Detailed Lebanese & Lebanese Related LCCC English New Bulletin For September 07/2018
Compiled & Prepared by: Elias Bejjani

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Bible Quotations
Do not rejoice at this, that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.’
Luke 10/17-20: "The seventy returned with joy, saying, ‘Lord, in your name even the demons submit to us!’He said to them, ‘I watched Satan fall from heaven like a flash of lightning.See, I have given you authority to tread on snakes and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy; and nothing will hurt you.Nevertheless, do not rejoice at this, that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.’

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 September 06-07/18
Israeli Wall Rising near Border with Lebanon Stokes Tensions/Associated Press/Naharnet/September 06/18
Senior Israeli officer- IDF: No Hezbollah militant will return alive from infiltration attempt/Anna Ahronheim/Jerusalem Post/September 06/18
Investing into an Israeli victory in Lebanon/Khairallah Khairallah/Al Arabiya/September 06/18
One dead, 14 injured as Basra protesters set fire to public buildings/Staff writer, Al Arabiya/September 06/18
Who Controls What in Syria?/Beirut- Asharq Al-Awsat/September 06/18
Trump Lieutenants Disavow Unsigned, Explosive Op-Ed/Agence France Presse/Naharnet/September 06/18
'Arab States No Longer Dancing to the Palestinians’ Tune,' Says Israel’s Ambassador to Washington/Amir Tibon/Haaretz/September 06/18
Reputation Scores on Facebook/Cathy O'Neil/Bloomberg/September 06/18
What role does the UN have in Yemen?/Abdullah bin Bijad Al-Otaibi/Al Arabiya/September 06/18
Regional balance of power in danger of shifting toward Iran/Dr. Majid Rafizadeh/Arab News/September 06/18
Syrian regime poised to attack final ‘pocket of terrorism’ in Idlib/Maria Dubovikova/Arab News/September 06/18
Regional balance of power in danger of shifting toward Iran/Dr. Majid Rafizadeh/Arab News/September 06/18
For Turkey, the stakes are high in Idlib/Luke Coffey/Arab News/September 06/18
Iraq and the fall of the tango/Ghassan Charbel/Al Arabiya/September 06/18
Op-Ed: I Am Part of the Resistance Inside the Trump Administration/Author: Anonymous/New York Times/September 06/18
13 People Who Might Be the Author of The New York Times Op-ed/CNN International/ September 06/18
Iran deepens military grip on Syria despite 200 Israeli strikes in 21 months/DEBKAfile/September 06/18

Titles For The Latest LCCC Lebanese Related News published on September 06-07/18
Lebanon: Prime Minister’s Powers Stir Debate Between FPM, Future Movement
Report: Aoun's Reservations about Hariri’s Govt. Format
Report: Hariri Believes ‘Deliberate’ Obstacles Hampering Govt. Formation
Berri Reassures on Lira, Says Only Parliament Can Interpret Constitution
Lebanon Praises Paraguay for Moving Embassy Back to Tel Aviv
Lebanon Gets £2 Million of UK Aid for Demining and Risk Education
Bomb Explosion Targets Fatah Official in Sidon
Israeli Wall Rising near Border with Lebanon Stokes Tensions
Senior Israeli officer- IDF: No Hezbollah militant will return alive from infiltration attempt
Investing into an Israeli victory in Lebanon

Titles For The Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on September 06-07/18
Gunman kills three at Cincinnati bank; police shoot him dead
One dead, 14 injured as Basra protesters set fire to public buildings
Khamenei says US, Israel wage media war to discourage Iranians
Europeans at UN urge protection for Idlib civilians
General Says Israeli Forces Conducted Over 200 Airstrikes Against Iranian Targets in Syria
Pentagon: We Have Zero Intelligence That Syrian Opposition Has Chemical Capability
Trump: US, World Watching Situation in Idlib 'Very Closely'
Jordan’s Monarch: Talk About Confederations Is a Red Line
Who Controls What in Syria?/Beirut- Asharq Al-Awsat
Basra Protests Spread... Barzani, Sadr Voice Support
Houthis Exploit Delay in Geneva Consultations
Libya: UN Truce Undergoes First Trial
Trump Lieutenants Disavow Unsigned, Explosive Op-Ed
Yemen Peace Talks in Balance as Parties Trade Ultimatums
Kardel 'Pleased to See Stability' in Tripoli, Takes Note of Socio-Economic Needs
Kataeb Lawmaker Blasts Foreign Dictates
Report: Hariri to Attend Final STL Hearings
What role does the UN have in Yemen
The Latest LCCC Lebanese Related News published on September 06-07/18
Lebanon: Prime Minister’s Powers Stir Debate Between FPM, Future Movement
Beirut /Asharq Al-Awsat/Thursday, 6 September, 2018/A recent debate over constitutional powers has turned into an exchange of accusations between the Future Movement (FM), which warned against meddling with the equations established by the Taif Accord and the Free Patriotic Movement (FPM), which vehemently defended the powers of President Michel Aoun. Former President Michel Sleiman intervened on Wednesday, saying: “The spirit of the Constitution obliges every constitutional authority to allow all other authorities and institutions to exercise their full rights and powers.”“The President of the Republic is obliged to ensure the separation of powers, their balance and cooperation in accordance with the Constitution and the social contract represented by the Taif Agreement, which has guaranteed the civil peace in Lebanon in the past ten years,” he added. Also defending the powers of the premiership, former Justice Minister Ashraf Rifi said that the president, when he took the presidential oath, was entrusted with protecting the powers given to the prime minister and to the other authorities. “We will reject any violation of the Constitution, and we will face those who believe that with the illegal weapons, they can change national equations,” he added. Labor Minister Mohammad Kabara warned of “any attempt to bypass the constitutional red line and violate the powers of the prime minister.”For its part, the FPM emphasized on Wednesday the need to preserve the presidential powers. Member of Strong Lebanon bloc, MP Elias Bou Saad, said: “I urge you to be careful when talking about the powers of the president and avoid ignoring them.”Officials in the FPM launched an attack on former Prime Minister Fouad Siniora for defending the premiership’s powers in recent remarks. “The crocodile tears which Siniora shed on the Taif Accord in Bkirki and the Vatican will not help him. We will catch his hand to prevent him from harming the Constitution,” Justice Minister in the caretaker government Salim Jreissati said on his Twitter account.

Report: Aoun's Reservations about Hariri’s Govt. Format
Naharnet/September 06/18/President Michel Aoun has reportedly made a number of reservations about a government formula presented by PM-designate Saad Hariri, mainly a suggestion to allocate the justice ministerial portfolio to the Lebanese Forces Movement, al-Akhbar daily reported Thursday.
The daily said that Aoun, founder of the Free Patriotic Movement, insists on allocating said portfolio to an FPM figure, specifically to the current Justice Minister Salim Jreissati. When Hariri explained that an agreement was reached on that point with Aoun’s son-in-law, Foreign Minister Jebran Bassil, the President stressed that naming a minister for justice and the deputy premier post were “up to him,” said al-Akhbar. The newspaper also said that Aoun was determined to name a Sunni minister as part of his share in the new government. The whole seats allocated to the LF could be “reconsidered” said the daily, because Aoun also had reservations about a failure to give the LF a state ministry, just as Hariri’s formula has given the other government components, it said. Hariri’s draft cabinet line-up has given Marada Movement the Public Works and Transportation ministry, which Aoun refused, al-Akhbar said. Another contentious point is the Druze share. Aoun did not agree on giving Walid Jumblat’s Progressive Socialist Party the whole three seats. He believes “this exclusivity is a prelude to raising a charter problem in the future cabinet.”A cabinet line-up, supposed to be confidential surfaced in media outlets, was presented by Hariri to Aoun on Tuesday. Reports said the format gives the LF the education, justice, agriculture and culture ministerial portfolios. The LF had insisted on getting five ministerial seats including a so-called sovereign portfolio.
Other portfolios were reportedly distributed as follows:
- Marada Movement: Public Works and Transportation
- Hizbullah: Health, State Minister and a yet to be allocated portfolio
- AMAL Movement: Finance and two other portfolios that are yet to be allocated
- Al-Mustaqbal Movement: Telecom, Interior, State Minister and three other portfolios
- Free Patriotic Movement and President: Energy, Foreign Affairs, Defense, 3 State Ministers, Deputy PM Post and three other portfolios
- Progressive Socialist Party: Social Affairs, State Minister and a yet to be allocated portfolio

Report: Hariri Believes ‘Deliberate’ Obstacles Hampering Govt. Formation
Naharnet/September 06/18/Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri is reportedly annoyed that a draft Cabinet line-up submitted to President Michel Aoun has “failed” to meet approval, al-Joumhouria daily reported on Thursday. Quoting al-Mustaqbal Movement sources, the daily said “Hariri is keen on coordinating efforts with Aoun and on having good ties with him,” but he believes that some are trying to “sabotage these relations and obstruct the Cabinet formation.” “The recent draft Cabinet line-up was a serious chance to form a well-balanced government, he has given all he can,” they added. “He believes some are trying to sabotage and obstruct. The time will come and these parties will be named.”On Wednesday, Hariri presented a draft Cabinet line-up to Aoun which “failed to meet the President’s approval,” according to reports. Hariri was tasked with forming a new Cabinet on May 24. His mission has since been delayed because of disagreements between political parties over Cabinet shares, mainly the Christian and Druze representation.

Berri Reassures on Lira, Says Only Parliament Can Interpret Constitution
Naharnet/September 06/18/Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri clarified Thursday that his latest warning on the economic situation was not related to the status of the Lebanese lira, as he emphasized that only Parliament is eligible to “interpret the Constitution.” “The economic situation is dangerous and does not have the resilience it enjoyed during the eras of the formation of the previous governments,” Berri told a delegation from the Editors Syndicate. The Speaker, however, reassured that “the lira situation is immune and we will not reach that stage” in which the Lebanese currency would face threats. Turning to the controversy over the Cabinet formation process and the powers of the President and the Prime Minister-designate, Berri said: “The Constitution is definitely clear: the government is formed through the consensus of the President and the PM-designate, whereas the one who is tasked with putting it together is the PM-designate.”“Only Parliament has the right to interpret the Constitution. Period,” the Speaker added. Asked about who is to blame for the government delay, Berri said: “All of us, the issue is about greed.”

Lebanon Praises Paraguay for Moving Embassy Back to Tel Aviv
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/September 06/18/The Foreign Ministry in Lebanon welcomed on Thursday the decision of Paraguay to move its embassy back to Tel Aviv, the ministry said in a statement on Thursday. The Ministry voiced calls upon all states that had taken the same decision to “follow Paraguay’s example and reconsider its decision, in respect of international legality and the resolutions of the United Nations in this regard.”Paraguay's new President Mario Abdo Benitez decided on Wednesday to move the embassy in Israel back from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv. His move has prompted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to order the closure of his country's mission in the South American country in retaliation. The original decision to move the embassy from Tel Aviv was taken by Abdo Benitez's predecessor Horacio Cartes shortly after President Donald Trump had announced the United States would relocate its own embassy to Jerusalem. Trump broke with decades of US policy by moving the US embassy to Jerusalem on May 14, infuriating Palestinians and intensifying protests on the Gaza border, with 60 killed in clashes with Israeli forces that day.

Lebanon Gets £2 Million of UK Aid for Demining and Risk Education

Naharnet/September 06/18/Lebanon is one of nine countries across Africa, Asia and the Middle East to receive mine clearance, mine risk education and capacity development from the Global Mine Action Program 2 (GMAP2) of the UK Department for International Development.In Lebanon, the Mine Advisory Group (MAG) will deliver a £2m program with the support of Norwegian People’s Aid (NPA) and the Geneva International Center for Humanitarian Demining (GICHD), the British embassy said in a statement. GMAP2 Lebanon will also provide support to the Lebanon Mine Action Center (LMAC) to help Lebanon better manage its own response to contaminated land. Landmines continue to pose a daily threat to the people of Lebanon, blocking access to farm land which is essential to people’s livelihoods. “Contamination across Lebanon is significant, especially in the South and certain border areas in the North East. The GMAP2 program will make a significant impact on remaining contamination, and provide mine risk education to local residents,” the statement said. “New UK aid funded technology, including radar detectors, will help trace ammunition in a global area the size of more than 16,000 football pitches,” it added. The statement said this demining work will protect more than 820,000 people from the threat of “barbaric relics across war-ravaged communities across the world.” “UK support will also help educate a further 280,000 men, women and children about the dangers of landmines, an essential lifeline to safeguard entire communities from mutilation or death,” the embassy statement added. International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt meanwhile said: “The crippling legacy of fear, mutilation and devastation, which landmines leave, must be wiped out for good. UK expertise and innovation are helping to shield vulnerable people from these barbaric relics and liberating land contaminated by these devices. This will allow the poorest people to grow crops, walk their children to school without fear and ultimately give them back control over their lives.” For his part, Chief Executive of the Mines Advisory Group (MAG) Jane Cocking said: “Global deaths and injuries from landmines have hit a ten-year high. Today, one person every hour is killed by a landmine and almost half are children. These new funds will help us to rid some of the world’s most conflict-affected countries of landmines, cluster munitions and other unexploded weapons at a crucial time, impacting the lives of hundreds of thousands of people.” “As well as saving lives, this support will ensure vast areas of land can be returned to communities, improving lives and ensuring safe access to housing, education and medical facilities,” Cocking added. According to the British embassy in Beirut, this partnership with The HALO Trust, MAG, Norwegian People’s Aid and the Geneva International Center for Humanitarian Demining is part of a UK commitment made at an event with Prince Harry in April 2017 of £100 million support to make 150 square kilometers of land safe again over a three-year period.

