Detailed Lebanese & Lebanese Related LCCC English New Bulletin For September 15/2018
Compiled & Prepared by: Elias Bejjani

The Bulletin's Link on the lccc Site


News Bulletin Achieves Since 2006
Click Here to enter the LCCC Arabic/English news bulletins Achieves since 2006


Bible Quotations
Every kingdom divided against itself becomes a desert, and house falls on house
Saint Luke 11/14-23: "Now he was casting out a demon that was mute; when the demon had gone out, the one who had been mute spoke, and the crowds were amazed. But some of them said, ‘He casts out demons by Beelzebul, the ruler of the demons.’ Others, to test him, kept demanding from him a sign from heaven. But he knew what they were thinking and said to them, ‘Every kingdom divided against itself becomes a desert, and house falls on house. If Satan also is divided against himself, how will his kingdom stand? for you say that I cast out the demons by Beelzebul. Now if I cast out the demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your exorcists cast them out? Therefore they will be your judges. But if it is by the finger of God that I cast out the demons, then the kingdom of God has come to you. When a strong man, fully armed, guards his castle, his property is safe. But when one stronger than he attacks him and overpowers him, he takes away his armour in which he trusted and divides his plunder. Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters."

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 14-15/18
The myth of Lebanon’s resilience/Elias Sakr/Annahar/September 14/18
How American Women Help the Economy/Mark Whitehouse/Bloomberg/September, 14/18
A Silver Jubilee for False Promises/Amir Taheri/Asharq Al Awsat/September 14/18
The Grim Cost of the "Oslo War"/Guy Millière/Gatestone Institute/September 14/18
Iran’s Faezeh Rafsanjani speaks/Mashari Althaydi/Al Arabiya/September 14/18
An entertaining Iraqi parliamentary session/Adnan Hussein/Al Arabiya/September 14/18
China, Russia, Iran and Turkey to de-peg from dollar/Shehab Al-Makahleh/Al Arabiya/September 14/18
Enlightenment and moral absolutism/Faisal Al-Shammeri/Al Arabiya/September 14/18

Titles For The Latest LCCC Lebanese Related News published on September 14-15/18
MP, Nadim Gemayel on 36th commemoration of Bachir Gemayel's martyrdom: For building state with noble causes
Kataeb MP Nadim Gemayel: It Is Time to Achieve Bachir's Dream
Youmna Gemayel Commemorates Father on 36th Assassination Anniversary
Kataeb Officials Pay Tribute to Martyr President on 36th Assassination Anniversary
Aoun tackles developments with his interlocutors
Rahi talks developments with Lazarini
Hariri receives Allawi, Wardat and Foucher
STL Prosecution: Ayyash Participated Intentionally in Terrorist Attack
STL Prosecution: Ayyash Didn't Go to Hajj, Abu Adas wasn't Interested in Jihad
Report: Lebanon’s Oil Wealth Under Israeli Threats
Hariri Says Will 'Patiently' Pursue Efforts to Form Government
Report: Ibrahim Likely to Appease FPM, PSP Bickering
Report: Berri to Hold Legislative Session as Govt. Formation 'Stumbles'
Hizbullah Bloc Warns over Govt. Delay, Power Cuts
Officials Free Lebanese Woman Jailed for Insulting Egypt
U.S. Man who Killed Lebanese Neighbor Dies in Prison
War of Words Escalates between FPM, PSP
Bassil: Lebanon to Defeat Israeli Program for Palestinian Refugees
Lebanon: Dispute Over Parliament Functions in Absence of Cabinet
Ibrahim meets FPM Syrian refugees' committee
Berri congratulates Lebanese basketball team on win against China
The myth of Lebanon’s resilience

Titles For The Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on September 14-15/18
Defying dangers, Idlib residents protest Syria’s Assad
Exclusive: US Document Calls on Damascus to Boycott Iranian Regime
Man Drives Car into Crowd in Southern France, Wounding Two
Germany Says Ready to Contribute to Syria Rebuilding
Turkey Says Erdogan Will Meet Putin on Monday for Syria Talks
IIIM President: No Peace in Syria Without Accountability
After disagreements over corruption, Iraq’s al-Sadr threatens to join opposition
Iraq’s prime minister Abadi indicates he will not seek second term
Egypt Court Upholds Decision to Confiscate Muslim Brotherhood Leaders’ Funds
Pentagon Protests after Intercept of Russian Bombers
After Canada-Saudi Row, West Confronts Risk of Speaking Up
Three Palestinians killed by Israeli fire on Gaza border
Hamas Top Official: Ongoing Negotiations Are Not Part of 'Deal of the Century'
US to impose tough sanctions on Iran in November, including flights
The Latest LCCC Lebanese Related News published on September 14-15/18
MP, Nadim Gemayel on 36th commemoration of Bachir Gemayel's martyrdom: For building state with noble causes
Fri 14 Sep 2018/NNA - The Bachir Gemayel Foundation and the Kataeb Ashrafieh District Branch on Friday marked the 36th commemoration of the martyrdom of President Bachir Gemayel and his comrades, during a ceremony in Ashrafieh attended by MP Nadim Gemayel and his sister, Yumna, and martyrs' families. Attending the ceremony had also been MP Imad Wakim at the top of a delegation of the Lebanese Forces, Kataeb Party's Secretary General Nizar Najarian, on top of a party delegation, as well as the Executive Director of "Bachir Gemayel Foundation" Alfred Madi. Candles were lit and wreaths were laid on the martyrs' tomb at the Kataeb House's yard. Attendees stood a minute of silinece on the souls of fallen martyrs of September 13, 1982. In his delivered word, MP Gemayel called for building a state enjoying much more noble causes than temporal and superficial ones, such as power-sharing quotas and positins. "It is due time to build a homeland and give real meaning to freedom, independence and equality that Bachir craved for every citizen," MP Gemayel said, adding that "the sole thing that brings us together is a state that has a vision and a project." Gemayel called for overcoming fear and working for political equality and balance, deemed as the pillars of the nation away from intimidation and threats. The Lawmaker also saluted the judiciary and brave judges who worked on the indictment against the killers of Bachir Gemayel and his companions.
Kataeb MP Nadim Gemayel: It Is Time to Achieve Bachir's Dream 14th September 2018/Kataeb MP Nadim Gemayel on Friday stressed that the perpetrators who committed assassinations in Lebanon over the past decades thought that they can eliminate a cause just by killing its main figurehead, affirming that the cause which late President Bachir Gemayel had long defended will never die. "It is time to achieve Bachir's dream of building a strong national where all citizens are treated equally and where they can live in dignity and freedom," Gemayel said at a wreath-laying ceremony held at the assassination site in Ashrafieh. "Today, our country is in dire need of a man like Bachir; one who would give everything he has for the sake of the state, not one who compromises the state for his own personal interests." "We must establish a state where there is no place for partitioning; one that is build on values that are much more important than petty, transient issues.""I assure you that our faith and determination to move on have not been shaken by the assassinations that jolted the country since Bachir's death," he affirmed.

Youmna Gemayel Commemorates Father on 36th Assassination Anniversary 14th September 2018/Youmna Gemayel, the daughter of martyr President Bachir Gemayel, said that Lebanon endured a tremendous loss with the latter's assassination, adding that the day of September 14 will forever remind the Lebanese of a wound that cannot be healed. "We lost the dream of the strong president and the independent state," she told Voice of Lebanon radio station. "During the 21 days after his election and before his assassination, Bachir laid the foundations of a strong state and embodied the strong president. During those few days, Bachir achieved what all the presidents have failed to do in their six-year mandates," she stressed. "We have been living in a state of total deterioration since his assassination."

Kataeb Officials Pay Tribute to Martyr President on 36th Assassination Anniversary 14th September 2018/Kataeb's Deputy-President Joseph Abu Khalil on Friday deemed the assassination of President Bachir Gemayel of one of the biggest calamities in Lebanon's history, saying that the latter had a project that could have pulled the State out of the chaos that is still prevailing to date. “During the 20 days stretching between his election and assassination, most of the Lebanese sensed the great hope of having a real," Abu Khalil told Voice of Lebanon radio station. “Bachir had a big project to achieve; a national platform that concerns all the Lebanese,” he noted."As we mark Bachir's assassination anniversary, we want to restore the state's prestige and sovereignty. We have the right to live in a state that rises up to our aspirations and ambititions."Kataeb leader's top adviser, Fouad Abu Nader, on Friday said that those who were once the enemies of late President Bachir Gemayel are today adopting the same slogans and ideas he was advocating, stressing that the the martyr President succeeded in restoring the state's prestige in just 21 days. "I am sure that we could have transmitted his dream of a better and stronger country to all the Lebanese, whether Christians or Muslims, and would have been able to motive everyone to join efforts with him," he told the Voice of Lebanon radio station. "The mission is not over yet. We must carry it on and understand that a cause and institutions are never limited to only one person," Abu Nader concluded. For his part, the Kataeb's Secretary-General Nazar Najarian said that all the ideas put forth by the late President Bachir Gemayel constitute the dream of each Lebanese citizen who aspire to a sovereign, free and independent state where the rule of the law prevails. "We are still longing for everything promised by Bachir 36 years ago," he told the Voice of Lebanon radio. "Bachir's ideas still exist; they are simple, undeviating and realistic. However, they haven't been turned into action due to the absence of the state."

Aoun tackles developments with his interlocutors
Fri 14 Sep 2018/NNA - President of the Republic, Michel Aoun, on Friday followed up on most recent political developments concerning the path of new government formation. At the political level, President Aoun welcomed Iraqi Vice President, former Iraqi Prime Minister, Ayad Allawi, with whom he discussed most recent developments on the regional arena, as well as the bilateral ties between the two countries. The head of State also met at the Baabda palace with Caretaker Minister of Tourism, Oadis Guidanian, with whom he tackled the most recent developments. On emerging, Minister Guidanian said he briefed the President on the progress of the touristic movement in Lebanon since the onset of the current year till the present time. Guidanian noted that the number of incoming tourists during this period has reached 2 million and 339 thousand tourists, disclosing that the growth rate in the number of European tourists increased by 28.75% compared to the same period in 2010. President Aoun also welcomed former Minister, Ziad Baroud, with whom he held a tour de horizon on the most recent political developments. Discussions also covered the issue of the administrative decentralization issue. Aoun also welcomed at Baabda Palace outgoing Brazilian Ambassador to Lebanon, George Geraldo Qadri, who paid him a farewell visit upon the his diplomatic mission in Lebanon. The President also had an audience with a Senior Chinese delegation, which has shown interest in investing in governmental projects in Lebanon. The delegation expressed readiness to invest in government projects notably in the fields of energy, land and air transport, railway, infrastructure and developmental projects. The President hailed the growing Lebanese-Chinese relations in the various spheres, welcoming once more the Silk Road initiative. Aoun also thanked China for its support to Lebanon at the international and regional platforms, particularly at the United Nations and the Security Council. On the other hand, Aoun congratulated in a tweet last night the national Lebanese Basketball team on their victory against the Chinese team in the qualifying game for the World Basketball Championship.
Rahi talks developments with Lazarini
Fri 14 Sep 2018/NNA - Maronite Patriarch Cardinal Mar Bechara Boutros Rahi, received on Friday at the summer patriarchal seat in Diman, U.N. Resident Humanitarian Coordinator in Lebanon, Philippe Lazzarini, with whom he held a tour d'horizon on most recent developments.
Discussions covered the dire need for a swift government formation to address the pressing socio-economic situation and current challenges. Both men also discussed the role of the United Nations in supporting the return of the displaced Syrians to their homeland and preserving their basic rights. On the other hand, Rahi met with Argentine's Ambassador to Lebanon, Mauricio Alice, with talks between the pair reportedly touching on the current regional and international situation, the bilateral ties between the two countries, and the issue of the displaced Syrians. At noon, the Patriarch received Lebanon's Ambassador to Jordan Tracey Chamoun, with whom he broached the current situation of the Lebanese community in Jordan.

