebanese Forces and President Michel Aoun’s Free Patriotic Movement has been seen as the major obstacle to an agreement on a new national unity government to be led by Prime Minister-designate Saad al-Hariri.

New Govt. Hurdle as Hizbullah Insists on Representation of Sunni Opposition
Naharnet/October 29/18/A new obstacle emerged Monday in the cabinet formation process after a long-running standoff over the representation of the Lebanese Forces was resolved. “We insist on representing the Sunni opposition in the government and those who waited the LF several months can wait for a few days,” LBCI television quoted a “Hizbullah source” as saying. MTV meanwhile reported that Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri “has not yet received the names of Hizbullah's three ministers” and that the party is insisting that Hariri should give up one of the Sunni seats. “Hariri has informed several political parties that he would step down from the mission of forming the government should Hizbullah continue to insist on the appointment of a Sunni minister from al-Mustaqbal Movement's share,” MTV said. “Search for another premier in this case,” the TV network quoted Hariri as saying. MTV added that so far, Hariri “has not taken a decision to head to Baabda tonight.”Quoting Baabda sources, MTV later reported that “President Aoun's share includes a Sunni minister and the possibility of this minister representing the Sunni opposition requires consultations with the PM-designate.”

Kataeb MP Nadim Gemayel Voices Concern Over Hezbollah's Dominion 29th October 2018/Kataeb MP Nadim Gemayel on Monday voiced concern over the structure of the upcoming government, saying that the same flawed approach is still plaguing the country. "We're afraid that things are still going the same way amid Hezbollah's full control of the state's institutions and decision-making power," Gemayel wrote on Twitter. "It seems that this also applies to the new government," he added.

Foucher visits Jounieh Central School: Macron will visit Lebanon soon
Mon 29 Oct 2018/NNA - French Ambassador to Lebanon, Bruno Foucher, on Monday said French President Emmanuel Macron will visit Lebanon soon to sign an ambitious road map for Francophone as a historic product that depends mainly on education. Ambassador Foucher's fresh words on Monday came during a visit to the Central School in Jounieh, where he was greeted by senior School administrators, in the presence of Embassy staff. Foucher underlined in his word "the importance of Francophone and the situation of the French language in Lebanon and the world," hailing "the efforts of the Central School Jounieh in promoting the culture of openness, dialogue and communication."

General Joseph Aoun: Army takes all precautionary measures in vicinity of Mieh w Mieh camp
Mon 29 Oct 2018/NNA - Army Commander General Joseph Aoun, assured on Monday that the Lebanese army is taking all the necessary precautionary measures in the vicinity of Mieh w Mieh Palestinian refugee camp to prevent the spill of clashes outside camp and to protect citizens. Maj. Gen. Aoun also indicated that the army seeks through communicating with the warring parties in the camp to ease tensions and to prevent the situation from deteriorating again. The army commander was speaking during his meeting with the Greek Catholic Archbishop of Saida and Deir el-Qamar, Elie Haddad, who visited him today at his Yarze office accompanied by Mieh w Mieh Municipality head Refaat Abu Saba. The delegation briefed the army commander on the situation in Mieh w Mieh town and the concerns of its residents due to the current clashes inside the camp. On the other hand, General Aoun met with MP Assaad Dergham, accompanied by retired General Ghassan Kachouh. Discussions reportedly touched on the general situation. Aoun also received the head of the delegation of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Lebanon, Christophe Martin.

Riachy presents list of LF ministers to Hariri
Mon 29 Oct 2018/NNA - Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri received this evening at the Center House Minister Melhem Riachi in the presence of Minister Ghattas Khoury. After the meeting, Minister Riachi said: “I was honored to meet with Prime Minister Hariri. I was sent by Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea. I handed him a list of the names of the Lebanese Forces (candidates for the posts of) ministers, with sects and portfolios, as distributed by the LF leadership. Prime Minister Hariri called Dr. Geagea and thanked him for his efforts and the great sacrifices he offered to facilitate the birth of the government for the interest of Lebanon in this difficult situation we live.”
Question: In which spirit will the Lebanese Forces enter the government? Is it going to prevent the work of the government?
Riachi: The LF do not enter the government with this spirit and do not do such things. The LF facilitate and make sacrifices for Lebanon’s interest.
Question: Who do you think wants to isolate the Lebanese Forces?
Riachi: Let us not give names but all parties who tried to size down the LF know themselves and know what they are doing and we know what we are doing.
Question: Aren’t you going to be a minister in this government?
Riachi: The names of the ministers are now with the Prime Minister. I was told that they were leaked. What I can say is that we did not get a portfolio for the Catholics so I am definitely not in the government.
Question: Are there any remaining obstacles or is the lineup ready?
Riachi: Our mission is accomplished regarding the Lebanese Forces and Premier Hariri is working on the rest so that the government is formed as soon as possible because the situation in the country is really not easy.
Question: It was said that the LF put some blame on Premier Hariri for what you reached in the governmental issue?
Riachi: When Dr. Geagea speaks, no one speaks after him. You heard what he said.

Spectacular ‘Japanese Music Concert’ at ESA Business School on Wednesday Oct, 31

Mon 29 Oct 2018/NNA - The Lebanese National Higher Conservatory of Music, and the Embassy of Japan in Lebanon, will be holding on Wednesday, October 31, 2018, a spectacular concert titled “Japanese Music Concert”. This event will be taking place in collaboration with Japan Foundation and ESA Business School at ESA Business School’s Audi Auditorium in Clemenceau, Beirut, at 8:00 pm. The concert introduces a variety of Japanese music such as Taiko drumming, folk songs, and shinobue flute.

Sleiman meets Kardel, says justifications obstructing cabinet formation no longer valid
Mon 29 Oct 2018/NNA - Former Lebanese President Michel Sleiman met on Monday with Acting UN Special Coordinator for Lebanon, Pernille Dahler Kardel. "The rationale behind obstructing the formation of a new government is no longer valid, especially after the approval of the majority of the political parties of the distribution of ministerial quotas,” Sleiman said during his meeting with Kardel. “The cabinet formation process must be stepped up because the Lebanese can no longer endure any delay, and the debilitating economy requires a government that is capable of aptly handling the situation,” Sleiman added. He also capitalized on the importance of giving Syrian refugees the necessary international attention “to ensure their return to their country, and to work on the reconstruction of Syria with Syrian hands.”
Ministry of Justice proves stumbling block in cabinet formation
Makram Rabah/The Arab Weekly/October 29/18
A lack of vision and the elite’s overwhelming greed has left the Lebanese with little option but to wait for the country’s economic ruin to draw near.
Five months have passed since caretaker Prime Minister Saad Hariri was selected to form Lebanon’s next cabinet, a task he has yet to achieve.
While it is common for the Lebanese to take their time when it comes to accomplishing ostensibly simple democratic practices, the current political deadlock speaks more to the failure of the Lebanese political class’s efforts to avoid the country’s looming economic collapse.
Sources close to Hariri appeared optimistic recently that an agreement on the new government was reaching its final stages, with Hariri satisfying the various factions and assuaging Lebanese President Michel Aoun’s apparently limitless thirst for power -- or so it seemed.
At the 11th hour, when all signs indicated that Aoun had conceded the Justice portfolio to the Lebanese Forces (LF), the second biggest Christian bloc in parliament, he backtracked and declared that the portfolio was the prerogative of the president.
This unexpected hitch, to many, came as final confirmation that the stuttering process of forming a new government goes beyond petty horse-trading over key cabinet positions. Instead, it foreshadows a potential confrontation in the next presidential elections between the Lebanese Forces and the Free Patriotic Movement (FPM), headed by Aoun’s son-in-law and potential political successor, Lebanese Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil.
Despite having signed a memorandum of understanding in January 2016 that secured Aoun the presidency, both the LF and the FPM failed to establish a shared political position on many of the issues facing Lebanon. The standoff between the two sides was exacerbated by the May elections, which saw the LF virtually double its seats in parliament, thus presenting a serious challenge to the FPM’s claim to the leadership of the country’s Christian population.
A source in the LF said that “the FPM simply is unwilling to recognise the recent outcome of the elections, which coupled with the noticeable performance of our ministers have added to our approval ratings.”
This source said the upcoming cabinet, once formed, would likely stay in office until the next parliamentary elections, whose outcome would determine the country’s next president.
For Bassil, determined to prevent the LF from expanding its power base, it is vital he denies the group any public recognition of its role as a parliamentary bloc, instead constantly referring to the LF’s militia past.
Surprisingly and, despite Bassil’s outward aggression, the LF remains steadfast in its pact with the FPM, claiming its commitment to inter-Christian dialogue and refusing to abandon it. Neither will it relinquish its right to a significant share of seats in the next cabinet.
The refusal of Aoun, Hezbollah’s main Christian ally, to relinquish the Ministry of Justice to the LF or any of the anti-Hezbollah factions says a lot of Iran’s hegemony over the Lebanese political process.
While the Lebanese judiciary has no real sway in a country where the concept of the separation of power is little but a fairy tale, the Ministry of Justice remains an important portfolio in that it allows its holder to underscore its legitimacy.
The ministry is granted more prominence by the fact that the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, investigating the assassination of Rafik Hariri, will soon issue its final verdict, one expected to name senior Hezbollah operatives as the perpetrators of the former prime minister’s death.
Consequently, both Aoun and Hezbollah are expected to use the Ministry of Justice, which liaises with the international community on the matter, to derail and dilute the effect of whatever verdict the tribunal brings.
Equally important for Hezbollah is the Ministry of Justice’s role regarding US sanctions on Iran and its subsidiaries, all of which look set to cripple its ability to arm and equip its fighters across the region.
Having the Ministry of Justice in its sphere of influence via its alliance with Aoun would help Hezbollah find loopholes in the US measures, as well as allow the group an insider look at the intelligence the Lebanese government receives from the US Treasury Department.
Many Lebanese guilelessly look at the government formation as a potential bridge to economic and political salvation. However, all signs indicate Lebanon’s predicament is far worse than had been understood.
Lebanon has been consumed internally. Together, a lack of vision and the elite’s overwhelming greed has left the Lebanese with little option but to wait for the country’s economic ruin to draw near, when no Ministry of Justice or any other portfolio will make much of a difference.

Draft New Government Line-Up Emerges
Naharnet/October 29/18/A tentative and incomplete government line-up emerged Monday evening as a row over the representation of the Lebanese Forces – the main obstacle that was delaying the formation process -- was resolved.
Below is the line-up as reported by TV networks:
- Al-Mustaqbal Movement: PM post (Saad Hariri), Telecom (Mohammed Shqeir), State Minister for Women's Affairs (Violette Safadi), Interior (could go to Hariri himself) and a State Minister (Mustafa Alloush or Jamal al-Jarrah)
- Free Patriotic Movement: Energy (Cesar Abi Khalil's adviser Nada Bustani), Foreign Affairs (Jebran Bassil), Tourism (Avedis Guidanian), Economy, a State Minister and a yet to be allocated portfolio
- President Michel Aoun: Defense (Elias Bou Saab), State Minister for Presidency Affairs (Naji al-Bustani or Pierre Raffoul), State Minister for Combating Corruption (Sunni figure), Justice (Salim Jreissati) and a yet to be allocated portfolio (Ibrahim Kanaan)
- Hizbullah: Health (Jamal al-Taqsh), Sport and Youth (Mahmoud Qmati), State Minister (Mohammed Fneish)
- AMAL Movement: Finance (Ali Hassan Khalil), Agriculture (Hassan Laqqis) and Environment
- Lebanese Forces: Deputy PM and State Minister (Ghassan Hasbani), Culture (May Chidiac), Social Affairs (Richard Kouyoumjian), Labor (Camille Abu Suleiman)
- Progressive Socialist Party: Education (Akram Shehayyeb), Industry (Wael Abu Faour)
- Marada Movement: Public Works (Youssef Fenianos)

Jumblat Slams Last-Minute Govt. Hurdles as 'Costly, Absurd'
Naharnet/October 29/18/Progressive Socialist Party leader Walid Jumblat on Monday decried “time waste” in the cabinet formation process as “very costly and absurd.”“The time that is being wasted in the final phase of the cabinet formation process is very costly and absurd,” Jumblat warned in a tweet. “Some do not realize the value and importance of making a settlement at the appropriate time for the sake of the country,” he lamented. “The more we're late the more the losses will increase and there is no one to compensate us,” Jumblat cautioned. A new obstacle emerged Monday in the cabinet formation process after a long-running standoff over the representation of the Lebanese Forces was resolved. A hurdle related to Druze representation had been settled earlier this month. “We insist on representing the Sunni opposition in the government and those who waited the LF several months can wait for a few days,” LBCI television quoted a “Hizbullah source” as saying on Monday. MTV meanwhile reported that Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri “has not yet received the names of Hizbullah's three ministers” and that the party is insisting that Hariri should give up one of the Sunni seats.

Richard Visits Deir Ammar Power Station Operated by Private U.S. Company

Naharnet/October 29/18/U.S. Ambassador to Lebanon Elizabeth Richard on Monday visited the Deir Ammar Power Station in north Lebanon which is operated by U.S. firm PrimeSouth. The U.S. company has invested $75 million to rehabilitate the facility and an additional $45 million in the Zahrani Power Station over the past two years. “Together, the power stations generate nearly half of Electricité du Liban’s (EdL) power supply. This represents largest partnership to date between a private U.S. firm and the Government of Lebanon,” the U.S. embassy said in a statement. Richard also called on the Mufti of Tripoli and the North Sheikh Malek al-Shaar, thanking him for “his important work on religious tolerance and with the youth in Lebanon’s second largest city,” the embassy added. The ambassador concluded her visit by touring an agro-food processing facility at the premises of the Chambers of Commerce of Industry and Agriculture of Tripoli and the North (CCIAT). “USAID invested $266,000 to establish the food processing facility that classifies Lebanese extra virgin olive oil, tests and brands Lebanese honey, and freeze dries fruits for market. These technologies will initially provide services to an estimated 300 local producers and traders per season,” the U.S. embassy noted. It said that since 2007, the United States has provided over $4.8 billion in total combined assistance to Lebanon, including more than $1.7 billion in military assistance and more than $3.1 billion in development and humanitarian assistance. “I am really, really, pleased to be with you today to celebrate the rehabilitation of this power plant, which I think is a wonderful example of what a U.S. industry and the Lebanese can do when they work together,” Richard said at the Deir Ammar plant. She noited that American companies have “some of the best technologies in the world for the problems that most torment the Lebanese people: electricity, water, and waste management.”“American companies want to work in Lebanon. And where there is a level playing field and a transparent investment climate, American companies will invest,” the ambassador emphasized.