Bomb Explosion Targets Fatah Official in Sidon
Naharnet/September 06/18/A bomb explosion rocked the Palestinian refugee camp of Mieh Mieh in the southern city of Sidon shortly after midnight, the National News Agency reported on Thursday. NNA said the bomb was placed near the residence of the mainstream Fatah Movement official Abou Mohammed Abou Mghaysib in al-Wadi area.

Israeli Wall Rising near Border with Lebanon Stokes Tensions

Associated Press/Naharnet/September 06/18
Israel is building a massive wall along its northern border, saying the barrier is needed to protect civilians from Hizbullah attacks, but the project has raised tensions with Lebanon, which fears the fence will encroach on its territory.
The Israeli military insists the entire barrier is being constructed in Israeli territory, and the U.N. peacekeeping force in the area agrees. But Hizbullah has never fully accepted the border, and a senior Israeli military official stressed the need for the wall, saying that while Israeli intelligence closely monitors the group, "we are prepared for the possibility that they will surprise us."
The official spoke on condition of anonymity under military guidelines during a military-led tour of the border region provided for reporters.
Israel's military conducted a large-scale combined arms drill in northern Israel this week simulating a future conflict with Hizbullah, with which it fought a monthlong war in 2006. Israelis fear there could be a renewal of hostilities as the civil war winds down in neighboring Syria, where the Iran-backed group has been fighting alongside President Bashar Assad's forces for the last seven years.Hizbullah, which is considered a terrorist group by the U.S. and Israel, is believed to have an even larger and more sophisticated arsenal of rockets than in 2006, when it fought Israel's vaunted military to a stalemate in southern Lebanon. That war began with a deadly cross-border raid in which Hizbullah killed eight Israeli soldiers and abducted two others, whose remains were returned to Israel in a prisoner exchange two years later.
Brig. Gen. Eran Ofir, the commander in charge of Israel's border wall projects, said around seven miles of the 80-mile (130-kilometer) barrier has been built. The $450 million project is slated for completion in two years. Most of the barrier is a concrete wall topped by steel mesh, sensors and surveillance cameras. Steel fencing replaces the concrete wall in especially rugged areas.
Earthmovers and other large machinery rumbled alongside a completed section of the 30-foot (9-meter) high concrete wall earlier this week near the Mediterranean coast. Lebanese soldiers looked over the barrier from a guard post on the opposite side of the Blue Line, which was demarcated by the U.N. after Israeli forces withdrew from south Lebanon in 2000 following an 18-year military occupation. The two countries technically remain at war.Last month, the Lebanese army complained to UNIFIL, the U.N. peacekeeping force, saying Israeli bulldozers working on the barrier were encroaching on the Lebanese side. A Lebanese security official at the time said that following the Lebanese request, the Israeli bulldozers stopped their work and pulled back 50 meters (160 feet).
The U.N. Security Council warned last month that violations of the cease-fire agreement between Lebanon and Israel could lead to fresh conflict, and Lebanon's top security body earlier this year described the planned border wall as an "aggression" against its sovereignty.
"This wall, if it is built, will be considered an aggression against Lebanon," it said in a statement. "The Higher Defense Council has given instructions to confront this aggression to prevent Israel from building this so-called wall barrier on Lebanese territory," it added.
Maj. Tomer Gilad, Israel's liaison officer with UNIFIL, said there are monthly meetings with the Lebanese military and U.N. officials to coordinate the barrier's construction.
"Even for the past year before we started this construction, we've coordinated this activity with UNIFIL, and through UNIFIL with the Lebanese Armed Forces. We've alerted them of our intention to do so, to construct this defensive mechanism," Gilad told reporters.
Thus far, construction has proceeded "very calmly with the participation on all sides to maintain the stability," Gilad said. "We expect UNIFIL and the Lebanese Armed Force to maintain stability over here throughout this construction, because this construction is a stabilizing measure."
UNIFIL spokesman Andrea Tenenti said that since construction began in February 2018, everything has been built south of the Blue Line and away from sensitive areas.
Israel says the barrier's purpose is to defend Israeli communities from Hizbullah, pointing to sporadic cross-border attacks on Israeli troops and civilians in recent years. The volatile border between the two countries has been relatively quiet since the 2006 war, with few major cross-border attacks or incidents.
Israel warplanes, however, regularly violate Lebanese airspace, including to carry out airstrikes in neighboring Syria.
In 2010, an Israeli army officer was killed and another was seriously wounded when Israeli troops came under fire by Lebanese army forces while trimming trees on the Israeli side of the border. Three Lebanese soldiers and a Lebanese journalist were killed in Israeli retaliatory shelling. In 2013, an Israeli soldier was killed by a Lebanese army sniper while driving along the border, and in 2015 Hizbullah fired an anti-tank missile at an Israeli military convoy, killing two soldiers and wounding seven. The Israeli official who spoke on condition of anonymity said the army has noticed a troubling rise in "very close cooperation between Lebanese Army Forces and Hizbullah" near the Israeli frontier in the past year. He says the military expects even more Hizbullah fighters to arrive in the area after the Syrian war ends.
Senior Israeli officer- IDF: No Hezbollah militant will return alive from infiltration attempt
الجروزلم بوس: أعلن قيادي كبير في الجيش الإسرائيلي بأن أي مسلح من حزب الله يحاول التسلل إلى بلادنا لن يعود حياً
مسؤول إسرائيلي يهدد بضرب ​لبنان​ وبناه التحتية في أي نزاع مقبل مع ​حزب الله
By Anna Ahronheim/Jerusalem Post/September 06/18
The construction of the barrier, which began several months ago by the Northern Command, is led by the 91st Regional Division and is expected to cost 1.7 billion NIS.
As the IDF continues to strengthen Israel’s northern border by completing 11 kilometers of a concrete barrier along the Lebanese border, a senior officer in the Northern Command has warned any Hezbollah militant who infiltrates into Israel will be killed.
“Anyone who crosses into Israel will not return to Lebanon,” the IDF senior officer told journalists on the Lebanese border on Wednesday, stressing that “in the next war Hezbollah’s Radwan unit will be eliminated.”
The border fence with Lebanon was originally built in the 1980s and while sections of it have been upgraded several times it is said to be in poor condition.
According to a senior officer, the Northern Command would not stop an infiltration by Hezbollah’s elite Radwan unit who in the next war, is expected to attempt to capture an Israeli community or military outpost.
Due to the threat of infiltrations by Hezbollah, 22 Israeli communities along the border with Lebanon will be evacuated.
said. Israel has never carried out a mandatory evacuation of any community since the founding of the state but in addition to the threat posed by Hezbollah rocket barrage, the IDF is now concerned about the very real possibility of ground attacks by the terror group’s Radwan unit against Israeli civilian communities in border communities.
Israel began construction on a new barrier along the border with Lebanon several months ago and is expected to cost 1.7 billion NIS.
Currently under construction in the areas of the Sulam Ridge, Metula and Misgav Am to the south and east of the Blue Line by the engineering forces of the Northern Command and the 91rst Division together with the “Gvulot VeTefar” administration, is expected to be completed in the coming months.
The project takes place entirely in Israeli territory, and is fully coordinated with UNIFIL.
“This is a planned operation designed to maintain long-term stability on the frontier and is fully coordinated with UNIFIL forces,” the IDF said. “The interest in maintaining relative stability is clear and there is no reason that it should be affected by construction work.”
Similar to the “smart fence” which runs along Israel’s border with Gaza and Egypt and some 30 kilometers along the border with Jordan, the concrete, steel and barbed wire fence will be nine-meters high stretching for several kilometers, with sensors, cameras, information collection centers and warning systems.
The cameras along the fence are connected to a war room to alert troops to any possible infiltration. It will also have lifting devices for the safe and secure maintenance of the cameras to prevent any possible firing towards IDF troops.
According to the IDF, Israel’s intelligence capabilities has increased dramatically since the Second Lebanon War in 2006 and has five times the number of targets in the north if another war were to break out.
The IDF has carried out several large-scale drills simulating war with the Lebanese terror group in the past year, including one by the Paratroopers brigade which finished on Thursday, the fourth combined brigade exercise that took place in the past month as part of the IDF’s training exercises to improving the preparedness of troops.
IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Gadi Eisenkot told members of the security cabinet and the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee this week that the military is ready for war under any scenario.
“The IDF is at a high-level of preparedness and readiness for war with regard to any threat scenario,” Eisenkot wrote, adding that “as the person responsible for the army’s readiness for war, I declare that IDF is prepared for any mission required of it.
Investing into an Israeli victory in Lebanon
Khairallah Khairallah/Al Arabiya/September 06/18
It is not true that Lebanon can stay away from any negative developments that can destroy its economy if it remains without a government. All statements that the world will not give up on Lebanon fall under the category of the meaningless. Lebanon urgently needs a balanced and consensual government. It needs this now more than ever. The Lebanese are supposed to be aware of that, away from those who want to settle accounts with Saad Hariri and the Future Movement under the excuse that the Future Movement only has 17 Sunni MPs left when it had 27 in the past. They should also be aware that it is time to find a new balance that relies on the results of the recent parliamentary elections. First of all, the elections were held according to a strange electoral law which Hezbollah, which means Iran, has been preparing since 1999 in order to weaken the independence-oriented movement in the country and place all the cards in its (Hezbollah’s) hands, including the card of the parliamentary majority. The economy in Lebanon cannot wait for long. There is a need for real statesmen who are ready to bear their responsibility. The country does not need men who drag it into new adventures that are based on delusional victories achieved in Syria
Iran's involvement
Iran, which frankly announced via General Qassem Soleimani, the commander of the Quds Brigade in the Revolutionary Guards, that it views itself as the one in control and that the Lebanese parliament must achieve all its goals, could not achieve this purpose. There are still parties in Lebanon that resist the Iranian expansionist project which gets clearer each day and shows its most hideous facets in every place where Tehran established an armed sectarian militia that follows it.
This project that has an imperialist nature can be seen in its most hideous manifestation in Yemen, Syria, Iraq and Lebanon where it managed to change the nature of the Shiite society to a great extent. However this does not mean that all the Shiites in Lebanon are with Iran.
What there’s no escape acknowledging is that a large part of the sect’s sons work for Iran and have dedicated themselves to serve a project that does not yield benefits as much as it yields catastrophes on the country and all its sects.
There are some who think that Lebanon must “strategically position” itself, i.e. become a follower of Iran, after all the successes which the Syrian regime achieved in its war against its people. These views conveyed by Hezbollah MPs are not accurate. It’s still early to talk about a Syrian regime victory against the Syrian people, although all signs indicate that the Idlib battle is near.
Syria is divided and Bashar al-Assad’s fate is unfortunately in the hands of Israel. The regime could not achieve any progress in the Syrian south, all the way to Daraa, and to let ISIS attack the Druze in As-Suwayda and surrounding towns except via an Israeli green light and Russian collusion.
The Israeli green light came as a result of the coordination between Benjamin Netanyahu’s government and Russia and the US. Israel proposed the condition of going back to the disengagement agreement in Golan which is signed with Syria in 1974. The Syrian regime accepted this.
The guarantee to accepting what Israel wants was the presence of Russian military police in the Syrian south to protect the disengagement agreement which Henry Kissinger devised. Miraculously, international observers returned to their posts in Golan and the disengagement agreement, which Israel seeks to solidify its occupation of the strategic hill that Syria lost in the 1967 through, is now being protected.
The Syrian war
Israel is the one who won in South Syria. Does Hezbollah through the MPs of its parliamentary bloc want to change Lebanese givens so they become in its favor and in favor of Iran and the “Axis of the Resistance” based on an Israeli victory in Syria? This victory can be put within the context of the mysterious circumstances under which the Syrian army withdrew from Golan in 1967. This is not the time to engage in a futile argument over who won in Syria and how this will reflect on Lebanon. What can be stated, however, is that the internal war in Syria entered a new phase where the cards mixed up again.
It’s enough that it’s not known what the US will do in the Syrian north after it decided to keep its troops in East of the Euphrates. It’s also not known what Turkey will do in case the Syrian regime decided to enter Idlib and commit new massacres, of course with Russian support.
Where will Idlib’s people go, and what is the fate of those who relied on Turkey and its promises and on the statements of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan which turned out to be nothing but empty talk? It’s best if the Lebanese begin looking into how to fortify their country domestically instead of looking into how to avenge from Saad Hariri and the Christians who refuse to be under the dominance of Hezbollah and its weapons and from the Druze who know well what’s on stake in the region and how it’s dangerous to demand an alliance of minorities.
Self-immunization of the Lebanese situation begins with abandoning the illusions of changing Lebanon’s strategic post and with comprehending how dangerous the economic situation is. Statements about an economic disaster that may befall on the country are serious.The reports published in several media outlets, such as the Economist, cannot be underestimated. The country’s economic situation needs people with the minimum level of awareness and knowledge about what is going on in the region and the world. These people do not necessarily belong to a certain political group that has a regional agenda but belong to everything that has to do with what’s happening in this world and with how to attain the aid allocated for the country.
There is aid worth $12 billion that Lebanon can benefit from if there’s a decent government that enjoys the minimum level of credibility. This aid was allocated to Lebanon by the CEDRE conference that was held in Paris in April. The economy in Lebanon cannot wait for long. There is a need for real statesmen who are ready to bear their responsibility. The country does not need men who drag it into new adventures that are based on delusional victories achieved in Syria and which are in fact Israeli victories, no more, no less. What’s certain is that Lebanon is still waiting for this kind of statesmen to form a government that enjoys the trust of the international community away from a complex called the Rafiq Hariri complex and his project which restored life to Beirut and restored Lebanon’s position on the region’s map between 1992 and 2005.
Are there really people who want to protect Lebanon or do they want to remain captive of this complex which mainly controls two types of political parties?
The first party is the one that makes serious statements to cover up its incapability, ignorance and dependency while the second only sees Lebanon as an “arena” that’s used to serve the interest of foreign parties, mainly Iran. These parties have invested for long using weapons, money and the incitement of sectarian instincts in order to change the face of Lebanon and not just the face of part of the Lebanese people.

The Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on
September 06-07/18
Gunman kills three at Cincinnati bank; police shoot him dead
Reuters, Cincinnati/Thursday, 6 September 2018/A gunman opened fire inside a bank in downtown Cincinnati on Thursday morning, killing at least three people and wounding others before being shot and killed by police, authorities said. The shooter began firing inside a loading dock at the Fifth Third Bank near Fountain Square, police said, before entering the lobby where he exchanged fire with law enforcement. “He was actively shooting innocent victims, it appears, and our officers were able to kill him and stop the threat very quickly,” Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley told a news conference. The city’s police chief, Eliot Isaac, said he could not confirm local media reports that the gunman was a disgruntled employee of the bank, and said he had no information that the victims were targeted. No police officers were hurt, Isaac said. Witnesses said more than a dozen shots were fired. Ebony Ginyard, who works at a Dunkin’ Donuts in Fountain Square, said she and other workers and customers dropped to the floor when the shooting started. She said the gunman was so close that she could smell the gunpowder as he fired. “All he had to is look over the counter at us and we would have been shot,” Ginyard told reporters. One onlooker, Leonard Cain, told a newspaper he had been about to enter the bank when someone warned him about the shooting. Cain said he then saw a woman also walking into the bank, and that people tried to get her attention, but she was wearing headphones and did not hear them. “She walked in the door and he shot her,” Cain told The Cincinnati Enquirer, adding that he heard up to 15 shots fired. The Enquirer said some customers were hiding inside a bathroom at the bank, and that one gunshot victim was found inside a nearby ice cream shop. Another witness, Michael Richardson, who works in the Fifth Third Bank building, told the newspaper he was outside smoking a cigarette when he heard gunshots. “I looked behind me and saw the guy - he shot and then he shot again. After that I started running,” he told the Enquirer. Isaac told reporters the gunman's weapon was recovered, but did not say what type of firearm he used. The police chief said he could not say whether the gunman shot himself in addition to being shot by gunfire from “at least three or four” police officers. A spokeswoman for the University of Cincinnati Medical Center said three men and one woman were treated there for gunshot wounds. Two of them died, one is in critical condition, and one was in serious condition, the spokeswoman said. The area around the bank was closed to pedestrians after the shooting. Police said people inside the 30-story Fifth Third Center skyscraper were being held in place but would be able to leave the building soon. Nearly three hours after the incident, several streets in downtown Cincinnati remained closed to traffic. “This is not normal, and it shouldn't be viewed as normal,” the mayor told reporters, adding that the United States is the only industrialized nation with frequent active shooting incidents. “We as a country have to deal with it,” Cranley added. City councilman P.G. Sittenfeld said it was a sick and tragic way to begin the day. “The scourge of gun violence leaves only loss,” Sittenfeld wrote on Twitter.

One dead, 14 injured as Basra protesters set fire to public buildings

Staff writer, Al Arabiya/English Thursday, 6 September 2018/
Iraqi protesters stormed and set fire to a provincial government building in the southern city of Basra, despite a curfew imposed by authorities on Thursday to try and quell demonstrations against poor public services and unemployment that have turned violent. Meanwhile, the angry protesters in Basra, burned the head quarter of the Iranian-backed Asaib Ahl al-Haq militia, while some protesters marched toward the Iranian Consulate in the southern oil-rich city of Basra, according to reports. According to local security sources, one protester was killed, and 14 injured during the violent protests in Basra on Thursday. Ten members of the security forces were also wounded, the sources said. Basra Operations Command announced a curfew would be imposed until further notice, effective immediately. AFP news agency tweeted a video of angry protesters setting fire to a government building. The latest death takes the number of civilians who have have been killed to 10 since the start of the month in confrontations between demonstrators and police. The protests showed no sign of abating on Thursday evening as hundreds of young men took to the streets, shouting: “Peaceful, peaceful.” Several government buildings have been attacked in the past few days of protests that have spread throughout the city. On the other hand, Iraq’s popular Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr called for an urgent parliamentary session to discuss the situation in Basra, Iraq’s second-largest province and home to about 70 percent of the OPEC member’s vast oil reserves.
Sadr speech on TV
In a televised speech, al-Sadr said the parliament session should be held no later than Sunday, and that the prime minister and other officials should either attend the session or resign.
The populist cleric’s supporters won the most seats in national elections held earlier this year, but Iraq’s feuding factions have yet to form a new government. The snowballing protests cast a further shadow on those efforts. A provincial official with state-run Iraqi Ports Co. said authorities closed the vital Um Qasr port on the Gulf since late Wednesday, fearing sabotage. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to release information, wouldn’t say when operations will resume.
Brigadier General Saad Maan, Interior Ministry spokesman, announced a curfew in Basra starting at 3 p.m. on Thursday, citing “intelligence reports of possible attacks on government offices.”The government has said the protesters’ demands are legitimate, while blaming the violence on saboteurs. The curfew announcement was ignored. Residents of Basra , a city of more than 2 million people, and other cities in Iraq’s southern Shiite heartland have been protesting since July over endemic corruption, soaring joblessness and poor public services.  Basra residents say the water supply has become contaminated with salt, making them vulnerable and desperate in the hot summer months. Hundreds of people have been hospitalized from drinking it. Clashes with security forceserupted earlier this week, leaving several civilians and police dead. Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has ordered an investigation into the violence.
Meanwhile, Iraq’s main seaport closed down on Thursday following violent clashes between protestors and security forces in Basra in which one demonstrator died and 25 more were injured the previous night. Port employees said that all operations had ceased on Thursday morning at Umm Qasr port as the entrance was still blocked off and trucks and staff were unable to get in or out of the complex. Overnight, protesters blocked the entrance to the nearby Umm Qasr port, the main lifeline for grain and other commodity imports that feed the country. They blocked the highway from Basra to Baghdad and set fire to the main provincial government building where they had been demonstrating for a third night.
With Reuters

Khamenei says US, Israel wage media war to discourage Iranians
Reuters, Dubai/Thursday, 6 September 2018/Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei accused the United States and Israel on Thursday of waging a media war to discourage Iranians, state TV reported, as the country faces economic hardship after the re-imposition of US sanctions. The rial currency has lost about two-thirds of its value this year under the threat of the sanctions, re-imposed by President Donald Trump after he withdrew Washington from a 2015 nuclear agreement between Tehran and world powers. The cost of living has also soared, sparking sporadic demonstrations against profiteering and corruption, with many protestors chanting anti-government slogans. “Today, (Iran’s) Islamic system faces an all-out economic war that is carefully guided by a war room, but along with this war, there is a major media and propaganda warfare that is often neglected,” Khamenei told members of a senior clerical body. Iranian officials have blamed popular messaging apps and social media campaigns which they say are organized overseas for protests against the flagging economy which erupted in December, spreading to more than 80 cities and towns and resulting in 25 deaths. “The goal of this media war is to create anxiety ... and pessimism among people towards each other and the authorities, and to exaggerate economic problems in the minds of the public,” the television quoted Khamenei as saying. “Based on our intelligence, the US and Zionist (Israeli) spy agencies have set up an organization for this media war and are seriously planning and trying to infect the advertising space and the minds in our community,” Khamenei said. Trump said on Wednesday he remained open to the possibility of talks between Washington and Tehran. However, he added: “Iran is in turmoil right now. They’re in total turmoil.”
“Now they are just worrying about their own survival as a country,” he told reporters, without offering any evidence.

Europeans at UN urge protection for Idlib civilians
AFP, United Nations, United States/Friday, 7 September 2018/On the eve of a summit between Russia, Iran and Turkey on Syria’s military plan to retake rebel-held Idlib, the eight European UN Security Council members issued an appeal on Thursday for civilian protection. Belgium, Britain, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland and Sweden said in a joint statement they were “deeply concerned” about military action in northwest Syria “with potentially catastrophic humanitarian consequences for civilians.” The presidents of Syria's military allies, Russia and Iran, along with Turkey, which supports some rebel groups, will meet in Tehran on Friday for talks expected to decide the fate of Idlib, Syria’s last major rebel bastion. The eight nations urged Russia, Iran and Turkey to uphold the ceasefire and de-escalation arrangements that had been agreed in Idlib, “including protecting civilians as a matter of priority.”“A full-scale military offensive in Idlib would put at risk the lives of more than three million civilians, including one million children, living in the region,” said the joint statement. They warned of possible mass displacement and recalled that any use of chemical weapons would be “totally unacceptable.”Russia, Turkey and Iran are the guarantors of the Astana process, a track of negotiations that has eclipsed the older Geneva process and is a de facto help for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in re-asserting his authority on the country. Swedish Ambassador Olof Skoog said the European council members were sending a “strong message” to the guarantors of the Astana process ahead of the Tehran summit. The Security Council is due to hold an emergency meeting on Friday on the crisis in Idlib. The United States has urged Syria and its military backers to halt plans for an all-out attack on Idlib. More than 350,000 people have died in Syria’s seven-year war, but UN diplomats fear the assault on Idlib could trigger one of the worst bloodbaths of the conflict.

General Says Israeli Forces Conducted Over 200 Airstrikes Against Iranian Targets in Syria
Tel Aviv- Nazir Majli /Asharq Al-Awsat/Thursday, 6 September, 2018/Military sources in Tel Aviv confirmed in a Wednesday statement that the Israeli army carried out a total of 202 raids in the past year and a half on Syrian territory, averaging a raid every 60 hours. Military sources said that some 800 bombs and missiles were launched, mostly from fighter jets against targets in Syria, most of which were Iranian. At least 275 vehicles and 792 military supply convoys and warehouses for Iranian forces and Hezbollah fighters in Syria were demolished. The active Israeli targeting of Iran-affiliated outposts in Syria has helped mitigate the threatening Iranian presence in Syria, sources added. Iranian forces have retreated 80 kilometers from the northern border, cleared bases in Syria and stopped arms smuggling. A military spokesman stressed that Israel also played a role in defeating ISIS--saying that Israeli raids killed 1000 ISIS fighters. Chief of General Staff of the Israel Defense Forces had called for a secret meeting of Knesset Foreign Affairs and Security Committee on Wednesday. He said that Israel is determined to continue operations in order to press for an Iranian full exit from Syria. He said that the Israeli army is ready to do whatever it takes to achieve its goal, even at the price of war. Eisenkot shared with the officials a document showing preparedness of the army both as a whole and individual branches and corps for war.
In this document, the army addresses a number of issues that show differences with the government. For example, the Israeli army expressed opposition to halting US funding for UNRWA in the Gaza Strip without finding an alternative. The army does not view the sanctions against UNRWA as a positive step and believes that its collapse could lead to a deterioration of the situation. Clearly, the Israeli army is interested in allowing Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza to have reasonable living conditions.

Pentagon: We Have Zero Intelligence That Syrian Opposition Has Chemical Capability

New Delhi, London – Asharq Al-Awsat/Thursday, 6 September, 2018/US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis stated that the Pentagon had not seen any evidence indicating that opposition in Syria's northwestern province of Idlib has the ability to conduct chemical weapons attack, despite contradicting Russian announcement. Mattis made these remarks en route to India, rejecting allegations that the United States is using the talk about chemical weapons to strike Syria. US military already carried out several air strikes against Bashar al-Assad's regime after two supposed chemical weapons attacks. “We have zero intelligence that shows the opposition has any chemical capability. We have not seen it used in Syria,” Mattis asserted. The Secretary told the reporters that “any chemical weapon use coming up in the future could be ascribed to the opposition, well, we want to see the data.” Among the Russian reports, Russian news agency Sputnik quoted the Russian Ministry of Defense as saying that fighters from "Fatah al-Sham Front" were preparing to fabricate a "provocation" and have kidnapped 44 children in Idlib to use in a staged chemical attack. Matiss did not answer a question on whether the Pentagon saw any indications that the Assad regime is getting ready to use chemical weapons. “I'd prefer not to answer that right now...I think the best answer to that is: we are very alert,” the Secretary asserted.
On Monday, US President Donald Trump warned Assad not to “recklessly attack” in the last rebel-held Idlib province, warning that hundreds of thousands of people could be killed. For over a month now, the Syrian army has been mobilizing troops there and reinforcements have been brought into the region, as Russia launched raids on the region Tuesday and escalated its war rhetoric ahead of an expected attack by Russian troops. US announced Tuesday that the UN Security Council will hold a meeting on Friday on the situation in Idlib, warning Assad's regime not to use chemical weapons ahead of a widely expected military offensive there. “This is a tragic situation, and if they want to continue to go the route of taking over Syria, they can do that,” US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said during a news conference. “But they cannot do it with chemical weapons. They can’t do it assaulting their people and we’re not going to fall for it,” indicated the Ambassador. “If there are chemical weapons that are used, we know exactly who’s going to use them,” added Haley.

