Detailed Lebanese & Lebanese Related LCCC English New Bulletin For September 11/2018
Compiled & Prepared by: Elias Bejjani

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Bible Quotations
Who acknowledges me before others, the Son of Man also will acknowledge him before the angels of God; but whoever denies me before others will be denied before the angels of God
Luke 12/06-10: "Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten in God’s sight. But even the hairs of your head are all counted. Do not be afraid; you are of more value than many sparrows. ‘And I tell you, everyone who acknowledges me before others, the Son of Man also will acknowledge before the angels of God; but whoever denies me before others will be denied before the angels of God. And everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven; but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven."

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

Daily Lebanese/Arabic - English news bulletins on our LCCC web site.Click on the link below

Titles For The Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on September 10-11/18
Trump admin closing Palestinian office in Washington/Associated Press/Ynetnews/September 10/18
Assad property law complicates Syrians’ plans to return home/Associated Press/September 10/18
US officials: Assad approved use of chemical weapons in Idlib/Daniel Salami and Reuters/Ynetnews/September 10/18
Canada's arms deal with Saudi Arabia is shrinking/CBC/September 10/18
Turkey: Torture, Sexual Abuse Rampant in Prisons/Uzay Bulut/Gatestone Institute/September 10/18
Why Did the Clintons Share the Stage with Farrakhan/Alan M. Dershowitz/Gatestone Institute/September 10/18
Kurds crucial to Turkey-US cooperation in Syria/Yasar Yakis/Arab News/September 10/18
How Real News Is Worse Than Fake News/Tyler Cowen/Bloomberg/September 10/18
From September 11 to the Russian Leader/Ghassan Charbel/Asharq Al Awsat/September 10/18
Why the US Economy Is Having a Boom/Noah Smith/Bloomberg/September 10/18
And the preacher Obama has spoken/Mashari Althaydi/Al Arabiya/September 10/18
Interreligious relations, looking for a common ground/Fahad Suleiman Shoqiran/Al Arabiya/September 10/18
Binaa: The institutionalization of discipline/Hassan Al Mustafa/Al Arabiya/September 10/18
Putin is ready go all the way against the US in Syria. Where does this place Israel/DebkaFile/September 10/18

Titles For The Latest LCCC Lebanese Related News published on September 10-11/18
Aoun says didn't escalate govt tension: report
Shiite Mufti Qabalan calls on Aoun to give up ministerial share
Aoun Says Not to Blame for Govt. Delay, Insists on 'Balanced Format'
Aoun Travels to Strasbourg for European Parliament Opening
Berri Says Cabinet Formation Process 'Completely Blocked’
Qabalan Urges Aoun to 'Give Up' Cabinet Share
Lebanon-Born Man Dies after Being Shot in Berlin
Lebanon’s Geagea Calls on Aoun to Save his Presidency, Criticizes Bassil over Govt.
Kataeb Party Calls for a Government of Experts to Rescue the Country
Moawad, Richard launch project to improve electricity in Arsal
Berri calls on parliamentary committees to convene in session on Thursday

Titles For The Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on September 10-11/18
Trump admin closing Palestinian office in Washington
US Envoy: Deal of the Century Meets Needs of Israel’s Security
Hamas Delegation Heads to Cairo for ‘Exploratory’ Meetings
Assad property law complicates Syrians’ plans to return home
US officials: Assad approved use of chemical weapons in Idlib
30,000 Flee in Syria as U.N. Fears Century's 'Worst' Crisis
U.S. Threatens to Sanction ICC Judges
Egypt security forces kill 11 suspected militants in Sinai
Kosovo suspends activities of Qatar Charity Foundation
Canada's arms deal with Saudi Arabia is shrinking
5 people were killed and 250 wounded, included 62 military personnel, during the Basra protests in September.
Iraq PM visits Basra after week of violence
Iraq’s Sistani: Politicians from past years should not try for prime minister
The Latest LCCC Lebanese Related News published on September 10-11/18
Aoun says didn't escalate govt tension: report
The Daily Star/September 10/18/BEIRUT: President Michel Aoun told a key aide to Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri that he didn’t escalate tensions in the government formation process when he expressed reservations over a draft Cabinet lineup that Hariri had presented to him last week, a local paper reported Monday. Aoun met Friday with caretaker Culture Minister Ghattas Khoury, a political adviser to the premier-designate, reportedly to defuse tensions that had arisen after the president had expressed reservations about the draft lineup Hariri had presented him with. Citing a source familiar with the meeting, local daily Al-Akhbar reported that the president told Khoury that he had not enflamed tensions, but had merely asked for adjustments to the lineup. “There is no escalation on my behalf but the contrary, and the evidence to that is that I didn’t reject or accept the initial formula,” Aoun told Khoury, according to the source. “I said that adjustments need to be made to it so that it becomes more balanced and just in government representation.”Al-Akhbar also reported that Aoun told the minister to relay to Hariri his willingness to cooperate with him and facilitate his mission.
Last week, Hariri presented Aoun with his first draft Cabinet formula since May 24, when he was appointed to form a government. However, the formula failed to gain the support of Aoun, who noted several reservations he had about it, and of the Free Patriotic Movement, which the president founded. It also triggered a heated debate between the FPM and Hariri’s Future Movement over the prerogatives of the president and the prime minister-designate in forming a government. While the Constitution tasks the prime minister-designate with forming the government, it also requires the approval of the president, who issues the decree of the new formation.

Shiite Mufti Qabalan calls on Aoun to give up ministerial share
The Daily Star/Naharnet/September 10/18/BEIRUT: A top Shiite sheikh Monday pushed politicians to resolve the government deadlock as quickly as possible for the benefit of the Lebanese people, calling on President Michel Aoun in particular to relent in his Cabinet demands in order “to save the country.”In a televised speech to welcome the Hijri new year, which falls on Tuesday, Lebanon's Grand Jaafarite Shiite Mufti Sheikh Ahmad Qabalan pressed for “a compromise from everyone to save our country.” His comments come amid the fourth month of deadlock in the Cabinet formation, due in large part to political adversaries making unrelenting demands for key ministerial portfolios. More specifically, Qabalan called on Aoun to give up his Cabinet shares. Qabalan appears to have been referring to a bitter dispute between the Free Patriotic Movement, which Aoun founded, and Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri’s Lebanese Forces party over ministerial representation. LF chief Samir Geagea has claimed that FPM leader Gebran Bassil, who is also Aoun’s son-in-law, has tried to usurp seats that the LF won rightfully in May’s parliamentary elections in the name of the president’s share, but Geagea has also said the LF will not relent. As political adversaries have squabbled over key ministerial portfolios, the country’s economic stability has been said to be further and further at risk.
Qabalan said the government formation must speed up for the benefit of the “country and the people,” whom it is politicians’ job to represent, instead of acting like “a government of axes and accusations.”“We heard promises but didn’t see any solutions” to the deadlock, he added.

Aoun Says Not to Blame for Govt. Delay, Insists on 'Balanced Format'
Naharnet/September 10/18/President Michel Aoun stressed Monday that the responsibility for the ongoing delay in the Cabinet formation process does not fall on the Presidency or his political party, insisting that any line-up should be “balanced” in order to receive his approval. “We are not the obstructing party,” Aoun told reporters aboard a plane that carried him to Strasbourg where he will take part in a special session for the European Parliament. “When the format becomes balanced, the government will be formed according to the standards and principles which I had announced in my speech on August 1 and which is accepted by all parties,” the president added. “It is unacceptable for any group or sect to monopolize representation or marginalize a certain party,” Aoun emphasized. Responding to a question, the president noted that “the issue of jurisdiction is being used to deviate attention from the main issue, which is the formation of the Cabinet.” “The Constitution stipulates partnership between the Presidency and the Premiership in the formation process. Let them explain the meaning of this to us. There is no room for alternative explanations in the presence of the constitutional text,” Aoun underlined. The president also revealed that the Syrian refugee file will top his agenda in Strasbourg and that he would tackle the U.S. decision to halt funding for the U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees, UNRWA. “This issue might represent the beginning of naturalization, and this is categorically rejected by the Lebanese constitution and all Lebanese,” Aoun warned.

Aoun Travels to Strasbourg for European Parliament Opening

Naharnet/September 10/18/President Michel Aoun has left to Strasbourg on Monday accompanied by his wife, Nadia Aoun, at the invitation of President of the European Parliament Antonio Tajan, the Presidency media office said on Twitter. Aoun is scheduled to deliver a speech during a special session at the opening of the parliament session for the year 2018-2019, on Tuesday. The President will hold talks with senior European officials to discuss Lebanon’s relations with the European Union, and the current regional and international developments. He will meet with members of the Lebanese community in Strasbourg and neighboring European cities and visit the headquarters of the National Institute of Administration (ENA), it added.

Berri Says Cabinet Formation Process 'Completely Blocked’
Naharnet/September 10/18/Speaker Nabih Berri described the atmospheres engulfing the formation of Lebanon’s government as “negative” in light of scheduled foreign travels of senior leaders, al-Joumhouria daily reported on Monday. Speaking to his visitors, Berri was quoted as saying that “since everyone is traveling abroad, negativity is governing the Cabinet formation process,” he said, adding sarcastically “perhaps they agree abroad.” President Michel Aoun and Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri are scheduled to make several official trips abroad this month. On Monday, Aoun’s media office said the President has left to Strasbourg at the official invitation of President of the European Parliament where he will deliver a speech. He is scheduled to make three foreign trips in the coming weeks whereas Hariri will leave for The Hague to follow up on the sessions of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon. Moreover, Berri criticized the political rhetoric accompanying the formation, stressing the need to have a “sense of belonging and citizenship.”He said: “The political call up which is accompanied by an unpleasant state of stirring up sectarian instincts, is a matter of concern. This pushes us to warn and reaffirm that we must learn from experience. I have always advocated reading one book, the Book of Citizenship, which unfortunately is missing.”

Qabalan Urges Aoun to 'Give Up' Cabinet Share

Naharnet/September 10/18/Grand Jaafarite Shiite Mufti Sheikh Ahmed Qabalan appealed on President Michel Aoun to “give up” his presidential share in the government in favor of what he described as “hooligan sons” who are obstructing the Cabinet formation. Voicing calls to expedite the formation process of the government while marking the Hijri Year, Qabalan said: “We appeal to the President, in his capacity as the father of all Lebanese, and in favor of national interest, to give up his ministerial share in the government in favor of his hooligan and obstructive sons.” The Sheikh called on all political officials to ease their demands and conditions in order to lineup the delayed Cabinet which Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri was tasked to form since May 24. Because of conflict between the political parties over shares and quotas, mainly the Druze and Christian representation, Hariri’s mission has since been delayed.

Lebanon-Born Man Dies after Being Shot in Berlin
Associated Press/Naharnet/September 10/18/A Lebanese-born man has died after being shot in Berlin, German police said. There was no immediate word on who was responsible. Police in the capital said several shots were fired at the 36-year-old in the Neukoelln district late Sunday afternoon, and several people fled the scene in a car. He was taken to a hospital, where he died later Sunday. Local media reported that the victim was associated with a criminal gang, and that some 150 people gathered outside the hospital Sunday evening. Police, who had appealed on Twitter for people not to go to the hospital, denied reports of damage to the building. News agency dpa reported that police wouldn't confirm the man's identity Monday. They said he was born in Lebanon but his nationality wasn't yet clear.