Hariri receives Allawi, Wardat and Foucher

Fri 14 Sep 2018/NNA - Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri received on Friday at the Center House the Iraqi Vice President Dr. Ayad Allawi, in the presence of Caretaker Minister Dr Ghattas Khoury and former MP Bassem Sabeh. Discussions continued over lunch.
Hariri also met with the World Food Program Lebanon Director, Abdallah Al-Wardat.
Hariri also received the French Ambassador to Lebanon Bruno Foucher.
STL Prosecution: Ayyash Participated Intentionally in Terrorist Attack
Naharnet/September 14/18/The Prosecution of the U.N.-backed Special Tribunal for Lebanon continued on Friday to present its closing arguments in the case of ‘Ayyash et al. case’ before the court in The Hague. The STL said that Joseph Aoun, Lilianne Khallouf, Sahar Kalaoui, Wissam Naji and Sanaa El Sheikh – participating victims in the proceedings in the ‘Ayyash et al. case’ were attending the closing arguments in the courtroom. In its final brief, the Prosecution stated that Ayyash participated directly and intentionally in the execution of the terrorist attack, the intentional homicide, and the attempted intentional homicide of ex-PM Rafik Hariri. The Prosecution also stated that each Accused conspired to commit a terrorist act through the assassination of Hariri by means of a large explosive device in a public place. On Thursday, the arguments focused on the claim that the Accused Salim Ayyash had postponed his Hajj pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia to prepare for the 2005 attack and on the issue of the Palestinian young man Ahmed Abu Adas, who was allegedly abducted by two Hizbullah suspects from Beirut's Tariq al-Jedideh area to appear in the video of the false claim of responsibility.

STL Prosecution: Ayyash Didn't Go to Hajj, Abu Adas wasn't Interested in Jihad
Naharnet/September 14/18/The Prosecution of the U.N.-backed Special Tribunal for Lebanon continued on Thursday its closing arguments before the court in The Hague. The arguments focused on the claim that the Accused Salim Ayyash had postponed his Hajj pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia to prepare for the 2005 attack and on the issue of the Palestinian young man Ahmed Abu Adas, who was allegedly abducted by two Hizbullah suspects from Beirut's Tariq al-Jedideh area to appear in the video of the false claim of responsibility. The Prosecution noted that Ayyash's special Hajj passport was used by someone else, pointing out that the possibility of forgery was high at the time seeing as information used to be written by hand and not printed. Noting that Ayyash's alleged cellphones were active before, during and after the 2005 Hajj period, indicating that he stayed in Lebanon, the Prosecution added that the man's wife traveled without him to Saudi Arabia. “Ayyash, who accompanied his wife to the airport on January 15 (2005), remained in contact with her from Lebanon during the Hajj period,” the Prosecution said, according to an Arabic translation carried by the National News Agency. “On January 28, exhibits indicate that Ayyash's personal phone was separated from the group of his cellphones to go to the airport for two hours before re-joining Ayyash's group. This was the only time when his personal cellphone was active away from the group of his other cellphones,” the Prosecution added.
It noted that Ayyash used his personal phone 44 times to call Saudi Arabia during his wife's presence in the kingdom. Claiming that Ayyash was the “only user” of the operation cellphones and the personal cellphones, the Prosecution said it was unlikely that any of his family members could have been the person calling Saudi Arabia, arguing that “his personal cellphone was not separated from his group of cellphones during the Hajj period.”Most importantly, the Prosecution said Ayyash continued his work at the civil defense center in the southern town of Doueir during the Hajj period. The Prosecution also tackled the issue of Abu Adas' disappearance, noting that the Accused Assad Sabra and Hussein Oneissi were involved in the “abduction.”“Oneissi claimed that his name was Mohammed and that he had converted from Christianity, asking Abu Adas whom he met at the Arab University's mosque to teach him prayer,” the Prosecution said. “The so-called Mohammed was actually the Accused Oneissi, who called Abu Adas' family and told them that he left for Iraq after abducting him,” the Prosecution added. Refuting exhibits, testimonies and documents from the Defense, the Prosecution said the Defense's arguments were full of mistakes and that Abu Adas did not leave with someone called Khaled Taha and “was not interested in jihad.”

Report: Lebanon’s Oil Wealth Under Israeli Threats

Naharnet/September 14/18/Speaker Nabih Berri raised with the French ambassador Bruno Foucher the file of Lebanon’s maritime oil from the perspective of Israel's attempt to explore within the Lebanese sea waters, al-Joumhouria daily reported on Thursday. Berri had pointed to the “seriousness of this Israeli attack,” stressing that “Lebanon can not accept this, nor abandon its right to its water and oil wealth.” He “rejected attempts to prevent Lebanon from taking advantage of its wealth, as some parties sought to postpone the exploration plan in some blocks, for a year.” Sources well-informed about the file told the newspaper that «raising this subject with the French ambassador, Berri sought to make the French oil giant company, Total, note Lebanon’s position and the exploration plan submitted and signed by a consortium of France's Total, Italy's Eni and Russia's Novatek,” against the backdrop of an agreement reached earlier to start drilling in 2019. The daily said Berri has a tendency to keep this file at the forefront of the Lebanese state's concern, and to mobilize support for Lebanon's position in preserving its rights and sovereignty. In this context, the Lebanese-Israeli-UNIFIL tripartite military meeting held in Naqoura last week emphasized Lebanon's position on its sovereignty over its land, sea water and oil wealth, and rejected Israel's attempts to harm or undermine it. The position of the Lebanese army was firm in countering any Israeli aggression on these rights, it added.

Hariri Says Will 'Patiently' Pursue Efforts to Form Government

Naharnet/September 14/18/Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri announced Thursday that he would "patiently” continue his efforts to form the new government. “Despite the differences between the political parties, we hope through our calm, patient and responsible dealing with all parties to finally form the government and start solving the problems facing the country, because without patience and wisdom we cannot solve these problems and advance the country," Hariri said during a meeting at the Center House with around 70 students from Stanford University who are visiting Lebanon. “What distinguishes Lebanon from other countries in the region is its democratic system and diversity. As you notice, we are living in a region marked by unrest and wars, but Lebanon, thanks to God and to the will of the Lebanese and their keenness on its security and stability, distanced itself from what is happening around it," the PM-designate added. Noting that Lebanon "suffered a lot in the past from wars, Israeli aggressions and assassinations," Hariri emphasized that "today we have a unique opportunity to advance the country, revive the economy and solve the problems we are facing, especially the problem of the displaced Syrians.""We also seek to benefit from the opportunity that comes from the CEDRE Conference to rebuild the infrastructure and advance the country," he added.

Report: Ibrahim Likely to Appease FPM, PSP Bickering
Naharnet/September 14/18/General Security Directorate chief Maj. Gen. Abbas Ibrahim is expected to intervene and “appease” the tension fuelled by dismissal of employees between the Free Patriotic Movement and the Progressive Socialist Party, al-Joumhouria daily reported on Friday. Sources following up on the file, said Ibrahim will “likely intervene” to calm the escalating feud between the two after the PSP changed the position of an FPM-affiliate staff employee which triggered a retaliatory measure on the FPM’s part. In remarks made to the newspaper, PSP sources said: “The FPM are resorting to the language of threats, insults and intimidation which reflects weak political argument. They are pushing in a dangerous direction,” they said, stressing that they will not to hesitate to “respond.” Last week, PSP Caretaker Education Minister Marwan Hamadeh removed Hilda al-Khoury from her position as head of the ministry’s official exams department. The FPM was angered by the move and took a retaliatory measure and sacked two state employees from their posts, Nizar Hani from the Ministry of Environment who is also director of the Cedar Biosphere in the Chouf Mountains, and Raja al-Ali an EDL staff member. A war of words through social media spiked after PSP leader Walid Jumblat on Tuesday launched a blistering verbal attack on the “owners” of both the country's private power generators and the Turkish power ships as well as some officials at state-run Electricité Du Liban and the Environment Ministry. Dismissals have triggered a wave of rage on social media.

Report: Berri to Hold Legislative Session as Govt. Formation 'Stumbles'

Agence France Presse/Naharnet/September 14/18/Speaker Nabih Berri seems determined to hold a legislative session before the end of this month in an attempt to spare the legislative power “paralysis and disruption” in light of the inability to form a new government, the Saudi Asharq al-Awsat daily reported on Monday. Berri seeks to achieve two goals: first, to encourage political forces to make concessions that lead to the government lineup; secondly to pass urgent bills that the parliamentary committees have finished studying and are now in the custody of the newly elected General Assembly, according to the daily. However it added that none of the political forces expressed their opinion on Berri’s decision, while al-Mustaqbal Movement “implicitly expressed reservation” regarding the the “absence of the government's role in legislation." This step will probably open a new Constitutional debate, meanwhile sources close to Berri told the daily “he insists on breaking the chain of obstruction at the level of constitutional institutions.”They pointed out that Lebanon “is under the microscope of the international community which is astonished at the indifference of the Lebanese about the disruption of institutions.”Referring to April’s France-led CEDRE conference, the sources pointed out “to laws directly related to the CEDRE conference that must be approved and put into operation immediately after the formation of the government.”Shall a new government be formed, it would be able to sign off on billions of dollars in aid pledged by donor countries and international organisations CEDRE conference. The CEDRE funds are earmarked to boost the economy, with a focus on improving Lebanon's ailing infrastructure.

Hizbullah Bloc Warns over Govt. Delay, Power Cuts

Naharnet/September 14/18/Hizbullah's Loyalty to Resistance parliamentary bloc warned Thursday over the government formation deadlock and cautioned that power cuts in some regions are threatening to trigger a “popular explosion.”“Awaiting regional changes or betting that others will back down from their final stances on the standards required for the formation of the government will only lead to further time waste,” the bloc said in a statement issued after its weekly meeting. “It will contribute to complicating the mission, aggravating the pressing social crisis and dealing with Lebanon as an arena for the service of others,” Loyalty to Resistance cautioned. Separately, it addressed the Energy Ministry and Electricité Du Liban, warning that “imbalanced power rationing between the Lebanese regions is threatening the explosion of some social situations.”"The Tyre, Nabatiyeh, Bint Jbeil, Baalbek-Hermel and Dahieh regions once again raise their voice to push the ministry and the company to take the initiative, avoid the worse and translate their former promises into action,” the bloc added.

Officials Free Lebanese Woman Jailed for Insulting Egypt

Associated Press/Naharnet/September 14/18/An Egyptian lawyer says a Lebanese woman who was jailed for insulting Egyptians in a video she posted online has been sentenced to a suspended one-year term and has left Egypt. Emad Kamal tells The Associated Press on Friday that Mona el-Mazbouh has been released, just days after an appeals court reduced her sentence from eight years in prison. Kamal says el-Mazbouh boarded a flight Thursday to her home country after she paid a fine of 10,700 Egyptian pounds (around $598). Egypt arrested el-Mazbouh in May after she posted a 10-minute video in which she used profanities to describe her vacation in Cairo, where she says she was sexually harassed. She calls Egyptians the "dirtiest people" and Egypt "the country of pimps ... of beggars." El-Mazbouh later posted a video apologizing.

U.S. Man who Killed Lebanese Neighbor Dies in Prison

Associated Press/Naharnet/September 14/18/An American man serving a life sentence for the hate-crime killing of his Lebanese neighbor has died, the Oklahoma Department of Corrections said on Thursday. Department spokesman Matt Elliott said 63-year-old Stanley Majors was found dead Wednesday in his bed at Oklahoma State Penitentiary. Majors was in the prison infirmary. No information about his condition has been made available. Jurors convicted Majors in February of first-degree murder and hate crime charges in the 2016 shooting death of 37-year-old Khalid Jabara. Prosecutors alleged Majors killed Jabara after bombarding him with racial insults in a feud with Jabara's family that lasted several years. Defense attorneys argued that Majors showed signs of dementia and had problems with his long-term memory, but a mental competency examination found Majors competent to stand trial.