FPM Says Helped 'Brothers' LF in Getting 4 Ministerial Posts

Naharnet/October 29/18/The Free Patriotic Movement said Monday that it welcomes the decision of the Lebanese Forces to join the new government, noting that it helped the LF to get four ministerial posts instead of three. In a statement issued by its media committee, the FPM hoped the LF's decision is aimed at “consolidating unity at all levels” and reflects “a serious intention to contribute to the government's productivity and positive work.”Commenting on remarks voiced earlier in the day by LF leader Samir Geagea during a press conference, the FPM said it was “pleased by the LF chief's matching of the sizes of parliamentary blocs to their respective portfolios.”“This confirms the soundness of the FPM's stance, which has called for representing the political parties in the government according to the sizes of their parliamentary blocs,” the movement added. The FPM also noted that it had “contributed from the very beginning” to the move of giving the LF four instead of three portfolios. “The FPM considers this contribution as part of its traditional and recurrent role in helping its 'brothers' without infringing on its own rights, no matter the level of political disagreement,” the movement added. Political wrangling over portfolios, especially among the LF and the FPM, had delayed the formation of the government for several months. Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri is expected to visit Baabda in the coming hours to present his cabinet's final line-up, which reportedly gives the LF the social affairs, culture and labor portfolios and the deputy PM post.

The Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on
October 29-30/18
Report: Israel Solf Sophisticated Spy systems To Saudi Arabia
جيرازولم بوست: إسرائيل باعت للسعودية أجهزة تجسس معقدة
Jerusalem Post/October 29/18
These are the most sophisticated systems Israel has ever sold to any Arab country.
Saudi Arabia and Israel held secret meetings which led to an estimated $250-million deal, including the transfer of Israeli espionage technologies to the kingdom, Israeli media reported on Sunday, citing an exclusive report by the United Arab Emirate news website Al-Khaleej. Some of the spy systems, which are the most sophisticated systems Israel has ever sold to any Arab country, have already been transferred to Saudi Arabia and put into use after a Saudi technical team received training in operating them, the report added. The exclusive report also revealed that the two countries exchanged strategic military information in the meetings, which were conducted in Washington and London through a European mediator. Such cooperation would not be the first of its kind between Israel and Saudi Arabia. In September, Al-Khaleej reported that Saudi Arabia had purchased Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system to defend itself from Houthi missile attacks. The deal, which was reportedly mediated by the United States included further plans to reach an agreement on broad military cooperation between the two countries. While Israel has no official ties with Saudi Arabia, the relationship with the Sunni kingdom and other Gulf states has grown stronger in recent years, due in large part to the shared threat of Iran’s expansion across the region. IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Gadi Eisenkot met with his counterparts from several Arab countries, including Saudi Arabia’s Chief of Staff Gen. Fayyad bin Hamed Al-Ruwaili, in mid-October while in Washington for the Countering Violent Extremist Organizations Conference for military commanders. While this seemed to be the first publicized meeting between Eisenkot and Al-Ruwaili, it was the second consecutive year the two attended the military commanders’ conference.
Last November, following Eisenkot’s first participation in the conference, he offered to share Israeli intelligence about Iran with Riyadh, telling the Saudi newspaper Elaph in an unprecedented interview that what he heard from the Saudis about Iranian expansion was “identical” to Israeli concerns.
*Anna Ahronheim contributed to this report.

WATCH/Israeli Minister Tours Abu Dhabi's Grand Mosque Days After Netanyahu Visits Oman
بعد زيارة نيتنياهو لسلطنة عمان وزيرة إسرائيلية في الإمارات تزور  الجامع الكبير في أبوظبي
Reuters and Haaretz October 29/18
Culture and Sports Minister Miri Regev is in the United Arab Emirates to attend the International Judo Federation's Grand Slam competition
Israeli Sports and Culture Minister Miri Regev visited Abu Dhabi's grand mosque, giving more momentum to Israel's diplomatic push in the Gulf, where it sees Arab states as its natural allies against regional powerhouse Iran. "I am happy that I was privileged to be the first senior official from Israel to sign the mosque's guest book," Regev wrote on Facebook about the tour, which she said took place on Sunday. Shining a rare spotlight on direct ties with Gulf states, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced on Friday he had just returned from a surprise visit to Oman, the first time an Israeli leader has visited the Sultanate in 22 years. Netanyahu has on several occasions hinted at warmer relations with Gulf states. On Sunday, Regev, in the United Arab Emirates for a judo tournament, fought back tears after Israel's team won gold in the Abu Dhabi Grand Slam – a feat which allowed the Israeli national anthem to be played in a country that does not formally recognize it. Sagi Muki won the gold after besting Mattias Kuusik in the only matchup between the two so far. Kuusik advanced to the final found after his Iranian opponent, Saeed Molaei, claimed injury in the first half minute of their match, in what was thought to be a faked injury, so that he would not have to face an opponent from Israel. In recent weeks, members of the Israeli Olympic Committee have been critical of Regev, accusing her of ramping up expectations by interfering in the affairs of the local judo federation. This, they say, was a contributing factor behind Israel’s poor showing in the recent World Championships.
In 2017, Israeli judoka Tal Flicker won gold medal at the Abu Dhabi Grand Slam on Thursday. The Israeli martial artist achieved an Ippon, the highest score a fighter can achieve, 25 seconds before the end of his bout with his Azeri opponent, bronze medal world champion Nijat Shikhalizada.
No Israeli flag was flown at the podium in 2017, after the United Arab Emirate hosts forbade any representation of the Israeli team's nationality, something that the hosts claimed was done for their own safety. Israelis competed under similar conditions during the same event held in 2015 in Abu Dhabi.
The International Judo Federation has previously stripped both the U.A.E. and Tunisia of the right to host Grand Prix tournaments, following their refusal to allow Israeli participants to compete under the national flag. In August, both countries promised the IJF that the Israeli flag would be flown at future events and they were reinstated. Several Israeli politicians, including Regev, described the decision as a major diplomatic victory for Israel. According to a statement issued by the Culture and Sports Ministry, “Regev is grateful for the invitation extended by IJF President Marius Vizer to attend the historical tournament in Abu Dhabi, where, for the first time, Israeli athletes will be allowed to compete under their national flag and to hear their national anthem played. The goal of the minister’s visit is first and foremost to sign a historic agreement for Israel to host a Grand Prix event, which will be attended by the best judokas in the world. The issue is currently being examined and the minister is very keen to accept the invitation.”

Israel Has Operated in Syria Since Downing of Russian Plane, Source Says

Noa Landau/Haaretz/October 29/18
Sources added that Netanyahu may meet Russian president Putin in Paris in November
Israel has operated in Syria since the Russian plane was downed by Syrian air-defense, an incident that sparked a crisis between Israel and Russia, a diplomatic source said Monday. The source said that Netanyahu may meet Russian President Vladimir Putin in the Paris convention on November 11. "We believe there's a good chance the meeting will happen there," the source said. "It's convenient, but not yet set." Fifteen Russian airmen were killed in September when the Ilyushin 20 airplane was mistakenly shot down by Syria's air defenses soon after an Israeli strike near the coastal Syrian city of Latakia.
Israel blamed the incident on Syrian recklessness, while the Russian embassy in Israel said the Air Force's actions were "irresponsible and unfriendly" and exposed the downed plane to danger. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said earlier this month that he and Russian President Vladimir Putin have agreed to meet for the first time since the incident. Haaretz's Amos Harel wrote last week that Russia has been taking a more forceful stance toward Israel concerning Israel Air Force activity in the north, ever since the incident in which a Syrian anti-aircraft missile downed an Ilyushin Russian intelligence-gathering plane. The plane was shot down at the end of an Israeli airstrike near Latakia in northwestern Syria. Israel said on September 4 that it had carried out more than 200 air strikes in Syria in the previous two years - an average rate of twice a week - with Russia largely turning a blind eye. There have been no reports of such missions since the Russian plane's downing on September 17, however.

UN aid chief: Ensure Idlib cease-fire and prevent onslaught
The Associated Press/United Nations/Tuesday, 30 October 2018/The UN humanitarian chief is urging the Security Council and key countries to ensure that the cease-fire in Syria’s northwestern province of Idlib holds to prevent “a military onslaught” and overwhelming human suffering.Mark Lowcock said Monday that the world has seen “a glimmer of hope in the weeks of relative quiet” since Russia and Turkey agreed on a truce in September that prevented a Syrian government offensive on the last rebel stronghold. Lowcock says “the stakes are high” for millions of people in Idlib, stressing that a military offensive “would overwhelm all ability to respond” with humanitarian aid. Many also fear a refugee crisis. Syrian Ambassador Bashar Ja’afari reaffirmed the Russia-Turkey agreement, saying “the Syrian government will continue to facilitate all attempts to cease the spilling of blood.”
Netanyahu Rejects Hamas Threat to Transfer Qatari Funds Directly to Gaza
Ramallah - Kifah Zboun/Asharq Al-Awsat/Monday, 29 October, 2018/
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rejected recent threats by the Hamas movement to Israel. “Israel won’t accept any ultimatum from Hamas,” Netanyahu said at the outset of his cabinet session on Sunday. “Israel will continue to act according to Israeli interests and for Israeli security alone,” he added. Hamas official Yehya Sinwar has presented Israel with an ultimatum, demanding that it inject $15 million in cash to Gaza every month, including an initial payment by Thursday, or else it will escalate the situation along the border with Israel.
The money is required to pay the salaries of Hamas employees. Hamas’ ultimatum followed another round of fighting that did not involve the movement. The Jihad group fired rockets at Israel at dawn on Friday and Saturday. Israel responded by carrying out a series of raids on the Gaza Strip before Egypt could establish a new ceasefire. Three boys aged 12 to 14 were killed in the strikes in the southeastern Gaza, Palestinian medics said. Israel accused Iran and Syria of being behind the Jihad’s escalation, which Hamas opposed, and threatened to retaliate inside and outside Gaza. Meanwhile, other Israeli officials rejected Sinwar’s message and considered it a form of ransom. Member of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee Ayelet Nahmias-Verbin said that “all the months that Hamas has been attacking, we have been talking about Israelis being held hostage in the Gaza border area.”
“Now we are moving to the stage where this is an actual fact as Hamas is demanding ransom from Israel.”“After concluding a successful round of negotiations with Netanyahu, Hamas understands the balance of power here, and is moving to actual extortion, without apologies,” he further noted. “We must reject this dangerous demand and find a way to restore the supplying of resources via the Palestinian Authority,” Nahmias-Verbin stressed.
The PA completely rejects the Qatari initiative on Gaza, saying that funding Hamas will only widen the division among Palestinians and encourages separation. The Gaza-Israel border area has been volatile for months as Hamas organizes weekly protests there demanding the Palestinians’ right to return to their homeland. More than 160 Palestinians were killed in the protests since March.

Abbas Receives Omani Envoy Carrying Letter from Qaboos
Ramallah/Asharq Al-Awsat/Monday, 29 October, 2018/Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas received on Sunday in Ramallah Advisor Salem Al-Ameeri, carrying a letter from Sultan Qaboos of Oman. In this letter, Sultan Qaboos thanked Abbas for his important visit to Muscat which he said had further strengthened relations between the two nations and showed keenness to boost such ties in all fields, according to Palestinian news agency (WAFA). Abbas, for his part, expressed appreciation for the reception he received in Oman last week, praising the huge support given to the Palestinian people by Omani authorities.The Palestinian leader also expressed willingness to increase coordination and cooperation to better serve the Palestinian cause. Meanwhile, sources told Asharq Al-Awsat that the Omani envoy’s visit came in the context of the role that Oman wants to play in bringing Palestinian and Israeli views closer together. According to the sources, the letter has probably explained these attempts, especially after the surprise visit conducted by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to Muscat last week. In recent remarks, Yusuf bin Alawi bin Abdullah, minister in charge of foreign affairs in Oman, said his country was offering ideas to help the Palestinian and Israeli sides converge, but was not playing the role of mediator. Abbas did not reject Oman’s intervention, but stressed that it should be based on his well-known vision of an international mechanism. Abbas has prohibited any criticism against Oman in the wake of Netanyahu’s visit, and ordered spokesmen and officials to avoid commenting on the meeting between Qaboos and the Israeli premier, and to withdraw any statements in this regard.

Wife, Sons of Rifaat Assad Refused UK Citizenship
London - Asharq Al-Awsat/Asharq Al-Awsat/Monday, 29 October, 2018/
The British government has refused to grant the UK citizenship to the wife and sons of Rifaat Assad, who is the uncle of the head of Syria’s regime, Bashar Assad, The Daily Mail has reported. They were told that, as close relatives of Bashar Assad, giving them British passports would undermine the UK government’s opposition to his bloody regime, said the newspaper.The family members appealed against the decision at a secret immigration tribunal. But a judgment seen by The Mail on Sunday reveals that their challenge has been rejected by the Special Immigration Appeals Commission. Judges admitted they did not know exactly how close the aunt and cousins were to President Assad but said the important consideration was the damage caused to Britain’s reputation if they were allowed citizenship. Rifaat Assad's wife was not named for legal reasons. Two of her sons who have lived in the UK for more than a decade also had their applications rejected, along with that of a third son of Rifaat by another woman. According to the report, advice from the Foreign Office to the Home Office warned that granting Assad’s relatives citizenship "would be interpreted as a softening stance towards the regime and of faltering commitment to the opposition."

Iraqi PM Calls for Securing Syria Border to Counter ISIS Threat
Baghdad – Hamza Mustafa/Asharq Al-Awsat/Monday, 29 October, 2018/Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi warned on Sunday that sleeper terrorist cells were still active in several western and northwestern regions in the country. He therefore stressed the need to “completely” secure Iraq’s borders to avert future threats by the ISIS terrorist group in Syria. He made his remarks in a statement issued by his office after he paid a visit to the joint operations command where he held talks with security and military commanders.Abdul Mahdi underlined the need to maintain efforts and caution in monitoring terrorist cells and securing the border with Syria. The PM had kicked off his term in office by focusing on security affairs, demonstrated by his visits to each of the ministries of defense and interior. In a related development, the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) in the western Anbar region announced that it was bolstering its presence on the Iraqi-Syrian border after some Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) positions were seized by ISIS during the past two days.It said that major cooperation was ongoing between the border guards and military in anticipation of an emergency. The PMF has also taken up the necessary measures to secure the border with Syria. Security experts warned of the growing ISIS threat in many Iraqi regions and extending to the Syria border. Security expert Fadel Abou Ragheef told Asharq Al-Awsat that ISIS is “clearly active”, especially in the Hamrin mountain range, Badush heights, Adhaim basin and the region between the Diyala and Salaheddine provinces. He added that the terrorist group was also active in western regions, starting from Nineveh. “The borders are not completely secure, which facilitates the movement of ISIS in some regions,” he explained. Armed groups expert Hisham al-Hashemi spoke of the terrorist dangers along the international highway that links Iraq to Syria and Jordan. He told Asharq Al-Awsat that the highway and its surroundings have become a target of bomb attacks and assassinations. Moreover, he said that Iraq and Syria enjoy a 605 km-long border in the western Nineveh and Anbar provinces. It is also surrounded by several conflict zones in eastern Syria, making them the most vulnerable borders. In addition, the Iraqi and Syrian border villages have been and still are safe havens for several foreign fighters, he revealed. The borders have historically been linked to the emergence of al-Qaida in Iraq, he explained. Abou Musab al-Zarqawi first took up Jazeera Rawa as his base. Abou Hamza al-Mouhajer then took up Rumana as his stronghold and Abou Bakr al-Baghdadi then used the western Badia as his secret capital. Securing the border is an arduous task that is complicated by the rough terrain and the wealth of natural resources, which make them a target for extremist groups, Hashemi said.

