Detailed Lebanese & Lebanese Related LCCC English New Bulletin For September 20/2018
Compiled & Prepared by: Elias Bejjani

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Bible Quotations
God will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart
First Letter to the Corinthians 04/01-08: Think of us in this way, as servants of Christ and stewards of God’s mysteries. Moreover, it is required of stewards that they should be found trustworthy. But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by any human court. I do not even judge myself. I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am not thereby acquitted. It is the Lord who judges me. Therefore do not pronounce judgement before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then each one will receive commendation from God. I have applied all this to Apollos and myself for your benefit, brothers and sisters, so that you may learn through us the meaning of the saying, ‘Nothing beyond what is written’, so that none of you will be puffed up in favour of one against another. For who sees anything different in you? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you received it, why do you boast as if it were not a gift? Already you have all you want! Already you have become rich! Quite apart from us you have become kings! Indeed, I wish that you had become kings, so that we might be kings with you!"

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 19-20/18
Lebanon bans The Nun for offending Christianity/Georgi Azar/An Nahar/September 19/18
Netanyahu tells Putin Syria is to blame for downing of Russian plane/Reuters/September 19/18
Immunity Backs Lebanese Politicians' Frantic Tweeting/Sanaa el-Jack/ Asharq Al-Awsat/September,19/18
US terror survey blames Iran for 'fomenting violence' in Middle East/AP/September 19/18
Hezbollah Ritually Humiliates the UN/Tony Badran/Tablet Magazine/September 19/18
Turkish Education: Same Old Religious Obsession, Only Worse/Burak Bekdil/Gatestone Institute/September 19/18
Iran’s Callous, Deadly Message/Eli Lake/Bloomberg/September 19/18
China Is Overtaking the US in Scientific Research/Peter R. Orszag/Bloomberg/September 19/18
Russia and Israel carry on their Syrian tango — for now/Dr. Theodore Karasik/Arab News/September 19/18
Russia to beef up air defenses, aircraft to curtail Israeli air operations in Syria/DEBKAFile/September 19/18

Titles For The Latest LCCC Lebanese Related News published on September 19-20/18
Aoun Says Economic Situation Is Difficult, Not Dangerous
Aoun throws support behind Lebanese economy
Aoun: Lira Not in Danger, Lebanon Not on Path of Bankruptcy
U.S. Says Hizbullah Has Emerged Emboldened from Syria War
Lebanon Ranked Among Countries with Lowest Government Integrity
PM Hariri denounces Badreddine street name
Hariri Blasts Decision to Name Badreddine Street as 'Seditious'
UK Ambassador: We'll Continue Our Work Together for Lebanon's Security, Stability, Prosperity
Berri Calls Parliament for Meeting Next Week
Army: Hujeir Linked to Iran Embassy Bombers, was Planning IS Attack
Nasrallah: Hizbullah to Stay in Syria, a Lot of Attacks Not on Our Arms Transfers
Kuwaiti Ambassador Hails Lebanese Position after Journalist ‘Insults’
Geagea: LF Represents a Third of Christians and We Want a Third of Their Ministers
Interior Ministry Says Street Naming After Badreddine ‘Provocative’
Lebanon bans The Nun for offending Christianity
US Lieutenant General Michael Garrett visits Army Commander
Hariri receives Bulgarian delegation and Muslim World League Secretary General
Rampling after visiting Berri: We will continue our work together for Lebanon’s security, stability and prosperity
Netanyahu tells Putin Syria is to blame for downing of Russian plane
Immunity Backs Lebanese Politicians' Frantic Tweeting
Controversy in Lebanon Over Street Named after Mustafa Badreddine
Army Arrests Suspect Involved in Iranian Embassy Bombing
Kataeb Party Joins International Democrat Union
US terror survey blames Iran for 'fomenting violence' in Middle East
Hezbollah Ritually Humiliates the UN

Titles For The Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on September 19-20/18
Iran’s Zarif Demands European Real-Time Action to Save Nuclear Deal
U.S. Says Terror Attacks Down but Global Threat More 'Complex'
Trump Says U.S., N. Korea Making 'Tremendous Progress'
Cyprus, Egypt Sign Accord for Gas Pipeline
Tsunami’ of Changes in Algerian Army Leadership
Renewed Battle for Yemen's Hodeida Sparks Humanitarian Crisis Fears
UN Envoy Leaves Sanaa amid Houthi Promise to Attend Geneva Consultations
Madrid Mulling Recognition of Palestinian State
Algeria Sacks Ground Forces Chief in Army Overhaul