War of Words Escalates between FPM, PSP
Naharnet/September 14/18/The war of words is still raging between the Progressive Socialist Party and the Free Patriotic Movement against the backdrop of mutual dismissal of staff members. Caretaker State Minister of Anti-Corruption Nicolas Tueini, of the FPM, said in remarks he made to the Saudi Asharq al-Awsat on Thursday: “Trading accusations and political debate do not serve the interests of the country that is suffering politically and economically." He said that President Aoun (FPM founder) "is not a partner in the failures of the Lebanese regime for a quarter of a century until now". In an indirect reply to PSP statements accusing Aoun’s tenure of being a “failure,” Tueini said: “When militias were terrorizing the country and people, Aoun was defending the state and institutions. He did not get involved in corruption and the policy of debts, nor was he part of the failed economic policy.”For his part, PSP Secretary Zafer Nasser lashed out at the FPM and the tenure of President Michel Aoun “likening it” to the ideology of the terrorist “Islamic State group.”“The mentality of the Islamic State group leading this tenure is to blame for driving the political situation this low,” he said. “We believed that Daesh is a certain criminal pattern, but the recent practices proved that Daesh is a mentality in power and exercises political action in Lebanon,” he added. The FPM has sacked two state employees from their posts, Nizar Hani from the Ministry of Environment who is also director of the Cedar Biosphere in the Chouf Mountains, and Raja al-Ali an EDL staff member. The dismissal came after caretaker Environment Minister Marwan Hamadeh dismissed Hilda Khoury from his ministry. A war of words through social media spiked after PSP leader Walid Jumblat on Tuesday launched a blistering verbal attack on the “owners” of both the country's private power generators and the Turkish power ships as well as some officials at state-run Electricité Du Liban and the Environment Ministry. Dismissals have triggered a wave of rage on social media. Civil society activists organized an expression of solidarity with Nizar Hani near the Cedar Biosphere. PSP supporters launched Twitter hashtags in reaction.

Bassil: Lebanon to Defeat Israeli Program for Palestinian Refugees
Naharnet/September 14/18/In light of reports that the United States will disclose a citizenship plan for Palestinian refugees in Arab countries, Lebanon’s Foreign Minister Jebran Bassil emphasized that Lebanon “will never accept the naturalization of Palestinian refugees,” al-Joumhouria daily reported on Thursday. “This position is neither new nor surprising. We are accustomed to such positions taken by the United States and Israel, and I have always been aware of this the latest was in front of the Arab League two days ago,” the daily quoted Bassil. Noting also the latest US decision to cut funding for the UNRWA, he said: “The disability of Arabs encourages the transition from the cessation of funding for UNRWA to the next step. But if the entire world accept naturalization, Lebanon will never accept it.” “As we defeated Israel by removing its occupation, we will defeat it with the naturalization project and with the right of return, which will remain sacred,” added Bassil. US President Donald Trump reportedly announced recently that at the beginning of 2019 he will disclose a citizenship plan for Palestinian refugees living in Jordan, Syria and Lebanon. This is the third step for Trump against the Palestinians after the transfer of the US embassy to Jerusalem and the cuts in UNRWA’s funds. During an urgent meeting of Arab foreign ministers in Cairo on Tuesday, Bassil had pressed Arab nations to step up and help the Palestinian people.
Lebanon: Dispute Over Parliament Functions in Absence of Cabinet
Beirut- Nazeer Rida and Youssef Diab/Asharq Al-Awsat/Friday, 14 September, 2018/
The persistence of Lebanon’s Speaker Nabih Berri to call for legislative sessions has lately triggered a constitutional dispute over the capacity of the House to convene for legislation in the presence of a caretaker cabinet. Signs of such dispute emerged when the Mustaqbal Movement expressed reservations vis-à-vis the Speaker’s calls, while other blocs refused to comment on the move before a date is set for the start of such sessions. Last May, Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri was tasked with forming a new Cabinet. But since then, Hariri’s mission was faced with disputes among the country’s political forces over the shares of ministerial seats they will receive.Sources close to Berri told Asharq Al-Awsat on Thursday that the Speaker was determined to break the disruption of the work of constitutional institutions. “Lebanon is currently under the microscope of the international community, which stands astonished facing the Lebanese indifference towards the disruption of institutions,” the sources said. They also said that laws, directly linked to the CEDAR conference, need to be implemented as soon as the government is formed. Last April, the international community pledged to offer Lebanon $11 bn to prevent it from going bankrupt. But, the billions depend on a series of fiscal and economic reforms, which should be introduced by the next cabinet. The sources refused claims saying some main political forces would be neglected when Parliament convenes for legislation. “Will Parliament legislate laws to benefit the south of Lebanon and not the north? Will the passed laws profit a certain section of the Lebanese without another?” Berri’s sources asked. Meanwhile, a report saying Lebanese employees working in government administrations were violating laws and were not showing up at work was added to the pile of files linked to corruption in the public sector. Researcher at Information International Mohammed Shamseddine said that the salaries of civil servants constitute currently more than a third of the public budget, estimated at around $8 billion per year.

Ibrahim meets FPM Syrian refugees' committee
Fri 14 Sep 2018/NNA - General Security (SG) chief, Abbas Ibrahim, received this Friday, at his office, a delegation of the Free Patriotic Movement's Central Committee for the return of displaced Syrians, led by Committee Secretary Nicolas Shedraoui. The delegation briefed Maj. Gen. Ibrahim on the work of the committee. Discussions reportedly focused on means of cooperation with the SG to facilitate the voluntary return of Syrian refugees to their homeland.

Berri congratulates Lebanese basketball team on win against China
Fri 14 Sep 2018/ NNA - Speaker of the House, Nabih Berri, on Friday congratulated the Lebanese Basketball Federation and team on their victory against the Chinese team in the qualifying game for the World Basketball Championship. "It is the teamwork spirit and collective efforts that always bear fruit. Congratulations to Lebanon!" the House Speaker said, wishing politics enjoyed the same spirit.

The myth of Lebanon’s resilience
Elias Sakr/Annahar/September 14/18
The economic slowdown is evident across most industries, amid a growing fiscal deficit, an unsustainable debt to GDP ratio, rising unemployment and a slowdown in deposits growth.
BEIRUT: Since the outbreak of the Syrian conflict, Lebanon’s economy has gone from bad to worse. The economic slowdown is evident across most industries, amid a growing fiscal deficit (1), an unsustainable debt to GDP ratio (2), rising unemployment and a decline in deposits growth (3); the primary source to finance state expenditures and debt servicing.
These negative indicators, coupled with aggressive monetary policies to defend the Lebanese pound, have driven interest rates significantly higher (4), which is translating into a higher cost of debt servicing and a slowdown in total loan growth.
This slowdown is, in turn, resulting in meager growth rates across various sectors, mainly the real estate market, which was hard hit by the termination of subsidized housing loans, one of several measures undertaken by the Central Bank to protect the dollar peg. Other measures to protect the currency include swap operations (5), a key factor behind the rise in interest rates that have been also fueled by a rise in global interest rates.
An increase in the ratio of non-performing and doubtful loans, subdued foreign investments, and a decline in remittance inflows (6) are among tens of other indicators that signal a looming crisis.
Yet, instead of recognizing the severity of the economic and monetary situation, the sweeping majority of state officials, bankers, and economists chose to reassure ordinary Lebanese that they have nothing to fear.
Some have even gone as far as to accuse the media of conspiring with local and foreign actors to deliberately spark a crisis. The few officials who acknowledged these alarming facts chose to blame Lebanon’s economic woes entirely on the Syrian refugee crisis in a clear attempt to score points against their political rivals. And while the refugee crisis has contributed to the economic slowdown, blaming Lebanon’s misfortunes solely on refugees is shortsighted, if not intentionally misleading.
If those refugees were to return to their homeland today, Lebanon’s economic hardships would persist, unless urgent and radical reforms are implemented; reforms that should be prioritized over local partisan interests and conflicting regional agendas.
The current Cabinet formation crisis, a recurring theme in Lebanon’s history and a trademark of Lebanese politics, reflects the everlasting power struggle over state resources and serves as a reminder that partisan interests will continue to transcend national ones.
If recent history is anything to go by, the Lebanese shouldn’t expect the upcoming Cabinet to change course. That is if a cabinet is formed anytime soon.
Quite the contrary, the regional turmoil fueled by an intricate web of conflicting American, Russian, Turkish, Saudi and Iranian interests, will manifest itself in deepening divisions in Lebanon, where the Iranian-sponsored armed Hezbollah group will continue to have the upper hand.
Despite this bleak outlook, some might argue that Lebanon, against all odds, will weather its political crisis and economic challenges.
Optimists cite the country’s “history of economic and financial resilience” as a buffer against shocks.
Yet, this resilience is nothing more than an illusion that the country’s financial and political elite has well marketed over the years.
An illusion, which they claim, helped Lebanon’s economy weather the assassination of former Prime Minister and business tycoon Rafiq Hariri, an event that shocked the country but was nevertheless followed, a few years later, by double digit growth.
Advocates of this theory, however, have chosen either deliberately or unintentionally to disregard the fact that Lebanon, at the time, benefited from an unprecedented inflow of capital, largely thanks to the global financial crisis rather than an attractive business environment.
A crisis that prompted many Lebanese expats, Gulf investors, and wealthy foreigners to channel billions of dollars into a relatively conservative banking environment that steered clear of complex financial products or so called derivatives and offered lucrative interest rates.
Only a decade before, Lebanon was on the brink of a financial meltdown, which the late Hariri averted after securing billions of dollars in international financial aid to avoid a repeat of a currency devaluation that began in the late 1980’s and saw the Lebanese pound hit 2800 against the dollar in July 1992.
History is rife with examples of missed red flags that preceded financial meltdowns, the latest being the US subprime mortgage crisis.
Assuming good intent, Lebanon is in denial.
(1) Lebanon’s balance of payments posted a deficit of USD 155.7 million in 2017, following a surplus of USD 1.2 billion in 2016, constituting the sixth annual deficit since 2011.
(2) Lebanon’s debt to GDP ratio is the world’s third highest at 150%. It is expected to grow to 180% of GDP in 2023, according to the International Monetary Fund.
(3) Customer deposits grew by 3.3% in 2017 compared to an average previous 5-year growth of 7%. Most rating agencies have maintained that Lebanon needs to maintain a deposit growth rate of at least 6% to finance its debt.
(4) In September 2018, S&P warned it could lower its ratings on Lebanon if “the government was unable to access the international debt capital markets for an extended period, perhaps evidenced by further Banque du Liban financial engineering transactions.”
(5) The volume of the Central Bank’s swap operations with commercial banks totaled about USD 10 billion in 2017 compared to nearly USD 15 billion in 2016.
Lebanon’s balance of payments posted a deficit of USD 155.7 million in 2017, following a surplus of USD 1.2 billion in 2016, constituting the sixth annual deficit since 2011.
(6) The inflows of expatriates’ remittances to Lebanon totaled USD 7.1 billion in 2017, down 7% from USD 7.6 billion in 2016.

The Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on
September 14-15/18
Defying dangers, Idlib residents protest Syria’s Assad
The Associated Press, Beirut/Friday, 14 September 2018/In cities and towns across Syria’s last opposition-held province, Idlib, residents poured into the streets on Friday to demonstrate against President Bashar Assad’s government in defiance of an expected offensive to retake the territory. In the provincial capital, Idlib city, and in towns including Kafranbel, Dana, Azaz, Maaret al-Numan and al-Bab, demonstrators filled the streets after noon prayers and chanted against Assad, raising the tri-color green, white and black flag that has become the banner of Syria’s 2011 uprising, activists said. “The rebels are our hope; Turks are our brothers; the terrorists are Bashar, Hezbollah and Russia,” read a banner carried by residents in the village of Kneiset Bani Omar, referring to Turkey which backs the opposition, and Lebanon’s Hezbollah and Russia that have joined the war along with Assad’s forces. “There will be no solution in Syria without Assad’s fall,” read another banner carried in the northern village of Mhambel. The demonstrations were reported on the activist-run sites Aleppo Media Center, Orient News, and other social media pages. Fridays have become the customary day for protests throughout the Arab world since the 2011 uprisings that swept through the region. Assad’s government and its backers, Russia and Iran, say Idlib is ruled by terrorists, and have threatened to seize it by force. Wissam Zarqa, a university teacher in Idlib, said demonstrators were flying the tri-color flag to rebut the government line that Idlib is dominated by the al-Qaida linked Levant Liberation Committee group.
Final shelter
The province, population 3 million, is now the final shelter for close to 1.5 million displaced Syrians that fled fighting in other parts of Syria. Many say they will not return to government-ruled areas. Government and Russian forces bombed towns and villages in the province earlier this week, killing more than a dozen civilians and damaging two hospitals. But the strikes eased on Wednesday amid talks between the opposition’s main regional sponsor Turkey, and Russia and Turkey. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin are slated to meet Monday, said Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu. “We will continue our efforts with Iran and with Russia. ... (and) on international platforms as well,” said Cavusoglu in comments carried live on Turkish television.
Turkish media said the two leaders would meet in the Russian city of Sochi.
Turkey has warned strongly against military action, saying it would trigger a humanitarian catastrophe. Its military and defense chiefs visited border areas on Friday to inspect troop reinforcements sent to its Hatay and Gaziantep provinces. Turkey has 12 military posts inside Idlib province, and activists reported on Thursday that Turkish reinforcements crossed over into Syria to fortify the installations. The United Nations said that in the first 12 days of September, over 30,000 people have been internally displaced by an intense aerial bombing campaign. Most of the displaced headed toward the border with Turkey, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, packing already overcrowded camps there. The UN’s World Food Program said it, alongside partners, were already delivering monthly food rations for nearly 600,000 people. It said it was prepared to deliver emergency food assistance for up to 1 million people.
Exclusive: US Document Calls on Damascus to Boycott Iranian Regime
London - Ibrahim Hamidi/Asharq Al-Awsat/Friday, 14 September, 2018/A US document, seen by Asharq Al-Awsat on Thursday, said Damascus needed to cut its relations with the Iranian regime and its militias and to introduce a series of reforms to its Constitution, as part of a set of preconditions required to reach a solution to the conflict in Syria. The document said the war-torn country should also “amend the President’s authorities,” and allow more powers to the Prime Minister. In addition, it should give a greater role for the civil society to introduce reforms to the security apparatuses and follow a decentralized system. The two-page document also set the principles based on which ally states should refer when negotiating with Russia and the United Nations. Those principles reflect Washington’s stands expressed after its latest decision to task ambassador Jim Jeffreys and his deputy assistant Joel Rayburn, with the responsibility of handling the Syrian file. On Thursday, US officials discussed the content of the document with Syrian opposition figures and European officials during a visit to Brussels before heading to Geneva, where they would meet Friday with UN Special envoy Staffan de Mistura. Sources said Washington established certain preconditions related to the need that Damascus should stop sponsoring terrorism and providing a safe refuge for terrorists. Those preconditions called on Syria to cut its relations with the Iranian regime and its militias, to stop threatening neighboring countries, and to provide suitable conditions for the voluntary return of refugees with the UN involvement, in addition to chasing and holding accountable war criminals through their trial in a national court or by cooperating with the international community. The document also set a number of reforms that should be introduced to the Syrian Constitution. Presidential powers should be amended to achieve a larger balance capable of securing the independence of central authorities and other institutions located across the country, the document said, adding that a Prime Minister with strong powers should head the Cabinet. It also called on issuing a UN resolution allowing the agency to organize free and fair elections.

Man Drives Car into Crowd in Southern France, Wounding Two

Agence France Presse/Naharnet/September 14/18/A man drove into a crowd of patrons gathered outside a bar in the southern city of Nimes early Friday, slightly wounding two before hitting a security barrier and being arrested, witnesses and local officials said. The 32-year-old suspect, believed to be a local, sped towards a crowd of about 50 outside the bar at around 1:00 am (2300 GMT Thursday), witnesses at the scene told AFP. However his white Peugeot ran into barriers set up for a popular weekend festival featuring bull-fighting which attracts thousands of people each year. Several witnesses told AFP that the man shouted "Allahu Akbar" (God is Greatest) during the incident. A source close to the investigation said the man was not known to police for suspected radicalisation. The region's public prosecutor Eric Maurel said the suspect tried to flee but was caught and roughed up by the crowd. He was in a state of "mental confusion" during his arrest and has been hospitalised, Maurel added. An investigation has been opened into attempted murder.

Germany Says Ready to Contribute to Syria Rebuilding
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/September 14/18/Germany is ready to contribute to rebuilding Syria if a political solution was found for fair elections in the country, Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said Friday. Hours before the minister was due to meet his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov in Berlin, Maas appeared to answer a request made by Russian President Vladimir Putin in August for Europe to step up in reconstructing Syria. "If there's a political solution in Syria that leads to free elections, then we are ready to take on the responsibility of reconstruction," wrote Maas on Twitter. "It is in our interest for Syria to be a stable country. For that, reconstruction is necessary. And we have an important role in that." At the same time, Maas also underlined Berlin's demand for Moscow to use its influence to get President Bashar al-Assad to back off from a looming major offensive against opposition-held Idlib. "I will impress upon my colleague Lavrov our expectations that there should be no major offensive in Idlib," Maas wrote. Russia-backed regime forces have massed around Idlib in recent weeks, sparking fears of an imminent air and ground attack to retake the last major opposition bastion. During a visit to Berlin in August, Putin had called on Europe to fund the reconstruction of Syria to allow millions of refugees to go home. "We need to strengthen the humanitarian effort in the Syrian conflict," he said then. "By that, I mean above all humanitarian aid to the Syrian people, and help the regions where refugees living abroad can return to." Germany has taken in more than a million asylum seekers since 2015, many fleeing wars in Syria and Iraq. Chancellor Angela Merkel's decision to keep Germany's borders open at the height of the refugee influx deeply divided her country. The UN has warned a full-fledged assault on Idlib could create the century's "worst humanitarian catastrophe", sending thousands more fleeing.

Turkey Says Erdogan Will Meet Putin on Monday for Syria Talks
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/September 14/18/Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will meet with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin on Monday, officials said, amid rising international concern over a looming Syrian government assault on a rebel-held province bordering Turkey.
"President Erdogan will meet with Mr Putin on Monday," Turkey's Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told a televised press conference on Friday. The meeting will take place in the Russian resort city of Sochi, a senior Turkish official told AFP. Russia-backed forces of the Syrian regime have massed around the Idlib province in recent weeks, sparking fears of an imminent air and ground attack to retake the last major opposition bastion. UN agencies and relief organisations have warned repeatedly that such an assault could spark one of the worst humanitarian disasters of Syria's seven-year war. Turkey has intensified negotiations with Russia to avert a possible attack, repeatedly calling for a ceasefire. However last week Erdogan and Putin failed to agree on a ceasefire at a three-way summit in Tehran which also involved Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. Russia and Iran are key allies of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime. Turkey however backs opposition fighters seeking the ouster of the Syrian leader, and has said a large-scale offensive against the rebels could trigger a mass exodus towards its border. Cavusoglu on Friday said Turkey was ready to cooperate with anyone in the fight against terror groups in Syria, but criticised the Damascus regime for using the presence of jihadists groups to legitimise a possible operation in Idlib. "We are ready to cooperate with everyone in the fight against terror groups but the killing of civilians, women and children under the guise of fighting against terror is not correct," he said.
"We cannot bring peace that way."Idlib's most powerful armed faction is the Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) jihadist group, which Ankara officially designated a "terrorist" group last month

IIIM President: No Peace in Syria Without Accountability
Geneva- Ibrahim Hamidi/Asharq Al-Awsat/Friday, 14 September, 2018/The head of the International, Impartial and Independent Mechanism (IIIM) in Syria, Catherine Marchi-Uhel, said that IIIM experts and investigators have collected about a million documents relating to violations and crimes committed in Syria. She noted that the IIIM task was to collect evidence of crimes by all parties for submission to a national, regional or international tribunal, in accordance with international law. In an interview with Asharq Al-Awsat from Geneva, Marchi-Uhel said that the IIIM was formed by a UN General Assembly resolution with the approval of 105 member states, after Russia closed the door to referring the matter to the International Criminal Court(ICC) by a UN Security Council resolution. She stressed the importance of holding those responsible for crimes in Syria accountable, noting that reconciliation was not an easy path. The IIIM president went on to say that there was no lasting peace in Syria without holding all responsible sides accountable. She noted in this regard that the international mechanism worked on collecting and analyzing information and evidence of international crimes committed in Syria to assist criminal proceedings in national, regional or international courts or tribunals that have, or may in the future have, jurisdiction over these crimes. Asked about the difference between the IIIM and the other existing mechanisms, such as the Independent International Commission of Inquiry (IICI), Marchi-Uhel explained that evidence gathered by the IICI was information and summaries of the crimes that have occurred, while the work of the IIIM was to gather evidence and information and to prepare case files within an analytical framework that links the material elements of crime to individual criminal responsibility patterns.
With regards to the witnesses, international standards must be adopted, including the person’s willingness to testify before a court. For example, some people will be willing to talk about what happened, provided they do not disclose their names, the IIIM chief noted.
The Commission’s information is very important as a starting point, she explained, adding that the two international bodies have entered into an agreement to benefit from the outcome reached in the course of their work. As for the OPCW-UN Joint Investigative Mechanism (JIM), Marchi-Uhel noted that the difference between the IIIM and JIM was that the latter had conducted investigations and submitted public reports without using the principle of individual criminal responsibility. She explained that last year, the Security Council did not renew the mandate of JIM. After collecting the facts from the scene of the crime, JIM was identifying those involved in the use of chemical weapons, but not the individual criminal responsibility. As for IIIM, it is working on studying the individual criminal responsibility to support the subsequent trial process.
Asked whether the IIIM was investigating violations committed by all parties engaged in the Syrian war, she stressed that the international body’s responsibility was to investigate the “most serious crimes” committed in Syria since 2011. “We do not look at crimes committed by one party, but by all the parties,” she said. In this regard, Marchi-Uhel underlined the importance of neutrality and dealing with all violations without being biased against a state, party or institution.
When asked about the meaning of “the most serious crimes”, the IIIM chief replied: “In our first report to the General Assembly, we have outlined some of the criteria that we will follow.”She ruled out the possibility of prosecuting all crimes committed in Syria because of their huge number but stressed that some crimes were considered crimes against humanity, war crimes or even genocide.The determination criteria depends on the seriousness of the crime and the number and nature of the victims, according to Marchi-Uhel. Other considerations are taken into account, such as crimes that inflame and perpetuate conflict or impede the victims’ access to humanitarian assistance. As for the outcome that has been reached so far, the IIIM president said that until now at least 900,000 documents or 4 billion digital units were collected, adding that a second report would be issued in the coming days. “In order to complete the task entrusted to us by the General Assembly, memorandums of understanding must be signed with various parties. We are in the process of collecting and keeping the material in a safe place, and we are linking the crimes with the potential perpetrators to bring them to court,” she affirmed. Replying to a question about the IIIM’s source of funding, Marchi-Uhel said that the European Union and 38 countries were supporting the mechanism voluntarily. She noted that last October, the General Assembly requested the Secretary-General to include the funding of the mechanism within the United Nations regular budget for 2020. “We will submit a request for this in March for the 2020 budget.”
She also said that the IIIM’s budget for 2018 amounted to $14 million.
Moving to the part of evidence collection, Marchi-Uhel said that the IIIM used classic methods, including the identification of witnesses who are ready to testify, document collection, verification and credibility, in addition to videos. One of the challenges of the mechanism is the huge volume of documents, according to the official, saying that the IIIM was in the process of developing innovative strategies to classify relevant materials in a way that demonstrates their validity and links the evidence with other supporting materials. Asked whether the IIIM was communicating with all the Syrian sides, she replied: “With the widest possible part.” She noted in this regard that the mechanism has many times contacted the Syrian regime to request information or to explain its role. “I will continue my efforts. I will not give up. This is very important. It is important for the Syrian people that we communicate with all parties. What I want to convey to everyone is that we are neutral in word and deed,” the IIIM president stated. Commenting on the Syrian government’s refusal to grant the IIIM permission to send investigators to opposition-controlled areas, she said: “You should ask them why they do not cooperate with us... They say there are crimes and if they want to address these issues they must cooperate.” Marchi-Uhel emphasized the importance of accountability to pave the way for lasting peace. She also stressed that accountability should be part of the political process in Geneva. “Based on my experience, if there is no accountability and truth, there will be no prospect of lasting peace. I do not say that reconciliation provides a solution to all dilemmas. This is not an easy way. But, there is no doubt that peace cannot exist without some kind of justice and accountability,” she said.
After disagreements over corruption, Iraq’s al-Sadr threatens to join opposition
Staff writer, Al Arabiya English/Friday, 14 September 2018/The head of the Iraqi Sadrist Movement, Muqtada al-Sadr, has threatened to join the opposition if disagreements around presidential candidate persists. In a tweet sent out on Thursday, al-Sadr said: “We agreed with the leaders of Iraq to elect a number of personalities based on technical qualifications to the position of the prime minister. It was a purely Iraqi decision, and it stated having the prime minister pick his ministers away from divisions based on parties and sects.”Al-Sadr added that the above was done with “correct and accepted standards, in terms of specialization, experience, and integrity.”He went on to say that some politicians were quick to reject the system and the idea of independence. “They rejected the idea of technocracy to take Iraq back to square one and bring back corruption in a new form. They want parties and their economic bodies to rise in power over the people and their rights.”Al-Sadr then threatened and said: “If they stick to this route, I will announce my decision to join the opposition.”On Wednesday, al-Sadr hosted Hadi al-Amiri, leader of the Fatah Alliance, which is an affiliate of the Popular Mobilization Forces, in his office in Najaf. They discussed latest developments related to formation of the new government.