Egypt: Parliament Seeks to Shut Down Political Islam Sites

Cairo- Waleed Abdurrahman/Asharq Al-Awsat/Monday, 29 October, 2018/In an attempt to control political Islam groups, parliamentary sources said on Sunday that the Egyptian parliament is heading towards combating their websites through a number of bills and regulations. The parliament is moving towards shutting down certain sites upon the request of several deputies after these platforms were found to address the youth and the public through rumors and the dissemination of extremist thoughts and ideologies. The Head of the Supreme Council for Media Regulation, journalist Makram Mohammed Ahmed, revealed that the Council has not licensed any site belonging to Islamic movements, stressing that authorization has only been granted to professional websites. He added that the Muslim Brotherhood, which Egypt considers a terrorist organization, said that the licenses granted by the Supreme Council “were restrictive”, in a step to disrupt the process followed by the Council. Ahmed asserted that the current situation requires extreme caution as the group seeks to disrupt all organizational processes in the country. Deputy of the Parliamentary Social Solidarity Committee MP Mohammed Abu Hamed submitted an urgent report to the government and the Supreme Council, calling for immediate action against these sites, which represent a major threat to national security. He described the sites as platforms used to address citizens through the promotion and dissemination of terrorist ideas. The Secretary of Parliament’s Religious Affairs committee, Omar Hamroush, said that he is preparing a list of Egypt-based sites that are pro-political Islam, stressing that he will submit it to the Supreme Council to take necessary measures. MP Ahmed Saad told Asharq Al-Awsat that some political Islam sites publish articles, content, and news without any censorship, and create strife among young people. Saad asserted that the Egyptian state is exerting great efforts in the face of rumors propagated by the Muslim Brotherhood and its foreign elements, especially rumors that concern the citizen and issues linked to commodities such as bread, medicine, and goods. Since the ouster of former President Mohamed Morsi in July 2013, hundreds of Brotherhood leaders and supporters have fled the country, launching media platforms and unregulated sites that frequently attack the Egyptian government. Secretary-General of the Supreme Council for Media Regulation Ahmed Salim stated that the Council will not be issuing any licenses for websites that disseminate extremist views and pose a threat to Egyptian national security, as well as porn sites.

Washington Committed to Supporting Coalition In Yemen

Cairo, Prague - Ali Rabih, Asharq Al-Awsat/Monday, 29 October, 2018/The US renewed on Sunday its commitment to back the Saudi-led Arab Coalition supporting legitimacy in Yemen. Asked by reporters travelling with him from Manama to Prague whether Washington would limit its support to the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said, “We'll continue to support the defense of the Kingdom.”Mattis had met with Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir. In another Yemeni development, disputes appeared between the “foreign leaderships” of Yemen's General People's Congress (GPC) and the party’s Houthi-controlled “internal leaderships.” Such dispute delayed the meeting of a six-member committee, which was working on bridging the gap between the two sides and on uniting the party. The GPC is currently on the verge of establishing a new leadership after it was left in tatters following the assassination of its leader, former President Ali Abdullah Saleh. Saleh was killed by the Iran-backed Houthi militias in December after he announced that he was severing his alliance with them and seeking to open a new chapter in ties with the Saudi-led Arab coalition. Asharq Al-Awsat had reported last week that the upcoming days will witness the final preparations for an agreement to be reached on forming a collective leadership of the GPC. However, dispute intensified between the party’s two leaders, Sultan al-Burkani and Abou Bakr al-Qarbi, both acting as assistant secretary general of the GPC, the wing led previously by Saleh. Al-Qarbi believes that the aim of establishing a committee representing the party outside Yemen was not to deviate from the leadership formed in Sanaa under the rule of Sadeq Amin Abu Rass, who was elected chairman of the GPC following Saleh’s assassination.
However, al-Burkani insists that the committee was not related to the week-kneed party leadership that operates in Sanaa.
Kuwait Rejects Dropping Membership of Sentenced MPs
Kuwait - Merza al-Khuwaldi/ Asharq Al-Awsat/Monday, 29 October, 2018/The Legislative and Legal Affairs Committee of Kuwait's National Assembly voted Sunday against dropping the memberships of sentenced MPs Jamaan al-Harbash and Waleed al-Tabtabaei. Head of the committee, Humaid al-Subaie, said in a statement that the majority of the Assembly rejected the Court of Cassation decision against them, saying that a report on this issue would be ready at the opening session. The committee was to decide whether Tabtabaei and Harbash could still remain as lawmakers after they were sentenced to prison by the Court of Cassation after they were found guilty of taking part in the storming of the National Assembly. The case dates back to November 2011 when parliamentarians and a number of demonstrators stormed the Assembly and entered its main chamber amid political protests.
In July 2017, Court of Cassation sentenced the two deputies to three-and-a-half years in prison. They were sentenced in absentia along with 70 other Kuwaitis, including former and current members of the parliament. The court acquitted 17 defendants and refrained from punishing 34 others in the same case. Harbash. Tabtabaei and six former deputies were charged, including prominent opposition former MP Musallem al-Barrak. Harbash and Tabtabaei have since left the country. Constitutional law professor at Kuwait International Law School, Hesham al-Saleh, commented on the committee's decision, saying that maintaining the membership of Harbash and Tabtabaei is a “waste” by the Council for the Constitution, especially Articles 82 and 84. It is also a violation of Article 16 of the Bylaw, the Election and Candidacy Laws, he tweeted.

Female suicide bomber wounds 9 in Tunisia's capital
Bouazza Ben Bouazza and Thomas Adamson, The Canadian Press/October 29, 2018/TUNIS, Tunisia -- A female suicide bomber wounded nine people, mostly police officers, on a busy avenue in Tunisia's capital on Monday afternoon, authorities said. The 30-year-old woman set off the blast in Tunis just before 2 p.m. (1300 GMT) on Habib Bourguiba avenue, according to Interior Ministry spokesman Sofiene Zaag, quoted by the TAP news agency. The Interior Ministry said in a statement that the suicide bomber, who wasn't previously known to authorities, blew herself up near a police patrol. It said eight police officers and one civilian were wounded. Apart from the bomber, there have been no further reported deaths. An AP reporter at the scene saw ambulances arriving to take the wounded to hospitals. The avenue, as well as several adjacent streets, was cordoned off by police. Zaag was quoted by TAP as saying the explosion took place in front of Tunis' city theatre. Habib Bourguiba avenue is considered the cultural, political and economic heart of Tunis -- and is sometimes called Tunisia's Champs Elysees. Tunisian radio station Mosaique FM said the attacker was wearing a homemade bomb belt with a small quantity of explosives. The station cited a security source it did not name. It said the bomber came from the Mahdia region of eastern Tunisia and was previously unknown to security services, which raided her home after the attack. Tunisian authorities have been on high alert in recent years following a spate of attacks including a deadly shooting in Tunis' Bardo National Museum in 2015 in which 22 people, including many European tourists, died. Three months later, an Islamic extremist attack in the beach resort of Sousse killed 38 people, mostly British tourists. In November that year, a suicide bomber blew himself up on a bus carrying members of the Tunisian presidential guard, killing 12 on a main Tunis road. The Islamic State group later claimed responsibility.
*Thomas Adamson reported from Paris. John Leicester in Paris contributed

Woman Blows Herself Up in Tunis Injuring Nine
Agence France Presse/Associated press/Naharnet/October 29/18/A woman suicide bomber blew herself up Monday near police vehicles in the center of the Tunisian capital, injuring at least nine people, the interior ministry said. Ministry spokesman Sofiene Zaag told AFP that all but one of the casualties were police, after a strong explosion rocked the upmarket Avenue Habib Bourguiba in Tunis. Ambulances arrived swiftly at the scene, which was cordoned off by security forces. Shops lowered their shutters as panic gripped passersby. An AFP photographer saw the bomber's body, apparently mostly intact, lying on the ground under one of the neatly-trimmed box trees that line the avenue. There was no immediate claim of responsibility. It was the first attack in the Tunisian capital since November 24, 2015 when a suicide bombing killed 12 security agents on a bus for presidential guards. That attack was claimed by the so-called Islamic State jihadist group. Since the 2011 uprising that toppled dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, jihadist attacks in Tunisia have killed dozens of members of the security forces and foreign tourists. In June 2015, 38 people were killed in a shooting rampage at the coastal resort of Sousse which targeted tourists, while an attack in March that year on the National Bardo Museum in Tunis left 22 people dead, most of them tourists.The terror attacks claimed by the Islamic State jihadist group decimated Tunisia's crucial tourism sector, which made up seven percent of gross domestic product.
The country has been under a state of emergency since the November 2015 attack on the bus. The state of emergency was extended earlier this month until November 6, amid a tense political climate ahead of legislative and presidential elections planned for next year. In March 2016, dozens of jihadists who infiltrated from neighboring Libya assaulted security posts in the southern region of Ben Guerdane in what Tunisian authorities said was an aborted attempt to declare an "emirate". The attack, which went unclaimed, left 20 dead among security forces and civilians. Calm over the past two years has led to a rebound in the tourism industry, with more than six million foreign travelers visiting Tunisia in the first nine months of 2018, according to government data. Arrivals rose 16.9 percent to 6.3 million in the nine months to the end of September, surpassing the number for the whole of 2014. Tourism revenues in the first nine months of 2018 totaled just over 1 billion euros ($1.2 billion), a rise of 27.6 percent year-on-year. Tourism Minister Selma Elloumi Rekik told AFP in May that she expected total arrivals to exceed eight million in 2018, higher than the seven million recorded in 2010, a benchmark year for Tunisian tourism.

All 189 on Board Crashed Indonesian Jet Feared Dead
Associated Press/Naharnet/October 29/18/All 189 passengers and crew aboard a crashed Indonesian Lion Air jet were "likely" killed in the accident, the search and rescue agency said Monday, as it announced it had found human remains. The Boeing-737 MAX, which went into service just months ago, vanished from radar 13 minutes after taking off from Jakarta, plunging into the Java Sea moments after it had asked to be allowed to return to the Indonesian capital. Websites that display flight data showed the plane speeding up as it suddenly lost altitude in the minutes before it disappeared. "My prediction is that nobody survived because the victims that we found, their bodies were no longer intact and it's been hours so it is likely 189 people have died," search and rescue agency operational director Bambang Suryo Aji told reporters. Some 40 divers are part of about 150 personnel at the scene, authorities said, with the plane in water about 30 to 40 metres deep. Earlier, video footage apparently filmed at the scene of the crash showed a slick of fuel on the surface of the water and pictures showed what appeared to be an emergency slide and bits of wreckage bearing Lion Air's logo.
The carrier acknowledged that the jet had previously been grounded for unspecified repairs.
The plane had been en route to Pangkal Pinang city, a jumping off point for beach-and-sun seeking tourists on nearby Belitung island, when it dropped out of contact around 6.30 am (2330 GMT). It was not yet known if there were any foreigners on board. Images filmed at Pangkal Pinang's main airport showed families of passengers crying and hugging each other, with some yelling "Oh God". "This morning he called asking about our youngest son," said a sobbing Ermayati, referring to her 45-year-old husband Muhammed Syafii, who was on board. Indonesia's National Transportation Safety Committee (NTSC) said there were 178 adult passengers, one child, two infants, two pilots and six cabin crew on board flight JT 610. The transport ministry had initially said there was a total of 188 people on board. The finance ministry said around 20 of its employees were on the plane. Among them were half a dozen colleagues of Sony Setiawan, who was supposed to be on the flight but missed check in due to bad traffic. "I know my friends were on that flight," he told AFP. Setiawan said he was only informed about his lucky escape after he arrived in Pangkal Pinang on another flight at 9:40am. "My family was in shock and my mother cried, but I told them I was safe, so I just have to be grateful."Lion Air said the plane had only gone into service in August. The pilot and co-pilot had more than 11,000 hours of flying time between them and had recent medical checkups and drug testing, it added. Lion Air CEO Edward Sirait said the plane had an unspecified technical issue fixed in Bali before it was flown back to Jakarta. "Engineers in Jakarta received notes and did another repair before it took off" on Monday, Edward Sirait told AFP, calling it "normal procedure".
- Poor safety record -US-based Boeing said it was "deeply saddened" by news of the crash.
Boeing, just days out from its first commercial delivery of the 737 MAX in May last year, reportedly suspended its release due to an engine issue, according to airline safety and product review site It said the engines were a product of a joint venture between US-based General Electric and France's Safran Aircraft Engines. Earlier this year, Lion Air announced it was buying 50 Boeing 737 MAX 10 jets for $6.24 billion. Indonesia's air travel industry is booming, with the number of domestic passengers growing significantly over the past decade, but it has acquired a reputation for poor regulation and its airlines had once been banned from US and European airspace. In August 2015, a commercial passenger aircraft operated by Indonesian carrier Trigana crashed in Papua due to bad weather, killing all 54 people on board. In 2014, poor maintenance and the pilots' inadequate response was blamed for the crash of an AirAsia plane crashed with the loss of 162 lives. Lion, a low-cost airline which has engaged in a huge expansion in recent years, has been involved in a number of incidents including a fatal 2004 crash and a collision between two Lion Air planes at Jakarta's Soekarno-Hatta airport