Lebanon’s Geagea Calls on Aoun to Save his Presidency, Criticizes Bassil over Govt.
Beirut - Asharq Al-Awsat/Monday, 10 September, 2018/Head of the Lebanese Forces, Samir Geagea, urged on Sunday President Michel Aoun to rescue his term in office after accusing Free Patriotic Movement leader Jebran Bassil of behaving in a manner that harms the presidency.
“I call upon President Aoun to take the initiative to save his tenure, starting with the formation of the new government,” he said. He made his remarks during a memorial mass held in Maarab for LF martyrs. Geagea said: “The only truth is that there are some individuals who are attempting to reduce the representation of the LF and others in cabinet, while irrationally, unrealistically and unacceptably trying to acquire the largest number of ministries...all under the pretext of the president's share.”The LF leader said his party insists on full participation in the government in order to preserve the state and help it out of its crisis in wake of the rampant corruption. In a word addressed to the FPM, Geagea said that the 2016 Maarab Understanding "is a historical achievement that cannot be viewed from a narrow or small angle, and cannot be comprehended correctly unless evaluated from a broad perspective."On relations with Syria, he noted that the Lebanese people have recently heard some voices calling for Beirut to normalize ties with Damascus. "If there is a legitimate state in Syria? How can we explain its absence from the Arab League?” “Is it logical that we, this small country, overstep the Arab League and establish normal relations with a regime with which we have severed ties?” the LF leader asked. Geagea said the purpose of normalizing relations with Bashar Assad's regime was not related to the return of Syrian refugees back to their homes, but to return regime hegemony over Lebanon.

Kataeb Party Calls for a Government of Experts to Rescue the Country Monday 10th September 2018/The Lebanese Kataeb party on Monday called for a technocratic government that would be shored up by all political forces, deeming it as key to rescue the country. "After the political rift has widened and absurd proposals have become abundant, [...], the Kataeb party renews its call to speed up the formation of a politically supported government that is made up of experts," read a statement issued following the weekly meeting of the Kataeb politburo. "This government's missions would be to protect citizens so that they can live in dignity, draw an end to the network of corruption and squandering, reviving economic growth, as well as other pressing issues." "Once this is achieved, let the political rivals who are haggling over prerogatives, shares and spoils take their time to reach an agreement, if there will ever be one," the statement noted. The Kataeb party condemned the chaos that disrupted the functioning of the Beirut airport, demanding a drastic and permanent solution. Last week, passengers suffered major disruption at the Beirut Airport after the departures and bag drop processing system crashed. The politburo called for a transparent investigation to probe the reasons behind the malfunction and hold to account those who failed to fulfill their duties, warning against the same old approach based on which crises and scandals are dealt with recklessly. Days before the 36th assassination anniversary of martyr President Bachir Gemayel, the party reiterated unwavering commitment to the principles that the latter had died for, vowing to pursue the struggle for a strong, free, sovereign and independent state.

Moawad, Richard launch project to improve electricity in Arsal

Mon 10 Sep 2018/NNA - Executive Director of the Rene Moawad Foundation, MP Michel Moawad, and US Ambassador to Lebanon, Elizabeth Richard, inaugurated this Monday the project of "Improving electricity in Arsal Municipality", which falls within the framework of the "Baladi" program funded by the USAID and implemented by the Rene Moawad Foundation. The launching ceremony was attended by USAID Mission Director, Anne Patterson, Mayor of Arsal Bassel Al-Hujairi, members of the Municipal and Mukhtar Councils of Arsal, and a crowd of the region’s sons. Richard delivered a word on the occasion, whereby she stressed her country's commitment to "supporting the efforts of the people of Arsal to bring life back to the town and develop it." The Ambassador announced that "the USAID will provide additional support to Arsal for the sake of implementing some seven new local developmental projects."

Berri calls on parliamentary committees to convene in session on Thursday
Mon 10 Sep 2018 /NNA - Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri called on parliamentary committees to convene in a joint session on Thursday, September 13, to study the following laws:
1- Draft law in Decree No. 2805 on amending the fifth book of the Land Trade Law.
2- Draft law in Decree No. 2807 on regulating the profession of licensed construction agents in Lebanon.
3- Draft law in Decree No. 2853 on private recruitment companies.
4- Draft law in Decree No. 2929 on physical guarantees of movable property.
5- Draft law in Decree No. 3201 on Judicial Mediation in Lebanon.

The Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on
September 10-11/18
Trump admin closing Palestinian office in Washington
Associated Press/Ynetnews/September 10/18
After days of speculations, State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert officially announces that offices of Palestinian Liberation Organization in US capital will be shut down due to refusal of Palestinian officials to conduct 'meaningful negotiations with Israel'; Saeb Erekat calls move 'a punishment for working with the International Criminal Court against Israeli war crimes.'The Trump administration ordered the closure of the Palestinian diplomatic mission in Washington on Monday, citing the refusal of Palestinian leaders to enter into peace talks with Israel, prompting the Palestinians to accuse the administration of dismantling decades of US engagement with them. The State Department said the US step—the latest in a series targeting the Palestinians—came after a review of the office of the Palestine Liberation Organization centered on the fact that no "direct and meaningful negotiations with Israel" are underway despite previous warnings.
State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert officially announced the move in a press briefing. "To the contrary, PLO leadership has condemned a US peace plan they have not yet seen and refused to engage with the US government with respect to peace efforts and otherwise," Nauert said in a statement. "As such, and reflecting congressional concerns, the administration has decided that the PLO office in Washington will close at this point," she stressed. The Trump administration had told the Palestinians last November that closure could be expected unless they agreed to sit to down with the Israelis. The administration, however, has yet to release its own much-vaunted but largely unknown peace plan although it said it still intends to do so. "The United States continues to believe that direct negotiations between the two parties are the only way forward," Nauert continued. "This action should not be exploited by those who seek to act as spoilers to distract from the imperative of reaching a peace agreement. We are not retreating from our efforts to achieve a lasting and comprehensive peace," she emphasized. She also said the closure decision was consistent with US concerns about Palestinian attempts to prompt an investigation of Israel by the International Criminal Court.
Earlier, US officials notified the Palestinians regarding the mission's faith and its upcoming closure. "We have been officially informed that the US administration will close our embassy in Washington as a punishment for continuing to work with the International Criminal Court against Israeli war crimes," Palestinian official Saeb Erekat said. "This is yet another affirmation of the Trump Administration's policy to collectively punish the Palestinian people, including by cutting financial support for humanitarian services including health and education," he said.
The Palestine Liberation Organization, commonly known as the PLO, formally represents all Palestinians. Although the US does not recognize Palestinian statehood, the PLO has maintained in Washington a general delegation office that facilitates Palestinian officials' interactions with the US government.
The head of the PLO delegation to the US accused the Trump administration of "dismantling decades of US vision and engagement in Palestine.""Weaponizing humanitarian and developmental aid as political blackmail does not work," Ambassador Husam Zomlot said.
The move comes after several financial measures the Trump administration has taken toward the Palestinians. Most recently his administration ended US funding for the United Nations agency that helps Palestinian refugees, slashing hundreds of millions of dollars in aid for projects in the West Bank and Gaza and cutting funding to hospitals in Jerusalem that serve Palestinians. Trump also recognized Jerusalem as Israel's capital and moved the US Embassy there, from Tel Aviv. Dozens of Palestinians were killed in protests that followed the move, and Palestinians have since rejected the US as a peace broker.
Although the Israelis and Palestinians are not engaged in active, direct negotiations, Trump's administration has been working to mediate a peace deal that would end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Led by Jared Kushner, Trump's son-in-law and a senior aide, White House officials have been preparing a peace proposal they intend to put forward at an unspecified time.Trump has promised to pursue the "ultimate deal" between the Palestinians and Israel. However, such a deal is unlikely given Palestinian mistrust of his administration.
US Envoy: Deal of the Century Meets Needs of Israel’s Security
Ramallah – Asharq Al-Awsat/Monday, 10 September, 2018/The United States will not endorse a plan that does not meet all of Israel’s security issues because they are of extreme importance to Washington, said Assistant to the President and Special Representative for International Negotiations Jason Greenblatt. During an interview with The Land of Israel Network, Greenblatt asserted that the US administration is committed to Israel’s security, and “we very much believe that the plan that we developed clearly reflects that. Ultimately, both sides are going to have to be comfortable with the plan.”Greenblatt is referring to the peace plan known as “deal of the century” which has not been suggested yet because Palestinians reject it. “We think both sides are going to gain a lot more than they give,” he asserted. Palestinian officials also accuse the plan of aiming to separate Gaza Strip from the West Bank, which Greenblatt somehow hinted to when he stated that if the situation in Gaza remained unresolved, it will be “an obstacle on the road to peace.”He added that “Hamas itself is an obstacle on the road to peace. It is not a secret that the Palestinians of Gaza are hostage to Hamas.”Previously, Palestinian Authority (PA) rejected any US intervention in Gaza, however, Greenblatt explained that the plan lays out each issue and proposed solutions very clearly so both sides can understand beyond an “aspirational term sheet what the solutions really are and whether they are going to be willing to live with those proposed solutions.”He noted that the peace plan was devised after extensive conversations with regional leaders and other stakeholders, describing the deal as “realistic, fair, and equally important, implementable.”Greenblatt said that at the moment, the Palestinian leadership is not talking to White House officials after Trump declared Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. “He’s [Trump] done something no other president had the courage to do. He recognized the reality that Jerusalem is and always will be Israel’s capital,” according to Greenblatt. Asked about Washington’s recent decision to cut UNRWA funding, he said that the organization is nearly out of funds, and it is time to have everybody acknowledge that their business operation is a failing model. The US was so far UNRWA's largest contributor, providing it with $350 million annually, roughly one-quarter of the agency's overall budget. The US move is part of a wider plan to end the right of return and reduce the number of Palestinian refugees from five million to 40,000. Washington said it will recognize the 700,000 refugees who were expelled from or fled their homes in 1948 and will not recognize their children or grandchildren as refugees. However, Israel is afraid that UNRWA’s de-funding could lead to a confrontation in Gaza. Israeli defense officials agreed in a meeting last week that the government must develop an alternative to the UNRWA in the Gaza Strip in order to head off a humanitarian disaster. At the end of this month, a donor conference will be held in New York, with the participation of Israeli delegation led by coordinator of government activities in the occupied territories Maj. Gen. Kamil Abu Rukun. Organizers are expected to encourage donor countries to pitch in to guarantee the continued delivery of food, education services and the salaries to the UN’s 30,000 employees in the Strip. The Israel forces warned last week, however, that if the UN agency’s Gaza operations cease without a workable alternative, then an escalation in violence is nearly inevitable. Hamas will more easily be able to direct popular criticism toward Israel and clash with Israel, even if limited, to highlight the issue internationally.