Iraq’s prime minister Abadi indicates he will not seek second term

The Associated press, Baghdad/Friday, 14 September 2018/Iraq’s Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi says he will not “cling to power,” after Iraq’s highest Shiite religious authority called for the appointment of a new head of government. Al-Abadi’s political position has weakened in the wake of rioting in Iraq’s oil capital, Basra, over corruption, failed services and contaminated drinking water. Al-Abadi, who was backed by the US for a second term in office, said he would respect the directives of Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, who said it was time for Iraq to appoint a prime minister it has never had before. Al-Abadi made his remarks at his weekly press conference on Thursday.

Egypt Court Upholds Decision to Confiscate Muslim Brotherhood Leaders’ Funds
Cairo- Waleed Abdurrahman/Asharq Al-Awsat/Friday, 14 September, 2018/ The Cairo Court of Urgent Matters upheld on Thursday an Egyptian judicial committee decision to confiscate assets of 1,589 of Muslim Brotherhood leaders on top of them: former president Mohammed Morsi, head of the Brotherhood Mohammed Badie, deputy leader of the Brotherhood Khairat Al-Shater, Mahmoud Ezzat, Mohamed Beltagy, Safwat Hegazi, and others. Also, the funds of 1,133 charities are to be frozen, in addition to some 118 companies, 104 schools, 39 hospitals, and 62 websites and satellite channels. The Muslim Brotherhood was outlawed and designated a terrorist organization in Egypt in December 2013, months after ousting Morsi. Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi ratified law no. 22 of 2018 in April to organize procedures of confiscating, limiting, managing and taking action with the funds of terrorist groups and members.  In July, Sisi issued a decision to mandate a number of judges and courts heads to work in Egypt’s judicial Inventory, Seizure and Management Committee of Muslim Brotherhood Funds. In a statement three days ago, the committee claimed it had accurate evidence that Brotherhood leaders planned to renew the organization’s financial resources. Suspects were assured that they have the right to appeal the decision within eight days at the Cairo Court for Urgent Matters and that the court may decide on the grievance within 30 days of its filing. Meanwhile, Cairo Criminal Court decided on Thursday to retrial Morsi and 23 other members and leaders of Muslim Brotherhood – the Public Prosecution launched against them accusations of communicating with foreign organizations, for the sake of conducting terrorist acts inside the county, funding terrorism and undermining the country’s independence and unity.

Pentagon Protests after Intercept of Russian Bombers
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/September 14/18/The Pentagon has protested after US fighter jets intercepted two Russian bombers west of Alaska, in the latest incident of its kind. F-22 Raptor fighters from NORAD intercepted and visually identified the long-range Tupolev Tu-95 "Bear" bombers overnight Tuesday, said the joint US-Canadian command, charged with aerospace warning and control for North America. The four-engine Cold War-era turboprop bombers, which can carry nuclear weapons, were escorted by two Russian Su-35 fighters, NORAD said in a statement Thursday, adding that the Russian planes stayed in international airspace and never penetrated the US or Canadian zones. NORAD jets followed the Russians until they left the air defense identification zone, a perimeter in which the military surveils air traffic, and which extends for about 200 miles (320 kilometers) off Alaska. The incident took place during Russia's largest-ever military drills, Vostok-2018 with nearly 300,000 troops and all types of military equipment in eastern Siberia. NORAD commander General Terrence O'Shaughnessy said he did not see the air incident as "directly part of Vostok although it is very much related to it." In May, US fighter jets also intercepted two Russian Bear bombers in international airspace off western Alaska. In April 2017, NORAD and the Pentagon said Tu-95 bombers were spotted in international airspace on three occasions -- twice near the Aleutians and once near mainland Alaska and Canada. That was the first sighting of such Russian long-range bombers around Alaska in about two and a half years, a Pentagon spokesman said at the time. Tensions between Russia and the United States and its NATO allies are running at levels not seen since the Cold War.

After Canada-Saudi Row, West Confronts Risk of Speaking Up

Saudi Arabia's diplomatic brawl with Canada has exposed what Western officials call "new red lines" in their engagement with the oil-rich kingdom, deterring nations from publicly criticising its human rights record. A furious Saudi Arabia last month expelled Canada's ambassador and froze all new trade after Ottawa denounced a crackdown on activists in the Gulf state, in an increasingly combative approach to international censure.Canada has refused to give ground, vowing to always stand up for human rights globally, even as diplomats say high-level negotiations are ongoing between the two countries to resolve differences. But Canada appears to be standing alone. "We are coming to terms with the new red lines," said a Western official, explaining why hardly any allies have vocally backed Canada's stance. "We are trying to understand: Can we still do critical tweets from foreign ministries in our capitals? What's going to get you PNG'd?" the official added, referring to the expelled Canadian envoy being declared persona non grata by the kingdom. Major Western powers including the United States -- a key ally of Saudi Arabia -- have not publicly asserted support for Ottawa. Last month, the European Union had planned to release a public statement effectively backing Ottawa's position on human rights, a Western source told AFP. But the plan was dropped, with European and EU ambassadors instead delivering a "demarche" -- a formal diplomatic note -- in a private meeting with Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir. "Western countries will very much be wary of openly criticising Saudi domestic policy," Bessma Momani, a professor at Canada's University of Waterloo, told AFP. "The Canadian case has proved that lots of business deals could be lost if criticism of Saudi Arabia upsets its rulers."Spain on Thursday said it will sell 400 laser-guided bombs to Saudi Arabia, involved in a ruinous bombing campaign in Yemen, after initially blocking the 2015 deal. The U-turn comes after reports emerged that Riyadh was considering cancelling a 1.8-billion-euro warship contract with Spain -- a deal that involves 6,000 jobs in a country with one of Europe's highest unemployment rates. 'Silence is deafening' -Analysts say it illustrates how Saudi Arabia is increasingly using its economic muscle to quell foreign criticism under its young de facto leader, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
And it appears to be succeeding.
"The prince has definitely tamped down criticism of Saudi domestic and... foreign policy particularly with regards to Yemen, since the kerfuffle with Canada," said Momani. "The silence of Canadian allies is deafening."The row with Ottawa erupted after an Arabic language tweet on August 5 from the Canadian embassy in Riyadh -- calling for the "immediate release" of activists jailed in the kingdom -- infuriated the Saudi government. At a press conference last month, Jubeir did not specify the kingdom's exact demands for Ottawa, insisting only that Canada's perceived interference was a "big mistake".
Multiple Western officials said Canada was asked to delete that tweet, which in Arabic is seen to have the potential to go viral in the kingdom, an absolute monarchy known for its tightly controlled public messaging. While the message was also tweeted in English, a Western official said the Arabic version was interpreted locally as an attempt to "communicate directly" with Saudi people -- a serious infraction in the eyes of the kingdom. Canada refused to delete it, the sources told AFP, and the embassy's once low-profile Twitter account has seen its following jump from a few hundred to more than 12,000.
The contentious Arabic message has seen thousands of retweets.
'Megaphone to shout criticism' -Saudi officials privately insist that polite, closed-door engagement is a more effective diplomatic tool than public denunciations of the kingdom, long condemned for its human rights record.  "Using a megaphone to shout criticism may not work," another Western official told AFP. "But who in the (Saudi) government do we talk to about human rights? There are no clear channels of engagement." The Saudi information ministry's Centre for International Communication did not respond to a request for comment. In recent weeks, the kingdom has detained a number of human rights and women campaigners, some of them accused of undermining national security, with scant public information about their whereabouts or the legal status of their cases. Canada is hardly the first country to be censured for speaking up. In March 2015, Saudi Arabia recalled its ambassador from Stockholm over criticism by the Swedish foreign minister of Riyadh's human rights record. And the kingdom appears to have scaled back its dealings with some German companies amid a diplomatic spat with Berlin, sources say. But for Western nations, the choices are clear-cut. "If the objective is to preserve business contracts then public criticism is not a means to engage," said Momani."But if the intention is to support political liberalisation and civil society actors then public criticism is important to signal to domestic actors and the international community that Saudi policies are unacceptable."

Three Palestinians killed by Israeli fire on Gaza border

AFP, Gaza City, Palestinian Territories/Friday, 14 September 2018/Three Palestinians were killed by Israeli forces in clashes on Friday along the Gaza border, the health ministry in the coastal enclave said. One of the men, who was not named, was killed near Khan Yunis in southern Gaza, following the death of a 14-year-old during similar protests in the enclave’s north.
Hamas Top Official: Ongoing Negotiations Are Not Part of 'Deal of the Century'
Gaza /Asharq Al-Awsat/Friday, 14 September, 2018/Hamas Politburo member Husam Badran revealed details of the recent talks in Cairo between Palestinian factions and Egyptian intelligence officials regarding the truce, intra-reconciliation and Hamas' weapons. Badran, a member of the delegation to Egypt, said that Cairo moved to achieve the implementation of the ceasefire agreement reached on August 27, 2014, in the wake of the 51-day Israeli offensive against Gaza, and that Hamas positively received the Egyptian initiative.Badran explained that Hamas called for establishing the 2014 agreement and its terms, namely lifting the siege on Gaza. He pointed out that all Palestinian factions had been contacted and several meetings were held to determine a unified stance. Fatah was the only party that opposed the move and linked establishing the truce with reconciliation, which Badran considered an attempts to fail the truce. He indicated that this in fact intends to "perpetuate the siege of Gaza Strip and launch a campaign of defamation against the factions by claiming that the negotiations are part of the US ‘deal of the century’, which Hamas rejects.”The reconciliation is not advancing, according to Badran, who added that Fatah’s position pushed Hamas to pursue the talks within a broad Palestinian consensus. Asharq Al-Awsat asked Badran about his organization's request to build an airport in Eilat, which he denied saying it was a “lie and a fabrication”. He asserted that Hamas did not offer any alternative to Gaza Airport. Badran denied that the efforts to achieve the truce had stopped, stressing Egypt's commitment as a guarantor of the truce agreement. Discussing the “deal to exchange prisoners”, Badran asserted it runs a different course independent of other issues, adding that they are handling this issue in a "mature way", hoping to reach a new honorable prisoners' exchange deal at the nearest opportunity. Badran accused Fatah movement of trying to use some of the issues in the Strip to achieve gains and not reach a reconciliation, noting that Hamas was hoping to reach “a realistic and logical formula to achieve national consensus.”Hamas official considered the US-Israeli rejection of reconciliation the biggest obstacle and accused both sides of seeking the disarmament of the resistance, which is rejected by his organization. Asharq Al-Awsat asked Badran about Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas's statements on the weapons of Palestinian factions. He indicated the movement is aware of the President and the world’s position on the issue, and that it does not matter much, adding that the President believes that weapons and revolution are both ways of destruction. "But we know for certain that what is taken by force can only be recovered by force and that the resistance is the only force capable of defending our people,” reiterated Badran. However, he admitted Hamas was ready to reach an understanding on how weapons should be managed, in a way that would keep it a guarantor of Palestinian people’s rights. Badran concluded that, since its establishment, Hamas has not been part of the authority and that it participated in the elections to prevent another disaster of concessions. He indicated that an authority that coordinates with the occupation is not worth it.
US to impose tough sanctions on Iran in November, including flights
Arab News/September 14, 2018/Sanctions on Iran will start Nov. 4, which will effect Iranian carrier Mahan. The US says Iran is the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism. The US Assistant Secretary Marshall Billingslea said on Thursday that the United States will impose tough sanctions on Iran starting Nov. 4, including sanctions on Iranian carrier Mahan and its supporters. Billingslea praised Gulf countries’ unprecedented support for the administration’s efforts to put an end to Iran’s influence in the region. “Iran, the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism, continues to fund groups like Hizballah and Hamas and bankroll the Syrian regime’s slaughter of its people while advancing its missile program and sowing regional instability,” he said refereeing to Lebanon’s Hezbollah and Hamas in Gaza. “Russia provides weaponry and defense materiel to Iran, and extensive support to the Syrian regime enabling Assad’s brutal targeting of his own citizens,” US Assistant Secretary added.

The Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on
September 14-15/18
How American Women Help the Economy
Mark Whitehouse/Bloomberg/September, 14/18
America’s female workers deserve more appreciation: They’re playing a crucial role in helping the US economy grow without stoking unwanted inflation.
By many measures, the US is at or near full employment, the point at which demand for workers should push up wages and prices. The unemployment rate is at an extremely low 3.9 percent, and the number of available workers per job opening has declined to one, from more than six in the depths of the last recession. Yet wages haven’t responded as expected: Average hourly earnings were up 2.9 percent in August from a year earlier, more than in previous months but still well short of their pre-crisis growth rate.
Why the disconnect? One explanation is that people who weren’t counted as unemployed, because they weren’t actively seeking work, are coming off the sidelines and taking the jobs on offer. Women have made by far the biggest contribution. The share of females aged 25 to 54 either working or seeking work, also known as the prime-age labor participation rate, averaged 75.4 percent in the three months through August. That’s up from 73.6 percent three years earlier — a change that, together with population growth, amounts to almost 400,000 added workers.
It’s hard to know exactly why women have outperformed, but it’s possible to make some guesses. For one, they tend to stay out of the labor force to handle domestic tasks such as caring for children or relatives — something they can pay others to do if the right job comes along. Men, by contrast, tend to leave the workforce because of illness or disability, situations that often can’t be reversed. Also, women might be more inclined to pursue the kinds of high-social-skill jobs — say, in education and health care — that an evolving economy increasingly generates.
Whatever the reason, women’s willingness to rejoin the workforce raises a question for the Federal Reserve: What if they can keep going, reaching or even exceeding the 77-plus-percent participation rate achieved in the late 1990s? The added supply of labor could help keep wages in check, allowing the central bank to pursue a more stimulative monetary policy — and put more people back to work — without overheating the economy.
It’s something Fed officials might want to keep in mind as they decide on the trajectory of interest rates.

A Silver Jubilee for False Promises
Amir Taheri/Asharq Al Awsat/September 14/18
Yesterday marked the silver jubilee of an event that at the time it happened was hailed by some as a landmark in the use of diplomacy to achieve peace. If you wonder what we are talking about, don’t worry. Few people remember the event and most of those who do pretend not to remember. We are talking of the so-called Oslo Accords shaped between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization chief Yasser Arafat in secret negotiations in the Norwegian capital. At the time, the accord was marketed as the home-run to a solution of the “Palestinian problem” that had haunted the Middle East and generated much violence and many wars for decades. The excitement the “accord” created was so intense that a few weeks later it led to Nobel Peace Prizes for the trio that concocted it: Israeli leaders Yitzhak Rabin and Shimon Peres, and the PLO chief Arafat.
Right from the start, however, the true nature of the “accord” was either kept partly secret or hyped beyond limits of diplomatic double-talk. The Palestinians and their supporters in the West claimed that “Oslo”, as the accord came to be known in shorthand, was a first step towards the creation of a Palestinian state. They chose to ignore Rabin’s repeated statements about a Palestinian “entity short of a state that will independently run the lives of the Palestinians under its control”. Even Peres, who got carried away into a romantic muddle of thinking that he and Arafat could create a “new Middle East” of peace and prosperity, a delusional version of Theodor Herzl’s “Altneuland” (New-Old Country), didn’t talk of a two-state solution. He excluded a purely Palestinian state; instead, he promoted a Jordanian-Palestinian state, an idea he tried to sell to Americans and Egyptians without success.
There was also deception on the other side.
As early as 1988 at a press conference, Arafat had promised to recognize the right of Israel to exist as a state. After “Oslo”, however, he took no steps to transform that promise into political reality. To those who visited him after he had been installed as head of the Palestinian Authority, he played his old tune about a Palestine from “the river to the sea.”Arafat made it clear that he saw “Oslo” as a transient phase in a long-term campaign to eliminate Israel. When pressed, he would say he accepted the United Nations’ Security Council Resolution 224 which recommends talks between Israel and Arab neighbors to resolve their territorial disputes and make peace. At the time “Oslo” was unveiled some of us wondered about hidden reasons that produced it. The first reason that came to mind was that “Oslo” was designed to save Arafat from irrelevance. Arafat had lost much of his credibility with Arab and Islamic states first by siding with the mullahs of Tehran in 1979 and then by hanging to Saddam Hussein’s coat-tail during the invasion of Kuwait. Arafat was running short of money as his latest benefactor Saddam Hussein’s finances were squeezed as a result of sanctions imposed in 1991.
Without diplomatic support and without money, Arafat would be no more than a shadowy figure languishing in Tunisia.
His downward slide had been accelerated by the Madrid Peace Conference in which “real Palestinians”, that is to say, people who lived in the West Bank and Gaza, fielded an alternative leadership that quickly won respect and admiration across the world.
Unlike Arafat who was notorious for a career of violence, including attempts at destroying Jordan and plunging Lebanon into civil war, not to mention countless acts of terror in a dozen countries, the Palestinian delegation in Madrid established itself as a voice of reason and compassion. Haidar Abdul-Shafi, Hanan Ashrawi and Faisal al-Husseini, who had remained inside, did look like people who genuinely desired peace because they were directly affected in their personal lives.
Thus one undeclared aim of “Oslo” may have been to destroy the “Madrid” figures and re-impose Arafat’s hold on the Palestinian “cause.”
Another reason may have been the failure of part of the Israeli leadership to consider the possibility of peace with Syria at a time that the US, having flushed Saddam Hussein out of Kuwait, had established itself as the arbiter of things in the region.
At the time one heard echoes of feelers put out by Syrian President Hafez Al-Assad who promised Israel peace not only with Syria but also with Lebanon which was under his occupation. There is evidence that Rabin was initially tempted by the Syrian feelers. However, it seems that some in the Israeli leadership felt that giving up even part of the Golan Heights was too risky while giving Arafat an office in the West Bank would keep him in a cage. In choosing the path to “Oslo” the Israel leadership ignored a key lesson of the state’s founding father David Ben Gurion who insisted that the solution to the “Palestinian problem” had to start with peace with Arab neighbors. For without such peace, he argued, any Arab state could manipulate the Palestinians for its own ends. “Oslo” not only did not envisage the creation of a Palestinian state but may have even postponed it sine die. It created a new status quo in which those with guns and money on the Palestinian side felt comfortable while the Israeli side could also avoid contemplating the longer-term prospects of an unstable situation.
Ironically, the two-state idea has morphed into a cliché, especially for anyone running out of ideas as to how to deal with what Tony Blair once described as “the most difficult problem in the world.”Since “Oslo”, with the exception of Rabin, all Israeli prime ministers, that is to say, Peres, Ehud Barak, Ariel Sharon, Ehud Olmert and Benjamin Netanyahu have endorsed the “two-state” formula. The official Palestinian side has been more ambiguous on the subject, and, in the case of Hamas, hostile to the idea. It was only during the premiership of Salam Fayad that the Palestinians Authority came close to genuinely adopting the two-state formula as the basis for its strategy. Even if one does not believe that “Oslo” was still-born, it should be clear by now that the scheme is now all but dead.A quarter of a century later, we are left with a status quo that, though far from ideal, seems stable and the flickering hope of a new deal brokered by the US. In both cases, contrary to common perceptions, it is the Palestinians, weak and divided though they are, who will have to make a choice.

