Detailed Lebanese & Lebanese Related LCCC English New Bulletin For October 31/2018
Compiled & Prepared by: Elias Bejjani

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Bible Quotations
 God has chosen you, because our message of the gospel came to you not in word only, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction
First Letter to the Thessalonians 01/01-10: "Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy, To the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace to you and peace. We always give thanks to God for all of you and mention you in our prayers, constantly remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labour of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. For we know, brothers and sisters beloved by God, that he has chosen you, because our message of the gospel came to you not in word only, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction; just as you know what kind of people we proved to be among you for your sake. And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, for in spite of persecution you received the word with joy inspired by the Holy Spirit, so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia. For the word of the Lord has sounded forth from you not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but in every place where your faith in God has become known, so that we have no need to speak about it. For the people of those regions report about us what kind of welcome we had among you, and how you turned to God from idols, to serve a living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead Jesus, who rescues us from the wrath that is coming."

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 30-31/18
During the era of the marouniyye elsiyessiyye/Roger Bejjani/October 30/18
World Bank: Lebanon's economic prospects look bleak/Georgi Azar/Annahar/October 30/18
Druze on Golan Heights protest against Israeli municipal election/Ynetnews/Reuters|/October 30/18
Iraq’s New Prime Minister Trips on His First Hurdle/Bobby Gosh/Bloomberg/October 30/18
Harvard’s Other Controversial Admissions Policy/Stephen Mihm/Bloomberg/October 30/18
New Palestinian "Concern" for International Conventions/Bassam Tawil/Gatestone Institute/October 30/18
Turkey and Qatar: An Alliance Under the Saudi Sword/Burak Bekdil/Gatestone Institute/October 30/18
Weaving a Syria solution rug/Ghassan Charbel/Al Arabiya/October 30/18
Saudi Arabia, Turkey and leadership/Abdulrahman al-Rashed/Al Arabiya/October 30/18
The desert wins in all seasons/Turki Aldakhil/Al Arabiya/October 30/18
Sports economy: Investment for the future/Hassan Al Mustafa//Al Arabiya/October 30/18
Iran’s Economy Is Stagnating Even Before New U.S. Sanctions Hit/Patrick Clawson/The Washington Institute/October 29/18
Istanbul summit fails to deliver plan to end Syrian conflict/Osama Al Sharif/Arab News/October 30/18

Titles For The Latest LCCC Lebanese Related News published on October 30-31/18
During the era of the marouniyye elsiyessiyye
World Bank: Lebanon's economic prospects look bleak
Hariri Meets Aoun Away from Reporters' Eyes
Report: Suggestions to ‘Resolve’ Sunni Opposition Hurdle
Jreissati Sues Charles Ayyoub for 'Harming Ties with KSA'
Riachi Inspects Town of Miyeh Miyeh after Latest Clashes
Cyprus Rescues 17 Syrians aboard Boat Coming from Lebanon
Grand Duchess of Luxembourg in Beirut
Grand duchess of Luxembourg meets Lebanese officials
Lebanon: 'Breakthrough' on forming unity government
Government Stalemate Lingers on as Sunni MPs Cling to Share Demands
Abu Nader Renews Call for Army to Enter Refugee Camp
Kataeb Party Casts Doubt on New Government's Performance

Titles For The Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on October 30-31/18
Iranian intelligence service suspected of attempted attack in Denmark
Ex-Iranian President Khatami warns of ‘social uprising if no real change happens’
Zarif acknowledges impact of US sanctions on Iran’s economy
Iranian Intelligence Service Suspected of Attempted Attack in Denmark
Denmark Recalls Ambassador to Iran over Foiled 'Attack'
Moscow Briefs Damascus on Istanbul Summit Outcomes, Predicts Idlib Escalation
Turkey Vows New Operation Against Kurds in Syria
U.S. Says Syria Summit Took 'Huge Steps' toward Ending War
Kurdish, Iraqi Reinforcements to Quell ISIS
Turkey: Joint patrols with US forces in Syria’s Manbij to begin imminently
UN aid chief: Ensure Idlib cease-fire and prevent onslaught
Tunisia Suicide Bomber Identified as Jobless Woman
PA Demands Israel Be Held Accountable for Killing 3 Children
Palestinian Central Council to Stop Acknowledging Israeli State
Druze on Golan Heights protest against Israeli municipal election
Thousands of Palestinians Demonstrate in Ramallah Against Social Security Law
Sisi Discusses in Berlin Egypt’s Efforts in Combating Terrorism, Illegal Immigration
Oil Market Looks Uncertain before Iran Sanctions Take Effect
Kremlin: Preparations Underway for Putin’s Visit to Riyadh
Dad of Canadian Held in Syria Asks for Help to Get Him, 18 Others Home
The Latest LCCC Lebanese Related News published on October 30-31/18
During the era of the marouniyye elsiyessiyye
Roger Bejjani/October 30/18
During the era of the marouniyye elsiyessiyye, Lebanon used to be known for its mezze, its blue sea water, it’s touristic industry, its dynamic economy, its artistic creativity.....politically, we used to have a Presidential regime with a government formed out of the parliamentarian majority and an opposition.
In the present era, the country is ruled by a terrorist organization, our sea water turned to brown, garbage is everywhere in odor and physically, the country is heavily indebted, its economy crippled and its political intelligentsia is incapable of forming a working government that (no one knows why) has to represent faithfully the parliament. No opposition.

World Bank: Lebanon's economic prospects look bleak

Georgi Azar/Annahar/October 30/18
BEIRUT: The World Bank warned Tuesday of Lebanon's deceleration in economic activity up to this point, while arguing that the Central Bank's financial engineering tools can only do so much. In its report titled Lebanon Economic Monitor, the World Bank revised its projection for 2018 real GDP growth downwards to 1 percent, amid the ongoing political crisis that has failed to yield a new Cabinet in over six months.
The Central Bank has continuously attempted to counter this trend, with the latest being a swap of Treasury bills held by BDL with newly MoF-issued Eurobonds in the amount of $5.5 billion, around $3 billion of which were subsequently sold (along with enticements) to banks, the report said. This was done to raise BDL's foreign exchange reserves, which reached around $44 billion by the end of June. UK's May denies good-news budget signals an early election. BDL's abrupt decision to halt its subsidized housing loan project also impacted lending activity, with commercial's banks' total credit to the private sector increasing a mere 1.9 percent year on year in June 2018, compared to a growth of 8.4 percent a year earlier. The Syrian refugee crisis has also taken its toll on the economy and infrastructure, with Lebanon's economic outlook looking bleak.  It has the world’s third largest public debt-to-GDP ratio, with lawmakers failing to implement much-needed reforms as outlined during the CEDRE IV donor conference in April. "Lack of obvious sources for an economic boost suggests Lebanon’s medium-term economic prospects remain sluggish," the report noted. This will also impact poverty rates, expected to rise, with the latest data indicating that nearly a third of the population is poor.
“The risk profile for Lebanon is rising sharply in light of the convergence of a number of negative local and global factors, including global monetary conditions,” it said. “Fiscal and electricity reforms are highlighted as priorities.”Despite Lebanese officials securing over $11 billion at the donor conference in Paris, these funds have yet to see the light of day amid continuous political infighting and the failure to tackle corruption, waste, and drainage of the state's coffers. The Central Bank's interventions will only act as band-aid solutions, the report maintains, offering "temporary reprieve" unless structural reforms are implemented and foreign direct investments are attracted.

Hariri Meets Aoun Away from Reporters' Eyes
Naharnet/October 30/18/Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri visited the Baabda Palace Tuesday afternoon for a meeting with President Michel Aoun that was held away from reporters' eyes. Sources close to Hariri told TV networks that the PM-designate "explained to Aoun his stance that rejects the appointment of a March 8 Sunni minister from his own share."Hariri also told Aoun that "the cabinet line-up is ready in terms of portfolios and distribution" and that "the names remain incomplete pending further efforts to resolve the obstacles."Hariri's Future TV had earlier said that the PM-designate's visit was aimed at "continuing discussions and consultations over the cabinet formation process.”MTV meanwhile reported that Hariri had asked that the meeting be held without media coverage. “Any meeting between President Aoun and PM-designate Hariri will be held without media coverage unless an agreement is reached over the Sunni obstacle,” Voice of Lebanon radio (93.3) said. According to MTV, phone talks between Aoun and Hariri had not stopped since Monday. "Hariri will present a draft line-up not containing the names of Hizbullah's ministers," the TV network said, adding that Hariri "left the presidential palace without anyone seeing him after a meeting that lasted an hour and a half." A new obstacle had emerged Monday in the cabinet formation process after Hizbullah insisted that a grouping of Sunni MPs opposed to Hariri should be represented in the government. The new hurdle surfaced after a long-running standoff over the representation of the Lebanese Forces was resolved earlier in the day. Hizbullah has refused to provide Hariri with the names of its new ministers in a bid to press the PM-designate to accept its demand.

Report: Suggestions to ‘Resolve’ Sunni Opposition Hurdle

Naharnet/October 30/18/Several suggestions were reportedly made in a bid to resolve a new obstacle facing the government formation and related to the representation of the Sunni MPs of March 8 camp, al-Joumhouria daily said on Tuesday. One of the ideas suggested that President Michel Aoun abandons a Sunni ministerial seat of his share in favor of one of the six Sunni deputies of March 8, specifically MP Faisal Karami, said the daily. The idea reportedly meets Hizbullah’s approval, it said. However, no indicators from Aoun’s side have shown his acceptance although the President has confirmed the right of said MPs to be represented in the Cabinet, but “apart from the presidential quota,” it added. According to information obtained by al-Joumhouria, another suggestion was to swap a Shiite minister from Hizbullah’s share with a Sunni minister. But it did not seem applicable because Hizbullah adheres to its three-seat Shiite ministerial quota. A similar idea came up but was immediately buried. It suggested that Speaker Nabih Berri “makes a sacrifice” to ease the formation process similar to what he did with previous governments. This was reportedly met with great “indignation” from Berri’s circles who also stressed the need that March 8 Sunni MPs be represented. Sunni MPs of March 8, backed by Hizbullah, insist to be represented in the government. On Monday, Hizbullah refused to hand Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri the names of the party’s three ministers unless said MPs are included. In turn, Hariri refuses to give up his share in favor of any Sunni MPs from outside al-Mustaqbal Movement. Reports said the Premier “ 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.”

Jreissati Sues Charles Ayyoub for 'Harming Ties with KSA'
Associated Press/Naharnet/October 30/18/Caretaker Justice Minister Salim Jreissati on Tuesday filed a court case against ad-Diyar newspaper publisher and managing editor Charles Ayyoub, accusing him of harming Lebanon's relations with Saudi Arabia.Ayyoub wrote a column blaming Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi and the deaths of civilians in Yemen. He called on the Saudi ambassador to leave Lebanon, and used the terms "dogs" and "pigs" 22 times in describing the two Saudi officials. Jreissati on Tuesday asked the prosecutor general to initiate proceedings against ad-Diyar, saying the article violated Lebanese law and endangered the country. Saudi Arabia is closely allied with one of Lebanon's main political blocs and has provided extensive financial aid to the country.

Riachi Inspects Town of Miyeh Miyeh after Latest Clashes
Naharnet/October 30/18/Caretaker Information Minister Melhem Riachi on Tuesday inspected the town of Miyeh Miyeh near Sidon which hosts a Palestinian refugee camp that has witnessed several rounds of deadly clashes in recent weeks. “It is unacceptable for the residents of Miyeh Miyeh to flee their homes and it is unacceptable that arms are being used in the wrong place in a camp inhabited by our Palestinian brothers who fled their homeland,” Riachi said during the visit. “The presence of weapons outside state authority is unacceptable,” the Lebanese Forces minister added. “There are occupied homes in Miyeh Miyeh and evacuations and court rulings should be implemented so that these homes can return to their owners. As for the displaced Palestinians, UNRWA must provide them with the necessary aid, but not at the expense of our people in Miyeh Miyeh, which is a Melkite Catholic town,” Riachi went on to say. Recent clashes between the Fatah Movement and the Hizbullah-backed Ansarullah group have left several people dead and wounded, sparking panic in the Sidon region.