Turkey Pressures KSA on Khashoggi Body as Prosecutor Visits
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/October 29/18/Turkey on Monday called on Saudi Arabia to reveal the "whole truth" about the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, as the whereabouts of the journalist's body dominated a visit to the country by Riyadh's top prosecutor. Khashoggi's death inside the kingdom's Istanbul consulate has brought near unprecedented international scrutiny on Saudi Arabia, which is seeking to draw a line under the crisis as Western powers demand answers. The head of the Saudi investigation, Attorney General Sheikh Saud al-Mojeb, who last week acknowledged that the killing was "premeditated" based on Turkish evidence, met with Istanbul chief prosecutor Irfan Fidan for around 75 minutes on Monday, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported. Mojeb was then expected to inspect the Saudi consulate. Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu on Monday said there was "an advantage in our prosecutors sharing information and working together." "The cooperation must continue, but it must not be drawn out or turned into a diversion. The investigation must be completed as soon as possible, so that the whole truth is revealed," he told a press conference in Istanbul. Asked about the whereabouts of Khashoggi's body, which remain a mystery nearly a month after his death, Cavusoglu said that "as those who committed the murder are in Saudi Arabia, Saudi Arabia has a very large responsibility." Khashoggi, a Washington Post contributor who had criticized Saudi Arabia's powerful Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, vanished after entering the consulate on October 2 to obtain paperwork for his marriage to his Turkish fiancee. According to Turkey broadcaster TRT, Mojeb asked Turkish investigators to hand over the full findings of their own probe, but the request was rejected. TRT said the Turkish prosecutor then demanded Mojeb give up any information of the whereabouts of Khashoggi's body. Saudi authorities have arrested 18 men over the murder, and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has requested the suspects be extradited for trial in Turkey. However Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir rejected the request, saying the men will be prosecuted in Saudi Arabia, dismissing media "hysteria."Erdogan has also questioned why Saudi Arabia will not reveal the location of the body, as well as details of who carried out the hit.
Grim hunt for body
Erdogan has said that a 15-person team came from Riyadh to kill Khashoggi, carrying out reconnaissance outside Istanbul and deactivating security cameras at the consulate. The Turkish president, who has stopped short of directly blaming the Saudi government, has also indicated that his country had more evidence to reveal about the killing. Gruesome reports in the Turkish media have alleged that Khashoggi's body was cut up into multiple pieces. Turkish investigators have searched for the body in a forest near Istanbul, as well as using a robotic arm to inspect the sewers around the Saudi consulate. Saudi authorities denied Turkish police permission to search a well in the garden of the consulate, but did allow them to take water samples for analysis, local media reported. U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said Sunday that Jubeir had assured him Riyadh would conduct a "full" investigation, adding he was confident the probe would include Turkey's findings.
'Rogue operation'?
Riyadh initially insisted that Khashoggi left the consulate unharmed, but as pressure grew, Saudi state media changed the story and said Khashoggi died when an argument descended into a brawl. The story was undercut by footage, which Erdogan confirmed, of a Saudi official acting as a body double for Khashoggi, wearing the journalist's clothes when leaving the consulate to pretend to be the dead man. Since admitting the murder was premeditated, Saudi leadership has blamed a "rogue operation" for the killing of Khashoggi, who was once an insider in Saudi royal circles and had lived in self-imposed exile in the United States since 2017. Beyond the detention of the 18 suspects, five Saudi intelligence chiefs have been sacked, including two who were part of the crown prince's inner circle.Prince Mohammed has denounced the murder as "repulsive" and strongly denied any involvement. However the affair has tarnished the image of the crown prince, the de facto leader of the oil-rich Gulf nation, who has positioned himself as a Saudi reformer.

Merkel Takes First Step Towards Exit after Poll Drubbing
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/October 29/18/Angela Merkel will step down as German chancellor when her mandate ends in 2021, a party source told AFP Monday, after a series of political crises and regional vote debacles rocked her fragile coalition. Often hailed as the world's most powerful woman and Europe's de facto leader, a weakened Merkel has faced growing calls to spell out her succession plans after 13 years in power. Speaking at a meeting of her centre-right Christian Democratic Union on Monday, a day after a bruising state poll in Hesse, Merkel told top brass that she planned to give up the party leadership, a role she has held for 18 years. She said she wanted to complete her fourth stint as chancellor but stressed that it would be "her last term", a party source told AFP. "She was genuinely sad and not at all bitter and asked that the discussion about her succession be conducted in a kind manner," the source said, adding that Merkel's words were greeted with a standing ovation. Germany's veteran leader had been widely expected to run for reelection as CDU leader at a party congress in December. Merkel had until now always insisted that the posts of party chief and chancellor in Europe's top economy should be held by the same person.She is due to give a press conference at 1:00 pm (1200 GMT). - AfD gloats -Merkel's power has been on the wane since her fateful 2015 decision to keep Germany's borders open, ultimately allowing in more than one million migrants. The mass arrivals deeply polarised Germany and are credited with fuelling the rise of the far-right. Railing against the newcomers, the anti-immigrant AfD is now the biggest opposition party in the Bundestag, and after a strong showing in Hesse on Sunday now has seats in all of Germany's state parliaments. AfD leader Joerg Meuthen hailed Merkel's eventual departure as "good news". - AKK to take the reins? -Die Welt reporter Robin Alexander said the path could now be clear for Merkel's chosen heir, CDU general secretary Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, to take the reins if no other credible candidate emerges by December. "The two women have taken back the momentum, because none of their opponents were ready for this," he tweeted. But other candidates are also waiting in the wings, including ambitious health minister Jens Spahn, a frequent Merkel critic. Merkel's surprise news comes after the CDU and its junior federal coalition partner the Social Democrats (SPD) suffered heavy losses in an election in the state of Hesse on Sunday. Just two weeks earlier, Merkel's conservative CSU sister party suffered a similar drubbing in Bavaria. Both polls were seen as damning verdicts on Merkel's grand left-right coalition in Berlin which has lurched from crisis to crisis, often over the hot-button issue of migration. - 'Mistake' to cling to power -The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung said on Sunday it would be "a mistake" for Merkel to cling to power. "By passing the baton of her own free will she would show that she knows the same thing everyone knows: the end of her chancellorship is approaching." Merkel's first step towards the exit door is likely to send ripples across the European Union, where she has served a beacon of stability as bloc grapples with multiple global crises, Brexit and an unpredictable ally in the White House. While still widely respected abroad, her recent domestic woes have kept Merkel away from the European stage, thwarting French President's Emmanuel Macron's push to reform the eurozone with Merkel by his side. Despite her global standing, Merkel has no plans to seek a post in the European Commission after bowing out of German politics, the CDU source told AFP, despite speculation to that effect in Brussels. - SPD ultimatum -But the woman dubbed the "eternal chancellor" may not get to choose her own timetable -- and her departure could be hastened if her junior coalition partner brings down the government before 2021. SPD chief Andrea Nahles said her centre-left party, Germany's oldest, had failed "to break free from the government" and carve out a clear profile of its own after serving in multiple, compromise-laden "grand coalitions". She said the SPD would now propose a "discussion paper" in Berlin demanding concrete progress on key issues by next October, including pension rights and better childcare, before deciding whether to remain in the coalition. Increasing numbers of SPD members have been calling for the party to quit the government and lick its wounds in opposition, as it is presently polling below AfD nationwide, at 15 percent to the far-right's 16 percent.

Synagogue Suspect Appears in U.S. Court in Wheelchair
Agence France Press/Naharnet/October 29/18Robert Bowers, the suspect charged with slaughtering 11 people at a Pittsburgh synagogue in the worst anti-Semitic attack in U.S. history, appeared in court Monday for the first time, in a wheelchair. The 46-year-old, pasty faced and balding, made little comment during the three-minute hearing other than to respond "Yes" and "Yes Sir" to procedural questions from the federal judge. He wore a blue sweatshirt. He faces 29 charges of violent crimes after opening fire during a baby-naming ceremony during Shabbat services on Saturday, killing 11 people and injuring six others, including police officers. He reportedly yelled "All Jews must die" as he burst into the Tree of Life synagogue, where congregants gathered for Sabbath services. Bowers was taken into custody on Saturday after being wounded in a shootout with police and transferred to hospital. The extent of his injuries is unclear and he wore no visible bandages. Bowers was wheeled into the wood paneled court room, number 8A at the U.S. federal court house in downtown Pittsburgh, at 1:31 pm (1731 GMT) -- his face pale, his hair gray and a surly expression on his face. His handcuffs were removed, allowing him to sign a piece of paperwork and he sat between two public defenders -- a man and a woman -- who represented him for the purposes of the brief procedural hearing. He conferred with both lawyers, but their remarks were inaudible to the press gallery. "Sir, are you Mr Bowers?" Judge Robert Mitchell asked the defendant. "Yes," Bowers answered. Bowers replied "Yes Sir" when asked if he had received a copy of the criminal complaint after the judge summarized the charges. Bowers' lawyers waived the right for the complaint and statutory penalties to be read out. The prosecution spoke only to confirm that Bowers was classified a "flight risk." The judge scheduled the next court appearance for Thursday at 10:00 am and until then consigned the defendant to the custody of U.S. Marshalls. Court recessed at 1:38pm -- three minutes after it was declared open -- and Bowers was wheeled out of court at 1:39pm. He faces 11 counts of using a firearm to commit murder and 11 counts of obstructing the exercise of religion resulting in death. The crimes of violence are based on civil rights laws prohibiting hate crimes. Authorities have said Bowers' charges could carry the death penalty.

The Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on October 29-30/18
Is Canada's Government Funding Terrorism?
Tom Quiggin/Gatestone Institute/October 29/2018

"Members of Parliament of the Government of Canada are using their official positions to channel taxpayers' money to Islamic Relief Canada (IRC). The IRC is a federally registered charity, so the taxpayer is subsidizing this activity. IRC in turn is sending millions of dollars to Islamic Relief Worldwide (IRW). Seven independent and reliable sources have gone on the public record and stated that IRW uses charitable funds to provide material support to terrorism. In most cases, this means Hamas, an organization which is listed as a terrorist entity by the Government of Canada." — From of a letter sent to Brenda Lucki, Commissioner of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP).
Funding terrorism is a criminal act according the Criminal Code of Canada.
It is imperative that the RCMP look into this matter of national and international security, and that the Trudeau government be held accountable.
Canadian taxpayers have unwittingly been funding terrorism for more than two decades, often through federally registered charities, many of which have since been banned in other countries and subsequently by Ottawa as well. The International Relief Fund for the Afflicted and Needy, which has sent tens of millions of dollars in goods and services to the Palestinian terrorist organization Hamas, is one example. Another is the Islamic Society of North America's Development Foundation, which was discovered to be funding the Pakistani Islamist movement Jamaat-e-Islami. A third was Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi's "Jihad Fund," which was operating in Canada through a charity registered as the World Islamic Call Society.
For the past three years, however, since the election of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, there has been a shift in the way in which Canadian money is being funneled to terrorist groups. Whereas prior to 2015, the individuals responsible for terrorism-funding were not members of the government or parliament, current evidence suggests that acting politicians are involved in directing money down a path where the ultimate destination is a listed terrorist group. The money is being funneled through a variety of government organizations and programs, including the International Humanitarian Aid Program (2017), M103 Islamophobia Funding (2018), Canada Summer Jobs Program (2017 and 2018), Myanmar Crisis Relief Fund/Islamic Relief (May 2018), Canadian Humanitarian Assistance Fund (CHAF), Canada's Humanitarian and Development Assistance to Syria, Iraq, Jordan and Lebanon, and Prime Minister Trudeau's volunteer work and promotional video for Islamic Relief Canada.
Since, if true, this would be a violation of Section 83.18 and Section 83.03 of the Criminal Code of Canada -- and an investigation by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) is required to determine the legality of the government of Canada funding a known Islamist front group -- I sent a letter to Brenda Lucki, Commissioner of the RCMP, demanding a criminal investigation into Trudeau, Minister of Global Affairs Chrystia Freeland, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Ahmed Hussen, Minister for International Development Marie Claude Bibeau, Parliamentary Secretary for Global Affairs Omar Alghabra, and MP for Mississauga-Erin Mills Iqra Khalid.
The October 9 letter -- co-signed by Tahir Gora of the Canadian Thinkers Forum and TAG-TV, Raheel Raza and Sohail Raza of Muslims Facing Tomorrow and Benjamin Dichter -- reads as follows:
Dear Commissioner Lucki,
This is a formal statement of complaint and I am willing to testify in court to the material contained in this report. The first twenty pages of this document contains the complaint itself and the direct relevant information. The remainder of the document contains supporting, explanatory or supplementary information.
The complaint is that Members of Parliament of the Government of Canada are using their official positions to channel taxpayers' money to Islamic Relief Canada (IRC). The IRC is a federally registered charity, so the taxpayer is subsidizing this activity. IRC in turn is sending millions of dollars to Islamic Relief Worldwide (IRW). Seven independent and reliable sources have gone on the public record and stated that IRW uses charitable funds to provide material support to terrorism. In most cases, this means Hamas, an organization which is listed as a terrorist entity by the Government of Canada.
Funding terrorism is a criminal act according the Criminal Code of Canada.
I am a court expert in terrorism in both the Federal and criminal courts. I have spent years working in the military and intelligence communities, including several years spent at the RCMP (A-INSET). I was working for the RCMP in a national security intelligence role during the Momin Khawaja investigation when I was first qualified as a court expert. At other times, I have worked for the Canadian Armed Forces, the Privy Council Office (Intelligence Assessment Secretariat) and I have been a Senior Fellow at the Nanyang Technological University in Singapore. Military service overseas involved time spent in Croatia and Bosnia during the Yugoslav War.
As you will note, all the sources of information here are public...
Included in the source material we presented to Commissioner Lucki is the following list of those countries raising concerns about terrorism-funding:
In 2014 the United Arab Emirates produced a list of organizations they deemed to be terrorist entities. Among those was Islamic Relief Worldwide and Islamic Relief UK.
In 2017, Bangladesh banned three organizations, including Islamic Relief. The decision to ban them is seen as a "preventative measure against potential radicalization in the camps."
In 2014, Israel banned Islamic Relief from operating in the West Bank, accusing Islamic Relief Worldwide of being a source of funding for the Palestinian Hamas Islamist movement.
In 2015, the HSBC Bank of the United Kingdom ended its banking links with Islamic Relief, citing fears the aid could wind up with terrorist groups. This became public in 2016 when the Times of London published an article titled "Terror fear makes HSBC cut ties to Muslim charity."
In 2012, the UBS Bank cut its ties with Islamic Relief due to concerns about counter-terrorist regulations.
In 2014, the UK Charities Aid Foundation (CAF) removed Islamic Relief from its donation page, although it states is has some 400 other Islamic charities that it supports in some 50 Islamic countries.
The Financial Post of Canada had listed Islamic Relief Canada on their "charities of the year" list but removed it in 2014, stating that IRC was pulled "since its international arm has been banned elsewhere (though not in Canada) for allegedly funneling funds to the terrorist organization Hamas."
It is imperative that the RCMP look into this matter of national and international security, and that the Trudeau government be held accountable.
Tom Quiggin is a former military intelligence officer, a former intelligence contractor for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and a court appointed expert on jihadist terrorism in both the Federal and criminal courts of Canada. He is the author of SUBMISSION: The Danger of Political Islam to Canada – With a Warning to America, written with co-authors Tahir Gora, Saied Shoaaib, Jonathon Cotler, and Rick Gill with a foreword by Raheel Raza. He is also the primary contributor to the QUIGGIN REPORT podcast.
© 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.