Hamas Delegation Heads to Cairo for ‘Exploratory’ Meetings
Ramallah - Asharq Al-Awsat/Monday, 10 September, 2018/A Hamas delegation is scheduled to arrive in Cairo mid-September to meet with Egyptian officials for further talks on pending issues, an official from the Palestinian movement official said on Sunday. Hamas politburo member Maher Obeid said that the meetings will tackle various Palestinian files, especially reconciliation and a ceasefire with Israel. Delegations from the Popular and Democratic fronts are expected to arrive for periodic meetings with Egyptian officials after efforts, especially peace negotiations, failed. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has been accused of hindering the efforts. Hamas has escalated its actions against Israel prior to the arrival of its delegation to Egypt and plans to revive popular rallies along the Gaza-Israel border, including the possibility of relaunching incendiary kites. These acts aim at shedding light on the deteriorating situation in Gaza and serve as a strong protest message following the end of truce talks. “Hamas believes that mediators will once again take action if Israel comes under pressure,” Asharq Al-Awsat had earlier quoted the movement as saying. Obeid stressed that "if the masses of our people stepped up the march of return and put new pressure on the occupation, then truce will be achieved and Israel will pay for its actions." “The fate of the peaceful return marches, especially after freezing the truce talks, depends on the movement of the Palestinian masses,” Obeid told the local Palestinian al-Istiqlal newspaper.
“Truce efforts have not completely stopped, but they are witnessing a state of laxity and change in the priorities of the parties, so that their priority will be to start reconciliation and then to address to other matters, led by the PA,” he added. “However, it seems that our people will head towards escalation ... in order to achieve the desired goals,” Obeid stressed. Egypt-sponsored truce talks between Palestinian factions and Israel last month were halted after Abbas's threats that he would not allow a truce in the Gaza Strip since it will help separate the enclave from the West Bank and lead the way for the adoption of the so-called “Deal of the Century”.
Assad property law complicates Syrians’ plans to return home
Associated Press/September 10/18
The Syrian government insists it’s simply a measure designed to facilitate the country’s reconstruction after seven years of civil war.
In this April 12, 2016 file picture taken with a slow shutter speed, clouds hover over the capital city of Damascus, Syria. A new Syrian law empowering the government to confiscate property is threatening to leave refugees stuck in Europe with no homes to return to. (AP Photo)
BERLIN: Mohammed swipes the screen on his smartphone and zooms in on a street map showing a neighborhood in Aleppo.“That’s my house, that’s where we lived,” said the Syrian refugee in Germany, before his smile turns sad. “This area belongs to the regime now.”
While fleeing with his family from the rockets and shells of Syria’s brutal civil war, the modest home Mohammed built with his life savings on the outskirts of Aleppo was never far from his mind — a tangible focus for the possibility of his eventual return. But a new law allowing the Syrian government to seize homes for redevelopment has raised Mohammed’s fears he’ll never be able to realize that dream. In Europe, the move has caused concern that without the incentive of property to return to, many Syrians will decide to stay forever.Some 800,000 Syrian refugees have streamed into Germany since the start of the 2011 civil war, according to government figures, and Germany has been counting on many to return home once the country is again safe. The innocuously named Law No. 10, passed in April, empowers authorities to confiscate property without compensating the owners or giving them an opportunity to appeal. The law has not yet gone into effect, but Chancellor Angela Merkel swiftly brought it up with Russian President Vladimir Putin during a meeting in May, urging him to use Moscow’s influence with Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad to change it.
“This is bad news for all of those who want to return to Syria one day,” Merkel told reporters after meeting Putin. “It would be a big barrier to return and it must be prevented.”
The change affects many beyond Germany. Some 5.6 million Syrians have fled their country since 2011 — most to other countries in the Middle East but also to Sweden, Austria and other European nations — and another 6.6 million have been displaced within the country, according to the UN’s refugee agency.
Critics maintain it gives Assad the means to keep opponents from returning and create neighborhoods of his supporters. The Syrian government insists it’s simply a measure designed to facilitate the country’s reconstruction after seven years of civil war.
“The law aims to protect the personal rights and properties of every Syrian citizen abroad or inside Syria,” Syrian Minister of National Reconciliation Ali Haidar told The Associated Press.
The issue reached the U.N. Security Council in August, when Syria’s ambassador to the U.N., Bashar Jaafari, broke from his planned speech to assure members his government had provided a detailed explanation of the purpose and goals of Law No. 10 that he said “clearly refutes all the doubts and fallacious claims.”
The law initially stated that Syrians had 30 days to prove ownership of properties in a designated redevelopment zone. If they didn’t, they lose their property without compensation, such as a share in any profits from redevelopment. After concerns were raised, Syria extended the period for people to prove ownership to one year, Haidar said, saying that should be “sufficient to confirm ownership of the property.” It’s still not clear when appropriations might begin, and the issue has left people like Mohammed wondering what to do. “Many people have houses, land and other assets, and they fled the country because of the war,” said Mohammed, who asked that his last name not be used for fear of reprisals against his family in Syria. “And how are they supposed to come back now?”
Dominik Bartsch, a representative for the U.N.’s refugee agency in Germany, said it is hard to estimate how many Syrians might be affected by the decree, but said his office has received numerous inquiries. People are puzzled, he said, asking “What does this mean? How do we have to deal with this?”
Human Rights Watch, which has criticized the plan as “a major obstacle to returning home for displaced residents,” said there are numerous obstacles preventing Syrians from asserting claims to their property. Among other things, many fought against or otherwise opposed the Assad regime and fear for their safety if they try and return so soon. Others are currently unable to leave their adoptive countries due to asylum restrictions, said Sara Kayyali, a Beirut-based Syria researcher for Human Rights Watch.
Many Syrians also lack the identification and registration documents that would allow relatives to make claims on their behalf. According to Human Rights Watch, only about half of Syrian property was officially registered before the war — and many registration documents were destroyed during the seven years of fighting.Kayyali welcomed the news Syria was planning on extending the period allowing people to prove ownership, but said “the problems with Law 10 extend well beyond the duration of the time period.”Before the law, Mohammed had counted himself one of the lucky ones that his home wasn’t destroyed in the fighting. A year before the civil war broke out, Mohammed completed initial construction on his home, a single-story four-bedroom building on a 500-square meter (5,400-square foot) plot he bought after saving money from seven long years of grueling construction work in Dubai. He hoped that, as his sons grew up, they could add levels for their own apartments above.
“I consider the house to be my lifework,” he said. “There was so much time and energy I spent on building this house.”As the fighting spread, his home became a haven for his family, with more than 50 of his and his wife’s relatives cramming inside at one point, he said.
They first watched the war from afar as rockets streamed across the skies. As it moved closer, they sheltered in a neighbor’s basement for protection. Then in August, 2012, it got too close. An artillery shell fell on the street nearby where his children were playing — far enough away that they were not harmed but close enough that they were sprayed with dirt and rubble. The family fled to Dubai, then relocated to Turkey, and in 2015 finally moved to Germany where Mohammed is now training to be a bus driver.
He still dreams of his home in Syria, but said his main priority remains his wife and his four boys — the oldest 10 and the youngest born four months ago in Berlin. Though he didn’t fight against Assad, he expressed strong anti-regime opinions and fears that he won’t be able to return home to make any sort of a claim without landing in jail. His family members no longer live anywhere close, making it difficult for them to try and prove ownership on his behalf. “I’m not sad about the house, I’m sad about the effort,” he said, “But I’m thankful that my children are safe - because they were in a very dangerous situation in that house. You can make up for a house or money, but you can’t replace a child.”He said he also recognizes others have lost far more. “My house is worth what? $25,000? That’s not too much,” he said. “Yes, it was my life’s work. But it’s not much.”

US officials: Assad approved use of chemical weapons in Idlib
Daniel Salami and Reuters/Ynetnews/September 10/18
Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says that in last 72 hours 1,060 Russian and Syrian air and ground strikes have pounded rebel-held stronghold where residents are preparing for a possible chemical weapons attack. Syrian President Bashar Assad has approved the use of chlorine gas in an offensive against the country’s last major rebel stronghold, US officials said, suggesting another possible retaliatory US military strike as thousands try to escape the region in what could be a decisive battle in the seven-year-old war. According to sources, President Trump threatened to conduct a massive attack against Assad if he carries out a massacre in Idlib, the northwestern province that has become the last refuge for more than three million people and as many as 70,000 opposition fighters that the regime considers to be terrorists.In the last couple of days, more than 5,400 people have escaped their homes in Idlib and became refugees. According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, in the last 72 hours 1,060 Russian and Syrian air and ground strikes took place in the region.
At least 24 civilans have been killed during the 241 air strikes.
The Hama region has also been under attack, reports say.
The Syrian news agency SANA quoted a Russian defense ministry official, who said that, “the terrorists in Syria have developed an ability to use chemical weapons, and they receive technical and financial support from abroad. They are entrenched in Idlib and we have no choice but to react to their crimes.”General Joseph Dunford, US Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Saturday he had spoken to President Donald Trump about the possibility of attacking in Syria in case Assad's regime will use chemical weapons in Idlib.Dunford said during his visit to India that a decision has not yet been made on this matter, but that, “the president expects us to provide a military solution. We are in constant dialogue with him and update him regularly on developments and military options.”More than three million people live in the rebel-held area, with 70,000 of them being defined as terrorists by the Syrian government. Half of the residents living in the Idlib area are already displaced from other regions in Syria, or have moved to the region after agreements of surrender were reached in areas recaptured by Assad. The remaining residents stock up on food and dig shelters. Others turn to Turkey to prevent a military operation that will end in disaster. “We are preparing what we can— improvised masks we can put on our children’s faces in case we are attacked with chemical weapon,” said 20-year-old Hudeifa from a village in the Idlib vicinity. A special UN inquiry committee determined last April that a Syrian jet attacked Khan Shaykhun with chemical weapon. More than 80 people were killed. It has also been suggested that Syrian forces used chlorine and other chemical weapons more than twenty times since the civil war began in March 2011. Damascus and Moscow denied any use of a chemical measures, US and French officials warned Assad of using such weapons and threatened to retaliate. Russia renewed its attacks on Idlib last Tuesday after a 22-day break, during which the Syrian army continued to bomb the area.Iranian, Turkish and Russian leaders met during the weekend and discussed Syria's future once its civil war ends. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan insisted that there is no point in ceasingfire when the rebels are not included in future agreements. However, Turkey also objected Syrian and Russian attacks on Idlib and warned of a mass massacre. Tehran and Moscow continued to back Assad, and said that their forces will continue to aid the Syrian army in wiping out rebel forces backed by the West.
30,000 Flee in Syria as U.N. Fears Century's 'Worst' Crisis
Agencies/September 10/18/Violence in northwest Syria has displaced more than 30,000 people this month alone, the United Nations said Monday, warning that a looming assault could create the century's "worst humanitarian catastrophe."Idlib province and adjacent rural areas form the largest piece of territory still held by Syria's beleaguered rebels, worn down by a succession of government victories in recent months. President Bashar al-Assad has now set his sights on Idlib, and his forces have stepped up bombardment of the densely populated province since the beginning of the month. That has prompted an estimated 30,452 people to be displaced within Idlib and parts of adjacent Hama province between September 1 and 9, the U.N.'s humanitarian coordination agency (OCHA) said Monday. "We're deeply concerned about this recent escalation of violence, which has resulted in the displacement of over 30,000 in the area. That's something we're monitoring very closely," OCHA spokesman David Swanson told AFP. Many made a dash for Syria's northern border with Turkey, with just under half seeking refuge in displacement camps and others living with local families or renting apartments.
An AFP correspondent in Idlib has seen dozens of displaced families head towards the frontier in recent days to escape bombing elsewhere. On Monday, on the main highway running across the province, men on motorbikes headed north with their children on foot, herding dozens of sheep.
'We escaped'
Abu Jassim said he and his family were fleeing the latest bombardment near the southern town of Khan Sheikhun, after already having been displaced several times within the province due to the war. "They hit with four rockets so we escaped with our flock", he said. "We go wherever it's safe," said the man in his 30s. "I have 30 sheep. Every day, I need water, hay and bran to feed them." The U.N. has said as many as 800,000 people could be displaced by a regime assault on Idlib and surrounding areas. Some three million people live in the zone now, about half of them already displaced by the brutal seven-year war and others heavily dependent on humanitarian aid to survive. For weeks, regime troops backed by Russia and Iran have massed around Idlib's periphery, with deadly air strikes, shelling, and barrel bombs particularly building up in recent days. Two children were killed in heavy barrel bomb attacks on a village in Idlib's south Sunday, a day after 10 civilians died in shelling across the rebel zone, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group said. Syria's conflict has killed more than 350,000 people and forced millions more out of their homes, but the U.N. has warned a full-blown attack on Idlib could bring unprecedented suffering. On Monday, its humanitarian chief made an urgent appeal. "There needs to be ways of dealing with this problem that don't turn the next few months in Idlib into the worst humanitarian catastrophe with the biggest loss of life in the 21st century," Mark Lowcock told reporters in Geneva.
Hospitals hit
He acknowledged that there were many rebels and fighters from "terrorist" groups in the province, but stressed that "there are 100 civilians, most of them women and children, for every fighter in Idlib". Idlib is mostly controlled by Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) -- an alliance spearheaded by powerful jihadists once linked to al-Qaida. Its population ballooned as the regime chalked up a series of victories across the country, reaching deals that saw tens of thousands of rebels and civilians bussed into Idlib. The escalating bombardment has already damaged civilian infrastructure. At least two hospitals and two centers running rescue operations for wounded people were put out of service by shelling and air strikes, according to the Britain-based Observatory and the Union of Medical Care and Relief Organizations, which backs medical centers in Syria. The conflict's three powerbrokers -- regime allies Russia and Iran and rebel backer Turkey -- agreed at a summit last week to "stabilize" Idlib, but few details emerged on how they would do. Delegations from the three countries will be in Geneva on Tuesday to meet the U.N.'s Syria envoy Staffan de Mistura. Moscow wants to keep rebels from using weaponized drones against Russian warplanes positioned nearby. Meanwhile Turkey, which already hosts three million Syrian refugees, is keen to prevent an assault that would see hundreds of thousands more mass along its border.
U.S. Threatens to Sanction ICC Judges
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/September 10/18/The United States threatened Monday to arrest and prosecute judges and other officials of the International Criminal Court if it moves to charge any American who served in Afghanistan with war crimes. White House National Security Advisor John Bolton called the Hague-based rights body "unaccountable" and "outright dangerous" to the United States, Israel and other allies, and said any probe of U.S. service members would be "an utterly unfounded, unjustifiable investigation.""If the court comes after us, Israel or other U.S. allies, we will not sit quietly," Bolton said.