Trump: US, World Watching Situation in Idlib 'Very Closely'
Washington, Moscow, Ankara – Hiba al-Qodsi, Raed Jaber, Saeed Abdul Razzak /Asharq Al-Awsat/Thursday, 6 September, 2018/US President Donald Trump indicated that “the world is watching, and the United States is watching very closely” the situation in Idlib, Syria, warning that if a slaughter happened, “the world is going to get very, very angry, and the United States is going to get very angry.”Trump's statement came during a meeting at the White House with Emir of Kuwait Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmed al-Jaber al-Sabah. On Tuesday, the White House issued a statement asserting that a chemical attack would be a reckless escalation of an already tragic conflict and would risk the lives of hundreds of thousands of people. “It remains our firm stance that if Head of Syrian regime Bashar al-Assad chooses to again use chemical weapons, the United States and its Allies will respond swiftly and appropriately,” it noted. The United States asserted that it will continue to work tirelessly with its allies to find a lasting diplomatic solution to resolve the hostilities in Syria under the auspices of United Nations Security Council Resolution 2254.Meanwhile, Russia has shown its commitment to a military solution in the province, as asserted by its Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov who noted that a settlement is impossible in Syria with Idlib remaining unsolved. "We, as we have said many times before, act precisely, selectively [in military operations in Syria], trying to minimize possible risks to the peaceful population," Deputy Foreign Minister said on Wednesday. Also, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned that an attack on Syria's Idlib could cause a "massacre.”"A serious massacre could take place if there is a rain of missiles there," Erdogan told journalists on September 5 while flying back from an official visit to Kyrgyzstan.

Jordan’s Monarch: Talk About Confederations Is a Red Line
Amman, Ramallah- Mohammed al-Daameh and Kifah Zboun/Asharq Al-Awsat/Thursday, 6 September, 2018/Jordan’s King Abdullah II rejected recent proposals to establish a confederation with the Palestinians, saying that talking about the issue was “a red line.”“Every year we hear a renewed talk of confederation. I say: Confederation with whom? This is a red line for Jordan and all know Jordan’s firm and courageous stand on this. I am not worried regarding this matter,” King Abdullah said during his meeting with ex-servicemen and veterans of the Jordan Armed Forces-Arab Army in Amman on Wednesday. “I have no concerns regarding any conspiracy against Jordan,” he added. Meanwhile, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas rejected to meet with US President Donald Trump on the sidelines of the General Assembly in New York this month, without a major political price. The Israeli television quoted sources as saying that Abbas told this to mediators, who were tasked by Trump to convince the Palestinian president to meet with him. According to the Israeli television report, Trump used Jordan and Egypt to pressure Abbas to restore Palestinian-US relations as a prelude to re-launching negotiations. Trump has asked Abbas, through mediators, to meet him at the United Nations on January 20, where he is scheduled to deliver an annual address to the General Assembly. But Abbas said he would study the proposal only if Trump replaced all the members of the current negotiating team, including his son-in-law Jared Kushner, his envoy to the Middle East Jason Greenblatt, and the US ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, in addition to presenting a political concession or acceptable compensation, which would eliminate previous US positions that are biased to Israel. The report included information that the US administration informed Palestinian Authority officials that the US-sponsored “Deal of the Century” would be postponed until after the congressional elections in early November and possibly until 2019, if early elections were held in Israel. In this regard, Palestinian sources told Asharq Al-Awsat that Trump must first withdraw his declaration on Jerusalem. “We accept as compensation to declare East Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine; and without that we will not give him the meeting as a gift,” the sources said.

Who Controls What in Syria?
Beirut- Asharq Al-Awsat/Thursday, 6 September, 2018
Early in the conflict, fighting splintered Syria into a complex patchwork of areas held by rival groups, but fighting in recent years has simplified the frontlines and the country is now split into only a few zones of control.
At its weakest point in 2015, the President Bashar al-Assad’s government held less than a fifth of Syria. But since Russia entered the war on its side, it has reclaimed huge swathes of Syria.
The government now holds more than half the country, including its most populous areas, the main cities, the coast, the border with Lebanon, and most of the border with Jordan, as well as the central Syrian desert and the main gas fields.
Rebel groups unsupported by a direct foreign military presence now hold only the northwestern area that comprises most of Idlib province and adjacent small parts of Latakia, Hama and Aleppo provinces. The dominant faction is Tahrir al-Sham, an extremist alliance spearheaded by al Qaeda’s former official Syrian affiliate, previously known as the Nusra Front, and deemed a terrorist group by the United Nations, United States and Turkey. Turkey has also brought several of the other major rebel groups together into a rival alliance, the National Liberation Front. The area, which borders Turkey, is home to about 3 million people, half of whom have already fled their homes elsewhere according to the United Nations. They include more than half a million people from other rebel enclaves who chose to be bussed there under surrender deals in recent years rather than go back under Assad’s rule. Turkey, Russia and Iran agreed a year ago to make Idlib a “de-escalation zone” to reduce fighting, but the terms were never made public and the deal did not include the jihadist groups. The Turkish army has posted a string of observation posts along the front line between rebel and government forces.
Turkey staged incursions into Syria in 2016 and 2018 in support of Syrian rebel groups, building an arc of territory along the border from Afrin in the west, where it meets the rebel zone in Idlib, to the Euphrates in the east. Turkey has helped those rebels form a local administration and police force, set up schools and hospitals and has installed branches of its own postal system and other public services. Although the groups it backs in the area are opposed to Assad, they have not directly fought the government since Turkey launched its incursions.
Like Idlib, it has also been a destination for fighters and civilians from other rebel enclaves that were surrendered to the government, including eastern Ghouta. Kurdish groups have accused Turkey and the rebels of a policy of resettling people from other parts of Syria into homes seized from Kurds who fled the Turkish incursion into Afrin in February. Turkey and the rebels deny that.
The United States military set up a base at Tanf in 2016, deep in the desert close to the borders with Jordan and Iraq, with the Maghawir al-Thawra rebel group.The base lies close to the Damascus-Baghdad highway, a major strategic prize for Assad, and the US military has maintained a wide perimeter around it, striking at any force that attempts to move down the road or toward the base.
The Kurdish-led Peoples Protection Units (YPG) took control of large areas of northeast Syria in 2012 as government forces pulled out to fight rebels in the west. As ISIS advanced in 2014, the YPG joined other groups to hold them back, supported by the United States. They formed the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) alliance of Kurdish and Arab militias, backed by the US and its allies. The SDF now controls almost all the quarter of Syria east of the Euphrates, including the former ISIS capital of Raqqa and some of the country’s biggest oil fields.
It also took the area around Manbij, west of the Euphrates, in 2016. That area is a big point of friction with Turkey, which sees the YPG and SDF as projections of the Kurdish PKK group it is fighting at home. Manbij is under the control of a local militia that is affiliated with the SDF, and is the subject of Turkish-US talks. The group at one staged controlled most of eastern Syria, but in 2016 and 2017 rival campaigns by the government and the US-backed SDF took almost all its territory. It now holds a small strip along the northern bank of the Euphrates near the Iraqi border and a couple of patches of desert in central Syria. But it has shown an ability to stage sudden guerrilla attacks despite losing its so-called caliphate.

Basra Protests Spread... Barzani, Sadr Voice Support
Baghdad- Asharq Al-Awsat/Thursday, 6 September, 2018/Protests over poor public services broke out in the city of Basrah again despite the tight security measures and the curfew imposed by the authorities. Iraq’s main seaport closed down on Thursday following violent clashes between protestors and security forces in southern Basra. Port employees said that all operations had ceased on Thursday morning at Umm Qasr port as the entrance was still blocked off and trucks and staff were unable to get in or out of the complex. Overnight, protesters blocked the entrance to the nearby Umm Qasr port, the main lifeline for grain and other commodity imports that feed the country. They blocked the highway from Basra to Baghdad and set fire to the main provincial government building where they had been demonstrating for a third night.
Public anger has grown at a time when politicians are struggling to form a new government after an inconclusive parliamentary election in May. Residents of the south complain of decades of neglect in the region that produces the bulk of Iraq’s oil wealth.
Earlier on Wednesday, the third day of clashes, security forces sprayed tear gas and fired into the air to try to disperse demonstrators. According to health sources, the dead protester was struck in the head by a smoke grenade during the clashes. The deaths of five protesters in clashes with security forces on Tuesday added to the fury. “The injury toll of the protests in Basra province has increased to 70 individuals,” Iraq’s Ministry of Health said in a statement on Wednesday. Forty-one are civilians, while the other 27 were security members.
But other sources suggest that the number exceeds the 100 injuries, and indicated that about eight persons were killed. Iraqi PM Haider al-Abadi had ordered on Wednesday the opening of investigations into the killings of protesters. The Iraqi army on Wednesday blamed “unidentified gunmen” for the death of six demonstrators earlier this week in the southern Basra province. “The protesters slain yesterday in downtown Basra were killed by unknown gunmen in a car,” army commander Jamil al-Shammari said in a statement a day after the massacre. He did not identify the group by name, indicating they were criminal gangs in Basra to assassinate citizens and create strife in the city. Shammari denied reports that Iraqi security forces fired on protesters outside provincial headquarters but went on to assert that the demonstrations “were not entirely peaceful in nature”. “Security forces had prepared water, flowers and Iraqi flags to distribute for protestors. But we were surprised to see some of them throwing grenades, burning military vehicles and the provincial council building, and assaulting citizens,” the Commander told the journalists. For the first time in years, former President of the Kurdistan Region Masoud Barzani weighed in on the crisis hitting the southern Iraqi province of Basra, saying it is shocking that the people of the country’s richest city suffer from a lack of clean water. “We consider protesting and these protests to be the right of the people, and at the same time, consider that the people of Basra have the right to live in reasonable conditions, which they deserve,” Barzani argued in a statement released by his press office. Outgoing Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General (SRSG) for Iraq, Jan Kubis, expressed grave concern over the casualties during violent protests in Basra. He offered his condolences to the families of the dead and wishes the injured a speedy recovery. Kubis called for calm and urged the authorities to avoid using disproportionate force against the demonstrators while asking the government to do its utmost to respond to the people’s rightful demands. Meanwhile, Muqtada Al-Sadr sided with the protesters, saying they "only want to earn their living with dignity." "We have to unite efforts to save Basra from corruption, sectarianism and militias," Sadr continued. "Stop assaulting Basra and its people... Don't test our patience," he warned. He called the parliament to hold an urgent session to solve the issue while calling his supporters for a peaceful protest.

Houthis Exploit Delay in Geneva Consultations

Geneva, Londonm Riyadh- Abdul Hadi Habtoor and Asharq Al-Awsat/Thursday, 6 September, 2018/Houthis dodged peacemaking efforts on Wednesday, raising the bar of preconditioning last minute delayed consultations scheduled to launch in Geneva. The Iran-backed group put forward new conditions, both surprising the public and making it difficult to proceed with consultations. Houthis said in a statement that the United Nations could arrange for coalition countries to provide an Omani plane to transport neither the delegation to Geneva nor those wounded. Houthis gave no details on the identity or number of those wounded they intended to transport. They did not inform on the destination those in need of airlifting will be taken. Contrary to Houthi claims on the lack of authorization for the plane transporting the coupist delegation, Yemeni media published a statement procured from the Yemeni Civil Aviation Authority in which it approved the aircraft transporting the Houthi delegation to Geneva. Sources in Geneva said the UN envoy to Yemen Martin Griffiths had met with the government delegation to discuss the matter and the delegation informed him that consultations could not begin without the arrival of the rival party delegation. Griffiths had previously told reporters in Geneva that Yemen's first round of peace talks in almost three years aimed to build confidence between the warring sides. He calls this an opportunity to restart talks. Griffiths does not underestimate the difficulties ahead, but said it will be important to focus on confidence-building measures to reactivate the peace process. “Confidence-building measures are designed partly to help build this trust through agreements on them, partly to actually deliver some benefits for the people of Yemen and partly to send a signal to the international community and the people of Yemen that something is happening,” Griffiths said. “We need to discover what the sticking points are,” Griffiths said. “We need to discover in this kind of formal, informal setting what the parties are prepared to do and what they are prepared to prioritize, both in terms of substance, which will come in a later round and in terms of these confidence-building measures.”In the meantime, the Saudi-led Arab Coalition announced intercepting a ballistic missile targeting the Saudi border city, Najran. In the process, 23 people were injured. Saudi Arabia is leading an alliance of Arab states trying to restore the internationally recognized government of Yemeni President Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi, ousted from the capital Sanaa by the Houthis in 2015.