European Human Rights Court Backs Sharia Blasphemy Law
سورين كارن: محكمة حقوق الإنسان الأوروبية تدعم قانون الشريعة الخاص بالتجديف

Soeren Kern/Gatestone Institute/October 29/2018

The European Court of Human Rights — which has jurisdiction over 47 European countries, and whose rulings are legally binding on all 28 member states of the European Union — has effectively legitimized an Islamic blasphemy code in the interests of "preserving religious peace" in Europe.
The ruling effectively establishes a dangerous legal precedent, one that authorizes European states to curtail the right to free speech if such speech is deemed to be offensive to Muslims and thus pose a threat to religious peace.
"In other words, my right to speak freely is less important than protecting the religious feelings of others." – Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff.
The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has ruled that criticism of Mohammed, the founder of Islam, constitutes incitement to hatred and therefore is not protected free speech.
With its unprecedented decision, the Strasbourg-based court — which has jurisdiction over 47 European countries, and whose rulings are legally binding on all 28 member states of the European Union — has effectively legitimized an Islamic blasphemy code in the interests of "preserving religious peace" in Europe.
The case involves Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff, an Austrian woman who in 2011 was convicted of "denigrating religious beliefs" after giving a series of lectures about the dangers of fundamentalist Islam.
Sabaditsch-Wolff's legal problems began in November 2009, when she presented a three-part seminar about Islam to the Freedom Education Institute, a political academy linked to the Austrian Freedom Party — which today forms part of the Austrian government. A left-leaning weekly magazine, News, planted a journalist in the audience to secretly record the lectures. Lawyers for the publication then handed the transcripts over to the Viennese public prosecutor's office as evidence of hate speech against Islam, according to Section 283 of the Austrian Criminal Code (Strafgesetzbuch, StGB).
The offending speech was an offhand comment by Sabaditsch-Wolff that Mohammed was a pedophile because he married his wife Aisha when she was just six or seven years old. Sabaditsch-Wolff's actual words were, "A 56-year-old and a six-year-old? What do we call it, if it is not pedophilia?"
Indeed, most hadiths (collections of traditions containing the words and actions of Mohammed) confirm that Aisha was prepubescent when Mohammed married her and was only nine years old when the marriage was consummated. Mohammed's actions would today be unlawful in Austria, so Sabaditsch-Wolff's comments were factually, if not politically, correct.
Formal charges against Sabaditsch-Wolff were filed in September 2010 and her bench trial, presided over by one judge and no jury, began that November. On February 15, 2011, Sabaditsch-Wolff was convicted of "denigration of religious beliefs of a legally recognized religion," according to Section 188 of the Austrian Criminal Code.
The judge rationalized that Mohammed's sexual contact with nine-year-old Aisha could not be considered pedophilia because Mohammed continued his marriage to Aisha until his death. According to this line of thinking, Mohammed had no exclusive desire for underage girls; he was also attracted to older females because Aisha was 18 years old when Mohammed died.
The judge ordered Sabaditsch-Wolff to pay a fine of €480 ($550) or an alternative sentence of 60 days in prison. Moreover, she was required to pay the costs of the trial.
Sabaditsch-Wolff appealed the conviction to the Provincial Appellate Court in Vienna (Oberlandesgericht Wien), but that appeal was rejected on December 20, 2011. A request for a new trial was dismissed by the Austrian Supreme Court on December 11, 2013.
Sabaditsch-Wolff then took her case to the European Court of Human Rights, a supranational court established by the European Convention on Human Rights. The court hears applications alleging violations of the civil and political rights set out in the Convention.
Relying on Article 10 (Freedom of Expression) of the Convention, Sabaditsch-Wolff complained that Austrian courts failed to address the substance of her statements in the light of her right to freedom of expression. If they had done so, she argued, they would not have qualified them as mere value judgments but as value judgments based on facts. Furthermore, her criticism of Islam occurred in the framework of an objective and lively discussion which contributed to a public debate and had not been aimed at defaming Mohammed. Sabaditsch-Wolff also argued that religious groups had to tolerate even severe criticism.
The ECHR ruled that states could restrict the free speech rights enshrined in Article 10 of the Convention if such speech was "likely to incite religious intolerance" and was "likely to disturb the religious peace in their country." The court added:
"The Court noted that the domestic courts comprehensively explained why they considered that the applicant's statements had been capable of arousing justified indignation; specifically, they had not been made in an objective manner contributing to a debate of public interest (e.g. on child marriage), but could only be understood as having been aimed at demonstrating that Muhammad was not worthy of worship. It agreed with the domestic courts that Mrs S. must have been aware that her statements were partly based on untrue facts and apt to arouse indignation in others. The national courts found that Mrs S. had subjectively labelled Muhammad with pedophilia as his general sexual preference, and that she failed to neutrally inform her audience of the historical background, which consequently did not allow for a serious debate on that issue. Hence, the Court saw no reason to depart from the domestic courts' qualification of the impugned statements as value judgments which they had based on a detailed analysis of the statements made.
"The Court found in conclusion that in the instant case the domestic courts carefully balanced the applicant's right to freedom of expression with the rights of others to have their religious feelings protected, and to have religious peace preserved in Austrian society.
"The Court held further that even in a lively discussion it was not compatible with Article 10 of the Convention to pack incriminating statements into the wrapping of an otherwise acceptable expression of opinion and claim that this rendered passable those statements exceeding the permissible limits of freedom of expression.
"Lastly, since Mrs S. was ordered to pay a moderate fine and that fine was on the lower end of the statutory range of punishment, the criminal sanction could not to be considered as disproportionate.
"Under these circumstances, and given the fact that Mrs S. made several incriminating statements, the Court considered that the Austrian courts did not overstep their wide margin of appreciation in the instant case when convicting Mrs S. of disparaging religious doctrines. Overall, there had been no violation of Article 10."
The ruling effectively establishes a dangerous legal precedent, one that authorizes European states to curtail the right to free speech if such speech is deemed to be offensive to Muslims and thus pose a threat to religious peace.
The ECHR ruling will be welcomed by the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, a bloc of 57 Muslim countries that has long pushed for the European Union to impose limits on free speech when it comes to criticism of Islam.
The OIC has pressed Western democracies to implement United Nations Human Rights Council (HRC) Resolution 16/18, which calls on all countries to combat "intolerance, negative stereotyping and stigmatization of ... religion and belief."
Resolution 16/18, which was adopted at HRC headquarters in Geneva on March 24, 2011, is widely viewed as a significant step forward in OIC efforts to advance the international legal concept of defaming Islam.
Former OIC Secretary General Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu hailed the ECHR's decision, which he said "shows that disrespect, insults and detestable enmities have nothing to do with the freedom of expression or human rights." He added:
"The fight against Islamophobia and our opinions we have been voicing for years have been adopted and declared by the ECHR. This ruling is pleasing in all its aspects."
In a statement, Sabaditsch-Wolff criticized the ruling but held out hope that European publics are waking up to the looming threats to free speech:
"On Thursday, 25 October the ECHR ruled that my conviction by an Austrian court for discussing the marriage between Prophet Mohammed and a six-year-old girl, Aisha, did not infringe my rights of freedom of speech.
"I was not extended the courtesy of being told of this ruling. Like many others, I had to read it in the media.
"The ECHR found there had been no violation of Article 10 (freedom of expression) of the European Convention on Human Rights and that right to expression needed to be balanced with the rights of others to have their religious feelings protected, and served the legitimate aim of preserving religious peace in Austria.
"In other words, my right to speak freely is less important than protecting the religious feelings of others.
"This should ring warning bells for my fellow citizens across the continent. We should all be extremely concerned that the rights of Muslims in Europe NOT to be offended are greater than my own rights, as a native European Christian woman, to speak freely.
"I am proud to be the woman who has raised this alarm.
"I am also optimistic. Since giving my seminars in Austria in 2009, we have come a very long way.
"Ten years ago, the press labeled me a 'confused doom-monger' and I was compared to Osama Bin Laden. Now, Islam is being discussed in every sphere of life and people are waking up to the reality of a culture so opposed to our own.
"The cultural and political threat posed by Islam to Western societies is now widely recognized and discussed. It is fair to say European society, as well as the political realm, is undergoing an enlightenment, as it is more awake than ever to the need to defend our own Judeo-Christian culture.
"I believe my seminars in 2009, and subsequent work have contributed to strong push back against an Islamic culture which is so at odds with our own. And note with interest that only one sentence out of 12 hours of seminars on Islam was a prosecutable offense. I assume the remaining content is now officially sanctioned by our Establishment masters.
"It is obvious to me that public education and discourse on the subject of Islam can have a fundamental and far-reaching impact, even if our state or supra-national authorities try to stifle or silence it, in order to appease a culture so foreign to our own.
"This fight continues. My voice will not and cannot be silenced."
*Soeren Kern is a Senior Fellow at the New York-based Gatestone Institute.
© 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.

Syria's Solution Rug
Ghassan Charbel/Asharq Al Awsat/October 29/18
Weaving a political solution in Syria requires strenuous and creative efforts that almost need a miracle to succeed. It demands tough negotiations, enormous pressure, and thorny compromises. With overlapping conflicting roles and old and emerging obstacles, we are witnessing one of the most complex crises the world has faced in the recent era.
The picture would have certainly been different if one party had declared victory by a knockout and imposed a unilateral solution. If the Russian side can be named the first player on this complex stage, it cannot be considered as the only player. It has partners whose interests must be taken into account. The Syrian file is one of many files on the table of its relations with the West, especially with the United States.
Syria has an important position in the coup led by Vladimir Putin against the world of the only superpower. But it is early to believe that the Kremlin is interested in a complete victory in Syria, even if it has lost its relationship with Israel, Turkey, and the West. Putin’s calculations go beyond the borders of the Syrian theater.
There is no doubt that the Russian thread will be the most important component of the solution rug. Moscow is a mandatory crossing point for any permanent solution in Syria, and that is certainly acknowledged by US National Security Adviser John Bolton and UN Envoy Staffan de Mistura, who is about to leave the theater.
The Russian thread is not enough, as Moscow is neither in a position to bear the burden of rebuilding Syria nor it is able to do so. Moreover, it is hard to believe that Western countries are willing to participate in the reconstruction of Syria, if this role is limited to polishing the Russian victory there and just normalizing the situation under Moscow’s umbrella, without restraining the influence of Iran, which used its militias to prevent the overthrowing of the Syrian regime.
The Russian thread is necessary, so is the American thread. The United States has a military presence in eastern Syria and has recently chosen to step up the pressure to push Iranian militias out of the country. US pressure will start a new phase of escalation in the first week of November when Washington returns to impose the “harshest sanctions ever” against Tehran, which no longer hides the scale of its economic difficulties.
Syria’s political solution rug also needs a European thread, a Turkish thread, an Iranian thread, an Arab thread, and an Israeli thread, at least in terms of security arrangements. The quartet summit in Istanbul, which gathered the leaders of Russia, France, and Germany, as well as the president of the host country, could be put within the framework of the quest to find those threads.
The summit called for the formation of the Syrian constitution drafting committee to meet by the end of the year. Participants underlined the need to create conditions throughout Syria for a safe and voluntary return of refugees, to facilitate humanitarian access to the country, to impose a permanent ceasefire and to continue fighting extremists.
There is no doubt that the summit itself revealed the need for partners, albeit at different levels. Putin needs a European partnership to provide an umbrella for the solution because it could pave the way for America’s engagement under such an umbrella. Turkey also needs European partners to strengthen its position and to balance Iran’s influence on one hand and Russia’s role on the other. France and Germany also want to participate to emphasize that Europe has not lost its role due to Britain’s decision to withdraw from the European Union and to warn Italy and other countries against defying the EU’s spirit and controls.
A quick meeting in Istanbul is not enough to resolve differences in the accounts. The press conference that followed the summit revealed the divergences. Angela Merkel stressed that there was no military solution to the Syrian crisis. “At the end of this political process, there must be free elections involving all Syrians, including those living abroad,” she said. President Emmanuel Macron rushed to support the German chancellor’s proposal and urged Russia to “exert very clear pressure on the Syrian regime.” For his part, Putin emphasized the fight against terrorism and hoped that Turkey would soon complete the establishment of a demilitarized zone in Idlib. As for President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, he said: “The Syrian people at home and abroad” will determine the fate of President Bashar al-Assad, underscoring the fight against “terrorists” in northern Syria, in reference to the Kurdish organizations.
The outcome of the Istanbul summit is supposed to be at the table of the “small group” meeting in London. The group includes the US, France, Britain, Germany, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Egypt, in addition to De Mistura. Attempts to establish coexistence between the necessary threads will also be present on other dates, including the expected summit between Putin and Donald Trump on the sidelines of France’s World War I commemoration. The Syrian file is likely to occupy a prominent place in light of the results of Bolton’s visit to Moscow. The Russian-US dialogue continues, confirmed by Trump’s invitation to Putin to visit Washington, even if China seems to be present in this invitation.
The same file will be tackled when De Mistura submits on November 19 his final briefing to the Security Council on the results of his efforts to resolve the political crisis and his failure to convince Damascus to facilitate the formation of the constitutional committee.
Sewing Syria's solution rug will not be easy. It is not enough to arrange a coexistence between the Sochi track and the Geneva route. The Syrian regime did not make concessions when it was weak; so how would it provide them after the equations on the ground have changed in its favor? What about Iran’s position, which is preparing for an extraordinary round of US pressure? Can Putin receive from Iran what is enough to justify the US and European involvement in the solution rug?
We are facing a very complex crisis with internal, regional and international dimensions. The solution requires pressure and patience, preparing documents and concluding major understandings. It almost needs a miracle.