Egypt security forces kill 11 suspected militants in Sinai
AFP/September 10, 2018/CAIRO: Egyptian security forces have killed 11 suspected militants in the Sinai Peninsula as they press a campaign against Islamist militants in the area, a security source said Monday. The military launched a sweeping operation in February focused on the Sinai in eastern Egypt aimed at wiping out militants, including from the Daesh group, who have been waging a bloody insurgency. “Eleven terrorist elements were killed in an exchange of fire” with security forces in El-Arish, the capital of North Sinai province, the security source said.
The militants were in an abandoned petrol station “preparing terrorist acts” against security forces, the source added. militants launched an insurgency in Egypt after the 2013 ouster of Islamist president Muhammad Mursi, forced out by the military in the face of mass protests against his rule. Hundreds of police and soldiers have since been killed in militants attacks. The military says around 300 suspected jihadists and at least 35 soldiers have been killed since the February launch of the “Sinai 2018” operation. The press is not allowed to travel freely in the area although the military organized a rare visit to El-Arish for foreign media in July. Rights groups have repeatedly warned of the dangers the Sinai campaign poses for the area’s civilian population. Human Rights Watch said in an April report the military push had left “up to 420,000 people in four cities in the northeast” of the peninsula in “urgent” need of humanitarian assistance. The army insists the local population supports the campaign and receives adequate humanitarian assistance.

Kosovo suspends activities of Qatar Charity Foundation

Arab News/September 10, 2018/DUBAI: Authorities in Kosovo have suspended the activities of the Qatar Charity Foundation in a move that serves as a new proof of Doha’s use of the “charity” front to cover its illegal activities and its financing of terrorism. The Kosovo NGO Department has taken the decision to suspend the activities of the Organization, as the alleged activities of the foundation are in conflict with the security interests of the Republic of Kosovo, according to the French site Salut. Qatar claims its charity is committed to the laws of the countries it operates in, especially poor or armed conflicts, but has long used such institutions to launder money and finance terrorism.

Canada's arms deal with Saudi Arabia is shrinking
CBC/September 10/18
A Canadian defence contractor will be selling fewer armoured vehicles to Saudi Arabia than originally planned, according to new documents obtained by CBC News.
That could be a mixed blessing in light of the ongoing diplomatic dispute between the two countries, say human rights groups and a defence analyst. The scaled-back order — implemented before the Riyadh government erupted in fury over Canada's public criticism of Saudi Arabia's arrest of activists and froze new trade with Canada this summer — could make it politically less defensible for the Liberal government, which has argued it's in the country's business and economic interests to uphold the deal. The documents show General Dynamic Land Systems Canada, the London, Ont.-based manufacturer, was — as of spring last year — going to deliver only 742 of the modern LAV-6s, a reduction from the original 2014 deal. The initial order from the desert kingdom was for 928 vehicles, including 119 of the heavy assault variety equipped with 105 millimetre cannons. Details of the agreement have long been kept under a cloak of secrecy. General Dynamic Land Systems, the Canadian Commercial Corporation (the Crown corporation which brokered the deal) and the Saudi government have all refused to acknowledge the specifics, other than the roughly $15 billion price tag. Last spring, CBC News obtained copies of internal documents and a slide deck presentation from 2014 outlining the original agreement. The latest internal company documents obtained by CBC News are dated March 29, 2017, and indicate the agreement had been amended a few months prior, perhaps in the latter half of 2016. The documents also indicate delivery of the vehicles is already underway and has been for months. CBC News asked for a response from both Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland's office and General Dynamics Land Systems Canada. Both declined comment over the weekend..
A cash-strapped kingdom
A defence analyst said the amended order likely has more to do with the current state of Saudi Arabia's finances than its frustration over Canada's human rights criticism. "Saudi Arabia — in part because of low oil prices and in part because of corruption and mismanagement of its own economy — has a large budget deficit," said Thomas Juneau, a University of Ottawa assistant professor and former National Defence analyst. "Spending $15 billion over a number of years for armoured vehicles that it doesn't need that much, at least in a pressing sense, is an easier target for budget cuts, for sure." The kingdom has projected a budget deficit of $52 billion US this year and the country's finance minister said last spring it is on track to cut spending by seven per cent. When it was signed, the armoured vehicle deal was a way for Canada to cement relations with an important strategic partner in the region, said Juneau.
Should Ottawa cancel the sale?
He said he wonders if it's still worthwhile, in light of the furious diplomatic row that began over the Canadian government's tweeted expressions of concern for jailed activists — and quickly escalated with the expulsion of Canada's ambassador, the freezing of trade, the cancellation of grain shipments and the withdrawal of Saudi medical students from Canadian programs. "Now, with the dust not really having settled after the dispute from August, is that partnership, in abstract terms, still necessary? I think it is. But is it still possible?" said Juneau. Human rights groups say they believe there is even more reason for Ottawa to walk away from the deal now, given the events of this summer and the declining economic benefit. "We're compromising our position on human rights for even less than we thought," said Cesar Jaramillo, the executive director of Project Ploughshares, which has opposed the agreement from the outset. "Even if it's not a huge decrease, it is still a decrease. It should, at least in political and economic terms, make it easier for the Trudeau government to reconsider this deal, especially in terms of the latest diplomatic spat."
Spain's example
Spain's defence ministry has cancelled sales of laser-guided bombs to Saudi Arabia because of concerns over the kingdom's prosecution of the war in Yemen — something human rights groups have pointed to as an example of an arms deal with the Saudis being reversed.
The Trudeau government put a temporary hold on the export permits for the vehicles while it conducted a review following the release of video last year which purportedly showed Canadian light armoured vehicles being used by Saudi security forces against militants in the Shia-populated eastern part of the kingdom. Alex Neve, the general secretary of Amnesty International Canada, said the Liberal government took a "principled stand and demonstrated real leadership" by not backing down in the diplomatic row. "It's hard to square that with our willingness to continue to proceed with this particular deal, which has direct potential to have such horrific human rights consequences on the ground," he said.
5 people were killed and 250 wounded, included 62 military personnel, during the Basra protests in September.
Baghdad - Asharq Al-Awsat/Monday, 10 September, 2018/D
Despite calm returning to Iraq’s Basra on Sunday, following a wave of violent demonstrations that saw the torching of the Iranian Consulate and government buildings, there are fears of the possibility of renewed protests. The popular rallies are expected to become more severe and could lead to a government campaign of arrests targeting prominent social and civil activists. Addressing the concerns, the US Embassy in Baghdad issued a new security warning, calling on its consular staff in Basra to restrict their movements in the southern city. “There is fear, and we expect a major campaign of arrests will be launched against prominent us,” said activist Kazim Sahlani. “But the situation in Basra can not tolerate the harassment of activists,” he told Asharq Al-Awsat. “We warned authorities, parties and militias to avoid going after activists and to stop directing false accusations against demonstrators in hopes of tarnishing their reputation,” Sahlani said. State of Law Coalition head Nouri al-Maliki, during a meeting with Russia’s Ambassador to Iraq Maksim Maksimov, hinted at the possibility of prosecuting the demonstrators. “The developments in Basra were unfortunate, halting sabotage and arson is not enough, but there must be an open, formal and public inquiry to know what the protesters’ motives were,” a statement issued by Maliki’s office said. In turn, the local head of Iraq’s Human Rights Commission, Mahdi al-Tamimi, predicted that the rallies would erupt again if the federal government does not meet its commitments. However, he ruled out the possibility of the launch of a crackdown against the demonstrators.“Things are quiet in Basra, there is a heavy security presence, but the curfew has been lifted,” he told Asharq Al-Awsat. “Protesters responded to demands for stop demonstrations in order to give both the local and federal governments an opportunity to fix problems.”“Time and time again, the government promised to implement protester demands in July, August and once again today,” he said. “But nothing has happened in Basra so far, and if the government does not stick to its commitments, it will probably lead to disaster,” he added. He said 15 people were killed and 250 wounded, included 62 military personnel, during the Basra protests in September.
Iraq PM visits Basra after week of violence
AFP, Basra/Monday, 10 September 2018/Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi arrived Monday in Basra, the oil-rich southern city where protests over government neglect had escalated into deadly violence, his office said. After 12 protesters were killed and many of Basra's institutions torched last week, calm returned to the city late Saturday as Abadi’s political rivals in Baghdad announced their intention to form Iraq’s next government without him. Protests first broke out in July in oil-rich Basra province before spreading to other parts of the country, as demonstrators demanded jobs and condemned corruption among Iraqi officials. Anger in Basra flared on Tuesday over a growing health crisis, after more than 30,000 people were hospitalized by pollution in the city's water supply. Since then, protesters have flooded the streets, clashing with security forces and torching the provincial headquarters, the Iranian consulate and the offices of armed groups. Twelve protesters have been killed in the clashes, with rights groups accusing security forces of using excessive force. Officials have blamed the deaths and violence on “vandals” who infiltrated the demonstrators. Abadi has scrambled to defuse the anger. In July, authorities had already pledged a multi-billion dollar emergency plan to revive infrastructure and services in southern Iraq following the first wave of protests. On Saturday, his government announced it would allocate an unspecified amount of extra funds for Basra. But demonstrators were unimpressed, saying the billions of dollars pledged in July have failed to materialize.