Cyprus Rescues 17 Syrians aboard Boat Coming from Lebanon
Associated Press/Naharnet/October 30/18/Seventeen Syrian migrants who set sail from Lebanon aboard a small craft have declared that they intend to apply for asylum on the east Mediterranean island nation, Cypriot police said. Police said Tuesday a patrol boat rescued the migrants — including five children — after authorities located their craft some 77 kilometers off the island's southeastern tip. Police said the migrants told authorities that they departed from a Lebanese harbor on Oct. 29 after each paying 1,000 euros ($1,140) to an individual who provided them with the craft. The migrants said their intended destination was Cyprus. Police said all were well and were being hosted at a migrant reception center on the outskirts of the capital, Nicosia. Attempts by Lebanon-based Syrians to reach Cyprus have increased in recent weeks.The United Nations' refugee agency (UNHCR) has registered nearly one million Syrian refugees in Lebanon. Humanitarian representatives and government officials say the number is likely much higher, since many refugees who have fled Syria's civil war to Lebanon are not officially registered with the United Nations. Earlier this month, Cyprus announced it was looking to broker a repatriation agreement with Beirut because of an increased influx of migrants from Lebanon to the Mediterranean island.

Grand Duchess of Luxembourg in Beirut

Beirut- Asharq Al-Awsat/Tuesday, 30 October, 2018/Grand Duchess of Luxembourg Maria Teresa met Monday with President Michel Aoun, Speaker Nabih Berri and Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri and discussed the return of Syrian refugees and the significant burdens inflicted on Lebanon due to this issue. Teresa expressed her appreciation for Lebanon over the humanitarian assistance provided to the refugees on many levels, in particular on the educational and health levels. She also focused on the importance of the economic cooperation between Lebanon and Luxembourg. According to a statement from the presidency, Aoun requested the Grand Duchess Maria’s support for Lebanon’s securing the refugees’ return and “not waiting for a political solution to the Syrian crisis, especially now that the majority of Syria is safe and stable.”
Aoun also praised Luxembourg’s support for UNRWA, the United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees. The president went on to thank the grand duchess for her country’s rejection of the naming of Jerusalem as the Israeli capital and its call for the establishment of a Palestinian state. According to the statement, Aoun told the duchess that he is working on Lebanon’s stability and security, in addition to economic and administrative reforms. These include, he said, several workshops to be held in order to implement the reforms and recommendations discussed at the CEDRE conference, held in Paris in April to support Lebanon’s infrastructure and economy. Later in the day, Grand Duchess Maria met with Hariri along with caretaker Culture Minister Ghattas Khoury and Nadim Munla, an adviser to Hariri, a statement from Hariri’s office said. She discussed with them the situation of Syrian refugees and aid provided by UNICEF. A statement from Berri’s office said the speaker met with the Duchess and the two discussed the refugee crisis and its implications on Lebanon.
The grand duchess is also set to meet officials from UNICEF during her visit.

Grand duchess of Luxembourg meets Lebanese officials
The Daily Star/ October 30, 2018/BEIRUT: Grand Duchess of Luxembourg Maria Teresa met Monday with President Michel Aoun, Speaker Nabih Berri and Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri and discussed the return of Syrian refugees. The refugee issue appears to be a top priority for the duchess, as the itinerary of her trip reportedly also includes a visit to a camp in Bekaa.According to a statement from the presidency, Aoun requested the Grand Duchess Maria’s support for Lebanon’s securing the refugees’ return and “not waiting for a political solution to the Syrian crisis, especially now that the majority of Syria is safe and stable.”Aoun also praised Luxembourg’s support for UNRWA, the United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees. The president went on to thank the grand duchess for her country’s rejection of the naming of Jerusalem as the Israeli capital and its call for the establishment of a Palestinian state. According to the statement, Aoun told the duchess that he is working on Lebanon’s stability and security, in addition to economic and administrative reforms. These include, he said, several workshops to be held in order to implement the reforms and recommendations discussed at the CEDRE conference, held in Paris in April to support Lebanon’s infrastructure and economy. Later in the day, Grand Duchess Maria met with Hariri along with caretaker Culture Minister Ghattas Khoury and Nadim Munla, an adviser to Hariri, a statement from Hariri’s office said. She discussed with them the situation of Syrian refugees and aid provided by UNICEF. A statement from Berri’s office said the speaker met with the duchess and the two discussed the refugee crisis and its implications on Lebanon.
The grand duchess is also set to meet officials from UNICEF during her visit.

Lebanon: 'Breakthrough' on forming unity government

News Agencies/Al Jazera/October 30/18/Christian party to join new government led by Saad Hariri, clearing way for agreement five months after elections.
The Lebanese Forces (LF) party said it will join a new national unity government led by Saad Hariri despite an 'unfair' offer of cabinet posts, clearing the way for an agreement on a new cabinet five months after an election. Hariri has been trying to form a government since the May parliamentary election, with the rivalry between the LF and President Michel Aoun's Free Patriotic Movement (FPM) - both Christian groups - seen as the main obstacle. A government formed on this basis would mark a political victory for Aoun, an ally of the Iran-backed Shia group Hezbollah, over the LF, which is the group's most prominent opponent in Lebanon.Hariri said this month that the country's economic problems meant further delay could not be allowed. Lebanese politicians have warned that their country, which has the third-highest level of public debt in the world, faces an economic crisis. LF leader Samir Geagea, in a televised news conference, said the ministerial portfolios offered to his party represented an "injustice" when compared with the size of its parliamentary bloc - 15 MPs - and the ministries offered to other groups. "There is a very big injustice to the Lebanese Forces," he said. However, the party had decided to enter the government "to continue to work from inside the government to achieve our goals," he said. Lebanese Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri earlier suggested a breakthrough could be imminent. "In principle, something should happen today," Berri said in response to a question about the government. His comments were broadcast by Lebanese media. Forming a government is seen as an essential first step on the long road to repairing Lebanon's heavily-indebted and stagnant economy, allowing authorities to start overdue reforms and unlock billions in donor financing. Alain Aoun, an FPM member and member of parliament, said he expected agreement on the government on Monday or Tuesday. "We are almost there," he told Reuters news agency via text message. Hezbollah member Mohammad Raad, speaking in comments broadcast by Lebanese media, said: "We are in the last phase and the period of serious anticipation. We hope the formation will be soon".
Government Stalemate Lingers on as Sunni MPs Cling to Share Demands 30th October 2018/Speaker Nabih Berri on Tuesday held talks with Sunni lawmakers who are not affiliated with the Future Movement, as the last major stumbling block is still impeding the formation process. “The Parliament speaker insists that we get represented in the government; the solution is in the hands of Hariri,” the lawmakers said following the meeting. “The Future Movement wants to eliminate others; we are simply defending the rights of those who voted for us,” they added. Prior to the talks with Berri, MP Jihad Al-Samad told reporters that a government will be formed once the six-member bloc obtains its right to be represented in it. "Otherwise, there will be no breakthrough,” he warned. MPs Faysal Karameh, Abdul-Rahim Mrad, Jihad Al-Samad, Adnan Trabousli, Kassem Hachem and Walid Sukkarieh have been demanding to be included in the new government, arguing that it is no longer acceptable that Sunni representation be restricted to Hariri's Future Movement. On the other hand of the scale, the prime minister-designate is clinging to his stance to not grant said bloc any ministerial share, thus refusing to accept demands to be included in his government. Last week, Hariri stated that he doesn't consider that the independent Sunni lawmakers represent a big party to make their claim for a representation in the government. "I can understand that a major party demands a significant ministerial share, but I fail to understand that a pseudo-bloc does so,” Hariri stated.

Abu Nader Renews Call for Army to Enter Refugee Camp 30th October 2018/Kataeb leader's top adviser, Fouad Abu Nader, on Tuesday stressed that it is time for Lebanon to get released from the heavy burden it has been enduring since 1948, renewing his call for the Lebanese Army to tighten its grip on the Miyeh Miyeh Palestinian refugee camp. "The army should confiscate the Palestinian factions' weapons whose presence in Lebanon is totally unjustified," Abu Nader told Voice of Lebanon radio station. “Every time that the Palestinian factions fight, the residents of the Miyeh Miyeh town pay the price,” he added. “There are two million foreigners in Lebanon. This is a problem that needs a solution. However, we cannot keep waiting at the expense of the Miyeh Miyeh and all the other neighboring towns,” Abu Nader stated. “This time, we must not remain silent. On the contrary, we should pressure the implementation of a security plan that allows the army to get into the camp and take control," he stressed.

Kataeb Party Casts Doubt on New Government's Performance 30th October 2018/The Lebanese Kataeb party blasted the bickering that has been obstructing the government formation for six months, hoping that the Cabinet performance won't be marred by the same approach. "We hope that the government's performance won't be similar to the one witnessed throughout the formation process, or else the country will slip into total collapse," read a statement issued following the weekly meeting of the Kataeb politburo."Now that we are inching closer to the formation of a government, the Lebanese are wondering what the haggle that has been going on for six months was all about, given that ministerial shares have been kept the same," the politburo said. "This six-month-long partitioning has once again proved the absence of the state's sovereignty and free decision-making, while political factions are busy splitting spoils." The Kataeb party warned of the "catastrophic" repercussions of the repeated clashes in the Miyeh Miyeh Palestinian refugee camp, demanding that the Lebanese Army tightens its grip over the encampment in order to reassure the residents of the area.
The politburo also congratulated the Kataeb candidates who won the student elections in several universities, adding that it is proud of the change-seeking youth.
The Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on October 30-31/18
Iranian intelligence service suspected of attempted attack in Denmark
Staff writer, Al Arabiya/EnglishTuesday, 30 October 2018/The head of Denmark's security service said on Tuesday he suspected an Iranian intelligence service had attempted to carry out an attack on an individual in Denmark. The attack had meant to target the leader of the Danish branch of the Arab Struggle Movement for the Liberation of Ahwaz (ASMLA), Finn Borch Andersen told a press conference. Officers had arrested a Norwegian citizen with Iranian background on Oct. 21, he added. The head of the Police Intelligence Service (PET) Finn Borch Andersen told a press conference that a Norwegian citizen with Iranian roots on October 21 had been arrested for having “Iranian intelligence service able to work in Denmark”. “In short, it is a case of an Iranian intelligence company that, in our view, planned an attack in Denmark,” he said. Meanwhile, Danish Foreign Minister Anders Samuelsen called the suspected planned attacks in Denmark “perfectly unacceptable”.“The government will react to Iran,” he said.

Ex-Iranian President Khatami warns of ‘social uprising if no real change happens’
Staff writer, Al Arabiya English/Tuesday, 30 October 2018/Former Iranian President Mohammad Khatami warned of social protests to change the regime if people realize there will be no real change. “If the regime’s mistakes stay as they area, criticism will develop into objections, and then it will not be clear what can happen,” Khatami said while meeting the members of the electoral headquarters for the 2017 presidential elections. The channel Khatami Media on Telegram posted segments of the meeting amid the media blackout that’s been imposed on him for years. Khatami also urged the regime officials to listen to the advice of the reformists who “believe in the regime of the Islamic Republic and the revolution and want to make reforms from within.” However he added that everyone at the current time “is upset and opposed.”Khatami apologized to the Iranian people, saying: “We could have served you better.”