The Latest LCCC Lebanese Related News published on September 19-20/18
Aoun Says Economic Situation Is Difficult, Not Dangerous Wednesday 19th September 2018/President Michel Aoun on Wednesday dismissed rumors about the economic situation in Lebanon, assuring that the Lira is steady and the country is not heading towards bankruptcy. "The economic situation is difficult, but the rumors being disseminated are harming Lebanon. We are not denying that there is a crisis, but we are solving it by approving state budgets, which were left abandoned over around 11 years, as well as through the economic plan we devised and the CEDRE conference," Aoun told his visitors at the Baabda Palace. The president accused "certain" political parties of spreading rumors in order to thwart the reformist campaign that has been launched. "We are here to carry out a rescue operation. I reassure the citizens about that, as I also warn of the dangerous repercussions of the psychological, despairing campaigns." "We must be a despair-resistant people. We have always struggled for our freedom, sovereignty and independence. Now, we must struggle to save our country," he stressed.

Aoun throws support behind Lebanese economy

"Lebanon is not on the road toward bankruptcy," he tweeted, adding that Lebanese should pull together to "save Lebanon as we did to secure our freedom." Annahar Staff /19 September 2018/ BEIRUT: President Michel Aoun threw his support behind Lebanon's troubled economy Wednesday maintaining that the "Lebanese currency is not in jeopardy." "Lebanon is not on the road toward bankruptcy," he tweeted, adding that Lebanese should pull together to "save Lebanon as we did to secure our freedom." Certain analysists have rung alarm bells over the country's anemic economic state since the outbreak of the Syrian civil war. The economic slowdown is evident across most industries, amid a growing fiscal deficit, an unsustainable debt to GDP ratio, rising unemployment and a decline in deposits growth; the primary source to finance state expenditures and debt servicing.Lebanon's GDP growth has averaged less than 2 percent since the outbreak of the neighboring civil war, with both the real estate and tourism sectors - the basis of Lebanon's economy - bearing the brunt of the crisis. Lawmakers have called for a swift formation of a new Cabinet and the implementation of wide-ranging reforms to avoid the looming impasse.

Aoun: Lira Not in Danger, Lebanon Not on Path of Bankruptcy

Naharnet/September 19/18/President Michel Aoun reassured Wednesday over the stability of the financial and economic situations in Lebanon. “Neither the lira is in danger nor Lebanon is on the path of bankruptcy,” Aoun tweeted, warning against “spreading rumors.”“The same as we resisted for the sake of our freedom, sovereignty and independence, today we must resist to rescue our country,” the president added.

U.S. Says Hizbullah Has Emerged Emboldened from Syria War
Associated Press/Naharnet/September 19/18/Iranian fighters and Iran-backed groups, like Lebanon's Hizbullah, have emerged emboldened from the war in Syria and with valuable battlefield experience that they are seeking to leverage elsewhere, the U.S. State Department said Wednesday.
The State Department's annual survey of global terrorism said Iran and its proxies are responsible for fomenting violence in Afghanistan, Bahrain, Iraq, Lebanon and Yemen. In the report, Iran was once again named as the world's leading “state sponsor of terrorism,” with the State Department accusing it of intensifying numerous conflicts and trying to undermine governments throughout the Middle East. In addition, the survey reported a 24 percent decrease in attacks around the world between 2016 and 2017. That was due mainly to a sharp decline in the number of attacks in Iraq, where the Islamic State group has been largely displaced.

Lebanon Ranked Among Countries with Lowest Government Integrity Wednesday 19th September 2018/Lebanon was ranked among the top ten countries with the lowest government integrity outweighing improvements in judicial effectiveness, monetary freedom, and government spending. According to the 2018 Index of Economic Freedom released by the Heritage Foundation, political forces hold sway over the judiciary in Lebanon, where "corruption reportedly is pervasive in government contracts, primarily in procurement and public works, and in taxation and real estate registration."The Index, which gave Lebanon a score of 20.2, also noted that bribes customarily accompany bureaucratic transactions in Lebanon. The score for this component is measured on a 100-point scale; a score of 100 indicates very little corruption and a score of 0 indicates a very corrupt government. Below are the ten countries that topped the list and their respective scores:
1. Venezuela: 7.5
2. Nigeria: 14.4
3. Cambodia: 17.7
4. Madagascar: 17.8
5. Somalia: 17.8
6. Angola: 18.9
7. Zimbabwe: 18.9
8. Lebanon: 20.2
9. Bangladesh: 21.2
10. Sudan: 21.4