Iraq’s Sistani: Politicians from past years should not try for prime minister
Staff writer, Al Arabiya EnglishMonday, 10 September 2018/Iraq’s Supreme Shiite spiritual leader Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani’s office released a statement that he was not supportive of “politicians who have been in authority in the past years” nominating themselves the becoming the country’s next prime minister. In a statement released on Monday, Sistani’s office said earlier reports that he had rejected specific individuals for the position of prime minister were inaccurate and cited his agreement with Iraqi constitution that dictates the largest parliamentary bloc with right to name a candidate. “From here, rejection hasn’t been expressed by the religious Marja. It didn’t name any individuals to a certain side concerning the matter, but multiple sides which communicated with it [the Marja] — directly or indirectly — was told that it doesn’t support the next prime minister if it is chosen from the politicians who have been in authority in the past years, without distinguishing between the party individuals or the independents,” the statement published on Sistani’s website read. Earlier in the day, Sabah al-Saedi, an official in the Sairoon Alliance that is part of the Reform and Construction Bloc, said he was “officially” informed that top Shiite cleric Ali al-Sistani refuses five of the proposed names for the premiership, including Haider al-Abadi. Saedi said that Sistani informed the Iranian negotiator in a meeting in Najaf that Haider al-Abadi, Nouri al-Maliki, Hadi al-Amiri, Falih Alfayyadh and Tariq Najm “have no luck” in holding a premiership post in the next Iraqi cabinet.

The Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on September 10-11/18
Turkey: Torture, Sexual Abuse Rampant in Prisons
Uzay Bulut/Gatestone Institute/September 10/18
Inmates in a jail in Şanlıurfa in southeast Turkey tell of the plight of 27-year-old Uğur Yeloğlu, who they say has been isolated and tortured so badly since his imprisonment seven months ago that his level of functioning is like that of a baby.
Yeloğlu was arrested in Istanbul in January for allegedly "aiding a terrorist organization." His lawyer, Abdülkadir Aslan, said that in spite of the many months his client has been in jail, his indictment has not yet been prepared by prosecutors: "The investigation file is also marked 'confidential,' so we do not know what it contains."
"Prisoners are beaten up and sometimes killed, when they refuse to roll-call standing up, give military salute, reject strip searches, or ask to see a doctor." — Report by the opposition Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP).
Torture and other forms of unlawful abuse are increasingly widespread in Turkish jails and prisons, under the rule of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. (Photo by Getty Images)
In the early 2000s, after the Justice and Development Party (AKP) first came to power in Turkey, its leader, then Prime Minister (now President) Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, proclaimed a policy of "zero tolerance" for torture.
In June of this year, Turkish Justice Minister Abdulhamit Gül repeated the same mantra. "We -- as the AKP government -- are implementing a policy of zero tolerance for torture," he said.
Statements by many prisoners, their lawyers and human-rights defenders, however, tell a much different story; victim and witness accounts reveal that torture and other forms of unlawful abuse are increasingly widespread in Turkish jails and prisons. Inmates in a jail in Şanlıurfa in southeast Turkey, for example, tell of the plight of 27-year-old Uğur Yeloğlu, who they say has been isolated and tortured so badly since his imprisonment seven months ago that his level of functioning is like that of a baby. He has apparently lost his memory and is unable to walk, or even eat, on his own. In addition, these inmates said, the prison's healthcare staff are lax in their treatment of him.
Yeloğlu was arrested in Istanbul in January for allegedly "aiding a terrorist organization." His lawyer, Abdülkadir Aslan, said that in spite of the many months his client has been in jail, his indictment has not yet been prepared by prosecutors. "We have officially appealed to authorities for my client to be transferred to a full-fledged hospital," Aslan said. "But we have not received a response yet. The investigation file is also marked 'confidential,' so we do not know what it contains."
Opposition MP Tuma Çelik of the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) submitted a motion on behalf of Yeloğlu to Justice Minister Gül, which said, in part:
"Is it true that Yeloğlu is exposed to torture and mistreatment? Has the ministry started an investigation into these allegations? Will authorities provide a response to his lawyer's request to place him in a hospital due to his deteriorating health? What are the legal grounds for having kept him in solitary confinement?"
Gül has yet to respond.
Yeloğlu is one of many prisoners and other detainees accused of having ties to organizations, such as the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), and what the Turkish government now calls "Fethullahist Terrorist Organization (FETO)," followers of the US-based Muslim cleric, Fethullah Gülen, whom Erdoğan accuses of having orchestrated the failed military coup attempt in July 2016.
According to a 2017 report by Human Rights Watch (HRW):
"People in Turkey accused of links with terrorism or with the 2016 military coup attempt have been tortured in police custody, while others have been abducted, amidst growing evidence of detention abuses.
"Several lawyers told Human Rights Watch that their clients told them of torture or showed them physical evidence. But they said that many victims are afraid to complain, fearing reprisals against their family members. In one case Human Rights Watch documented, the former head of a preschool told a court at length at his trial in February that police had beaten and threatened him with sexual assault and rape to make him 'confess' his involvement with 'FETÖ.' Six other men on trial with him made similar assertions."
Although such prisoners or detainees are accused of terrorism-related offenses, the United Nations Human Rights Committee expressed concern as early as 2012 that several provisions of the Turkish Anti-terrorism Law are incompatible with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, citing:
"(a) the vagueness of the definition of a terrorist act; (b) the far-reaching restrictions imposed on the right to due process; (c) the high number of cases in which human rights defenders, lawyers, journalists and even children are charged under the Anti-Terrorism Law for the free expression of their opinions and ideas, in particular in the context of non-violent discussions of the Kurdish issue."
In November 2017, the Diyarbakır Bar Association released a report on human rights violations at prisons in Elazığ and Şanlıurfa, according to which, among other things, "female prisoners are exposed to violence, including sexual violence, and child prisoners are battered. A transsexual prisoner was sexually assaulted by wardens."
Attorney Öykü Çakmak, a member of the Prison Watch Commission, said that the most fundamental rights violations at prisons included "physical and psychological pressures, sexual violence, mistreatment and torture." In addition, she added:
"The prisoners' right to health is restricted. Cameras are placed in common use areas in rooms. Warm water is not regularly provided. Disciplinary punishments, which are more severe than those specified in the rules and regulations, are arbitrarily imposed on the prisoners. Prisoners are forcibly frisked naked before they are taken to other prisons, hospitals or courts. They are handcuffed during their treatment at hospitals. Bans on their communication with their families and visitors are commonplace, and their access to books, magazines and newspapers is often precluded."
In the Diyarbakır Bar Association's February 2018 report on human rights violations at a prison in Elazığ that "a special team of wardens was formed for torturing prisoners."
Another member of the Prison Watch Commission, Attorney Önder Alçiçek, said:
"The prisoners are battered and tortured when they refuse to stand single file, as if in a military formation. A special team of wardens beats the prisoners, insults and threatens them with death and rips up their possessions. The prisoners said they have no security and are not allowed to go to the prison's hospital to receive medical attention."
Alçiçek added that all the prisoners that members of the Commission saw had signs of beatings on their bodies.
Meanwhile, Barış Yarkadaş, an MP from the opposition Republican People's Party (CHP), presented a parliamentary motion to Justice Minister Gül, stating:
"On February 26, 2018, at Tekirdağ T-type prison, about 50 wardens laid five prisoners on the floor and tied their hands and feet. One was then taken to a 'sponge room' [cells named for the yellow foam that pads their interiors] and was kept waiting there with his hands tied. His hands and feet started getting numb and he felt pain on his head because he was kicked in the head. He was taken out of the room after an hour and a half."
Yarkadas added that many other prisoners suffered similar fates. "Torture has become systematic," he said. "It is not isolated."
The speaker of Turkey's Grand National Assembly (parliament), İsmail Kahraman, rejected Yarkadaş's motion, however, claiming that it "contained personal opinions and the questions in it concerned private lives."
Yarkadas then said:
"This answer means that they [members of the government] are protecting and encouraging torturers instead of confronting them. Kahraman rejects all motions regarding torture and mistreatment. He does not want to document any of the torture experienced under AKP rule. He thinks he can hide facts by covering up torture. But the reality of torture is crystal clear and continues to hurt people."
According to a report on the news website Haberdar, university and high school students have been similarly treated. There are currently around 70,000 students in Turkish prisons, and many of them do not even know what they are accused of, since their lawyers are not allowed to see their indictments.
The mother of one such youth told the newspaper Evrensel that her 18-year-old son, who has been in jail for eight months, was tortured in rooms where there are no security cameras. She said that in August 2017, a group of 30-40 wardens attacked her son and two other boys at Maltepe prison in Istanbul. "My son passed out due to the beatings," she said. "When he woke up, he noticed he was handcuffed behind the back. He showed me the bruises all over his body; he had difficulty raising his right arm; he said he was hit hard on his ear; and he had pain in his ribs."
She also said that she was not allowed to exchange letters with her son and that it is hard to obtain information about his and other prisoners' health. Meanwhile, she added, although her son has appeared in court three times over the past eight months, nobody has been able to provide a convincing explanation as to why he is in jail.
Another mother, two of whose children are in prison, told Evrensel:
"We cannot see prosecutors. They tell us the case files were classified as confidential. The wardens act as if we are criminals. They say, 'If your kids are good, why are they here?' They often impose bans on visiting our children..."
On March 2, the opposition Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) issued an "urgent call" about Turkish prisons, which it claims "have evolved into torture centers," and reported that charges of "terrorism" by the government are lodged at "almost any dissident voice -- politicians, members of parliament, mayors, activists, human rights advocates, trade unionists, journalists, intellectuals, academics and the like." The HDP report stated, in part:
"In February 2018, alarming news about the torture of prisoners have come from many prisons across the country. In some prisons torture and ill treatment have peaked and become routinized... Prisoners are physically abused on a regular basis. Prisoners are beaten up and sometimes killed, when they refuse to roll-call standing up, give military salute, reject strip searches, or ask to see a doctor.
"The most recent dreadful death was that of Ulaş Yurdakul, a Kurdish man who was sleeping on a mat under the stairs due to lack of space. Prisoners and prison guards beat him up regularly. Eventually, he was beaten to death."
The report also decried the government's recent decision to impose uniforms on prisoners charged with terrorism, claiming that if this is implemented, "it is most likely that Turkey's prisons will become extremely tense spaces of violence, torture and death. Political prisoners have expressed strong commitment to resisting this decision."
The HDP's "urgent call" was addressed to "the international institutions, including the United Nations, the European Parliament, the European Commission and their rapporteurs on torture and human rights; the political parties from the world; and embassies to urgently take action against alarming levels of torture and ill treatment in Turkish prisons."
For the sake of the victims of torture and abuse in Turkish jails and prisons, let us hope that those institutions heed this desperate appeal and hold the Erdoğan government accountable.
*Uzay Bulut, a journalist from Turkey, is a Distinguished Senior Fellow at Gatestone Institute. She is currently based in Washington D.C.
© 2018 Gatestone Institute. All rights reserved. The articles printed here do not necessarily reflect the views of the Editors or of Gatestone Institute. No part of the Gatestone website or any of its contents may be reproduced, copied or modified, without the prior written consent of Gatestone Institute.

Why Did the Clintons Share the Stage with Farrakhan?