Zarif acknowledges impact of US sanctions on Iran’s economy
Al Arabiya English and agencies/Tuesday, 30 October 2018/Just days before the start of a second round of US sanctions on Iran’s oil sector, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif confessed the sanctions would affect his country economically, but would not change Tehran’s policies, warning Washington of the futility such actions. “Sanctions will have an economic impact, but they will not change policy. The United States must learn that,” Zarif told CBS News in Tehran on Sunday. “The US has an addiction to sanctions and they believe that the sanctions are the panacea that resolve all the problems. They don’t. They in fact hurt people and we have an obligation as a government to minimize the impact on the people. But sanctions never change policy.”“This agreement is the best and there can be no better,” Zarif said. Washington reintroduced sanctions against Iran’s currency trade, metals and auto sectors in August after it pulled out from a multinational 2015 deal that lifted sanctions in return for limits on Iran’s nuclear program. Trump complained that the deal, approved by his predecessor Barack Obama, does not cover Iran’s ballistic missiles, its role in regional wars or what happens after the nuclear pact begins to expire in 2025. “The world community has stood up to the U.S. sanctions,” Zarif said, after a trilateral meeting between Iran, Turkey and Azerbaijan’s foreign minister. “The neighboring countries and Europeans nations have resisted against Washington’s unilateral measures.”
Iranian Intelligence Service Suspected of Attempted Attack in Denmark
Reuters/Tuesday 30th October 2018/Denmark said on Tuesday it suspected an Iranian intelligence service had tried to carry out an attack on an Iranian Arab opposition figure on its soil, and a Norwegian citizen of Iranian background has been arrested. The attack had been meant to target the leader of the Danish branch of the Arab Struggle Movement for the Liberation of Ahwaz (ASMLA), Danish security service chief Finn Borch Andersen told a news conference. “We are dealing with an Iranian intelligence agency planning an attack on Danish soil. Obviously, we can’t and won’t accept that,” Andersen said.
Iran’s foreign ministry was not immediately available for comment on Tuesday, a public holiday in the Islamic Republic. Andersen said Danish police had arrested a Norwegian citizen of Iranian heritage on Oct. 21 and he had denied wrongdoing in a court appearance. Norway’s Police Security Service said it was cooperating with Danish police on the case, which it also described as a planned attack in Denmark. The Ahvazi Arabs are a minority in mainly ethnic Persian Iran, and some see themselves as under Persian occupation and want independence or autonomy.

Denmark Recalls Ambassador to Iran over Foiled 'Attack'
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/October 30/18/Denmark on Tuesday recalled its ambassador to Iran after it accused Tehran of plotting a foiled 'attack' against three Iranians living in the Scandinavian country. "I have decided to recall Denmark's ambassador in Tehran for consultations... Denmark can in no way accept that people with ties to Iran's intelligence service plot attacks against people in Denmark," Danish Foreign Minister Anders Samuelsen told reporters. The planned operation was "totally unacceptable", he said, adding he was consulting with "partners and allies", including the EU, about possible sanctions.
Earlier Tuesday, the head of Denmark's intelligence service PET, Finn Borch Andersen, said his agency believed the Iranian intelligence service "was planning an attack in Denmark" against three Iranians suspected of belonging to the Arab Struggle Movement for the Liberation of Ahvaz. A Norwegian of Iranian origin was arrested on October 21 and placed in custody, suspected of planning the attack and spying for Iran. The suspect was detained in Sweden, according to the Swedish security service Sapo. Iran has denied the Danish allegations, with foreign ministry spokesman Bahram Ghasemi saying they were part of a European conspiracy against Iran. In late September, Tehran accused Denmark, the Netherlands and Britain of "hosting several members of the terrorist group" that Iran accuses of being responsible for an attack in the mainly ethnic Arab city of Ahvaz in southwestern Iran.
The September 22 attack, in which five commandos opened fire on a military parade, left 24 people dead. The so-called Islamic State group and a separatist Arab group claimed responsibility.
'Will stand up to Iran'
"It is totally unacceptable that Iran or any other foreign state plans assassinations on Danish soil," Danish Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen wrote on Twitter. "Further actions against Iran will be discussed in the EU." In Oslo, where he was participating in a meeting of Northern European leaders, Rasmussen met with British counterpart Theresa May, whom he said expressed "support" for Denmark in the matter. "In close collaboration with UK and other countries we will stand up to Iran," he added. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the U.S. stood behind Denmark. "We congratulate the government of Denmark on its arrest of an Iranian regime assassin. For nearly 40 years, Europe has been the target of Iran-sponsored terrorist attacks. We call on our allies and partners to confront the full range of Iran's threats to peace and security," he wrote on Twitter. Iran's ambassador to Copenhagen was summoned to the foreign ministry for an explanation on Tuesday. PET's announcement ended weeks of media speculation about why Denmark shut down bridges to Sweden and ferries for several hours on September 28 in a massive manhunt that mobilized hundreds of police and the military.
The shutdown was aimed at foiling the Iranian operation, PET acknowledged on Tuesday.
Moscow Briefs Damascus on Istanbul Summit Outcomes, Predicts Idlib Escalation
Moscow – Raed Jaber/Asharq Al-Awsat/Tuesday, 30 October, 2018/Moscow announced on Monday that it will brief Damascus on the results of the four-nation summit on Syria that was held in Istanbul on Saturday. The meeting brought together the rulers of Russia, Turkey, Germany and France. Russia had expressed its satisfaction with the results of the summit, despite acknowledging that it failed in bridging gaps between the various parties involved. Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters that the summit opened opportunities to expand discussions on Syria with European countries. He refused, however, to respond to the reporters’ questions about the meeting’s failure to achieve rapprochement between the participating countries. Russian President Vladimir Putin, French President Emmanuel Macron, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and German Chancellor Angela Merkel had discussed in Istanbul the situation in Syria’s northern Idlib province. They also discussed a settlement in the war-torn country. A concluding statement stressed the need to preserve the Idlib ceasefire, combat terrorism and form the constitutional committee before the end of the year. They also voiced their commitment to a united and sovereign Syria. Meanwhile, diplomatic sources expressed their satisfaction with the summit despite its failure to bridge differences between its participants.
They said that the meeting was a step forward towards a vision for Syria that the West had proposed months ago, reported Russia’s Izvestia newspaper. Putin had previously said that this would help pave the way for the beginning of a real political process in Syria, they added.
Moreover, the sources said that the call to form the constitutional committee before the end of the year was a “significant” development. Izvestia remarked, however, that the Istanbul summit showed the differences between Russia and the West over the return of refugees back to their homeland, as well as the reconstruction of Syria. Berlin and Paris have yet to support Moscow’s proposals on these issues. Germany and France are also still committed to the idea of a political settlement, which includes the departure of Syrian regime head Bashar Assad from power, before discussing any other humanitarian file. They have also underlined the need for Iranian forces to withdraw from Syria before discussions can be held on other issues. Meanwhile, Russia’s Nezavisimaya Gazeta reported that Russia and the Syrian regime were leaning towards using force against extremists in opposition-held Idlib. “If Ankara cannot withdraw all armed groups from Idlib and if it continued its attacks, then Russia would be ready to offer effective support to the regime to eliminate the gunmen,” Putin remarked in Istanbul. “Moscow is unlikely to tolerate the armed provocations for too long,” a Russian military expert told Nezavisimaya Gazeta. “Moscow and Damascus have a plan to deal with the fighters. It was devised in the past, but as we all know, Turkey and the international community opposed any military escalation in Idlib.”“It is now becoming clear that disarming the groups is impossible. They can only be destroyed, which means a return to active fighting,” he went on to say. “I am certain that Moscow and Damascus will resort to a military offensive sooner or later,” he added.

Turkey Vows New Operation Against Kurds in Syria
Asharq Al-Awsat/Tuesday, 30 October, 2018/Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced on Tuesday that Ankara will launch a new operation against US-backed Kurdish forces in Syria east of the Euphrates River. Turkish forces have already forced the People’s Protection Units (YPG) from the region west of the Euphrates. Ankara considers the group a terror threat and an extension of Kurdish rebels waging an insurgency in southeast Turkey. Erdogan's remarks came just days after the Turkish military shelled Syrian Kurdish positions in the region. "Soon, we will descend on them with more comprehensive and effective" force, he vowed before members of his AK ruling party. “We will destroy terror structures east of the Euphrates,” he added. Turkey's official Anadolu news agency said Turkish artillery strikes on Sunday hit Kurdish trenches and positions on a hill in the village of Zor Moghar, in rural northern Aleppo. On Idlib, Ankara rejected Syrian regime claims that it is not meeting its obligations under an agreement to create a demilitarized zone around the opposition-held northeastern region. Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu dismissed the allegations on Tuesday, saying the agreement was continuing as planned. "There are currently no issues in implementing the memorandum... Everything is going as planned," he told a news conference in Istanbul. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Turkey was doing its best to fulfill difficult obligations in Idlib, but that "not everything was going as it was planned". Russia did not see a threat that the agreement would fail, he added. Russian President Vladimir Putin said after a four-way summit on Syria with Turkey, Germany, and France on Saturday that Ankara was fulfilling its obligations in Idlib. The leaders at the Istanbul summit stressed the importance of a lasting ceasefire in Syria, and said a committee to create a new constitution should meet by the end of the year. Erdogan said on Tuesday that Turkey would ensure a more active international role in Idlib after the summit. Peskov said Moscow would inform Syrian officials about the outcome of the summit.
U.S. Says Syria Summit Took 'Huge Steps' toward Ending War
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/October 30/18/The Istanbul summit on Syria took "huge steps" toward ending its civil war, but the situation remains dangerous with so many foreign armed forces in the country, a top U.S. envoy said Tuesday. The leaders of Turkey, Russia, France and Germany met in Istanbul at the weekend and called for a political solution to Syria's seven-year war and a permanent truce in the last major rebel-held bastion of Idlib. James Jeffrey, the U.S. special representative on Syria, argued that the United States even helped bring about the result despite its absence from the gathering. "We are very happy with the Istanbul result," Jeffrey told journalists in Brussels during a tour of European and Middle East capitals. He cited the summit's appeal for the Idlib truce to become permanent and U.N. envoy Staffan de Mistura's call for a committee by year-end to produce a post-war constitution.
"These are huge steps forward," Jeffrey said. "These would not have happened without the United States."He added that Washington had been in contact with participants Turkey, Germany and France. He said US President Donald Trump had exerted diplomatic pressure by informing his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in Helsinki that the U.S. military would remain in Syria. "We are vague on what our military would be doing there but that's a game changer," Jeffrey said. In the run-up to the summit, Jeffrey said a Russian-Turkish deal for a buffer zone around Idlib was a "major step" that has "frozen" the country's war. The agreement, reached last month, was seen as forestalling a devastating regime assault on the area, which hosts around three million people. "The good news is we now have a basically frozen battlefield," Jeffrey said, without minimizing the continuing fight with the last elements of the Islamic State group. But he also warned of "real dangers" with so many armed forces present, some of whom could end up clashing with each other. "We have five military forces from the outside -- Iran, Israel, Russia, U.S. and Turkish that are now in close proximity," he said, which could lead to "armies potentially shooting at each other." He recalled for example the accidental downing last month of a Russian plane with 15 personnel on board, which has tested relations between Moscow and Israel.

Kurdish, Iraqi Reinforcements to Quell ISIS

Baghdad, Beirut, Moscow – Asharq Al-Awsat and Raed Jabr/Tuesday, 30 October, 2018/Iraq tightened on Monday security measures along its border, as the Defense Ministry warned from the possibility that some ISIS members infiltrate from the Syrian side. “To the nation’s guards, the sons of the Popular Mobilization Forces: There are ongoing intense clashes along the Iraq-Syria border through which ISIS is suffering great losses. ISIS elements are attempting to infiltrate into Iraq,” the Defense Ministry wrote in leaflets it dropped Monday near the Syrian border. The ministry called on members of the PMF to assume their national and legal responsibility and prevent ISIS militias from infiltrating into Iraqi terretories. Security expert Saeed Al-Jayashi told Asharq Al-Awsat on Monday, “The situation in those areas is still under control. There are no real threats although Iraqi forces are already on alert.” Last Friday, ISIS launched an assault against the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in the Deir Ezzor region near the Iraqi border. Jayashi said the SDF suffered grave losses from ISIS militias who now control around six areas and are nearing the Iraqi borders from the north of the Euphrates River. While Iraqi forces were seen sending reinforcements to west Syria to quell ISIS members in their last pockets east the Euphrates River, the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) were sending Monday special forces to the east the country. Reuters quoted a commander as saying Syrian Kurdish special forces have joined an offensive against ISIS militants in eastern Syria. Meanwhile, Moscow announced Monday it would discuss with Damascus the outcome of the four-way meeting held between the leaders of Turkey, Russia, France, and Germany in Istanbul last Saturday to tackle peace in Syria. The announcement came as London hosted Monday a meeting between UN Special Envoy to Syria and members of the Small Group, including Egypt, France, Germany, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Currently, Washington is working to coordinate with its allies positions concerning Syria before an expected meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and US President Donald Trump in Paris on Nov. 11.