You Are Not Your DNA
Faye Flam/Bloomberg/October 29/18
People are reading too much meaning into DNA – Elizabeth Warren’s and their own. It continues to carry a mystique as a key to who we are, where we belong, and when and how we’ll die. Just days before Warren announced her DNA ancestry results, headlines were warning of a new threat to the genetic privacy of us all. But the experts offered no compelling examples of what DNA snoops might find out about us and how that information would cause us harm.
The privacy warnings came from a paper in Science, which proclaimed that detectives, or hackers for that matter, could find the identity of “almost anyone” from a sample of DNA. Of course, if you committed rape or murder and left your DNA at the scene, this DNA matching capability could reveal that you are the perpetrator. But what can it reveal about the rest of us?
The reason it’s now possible to connect names with otherwise anonymous DNA is that so many people have entered their DNA into databases to trace their genealogy, and many have posted it publicly in the hope of connecting with relatives. Detectives investigating a notorious cold case, that of the Golden State Killer, recognized that they could make use of this data. They had the killer’s DNA, but no match to any suspects.
So they created a fake customer for an online genealogy service and found partial matches to people likely to be the killer’s relatives, after which they found the source of the DNA sample through his family tree. The Science paper demonstrates that this case wasn’t a lucky fluke. The same strategy would work to track down about 60 percent of people of European ancestry. And as more people sign up for genealogy services, that will grow to encompass almost everyone.
A similar ominous tone followed another paper released the same week in the journal Cell. There, scientists demonstrated that it’s possible to link DNA samples collected through law enforcement to samples that contain other sorts of genetic information, and use it to match not just individuals who have volunteered their DNA but also family members who have not.
One serious concern is that, in principle, someone could use the same techniques to unmask the identities of people who donated DNA for scientific studies. But it would be against the law for anyone to use any of their genetic information against them.
Back in the 1990s, scientists and medical ethicists worried that the health insurance system would refuse coverage over genetic risk factors, and that might lead to employers firing people over their DNA. And so the US and many other countries adopted laws to prohibit genetic discrimination.
How has that worked out? I asked Bartha Maria Knoppers, a law professor and director of the Center of Genomics and Policy at McGill University in Canada. She said there hasn’t been any problem with genetic discrimination. That might be because companies are respecting the law, but also, DNA turned out to be much less predictive than people thought it would be.
A small minority of people carry a real genetic time bomb, such as Huntington’s disease or mutations associated with a high risk of certain cancers. For most of us, our health is tied to multiple genes and environmental factors, such as exposure to pollution, stress and diet – and to some extent random chance.
Knoppers said that fears set off by these new reports might inhibit the free sharing of data that’s becoming important for international collaboration in science. Subjects should be informed that if they give DNA for a study, it’s hypothetically possible for them to be identified. But it is a hypothetical problem.
The news stories also hinted at a risk that use of genealogy might lead police to arrest innocent people. When I was researching a previous column about the implications the Golden State Killer case, experts said that technique will help detectives catch the right person, as long as there’s a complete sample of DNA at the crime scene, and they can match it to DNA directly from any suspect tracked through relatives. DNA has helped to free the innocent, and call attention to the problem of wrongful convictions.
DNA has also contributed to wrongful convictions, in cases where detectives try to use minute fragments left from someone merely touching an object, or mixtures of DNA from different people. But that’s a separate issue.
Beyond forensics, DNA has revolutionized the understanding of evolution and where we as a species came from. But there are limits to what it can reveal about any given individual. Since Elizabeth Warren published her genetic profile, everyone is reading something different into the test results. Supporters say she has now proven that she is indeed part Native American, while her foes say the test proves the opposite, that she has too little Native American ancestry to qualify.
What do the geneticists say? News stories have quoted several boasting about how accurate their tests are in finding minuscule contributions to people’s DNA. But they can’t answer whether Warren’s result means she can identify as Native American. That's a line drawn by cultures, not by science.
One of the most interesting things DNA ever revealed was that all humans share a recent common origin in Africa, and that there’s been a long history of mixing. Studies show that many Americans have a combination of European, African and Native American ancestors, and that the degree of mixing varies by region. There is no scientific way to decide who qualifies to be in which race, because scientists now recognize that there are no lines separating races – only a continuum of skin colors and other traits that vary around the globe. A scientist once told me that race is just family resemblances writ large.
And so the bad news is that a DNA test can’t really tell you who you are or divine your future health. But the good news is that any hackers who stole your DNA wouldn't learn much either.

Can Iran escape the backlash of biting sanctions?
Sabena Siddiqui/Al Arabiya/October 29/18
Even as Iran braces itself for the second round of US sanctions next month in November, President Trump has stressed that not only will all sanctions lifted by the 2015 JCPOA nuclear deal be back in full force from 5th November, there will be more sanctions in the future to prevent Tehran from “developing the world’s deadliest weapons.”Further sanctions would be implemented to “address the full range of Iran’s malign conduct,” he said. In August, the first set of sanctions targeted the purchase of US dollars, gold trade and automotive sector, and next week Iran’s oil and shipping sectors and its central bank would be hit. Evidently, the US will not be placated easily and Washington has specified once again that those countries that continue to do business with Iran after 4th November would be blocked from accessing the American banking and financial system. Vowing to “take care” of countries that defy the US directives to bring their oil imports from Iran to zero from November the 4th, the US appears to be dead serious about implementation. Predictably, more countries will shy away from continuing business with Iran after this latest warning. Evaluating the scenario, US National Security adviser John Bolton had said, “I think the return of the sanctions has had a devastating effect on their economy and I think it’s going to get worse.”Apparently, the US aims to not only drastically severe Iranian oil exports it also plans to disrupt exports coming into Iran from main trading hubs to completely cripple its economy.
Apparently, the US aims to not only drastically severe Iranian oil exports it also plans to disrupt exports coming into Iran from main trading hubs to completely cripple its economy
Domestic situation
Preparing for the onslaught, Iran is planning to bolster up its working class to keep the domestic situation stable. Keeping in mind the restive conditions last December due to raised food prices, the Iranian government plans to give financial support to a quarter of its population which constitutes around 20 million.
Meanwhile, the lower classes, which are around 11 million and earn $217 a month, would get a higher level of aid to reduce chances of discontent. Nevertheless, the country has already been hit by inflation at the rate of 30 percent as the 180-day notice to oil companies to get out of Iran is ending.
According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Iran’s economy is expected to shrink further by at least 3.6 percent in 2019 when only months ago in April before the JCPOA nuclear deal ended, it had predicted prospects for 4 percent growth. Inevitably, Iran’s domestic risks could also multiply if economic discontent hits the streets again and the risk factor will only rise with more and more sanctions in the days ahead. Announcing a $5 billion state fund to encourage foreign investment, the Iranian government is trying to survive the coming squeeze and a special payments channel is also being set up to enable Europe to continue trade with Iran. Very soon, Iran’s energy sector would see a removal of around 1 million barrels a day from global markets and begin losing a major source of revenue. Last year, Iran’s net oil export income was estimated at $55 billion but in the months ahead only China and Russia are likely to continue business as usual, many other countries might not risk Washington’s ire by dumping the dollar.
Special purpose vehicle
Many factors come into play, even the EU’s plan to create a “special purpose” financial company which would allow it to buy oil from Iran has been derailed recently. All the major oil companies such as Total, ENI and CEPSA backed out and the CEO of Total, Patrick Pouyanne said that they “cannot afford to take the risk to be banned from using the US Financial system.” Even the ENI went on to confirm that, “We have no presence in Iran anymore and our trading contract will naturally expire in November.” Unavoidably, these companies had to respect the wishes of their shareholders also who wish to play it safe.
Escaping the backlash will not be easy for Iran and it has already gone in recession mode since the last few months. Even last year in December, the rising cost of food items had caused street rage that devolved into widespread protests by the working class and spilled over into the rural areas from the urban areas which is an unusual pattern. This may be because Iran has a young population in the majority which requires employment and a better standard of living. Even before the JCPOA crisis started, Iran urgently needed to improve its long-term economic outlook, and the sanctions could not have come at a worse time. Considering the state of affairs, if Iran enters an economic slump like the one during the last sanctions in 2012-15, the masses might not be easy to manage and the economic situation is already getting out of hand.

‘New Europe’ and the ‘mighty people’

Abdullah bin Bijad Al-Otaibi/Al Arabiya/October 29/18
“I think that the new Europe will be the Middle East. I think this goal will be achieved 100 percent.”The Saudi Crown Prince gave this enlightening statement at the Future Investment Initiative, held in Riyadh last week, and explained one of his future ideas and progressive visions of the Middle East. This was addressed to the entire world and to an audience that consisted of an elite of investors and politicians from across the world. Some may voice surprise at this massive dream and the difficult challenges, and they have every right to do so. Allow me to remind you that the Saudis themselves voiced surprise at the Crown Prince’s dreams few years ago, and some of them thought these dreams were impossible.However, we began to see them with our own eyes and we saw how they were developing day after day. The Saudi Crown Prince follows words with action. The challenges of our time is rare he always succeeds at addressing them. The prince confidently spoke about the “great and mighty Saudi people” whom he sees as strength. He believes Saudis trade dreams with dreams and trust with trust. Their collective hope is on him to leap into the path of progress as they have seen with their own eyes. They are aware how he is loyal in structuring the vision and how he works hard to turn the impossible into tangible reality. Perhaps it is a blessing in disguise that after this unjust attack on Saudi Arabia, the country may need to enhance its soft power and expand it internationally via all means possible
Diversifying economy
The Saudis have not previously known a leader who so diligently seeks real diversification of the economy in order to create new opportunities and make use of resources. He talks numbers the way experts and the knowledgeable people would do and asks people not to believe him but to believe the numbers as they do not lie. For the Saudis, and for those who are following up on the new Saudi experience, everything that is new and great and unprecedented was achieved at the hands of the ambitious young prince. His vision, i.e. Vision 2030, extends for 15 years and they did not have programs that support them such as the National Transformation Program 2020, Quality of Life Program, Financial Balance Program, Citizens Account Program and many others.
Saudis have been introduced to the state of decisiveness and determination and to the new and glorious Saudi Arabia by him – it’s a new Saudi Arabia that leads from the front and that clearly expresses its strength, prestige and capability as it plays a major and pivotal role in the region and the world.
This enhances pride in the country, ensures dedication for the future and builds accomplishments. Saudi Arabia is today a prime player in confronting the Iranian regime, which spreads chaos, supports sectarianism and strengthens terrorism in the region and the world.
It is the strongest player in confronting terrorism on all levels, whether on the intellectual, political, security and military fronts. Terrorism is one of the most dangerous international threats to the entire of humanity. Saudi Arabia is also the most important player against extremism and has been targeting extremist groups, primarily those with links to Muslim Brotherhood, both at home and abroad. This is only few of the many reasons as to why the Saudi people love this young leader and cling to his great dreams and vision. He is one of the few leaders who is capable of changing the rudder of history, amend its course and fix its mistakes. Hence, nothing is truer than what Prince Turki al-Faisal told the Washington Post when he said that the Saudis are supportive of the Saudi Crown Prince, noting: “If you took a poll among Saudis today, you would find that he is more popular than he was two weeks ago.”
Honest admiration
Sweeping popularity and honest admiration of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman are among the most important headlines in Saudi Arabia and personally targeting him is tantamount to targeting his great vision and project of Saudi Arabia and the region and of the 20 million people about whom he once said: “I am nothing without them.” These 20 million see themselves – in action and in words – as nothing without him. This cohesion and this fusion in the project and vision between the leader and the people are the strongest guarantees to confront all the challenges regardless of all the rivals and enemies’ incitement and of any hatred, maliciousness, lies, forgery and fake news. The Khashoggi case is on its way to judicial conclusion and justice will prevail following criminal investigation led by the Saudi prosecution. The Saudi state has throughout its long history never been known for pursuing “opposition” figures. On the contrary, it honored some when needed toward the end of their lives and pardoned anyone who requested to return home. This is what can be seen throughout history, and the examples are many. There is a point we must pay attention. Due to unjust media attack against Saudi Arabia and its leadership, they have begun to ask the world and its politicians about the silence over Iran’s policies in spreading chaos, destruction and terrorism and about the Assad regime that killed the Syrian people using all types of weapons from tanks to fighter jets, missiles and internationally-prohibited chemical weapons.
Despite the sincerity of the argument, it’s not possible in any case and by any standards to compare Saudi Arabia with these bloody dictatorial regimes.
Saudi Arabia is a huge and influential “soft power” by virtue of its spiritual status in the Islamic world, its policies for stability of nations, its effective diplomacy, diverse culture, deep-rooted Islamic and Arab traditions and robust economy.
However, perhaps it is a blessing in disguise that after this unjust attack on Saudi Arabia, it may need to enhance its soft power, expand it internationally via all means possible and the best means possible is to appeal to the neutral around the world and who do not know much about the new Saudi Arabia. As for the enemies and rivals, that’s another story. The deals worth billions, sealed during the three days of the Future Investment Initiative, indicate that the tendentious media attacks cannot cancel rationality or defeat political realism or eliminate major interests among countries.

Identity politics and the threat to individualism
Adil Rasheed/Al Arabiya/October 29/18
One of the sterling concepts of liberalism that helped usher in the modern age of scientific progress and socio-political change is individualism. According to this concept, the rights and needs of an individual are superior to those of any group or social organization and an individual’s worth cannot be judged based on his or her ethnicity, race, gender, religion or economic background. The liberal idea. The proponents of individualism argue that bright ideas and epiphanies come to individuals and not to groups. They contend that the act of thinking is a singular and not a collaborative exercise.
Thus spiritual awakening or intellectual enlightenment issue from an individual’s personal inspiration and motivation and is not the preserve of collective consciousness or of any specific group of people.
Collectivist institutions or polities are often crippled by hierarchical structures and promote trite ideas to ensure internal cohesion, often at the expense of innovation and reform. Therefore, societies and polities that embrace individualism have proven to be at the forefront of social development and technological breakthroughs as opposed to those led by collectivist diktats or group think. Again, it is suggested that by emphasizing the dignity and worth of the individual above the superiority of any collectivist identity linked to race, religion, creed, gender etc., liberalism has successfully eliminated the historical ills of feudalism, slavery and imperialism, followed by its defeat of collectivist tyrannies of communism and fascism. By pursuing ideas of free market enterprise and individual freedom, liberal states became prosperous and drew intelligent and innovative intellectuals, scientists and entrepreneurs from all over the world to reinvigorate their societies with creativity. It is noteworthy that individualism does not undermine the role of society, religion or politics, but merely puts the primacy of individual rights above any totalitarian, collectivist order.
Parochial politics
However, a new threat to individualism has risen in modern polities from what is being described as ‘identity politics’. In simple terms, identity politics seeks to rally special privileges for the “protection” of a particular race, ethnicity, religion, class or gender on the pretext of correcting a supposed historical wrong against it.
With the rise of this new brand of collectivism, individual identity and distinctiveness has been subsumed by the strident straitjacket of group consciousness, leading to uncompromising feuds and divisiveness in society. It is not how an individual thinks or acts, but which group one belongs to (in the collectivist scheme) which is gaining importance in politics. Under the excuse of being historically deprived and victimized, certain minority and even majority groups in democracies (be they in the US, Iraq or India) are demanding special treatment to reverse the ‘cultural appropriation’ of their rights. This has led narrow group interests stymie broader national causes. From US right-wing extremists causing a state of emergency in Charlottesville Virginia in 2017 to left-wing extremists shutting down the Evergreen State College near Seattle, vituperative exchanges between racial, religious and even gender groups are now dogging even the strongest bastions of liberalism, such as the US. Thus, at a time when women are speaking out against sexual harassment and assault as part of the Me Too movement that has gone viral around the world, several men’s rights group like the MGTOW (Men Going Their Own Way) in the US and the Save Indian Family Foundation (SIFF) in New Delhi are crying hoarse against the alleged violation of men’s rights.
The radical right
In order to better understand the rise of ‘identity politics’, it would be better to first understand the concept of identity. In his new book titled Identity: The Demand for Dignity and the Politics of Resentment, Francis Fukuyama explains identity as that part of the human personality that wants recognition of its dignity.
He likens identity to Plato’s idea of the soul’s spiritedness or “themos”, which causes a person to get angry for not being recognized. This idea of identity is often linked to one’s origins, often in a nation, race, religion or even gender. According to Fukuyama, the modern world has allowed repressed identities to express themselves politically, but now its distorted and abusive forms are harming the greater good. Ironically, the rise of identity politics is often blamed on the ideology of the Left. It is claimed that after championing the cause of the economically deprived working class, socialist parties in Western states started championing the rights of racial and religious minorities as well as the feminist movement, for largely justifiable reasons. However, such politics eventually led to anomalies such as excessive support for certain Black extremist and radical Islamist groups.
This led to a majoritarian backlash with the rise of right-wing nationalist parties in the West, the Middle East and Asia. With growing economic challenges following the 2008 global recession, the appetite for special privileges for minorities as well as for punctilious political correctness withered away.
By switching from their original agenda of working for the economically deprived working class to identity groups, leftist parties in Europe have become weaker as their voter base is fast shifting to the radical right opposed to the liberal values of universal equality.
Perhaps the best way for resolving the present crisis is to follow the principles of the civil rights movement in the US led by Martin Luther King Jr in the 1960s. This movement was not about identity politics, but about destroying it. It saw people as individuals and not as members of groups and wanted everybody to be given equal opportunity to work for the betterment of their respective country and the world.