Alan M. Dershowitz/Gatestone Institute/September 10/18
But the "shoe on the other foot" question remains: would he [Former President William Jefferson Clinton] have acted similarly if it had been [David] Duke rather than [Louis] Farrakhan?
Farrakhan is at least as bigoted as Duke. This is a man who only last year called Jews members of the "Synagogue of Satan" and claimed that Jesus called the Jews "the children of the devil." Farrakhan is also a homophobe, claiming that "Jews [are] responsible for all of this filth and degenerate behavior that Hollywood is putting out turning men into women and women into men."
There are not "good people" on the side of anti-Semitism, any more than there are "good people" on the side of white supremacy. There is no place for a double standard when it comes to anti-Semitism. Black anti-Semitism should not get a pass on account of the oppression suffered by so many Black people; neither should "progressive" tolerance of anti-Semitism of the kind shown by Bernie Sanders' support for Jeremy Corbyn, the anti-Semite who heads the British Labour Party and may well become the next prime minister of America's closest ally.
Imagine President Trump being invited to speak at the funeral of a white singer whom he admired (say Ted Nugent, if he were to pass) and seeing that David Duke was on stage in a place of honor. Imagine the reaction of the media if President Trump actually gave a speech in the presence of David Duke. Well, President Clinton gave a speech in the presence of Louis Farrakhan. (Hillary Clinton was sitting off to the right, but did not speak.)
Why would President Clinton, a good man and a friend of the Jewish people, do this? There are several possible answers:
(1) He was taken by surprise at Farrakhan's presence and didn't want to do anything that would disrupt the service. But the "shoe on the other foot" question remains: would he have acted similarly if it had been Duke rather than Farrakhan?
(2) Clinton doesn't believe that refusing to sit alongside a bigot is the proper response to bigotry. Again the shoe on the other foot question: would he sit alongside Duke?
(3) Clinton doesn't regard Farrakhan as comparable to Duke. But that is simply wrong: Farrakhan is a blatant anti-Semite with an enormous following.
(4) Farrakhan's anti-Semitism is not as serious a problem as Duke's white supremacy. But without getting into comparative assessments of bigotry, anti-Semitism is surely a serious and growing problem.
Farrakhan is at least as bigoted as Duke. This is a man who only last year called Jews members of the "Synagogue of Satan," and claimed that Jesus called the Jews "the children of the devil."
Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan. The minister with whom the Clintons shared the stage at Aretha Franklin's memorial service is at least as bigoted and anti-Semitic as white supremacist David Duke. Photo: Wikipedia.
Farrakhan is also a homophobe, claiming that "Jews [are] responsible for all of this filth and degenerate behavior that Hollywood is putting out turning men into women and women into men." In the past, Farrakhan delivered similar remarks claiming, "When you want something in this world, the Jew holds the door," and calling Hitler "a very great mean."
He is also a racist, claiming, "White people deserve to die."
Many younger people on the left may not know the extent of Farrakhan's bigotry, or they may condone it by claiming that he did a service to Black communities. For example, Tamika Mallory, co-founder of the Women's March, called Farrakhan "GOAT (greatest of all time)" and DNC deputy chair Keith Ellison also once called him "a role model for Black youth."
Earlier this year, a picture of Barack Obama smiling with Farrakhan emerged. (Although I supported Obama both in 2008 and 2012, I would not have campaigned as enthusiastically for him had I known then about this suppressed photograph.) Keith Ellison, who may become Minnesota's next attorney general, later distanced himself from Farrakhan but, like Mallory, claimed that Farrakhan's contribution to Black empowerment is "complex."
Would we accept this kind of complexity and nuance if a white singer's family had invited David Duke?
Liberals need to make unequivocally clear that the Democratic Party tent will never be big enough for anti-Semites and anti-Americans like Farrakhan (just as Republicans need to do the same with sympathizers of the so-called alt-right.) There are not "good people" on the side of anti-Semitism, any more than there are "good people" on the side of white supremacy. There is no place for a double standard when it comes to anti-Semitism. Black anti-Semitism should not get a pass on account of the oppression suffered by so many Black people; neither should "progressive" tolerance of anti-Semitism of the kind shown by Bernie Sanders' support for Jeremy Corbyn, the anti-Semite who heads the British Labour Party and may well become the next Prime Minister of America's closest ally.
Just contrast the Franklin memorial service with the current controversy surrounding the decision of The New Yorker to invite Stephen Bannon for what promised to be a critical conversation with the journalist David Remnick. After many prominent liberals, such as Judd Apatow, Jim Carrey and Patton Oswalt, announced that they would not attend lest they "normalize hatred," Bannon was disinvited. Chelsea Clinton tweeted: "For anyone who wonders what normalization of bigotry looks like, please look no further than Steve Bannon being invited by both @TheEconomist & @NewYorker to their respective events in #NYC a few weeks apart."
To that I would add, look no further than the Clintons sharing the stage with Farrakhan. I hope they will take this occasion to distance themselves from, and strongly condemn, Farrakhan's anti-Semitism.
*Alan M. Dershowitz is the Felix Frankfurter Professor of Law Emeritus at Harvard Law School and author of The Case Against Impeaching Trump, Skyhorse publishing, 2018.
*A version of this first appeared in The Hill.
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Kurds crucial to Turkey-US cooperation in Syria

Yasar Yakis/Arab News/September 10/18
Turkey and the US have several overlapping interests in Syria. They both wanted to get rid of Bashar Assad and they cooperated in the fight against Daesh, but this was not a success story as Washington preferred to work with the Kurdish fighters of the People’s Protection Units (YPG) rather than with Turkey.
The US worked intensively with the YPG during the anti-Daesh fight and it believes, therefore, that Kurds are battle-tested, efficient and reliable partners.
What caused the resentment in Turkey was not only this cooperation, but also the supply of arms and equipment to the YPG. Ankara is aware of the ulterior motive behind Washington’s Kurdish policy: The US wants to use the YPG as leverage to have a stronger negotiating position in the period that will see the transition to democracy in Syria.
Ankara perceived the US-YPG cooperation as Washington’s betrayal of an ally that has the second-biggest army in NATO and makes available its defense facilities close to the most unstable region in the world.
Despite a semblance of common goals, there are fundamental differences between the interests of these two countries. As far as Syria is concerned, the Kurdish issue constitutes the major bone of contention. Kurds want to capitalize on the opportunity created by the Syrian crisis to promote their cause for further decentralization, the establishment of cantons in the north of the country, regional autonomy within Syrian territory, and perhaps eventual independence in the long run.
Ankara is aware of the ulterior motive behind Washington’s Kurdish policy
There are several reasons for the US to support the Kurds. First, the Kurds are the largest community in the world that does not have an independent state, with a total population estimated to be between 35 and 42 million. Sizeable Kurdish communities live in Turkey, Iraq, Iran and Syria. All these countries constitute an attractive target for superpowers — especially the US and Russia, who wish to shape this region in line with their national interests.
Second is the role that Kurds could play in the Syrian crisis. They have already declared autonomous cantons in the northeast of the country — Jazira, Kobane and Afrin, although Afrin was later overrun by the Turkish army. They are negotiating cooperation with Damascus and, if they agree, the Kurdish fighters may be deployed in Idlib against all sorts of armed opposition factions operating in the province.
Third is the security of Israel. Kurds are trying to portray the most secular behavior in the region; they display a policy different from the Arab countries regarding Israel. The US may see a potential Kurdish state in the region as a counterweight to the Arab countries that encircle Israel.
There are fundamental differences in Turkey’s Kurdish policy to that of the US. Turkey is opposed to the promotion of the Kurdish cause firstly because the Kurds may resort to ethnic cleansing, as they allegedly did three years ago in Kobane, and oust Turkmen and Arabs from their homelands. Secondly, a Kurdish entity would cut Turkey off from Syrian territory. And thirdly it may set an example for Turkey’s Kurds to seek their own autonomy.
Turkish-US cooperation in Manbij has not progressed as smoothly as Ankara was expecting, because the US is dragging its feet in implementing the road map agreed three months ago. The Kurds may be protesting to the US about their expulsion from a city that they captured from Daesh.
Despite these legitimate worries, Turkey has to understand that the Kurdish cause will evolve steadily, even if it disturbs Ankara.
At the Tehran summit on Friday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan raised the question of a Kurdish entity’s emergence to the east of the Euphrates under the protection of the US. Washington wishes to keep the Kurdish-held areas in the northeast of Syria, which harbors an important part of Syria’s oil and water resources. The US may also be seeking an opportunity to declare a no-fly zone in these areas, just like the one it operated in northern Iraq in 1991. This would be a nightmare for Turkey because such a step would be the beginning of the creation of an autonomous Kurdish region in the north of Syria.
Iran may have supported Turkey in the summit because it would not like to see any American protege in the region. In addition, Iran would not like to see any Kurdish entity formed because this may provoke similar aspirations for Iranian Kurds.
Russia may not be willing to give priority to the Kurdish issue when the Idlib problem is entering a precarious stage, but it would not like to see a US-supported entity in Syria either.
The emergence of a Kurdish entity in the north of Syria is a red line for Turkey. What it can do to prevent such an outcome remains to be seen.
*Yasar Yakis is a former foreign minister of Turkey and founding member of the ruling AK Party. Twitter: @yakis_yasar

How Real News Is Worse Than Fake News
Tyler Cowen/Bloomberg/September 10/18
As problematic as “fake news” is, and as dangerous as the label can be, maybe “true news” is equally corrosive. The contemporary world is giving us more reality and more truth than we can comfortably handle — and that, as much as the lack of a common enemy since the end of the Cold War, may explain the decline of the liberal world order that I lamented in a recent column.
Fake news, after all, has been with us for a long time, whether in the form of overly optimistic dispatches from the Vietnam War or reports of Paul McCartney’s death. And that’s not counting the under- or unreported stories we now know to be true, on such things as Kennedy’s affairs, Johnson’s corruption or Reagan’s dementia.
Back then, you couldn’t even Google the right answer — yet somehow we coped. What we did have, at least in America and most of the West, was a relatively well-centered culture, rich in the humanities, which gave people perspective and a series of unifying national “myths.” Even if America never was quite the land of the free and the home of the brave, it helped that most people believed it was.
Fast forward to the current day. Probably the single biggest change in American life has been a dramatic decline in the cost and inconvenience of getting information. On just about every topic, it is possible to get access to virtually every possible point of view, usually at zero marginal cost.
And the truest, biggest news concerns the failings of our elites. I am not referring just to US elites. Whatever specific failings they may have, there is a more general problem with elites: They are held responsible for the success or failure of the larger society. This is not always fair, because business cycles are hard to forecast or prevent, foreign affairs do not always go well, and bad luck can scuttle the best of plans. But today’s elite no longer have the cultural shield that once made it harder for outsiders to take a crack at them, however good or bad you may consider those elites to be.
The world of the internet — fundamentally a world of information — is reporting on the failures of the elites 24/7. And while pretty much every opinion is available, some have more resonance than others. Is it not the case that, post-2008, most people really are skeptical of the ability of American elites to prevent the next financial crisis? Going even further back, I recall the optimism surrounding the Mideast peace talks of the 1970s or the Oslo accords of the 1990s. Hardly anyone honest has the same positive feelings about today’s efforts at peace talks.
Again, these impressions are based on actual information. An informed populace, however, can also be a cynical populace, and a cynical populace is willing to tolerate or maybe even support cynical leaders. The world might be better off with more of that naïve “moonshot” optimism of the 1960s.
There is another way that this surfeit of information harms the reputation of elites. Say you discover Brilliant Person X and want more exposure to X’s brilliant ideas, to improve your knowledge and understanding of the world. So you decide to follow X on Twitter — and discover that X is not, in fact, impressive in every respect, and perhaps harbors some partisan prejudices too. It’s not quite that you have discovered that the emperor has no clothes. But perhaps you have noticed that he (or she) is missing a few critical garments.
As virtually everyone is unmasked, journalists move along the same cynical path. Through social media, they learn what readers really think of their work, and sometimes find it “glib, disingenuous, mocking, cruel, pedantic, self-righteous, [and] derogatory.” It’s hard to stay idealistic these days, as information indeed is the enemy of idealism.
Instead of today’s swamp of negativism, do you not instead long for a few rousing hymns, a teary rom-com happy ending, a non-ironic exhibit of wonderful American landscape paintings? Yet all these cultural forms are largely on the wane.
If you doubt that truth itself is the problem, just ask yourself: How much would it demoralize you to read the truth about yourself, all day long? Even if most (but not all) of those reports were positive? Pretty demoralizing, I’d bet. That, in a nutshell, is the predicament of the West.