PM Hariri denounces Badreddine street name
Georgi Azar/Annahar/September 19/18 /BEIRUT: Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri denounced El Ghubairi's municipality's decision to name a street after deceased senior Hezbollah official Moustafa Badreddine, calling it "regrettable.""We want justice and talked about stability and calm while others want to thwart the country in another direction," he said. "Some think rationally while others are seeking divisions." The municipality argued Tuesday that naming a street after Badreddine was "fully legal," a day after caretaker Interior Minister Nohad Machnouk denied that he greenlit the proceeding. Badreddine, alongside three other Hezbollah operatives, Salim Jamil Ayyash, Hassan Habib Merhi, Hussein Hassan Oneissi, and Assad Hassan Sabra, is accused of orchestrating the complex 2005 attack which killed Hariri and 21 others. Machnouk had argued Monday that he rejected the municipality's attempt to name a street after Badreddine, in line with his Ministry's duties to preserve national unity given the delicate nature of the situation. The prosecution of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon argued last week that Badreddine, believed to have perished in Syria in 2016, was the mastermind behind the complex operation.

Hariri Blasts Decision to Name Badreddine Street as 'Seditious' 19th September 2018/Prime Minister-Designate Saad Hariri on Tuesday said that no progress has been so far reached in the government formation, stressing that the problem behind the ongoing stalemate is purely Lebanese and has nothing to do with foreign interference. Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the weekly meeting of the Future bloc, Hariri blamed the Lebanese Forces, the Progressive Socialist Party and the Marada Movement for the delay, adding that a government won't be formed as long as each political faction is seeking to eliminate the others. "The delay in the government formation is the biggest mistake made against the country and President Aoun’s term," he stated. "For Aoun’s term to succeed, achievements should be accomplished. This is not linked to the number of ministers that each political party gets." Hariri condemned the decision to name a Beirut street after Mustafa Badreddine, one of the main suspects in the assassination case of his father, warning that such a move foments sedition. "We have resorted to justice and held onto stability, while others are trying to drag the country to another place. We are dealing reasonably with everything, whereas others are acting in a way that stirs sedition," he concluded.
UK Ambassador: We'll Continue Our Work Together for Lebanon's Security, Stability, Prosperity
Naharnet/September 19/18/British Ambassador to Lebanon Chris Rampling held talks Wednesday with Speaker Nabih Berri and announced that the United Kingdom will continue to support Lebanon’s security, stability and prosperity. "I’m delighted to have just had the opportunity to see his Excellency the Speaker of the parliament. Lebanon is a wonderful country but also a country that is extremely important for the United Kingdom," Rampling said after the talks. "We are proud of the work the UK and Lebanon have been able to do recently for the security and stability of Lebanon," he added. "And I’m thinking in particular of some of the work we have been able to do on helping the Lebanese Armed Forces to secure the Lebanese-Syrian border, education for all, and on service delivery in Lebanese municipalities," the ambassador went on to say. He emphasized that it is "extremely important" for Britain that "the Lebanese State is strong." “The United Kingdom will continue to support Lebanon’s security, stability and prosperity going forward," Rampling added.

Berri Calls Parliament for Meeting Next Week
Naharnet/September 19/18/Speaker Nabih Berri called the Parliament for a meeting on September 24 and 25 to discuss the draft laws listed on the parliament’s agenda, the National News Agency reported on Wednesday. Berri’s announcement came after he led a Parliament Secretariat meeting in the presence of deputy Speaker of the Parliament Elie Ferzli and member MPs: Samir Jisr, Alain Aoun, Michel Moussa, Hagop Pakradounian, Parliament Secretary-General Adnan Daher and Director Manager Mohammed Moussa. After the meeting, Ferzli said: “Berri led the parliament bureau meeting and we discussed the draft laws that should be included in the agenda, taking into consideration the exceptional circumstances and conditions of necessity that give momentum at all levels.” “We therefore agreed to hold morning and evening sessions until most of the drafts and projects are agreed by the parliament,” he added. Berri has been keen on holding a legislative session to approve a series of draft laws already approved by the joint parliamentary committees.

Army: Hujeir Linked to Iran Embassy Bombers, was Planning IS Attack
Naharnet/September 19/18/The army has confirmed that a senior jihadist militant arrested Tuesday in the Ain el-Hilweh camp had ties to two suicide bombers who attacked Iran's embassy in Beirut in 2013. “As a result of the surveillance of terrorist elements inside the Ain el-Hilweh camp, and after setting up a security trap, the Lebanese Army's Intelligence Directorate arrested Palestinian fugitive Bahaeddine Mahmoud Hujeir for being linked to the terrorist Abdullah Azzam Brigades group and for having ties to the two suicide bombers who attacked the Iranian embassy in Bir Hassan,” the army said in a statement. “One of them told him in advance that he intended to carry out a suicide operation inside Lebanon,” the statement added. More recently, Hujeir established ties with the jihadist Islamic State group and was “planning a security act for the group outside the aforementioned camp.” “He was also wanted on multiple arrest warrants related to terrorism,” the army added.