The Grim Cost of the "Oslo War"
Guy Millière/Gatestone Institute/September 14/18
Twenty-five years after Oslo, the balance sheet is more like what in 2003 the historian Efraim Karsh called the start of the "Oslo war". In this war, he wrote, Israel had conceded from the beginning a major victory to its worst enemies by giving them a respectability they did not deserve, and thus placed itself in a losing position from which it never fully recovered.
"Contrary to Rabin's slogan, one does not 'make [peace] with very unsavory enemies' but rather with former very unsavory enemies. That is, enemies that have been defeated... Wars end, the historical record shows, not through goodwill but through defeat. He who does not win loses. Wars usually end when failure causes one side to despair, when that side has abandoned its war aims and accepted defeat, and when that defeat has exhausted its will to fight. Conversely, so long as both combatants still hope to achieve their war objectives, fighting either goes on or it potentially will resume." — Daniel Pipes, Commentary, January 2017.
"The Palestinian people does not exist. The creation of a Palestinian state is only a means for continuing our struggle against the state of Israel for our Arab unity. In reality, today there is no difference between Jordanians, Palestinians, Syrians and Lebanese. Only for political and tactical reasons do we speak today about the existence of a Palestinian people, since Arab national interests demand that we posit the existence of a distinct Palestinian people to oppose Zionism." — PLO leader Zuheir Mohsen , interview in Trouw, March, 1977.
September 13, 1993: Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin shakes hands with PLO chairman Yasser Arafat, while President Bill Clinton looks on, at the signing of the Oslo Accord. (Image source: Vince Musi / The White House)
September 13, 1993. Yitzhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat shook hands on the lawn of the White House. They have just officially signed the document that was supposed to start Peace: the Oslo Accord. The cogs of this machine began their work.
Overnight, Yasser Arafat was no longer the leader of a defeated terrorist organization. He had suddenly become the President of a quasi-state; his Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) had been transformed into the "Palestinian Authority".
Terror attacks against Israelis attacks during this "peace" grew even more bloody and more profuse, and soon were being perpetrated at a frantic pace. Some deliberately targeted children and youths, such as the Dolphinarium discotheque massacre and the Sbarro restaurant suicide bombing. Arafat condemned none of them.
In September 2000, the Palestinian Authority launched a full scale guerrilla war that lasted four years and killed more than 1,000 Israelis.
It soon became clear that Arafat was not going to give up being a mass murderer. His successor, Mahmoud Abbas, was no better. Murders of Jews did not stop. Israel finally decided to build a security barrier. Palestinian leaders continued untiringly to make demands that no country could satisfy without committing suicide. These included retreating to indefensible 1949 armistice lines and allowing into Israel millions of people sworn to the Jews' destruction:
While it is true that Hamas is expert at getting innocent Palestinians killed, it has made it very plain, in word and deed, that it would rather kill Jews. The following blood-freezing statement is from the group's charter: "The Islamic Resistance Movement aspires to the realization of Allah's promise, no matter how long that should take. The Prophet, Allah bless him and grant him salvation, has said: 'The day of judgment will not come until Muslims fight the Jews (killing the Jews), when the Jews will hide behind stones and trees. The stones and trees will say 'O Muslims, O Abdulla, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him."
This is a frank and open call for genocide, embedded in one of the most thoroughly anti-Semitic documents you'll read this side of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. Not many people seem to know that Hamas's founding document is genocidal.
Israel, meanwhile, was constantly summoned to negotiate and make ever more concessions.
And make concessions it did. In 2005, Israel forcibly and unconditionally evacuated every last Jew from the entire Gaza Strip -- a move that resulted in Hamas swiftly seizing power there. Israel also offered, in a plan proposed by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in 2008, to abandon the eastern half of Jerusalem, and almost totally to withdraw from the West Bank and the Jordan Valley -- a move that led to the breakdown of negotiations by the Palestinian side. Even so, Israel continued to be defined internationally as the guilty party.
Although the Palestinian Authority never hid that it was still the same old genocidal PLO, it steadily gained widespread recognition: many countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America, and even the Holy See, recognize a "Palestinian state" that simply does not exist. "Palestine" obtained a seat at the UNESCO, was granted a Permanent Observer status at the United Nations.
Despite the fact that a large part of the foreign subsidies given to the Palestinian Authority were being used to reward terrorism and finance incitement to anti-Jewish hatred, foreign subsidies increased.
Palestinian propaganda gained ground internationally, and even in Israel. A growing number of Israeli Arabs became radicalized; some committed attacks.
Extremist organizations that had been established in Israel, but financed from abroad in the name of "peace," showed their true colors as openly hostile to the existence of Israel. The recent passing of a law that defines Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people, and stipulates what has been in evidence since the founding of Israel in 1948 (the Declaration of Independence does not exclude anyone and speaks of the "development of the country for the benefit of all its inhabitants"; it also explicitly speaks of the "natural right of the Jewish people to be, like all other nations, master of their destiny on the soil of their own sovereign state") led some of these organizations to try to provoke anti-Israel anger among the Druze minority and to organize protests in Tel Aviv.
Twenty-five years after Oslo, the balance sheet is more like what, in 2003, the historian Efraim Karsh, commenting on the Rabin-Arafat handshake, called the start the "Oslo war". In this war, he wrote, Israel had conceded from the beginning a major victory to its worst enemies by giving them a respectability they did not deserve, and thus placed itself in a losing position from which it never fully recovered. In a comprehensive study published in 2016, he reasserted his analysis and said that the 1993 handshake and the document signed then had been the "starkest strategic blunder in Israel's history".
In January 2017, the historian Daniel Pipes, founder and president of the Middle East Forum, explained in detail the urgent need of a deep change in Israel's behavior before it would be too late. The Palestinian population, he stressed, is imbued with a "genocidal obsession towards Israel." He emphasized that:
"Contrary to Rabin's slogan, one does not 'make [peace] with very unsavory enemies' but rather with former very unsavory enemies. That is, enemies that have been defeated...
"...Wars end, the historical record shows, not through goodwill but through defeat. He who does not win loses. Wars usually end when failure causes one side to despair, when that side has abandoned its war aims and accepted defeat, and when that defeat has exhausted its will to fight. Conversely, so long as both combatants still hope to achieve their war objectives, fighting either goes on or it potentially will resume."
In 2003, Joel Fishman, a Fellow of the Jerusalem Center of Public Affairs, wrote that, before any further action concerning the Palestinian issue, the Israeli government would have to stop treating the Palestinian Authority (PA) as what it is not and start treating it as what it is and has never ceased to be: a terrorist organization – and one that should be treated as such. The U.S. and Israeli governments are now going in that direction. On March 6, 2018, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that Abbas must "stop paying terrorists to murder Jews". The statement not only amounted to designating Abbas as a terrorist leader; it also reminded the public that money incentivizes murder. A few weeks ago, Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman noted that Abbas "pays NIS 100 million ($27 million) in salaries to terrorists and murderers" and added "a clear message: No more".
Those who support the Palestinian Authority are supporting terrorism. One can only conclude that in doing so, they have shown themselves as enemies of Israel. Saying that to some governments might be unpopular, but less so non-governmental organizations (NGOs). NGO Monitor was founded in 2002 to counter organizations that use the appearance of "defending human rights" to support often harmful goals. In July 2016, the Knesset passed a law demanding that NGOs receiving more than half of their funding from abroad indicate it in their financial reports and disclose the fact in advertising and publicity, and while lobbying officials. How would you like it if more than half of the funding to shape the policies of your country were coming, undisclosed, from openly hostile nations?
Another task that needs urgent attention is exposing, refuting and rejecting the falsifications of history that the PA and its supporters proliferate. The Israeli government's decision to withdraw from the UNESCO after a vote that falsely denied the Jewish connection to Jerusalem's Temple Mount and Western Wall was essential and overdue. When Prime Minister Netanyahu refers to the West Bank, he speaks only of Judea and Samaria, states that Judea is named precisely for the Jews' presence there thousands of years ago, and explains that expelling Jews from Judea and Samaria should be called by its name: ethnic cleansing.
In a March 1977 interview with the Dutch newspaper Trouw, PLO leader Zuheir Mohsen stated:
"The Palestinian people does not exist. The creation of a Palestinian state is only a means for continuing our struggle against the state of Israel for our Arab unity. In reality, today there is no difference between Jordanians, Palestinians, Syrians and Lebanese. Only for political and tactical reasons do we speak today about the existence of a Palestinian people, since Arab national interests demand that we posit the existence of a distinct Palestinian people to oppose Zionism."
The same fact was reconfirmed in a video posted by the invaluable resource MEMRI: a Hamas minister of the interior in 2012 states that Palestinians are "just Saudis and Egyptians."
For eight years, the Obama administration took positions to undermine Israel. Those policies culminated with the December 23, 2016 decision not to veto a UN resolution that demanded the return of Israel to "1967 borders", in reality not borders at all but just an armistice line. The policies also defined "East Jerusalem" and the Old City as "occupied Palestinian territory". President Trump on the other hand recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, moved the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem on May 14 and by those moves took Jerusalem off the negotiating table. Guatemala helpfully followed by moving its embassy to Jerusalem, too. When President Trump asked Palestinian leaders to stop paying stipends to terrorists imprisoned in Israel, and to the families of dead terrorists, and the Palestinians refused, he cut more than $200 million in aid to the Palestinian Authority.
President Trump's administration also regarded extending "refugee" status to millions of descendants of the approximately 500,000 original Arab refugees as unjustifiable. According to a classified State Department document, only 30,000 of the original refugees remain today. So the president cut all outstanding funding, roughly $300 million, to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA). He added that UNRWA had been "vulnerable to misappropriation and corruption" and that it aggravated the problem instead of contributing to solving it. On September 9, he also decided to freeze $25 million in funding to Palestinian hospitals in Jerusalem for refusing to participate in peace efforts, and on September 10, he decided to close the Palestinian delegation's office in Washington D.C.
The Sunni Arab regimes know that Israel could be their greatest ally against the Iranian threat in the region. Saudi Crown Prince Mohamed Bin Salman, said in New York in April that Palestinians will have to "accept the proposals made by the Trump administration or keep quiet". On August 12, Walid Sadi, a former Jordanian diplomat, wrote in the Jordan Times (a newspaper that depends directly on the kingdom's government) that the Palestinian Authority must "resign itself to an imperfect solution". The statement should lead one to reflect on what, in the Palestinian Authority's view, the perfect solution would be.
Israel has always been facing the unrelenting hostility of the European Union, France and Germany, which today are among the most ardent supporters of the corrupted "Palestinian cause". The Israeli government knows it has nothing to expect from them, except being undermined. In July 2016, Mahmoud Abbas, after making openly anti-Semitic remarks in the European Parliament, received a standing ovation. In July 2017, Emmanuel Macron kissed Abbas and with a straight face thanked him for his "tireless work in favor of non-violence". In April 2018, Hams leader Ismail Haniyeh was on the cover of one of the main French news magazines, Paris Match, and that several pages of the magazine were dedicated to a hagiography of a man who can only be described as an anti-Semitic murderer. In April 2017, while on a diplomatic trip to Israel, German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel met with groups that slander Israeli soldiers as "war criminals". The European Union, France and Germany will apparently not stop funding the Palestinian Authority and dozens of radical anti-Israel organizations, and are doing everything they can to save the "Iranian nuclear deal" and the mullahs' regime.
The number of Israelis who think that a peace agreement is possible is dwindling. The number of Israelis who think that no additional concessions should be made is growing. The number of Palestinian Arabs supporting terrorist attacks is also growing.
In a recent survey ranking countries on the basis of their alliances, influence and leadership, Israel, despite its small size, was ranked the eighth most powerful country in the world.
Hamas, a crumbling terrorist entity, has been trying to make the brutally governed population of the Gaza strip into a horde of bloodthirsty fanatics. The Palestinian Authority is a corruption-ridden autocracy that survives only thanks to massive aid, mostly from the gullible West – a bribe that not only has failed to work, but, as in most extortion, has only led to further demands for more money with no noticeable change in behavior.
It is has been truly tragic that the people in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank have been held hostage for so long by Palestinians leaders who feed them on a dream, impede their progress and lead them to incite against Israel to seek its destruction.
In February 2017, US Ambassador John Bolton, now President Trump's National Security Advisor, said he did not see any viable institutions on the "Palestinian" side and added that he thought the best option could be a "three-state solution", whereby Gaza would join Egypt, and a part of the West Bank would join Jordan. The Israeli government did not disagree.
*Dr. Guy Millière, a professor at the University of Paris, is the author of 27 books on France and Europe.
© 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.

Iran’s Faezeh Rafsanjani speaks
Mashari Althaydi/Al Arabiya/September 14/18
After forty years, prominent Iranian politician Faezeh, the daughter of the Iranian pragmatic symbol, some prefer to call him the reformist, Hashemi Rafsanjani, emerged to clearly state: “The experience is over. We failed. The Khomeini experience has failed.”
In an interview on an online channel, Faezeh attacked the Islamic Republic regime and emphasized that it has horribly failed and even “destroyed Islam.”“Like everyone, we believed the Islamic Republic would succeed but the Iranian Islamic government did not only fail but it also destroyed Islam,” Faezeh said.
She added, shooting an arrow into the heart of Khomeini’s sacredness, the supreme leader himself, and commented on the source of the disease: “Giving the supreme leader the title of the imam shields him from criticism, hence we cannot criticize the supreme leader. Criticizing the supreme leader in Iran today is a crime. If this person, (however), does not want to be criticized, he should step down. I am against giving the imam title to any figure who works in the procedural authorities in Iran because this will end with creating a dictatorship.”The question is what is the “practical” value of these stances and can they undermine the cohesion of the strong Khomeini structure? On the short and perhaps medium term, these stances only scratch the thick surface of Khomeini glass
Opposition within the regime
Faezeh is of course a politician by instinct, like her father Hashemi Rafsanjani, one of the “founding fathers” of the Khomeini regime who inherited the Shah’s kingdom. She has announced her opposition from inside Iran for years. Last June, she came under the oppression of the Revolutionary Guards’ men and judges. She criticized the Iranian regime’s policies and interferences in Syria and Yemen and said these policies, along with the regime’s suppression of popular protests inside Iran, will topple the regime. Faezeh is not the only one from among the elite of the builders of the Iranian revolutionary Islamic regime to sharply and deeply criticize the regime’s structure, vision and policies. By the way, she has also criticized the Revolutionary Guard’s permeation in Iranian life and strongly refused her country’s destructive interference in Iraq, Syria, Yemen and Lebanon.  The question is what is the “practical” value of these stances and can they undermine the cohesion of the strong Khomeini structure? On the short and perhaps medium term, these stances only scratch the thick surface of Khomeini glass but they will not break the network of interests and benefits that are shielded with iron bars that consist of security forces, troops and fatwas (religious edicts) as well. The frequency of such stances though shatters the sanctity of the Khomeini experience inside and outside Iran. Before that there were the stances of former Khomeini elite like Hossein Mousavi, Mehdi Karroubi and even Ahmedinejad himself.
Perhaps these media attacks mean that some have begun to jump off the Khomeini ship that’s staggering under the raging international waves. I think these statements’ deep significance is that they are deep and influential condemnation of “all” Islamists’ experiences, both Sunni and Shiite. This means Hamas, Ennahda and the Brotherhood in Gaza, Tunisia and Egypt. And now we await the condemnation of the Turkish Erdogan experience. We await another Faezeh in Turkey.