From September 11 to the Russian Leader
Ghassan Charbel/Asharq Al Awsat/September 10/18
Time is a fast-running thief. Suddenly events become far and surrounded with fog. But the world today cannot but remember the attacks of September 11, 2001, which shook international relations, uprooted regimes and left many people dead. It was an incredible day in the life of America and the world. It was an expensive day in the Middle East that gave birth to Al-Qaeda and later ISIS.
On that day, it did not occur to Saddam Hussein that he would later join the list of victims. Moammar al-Gaddafi was confident of his non-involvement, as he had abandoned the game of harassing American imperialism. King Abdullah II was flying over the Atlantic on his way to the United States. He soon realized that the day would be a turning point in America’s relations with the world. Ali Abdullah Saleh did not believe the initial reports and then realized what had happened. When he saw the first plane hit the tower, Massoud Barzani thought the television was showing an ordinary movie, but the second plane pushed him to follow the news.
At that time, the name of the Iranian president was Mohammad Khatami and talk of the “Iranian crescent” was not yet on the table. Pervez Musharraf had to prepare Pakistan to deal with the approaching earthquake. The name of the Lebanese President was Emile Lahoud. And the name of the prime minister was Rafik al-Hariri. Samir Geagea was in prison and Michel Aoun was in exile. Bashar al-Assad was celebrating his first year of tenure and had not visited Iran.
The US empire punished those who targeted the symbols of its success and prestige and expanded the circle of chastisement. The body of Osama bin Laden was lost in the ocean. Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi made the disaster and disappeared after losing his “state” and strongholds. But what’s strange is that idea of targeting the World Trade Center by a civilian plane was not made by bin Laden.
Notorious Venezuelan terrorist, Carlos, followed that day’s developments from his French prison. “I cannot describe that wonderful feeling of satisfaction.” In a letter he sent to those who imprisoned him, he said: “In the spring of 1991, after the air attacks that caused enormous destruction in Iraq, I attended an exciting meeting of cadres of anti-imperialist organizations of various sects and ideologies, in which spontaneous and unofficial statements were made on the need to respond with bombings in the United States. Shaheed Murtaza Bhutto, the secretary general of the Pakistani Zulfikar organization, put forward the idea of hitting the World Trade Center in New York by plane, and not only focusing on the obvious targets in Washington.”
The September 11 attacks were intended to ignite the lines of confrontation between the West and the Muslim world and create an unprecedented rift in US-Saudi relations. The purpose was also to trap the US military into a war in the rugged terrain in Afghanistan. Bin Laden had a dream of seeing the US military withdraw from Afghanistan with great losses, as what happened with the Soviet Red Army. But bin Laden certainly underestimated the strength of the American military machine and the extent to which the world rejected terrorism.
Since the day of the attacks and to this date, the Middle East has lived a series of storms that have torn up maps and countries, shook balances and changed features: the war on Al-Qaeda; the invasion of Iraq and the fall of the wall that was preventing the flow of Iranian cinders in the region; the outbreak of the "Arab Spring" and the emergence of ISIS; the open Syrian wound, which also involved regional and international battles over a lake of blood.
Bin Laden’s planes did not succeed in toppling the international scene and its balances. Baghdadi were unable to take hold long enough to tear down the maps.
The great change will come from a different place and another dictionary and by a young intelligence officer who came out of the Soviet rubble. It is most likely that Boris Yeltsin did not know he was sending to the West an explosive belt.
On September 8, 1999, during a telephone conversation with President Bill Clinton about who would win the presidential election in Russia, Yeltsin replied that it would be Vladimir Putin. “I finally found him. He is the right person. I have studied his resume. He is democratic and understands well the West. I saw that he was a strong and solid man, who was well-informed about the various subjects under his administration,” he said. “At the same time, he has a comprehensive and strong vision, and he is a very social figure. He can secure good relations and communicate with various personalities. I’m sure you’ll see him as a very qualified partner.”
When the September 11 attacks took place, the Kremlin was ruled by Putin, who took office on the first day of this century. The man was catching his breath and trying to overcome the storms of disintegration from the Russian Federation and the winds of the scattering Red Army.
Western leaders had imagined that the new Russian president would accept the single superpower-world, only renovate the Russia state and announce the dream of belonging to the “common European house”.
Putin, however, had not forgiven the US for toppling the Soviet Union without firing a single bullet and for ignoring Yeltsin’s demands not to provoke Russia by sending NATO’s weapons to the vicinity of its borders. The man was deeply suspicious that the various revolutions were being plotted by the CIA. He first had to complete the stage of subjugating the generals, businessmen and the media so that the outside world would not have information about his house. This is what happened.
When his preparations were done, he used the Syrian war to launch a major coup. He annexed Crimea and reminded Ukraine of the importance of geography. He intervened military in Syria, tamed the Turkish position and reined in the Iranian stubbornness. He made himself a necessity for all the players.
At the recent Tehran summit with Erdogan and Rouhani, Putin seemed confident that Idlib would face the same fate of the other “de-escalation” zones. He went beyond his position of president and took on that of a leader, who did not feel compelled to pay heed to Erdogan in front of the microphones.
The world has changed. The September 11 attacks have become part of a distant past. We live today in the era of the Russian leader.

Why the US Economy Is Having a Boom
Noah Smith/Bloomberg/September 10/18
There’s no doubt that the US economy is in a boom. The Conference Board is reporting the highest levels of job satisfaction in more than a decade. This is probably because of a tight labor market — the ratio between the unemployment level and the number of job vacancies is at its lowest level in a half-century.
A broader measure, the prime-age employment-to-population ratio, is back to 2006 levels. Meanwhile, real gross domestic product growth for the second quarter was just revised up to 4.2 percent. Corporate profits are rising strongly. And investment as a percentage of the economy is at about the level of the mid-2000s boom.
Wages are still lagging. But all other indicators show the US economy performing as strongly as at any time since the mid-2000s — and possibly even since the late 1990s.
Which raises an interesting question: Why is this boom happening?
That’s an almost impossible question to answer. Fundamentally, economists don’t know why booms happen. It’s possible that there’s not even such a thing as a “boom” at all — that this is just how the economy works under normal circumstances, when there isn’t a recession or crisis to throw it off its game. But it is possible to identify some factors that might — with the emphasis on “might” — be contributing to the strength of this economic expansion.
The first is low interest rates. The Federal Reserve kept short-term rates at or near zero for almost a decade after the financial crisis, suppressing long-term rates in the process. That in turn lowered borrowing rates for corporations and mortgage borrowers, which tends to juice investment. Standard macroeconomic theories hold that low rates increase aggregate demand. Those theories also say that when interest rates are low, fiscal deficits provide an added boost to demand, and deficits have been rising as a result of President Donald Trump’s tax cuts.
These are what are known as demand-side explanations. Typically, it’s believed that goosing aggregate demand with fiscal and monetary policy will eventually lead to rising inflation. So far, it has risen very slightly but is far from alarming.
A third demand-side explanation is what John Maynard Keynes called animal spirits, and what modern-day economists call sentiment — potentially random fluctuations in the optimism and confidence of businesspeople and consumers. There is evidence to support this explanation — small business confidence is at record highs, and consumer confidence also is very strong.
A final demand-side explanation is that the current boom is simply the tail end of the long recovery from the Great Recession — consumers and businesses might finally be purchasing the houses and cars that they waited to buy when the recovery was still in doubt. Housing, traditionally the most important piece of business-cycle investment and consumption, is still looking weak, with housing starts below their 50-year average. But business investment might be experiencing the positive effects of stored-up demand.
There is also another category of potential explanations, known as supply-side factors. These are things that increase the long-term productive capacity of the economy. One such possibility is that Trump’s tax cuts removed distortions that held back business investment, and that fast growth — and the attendant low unemployment — is the result of the economy’s rapid shift to a higher level of efficiency. A second supply-side explanation is that the boom is being driven by technology. Information technology advances such as machine learning and cloud computing might be driving the investment boom — perhaps also spurring companies to invest in intangible assets such as brands and workers’ skills. Evidence says that this sort of technology-driven boom is rare, but it’s at least theoretically possible.
Of course, the boom could be due to none of these factors — or to causes that economists haven’t even identified yet. But as of now, these are the prime suspects. And although it’s very difficult to know, it matters how important each of these factors is, because that gives some insight into how the boom might end — and how it might be prolonged.
A demand-side boom probably will end of its own accord. If loose monetary and/or fiscal policy is driving up demand, then it will likely eventually cause inflation to accelerate, prompting a clampdown by the Fed. If animal spirits are responsible, it could lead to over-borrowing and an eventual debt crisis and crash — indeed, corporate debt is looking worrisome, as levels of risky debt rise and credit spreads narrow.
A supply-side boom, in contrast, is likely to moderate rather than crash. Any positive effect of tax cuts will eventually dissipate as the economy settles at its new steady state. A technological boom could peter out after a few years, or could even accelerate if new discoveries build on each other. If I were forced to pick one leading explanation for the boom, I would go with animal spirits. Exuberant business sentiment and the build-up of risky corporate debt seem indicative of good times that won’t last. Hopefully that guess will prove wrong.

And the preacher Obama has spoken
Mashari Althaydi/Al Arabiya/September 10/18
There is no doubt that American President Donald Trump is under a collective, fierce and diverse attack from the opposing liberal camp. His men and his Republican Party are also under a similar attack but at a lesser degree. All this aims to separate between him and his base of supporters.
The forms of this attack diversified as the midterm elections near, from writing books, of which the most prominent is the book by famous journalist Bob Woodward, to scandalous mysterious articles, of which the most prominent was the New York Times’ anonymous op-ed that’s attributed to an “alleged” senior official who overturned inside the Trump administration. Trump has called for an investigation into the source of the op-ed.
Truth is Trump wakes up every day to new battles by his “Obamaian” rivals, especially those from the Democratic camp. This is in addition to media smoke bombs and legal distractions
Obama’s mobilization attempts
And finally, there have been the statements and speeches of which the most prominent was that made by Barack Obama, the orator of orators, and the mouthpiece of the Democratic camp that has a leftist orientation. Obama, along with his tongue and body language are the sharpest weapons he and his group have. Last Saturday, Obama addressed people in California calling for mobilization to change the majority in the Congress and condemned what he described as Trump’s “politics of fear.” Speaking before a huge crowd in Anaheim, Obama said: “It's a consequential moment in our history. We have the chance to restore some sanity in our politics.”
Obama added that “people feel afraid” due to a series of bad issues such as the worsening of climate change! It’s a usual American liberal media, or rather a global approach, that puts all the world’s evils on Donald Trump’s character, methodology, administration and term. This speech by Obama was the second one in days after he delivered an address in Illinois flagrantly attacking and criticizing Trump.
The iron president who knows his rivals’ motives and style well did not miss the chance to respond to them and mock them. While visiting North Dakota, Trump mockingly responded to Obama’s statement saying: “I'm sorry, I watched it, but I fell asleep,” sparking laughter from the audience. He accused the former Democratic president of “trying to take credit for this incredible thing that’s happening to our country.”
Truth is Trump wakes up every day to new battles by his “Obamaian” rivals, especially those from the Democratic camp. This is in addition to media smoke bombs and legal distractions.
Who would rejoice in this vehement war against Trump’s era other than Obama and his movement, and other than the American left that’s represented in the media and celebrities?
Oh yes, then there is Iranian Supreme Leader Khamenei who invited his Russian guest Vladimir Putin to “curb” the current US. The entire “global” Khomeini network is working on that.
What nurtures this war and further ignites it is the global Muslim Brotherhood network, whether it’s wearing a mask or not and whether it’s an Arabic-speaking affiliate or foreign-speaking affiliate. Last but not least, there are the global leftist groups. What’s ironic is that it is this “triangle” that united to create and support the so-called Arab Spring in the past. It’s the great universal triangle, which is decorated with a smiling photo of the orator of orators, Illinois’ boy, Barack Hussein Obama.