Nasrallah: Hizbullah to Stay in Syria, a Lot of Attacks Not on Our Arms Transfers
Naharnet/September 19/18/Hizbullah chief Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah announced Wednesday that his group will stay in Syria “until further notice,” as he noted that “a lot” of Israeli airstrikes in Syria were not targeted against weapons shipments for Hizbullah. “The continuous Israeli aggression against Syria is being carried out under various excuses and claims that Iran is arming Hizbullah in Latakia are totally baseless,” Nasrallah said in a televised address marking the tenth night of Ashura, referring to Israel's latest airstrike on the coastal Syrian region. “A lot of Israeli attacks on Syria have nothing to do with arms transfers to Hizbullah and Israel is seeking to prevent Syria from obtaining missile capabilities,” Nasrallah added. “No one can force us to withdraw from Syria and as long as the Syrian leadership needs us we will stay there,” Hizbullah's chief emphasized. "We will remain there even after the Idlib accord," Nasrallah said, referring to a Russia-Turkey deal to prevent a Syrian regime offensive on the country's last rebel-held stronghold. Stressing that Lebanon “cannot be separated from what's happening in the region,” Nasrallah noted that Lebanon's so-called dissociation policy is “a serious controversial issue in Lebanon, seeing as the events in the region are critical for the Lebanese people.”“Had Daesh seized control of Syria, what would have Lebanon's fate been?” he asked. “Before convincing yourselves, you must convince Daesh and al-Nusra (Front) that the events in Syria and Iraq are internal affairs,” Nasrallah added, addressing some Lebanese parties. Turning to the stalled Cabinet formation process, Hizbullah's leader lamented that “obstruction and paralysis” are engulfing it and that “no solution is looming in the horizon.”“No one can eliminate anyone in Lebanon and we must preserve the atmosphere of dialogue and calm,” he added.

Kuwaiti Ambassador Hails Lebanese Position after Journalist ‘Insults’

Naharnet/September 19/18/Kuwaiti Ambassador to Lebanon Abdul Al al-Qinai, praised the “official and popular Lebanese positions” condemning remarks made by a journalist deemed as insulting to Kuwait and its emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmed al-Sabah. The ambassador hailed the “official and popular Lebanese positions condemning the attack against Kuwait and its emir, which reaffirms the deep-rooted ties and fraternal relations between the two countries and their peoples,” said al-Qinai in a statement. He hailed “the sincere brotherly sentiments expressed by our brothers in Lebanon towards Kuwait and its leadership, starting with President Michel Aoun, Speaker Nabih Berri, Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri and current and former prime ministers, through to various political forces, economic bodies, religious, social and media figures, as well as labor unions.”He said their position reflects “the deep-rooted relations between Lebanon and Kuwait which cannot be affected by abuses of small people." The ambassador expressed appreciation to the Lebanese people for showing solidarity with Kuwait. In an interview on al-Manar, the journalist Salem Zahran, who is close to Hizbullah, claimed that U.S. President Donald Trump has forced Kuwait's emir to cancel oil contracts worth $11 billion with China and to sign similar contracts with the United States. Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri condemned the remarks and tasked State Prosecutor Samir Hammoud with probing the content of the interview. Zahran welcomed the legal move and said he would “bear the full responsibility if the content deserves being sued.”

Geagea: LF Represents a Third of Christians and We Want a Third of Their Ministers

Naharnet/September 19/18/Lebanese Forces chief Samir Geagea stressed that his party has won one-third of the Christian votes in the May parliamentary elections and is equally entitled to allocate one-third of the Christian ministerial shares in the new Cabinet, al-Joumhouria daily reported on Wednesday. According to Free Patriotic Movement chief, Foreign Minister Jebran Bassil, “31% of the Christian votes represent the LF,” said Geagea, “which means we represent a third of the Christians and we have the right to one-third of the Christian ministerial representation, i.e. five ministers.”“We want a third of the Christian ministrial shares,” stressed Geagea in remarks he made to the daily about the Cabinet formation and the delayed process since May. Referring to the Maarab agreement with the FPM, Geagea said: “We have signed an agreement of two parts with the FPM, one part political and the second is authority-related.
“Based on the agreement we have agreed on dividing portfolios including the sovereign ones,” added Geagea. The four so-called sovereign portfolios are defense, foreign affairs, finance and interior. PM-designate Saad Hariri was tasked with forming a new government on May 24 but his task has been since delayed because of conflict over shares mainly the Christian and Druze representation. The LF, which recorded a sweeping victory in the country’s May legislative elections, almost doubling its parliament seats, insists on getting four seats including a sovereign portfolio. The 2016 Maarab agreement brought the onetime foes together,Geagea and FPM founder President Michel Aoun. Geagea had withdrawn from the presidential race in favor of Aoun endorsing him for the head of State post.