Libya: UN Truce Undergoes First Trial

Cairo - Khaled Mahmoud /Asharq Al-Awsat/Thursday, 6 September, 2018/Clashes are gradually ending in the Libyan capital Tripoli as calmness prevailed Wednesday in regions that witnessed fierce clashes among militias. Head of Government of National Accord (GNA) Fayez al-Sarraj called on citizens to return to their jobs, during the first meeting of the government since the eruption of the latest confrontations. The US and the West welcomed the truce, which was reached on Tuesday under the patronage of the UN. "There have been 62 deaths and 12 missing so far," said Tarek Al-Hamshri, director of the ministry's department of wounded affairs, at a press conference. Minister of Transport Milad Matug said that Tripoli's only functioning airport is expected to resume flights in the next 24 hours after it was closed or days due to the clashes and flights were redirected to the international airport of the city of Misurata, around 200 km from Tripoli. No reports were made Wednesday on a renewal of fighting, but it hasn’t been clarified whether all the factions have committed to the ceasefire. Interior Minister Abdul Salam Ashour saw that the security condition in the capital is in a continuous progress, after activating the security portals affiliated with the security directorates of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Libya. “The ceasefire agreed among several groups under the auspices of the Head of the UN Mission to Libya Ghassan Salame is a welcome step that should lead to the much-needed de-escalation of the violence in and around Tripoli,” said EU spokesperson. He added, “We, therefore, call on all the parties involved to fully respect the agreement and implement all its terms in a spirit of compromise and in the interest of the Libyan people.” The governments of France, Italy, Britain, and the US welcomed the cease-fire agreement in Tripoli.

Trump Lieutenants Disavow Unsigned, Explosive Op-Ed
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/September 06/18
/Donald Trump's top lieutenants scrambled Thursday to deny authorship of an explosive op-ed article that has plunged his presidency into its worst crisis yet by proclaiming a secret insider resistance to his reckless, "amoral" leadership.
The White House has been convulsed since Wednesday by a fevered hunt for the senior official who declared, in an unsigned article for The New York Times, that "unsung heroes" were quietly working within the administration to frustrate the president's "worst inclinations."
Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats stepped forward, one after another, with their own version of the same message: "Not me."But the internet and Trump's own aides were abuzz with speculation over who the unnamed official might be and whether the act of defiance was tantamount to a coup in the making.
"TREASON?" Trump asked in a furious volley of tweets.
Moving to squelch internet speculation, Pence's spokesman said the vice president did not write the article. "The Vice President puts his name on his Op-eds. The @nytimes should be ashamed and so should the person who wrote the false, illogical, and gutless op-ed," Agen wrote on Twitter. "Our office is above such amateur acts."The manifesto followed a bombshell book by Watergate reporter Bob Woodward, who portrayed Trump's White House as an out-of-control "crazytown." The Woodward book, "Fear: Trump in the White House," reported that senior aides lifted documents from the Oval Office desk to keep the president from acting on his impulses, reinforcing the assertions in the Times op-ed piece.
- 'Not mine' -
News of the letter caught up with Pompeo in New Delhi, where he was traveling with U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis. Pompeo denied writing the article, calling the Times' decision to publish "sad" and "disturbing." "I come from a place where if you're not in a position to execute the commander's intent, you have a singular option, that is to leave," he said.
"And this person instead, according to the New York Times, chose not only to stay but to undermine what President Trump and this administration are trying to do. "It's not mine," Pompeo added, referring to the article. Coats, who as intelligence chief has at times been publicly at odds with the president, released a statement calling speculation that he or his deputy had written the op-ed article "patently false." "We did not. From the beginning of our tenure, we have insisted that the entire IC (intelligence community) remain focused on our mission to provide the president and policymakers with the best intelligence possible."
Meanwhile Trump's United Nations envoy Nikki Haley was asked on her way to a meeting of the Security Council if she was the anonymous correspondent and responded, simply: "No." James Dao, who runs the Times op-ed page, told CNN he received the article through an intermediary several days ago, calling the timing of piece's publication and the Woodward book "a coincidence."The author's identity is known to the opinion page editors of the Times, the newspaper said. On its podcast "The Daily," Dao said he was approached by someone he trusted about publishing the article. He told CNN he had spoken directly with its author, but did not elaborate.
- 25th Amendment -
In one eye-opening passage, the author said there was talk among members of the cabinet to invoke the 25th Amendment of the US Constitution, which provides for the removal of the president if he is "unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office."In the end, they decided not to set off a constitutional crisis, and instead "vowed to do what we can to preserve our democratic institutions while thwarting Mr Trump's more misguided impulses until he is out of office," the person wrote. Trump responded with fury, on Twitter and in comments at public events at the White House, calling it a "gutless editorial." "Does the so-called 'Senior Administration Official' really exist, or is it just the Failing New York Times with another phony source?" Trump tweeted. "If the GUTLESS anonymous person does indeed exist, the Times must, for National Security purposes, turn him/her over to government at once!"The Times acknowledged the "rare step" of publishing an anonymous editorial but said the official's job would be jeopardized if they were identified. "We believe publishing this essay anonymously is the only way to deliver an important perspective to our readers," the paper said. The official's piece described a "two-track" presidency in which Trump says one thing and his staff consciously does another, citing the president's alleged preference "for autocrats and dictators.""The root of the problem is the president's amorality," the official said. Staff actively worked to insulate themselves from Trump's "impetuous, adversarial, petty and ineffective" leadership style, the writer said.

Yemen Peace Talks in Balance as Parties Trade Ultimatums
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/September 06/18/Scheduled peace talks in Geneva between Yemen's government and Huthi rebels hung in the balance Thursday as the two sides traded ultimatums and a U.N. envoy scrambled to mediate. The rebel delegation, still in Sanaa, insisted the U.N. meets three demands before it travels to Switzerland, prompting government representatives already in Geneva to give the Huthis a 24-hour deadline or threatening to leave. U.N. envoy Martin Griffiths, who earlier said the planned meeting offered a "flickering signal of hope" for an end to the years-long conflict, had to postpone the start of the talks. "He continues to make efforts to overcome obstacles to allow the consultations to go forward," his office said in a statement, adding that Griffiths remained "hopeful" the rebels would come. The Geneva talks are meant to be the first since 2016, when 108 days of negotiations between the government of President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi and rebels failed to yield a deal. The Huthis control the capital Sanaa and much of northern Yemen, while a Saudi-led coalition which backs Hadi's government controls the country's airspace. Led by Foreign Minister Khaled al-Yamani, a Yemen government delegation arrived in Switzerland on Wednesday. But on what was meant to be the opening day of talks, the rebels issued an ultimatum from Sanaa, saying they would not join until the U.N. meets three conditions that it had already agreed to. They want the transportation of wounded rebels to Oman for medical care, the repatriation of rebels who have already received treatment there, and a guarantee that the Huthi delegation will be allowed to return to Sanaa after the Geneva talks. The government delegation said Thursday it would wait only until midday (1000 GMT) on Friday. "We have this scheduled meeting since two months ago ... Today we are alone," delegation member Hamza Alkamali told journalists in Geneva, and claimed the rebels clearly "don't want peace."Clearance for a flight carrying rebel delegates and wounded was "issued three days ago," he insisted. "We want them to come, and we are pushing them to come," Alkamali said. However, "we will leave, if they don’t come... in the next 24 hours. Griffiths, was "mindful of the challenges associated with bringing the parties together to Geneva, bearing in mind that they haven’t met for two years," his office said in a statement. On Thursday, an AFP journalist saw the envoy entering the Geneva hotel hosting the Yemen government delegation. Griffiths had told journalists he would begin informal consultations with the government team while the rebels make their way to Switzerland. If and when the two parties do eventually meet, he said, there would be no "formal negotiations", merely exploratory talks on how best to get everyone around a negotiating table. The U.N. Security Council this week urged both sides to "take a first step towards ending a conflict that has brought severe pain and humanitarian suffering to the Yemeni people."
Collateral damage
All previous attempts to resolve the Yemen war have failed. Griffiths is the U.N.'s third Yemen envoy since 2014, when Huthis overran the capital and drove Hadi's government into exile. The following year, Saudi Arabia and its allies formed a powerful regional military coalition to back Hadi. The conflict has left nearly 10,000 people dead and pushed the Arab world's most impoverished country to the brink of famine. On Thursday, the Saudi-led coalition acknowledged there may have been "collateral damage" from August 23 strikes the U.N. said killed 26 children south of the port of Hodeida. On Wednesday, Saudi Arabia shot down a ballistic missile fired by Huthi rebels, with shrapnel wounding 26 people including two children, the coalition said.

UK Says Putin 'Ultimately' Responsible for Spy Poisoning

Agence France Presse/Naharnet/September 06/18/British Security Minister Ben Wallace said Thursday that Russian President Vladimir Putin had "ultimate" responsibility for a nerve agent attack on a former Russian double agent in England in March. "Ultimately he does in so far as he is the president of the Russian Federation and it is his government that controls, funds and directs the military intelligence," which London has accused of carrying out the Novichok poisoning, Wallace told BBC radio.

Kardel 'Pleased to See Stability' in Tripoli, Takes Note of Socio-Economic Needs
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/September 06/18/Acting U.N. Special Coordinator for Lebanon Pernille Dahler Kardel on Thursday visited the northern city of Tripoli where she met with political and religious authorities and visited MARCH, a non-government organization that is active in promoting reconciliation and empowerment among youth and former fighters, her office said. Kardel toured part of Tripoli’s old city with MP Dima Jamali. “I was very pleased to see the stability that prevails in Tripoli and to learn about the rich history of Lebanon’s second largest city. I also heard that there is an urgent need to do more for Tripoli’s socio-economic development,” the Acting Special Coordinator said. She stressed the importance of promoting the development of Lebanon’s different regions to ensure the country’s sustainable stability and development. Kardel also praised the work being done by MARCH in Tripoli to avoid recurrence of conflict and to offer new opportunities for the city’s young men and women, including those who were previously involved or impacted by years of conflict between the areas of Bab al-Tabbaneh and Jabal Mohsen. “The poverty and unemployment rates in Tripoli are concerning. In this challenging context, the work done by MARCH and other NGOs with youth from different communities and backgrounds not only offers them a new beginning but also reinforces the coexistence that Lebanon is famous for,” Kardel added. The Acting Special Coordinator also met with Mufti of Tripoli and the North Sheikh Malek al-Shaar as well as with the President of the Alawite Islamic Council Sheikh Mohammed Khodr Asfour to discuss the latest developments and situation in the city.
The Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on September 06-07/18
'Arab States No Longer Dancing to the Palestinians’ Tune,' Says Israel’s Ambassador to Washington
أمير تايبون من الهآررتس: سفير إسرائيل في واشنطن يرى أن الدول العربية لم تعد ترقص على ايقاع الفلسطينيين

Amir Tibon/Haaretz/September 06/18
Palestinians losing power, Dermer says, adding that decision to relocate embassy to Jerusalem didn't harm Trump ties with Arab world
WASHINGTON - The Palestinians are losing their influence over the Arab world, Israel’s ambassador to the United States said on Wednesday. Ambassador Ron Dermer spoke at an embassy reception in Washington for Rosh Hashanah and stated that Arab states are no longer "dancing to the Palestinians’ tune.”Dermer made those comments while speaking about U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to move the U.S. embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, a decision he called “bold and historic.” He explained that for previous American administrations, “there was always an excuse” for not moving the embassy and recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. “Opponents of recognition argued that it would harm America’s standing in the Arab world and undermine America’s relationship with Arab states,” Dermer said. “They warned that it would lead to widespread violence throughout the region. Now when President Trump has gone ahead, we can see that those dire predictions proved predictably wrong.”According to Dermer, “America’s standing in the Arab world has not been harmed. America’s relations with Arab states have not been undermined. Violence has not engulfed the region.” What has happened instead, he added, is that the embassy move proved that the Arab world’s approach towards Israel was changing.
“The Arab states are no longer reflexively dancing to the Palestinians’ tune,” Dermer explained. “Despite the best efforts of the Palestinian leaders to whip up opposition to Trump’s Jerusalem decision, the response in the Arab world was mostly silence.” Dermer also said that he believes “some Arab states may finally be ready to turn the page” with regards to Israel. He added that he is “confident” that the Trump administration will find ways to “use the new realities in the region” to advance peace between Israel and its neighbors. One of the people listening to Dermer’s speech at the reception was Jason Greenblatt, President Trump’s special envoy to the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. The two later engaged in a lengthy conversation on the sidelines of the event. Some leading countries in the Arab world, such as Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Egypt, have told the Trump administration that the decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel made it more complicated for them to support Trump’s peace plan, which hasn’t yet been made public. Saudi officials in particular told Trump’s peace envoys that they were able to put more pressure on the Palestinian leadership to accept the peace plan before the Jerusalem decision was announced. Dermer also thanked Trump in his speech for withdrawing from the Iran nuclear deal and reimposing sanctions on Iran’s economy. “This dramatically improved Israel’s security,” Dermer said, “and it may change the trajectory of the entire Middle East.” He added that the decision has diminished the likelihood of war in the region, by weakening Iran. The ambassador said that “European companies are abandoning Iran, but some European leaders are desperately working to undermine U.S. sanctions, even as Iranian agents are caught trying to carry out terror attacks on European soil. Old habits die hard and in Europe appeasement is a very old habit.”