An entertaining Iraqi parliamentary session
Adnan Hussein/Al Arabiya/September 14/18
The second Iraqi parliamentary session, which was held last week in Baghdad, was illegitimate and unconstitutional. In fact, it was not even useful in favor of the issue it convened for, which is related to Basra. However, it had a few benefits.
The first session was held and it ended as if it had never been held. It is like it only served the purpose of recording the attendance of MPs so that they receive their salaries and ensure that their entitlements are entirely paid, whether the parliament achieves its goals or whether it remains captive of disputes and conflicts among political powers that are only concerned with governmental positions which are considered a source of wealth. The second benefit was that it offered the Iraqi people proof that the political class, which is controlling everything, has learnt nothing from its failed and destructive experience of over 15 years. Thus, it will never learn
The benefits
It’s for the sake of these posts and not anything else that the session was dismissed, without achieving its main objectives: electing the Presidency of the House of Representatives and which is the first step to proceed with the subsequent constitutional work such as electing the President of the Republic and identifying the largest parliamentary bloc and appointing it to form the new government. The second session looked more like a chitchat party in a popular coffee shop rather than a session of the highest authority in the country that is convening amid dangerous circumstances. Yet it had its benefits as I mentioned earlier. The first benefit was that the media broadcast an interesting TV segment, worth watching attentively from the beginning to the end. The second benefit was that it offered the Iraqi people proof that the political class, which is controlling everything, has learnt nothing from its failed and destructive experience of over 15 years. Thus, it will never learn. The third benefit was that the session showed that this class needs to be re-educated and trained on rules of good behavior, from the primary stage to university. In the primary and preparatory stage, we learnt how to raise our hands to ask for permission to speak, and we learnt how to be polite while talking to others. We also learnt how to show respect and appreciate our teachers, principals of our schools and each other. All this was practiced only partly in the second session. The fourth benefit was that the outgoing government has appeared to us like it’s in a weak situation that deserves pity. This is proof that the government with its leader and members, or at least most of them, are not competent, experienced and professional enough to run the government of a country like Iraq. Thus it is essential that a new government is formed according to rules and conditions that are completely different than previous ones that have governed forming the current and previous governments. In the end, it should be noted that Basra’s governor, who had been appointed for just a year, was distinguished with his calmness, discipline, honesty, courage and grief over his city Basra that is burning. If, moreover, he has integrity, then there is no doubt that he deserves to be nominated for the premiership of the new government.

China, Russia, Iran and Turkey to de-peg from dollar?
Shehab Al-Makahleh/Al Arabiya/September 14/18
Are world circumstances apt to jettison American dollar dominance? Since Donald Trump took over the presidency of the United States, opponents of Washington’s policies have been increasing. After Russia, Iran and North Korea were the main enemies, China and Turkey had also become at the top of the list of Washington’s trade war. Under the policy of economic sanctions imposed by the US administration on these countries, using American currency, the aforementioned states are now looking for a real response to Washington’s procedures in order to reduce the dominance of the US dollar globally. Can these countries undermine the dollar, and can these initiatives lead the global economy to depeg their economies from American dollar? This is the first time ever that the world economies witness such a dominance of one currency over others as the American dollar controls almost all of the world’s commercial and financial transactions. Most commodities are priced in dollars, primarily oil and financial stocks. The American currency accounts for about 85 percent of commodities and services traded worldwide. More than 60 percent of world currency reserves are dollar based. Thus, any revamp in the major world currency would lead to a global economic tremor as the current trend of funds around the world directly depends on dollar value.
Investments are moving in consistent with US dollar and the global economies center around American economy thereof, for how long will this last? The dollar has been the undisputed acknowledged master of international currencies since the end of World War II.
When the then President Richard Nixon decided in 1971 to prevent the conversion of the US dollar to gold, declaring the collapse of the Bretton Woods Agreement, which has been a landmark system for monetary and exchange rate management that was established in 1944, the dollar has since then become the world’s first “benchmark currency”. Other currencies have been affected by the rise or fall of the dollar. The dollar’s current exchange rate does not reflect its true value, which reinforces the idea that the US currency can easily lose its value easily
Safe haven
Since 1971, many investors view the dollar as a safe haven for gold, and may even outperform it as interest rates rise. This has been clear in the past 8 months of 2018. As gold is compared to dollar, the US currency derives much of its strength from this outlook that allows huge financial flows into US economy.
However, the dollar’s current exchange rate does not reflect its true value, which reinforces the idea that the US currency is fragile and can easily lose its value easily. According to an IMF report at the end of July 2017, the value of the dollar is overpriced by up to 20 per cent, based on fundamentals of the US economy. It is important here to clarify the idea that the decline in the dollar exchange rate does not mean the decline of control because domination relies on the use formula of the currency in commercial transactions or international reserves and financial loans. Thus, it is possible the dollar exchange rate would decline any time without affecting its dominance globally. In other words, the weakness of exchange rates does not affect US hegemony. In the past, economists believed that the dollar’s control over financial transactions in the world is almost absolute; this has changed since Trump has taken over US presidency. The number of those who reject American control, which is affecting the economies of many countries, has been increasing through the sharp drop in domestic currencies and high levels of inflation in these countries accordingly. Russia, Turkey and Iran seek exchange in local currencies. Russia, Turkey and Iran have recently faced economic sanctions imposed by the US administration, which has had a direct negative impact on the economies of these countries, prompting them to seek trade in local currencies. On August 11, 2018, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that his country is currently preparing to use local currency in trade exchanges with China, Russia, Iran, Ukraine and other countries, adding that Turkey is ready to establish the same system with Europe if Ankara seeks a way out of the American dollar grip and dominance. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has earlier confirmed that Russia supported the use of local currencies instead of US dollar in his country’s trade transactions with other countries including Turkey, stressing that the role of the dollar as an international reserve currency would recede and disappear over time.
China’s way to block the dollar
China’s intervention of the yuan in international Petro-Yuan is also a key step that would aggravate dollar’s dominance, a move that could lead to huge changes in the global oil game, which could erode the dollar’s supremacy. On March 26th, 2018, China began trading crude oil contracts denominated in Chinese currency on the Shanghai International Energy Exchange. The Chinese move is a direct challenge to the dollar-dominated pricing plan in crude oil markets in a bid to weaken the dollar as an international reserve currency. Countries use the dollar to buy oil, but are there factors that could make this change? This depends on the extent of demand based on Petro-Yuan formula. There is no doubt that countries suffering from a crisis with the dollar will go for this option. In the past, any country that seeks to buy oil must first get US dollars.This has been creating a huge demand for this currency at international markets, crafting global confidence in the dollar. However, China has made this step a new alternative, access to dollar is no longer a term now to buy oil. The lower the demand on US dollar, the lower its exchange price would be at international trade exchanges. Moreover, China is the world’s largest oil importer, making it possible to choose the countries that approve the Petro- Yuan deal with oil sellers, especially when oil prices are relatively low, and sellers have to export more of this commodity without losing their reserves of US dollars. However, this is not that simple and requires much time, especially since the world’s largest oil exporters agreed to accept the US dollar exclusively for oil sales more than 4 decades ago. In this regard, it is difficult to find swift fallouts, especially with American crude oil production increasing to its highest levels ever. Nonetheless, collective movement is what will undermine much of the American dollar dominance, which in turn affects American political and military influence overseas.

Enlightenment and moral absolutism

Faisal Al-Shammeri/Al Arabiya/September 14/18
The exchange of ideas and the ability to engage fellow citizens has always been one of the hallmarks of western societies. It was the desire to have a fully participatory society that motivated the aims of the French and Prussian Enlightenment in the 18th Century.
With the ideals of the Enlightenment not fully realized, once again in 1848 another surge from society took place with the aim of achieving these goals. The aspirations of 1789 and 1848 were to transform, and eventually supplant, the old monarchies that ruled throughout Europe with a liberal order.
One where the transcendent idea of a fully participatory citizenry debate was no longer confined by the norms of autocracy. The modern Western society that began to emerge in the 20th Century was one based on a common kinship, mutual understanding, and an acceptance of a shared common destiny.
One of the great misfortunes that visited France prior to the outbreak of World War II was the polarization of society as whole accompanied by a fracturing of the elite. The left was in many cases fixed to the idea of lock step solidarity with Bolshevik Russia, the goals of Marxist-Leninist ideology, and committed to completely remaking France into something it had never known. Segments of the right were so indignant at the prospects of the left taking power that it preferred to work with a German occupational authority than alongside the French left. When it came time to prepare the nation for war France could not, and when war did come, it was impossible to mobilize all levels of society to meet the mortal threat hanging over the nation.
In World War I the slogan had been “Now on to Berlin!” When World War II came it was not uncommon to see in Paris “Why War? Why Now?” The ability to have a fully engaged citizenry, identifying through common kinship and a shared destiny was non-existent.
When discussing the collapse of France in May 1940 this is without doubt one of the most prominent aspects to take into account. French society, in many regards, had collapsed well before the war started. Today in parts of the West there is an developing trend of dissolution of civil society from within. It is possible to arrive at this conclusion through the measuring stick of what has defined the West since Ancient Greece and Revolutionary France.
With the way some societies are trending it is not just “The Others,” who will be forced into unconditional surrender but the center too
Defining elements
The defining elements of the West are based in Greek/Athenian Democracy, French Enlightenment Values, free market principles as espoused in Adam Smith’s “The Wealth of Nations,” and a citizenry that is able to fully participate within the varying nations or republics that currently propagate the West. Strictly speaking in a sense of debate, discussion, and exchange of ideas the clarity of a full citizenry to participate in society is becoming murky in parts of the West. There seems to be a trend by some to create a coercive legal and social framework to aggressively confront their opponents by wrapping their cause in moral absolutism. While claiming the high ground of virtue they simultaneously define their opponents as “The Others,” as aliens, or suspicious strangers, and the object of punishment if they are not brought into the orbit of those who define themselves as the sole bearers of virtue. For those who disagree in this scenario it is tantamount to a demand for unconditional surrender by those moral absolutists.
What those who claim this standard of moral absolutism do not take into account is the many who live not at the poles of society’s spectrum but rather in the center. The middle, so to speak, merely wishes for progress to continue, to maintain some sort of normalcy in the process, and who don’t aspire to be claimed by anyone. With the way some societies are trending it is not just “The Others,” who will be forced into unconditional surrender but the center too. The goals of the moral absolutist is to wage unrestricted warfare on their opponents, completely dismantle the way of life as “The Others” know it and by extension create a guilt by association for all who oppose their vision of utopia. We have seen this in The Middle East. For centuries Sunni and Shia had lived as neighbors, friends, and intermarried throughout The Muslim World. Sectarian strife is only a recent trend. Sunni and Shiite are Muslims first before anything sectarian. Regarding the Umma, all Muslims are the same, mirror images of one another if you will.
Virtuous primacy
When moral absolutism was claimed in the name of a virtuous primacy and sold as a reasonable, palatable norm by belligerent forces one group of Muslims became “The Other.” What accompanied the ideology of moral absolutism for these individuals was unspeakable slaughter and bloodshed.
When these black hearts arrived in Iraq and Syria they spawned a cycle of violence that had not been known in either country during the lifetime of anyone who is able to read this. The “split” between Sunni and Shiite is really one that has common characteristics with those elements mentioned earlier in the West, which are becoming more commonplace in mainstream discourse. One side, claiming moral absolutism, believing that its cause to be irrefutably virtuous, without blemish, with a vilified opponent identified and isolated that either must be coerced into complete subjugation or compelled by any means necessary into unconditional surrender. In both cases a moment for honest reflection would show that there is far more in place that should bind them together. In both cases the moral absolutist pressed forward widening fractures to such an extreme that any accommodation became impossible. In both examples, it is virtue being forcefully applied to illogical areas. In both examples, those who are waging this ideological offensive unscrupulously use no rules or generally accepted terms of respect while asking “The Others,” to exist only within the rules that they apply on them in the name of moral absolutism.
In the Middle East the cost of indifference to taking on those who were self proclaimed moral absolutists while they were in their beginnings led to lost lives, pain and despair. In the West it remains to be seen where this ends. At the moment this current regression is in the beginning stages. However, if left unchecked it cannot be ruled out that violence will not accompany the moral absolutists as they insist on imposing their vision of a new and enlightened utopia.