Turkey: Joint patrols with US forces in Syria’s Manbij to begin imminently
Reuters, Istanbul/Tuesday, 30 October 2018/Training for joint patrols between Turkish and US forces in Syria’s Manbij has been completed, Defense Minister Hulusi Akar was quoted as saying by state-owned Anadolu news agency on Tuesday, adding that patrols would begin imminently. “The training process has been completed and joint patrols will begin today or tomorrow,” he said, adding that after Manbij, Turkey would focus on the area east of the Euphrates River.

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.”

Tunisia Suicide Bomber Identified as Jobless Woman
Asharq Al-Awsat/Tuesday, 30 October, 2018/The woman who blew herself up in the Tunisian capital on Monday has been identified as an unemployed graduate, said the country’s prosecution on Tuesday. Mna Guebla, from the eastern region of Mahdia, was aged 30 and had a degree in business English, said prosecution spokesman Sofiene Sliti, who also represents the country's anti-terrorism unit. She detonated a bomb Monday near a gathering of police cars in Tunis' upmarket Avenue Habib Bourguiba, wounding 15 officers and two teenagers in the first such attack in the city since 2015. Guebla did not have a job related to her studies, but sometimes worked as a shepherdess to help her family, reported Tunisian media. Authorities had not previously identified Guebla as a potential extremist, Sliti told AFP. The prosecution spokesman said there had not yet been any arrests in connection with Monday's attack. Authorities said nobody was seriously injured in the explosion. Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi called the bombing a terrorist attack, in comments reported from Germany, where he was attending an investment conference.
There were no immediate claims of responsibility. Tunis returned to normal on Tuesday apart from a reinforced police presence around the blast site, on a major artery and close to the North African country's interior ministry and French embassy. Municipal workers had used high-pressure water hoses to clean the area, where tourists were walking again and cafes had re-opened. Eight years since a revolution that toppled Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, Tunisia's economy is stagnant and around a third of young graduates are unemployed. Since 2011, extremists have been waging a campaign of attacks targeting Tunisian security forces, particularly in the mountainous region near the Algerian border. But Monday's attack was the first in Tunis since November 2015, when an ISIS suicide bombing killed 12 security agents on a bus for presidential guards, a few hundred meters (yards) from the site of the latest attack. In June 2015, a student went on a shooting rampage in the coastal resort of Sousse and killed 38 people, including 30 Britons. An attack in March that year on the Bardo National Museum in Tunis left 22 people dead, all but one of them foreign tourists. Those attacks, also claimed by ISIS, devastated 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 bus attack. The state of emergency was extended this month until November 6, amid a tense political climate ahead of legislative and presidential elections planned for next year.

PA Demands Israel Be Held Accountable for Killing 3 Children
Ramallah- Kifah Zboun/Asharq Al-Awsat/Tuesday, 30 October, 2018/The Palestine Authority (PA) called on the international community and the UN human rights organizations to immediately take international legal action and hold Israel accountable after committing a crime that resulted in the killing of three children near Gaza Strip border. “The Israeli occupation is responsible for the crime of bombing the three children with aircraft missiles,” said PA spokesman Yousef al-Mahmoud. He accused the Israeli government of fabricating a false story to justify the brutal crime.
Israel killed on Sunday evening 13-year-old boys Khaled Said, Abdel Hamid Abu Zaher and Mohammed Ibrahim al-Sitri, saying they have messed up the fence with Israel. However, their parents said they were having fun and laying a bird trap in the area. “The international community must shoulder part of the responsibility because it is a partner in the assassination of the Palestinian children’s dreams unless it breaks its silence that encourages the occupation to commit more crimes against the Palestinians,” Mahmoud said. "The crime of bombing children in Gaza is a new episode in the ongoing series of crimes against the besieged people, who have been subjected to wars, bloodshed, and destruction for 12 years in Gaza Strip,” he stressed. “They have also been subjected to persecution, escalation, and killing, and their holy sites have been exploited by the Israeli occupation forces and settlers in the West Bank,” Mahmoud further noted. “Targeting children is part of the escalation adopted by the occupation authorities in implementing their plans, which are aimed at creating more tension and concern instead of security and peace desired,” PA spokesman explained. They are posing the greatest challenge to the international laws and resolutions that call for ending the occupation and achieving peace and security through establishing a state with full sovereignty and its capital East Jerusalem, he added. Thousands of Gaza residents mourned on Monday the three children amid cheers demanding revenge. The great rage over the killing of the children was accompanied by reports of failed negotiations on lifting the blockade. Mahmoud al-Zahar, a Hamas leader, was quoted as saying that what is being carried out along the border crossings must continue until Israel is forced to open all the crossings since talks have failed so far.

Palestinian Central Council to Stop Acknowledging Israeli State

Ramallah- Asharq Al-Awsat/Tuesday, 30 October, 2018/The 30th session of the Palestinian Central Council (PCC) concluded on Monday focusing on Jerusalem, illegal settlements and the implementation of the previous council resolutions. The council mandated Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to make a decision about ending all PA’s agreements with Israel, including security cooperation, and to stop acknowledging the Israeli state until it recognizes the state of Palestine. The PLO Executive Committee’s Secretary, Saeb Erekat, presented the committee’s report on the implementation of the decisions taken by the National and Central Councils, and resolutions that are yet to be executed. Minister Walid Assaf submitted a report on the situation in Khan Al-Ahmar village and the risks that would result from the Israeli decision to demolish its houses and forcibly evacuate its residents. The final session is expected to discuss decisions regarding relations with Israel and the United States, mainly joint agreements, the relationship with Hamas, including the funding of the sector and the dissolution of the Palestinian Legislative Council. Abbas said at the beginning of the Central Committee’s meetings that participants would come up with serious decisions regarding several matters, including agreements with the US and Israel and the stance on Hamas. He said Palestinians were facing perhaps the “most dangerous stage” in their history regarding relations with the US, Israeli occupation and Hamas. The president stated that the council made decisions and it was time to implement them, indicating: “They have not left reconciliation a chance and they have left no way to reach a settlement.” He asked all members of the council to “put their hands on their hearts and their conscience and not be subject to blackmail, bargaining, pressure or to anything else,” adding that this was a historical moment of “to be or not to be.”Hamas refused in advance the central council’s meeting, saying it was separatist and illegitimate, adding that it would not recognize its outcome.
Druze on Golan Heights protest against Israeli municipal election
Ynetnews/Reuters|/October 30/18
Protesters chant 'The Golan's identity is Arab and Syrian' as the block polling station in Majdal Shams; Druze religious elders declare 'social prohibition put upon' those who run in the elections or vote; Hamas calls on Druze: 'Take up arms against the Zionist regime.' Hundreds of Druze Arabs, some carrying Syrian flags, gathered outside the gates of a polling station on the Golan Heights on Tuesday, trying to block their townspeople from voting in municipal elections. Israeli police wearing helmets and carrying tear gas launchers cleared a path for would-be voters outside the balloting center in Majdal Shams. The town is the largest Druze community in the area of mountainous plateau that Israel captured from Syria in the 1967 Six-Day War, unilaterally annexing it in 1981 in a move not recognized internationally. The Golan's identity is Arab and Syrian," chanted the protesters as they put a banner on the entrance reading: "No to elections.Inside the building, election officials sat in mostly empty rooms with blue ballot boxes bearing Israeli insignia. Some voters made it past the protest. "It's my right to vote. I'm free to choose the right person," said one man as he emerged from the polling station carrying a child. Glancing at the crowd, he refused to give his name. The Druze are a fiercely independent Arab minority who practice an offshoot of Islam. Around 22,000 Druze live on the Golan.
Israel, seeking to further integrate them, has offered citizenship but most Druze rejected it. Many regard themselves as Syrian, even after more than half a century of life under Israeli rule. After an election eve town center meeting and march featuring dozens of rainbow Druze flags, the community's elders issued a prohibition against candidates standing and people voting, threatening to make outcasts of anyone who took part. "Candidates and those who come to vote will have a religious and social prohibition put upon them," said Sheikh Khamis Khanjar. "What bigger punishment is there than this? In an interview with Al Mayadeen, senior Hamas official Mahmoud al-Zahar called on the Druze residents of the Golan Heights "to take up arms and rise against the Zionist regime. It is the only want to end the occupation." But many Druze have enjoyed economic prosperity on the other side of the front line from their brethren in war-torn Syria. "When you are in a state that is giving you all your rights, why wouldn't you vote," said Sahar Said Ahmed as she watched the election eve protest in a town square dominated by the statue of a Druze leader who fought French forces during the colonial era.Outside the polling station, Druze religious elders wearing their distinctive maroon and white caps urged youths not to confront the police. One concern was that the issue of taking part in Israeli elections was dividing the community. "For more than 50 years Israel has been trying to sow disputes by divide and rule and it is happy at the differences that are surfacing," said Moenis Abdullah.

Thousands of Palestinians Demonstrate in Ramallah Against Social Security Law

Ramallah- Asharq Al-Awsat/Tuesday, 30 October, 2018/Thousands of Palestinians demonstrated in central Ramallah on Monday to protest against the Palestinian government’s insistence on implementing the Social Security Law beginning of November. Protesters demanded the sacking of the cabinet in the largest internal demonstration against the current government. They were supported by the Fatah Revolutionary Council and the Palestinian Bar Association. “We assure you that your brothers in the Palestinian Bar Association stand with you and on your side," said Amjad Al-Shala, a member of the Bar Association. Hassan Faraj, a member of Fatah’s Revolutionary Council, also confirmed that the council supported the postponement of the implementation of the social security law for six months, in order to open the door for community dialogue to clarify its clauses and discuss some of its contentious issues. Protesters called for an open dialogue to implement a law that would guarantee social protection for workers and provide a decent life for them. The law has caused a rare public dispute between Fatah and the Palestinian government. Fatah demanded that the application of the security law would be postponed and made optional for six months, during which the defects would be examined and modified. Prime Minister Rami al-Hamdallah insisted on implementing the controversial law on time, explaining that it would provide protection for 1.1 million citizens. He emphasized that he was ready for dialogue but without postponing the execution of the law. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, for his part, suggested that Hamdallah should respond to any necessary amendments and apply them retroactively if the law gets implemented.