Reputation Scores on Facebook?
Cathy O'Neil/Bloomberg/September 06/18
Facebook just came up with a really creepy idea: To stem the flow of disinformation, the social network has started assigning reputation scores to users. If you post stuff that the company deems suspicious, your score will fall and you will be filtered out of other people’s news feeds.
Dystopic as this might sound, I’m for it. But I think people should have the power to decide how much they use it. Yes, there are valid complaints. Facebook is far from the ideal arbiter of truth. Its scoring system is so opaque that we won’t know exactly what it means by “suspicious.” The bad actors that the company wants to suppress will also be the most capable of gaming the system. Still, I maintain that regular, non-predatory users should want this system implemented, and pronto. We’re sick of terrible behavior and low-quality content. We don’t want to be trolled or manipulated. This might help.
Plus, there’s a simple way for Facebook — and Twitter — to limit the downside and give users some control: Just include a knob that allows them to turn the filter up or down. If it’s set at zero, they’ll see everything. At ten, posts from “suspicious” users will disappear completely. The default level could be five. On days when we feel like eating trolls for breakfast we’ll turn our knobs all the way down. On other days we’ll hang out with our friends, thanks anyway.
The knob would also offer some insight into how the system works, because users would see who disappears when they turn it up. This would allow people to report false negatives — posts or comments that were labeled suspicious but that they think are actually OK.
Reputation scores are nothing new. Credit-card companies constantly scan our purchases for attributes that look suspicious — and deny or at least pause the ones that they deem potentially fraudulent. It’s just that the definition of fraud is being applied to social-media posts. Spam filters aim to weed the junk out of email accounts, and they work quite well. Imagine having to look at your unfiltered inbox, and you’ll get a sense of how we might look back on this time of social media. What garbage! Just to be clear, the drawbacks of filtering are real. Although the knob would alleviate the creep factor, false positives and false negatives will still happen: Some bad stuff will get through, and some good stuff will get filtered out. It will never be perfect. But we have to compare it with the status quo. A messy information spigot is still better than one being controlled by professional liars.
We’re in an arms race of disinformation, and the bad guys are winning handily and cheaply. Let’s make things harder for them.

Kataeb Lawmaker Blasts Foreign Dictates Thursday 06th September 2018/Kataeb MP Nadim Gemayel on Thursday fired back at the commander of Iran's Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), blasting the latter's statement as a blatant interference in Lebanon’s affairs. “We won’t allow anyone from beyond the border to dictate what policies and choices the Lebanese should opt for. Their Resistance approach has nothing to do with the one adopted by the Lebanese to build the future,” Gemayel said. Earlier this week, the IRGC chief Mohammad Ali Jafari stated that Syria, Lebanon, Yemen and Palestine have all chosen the "path of resistance" to determine their fate, claiming that this choice will grant victory.

Report: Hariri to Attend Final STL Hearings Thursday 06th September 2018/Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri will attend the final sessions of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon as it is set to hear closing arguments from the parties and participating victims. Al-Liwaa newspaper reported that Hariri will head to The Hague to attend some of the STL's public hearings which are scheduled to take place between September 11 and 21.The UN Security Council voted in 2007, at Lebanon's request, to set up the Special Tribunal for Lebanon to try those behind the 2005 assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.

What role does the UN have in Yemen?
Abdullah bin Bijad Al-Otaibi/Al Arabiya/September 06/18
Ever since the beginning of Operation Decisive Storm in Yemen and the Arab Coalition’s confrontation of the Iranian incursions there and of the Houthis and their armed militias, the role of the UN has been ambiguous in comprehending the crisis and its dimensions.
The same case is true with the international envoys, be it the Moroccan Gamal Ben Omar, the Mauritanian Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed or the British Martin Griffith, as well as UN institutions.The most recent act that reflects this lack of proper understanding of the crisis by UN institutions is evident from the human rights experts’ report which was issued last week and which fully adopted all the false charges made by the Iranian Houthi militia and which shamefully ignored all of the militias’ clearly documented and recorded crimes. Moreover, the report deals with this invading militia as an internationally recognized legitimate entity. The logic on which this report was based ignores basic principles in terms of understanding international conflicts. If every terrorist militia that takes control of a country’s capital has the right to be considered an internationally recognized entity, then the world as we know it would turn upside down
Lack of understanding
The lack of proper understanding has thus resulted in inadequate handling of the situation. The international envoys’ stances and some UN institutions and their reports show that they are living in a world different from the one which people live in and which the media broadcasts daily about from Yemen.
It exposes sheer ignorance about conflicts in the region or even intentional ignorance. The mere belief that the Houthi militia is a national Yemeni group is a great illusion and it misguides the international public opinion. It is as misleading as the notion that the Lebanese terrorist Hezbollah is a national force and has nothing to do with Iran’s expansionist projects. The logic on which this report was based ignores basic principles in terms of understanding international conflicts. If every terrorist militia that takes control of a country’s capital has the right to be considered an internationally recognized entity, then the world as we know it would turn upside down. So if ISIS takes control over Damascus, will the UN deal with it as a legitimate entity? Or if Al-Qaeda takes control over Baghdad, will it become a legitimate entity?
The report tried to hide its clear bias by employing the plural form as it intends to look neutral and suggest that “everyone is guilty”, which is totally unfair. The Arab Coalition engaged in the war in Yemen to defeat Iran’s sectarian terrorist project, which is part of its expansion policy. Iran’s project also imposes influence that defies UN principles.
This project violates the states’ sovereignty and interferes in their internal affairs through terrorist militias and organizations and spreads destruction wherever it can. The omission of this facet and overlooking it makes this report biased towards one party over the other.
As the victories of the Arab Coalition in Yemen increase and come closer to putting an end to the conflict and to rescuing Yemen and having the government and state impose its influence over the entire of Yemen, UN figures and entities adopt positions and policies that act as a lifeline to the Houthi militia. Unfortunately, this is a permanent approach which, along with its causes and motives, must be studied.
Friendly savior
The war in Yemen was not a Saudi, Emirati or even Arab option. It was a necessary war, which was provoked by the efforts of Iran and its allies in the region, from Qatar to Turkey, to control Yemen via the power of militias and their terror. If it hadn’t been for this just, significant and strategic war, the situation in Yemen and the Gulf would have been ten times worse than it currently is, and they would have been besieged from the north and south by terrorist militias causing systematic destruction which the region’s countries would have shield themselves from its evils for decades.
The Arab Coalition was established according to the UN resolution to confront this existential challenge in Yemen. It fought the war alongside the legitimate government and its army and the Yemeni people and their resistance. The Arab Coalition has abided by the highest international war standards with every step it takes. It fully respected international laws and human rights. The Coalition entered as a savior friend not as a brutal occupier. It could have been capable of ending the war within a few days but it did not do so for the sake of its brothers in Yemen and the country’s infrastructure. This has been repeatedly stated by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. The problem with these international institutions’ reports is that they grant legitimacy to other human rights, media and civil society organizations to launch intended defaming and paid campaigns, bearing in mind a state like Qatar that believes that only money can buy everybody’s conscience.
Some believe it has succeeded in luring a number of these human rights, media and civil institutions in Western countries and that relations between them became obvious and well-known, hence these institutions lost much of their credibility and prestige. This is the preferred Qatari method; paying bribes starting from the World Cup to funding Iran and the Houthis, to attacking the four boycotting countries.
Addressing the imbalance
The statement issued by Arab Coalition said: “The report was conducted with many methodological fallacies and its description of the facts of the conflict, which was characterized by lack of objectivity, especially when dealing with the parties to the conflict in Yemen and attempts to take full responsibility of the Coalition countries on the conflict in Yemen, ignoring the real reasons for this conflict falls under the coup of the Houthi militias backed by Iran to the legitimate government Yemen, and its rejection of all United Nations-led peace efforts.”
In addition, the report completely ignores the amount of the financial aid provided to the Yemeni state and people by Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Kuwait in the given circumstances.
Wars are not a walk in the park. They are the toughest and last solution. It’s on the basis of this premise that international laws that govern wars were established. “War has its agony. Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria are evidence to that. However, in the end we are responsible for our security and stability. These are our priorities,” Minister Anwar Gargash has affirmed. In the end, we can say a lot about the flaws in many international institutions and their inability to take the right position for several reasons. This biased report would be added to these flaws which must be mended.

Regional balance of power in danger of shifting toward Iran
الدكتور ماجد ربيزاده: توازن القوى الإقليمي في خطر وهو يميل لمصلحة إيران

Dr. Majid Rafizadeh/Arab News/September 06/18
Some politicians, scholars and policy analysts continue to advocate for rapprochement and an improved relationship with the Islamic Republic. They frequently buttress their argument with the following hypothesis: If the Iranian government is offered financial incentives, sanctions relief and enhanced legitimacy on the regional and global stage, it will turn into a constructive state actor.
In other words, the argument goes that, if the Iranian leaders are welcomed by the international community and allowed to join the global financial system, they will alter the core pillars of their government’s foreign policies. This will include halting attempts to incite anti-American and anti-Saudi sentiments, containing its nuclear and ballistic missile ambitions, as well as stopping financial, military and political support for militias and terror groups.
In an attempt to make this theory a reality, the West, specifically the EU, improved its economic and political ties with the ayatollahs, leading to six world powers — China, France, Russia, the UK, the US and Germany — offering the Iranian authorities a beneficial nuclear deal.
But this theory of appeasing the theocratic establishment of Iran in order to change Tehran’s destructive behavior has repeatedly failed. In fact, the latest developments — including the shipment of missiles to Iraq — highlight the idea that the Iranian regime is actually becoming more radical.
Iranian leaders are attempting to boost the regime’s ballistic missile capacity throughout the region in defiance of international norms and existing sanctions. Iran’s transfer of ballistic missiles to Baghdad raises the question whether Tehran is directly violating UN Security Council Resolution 2231, which was reached in 2015. This states that: “Iran is called upon not to undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons, including launches using such ballistic missile technology.”
Another critical issue to address is: Why is Iran determined to transfer its ballistic missiles to other Arab countries? Iraq is not the first country that Iran has been trying to ship weapons to. Previously, the US Navy and allied nations intercepted several shipments of weapons from Iran heading to Yemen, and a UN report conclusively revealed a connection between Iran’s short-range ballistic missiles and the Houthis.
If Iran obtains the capabilities to produce ballistic missiles in #Iraq, the regional balance of power will significantly tip in favor of Tehran and its militias and proxies
The Iranian regime is trying to expand its arc of influence by pursuing an aggressive missile policy in other countries, such as Iraq and Yemen. Most likely, Tehran’s long-term ballistic missile strategy is not limited to arming militias and terror groups, but to have the capacity for manufacturing short-range and long-range ballistic missiles in other countries. Since Iran possesses the technology, it will be much more efficient and cost-effective to produce missiles in other nations.
This is a critical and perilous development because, if Iran obtains the capabilities to produce ballistic missiles in Iraq, the regional balance of power will significantly tip in favor of Tehran and its proxies. This will also pave the way for Iran to ultimately set up a permanent military base in Iraq, which would be a grave danger to the national security of neighboring countries.
Unfortunately, several European countries have been totally silent regarding the Iranian regime’s defiance and aggressive missile policy. The latest revelations ought to be a lesson to Europe that, no matter how many concessions they give to the ruling mullahs, the Islamic Republic will not alter the core pillars of its foreign policy.
Not only has Tehran maintained its revolutionary principles, but it is also pursuing more aggressive, militaristic and expansionist policies in the Middle East. Such developments must be alarming to the international community due to the fact that, by providing ballistic missiles to militias and terror groups, the Iranian authorities are escalating radicalization and militarization, thus destabilizing the whole region.
Iran’s aggressive missile policy highlights the fact that the regime has turned into a more defiant and radical establishment. It also demonstrates that Tehran has become more empowered and emboldened to pursue its hegemonic ambitions in the region.
*Dr. Majid Rafizadeh is a Harvard-educated Iranian-American political scientist. He is a leading expert on Iran and US foreign policy, a businessman and president of the International American Council. Twitter: @Dr_Rafizadeh