Ghannouchi, Khashoggi and other goals

Mashari Althaydi/Al Arabiya/October 29/18
It’s as if the scene is repeating itself. It’s as if we’re at the beginning of media chaos and flaring Brotherhood incitement; the season of the Arab Spring or Arab chaos.
In the past two days, Rached Ghannouchi spoke before his supporters from the Tunisian Ennahda Movement, the special Tunisian version of the Brotherhood. Ghannouchi likened the consequences of Jamal Khashoggi’s murder to the atmosphere which prevailed in Tunisia after Mohamed Bouazizi set himself on fire in December 2010 sparking a revolution in Tunisia. Speaking before his movement’s cadres, Ghannouchi said: “The global political atmosphere currently resembles the tragic scene which was witnessed in 2010 when young man Bouazizi set himself on fire and when he brought about all that regional and international sympathy and highlighted the circumstances that brought him into that scene.” His statements are clear and the investment is clearer. It’s by the same party via the same approach and aims to serve the same purpose. A shocking death is being fully exploited and used to invoke feelings of anger in politics and to gain supporters and harm rivals. The rivals here, according to the Muslim Brotherhood, are the Arab countries that reject their project.
Due to the pressure which Ennahda Movement is feeling on the internal and external levels, its leader is trying to ignite the spark again using the Jamal Khashoggi case. It’s been several years since the collapse of the Brotherhood project, the so-called Arab Spring, which received western leftist support, of primarily President Barack Obama. People woke up and revolted against the Brotherhood’s plans especially in Egypt and against the Khomeini projects in Bahrain – projects that came under the pretext of the Arab Spring. Ghannouchi and his comrades in Tunisia tried to adapt with the changes.
Today, due to the pressure which Ennahda Movement is feeling on the internal and external levels, its leader is trying to ignite the spark again using the Jamal Khashoggi case, and he is trying to expand the network of allies in the Arab region and besieging states that oppose the Brotherhood project and primarily Saudi Arabia.
Within this context, I remember the moment of great exposure in the “Arab Spring,” that dangerous stance which Ghannouchi made during a lecture at the Washington Institute in Washington in 2011 as he called for a revolution in Gulf countries and hopefully stated the “Spring”, i.e. chaos, will make its way to the Gulf’s kingdoms, as he put it. At the same time, he said he and his movement, Ennahda, did not mind an Arab-Israeli reconciliation. Notice that he was talking at that particular timing with America and at a think tank that’s affiliated with the Jews!
He then tried to contain the anger which his remarks sparked. In an interview with Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper in December 2011, he directed anger at the “institute” because it violated the condition of not publishing the content of the forum he had attended! Then he tried to flirt with Gulf countries saying: “We hope this (in reference to reform and not the revolution) takes the easiest of paths.” This “easy” approach was definitely not seen in the Egyptian case!
Fouad Mansour Kacem, one of Ennahda Movement officials and its former leader in France, spoke in detail about Ghannouchi’s support of Saddam’s 1990 invasion of Kuwait. Ghannouchi also greatly admired Khomeini whom he views as his “spiritual father” as seen in his book “Public freedoms in the Islamic state” that was published by the Center for Arab Unity Studies in 1993.
Oh how much tonight resembles yesterday Mr. Rached. Just like the attempts failed yesterday, they will fail today.

Iran’s Economy Is Stagnating Even Before New U.S. Sanctions Hit
Patrick Clawson/The Washington Institute/October 29/18
The impact of imminent sanctions will be magnified by the economy’s recent struggles, and Tehran’s bad financial policies will only make matters worse.
The consequences of new U.S. sanctions are just beginning to unfold, but Iran’s economy is already in a precarious position. Since this spring, it has experienced an unexpected recession, and government policy has exacerbated the situation. Life will get tougher in Iran, but the big question is whether the Islamic Republic believes its economy can muddle through until the Trump administration leaves office.
The numbers evidence a worsening situation. The Majlis Research Center estimates that Iran’s GDP will fall by 0.8% in the 2018/19 Iranian fiscal year and 2.5% in 2019/20. The IMF’s predictions—especially when compared to its March estimate that the Iranian GDP would increase annually by 4.0%—have become gloomier; its October forecast now shows a decline of 1.5% this year and 3.6% in the next. In describing these changes, the IMF’s most recent World Economic Outlook stated that “Prospects for 2018-19 were marked down sharply for Iran, reflecting the impact of the reinstatement of U.S. sanctions.”
According to Iran’s two consumer price indices, this is just the start of their troubles. The Statistical Center of Iran showed that inflation levels in September were at 5.4%, which translates to an 88% annual rate when compounded monthly. Similarly, the Central Bank showed inflation that month at 6.1%, which would mean a 103% annual rate. At levels this high, the rial’s value relative to the dollar will continue to plummet.
In late September, heavy-handed pressure on traders saw the exchange rate drop, but this has since settled at about 140,000 rials to the U.S. dollar—three times the rate before March 21, the Iranian New Year. With the arrests of numerous traders and the death sentences imposed on two purveyors of gold and foreign exchange, the rate could presumably stabilize for a while. But economic fundamentals dictate that it will fall again; inflation invariably drives domestic costs up. Since the Iranian people tend to fixate on the dollar rate as a barometer of the economy’s condition, the government typically wastes many scarce resources to prop up the rial instead of addressing other problems.
The national employment rate, for one, has not increased enough to mitigate inflation. The problem is worst for the well-educated. By some accounts, a third of men and half of women under thirty with college degrees are unemployed. The Management and Planning Organization reports that 44% of Iran’s unemployed have a college degree. Moreover, the Ministry of Education reports that 20,000 people start doctoral programs every year, but there are only jobs for 4,000-5,000 of them. According to a report in Donya-ye Eqtesad, a mid-October poll by the Tehran Chamber of Commerce, Industries, Mines, and Agriculture unsurprisingly found that 76% of respondents “believed that private sector activities were declining” and that “the situation would be further aggravated in the future.”
Admittedly, there are some positive signs. The Tehran Stock Exchange is up 90% from the Iranian New Year to mid-October—a direct result of the crisis in confidence with banks and the fears of inflation, both of which have led to a flood of money into stocks. However, this still leaves stocks, as valued in dollars, declining sharply. Furthermore, Iranians are only investing in those items deemed capable of preserving their value. For instance, locally made Pride cars, infamous for their low quality, are sold out for months in advance despite the 50% price increase in August alone. The housing market, though, has seen a sharp drop-off in sales activity; people may be afraid to commit in these uncertain times.
Overall, exports are up and imports are down, providing a much-needed boost to GDP. From April to September, non-oil exports totaled $13.7 billion compared to $11.1 billion a year earlier, while imports were valued at $22.2 billion compared to $24.8 billion last year. In other words, the trade balance unrelated to oil improved by $5.2 billion, while the deficit was only $8.5 billion—which is almost covered by the $7.02 billion in petrochemical exports, relieving some pressure on reserves. This improved trade balance lessened the fall in GDP.
Positive indicators aside, Tehran’s questionable economic decisions have contributed to the gloomy overall forecast. Fararu reported that in a two-and-a-half-hour meeting with President Hassan Rouhani on October 15, more than thirty economists criticized the government’s economic policies as “politically motivated” and “short-term” solutions, while complaining about the quality of people on his economic team. Additionally, rather than celebrating the increase in agricultural exports—tomato shipments are up 145%, and potatoes 12%—the Rouhani government has blamed them for rising food prices. For instance, it has tried, unsuccessfully, to impose a ban on tomato exports, one of the few bright spots for long-suffering farmers.
Other commodities and resources have also fallen under the scrutiny of economists. The price of gasoline in rials, for example, has not been adjusted since May 2015 even though the rial has lost 75% of its value on the free market. This August, gasoline consumption was at 100 million liters per day, almost 25 million higher than the previous year. Iranians are not necessarily traveling more; rather, gas has become incredibly cheap. At the official rate, it costs 10,000 rials ($0.24) per liter, or $0.07 at the free market rate—compared to $1.20 in Turkey, $0.73 in Afghanistan, $0.65 in Pakistan, and $0.63 in Iraq. At least 20 million liters of gasoline is smuggled abroad each day, all of which Iran has to import back into the country because its refineries can only make enough gas to meet the real domestic demand, not the smuggling-induced inflated demand.
Adding to these issues, controversial exchange rate policies have been draining public finances and enriching corrupt elites. The dollars earned from exporting oil are almost all converted at the low official rate, with the result that government oil revenue from April to September was only 82% of the budgeted amount, according to Central Bank data. Had this revenue been converted at the free market rate, government earnings would have reached at least 250% of the budget, resulting in a large surplus. Meanwhile, the Central Bank announced on October 20 that it will be providing $9.5 billion at an official rate of 42,000 rials per dollar for “essential goods.” Not surprisingly, extensive anecdotal evidence suggests that many of these goods are sold at prices that echo the free market rate of about 140,000 rials per dollar, with middlemen pocketing the substantial difference—potentially $30 billion.
But the single worst set of policies continues to be in the monetary and banking sectors. The Central Bank has been flooding the economy with liquidity; by late August, debts to the Central Bank rose 35%, or 1.48 quadrillion rials, allowing banks to lend money to failing companies and the government so that they can pay workers and therefore forestall protests. Meanwhile, little has been done to address the structural shortcomings of the banks, which go beyond the money-laundering issues flagged by international watchdogs at the Financial Action Task Force.
To be fair, part of the problem is that Rouhani is constrained by powerful forces, especially the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. According to Department of Environment head Issa Kalantari, the Ministry of Agriculture is “under the influence of military institutions” and therefore often adopts counterproductive policies. The IRGC’s penchant for building dams—600 in the last thirty years, compared to 14 in the shah’s last twenty years—has been a leading cause of environmental problems as water is diverted to inefficient agricultural projects. In response to such accusations, the IRGC has arrested numerous environmental activists.
The Islamic Republic may believe that it can outlast the new round of U.S. pressure, based on the assumption that these constraints will dissipate once Trump leaves office. But Washington has been framing the reimposed sanctions as counterterrorism measures, increasing their likelihood of surviving U.S. political shifts.
A key step was the October 16 designation of various entities as Specially Designated Global Terrorists (SDGT) under Executive Order 13224, which financially targets those providing support to terrorists or acts of terrorism. This designation included Bank Mellat, one of Iran’s largest state-owned banks—which had previously been named for counterproliferation activities but was removed as part of the nuclear deal. The designation also involved a variety of important economic actors that were never targeted previously, not even at the height of nuclear sanctions. The newly designated Bonyad Taavon Basij, its offshoot Mehr Eqtesad Bank, and the linked Mehr Eqtesad Investment Company hold shares in many important enterprises. Some of the Treasury’s SDGT designations included entities that had never been classified as such by the U.S. government, including the largest steel mill in the Middle East, Esfahan’s Mobarakeh Steel Company, the Iran Tractor Manufacturing Company, and Iran Zinc Mines Development Company. Rather than waiting to do sequential designations as was the past practice, Treasury listed several of these companies for supporting another entity designated that same day.
This suggests that the Trump administration will be particularly far-reaching and rapid in its designations. Many of the already classified entities had received waivers from secondary sanctions but still could have been cited previously for both terrorism and nuclear proliferation concerns. Yet previous administrations decided to cite them only for nuclear-related issues in order to preserve the option of waiving sanctions in the advent of a nuclear deal. The approach underlying the October 16 designations was not to reiterate those nuclear concerns, but to demonstrate that these entities provide material support for terrorism.
While European countries have many disagreements with the Trump administration about Iranian nonproliferation, more counterterrorism cooperation may be achievable if the Trump team can make a convincing case linking designated entities to terrorism. After all, Iran is active in supporting terrorism not only in the Middle East, but also in Europe and beyond. In the eyes of Americans and Europeans alike, opposing Iranian support for terrorism tends to be less controversial than endorsing Trump’s approach to counterproliferation. To the extent that officials can build broad support at home and abroad for the new designations by grounding them in a counterterror rationale, the pressure tactics could outlast the Trump administration. If Tehran comes to believe that the new sanctions will persist until a broader agreement is reached on nuclear and non-nuclear matters, then its confidence about waiting things out would likely be shaken.
Many argue that the pain of sanctions will be felt by the Iranian middle class rather than the elite. But the prevalence of sanctions-evading corruption in Iran can be turned from a problem into an opportunity for Washington. Given the outrage in Iran about those who reap privileges from widespread graft, the U.S. government has much room to spread information about how the aqazadeh—the children of the elite—are living. Luxagram, a private Iranian social networking app which describes itself as “a fun and quirky way for you to share your luxury moments with your affluent friends,” is subscription-only, but the “Rich Kids of Tehran” website is free. Even former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad offered an excellent suggestion in this regard when he tweeted, “Mr @realDonaldTrump release the list of relatives of #Iranian Government officials that have #GreenCards and #BankAccounts in the #UnitedStates if you have such a list.”
While some say that the Trump administration has little credibility with the Iranian public, it can offset this problem by drawing on the extensive information about corruption provided by Iranian sources. Hardline-dominated state television often highlights corruption by political opponents, but information on the hardliners themselves is buried. A good place to start digging is the Instagram account of Mahdi Sadrossadati, a young cleric who regales his 255,000 followers with stories about the luxurious lifestyle of clerics and aqazadeh.
Moreover, on July 18, the reformist newspaper Sharq published an article on how the financial institution Samen al-Hojaj lost $3 billion belonging to its 3 million deposit holders, primarily by making loans at 3% to well-connected clients and paying astronomical salaries to officials and their families. In response, the company’s managing director, Abolfazl Mir Ali, announced that he was suing the newspaper, even though all of its information came from what a prosecutor had presented in open court. Mir Ali, who once brandished a gun to intimidate the Central Bank governor, was recently pictured standing next to Iran’s prosecutor-general. Combined with the pressures stemming from new sanctions, such high-profile domestic cases provide a deep well from which Washington can draw to show Iranians just how much their leaders are endangering their economic future.
.Patrick Clawson is the Morningstar Senior Fellow and director of research at The Washington Institute.