Interreligious relations, looking for a common ground
Fahad Suleiman Shoqiran/Al Arabiya/September 10/18
Interreligious relationships constitute the subject of an ongoing debate in conferences and seminars, especially when there isn’t any international common ground for easing hostilities among the followers of world religions. Such discussions peaked in the latter part of the 20th century over conflicts and dialogues among civilizations and religions.
A large group of thinkers such as Bernard Lewis, Samuel Huntington and Eric Hobsbawm participated in this debate. The new millennium brought disturbing events, which projected Islam on the world stage as a faith in whose name radical and bloody operations are conducted.
For the first time, a group of philosophers took part in a discussion about the relationship between Islam and its followers with the West, drawing theses from Jacques Derrida, Jürgen Habermas and Edgar Morin, among others. All discussions agree that there is a state of tension between Muslims and the West.
Bernard Lewis et al.
In a lecture delivered on March 7, 2007, Bernard Lewis — consistent with his historical view of the relationship between Muslims and the West — stated that the West is undergoing the most deadly attack on it today, adding that ever since it left the Arabian Peninsula, “controlling the house of infidelity and undermining its political life was its first goal.”
Organizations can, even if on the long run, contribute to decreasing tension between sects and religions, promoting understanding and public discussion and going beyond war tactics and conflicts.
Lewis notes that modern dialogue attempts have taken other forms. “We have seen in our own day the extraordinary spectacle of a pope apologizing to the Muslims for the Crusades. I would not wish to defend the behavior of the Crusaders, which was in many respects atrocious. But let us have a little sense of proportion. We are now expected to believe that the Crusades were an unwarranted act of aggression against a peaceful Muslim world. Hardly. The first papal call for a crusade occurred in 846 C.E., when an Arab expedition from Sicily sailed up the Tiber and sacked St. Peter’s in Rome.”
Dialogue the only option
The Lewis model comes in line with him being a classical historian. It is a model that formed a strong impression about Muslims and that make dialogue with the symbols of Islam and its followers a dream that’s difficult to achieve and that makes attempts to open dialogue futile and reaching an understanding with the Islamic situation with its troubled relations with the West an impossible task.
Nevertheless, there are other more modern points of view with an understanding that wasn’t available to Lewis who is a traditional philologist with an Orientalist approach. Other philosophers have been able to theorize that dialogue among followers of religions is the only method for reducing tension and bloodshed and for establishing a front to face extremism and obduracy of all Abrahamic religions’ symbols in particular.
I followed up on the Meeting for Friendship among Peoples that took place in the Italian city of Rimini with interest. Political and religious leaders participated in the conference which showcased academic and intellectual presentations in the presence of more than 5,000 people.
The statement of Secretary-General of the Muslim World League Mohammed al-Issa clearly voiced the importance of favoring the logic of reaching agreements when it comes to conflicts pertaining to relations between people and religion.
“Evil was not satisfied with this idea; it launched hatred, ignited wars, and initiated injustice, classifying people based on racism and oppression. Evil raised the slogan of the clash of civilizations and made conflict not peace or harmony, the first tenet on our planet. Evil founded a theory that difference and diversity mean clash, and no one should enjoy dignity except his religious, ethnic or partisan groups, whether it declared this precept or exercised it without declaration,” he said.
He added that it is neither logical nor fair to reduce Islam to an extremist group that does not exceed according to the Muslim World League’s statistics, one in 200,000 Muslims who represent moderate Islam.
“Religious and cultural differences among humans are undeniable facts, no matter how large the gap in some of their origins or branches might be, it should not, however, justify turning the world into an arena of conflicts. This difference falls within the Creator's plan in the reality of pluralism and diversity, the latter must never clash with the importance of co-existence and cooperation; for, kindness and love for all must be a basic condition to live free in peace and harmony,” he also said.
What’s more significant is that a scholar such as Mohammed al-Issa pointed out that this open vision of the world reflects the general Muslim view, and not just a personal opinion. If anyone examines the content of his speech, he would find that it has views that are more progressive than the methods offered by some of the more traditional clerics who preach starting with a provocation of the other. I honestly think that Issa’s speech is tantamount to a new address which it’s quite rare that a Muslim scholar writes it in such a conscious language.
Organizations can, even if on the long run, contribute to decreasing tension between sects and religions, promoting understanding and public discussion and going beyond war tactics and conflicts.

Binaa: The institutionalization of discipline
Hassan Al Mustafa/Al Arabiya/September 10/18
In the winter of 1990, late Syrian philosopher Mutaa’ Safadi wrote an introduction of 10 pages to the Arabic edition of ‘Discipline and Punish’ written by French philosopher Michel Foucault.
Safadi’s introduction was characterized by the density of language and meaning. He presented a little bit of Foucault’s philosophical vision and field of concern, especially in taking abstract theories to the field of practical experimentation on the ground, taking it out of its superiority, which is exactly what has been followed by archeology on the subject of ‘prison’.
Safadi, who entitled his article: “The Institution of the Disciplined Human,” sought to approach “discipline” as one of the concepts that led to modernity on the one hand and reshaped it on the other. It is dialectic of the individual as someone with rights and society as a space where individuals move and exercise their physical existence and their individual freedom.
Discipline here is a means of organizing the life of the society, as agreed upon by its members, and therefore there will be a sensory authority on the body on the one hand and in line with an invisible law on the other
Redefining discipline
Discipline here does not mean repressing an individual, depriving him of his or her personal rights, or exercising a superior parental position. It is a concept relating to the pattern of the formation of society and state. It goes back to the roots of “the transition from the nature state to the state of civilization,” according to Jean-Jacques Rousseau. In the next stage, it would be ushering in modernity and complying with its laws, as theorized by the scholars of law and political sociology.
The law, which is the constitutional reference for members of any country, is what makes them “disciplined”, living in an organized system, without it being totalitarian or suffocating freedoms. Nevertheless, it prevents the individual from violating the rights of others, from perpetrating violence, incitement, murder, crime and terrorism.
From here, Mutaa’ Safadi considers that “there are forms of symmetry between the positioning of the body/thing and the institution/function and society as a whole with the sum of its institutions. The disciplined body and the disciplined society that is synonymous with modernity.”
Discipline here is a means of organizing the life of the society, as agreed upon by its members, and therefore there will be a sensory authority on the body on the one hand and in line with an invisible law on the other.
In this regard, Safadi explains Michel Foucault’s idea of prison, stating that “prison is the ability to have a central vision and control spread around prison cells like the cells in the human body – meaning that prison is a visual system, before being a real image while the criminal law is a linguistic system”. He emphasized that: “The transition between the two systems is the great methodological difference that distinguishes between a positional thought and a conceptual thought.”
This transition as highlighted by Foucault, is the main area that the Binaa program for detainees, at the General Intelligence Prison in the Eastern Province of the Kingdom, must operate upon because it’s the space in which it’s possible to transition from the concept of punishment as revenge to become a concept of punishment for reform.
The social and psychological concepts discussed by Binaa experts with the detainees will have the ability to redefine the concept of “discipline” and its centrality in mind to define it as a commitment to law which everyone submits to and which safeguards the rights of individuals within and outside the prison. There is a basic difference between restraints curbing rights and the restraints organizing everyone’s rights.

Putin is ready go all the way against the US in Syria. Where does this place Israel?
DebkaFile/September 10/18
Russian-Syrian success in the high-stakes Idlib offensive would give Tehran a major victory and renewed footing in Syria. This would torpedo the US-Israeli campaign to drive the Iranians out.
After a series of aerial bombardments, the Russian-Syrian-Iranian offensive to gain control of Idlib, the last rebel stronghold in Syria, is ready to go, having meanwhile gained the valuable increment of Hizballah fighters. After returning home from the Syrian battlefields, these Lebanese Shiite fighters were given fresh orders over the weekend to return to Idlib and Hama. Last month, US National Security Adviser John Bolton spent four days in Israel mapping out with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Israeli generals a joint military strategy for destroying the Iranian military presence in Syria . However, full Russian-Iranian partnership for the Idlib operation injects a new factor into the equation: Its success would consolidate Iran’s grip on the country with solid Russian support.
The stakes in Idlib is so high that for the past two weeks, the US and Russia have been massing large-scale naval and aerial might in the eastern Mediterranean opposite Syria and Persian Gulf waters. British and French forces in the region are on high alert in case they are called on as back-up for a potential US military move in Syria. Moscow last week warned that for any attack by the three Western allies on Iranian/Syrian forces taking part in the Idlib offensive, Russia would hit back at pro-American targets in eastern and northern Syria. In the line of Russian fire, therefore, are the Syrian Kurdish SDF and YPG militias. US forces in eastern Syria were placed on standby as a signal to Moscow that attacks on the Kurds would encounter the US military in action. On Saturday, Sept. 8, as these tensions peaked, Gen. Joseph Dunford, Chairman of the Joint US Chiefs of Staff, briefed President Donald Trump on his operational plans in Syria.
In Israel, where the general public was not advised of this hazardous situation while ushering in the New Year Festival, most people were not aware that a major conflagration was at hand in Syria or that it could draw their armed forces into battle.
As things stand, there is a real likelihood of the US, the UK, France and Israel intervening when the Russian-Iranian-Syrian offensive goes forward in Idlib, with Turkey’s nod – unless President Trump decides at the last minute to change course. US statements on the question have been clothed in threats to intervene if the Syrians again resort to chemical warfare. Moscow threw this threat back by accusing the Americans of a false flag conspiracy for rebels to use chemical weapons and then accuse Syria. The British handled this charge. In a statement to parliament, Prime Minister Theresa May named two Russian nationals as responsible, in the service of Russian military intelligence, for the attempted assassination by a nerve agent of former Russian spy Sergey Skripal and his daughter in Salisbury. The intention was to depict Moscow as the villains of any poison chemicals scenario.
While the region is on tenterhooks for the Idlib offensive to go forward, the scale, nature and location of US-led allied intervention cannot yet be determined, since it is likely to be commensurate with the degree of Russian backing for the Iranian and Hizballah forces which are in the vanguard of the Idlib operation. If Russian backing goes all the way, Israel and the IDF will find that the huge effort they have invested in recent months to cut down Iran’s military foothold in Syria is nullified. Iran will be riding back in triumph under Russian military protection. On Sunday, Sept. 9, the IDF, with unusual candor, confirmed that in its “Operation House of Cards” of May 10, Israeli fighter squadrons wiped out 50 Iranian bases, command centers and weapons depots across Syria. This admission was intended to warn Moscow and Tehran that, even if Iran rebuilt its “house of cards” in Syria, they were still in the IDF’s sights.