Syrian regime poised to attack final ‘pocket of terrorism’ in Idlib
Maria Dubovikova/Arab News/September 06/18
When Russian President Vladimir Putin’s spokesperson Dmitry Peskov on Tuesday described Idlib as a “pocket of terrorism” and said that “we know the Syrian armed forces are getting ready to solve this problem,” he was referring to the fact thatthe only way to solve the issue of Idlib province is either a massive military attack or a political solution. It has become apparent that the Syrian Army is readying itself to resolve the issue militarily, following the success of the recent battle to liberate southwestern Syria, where it regained three provinces. The situation in the northern governorate of Idlib, which accommodates about 4 million people, is complicated as a number of factors make its fate very difficult to predict. Idlib borders Turkey and is now a buffer zone between the Syrian Army and their allies on one side and the Turkish forces on the other. This justifies why there is a dire need for international negotiations.
The fate of Idlib province — the last stronghold of the armed opposition — depends on talks between Turkey and Russia and what they will do to ensure the safety of millions of civilians in that region. The Syrian Army has started mobilizing forces to the front lines in Idlib in preparation for the last battle before a political solution is reached in Syria. However, the green light for the attack on Idlib is still pending, waiting for the result of Friday’stripartite summit in Tehran. The large size of Idlib and the complexities of launching a military operation there will be costly to the Syrian Army and its allies, as the militants also have large forces and heavy weaponry. Of course, Turkey has its concerns as the province is by its border, and this could lead to political, economic, and military and security issues inside Turkey, at a time when it is witnessing political and economic hardship.
UN envoy's description of Al-Nusra fighters as terrorists capable of producing chemical weapons shows that an international green light has been given to liquidate them. Turkey wants to separate the terrorists from the other opposition groups in Idlib, but Russia believes there is no distinction as both are deemed terrorists. The Turks propose that its army and the Free Syrian Army factions be given time to isolate the fighters of the Al-Nusra Front before a military operation to eliminate them is launched, as was done in Operation Euphrates Shield. The Russians totally disagree and would like to rush and remove all terrorists from Idlib as soon as possible. Moscow is negotiating with Ankara plans similar to the operation in Daraa in the south, which started with a military action to completely eliminate Al-Nusra and then moved on to negotiations between the Syrian government and the opposition to help establish joint local councils. In Idlib, this could also see a Turkish-Russian military deployment to ensure the safety of civilians.
Whatever the scenario surrounding the battle of Idlib, the toll amongst civilians will be very high as, in all previous battles and settlements, it was Idlib that became the safe haven for civilians and exile for opposition fighters. But there is nowhere else for them to go now as this battle represents the end of the war in Syria.Meanwhile, an American military intervention will only happen if there is any change in the balance of power on the ground. Some sources say the US will pre-emptively strike the Syrian Army in Idlib because they are afraid that, once this battle starts, it is inevitable that the regime will be victorious. And the more territory that the Syrian state controls, the more bargaining cards it has. Since the US does not want to leave Syria empty-handed, Washington is trying to put pressure on other fronts controlled by Kurdish groups loyal to them by strengthening its military presence in the east of Syria. Thus, if Idlib is regained by the Syrian Army, the West and the US will have nothing to negotiate about with Russia and Syria.
In a press conference held in Geneva last week, UN Special Envoy to Syria Staffan de Mistura called for a humanitarian corridor to be opened to allow civilians to leave Idlib. This suggests a repetition of what happened elsewhere in the last 12 months, but with one major difference, which is that no other province will be out of the Syrian Army’s control after Idlib.There are several important points that can be inferred from his statement. His stance against some of the groups who fight in Idlib started with his description of Al-Nusra Front fighters as terrorists who must be defeated, which shows that an international green light has been given to liquidate them and that they will be excluded from any settlement. And when he said that not only the Syrian Army has the ability to produce chemical weapons, but also Al-Nusra, this is another signal that the international community is now against terrorism in Idlib.
*Maria Dubovikova is a prominent political commentator, researcher and expert on Middle East affairs. She is president of the Moscow-based International Middle Eastern Studies Club (IMESClub). Twitter: @politblogme

For Turkey, the stakes are high in Idlib
Luke Coffey/Arab News/September 06/18
When asked about the situation in Idlib during a recent press conference in Moscow, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said “a military solution here would be a disaster, not just for the Idlib region, but a disaster in terms of Syria’s future.” And he is right.
There are a number of reasons why the situation in Idlib is so important for Syrians and outsiders alike. The province is home to the last major stronghold of opposition groups that have been trying to oust President Bashar Assad since 2011.
Complicating matters, the make-up of the opposition is not clear cut. There are an estimated 30,000 fighters remaining — about one-third of which fight under the banner of the Al-Qaeda-linked Hay’at Tahrir Al-Sham. The UN has designated HTS a terrorist organization and the group controls one-half of Idlib province, including the capital. Targeting its fighters without killing civilians will be no easy task. The region is geographically important too. Vital north-south highways run through the region, connecting it to the major population centers of Aleppo, Homs, Latakia and the capital Damascus. Assad knows that, if he is going to consolidate his rule in western Syria, he must control Idlib. Perhaps the most important matter at stake is the humanitarian situation. Over the years, Idlib has become the temporary home for millions of internally displaced Syrians from other war-torn parts of the country. After more than seven years of civil war, Idlib’s population has ballooned from 1.4 million to more than 3 million — though the exact number is unknown and could be much higher.
The stakes are high for Turkey in Idlib, and Ankara seems to be preparing for an assault by Syrian forces.
In recent weeks, the dozen or so observation posts in Idlib built and manned by the Turkish military have been reinforced. Additional Turkish troops have also been mobilized along the Syrian border. New refugee facilities have been prepared just inside Turkey in the event of an attack on Idlib.
Turkey has also been trying to use the National Front for the Liberation of Syria, which is the second largest rebel group in the region and serves as an umbrella organization for different opposition factions, to marginalize HTS, albeit with little success.
What happens in Idlib is important for Turkey for three reasons. First, Turkey is worried about a new influx of refugees. At the same press conference in Moscow, Cavusoglu posed a very straightforward question about the consequences of a military operation in Idlib: “Where will some 3.5 million civilians go?” For Turkey, this is the million-dollar question.
Turkey is already home to just under four million Syrians and Ankara has spent a great deal of money housing, feeding and educating them. Making the situation worse is the struggling Turkish economy, and another major influx of refugees might push it over the edge.
Secondly, what happens in Idlib can make or break the so-called Astana process. In 2016, Russia and Turkey agreed to host a conference in Astana, Kazakhstan, as part of a proposed peace process in Syria. A few months later, several “de-escalation” zones were created in areas controlled by the opposition in Syria, with the hope that a cease-fire could create a space where a political settlement could eventually happen. Sadly, this has not been the case. Refugees, the Astana process and relations with Russia — these are reasons why the situation in Idlib is so important for Turkey. Russia and regime forces have already violated the cease-fires in the de-escalation zones in Ghouta, the Rastan and Talbiseh enclave in Homs, and the area along the Syrian-Jordanian border. The only remaining “de-escalation” zone is Idlib. An attack on Idlib would be the final nail in the coffin for the Astana process.
Thirdly, what happens in Idlib could be a real test of the recent Turkish-Russian rapprochement. The two countries may seem very close today, but for centuries they have been regional competitors and on-off enemies. Turkey knows that, if Idlib falls to Assad, its influence in northern Syria will be greatly diminished. If Russia accommodates Turkish concerns in Idlib, this could mean that the entente between the two countries is genuine. Conversely, if Russia charges full steam ahead in Idlib without considering Turkish interests, the relationship could quickly breakdown.
The international response to the pending crisis has been predictably feckless. The EU is “concerned;” there has been nothing but silence from the Arab League; and US President Donald Trump used Twitter to warn Assad against “recklessly attacking Idlib” but it is not clear what, if anything, the US would do even if he does. The answer is probably nothing unless chemical weapons are used. UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura has called for the opening of humanitarian corridors to evacuate civilians out of Idlib, but it is not clear where they would go. After all, the dismal humanitarian situation in Idlib is partially a consequence of the province serving as a safe haven for civilians fleeing other battles. Frankly, there is nowhere else suitable for them to go inside Syria.The US has called for an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council this Friday regarding Idlib. However, the real meeting on Friday will take place in Tehran, where the leaders of Turkey, Russia and Iran will convene. There is still a small glimmer of hope that Turkey can find a diplomatic solution for Idlib in Tehran. However, this would require the three leaders to reconcile the vast differences each have regarding Syria. Sadly, for the people of Idlib, this is unlikely to happen.
*Luke Coffey is director of the Douglas and Sarah Allison Center for Foreign Policy at the Heritage Foundation. Twitter: @LukeDCoffey

Iraq and the fall of the tango

Ghassan Charbel/Al Arabiya/September 06/18
I telephoned the Iraqi politician and he knew the purpose. He asked me about the date of my visit and I said: “After the formation of the government.”
He laughed and said: “I’m afraid you’ll be late. As always, we’ve become victims of a game that’s bigger than us. The formation of the government practically needs a compromise between Brett McGurk (US presidential envoy for the international coalition against ISIS) and Qassem Soleimani (commander of the Quds Force). It is true that tensions between Tehran and Washington playing out on Iraqi territory are not new. But it's also true that this time they are approaching a bone-crushing battle, in the wake of the crisis caused by the withdrawal of Donald Trump’s administration from the nuclear deal and the US return to imposing painful sanctions on Iran.” He added: “This is the first time the quest to form a government is so difficult. The post-Saddam era did not rebuild the relations between the components, but exacerbated them. Forget about the public statements of courtesy. The deterioration of Arab-Kurdish relations need no evidence since last year’s referendum and the ensuing disciplinary process. In addition, Shiite-Sunni relations are not at their best.
One should also not forget disputes within the same components. The Shiite house itself is divided despite the heated Iranian activity. Differences among Arab Sunnis are not concealed by a souvenir picture under one roof. The Kurdish house is already known for its divisions at the crossroads.”
He went on to say: “Since the fall of Saddam, there has been some kind of coexistence between the American and Iranian aggressors on Iraqi soil. Tehran has committed itself to this kind of co-existence to encourage Americans to withdraw first, and then to facilitate a nuclear deal under Barack Obama’s term. The situation is quite different today. The Iranian economy is in a difficult situation. If the Trump administration goes too far in the direction it has announced, it would be possible that Iran would decide to break the balance and curb the US influence. A battle of this kind will have significant costs, even for the internal balances in Iraq and for the country’s location in the regional alignment.”It is not easy for the ordinary Iraqis to wait for the results of Soleimani’s tours of politicians to distribute warnings, bandages and assurances
Not just Iraq
The politician did not forget to remind me at the end of the phone conversation that Iraq is not alone, and that Lebanon is also trying to form a new government, which could be delayed due to the escalating crisis between Tehran and Washington. In fact, disagreements on the size of ministerial shares are associated with larger policies.
I called another politician. The picture seemed bleaker: He started talking about recent news reports about Iran supplying its pro-Syrian militias in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen with missiles of varying ranges, as well as establishing missile factories in these countries.
“The Russian military presence in Syria prevents Iran to act with absolute freedom,” he noted. “If Tehran chooses to deploy a missile force in Iraq to threaten Israel and the Gulf states, a new chapter of the Iraqi tragedy will begin, especially if Iran decides to assign Houthi roles to the Iraqi Popular Mobilization militias.”It is clear that the rules of the game are no longer in Iraqi hands. And that the political class lost the opportunity to save Iraq from external players despite resorting on many occasions to the ballot boxes. The logic of the state is still the weakest player in Iraq, and internal and external ambitions have made the violation of the Constitution a normal and acceptable practice. Is it conceivable to see Iraq in this situation fifteen years after overthrowing Saddam’s regime? It is painful that Iraqi politicians can no longer hold the former regime responsible for the deterioration of their country’s situation nor the decision of Paul Bremer to dissolve the army. It is painful that after Saddam’s departure, Iraq witnessed the largest feast of corruption in modern times. Some even believe that it surpasses what Russia experienced after the collapse of the Soviet Union. The story of the lost billions no longer needs documentation. Greediness is no longer a disease, but an epidemic that was not deterred by shy attempts of vaccination. Political and financial voracity and the disputes over monopoly and domination prevented the restoration of the spirit of the Iraqi structure. Neither the team that considered itself victorious succeeded in rationalizing its victory nor did the team, which considered itself defeated, succeeded in rationalizing its defeat.
Foreign tutelage
A logic prevailed over the country, that of dragging, delaying and betting on foreign tutelage. ISIS’ bloody appearance revealed the government’s lack of immunity. This logic prevented for example compliance with Article 140 on resolving the issue of disputed territories.
Thus, the Arab-Kurdish tango is poisoned. Policies and class-based stalking led to the poisoning of Sunni-Shiite tango. In this climate, the logic of quotas and militias has prevailed again over the logic of the state, the Constitution and the institutions.
The ordinary Iraqi citizen cannot be exempted from liability just as the Lebanese citizen. The people complain from the corrupt, the greedy and the violators of the state, and then go on a factional basis to elect the tragedy-makers whom they complain about. The citizen is a partner of political forces in wasting opportunities.
The Iraqis return to raise the obvious demands, such as electricity, drinking water and basic services, at a time when the avaricious devour the budget of ministries, uncaring. It is a country that swims in a sea of crises and loses its wealth amid battles of arrogance, greed and obedience to external wills.
It is not easy for the ordinary Iraqis to wait for the results of Qassem Soleimani’s tours of politicians to distribute warnings, bandages and assurances, nor to wait for the results of McGurk’s visits, which also necessitated contacts from US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
The coexistence tango’s failure internally threatens a new cycle of deterioration if, in the coming period, we see a final demise of the Iranian-American tango on Iraqi soil. There is no solution without a state that deserves to be named as such. It is necessary to tango. The requirement of success in dancing is to understand your partner and to synchronize your steps with his steps. Iraqi and Lebanese politicians must follow intensive courses in the art of tango. Greediness will distort the dance and kill the state.