Sisi Discusses in Berlin Egypt’s Efforts in Combating Terrorism, Illegal Immigration
Cairo - Asharq Al-Awsat/Tuesday, 30 October, 2018/Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi reviewed with his German counterpart Frank-Walter Steinmeier the developments in Egypt in terms of achieving security and stability. This came during their meeting in Berlin on Monday.
He pointed out that Egypt is making a great effort in the fight against terrorism and illegal immigration, based on its responsibilities towards its citizens and towards the world and region’s stability. He explained the impact of these phenomena on the Mediterranean and Europe’s security. He also stressed that his country in working hard to reach a political solution to these crises in conformity with the Egyptian policy principles in terms of protecting the state entity and respecting sovereignty and territorial safety. The Egyptian Leader asserted Egypt's keenness on intensifying cooperation with Germany, particularly in the economic, trade and investment fields in a way that increases German investments in Egypt, Presidency Spokesman Bassam Radi said. Steinmeier, for his part, considered Egypt a “fundamental pillar of stability in the Middle East."In a statement on Monday, Radi said the German president has expressed his country's keenness on pushing forward cooperation with Egypt in various fields and supporting its efforts in its quest to achieve development. He also said that the parties further reviewed a number of regional issues. The two presidents discussed the latest developments on the Palestinian cause as well as the Libyan and Syrian crises. Sisi arrived in Berlin on Sunday on a four-day visit to participate in the G20 Compact with Africa summit at an invitation from German Chancellor Angela Merkel. He expressed appreciation of the distinguished bilateral relations, which helped enhance bilateral cooperation on the basis of partnership and mutual interests. He invited his German counterpart to visit Egypt which he welcomed, expressing appreciation and respect to Egypt and its leadership.

Oil Market Looks Uncertain before Iran Sanctions Take Effect

London - Asharq Al-Awsat/Tuesday, 30 October, 2018/Shortly after US President Donald Trump announced in May he would reimpose sanctions on Iran, the State Department began telling countries around the world the clock was ticking for them to cut oil purchases from Tehran to zero. The strategy is meant to cripple Iran’s oil-dependent economy and force Tehran to quash not only its nuclear ambitions, but this time, its ballistic missile program and its influence in Syria. With just days to go before renewed sanctions take effect November 4, the reality is setting in: three of Iran’s top five customers – India, China, and Turkey – are resisting Washington’s call to end purchases outright, arguing there are not sufficient supplies worldwide to replace them, according to sources familiar with the matter. That pressure, along with worries of a damaging oil price spike, is putting the Trump administration’s hard line to the test and raising the possibility of bilateral deals to allow some buying to continue, according to the sources.The tension has split the administration into two camps, one led by National Security Adviser John Bolton, who wants the toughest possible approach, and another by State Department officials keen to balance sanctions against preventing an oil price spike that could damage the US and its allies, according to a source briefed by administration officials on the matter. The global price of oil peaked at a minimum of $87 a barrel earlier this month. Because of the concern over oil prices, the source said, the administration is considering limited waivers for some Iranian customers until giant oil-producing countries add additional supply next year, while limiting what Tehran can do with the proceeds in the meantime. Revenues from sales could be escrowed for use by Tehran exclusively for humanitarian purposes, the source, who asked not to be named, said – a mechanism more stringent than a similar one imposed on Iran oil purchases during the last round of sanctions under US President Barack Obama. “If you’re the administration, you’d like to ensure you don’t have a spike in the price,” the source said. Such concessions could be problematic for the White House as it seeks stricter terms than under Obama, who along with European allies imposed sanctions that led to an agreement limiting Iran’s nuclear weapons development. The State Department declined to comment for this story, but the administration has confirmed Washington is considering waivers. US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told Reuters that countries will first have to reduce purchases of Iran’s oil by more than the 20 percent level they did under the previous sanctions.
‘A Bit Unpredictable’
US Treasury and State Department teams have traveled to more than two dozen countries since Trump pulled out of the nuclear deal on May 8, warning companies and countries of the dangers of doing business with Iran. US allies Japan and South Korea have already ceased importing Iran’s crude. But the situation is less clear among other, bigger buyers. Brian Hook, the State Department’s special representative for Iran, and Frank Fannon, State’s top US energy diplomat, most recently met with officials in India, Iran’s No. 2 buyer, in mid-October after a US source said for the first time that the administration was actively considering waivers. An Indian government source said India told the US delegation that rising energy costs caused by a weak rupee and high oil prices meant zeroing out Iranian purchases was impossible until at least March. “We have told this to the United States, as well as during Brian Hook’s visit,” the source said. “We cannot end oil imports from Iran at a time when alternatives are costly.”A US diplomat confirmed the discussions, saying limited waivers for India and other countries were possible.
India typically imports over 500,000 barrels per day (bpd) of Iranian oil but has reduced that level in recent months, according to official data. Discussions are also underway with Turkey, Iran’s fourth-biggest crude buyer, even though Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Turkish ministers have openly criticized the sanctions. An industry source in Turkey familiar with the talks told Reuters the country had cut Iranian imports in half already, and could get to zero, but would prefer to continue some purchases. Obama’s administration granted a six-month waiver to Turkey, but the source said Turkey expected the Trump administration to impose tougher requirements for obtaining waivers that could potentially cover shorter periods. “It could be for three months, or they may not get a waiver at all. It is all a bit unpredictable this time, as we understand a lot of things are up to Trump,” the source said. The situation is least clear in China, Iran’s biggest customer, whose state-owned buyers are also seeking waivers. The country took in between 500,000 and 800,000 bpd from Iran in the past several months, a typical range. Beijing’s signals to its refiners have been mixed, said the two sources. Last week, Reuters reported Sinopec Group and China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC), the country’s top state-owned refiners, have not placed orders for Iranian oil for November because of concerns about the sanctions. Joe McMonigle, an energy analyst at Hedgeye in Washington, said he expected the administration would have to accept some level of Iranian oil buying from China, given its consumption. US State Department’s Fannon is scheduled to travel to Asia in coming days, with a speech in Singapore planned for October 30; an official did not say if Fannon would use the trip to discuss Iran with China.

Kremlin: Preparations Underway for Putin’s Visit to Riyadh

Moscow - Raed Jaber/Asharq Al-Awsat/Tuesday, 30 October, 2018/Russia announced on Monday that contacts are underway through diplomatic channels to prepare for President Vladimir Putin’s upcoming visit to Saudi Arabia. Presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the two sides are making the arrangements for the visit, but a date has not been set for it yet. Russian foreign ministry sources had previously said that the visit may take place before the end of the year. Peskov dismissed claims that the death of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul earlier this month had impacted the preparations for the trip. The Kremlin had announced after a telephone call between the leaders of Saudi Arabia and Russia that preparations are being made for the visit, he added. The Khashoggi case has not affected these efforts in any way whatsoever, he stressed. Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz had telephoned Putin on Friday during which he confirmed that he had invited the Russian leader to visit the Kingdom, said sources in Moscow and Riyadh. The Russian presidency had last week voiced its faith in the Saudi investigations in the Khashoggi case. Peskov called on the media to rely on trusted official information in handling the affair.

Dad of Canadian Held in Syria Asks for Help to Get Him, 18 Others Home
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/October 30/18/The father of a British-Canadian dual national held by Kurds in Syria pleaded Tuesday for Ottawa's help to rescue him and at least 18 other Canadians, amid concerns that some of them pose a security risk. Jack Letts, 23, has been held in Syria for 18 months, his father John told reporters in Ottawa. "I need your help to save my son's life," said Letts, who appeared at a press conference with Alexandra Bain, director of Families Against Violent Extremism. They said nine Canadians including the younger Letts as well as at least 10 of their children -- some taken to Syria, some born in the war zone -- are currently being held by Kurdish authorities on Syrian soil. Bain said they face a cold winter ahead, are given little to eat, are not provided an education and tuberculosis has started to spread in the camps. "These people need to be brought home to Canada and they need to be brought home now," Bain said. The government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said it will not risk sending officials to Syria to negotiate for their release, citing security concerns. Ottawa has also raised concerns about the collection of evidence in conflict zones to prosecute returnees under Canadian terrorism laws. "We are aware of Canadian citizens being detained in Syria," foreign ministry spokesman Stefano Maron told AFP. "Given the security situation on the ground, the government of Canada's ability to provide consular assistance in any part of Syria is extremely limited," he said. "Canada is engaged in these cases and is providing assistance, to the limited extent possible," including verifying their "whereabouts and well-being," Maron added. The families of detainees and their supporters were to meet later Tuesday with senior Canadian foreign ministry officials to pitch their proposal for a brokered return. Letts and Bain said the human rights organization Reprieve would travel to camps in northern Syria to help facilitate their return, but only if Canada agrees to supply the returnees with travel documents. To alleviate public concerns about repatriating Canadians with possible terror links, Bain said returnees would agree to "voluntary security arrangements," without elaborating on the terms. Reprieve has previously helped repatriate an American from Syria under similar circumstances, Bain noted. The reason for Letts' presence in Syria is somewhat unclear. British media have suggested he is fighting for extremist groups, but his father said he was "not a violent jihadist" though he might have been "naive and wrong" to go to Syria. Canadian officials had been trying to secure Letts' return home but suddenly halted their efforts in May, the father said. "They just said there's nothing we can do because it's too dangerous," he told reporters, holding back tears. The father suggested pressure on Canada from Britain, which has refused to take Jack back, or the upcoming Canadian election in 2019 may have factored into the decision.

The Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on October 30-31/18
Iraq’s New Prime Minister Trips on His First Hurdle
Bobby Gosh/Bloomberg/October 30/18
In an essay he wrote on his Facebook page five months ago, Adel Abdul Mahdi said he wouldn’t want to be Iraq’s next prime minister. The country’s toxic political culture would make it impossible to govern, he claimed. “Assuming I got accepted now, I will soon lose,” he wrote. “I will face majorities which will not allow their groups to provide necessary support.”
Now that Abdul Mahdi is prime minister, he’s discovering just how right he was. The question is whether he will seek to do anything about it.
On Thursday, after weeks of bickering, parliament finally confirmed Abdul Mahdi, and 14 of the 22 people he named to his cabinet. There was no vote on a number of key appointments, including ministers of defense and the interior. Nearly a third of the 329 members of parliament didn’t even bother to turn up, and those who did complained they weren’t given enough time to properly consider the nominations. Abdul Mahdi didn’t help matters by handing out one-sheet resumes of each of his nominees.
It was an inauspicious start to his premiership, but the messy process of cabinet formation was entirely consistent with his May prophecy. The political groups he warned about — a half-dozen factions whose backing he needed for his confirmation — jockeyed ferociously for control of key ministries, leaving Abdul Mahdi unable to deliver on his promise of a cabinet of “technocrats.” His picks to run the oil and electricity ministries may fit that description, but in other positions it seems clear that Abdul Mahdi’s choices were forced on him. None of the nominations came from an online application process he announced earlier this month, designed to attract fresh talent to government. Worryingly, his nominee for the powerful interior ministry is Falih al-Fayadh, who ran the Iran-backed militias known as Popular Mobilization Forces militias. (The vote on his nomination, and at least some of the others, is expected on Nov. 6.)
The difficulty Abdul Mahdi has already had with the cabinet-formation process bodes ill for the other challenges that lie ahead. Among those he prophesied in the May essay: resistance by political parties to the institutionalization of government departments, to ending rentierism in the economy, to the separation of powers between the legislative and the executive, to the dismantling of politically affiliated militias, and to transparency in security agreements with other nations, including Iran.
Those would be formidable challenges for any government; they seem insurmountable for one where the ministers are all, like Abdul Mahdi himself, political lightweights, lacking both mass appeal and parliamentary clout. This allows little optimism for reform at the ministerial level, where bureaucracies have long been packed with political appointees who answer to parties rather than to the state. The tradition of parties interfering in the day-to-day functioning of ministries is unlikely to change. As Abdul Madhi wrote in May, “There are large numbers of people who are used to considering this interference a right and not an [encroachment].” It is hard to imagine any of the new ministers cleaning house.
Problem is, while Abdul Mahdi showed himself an astute analyst of the country's problems, his own track record is uninspiring. As oil minister from 2014-16, he did little to curb the influence of apparatchiks from his own party, the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq, who “treated it as their fiefdom, like any party would and did in any ministry,” says Ruba Husari, managing director of OZME Consultants, which provides consulting on Iraq’s oil and gas sector. Abdul Mahdi proved to be a poor administrator. “He was not a manager, not someone who had any sense of the details of his ministry,” says Toby Dodge, an expert on Iraq at the London School of Economic’s Middle East Center.
Sometimes being a compromise candidate can be an asset. Abdul Mahdi may be weak, but at least he now has a bully pulpit and a job that, in theory, few others want. Given his grasp of Iraq's problems, it's tempting to conclude he's not trying very hard to tackle them. Maybe, despite his protests, he wanted the job a little too much.