Impact of Iran sanctions key to future of oil market
Cornelia Meyer/Arab News/October 29/18
Last week was a bloody one on international stock markets. Disappointing earnings, mounting trade tensions between China and the US, the standoff between the Italian government and the EU over budgetary discipline and the high dollar’s impact on many emerging-market economies were just a few of the concerns on investors’ minds. Against that backdrop, oil prices have fallen a good 10 percent from their highs of nearly $87 per barrel of Brent at the beginning of October. They started the week at around $77 in early Monday trading.
Over the past few months oil stocks have been building moderately. The oil price is in contango, which means the spot price is lower than future contracts.
As always, when the oil price rises, many observers expect the sky to be the limit, and when it falls they anticipate a never-ending downward spiral. But the situation is more complex than that. Markets are still relatively tight and the next few weeks will determine whether the decline in prices continues.
On the downside, stock market woes and the fear of trade wars have a negative effect. The strong dollar also brings problems for emerging markets, with current account deficits in countries such as Turkey, Argentina or Indonesia. If these countries are net importers of oil, this will impact their ability to buy crude. The IMF also made downward revisions to economic growth in most countries, which could indicate another negative for global oil demand.
Turkey is the fourth largest buyer of Iranian crude so President Erdogan has been a vociferous critic of the Iran sanctions.
Members of the OPEC alliance with other producers led by Russia, known as OPEC+, pumped more oil in September compared to August. In 2016, OPEC+ agreed to take 1.8 million barrels per day (bpd) out of the market to reduce the historically high global inventories overhang. In June, compliance with the agreement was well above 150 percent and in August it stood at more than 120 percent. The overcompliance reversed the inventories overhang and markets became incredibly tight. In September they were finally able to reduce overcompliance to 111 percent. A recent OPEC press release even voiced worries that the market might become oversupplied again, a concern echoed by Saudi Energy Minister Khalid Al-Falih at a conference last week. In the meantime, markets are still relatively tight. The next few months should shed light on the direction of travel. The lynchpin is what will happen with the Iran sanctions. The US administration seems split, with National Security Adviser John Bolton advocating very strict implementation and the State Department also throwing the level of the oil price into the equation when assessing the sanctions.
The new Iran sanctions come into force on Nov. 4. Bolton would like to see Iranian oil exports going down to zero; while Japan and South Korea have already halted buying Iranian crude, India, Turkey and China see things differently. Turkey is the fourth largest buyer of Iranian crude so President Erdogan has been a vociferous critic of the Iran sanctions. India’s refineries are calibrated to accommodate heavy crude, and Venezuela’s economic collapse has resulted in shortages of shipments to Indian refiners. India needs to replace Venezuelan barrels with oil of a similar quality — and finding alternatives to Iranian crude is a challenge.
China’s refineries are thirsty and the country will import crude oil from wherever it can get it. Sinopec and CNPC will not load any Iranian cargo in November. Beijing is, however, in conversation with the State Department in an attempt to gain exemptions to get at least some oil from Iran. In the meantime, China has busied itself putting Iranian crude into storage. It is unclear how many barrels the Iran sanctions will take out of the oil market. Saudi Arabia has said that it will pump whatever it takes to replace any shortfalls due to the Iran sanctions. That is encouraging. However, there is still Venezuela, where production may go below 1 million bpd if economic decline is not halted. There is Libya and Nigeria, where production is unreliable due to domestic political and security situations. Then there is the international oil companies that canceled or postponed investments of up to $1 trillion during the years of ultra-low oil prices.
OPEC and Al-Falih are correct that markets currently err on the side of oversupply. However, markets could turn on a dime depending on how the impending Iran sanctions and other impediments to supply pan out. In that sense OPEC+ is an encouraging development, because the framework gives those 25 countries the ability to react relatively quickly to the vagaries of the market.
*Cornelia Meyer is a business consultant, macro-economist and energy expert. Twitter: @MeyerResources

Iran’s ‘Resistance’ Bloc Rises amid New U.S. Sanctions
Mehdi Khalaji/The Washington Institute/October 29/18
Hardliners see the latest pressure as proof that defiance works better than compromise—an attitude they are likely to change only if the pressure intensifies.
With U.S. economic sanctions against Iran set to go into effect November 4, domestic pressure on President Hassan Rouhani’s government is sure to intensify. The reimposed sanctions follow President Trump’s withdrawal earlier this year from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), as the nuclear deal is known. Even setting current dynamics aside, the pattern in Iran holds that a second-term president becomes increasingly irrelevant in major national decisionmaking.
Thus, on October 22, Ezzatollah Zarghami, the former head of Iranian state radio and television, and a member of the “Expertise Field” (Howzeh-ye Karshenasi) in Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s office, revealed that “some of the organizations controlled by the Supreme Leader” were seeking permission to “manage the country” given their belief that the executive branch is incapable of carrying out its duties. Zarghami specified two powerful entities outside government whose leadership apparently strives to remove Rouhani from power: the Foundation for the Oppressed and Disabled (Bonyad-e Mostazafan va Janbazan) and the Office for the Execution of Imam Khomeini’s Order (Setad-e Ejra-ye Farman-e Emam), a multibillion-dollar conglomerate. Both are controlled by the Supreme Leader, and Zarghami implied that other organizations held a similar view. Earlier this year, on June 24, Gen. Yahya Rahim Safavi, Khamenei’s military advisor and former commander-in-chief of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), said, “Sometimes it looks like the country can be better managed without the [Rouhani] government.” The day after that, Mohammad Dehghan, a member of parliament close to the IRGC, echoed this sentiment, saying, “If the government really feels that it is unable to manage the country, it should let competent people do the job.”
Several subsequent attempts were aimed similarly at casting doubt on the president’s ability to handle the looming economic crisis. On September 6, the Supreme Leader spoke out publicly against removing Rouhani from power or undermining his authority: “Creating organizations parallel to government will not succeed, and experience proves that the job should be done by those who are in charge through legal channels.” Yet Zarghami, in explaining Khamenei’s position, said the Supreme Leader was not opposing the activities of such unelected institutions, but rather arguing against the idea that they should “take over the whole management and replace the government.” In other words, Ayatollah Khamenei is reluctant to make institutions under him fully responsible for economic management in place of the Rouhani government.
This stance is reflective of Khamenei’s broader hedging in response to the economic situation. In one such recent example, on June 21, he refused to undertake the steps necessary to keep Iran off the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) blacklist—namely, by changing its countering the financing of terrorism (CFT) system. But, as with Khamenei’s flexible attitude toward the JCPOA, after voicing opposition to FATF compliance, he ultimately gave the Majlis the green light to adopt the measures, evidently through a letter to Majlis speaker Ali Larijani. At the same time, he empowered hardliners both inside and outside the Majlis—including the Kayhan newspaper, which serves as his mouthpiece—to radically attack the moves by describing them as “self-sanctions.” So, just as with the nuclear deal, he allowed the move to proceed but gave himself leeway to criticize the arrangement in the future as contrary to his true desires.
On August 11, in an extra-constitutional move, Ayatollah Khamenei approved a request by the judiciary to set up “special courts” to address financial crimes against the backdrop of a deteriorating national economy. As the Supreme Leader put it in his statement, “Punishments for those accused of economic corruption should be carried out swiftly and justly.” And the subsequent two and a half months have indeed seen dozens of individuals quickly tried in these special courts and sentenced to death or lengthy prison terms. This has all come amid Iranian officials blaming “enemies” for the rial’s plunge and for meddling with the country’s financial and banking system.
Among those sentenced during this fast and furious roundup have been Vahid Mazloomin, known as the “King of [Gold] Coin,” and Esmail Ghasemi. On October 21, the Supreme Court approved their life sentences for “corruption on earth through sabotage in the economic system” and for creating an illegal trade network in foreign currency and gold coins. In particular, the judiciary has accused these “corrupters” of having a strong relationship with government officials and collaborating with institutions like the Central Bank. On August 4, Ahmad Araqchi, a currency administrator at the Central Bank, was sacked; he was arrested the next day. (He is a nephew of Abbas Araqchi, the nuclear negotiator and deputy foreign minister.) On September 23, judiciary spokesman Qolam-Hossein Mohseni-Ejei announced that Valiollah Seif, former Central Bank governor, had been barred from leaving the country. Reportedly, Seif holds an Australian permanent residency card and his family lives in Australia.
Outside the financial sector, the government has widened a security crackdown against strikers such as teachers and tanker drivers. In recent months, in a bid to intimidate, Tehran has carried out hundreds of arrests targeting the business community, syndicates and student associations, human rights and environmental activists, protest organizers and advocates for mental health, subsequently issuing lengthy prison sentences to demoralize these citizens. Some have even been murdered without account, such as Farshad Makki, a prominent activist whose burned corpse was found in the trunk of his car on October 17.
With respect to the U.S. sanctions, some officials close to Khamenei have been pushing for a strategy of greater “resistance,” aimed at getting Washington to back off. One perceived victory on that front came after the September 23 attack, attributed to the Islamic State (IS), on a military parade in Ahvaz, in the southwestern Iranian province of Khuzestan, which left more than two dozen dead. The IRGC responded by targeting “terrorist” bases—the Iranian claim of IS targets remains unconfirmed—in Syria with surface-to-surface missiles and drones. In the following days, the dollar’s value relative to the rial fell for the first time in many months, the world price of oil rose, and the United States decided to withdraw Patriot missiles that had been protecting U.S. military forces in Bahrain and Kuwait. Although most observers saw these developments as unconnected to the Iranian action, the hardliners begged to differ. On October 10, a Kayhan editorial, “Economic Security Through Missile Supremacy,” suggested that this reaction had led to extraordinary economic benefits: “The depreciation of the dollar and oil price rise demonstrated that the Iranian people’s resistance and the IRGC’s missile launch had reversed the result of U.S. threats. More important, it proved that in the real field of international and regional confrontation, resistance is the only way to counter threats, not negotiation.” The editorial continued, “When the enemy’s secret agents were talking about negotiation, the U.S. dollar’s value was on the rise, but when missiles hit near American forces in Syria, that value declined.” In the paper’s view, the “Westoxicated” faction’s claim that resistance leads to war and economic problems had been proven wrong. To the contrary, the missile attack had confirmed that effective resistance leads to economic security, likewise demonstrating a direct link between military capability and economic resilience.
As for another apparent benefit, the “missile launch sent a clear message to the region’s countries. It made sheikhdoms of Arab countries in the Persian Gulf understand that any cooperation with the United States related to sanctions on Iran would affect not only the security of their countries but also their economy.” Furthermore, the passive U.S. reaction to the launch was seen to indicate the seriousness with which Washington took the intended message. As proof, advocates of stronger resistance cited the tagline of a Wall Street Journal article dated October 1: “Even as Trump warns of the Islamic Republic’s threat, America shifts air and sea power away from region.” The United States, in this interpretation, was continuing to show its aversion to intervening in the region, explaining the oft-repeated statement by Khamenei that “due to Iran’s defense capability, there will be no war.”
The hardline Iranian camp sought to highlight other signs of purported success. As the same Kayhan editorial explained, “on the day of the collapse of the dollar in Iran, the Turkish prosecutor issued a detention order indicting 417 suspects, including 126 Iranians charged with money laundering and the transfer of dollars to the United States”—evidently through Turkey. “Most of dollar recipients,” the piece claimed falsely, “are Iranian-American Jews.” The editorial concluded by affirming “Ayatollah Khamenei’s statement: ‘submission is much costlier than resistance.’”
Khamenei and the hardliners have a long history of reading any developments as proving the wisdom of their favored policy of resistance rather than a policy of negotiation and compromise. Not surprisingly, that has been their reaction to increased U.S. economic pressure. Once again, it appears that the adage of many Iran watchers holds true: Tehran does not respond to pressure, it only responds to great pressure. Washington will have to sustain and likely increase (smarter) pressure on Iran’s decisionmaking centers before the hardliners reluctantly agree to allow negotiations, which they will criticize even while allowing them to go forward.
**Mehdi Khalaji is the Libitzky Family Fellow at The Washington Institute.

Israeli Minister Tours Abu Dhabi's Grand Mosque Days After Netanyahu Visits Oman
بعد زيارة نيتنياهو لسلطنة عمان وزيرة إسرائيلية في الإمارات تزور  الجامع الكبير في أبوظبي
Reuters and Haaretz October 29/18
Report: Israel Solf Sophisticated Spy systems To Saudi Arabia
جيرازولم بوست: إسرائيل باعت للسعودية أجهزة تجسس معقدة
Jerusalem Post/October 29/18

European Human Rights Court Backs Sharia Blasphemy Law
سورين كارن: محكمة حقوق الإنسان الأوروبية تدعم قانون الشريعة الخاص بالتجديف

Soeren Kern/Gatestone Institute/October 29/2018


Is Canada's Government Funding Terrorism?
Tom Quiggin/Gatestone Institute/October 29/2018

Report: Israel Solf Sophisticated Spy systems To Saudi Arabia
جيرازولم بوست: إسرائيل باعت للسعودية أجهزة تجسس معقدة
Jerusalem Post/October 29/18
WATCH/Israeli Minister Tours Abu Dhabi's Grand Mosque Days After Netanyahu Visits Oman
بعد زيارة نيتنياهو لسلطنة عمان وزيرة إسرائيلية في الإمارات تزور  الجامع الكبير في أبوظبي
Reuters and Haaretz October 29/18