Op-Ed: I Am Part of the Resistance Inside the Trump Administration
Author: Anonymous/New York Times/ Thursday 06th September 2018
Op-Ed: I Am Part of the Resistance Inside the President Trump is facing a test to his presidency unlike any faced by a modern American leader. It’s not just that the special counsel looms large. Or that the country is bitterly divided over Mr. Trump’s leadership. Or even that his party might well lose the House to an opposition hellbent on his downfall.
The dilemma — which he does not fully grasp — is that many of the senior officials in his own administration are working diligently from within to frustrate parts of his agenda and his worst inclinations.
I would know. I am one of them. I Am Part of the Resistance Inside the Trump Administration.
I work for the president but like-minded colleagues and I have vowed to thwart parts of his agenda and his worst inclinations. The Times is taking the rare step of publishing an anonymous Op-Ed essay. We have done so at the request of the author, a senior official in the Trump administration whose identity is known to us and whose job would be jeopardized by its disclosure. We believe publishing this essay anonymously is the only way to deliver an important perspective to our readers. We invite you to submit a question about the essay or our vetting process here.
President Trump is facing a test to his presidency unlike any faced by a modern American leader. It’s not just that the special counsel looms large. Or that the country is bitterly divided over Mr. Trump’s leadership. Or even that his party might well lose the House to an opposition hellbent on his downfall.The dilemma — which he does not fully grasp — is that many of the senior officials in his own administration are working diligently from within to frustrate parts of his agenda and his worst inclinations.
I would know. I am one of them. To be clear, ours is not the popular “resistance” of the left. We want the administration to succeed and think that many of its policies have already made America safer and more prosperous. But we believe our first duty is to this country, and the president continues to act in a manner that is detrimental to the health of our republic.
That is why many Trump appointees have vowed to do what we can to preserve our democratic institutions while thwarting Mr. Trump’s more misguided impulses until he is out of office. The root of the problem is the president’s amorality. Anyone who works with him knows he is not moored to any discernible first principles that guide his decision making. Although he was elected as a Republican, the president shows little affinity for ideals long espoused by conservatives: free minds, free markets and free people. At best, he has invoked these ideals in scripted settings. At worst, he has attacked them outright. In addition to his mass-marketing of the notion that the press is the “enemy of the people,” President Trump’s impulses are generally anti-trade and anti-democratic. Don’t get me wrong. There are bright spots that the near-ceaseless negative coverage of the administration fails to capture: effective deregulation, historic tax reform, a more robust military and more.But these successes have come despite — not because of — the president’s leadership style, which is impetuous, adversarial, petty and ineffective.
From the White House to executive branch departments and agencies, senior officials will privately admit their daily disbelief at the commander in chief’s comments and actions. Most are working to insulate their operations from his whims. Meetings with him veer off topic and off the rails, he engages in repetitive rants, and his impulsiveness results in half-baked, ill-informed and occasionally reckless decisions that have to be walked back.
“There is literally no telling whether he might change his mind from one minute to the next,” a top official complained to me recently, exasperated by an Oval Office meeting at which the president flip-flopped on a major policy decision he’d made only a week earlier.
The erratic behavior would be more concerning if it weren’t for unsung heroes in and around the White House. Some of his aides have been cast as villains by the media. But in private, they have gone to great lengths to keep bad decisions contained to the West Wing, though they are clearly not always successful.
It may be cold comfort in this chaotic era, but Americans should know that there are adults in the room. We fully recognize what is happening. And we are trying to do what’s right even when Donald Trump won’t.
The result is a two-track presidency.
Take foreign policy: In public and in private, President Trump shows a preference for autocrats and dictators, such as President Vladimir Putin of Russia and North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un, and displays little genuine appreciation for the ties that bind us to allied, like-minded nations. Astute observers have noted, though, that the rest of the administration is operating on another track, one where countries like Russia are called out for meddling and punished accordingly, and where allies around the world are engaged as peers rather than ridiculed as rivals. On Russia, for instance, the president was reluctant to expel so many of Mr. Putin’s spies as punishment for the poisoning of a former Russian spy in Britain. He complained for weeks about senior staff members letting him get boxed into further confrontation with Russia, and he expressed frustration that the United States continued to impose sanctions on the country for its malign behavior. But his national security team knew better — such actions had to be taken, to hold Moscow accountable. This isn’t the work of the so-called deep state. It’s the work of the steady state. Given the instability many witnessed, there were early whispers within the cabinet of invoking the 25th Amendment, which would start a complex process for removing the president. But no one wanted to precipitate a constitutional crisis. So we will do what we can to steer the administration in the right direction until — one way or another — it’s over.
The bigger concern is not what Mr. Trump has done to the presidency but rather what we as a nation have allowed him to do to us. We have sunk low with him and allowed our discourse to be stripped of civility. Senator John McCain put it best in his farewell letter. All Americans should heed his words and break free of the tribalism trap, with the high aim of uniting through our shared values and love of this great nation. We may no longer have Senator McCain. But we will always have his example — a lodestar for restoring honor to public life and our national dialogue. Mr. Trump may fear such honorable men, but we should revere them. There is a quiet resistance within the administration of people choosing to put country first. But the real difference will be made by everyday citizens rising above politics, reaching across the aisle and resolving to shed the labels in favor of a single one: Americans.
The writer is a senior official in the Trump administration.
Follow The New York Times Opinion section on Facebook and Twitter (@NYTopinion).
LISTEN TO “THE DAILY” The story behind the unsigned Op-Ed.

13 People Who Might Be the Author of The New York Times Op-ed
CNN International/ Thursday 06th September 2018
On Wednesday afternoon, The New York Times posted an anonymous op-ed titled: "I Am Part of the Resistance Inside the Trump Administration."
The piece is remarkable. Identified only as a "senior official in the Trump administration," the piece lays out how the author -- as well as other colleagues within the administration -- are waging a semi-open campaign to keep the President from doing too much damage to the nation.
"Many of the senior officials in his own administration are working diligently from within to frustrate parts of his agenda and his worst inclinations," the author writes.
Beyond the way the author is identified, there are very few clues about who it could be. And the description used by the Times -- "a senior official in the Trump administration" -- is broad enough to include virtually anyone in the Trump White House, a Cabinet official, undersecretary or someone on, say, the National Security Council.
Beyond that, the only hint we have comes from this tweet of the op-ed, from The New York Times social team: "In an anonymous Op-Ed, a senior Trump administration official says he and others are working ​to frustrate the president's 'misguided impulses.'"
Later, a spokeswoman for the Times said that the tweet was a mistake. "The tweet was drafted by someone who is not aware of the author's identity, including the gender, so the use of 'he' was an error," Danielle Rhoades Ha said.
What we know: The guessing game of who wrote the op-ed will dominate official Washington circles for the foreseeable future. And everyone who fits the description of a "senior Trump administration official" will have to answer as to whether it was them.
Another thing we know: Trump is pissed. "TREASON?" he tweeted on Wednesday night.
Below, 13 people who might be the author of the op-ed, based on what we know about the various factions, likes, dislikes, motivations and ambitions within the Trump administration. These are in no particular order.
Don McGahn
We know the White House counsel is a short-timer -- planning to leave in the fall. We also know that McGahn has clashed with Trump repeatedly in the past -- refusing Trump's order to fire special counsel Robert Mueller. And McGahn has already shown a willingness to look out for the broader public good, sitting down for more than 30 hours with special counsel Robert Mueller's team to aid their investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.
Dan Coats
The Director of National Intelligence is very much a part of the long-term Washington establishment, having spent not one but two stints in the nation's capital as a senator from Indiana. Coats has also shown a tendency to veer from the Trump songbook. Informed of Trump's plans to invite Russian president Vladimir Putin for a summit in the United States this fall, Coats said "That is going to be special" -- a line that drew the ire of the President.
Kellyanne Conway
Conway, a White House counselor, is someone who has survived for a very long time in the political game. And not by being dumb or not understanding which way the wind blows. Plus, there is the X-factor of her husband -- George -- whose Twitter feed regularly trolls Trump.
John Kelly
The chief of staff has clashed repeatedly with the President and seems to be on borrowed time. Kelly sees his time in the job as serving his country in the only way left to him. Might he view exposing Trump in this way as a last way to be of service?
Kirstjen Nielsen
The head of the Department of Homeland Security is a close ally of Kelly, who we know has a very fraught relationship with Trump. And she has reasons of her own: Trump scolded her in a Cabinet meeting over the number of undocumented immigrants entering the country. Nielsen reportedly drafted a resignation letter but backed away.
Jeff Sessions
Sessions sticks out as a possibility for a simple reason: He's got motive. No one has been more publicly maligned by Trump than his attorney general. Trump has repeatedly urged Sessions to use the Justice Department for his own pet political concerns. And this week, Sessions found out that Trump has referred to him as "mentally retarded" and mocked his southern accent, according to a new book by Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward. Sessions is also someone who spent two decades in the Senate prior to being named attorney general by Trump after the 2016 election.
James Mattis
The defense secretary has been Trump's favorite Cabinet member. But the quotes attributed to Mattis in Woodward's book are VERY rough on Trump, though Mattis quickly denied that he ever said them. And if anyone has less to lose than Mattis -- he is a decorated military man serving his country again -- it's hard to figure out who that would be. Plus, Mattis is an ally of John Kelly (see above) and Rex Tillerson, the former secretary of state that Trump ran out on a rail.
Fiona Hill
Hill, a Russian expert who joined the Trump administration from the Brookings Institution, a DC think tank, might have reason to so publicly clash with Trump. She is far more skeptical about Russia's motives than Trump -- and was notably left out when Trump and Putin huddled on the sides of the G20 meeting in Germany in 2017. She was a close adviser to national security adviser H.R. McMaster, who was removed from the White House. And, she was also reportedly mistaken for a clerk by Trump in one of her earliest meetings with him on Russia.
Mike Pence
The vice president is all smiles, nods and quiet, deferential loyalty in public. Which of course means that he has the perfect cover to write something like this in The New York Times. Pence is also ambitious -- and there's no question he wants to be president. But would taking such a risk as writing this scathing op-ed be a better path to the White House than just waiting Trump out?
Nikki Haley
The United Nations ambassador is, like Pence, one of Trump's favorites. She is also, however, someone deeply engaged on the world stage and a voice of concern when it comes to how the President views Russia and Putin. Haley, again like Pence, is ambitious and has her eye on national office. Would this service that goal?
The combination of Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump -- Javanka! -- writing this op-ed would be right out of a soap opera. But that is sort of a perfect way to describe the Trump administration, right? Ivanka Trump said she would work to make her voice heard to her father, but there's little evidence he's listened much to her or her husband. Might this be a bit of revenge?
Melania Trump
To be clear, I don't think the first lady did this. But her willingness to send messages when she is unhappy with her husband or his administration is unmistakable. ("I really don't care. Do U?") And, if you believe this administration and Trump are governed by reality shows rules, then Melania writing the op-ed is the most reality TV thing EVER.

Iran deepens military grip on Syria despite 200 Israeli strikes in 21 months
موقع دبكا/إيران تشدد قبضبتها على سوريا بالرغم من 200 عارة إسرائيلية خلال 21 شهراً

DEBKAfile/September 06/18
After 200 Israel attacks and 800 tons of ordnance, Iran has not halted its deepening military foothold in Syria, only switched tactics, DEBKAfile’s military sources report.
The IDF released those figures on Tuesday, Sept 4, in its summing-up of 21 months of operations for stalling Iran’s entrenchment in Syria. That evening, Israel was reported by foreign sources to have conducted more attacks in Syria: IDF fighter jets bombed Syria’s “scientific research center” in Masyaf near Hama; and missiles struck a group of Iranian buildings between the town of Masyaf and Wadi al-Uyun, as well as Iranian assets in the town of Banyas near the
The IDF summary also reported that the large-scale Israeli bombardment of 50 Iranian targets on May 10 had halted Iran’s further expansion in Syria.
DEBKAfile note that this claim was refuted by the IDF’s own continuing attacks since then, especially the repeated strikes on the Masyaf “research center,” where chemical weapons are reputed to be manufactured. Iran’s chief strategist Al Qods chief Gen. Qassem Soleimani has clearly not been deterred by Israeli assaults; he has only found different ways of attaining the same objective. In the past five months, he has been embedding Iranian bases and command centers inside the Syrian military network. Others have been planted close to the perimeter fences of Russian bases, or moved across the border into western Iraq, allowing Iranian and allied forces to escape to safety after an operation.
These tactics have enabled Iran to continue to go forward in Syria under an average of 10 Israeli air and missile strikes per month with 40 tons of ordinance dropped on its assets. IDF Major. Gen. Yair Golan was making this point when he said this week that a war can’t be won by intelligence and precise fire. He was criticizing the strategic guidelines governing the IDF’s fight against Iran’s presence in Syria.
This month, the IDF was substantially reinforced by US cooperation for a joint offensive against Iran’s military hold on Syria, an important change which occurred after US National Security Adviser John Bolton spent some time in Israel two weeks ago. On Sept. 2, the US air force jumped into the mission with a strike on an Iranian-Syrian military convoy driving near the American Al Tanf garrison, and which also carried Iraqi and Afghan Shiite militiamen .
However valuable US back-up is for the Israeli effort, nothing has changed in the IDF’s basic tactics of using air strikes and surface missiles against Iranian targets in Syria. It is obvious that these tactics are not working. Gen. Soleimani has not stopped – or even slowed down – his drive for widening and deepening Iran’s military infrastructure in Syria