Harvard’s Other Controversial Admissions Policy
Stephen Mihm/Bloomberg/October 30/18
It’s no secret why conservatives are lending financial and political support to the Asian-Americans suing Harvard for discrimination in admissions. They want to kill affirmative action and replace it with a “race-blind” system.
Spare us. If you want to destroy discrimination in college admissions, underrepresented minorities are small fry. Instead, the biggest favors are showered on the children of alumni, who are five times more likely to gain admission than those without a Harvard bloodline. Indeed, at a trial in federal court in Boston this week, the plaintiffs who are accusing the elite college of discrimination suggested that abolishing so-called legacy preferences could be a way to widen the applicant pool and keep the student body diverse, even without affirmative action.
“Legacy students” now make up almost a third of the incoming class at Harvard, with comparable numbers at other elite universities. How that came to pass is a strange story that raises profound questions about the function and future of higher-education admissions.
The first school to grapple with the problem of legacy students in the 19th century was the U.S. Military Academy. Founded in 1802, it swiftly grew, but capped the size of incoming classes, making admission increasingly selective.
In 1818, Congress debated a bill that would have given the sons of veterans killed in the War of 1812 preferential treatment in admissions to West Point. It elicited intense opposition. One congressman declared that it would “create a privileged order in the country,” while another warned that such a policy would thwart the academy’s mission to select only “the most fit and most worthy.” The bill died.
Nonetheless, fears that admissions might be rigged dogged the institution. In 1841, Alden Partridge, the former superintendent, warned that West Point was creating an aristocracy that “has already become, in a great degree, hereditary.”
In 1843, Congress stipulated that every congressional and territorial district could send one student to West Point. The applicants had to be nominated by members of Congress, and in succeeding decades, many politicians began administering competitive exams to potential beneficiaries, making admissions far more selective and meritocratic.
By contrast, private colleges and universities did not confront the problem of legacy students because anyone who could meet certain standards — mastery of Greek and Latin, among other requirements — gained admission. Like a literacy test for voting, this ensured that non-elites almost never applied, effectively guaranteeing that the children of alumni would have a place. This was particularly true because most schools did not cap the size of entering classes.
Legacy admissions began, ironically enough, out of efforts to make Harvard more inclusive. In the late 19th century, the university’s patrician president, Charles W. Eliot, began to broaden the university’s admissions beyond the pool of elite, prep schools that supplied most of each year’s incoming class.
As the historian Jerome Karabel has noted, Eliot abolished the Greek requirement; he would later suspend the Latin requirement, too, under certain conditions. Soon, Harvard started to admit a growing number of boys from public schools who were allowed to compete for a growing number of scholarships that paid their tuition.
These efforts to raise standards of admission — to admit the best and the brightest rather than the “stupid sons of the rich,” as Eliot pungently put it — succeeded. Harvard became more inclusive, enrolling a growing number of talented students from a wide range of backgrounds.
But these efforts, eventually emulated by other private colleges and universities, had an unanticipated effect. Increasingly, Jewish public-school students aced the exams and swept the scholarships, becoming an increasingly visible presence on campus.
The Protestant elites who ran elite schools wailed about the so-called “Jewish problem,” or what some called the “Hebrew invasion.” They instituted quotas on the number of Jewish students admitted from certain schools, but this did not lower the number of Jewish students; it simply shifted the geographic distribution.
Nor did it assuage the alumni. One graduate of Harvard reported returning a quarter century after graduation to find “Jews to the right of me, Jews to the left of me,” adding pointedly that “not one of these appeared to be of the same class as the few Jews that were in college in my day but distinctly of the class usually denominated ‘Kikes.’”
Sadly, he was hardly alone in his prejudice. As growing numbers of alumni threatened to send their precious sons elsewhere, Harvard abandoned admissions on scholarship alone, substituting a far more subjective process that evaluated personality traits and athletic ability. At the same time, the college instituted selective admission. It was no longer enough to ace an entrance exam; you had to have what prep school kids schooled in French would have described as a certain je ne sais quoi.
This move went hand in hand with an implicit or explicit policy of favoring the children of alumni. In 1925, for example, the Yale Board of admissions voted that the new “limitation of numbers shall not operate to exclude any son of a Yale graduate who has satisfied all the requirements for admission.” A few years later, it codified this policy still further, requiring non-legacy applicants to score higher on entrance exams.
Here and elsewhere, legacy students began to supplant Jewish students, a pattern that held into the postwar era. In 1949, for example, Wilbur Bender, the head of Harvard admissions, simply said that “we do discriminate in our admissions policy … and I hope we always will.”
And discriminate they did at all the elite universities, giving special preference to legacy students while simultaneously forcing everyone else to vie for the remaining seats. But calls for a more inclusive study body from the 1960s onward prompted some universities to roll back the number of legacies admitted in order to build more diverse student body.
These policies, particularly those instituted at Princeton and Yale, sparked a bitter backlash among prominent alumni. William F. Buckley led the charge at Yale, mourning that the university had ceased to “the kind of place where your family goes for generations.”
Buckley was particularly bemoaned that a “Mexican-American from El Paso High School with identical scores on the achievement tests and identically ardent recommendations from their headmasters, had a better chance of being admitted to Yale than Jonathan Edwards the Sixteenth from St. Paul’s School.”
Faced with a growing alumni rebellion — and unlike West Point, very much dependent on tuition dollars and donations — Yale and other universities backed down from attempts to roll back legacy admissions. Private universities would not be purely meritocratic institutions the way that the military academy became.
Instead, they adopted the strategy that remains in place today: Reserve a quarter to a third of seats for legacy students, with the remaining seats reserved for those who help achieve the kind of diversity and eclecticism that may be missing among alumni children.
These competing imperatives — admit enough legacy students to keep the alumni happy; admit enough non-traditional students to make a reasonable claim to being representative — will always be at war.
But it’s worth recalling that neither constituency existed before the first attempts to democratize these otherwise elitist institutions. Discrimination and inclusion have a shared history: they emerged almost simultaneously. Lawsuits notwithstanding, they’re likely to remain twinned for the foreseeable future.

New Palestinian "Concern" for International Conventions

Bassam Tawil/Gatestone Institute/October 30/18
While Hamas has been violating international laws by denying visits or any communication with the Israelis it holds captive, Palestinian terrorists in Israeli prisons continue to enjoy basic rights, including meeting with an attorney, receiving medical treatment, religious rights, basic living conditions (such as hot water, showers and sanitation), proper ventilation and electric infrastructure.
The families of the Palestinian terrorists held in Israeli prisons know where their sons are. They also know that their sons receive proper medical treatment and while away their days reading, exercising and watching TV. But the Israelis held by Hamas can only dream of seeing daylight as they languish in captivity.
The proposed Israeli law is a temporary measure, aimed at forcing Hamas to release information about the Israelis held in the Gaza Strip. There would be no need for the law were Hamas prepared to honor international and humanitarian conventions and allow visits by the Red Cross and other international agencies to the Israelis it is holding.
While Hamas has been violating international laws by denying visits or any communication with the Israelis it holds captive, Palestinian terrorists in Israeli prisons continue to enjoy many rights, including family visitations. Pictured: Masked Palestinian terrorists in Kalandia, near Jerusalem.
Hamas, the Palestinian terrorist group that rules the Gaza Strip, does not like a bill making its way through Israel's Knesset that would prevent visits by family members of terrorists in Israeli prisons. The bill, sponsored by MK Oren Hazan (Likud), would prevent such visits to terrorists who are members of groups that hold Israeli prisoners and deny them visits.
"Because Israel is an advanced democracy committed to human rights conventions to which the terrorist organizations are not committed, an intolerable situation results. The terrorist organizations, as a strategy, kidnap and hold Israeli citizens without regard for their conditions and without allowing them visits, which seriously harms the morale and the national strength of the State of Israel," the bill's explanatory notes say.
In response, Hamas denounced Israel's proposed law as "racist," and said in a statement that it was a "flagrant violation of all laws and humanitarian conventions." Hamas spokesman Hazem Qassem claimed that the bill was "part of Israel's policy to impose restrictions on the prisoners."
Suddenly, Hamas is concerned about "international law and humanitarian conventions"? Not quite. There is a catch. Hamas is only concerned about them when Palestinian terrorists are involved. As for the rights of Israelis held by Hamas, the Palestinian terrorist group apparently still believes they are not entitled to any rights.
The proposed law actually is a response to Hamas's refusal to provide details about four Israelis being held in the Gaza Strip. Two of the Israelis are soldiers who were killed during the 2014 war between Hamas and Israel: Lt. Hadar Goldin and Staff Sgt. Oron Shaul. The other two are citizens of Israel who were kidnapped by Hamas after they voluntarily entered the Gaza Strip: Avera Mengistu and Hisham al-Sayyed.
Hamas has refused to allow representatives of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and other international agencies to visit these prisoners. The families of the four Israeli captives have also not been allowed to visit their sons or even to receive information whether they are alive or dead.
Hamas leaders are now saying that Israel must first pay a price for any information about the fate of the four Israelis. The price Hamas is demanding: the release of scores of Palestinian terrorists who were rearrested after they were freed in the 2011 prisoner exchange deal between Hamas and Israel.
In the deal, Israel released 1027 Palestinian terrorists in return for Gilad Schalit, an Israeli soldier who was kidnapped by Palestinian terrorists near the border with the Gaza Strip on June 25, 2006. Some of the released terrorists were later rearrested by Israel for their renewed role in terrorist activities.
Schalit, during the 1,935 days he spent in Hamas captivity, was denied visits by ICRC representatives, and his family was not permitted to visit him or know if he was alive or dead.
Hamas is now doing the same thing with the four Israelis it is holding. Hamas refuses to provide any details about their well-being or fate. Attempts by Egypt, Germany, Norway and other international parties to persuade Hamas to soften its position on the issue of the Israeli captives have thus far been unsuccessful.
While Hamas has been violating international laws by denying visits or any communication with the Israelis it holds captive, Palestinian terrorists in Israeli prisons continue to enjoy basic rights, including meeting with an attorney, receiving medical treatment, religious rights, basic living conditions (such as hot water, showers and sanitation), proper ventilation and electric infrastructure. They also receive regular visits from the ICRC, and education, as well.
In addition to these basic rights, the terrorists are entitled to receive newspapers, send and receive letters and read and keep their own books. Prisoners are even allowed to buy goods from the prison canteen. They also receive family visitations, television-watching hours and even electrical appliances, such as kettles and mosquito killers.
It might be worthwhile to take a moment to compare conditions in Israeli prisons and those run by Hamas and the Palestinian Authority (PA).
The 149-page report said that "the systematic practice of torture by Palestinian authorities may amount to a crime against humanity prosecutable at the International Criminal Court (ICC).
Last week, Human Rights Watch (HRW) released a 149-page report, entitled "Two Authorities, One Way, Zero Dissent: Arbitrary Arrest and Torture Under the Palestinian Authority and Hamas." The report accused Hamas and the Palestinian Authority of routinely arresting and torturing peaceful critics and opponents. In the press release announcing the report, HRW wrote:
"In the cases documented, Palestinian forces often threatened, beat, and forced detainees into painful stress positions for prolonged periods, including using cables or ropes to hoist up arms behind the back. Police often used similar tactics to obtain confessions by people detained on drug or other criminal charges. Security forces also routinely coerced detainees into providing access to their cellphones and social media accounts. These measures appear aimed at punishing dissidents and deterring them and others from further activism...
"Systematic arbitrary arrests and torture violate major human rights treaties to which Palestine recently acceded. Few security officers have been prosecuted and none have been convicted for wrongful arrest or torture...
"The systematic practice of torture by Palestinian authorities may amount to a crime against humanity prosecutable at the International Criminal Court (ICC)."
Thus, the HRW report confirms what the Gatestone Institute has been reporting for years: that the Palestinian Authority and Hamas have been cracking down on dissent and illegally incarcerating and torturing Palestinians.
Hamas and the PA have yet to respond to the serious allegations of arbitrary arrests and torture. Instead of responding to these charges, the two Palestinian parties are busy inciting against Israel. The proposed Israeli law is a temporary measure, aimed at forcing Hamas to release information about the four Israelis held in the Gaza Strip. There would be no need for the law were Hamas prepared to honor international and humanitarian conventions and allow visits by the ICRC and other international agencies to the Israelis it is holding.
Hamas is a terrorist group that flouts international laws and norms. It tramples the rights of its own people, whom it arbitrarily arrests and tortures -- how would any Israeli who falls into its hands fare?
The families of the Palestinian terrorists held in Israeli prisons know where their sons are. They also know that their sons are receiving proper medical treatment and are whiling away their days reading, exercising and watching television. But the Israelis held by Hamas can only dream of seeing daylight as they languish in captivity. When Hamas cries foul over the proposed Israeli law, the true foulness rests in their two-faced barbarity.
*Bassam Tawil is an Arab Muslim based in the Middle East.
© 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.

Turkey and Qatar: An Alliance Under the Saudi Sword

Burak Bekdil/Gatestone Institute/October 30/18
The new U.S. leverage that emerged after the Saudi embarrassment is the same leverage that the U.S. can now use to broker an entente between Saudi Arabia and Qatar.
That there may be a Saudi-Qatari rapprochement might be bad news for Erdoğan. A future Saudi-Qatari deal would force Turkey militarily out of the Gulf and force Erdoğan entirely to recalibrate his quest for Turkish leadership in the Sunni ummah (global community).
Qatar's distance from Erdoğan regarding the Khashoggi murder signals a Qatari-Saudi entente. Qatar may well be breaking away from its alliance with Turkey.
This will give the Saudis an upper hand in their rivalry with Erdoğan in Sunni leadership of the ummah. If Erdoğan loses Qatar to Saudi Arabia, he will be paying geostrategic price as well as an economic one.
A 21st century ideological kinship, based on political support for Hamas and Muslim Brotherhood, has built a strong bond between Turkey's elected leadership and Qatar's family of sheiks, despite an unpleasant shared history a century earlier.
The Qataris, not knowing that a 21st version of Islamism -- not yet born then -- fought the Ottomans to gain their independence in 1915. This event ended the 44-year-long Ottoman rule on the peninsula.
Independence, however, lasted for only about a year, until 1916, when Qatar became a British protectorate, until 1971. Today, hydrocarbon-rich Qatar, often referred to as a family-run gas station, is the staunchest regional ally of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's Turkey.
Both countries, Qatar and Turkey, pursue policies that are strongly anti-Israel (Erdoğan once remarked that "Zionism is a crime against humanity") and share policies that are pro-Hamas and pro-Muslim Brotherhood.
This foreign policy blend, however, is deeply disliked by the House of Saud, a regional heavyweight, as well as by its Gulf and other regional allies: Egypt, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Lebanon and the Palestinian Authority -- in addition to the Arab League.
The Sunni vs. Sunni division in the Gulf deepened further in 2017, when a Saudi-led coalition of Arab states imposed a blockade on Qatar. The coalition accused it of supporting terrorism and fostering ties with its rival, Iran.
Erdoğan immediately rushed to the aid of his Qatari friends. Turkey, in a show of solidarity, sent cargo ships and hundreds of planes loaded with food to break the blockade, and deployed more troops at its military base in Qatar.
Back in December 2014, both countries had penned a deal for the deployment of Turkish troops to Qatar. The first batch of Turkish troops arrived in Doha in 2015, and a few days later, the Turkish flag was hoisted at a Turkish military base.
Today, many Qataris and some Turkish observers believe that the four-nation blockade in 2017 was actually a coup attempt against the sheikdom and that the Turkish military prevented a palace coup targeting Qatari sovereignty.
This year, when Turkey's national currency lost 40% of its value in the face of U.S. sanctions, Qataris apparently wanted to thank their Turkish allies. Qatar pledged $15 billion in investment into Turkish banks and financial markets. The investment package was announced after Qatar's Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani met Erdoğan, at a time when the Turkish lira was sliding and the country's economy worsening.
The investment pledge was followed by an oriental gesture: Qatar's Emir gave Erdoğan as a gift a Boeing 747-8 aircraft. The airplane is reportedly the world's largest and most expensive private jet, the cost of which experts estimate at around $400 million.
Military ties have also been deepening further. A Qatari investment fund owns a 50% stake in BMC, a Turkish armored-vehicle manufacturer that recently won a four billion euro contract with the Turkish government to produce a new indigenous main battle tank, the Altay. Havelsan, a state-controlled military software company in Ankara, signed a partnership agreement with Al Mesned Holdings in Qatar for a joint venture that will specialize in cyber-security solutions for the sheikdom.
Nevertheless, the Turkish-Qatari comradeship is trying to progress under a Saudi sword -- the same one that murdered the prominent journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul. Like Turkey and Qatar, the Saudi journalist Khashoggi supported the Muslim Brotherhood. He had close ties with Erdoğan's Justice and Development Party. He lived in exile in Washington, DC, and was viewed as a threat to the Saudi royals, most notably by Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman who claimed that Khashoggi had been killed "at a brawl at the consulate building."
Erdoğan did not miss the opportunity to corner his cold war rival, Saudi Arabia. Turkish security services worked tirelessly to prove that the killing had been a premeditated murder, a fact that Saudi Arabia later admitted. Erdoğan, in other words, mobilized the world to point the finger on the Saudi royals in attempts to show how ruthless the Saudis could be -- even though Turkey itself is currently the world's biggest jailer of journalists.
In this subtle, anti-Saudi campaign, Erdoğan relied on the civilized West and his only Arab ally: Qatar. The "West" part worked to a certain degree: Erdoğan wanted to disgrace his Sunni rivals at the Saudi royal court. Some Turkish sources privately say, however, that Erdoğan felt betrayed and disappointed by Qatar's relative silence on the Khashoggi affair.
The alliance is not only about Qatari money. Erdoğan needs Qatar as a "Turkish colony" in the Gulf: He needs it ideologically in his neo-Ottoman design.
One statement from the Qatari Press Center simply said that Doha hoped the Khashoggi investigation should be thoroughly carried out and the perpetrators should be handed over to the justice department.
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman offered Qatar a rare compliment as international pressure on Saudi Arabia mounted over the murder: "Qatar, despite the differences we have, has a great economy and they will be doing a lot in the next five years," he said.
Why is there a sudden Saudi-Qatari entente? Cristian Ulrichsen, a fellow at Rice University's Baker Institute, said: "I think if the US government wants to end the Qatar crisis it can exert leverage over the Saudis as a bargaining chip in relation to Khashoggi's death".
The new U.S. leverage that emerged after the Saudi embarrassment is the same leverage that the U.S. can now use to broker an entente between Saudi Arabia and Qatar.
That there may be a Saudi-Qatari rapprochement may be bad news for Erdoğan, and explains why he was allegedly furious about Qatar's absence during his international PR campaign against the Saudi crown prince. A future Saudi-Qatari deal would force Turkey militarily out of the Gulf and force Erdoğan entirely to recalibrate his quest for Turkish leadership in the Sunni ummah (global community). The loss of Qatar, if it ever happened, could also spell economic disaster for Turkey's ailing economy.
Qatar's distance from Erdoğan regarding the Khashoggi murder signals a Qatari-Saudi entente. Qatar may well be breaking away from its alliance with Turkey.
This will give the Saudis an upper hand in their rivalry with Erdoğan in Sunni leadership of the ummah. If Erdoğan loses Qatar to Saudi Arabia, he will be paying geostrategic price as well as an economic one.
*Burak Bekdil, one of Turkey's leading journalists, was recently fired from the country's most noted newspaper after 29 years, for writing in Gatestone what is taking place in Turkey. He is a Fellow at the Middle East Forum.
© 2018 Gatestone Institute. All rights reserved. The articles printed here do not necessarily reflect the views of the Editors or of Gatestone Institute. No part of the Gatestone website or any of its contents may be reproduced, copied or modified, without the prior written consent of Gatestone Institute.

Weaving a Syria solution rug
Ghassan Charbel/Al Arabiya/October 30/18
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. Syrian regime did not make concessions when it was weak; so how would it provide them after ground equations have changed in its favor?
American thread
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.”
Demilitarized zone
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.

Saudi Arabia, Turkey and leadership

Abdulrahman al-Rashed/Al Arabiya/October 30/18
Leadership is an old and continuous tale in the media’s imagination but leadership is a result and not a decision. Even before the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, there has been talk about competition over leadership. So is it truth or illusion, and what are its standards? The concept of leadership in the Middle East includes plenty of imagination that’s cloned from the eras of empires and most of it is political and propagandist. There are standards in measuring the concept of power – there is the superpower, which is the US and the great power like Russia, China and the EU. It’s measured by military, economic, technological and cultural superiority and not just nuclear power or media exaggerations. If we want to implement these standards in our region, we will realize there is a group of regional powers and not a single one that is superior. For example, military superiority alone is not enough. Israel is the strongest military and technological regional power but its area is small and besieged and it’s not a regional economic power. Turkey’s area is large and it is a member in the NATO but like Iran it does not have the same language as the region’s countries and it has geopolitical restrictions that limits its influence, as we’ve seen its incapability in Syria’s war. Iran is large and ambitious to assume leadership, and it has relied on power for 40 years. Today it’s a spreading power but it is the poorest country in the region. There are many heads in the Middle East and not a single leader and not a single leading nation.
The dream of leadership is what destroyed late Egyptian President Gamal Abdelnasser and his project in one single test, the 1967 War, because it was a leadership that was built on propaganda. The concept of leadership in Middle East includes plenty of imagination cloned from eras of empires and most of it is political and propagandist
Power elements
What about Turkey and Saudi Arabia? Both countries have power elements: area, population, geography, massive resources, domestic stability and strength of the political regime. Despite that, I do not think there is a possibility of acceptance of the claim of supremacy and leadership in the region.
As for the Muslims’ leadership in the world, then this is a metaphorical expression. Spiritually, Saudi Arabia is the leader because it is where there are holy sites, which one billion Muslims visit for Hajj and where the qibla, the direction that should be faced when praying, are located. Turkey does not have anything sacred for Muslims. On the economic level, Saudi Arabia is more influential. Turkey tried to be an economic power so it expanded from Iraq’s Kurdistan to Libya but it lost its investments in the Arab Spring wars. It’s now trying to militarily expand at the expense of Qatar in the Red Sea and the Gulf, but we know this is a temporary situation and after few years, Doha will lapse after spending its savings and Turkey will withdraw. Saudi Arabia has politically tried to build fronts but it also suffered and was incapable of uniting the ranks of the group that supports it.
Unlike Iran and Turkey, the Saudi foreign policy is based on a defensive and not an offensive concept. It builds a complicated network of alliances and via several means, such as the alliance of war in Yemen, an alliance to confront Saddam following his invasion of Kuwait and an alliance to confront Iran today.
Regional leadership
I think no regional power can achieve leadership no matter how armed to the teeth it is and no matter how hungry it is for power and expansion, like Iran is. The cost is very high and it may cause the collapse of the state.
This is what happened to the regime of Saddam Hussein who was obsessed with power and leadership. Saddam spent all his years in power and losing wars. Hence, bets on the region’s leadership are nothing more than media fabrications or ignorant ambitions.
Apart from what is being written in the media, there is no real Turkish-Saudi competition over leadership. There is competition over some issues and consensus over other issues, temporarily and pending the interactions of the Khashoggi case. This is what Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman meant when he said someone was trying to create a rift with Turkey. Riyadh’s policy is defensive to protect its borders and its regional surrounding and is not competitive with Turkey. This explains why most of Riyadh’s focus is directed toward confronting Iran in hopes the latter’s regime abandons its hostile and expansive policy or it is besieged and its threats on the kingdom and the region are diminished. Real leadership is a final result and not a presidential decision, and it’s reflected by the state’s capability of economic, scientific, technological, industrial, military, cultural and diplomatic supremacy.
No country can succeed alone if its successes do not also reach the region. And as the prince said: Dubai is a model, and Saudi Arabia or Egypt lift the entire region. Leaderships will thus remain media legends.

The desert wins in all seasons
Turki Aldakhil/Al Arabiya/October 30/18
You can sit wherever you want and move however you like if you learn where you stand well right now. Not only that, but you can spot what’s coming from afar and hold the hand of he who believes in you so you take him forward, and you will do so only when you’re certain that you are on the right track. This is how I saw the Saudi Future Investment Initiative and this is how many like me heard what Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said several days ago.We were not here at this exact point more than a year ago. No leader had thought of transferring Switzerland’s harsh winter to the desert’s sides. We have not spent plenty of our budget on the wages of state employees this year, and when things change, we will have decreased more of the same expenses and we will have increased employment. It’s a difficult equation, and not the only one gentlemen. I am not joking as you can see. If you like to, don’t believe my dreams but stand tomorrow and look at numbers, the numbers which economists say do not lie. The Saudi state’s day and night are very long and tiring. An eye is on the justice ministry that will punish the wrongdoers and another eye is always on the progress of each program. The visionary crown prince does not sleep for long. His vision is far for the envious and close for those who believe in the Saudis’ mettle. The deals sealed at the Future Investment Initiative were worth more than $50 billion (this is the outcome of the agreements which the Saudis signed at the conference). This number is something which countries together cannot achieve in years but in Riyadh, deals worth this number were signed in three days.
We’re promised $400 billion from the Saudi investment fund before the end of the year. A number like this does not need redundant words about ambitions but it needs the Saudis’ strength when they intend to move forward. Numbers are a good friend to those who are good at holding themselves accountable before others accuse them of dereliction. However Saudi Arabia is Saudi Arabia; it’s a country that’s shifting from complete dependency on oil to diversification which we all know how much opportunities it will provide. There is the Hajj and Umrah sector as once a king makes the final touch on a new method to serve the Two Holy Mosques, his successor comes and says we still have plenty to do. There’s the bridge between Saudi Arabia and the Kingdom of Bahrain which before King Fahd was very far. There is another bridge which further links us to our brothers and loved ones, from another side that’s equal in distance. From near Bahrain, a bridge above water plans to link the Gulf via a train that is safer than highways as it decreases car accidents and the pollution emitting from cars due to oil derivatives. The environment will thus be greener when the passenger boards a train from Dubai to Riyadh.
135 speakers who represent more than 140 institutions went to the kingdom for the conference but they did not attend just to deliver speeches as executive directors are not tempted by podiums to deliver ones if this is not preceded or followed by events to sign something that brings financial gains tomorrow.
There were kings, presidents and ministers, executive directors, multinational companies, fully-booked hotels and congestion in Riyadh’s streets. The Future Investment Initiative is a new season to be added to the city’s seasons which does not rest from projects – projects that have never ended ever since the crown prince announced his vision – the vision which Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri commented on saying: “You will pass through beautiful days and through difficult days. There will be those who envy you and those who gloat but this is the tax of work.” Before that, when colleague Dr. Bassem Awadallah asked him to add something to what Prince Mohammed said, Hariri said: “The crown prince did not leave anything for me to say, but I like to say that we are with you in all cases.”
Those who know Saudi Arabia well (and Saad Hariri is one of them) know well that there’s no economy and no prosperity in the region without security and safety and that Saudi Arabia is home to both. Saudi Arabia, that homeland which extends from the Gulf to the sea, and from Tihamah to its borders is a full sovereign proud country that cannot be harmed by incomplete news that relies on a witness with an incomplete name. It’s a country that knows how to curb enemies because it knows how to select allies well. No one dictates it what to say, and its determination is not weakened by an Informant’s article or the expectations of an envious man. These tests at the beginning of the road are provisions for a long journey from which you rest from the burden of the multicolored enemies during the days of prosperity. Speaking of prosperity, a dispute with a stubborn neighbor will not prevent the crown prince from acknowledging its good economic performance. He who has an opponent that can get others to clap for it in praise is actually lucky. It’s a man who handles differences well and who, more importantly, does not exacerbate this rivalry and who does not stab in the back.
It’s chivalrous to mention the names of those who preceded you and who had the ability to dream when others hesitated. In terms of the successful determination in the world of economy and development, there is Mohammed bin Rashid – who does not care about titles to precede or follow his name – who praised the city of dreams. He’s the humble man who does not change his habits. He walked in steady and fast-paced steps, and he’s always walking forward. Men like him do not miss a conference “on the future of investment,” and Saudi Arabia has always found him there, whether on a good or a bad day.
We’re promised $400 billion from the Saudi investment fund before the end of the year. A number like this does not need redundant words about ambitions but it needs the Saudis’ strength when they intend to move forward. Numbers are a good friend to those who are good at holding themselves accountable before others accuse them of dereliction. The Saudis will go on with their own will - and not by others’ visions - with their passion in envisioning the Middle East at the forefront of the world. They spot the man who’s coming from afar with a good dream. They admiringly hold the hand of he who believed in them – he who was and who still is in the ranks of those who believe in the desert’s strength to triumph in all seasons.

Sports economy: Investment for the future

Hassan Al Mustafa//Al Arabiya/October 30/18
Investment in sports is one of the most important and successful sectors these days. It delivers enormous financial returns; not only in football but also in other individual and team sports. As part of the Future Investment Forum, which was held in Riyadh, Princess Reema bint Bandar talked about “investment in sports”. As a vital sector it has not been given due economic and developmental attention in the Kingdom, until now. The share of investment allocated to sports in the Saudi GDP stands at a meagre 0.1 percent, which it seeks to raise to 0.8 percent in coming years.
Reema bint Bandar has presented an ambitious vision, based on a highly knowledgeable and coherent manner, which is more practical than theoretical. She has also shown that “geography” provide a specific space for highly specialized sports and projects to thrive.
Knowledge of geography helps identify the type of sports that could be played. For example, there are specific sports for different terrains, such as those related to the sea, rivers, mountains, deserts or forests. Different environments can be used for promoting different sporting activities to draw large following.
The most suitable sport for a region is closely linked to the environment in which people live in and is directly related to the climate and terrain of a place. These activities could help people derive health benefits through sporting activities, while sports could also beautify the topography and generate interest in taking care of the environment. Health, economy, sociology, culture, psychology, life expectancy etc, are all positively affected by the development of disparate sporting venues
Concept awareness
It could help members of the society take part in a daily health routine and in building mental and physical strength as well as awareness about the concept of “geographical sports”. Health, economy, sociology, culture, psychology, life expectancy etc, are all positively affected by the development of disparate sporting venues. A new economic cycle is created that also brings about change in lifestyle. In her speech, Princess Reema said that what is more important than the economic “investment” benefits — whether it is from indigenous or foreign sources — is the development of human capital and general well being. Thus, school education and social awareness are two necessary aspects for the people to understand what “investment in sports” really entails. Accordingly, investors and capitalists would compete to invest in these projects. “There are consumers here as well as … job opportunities” stressed Reema. She encouraged investors to start working on these projects, and pointed out that several European, American and Asian countries have already done the same.
These projects can be integrated into the tourism sector. It could give a boost to hotels and hospitality industry, promote training centers, transportation, logistics development. There will be a new financial and developmental cycle that should not be underestimated. Investment in sports provides an opportunity for those with courage, foresight and faith in the human capabilities and the future of the country.

Iran’s Economy Is Stagnating Even Before New U.S. Sanctions Hit
باترك كلاوسن من موقع معهد واشنطن: الاقتصاد الإيراني في حالة ركود حتى قبل صدور عقوبات جديدة من الولايات المتحدة
 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.

Istanbul summit fails to deliver plan to end Syrian conflict
Osama Al Sharif/Arab News/October 30/18
The four-way summit on Syria that was held in Istanbul on Saturday was extraordinary in more ways than one. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan hosted Russian President Vladimir Putin, French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel in a bid to reach a common agreement on ways to end the seven-year Syrian conflict. Two key players were absent from the meeting: the US and Iran, with skeptics arguing that a road map to end the crisis could never work without the inclusion of Washington and Tehran. But, that argument aside, the meeting underlined the urgency felt by the four leaders to find ways to kick-start the stalled political process, which has reached a dead end whether through Geneva, Astana or Sochi. The underlying fact the four leaders agreed on, to a large extent, was that a decisive military end to the crisis was not on the cards and that only through international and regional cooperation could a political resolution be reached. But that is easier said than done. A final statement released by the leaders called for “an inclusive, Syrian-led and Syrian-owned political process.” Ironically, the Syrian opposition, which is fraught with divisions, was also absent from the meetings.
But, while the leaders supported a vague political solution, there were disagreements over key details. Russia, the main stakeholder in Syria, was hesitant to back calls for an open-ended cease-fire in Idlib or to extend that cease-fire over the rest of Syria. It argued that any arrangement on the ground should not stop the Syrian government and its allies from continuing their campaign to rid the country of terrorist groups.
For Erdogan, cementing his recent agreement with Putin on Idlib was a major concern. Ankara has been praising the fact that its plan to identify various rebel groups in the province was working, as well as efforts to pressure these groups to hand over their heavy weapons. France and Germany welcomed that agreement, which averted an imminent humanitarian catastrophe. While the leaders supported a vague political solution, there were disagreements over key details. Also for Turkey, maintaining the Idlib cease-fire would give it the opportunity to shift its attention to Kurdish military activities east of the Euphrates. One day after the Istanbul summit, there were reports that Turkey had shelled People’s Protection Units (YPG) positions in northeastern Syria. Turkey has been expanding its de facto protectorate region in northern Syria. For Erdogan, whose position on the fate of Syrian President Bashar Assad appears to be changing, the Istanbul summit reinforced Ankara’s right to have a say in writing the final chapter of the Syrian crisis.
For France, and Germany in particular, putting an end to the Syrian crisis should pave the way for the repatriation of over 1 million Syrian refugees in Europe, half of whom are in Germany alone. The refugee crisis had polarized European voters and boosted the chances of far-right parties in recent elections.
Putin used the meeting as a chance to underline and recognize Moscow’s special role in Syria. The Russian leader was keen to point out that Assad and the Syrian government he heads are the legitimate representatives of their people and that any political solution must be carried out in cooperation with both. As to the proposed constitutional committee, Putin insisted that setting a timeline — France and Germany wanted the committee to be formed before the end of the year — was not practical and that writing a new constitution requires patience.
But Putin knows that he needs the help of France, Germany and the rest of the EU if the reconstruction of Syria is to take off at some future stage. The Istanbul summit was an important step in that direction.
Regardless of what the four leaders agreed, it would be difficult for any political process to resume without the backing of the US and Iran. So far, Washington has been ambivalent over its goals in Syria and its military objectives in the northeast, while President Donald Trump has been indecisive over his position toward Assad. There is no doubt that rising tensions between Washington and Moscow will overshadow a credible agreement in Syria. Iran’s influence in Syria is a thorny issue for all parties, not least for Israel. Tehran continues to beef up its military presence in Syria and there are doubts that Assad can do anything at this stage to curtail it. Iran’s regional reach, which now extends from Tehran to Beirut through Baghdad and Damascus, has become a major source of polarization that threatens the stability of the entire region. For now the four leaders can claim to have got something out of the Istanbul summit. But, despite the failure to set out a clear road map to end the Syrian crisis, there appears to be a common factor that unites them all: Stakeholder fatigue — and a recognition that the conflict must end soon.
*Osama Al-Sharif is a journalist and political commentator based in Amman.