Interior Ministry Says Street Naming After Badreddine ‘Provocative’

Naharnet/September 19/18/Naming a street after slain Hizbullah commander accused of masterminding the assassination of ex-prime minister Rafik Hariri is “provocative” since it synchronized with the beginning of closing argument of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, Asharq al-Awsat daily reported on Wednesday. “The political timing for naming a street after (Mustafa) Badreddine is provocative. It came in parallel with the launch of closing arguments of the STL. The issue is political and security-related rather than administrative,” as claimed, sources from the Interior Ministry told the daily on condition of anonymity. The sources stressed that the Ghobeiri municipality should have waited for the interior ministry’s approval before taking the step. The municipality of Ghobeiri, south of Beirut, recently renamed a street leading up to the Rafik Hariri National Hospital after Badreddine, one of the accused of masterminding the assassination of Hariri. The backlash comes just days after the STL, a U.N.-backed court investigating the 2005 car bomb that killed Hariri and 22 others, began hearing closing arguments. The Ghobeiri municipality says it submitted a request to the interior ministry one year ago to rename the street as is required by law, but that the lack of a response from the ministry within a month indicated tacit approval. It insists its decision was "legal, normal, and legitimate." The interior ministry announced on Monday it rejected the municipality honoring "one of the main people accused" of killing Hariri. It said it would demand the street signs be removed.
Lebanon bans The Nun for offending Christianity
Georgi Azar/An Nahar/September 19/18
The film is thought to have failed the government's normal screening procedures, consisting of a committee made up of delegates from several ministries, including that of the interior, foreign affairs, and education.
BEIRUT: Lebanon has banned Hollywood's latest thriller 'The Nun' for "disparaging the Christian faith."The film is thought to have failed the government's normal screening procedures, consisting of censorship commitee under the patronage of the General Security.  "The film is offensive to Christianity and to the Chruch as a place of worship while also distorting the image of nuns," a source who spoke to a French daily on condition of anonymity said. The source denied that religious pressure influenced the decision, yet Wadad Jarbou, an activist at the Center for the Defense of Media and Cultural Freedoms (SKIES), argued "that religious figures undoubtedly influence such decisions."The Hollywood supernatural thriller, which centers on a young novice about to take her final vows and a priest sent by the Vatican to investigate the death of a young nun in Romania, was set for release on September 6. Lebanese have been accustomed to authorities having a say in what movies they deem are appropriate for the public. Last year, authorities applied a short-lived ban on 'The Post' due to its director, Steven Speilberg. Spielberg, who hails from a Jewish family, was blacklisted by the Arab League's Central Boycott Office after making a $1 million donation to Israel during the 2006 conflict with Lebanon. After a public outcry, Lebanon's Interior Ministry overturned the directive after the country's prime minister intervened to allow the screening of the movie in Lebanese theaters.

US Lieutenant General Michael Garrett visits Army Commander
Wed 19 Sep 2018/NNA - NNA - On September 19, 2018, the Commander of United States Army Central, Lieutenant General Michael Garrett, met with the Commander of the Lebanese Armed Forces, General Joseph Aoun, and visited the Air Assault Regiment, to discuss Lebanon’s integration of 32 U.S.-provided Bradley Fighting Vehicles into its forces. The Bradley Fighting Vehicle is the most advanced combat system in Lebanon. The U.S. government is committed to the Lebanese-American partnership and support of the Lebanese Armed Forces in their capacity as the sole defender of Lebanon.

Hariri receives Bulgarian delegation and Muslim World League Secretary General
Wed 19 Sep 2018/NNA - Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri hoped that the positive atmosphere will prevail in order to reach a solution in the issue of the government formation. He said: “I hope that this will happen today before tomorrow. In my opinion, all political parties should calm down and everything could be solved.”Hariri's stance came in response to a question from a journalist during his patronage this evening at the opening ceremony of the 9th edition of the Beirut Art Fair at the Sea Side Arena. Asked “Will you pursue contacts to resolve the issue of the government formation”, he replied: “hopefully”.
Hariri received this evening at the Center House the president of the ABV Party and former Bulgarian Minister of Interior Rumen Petkov, accompanied by the head of the Lebanese-Bulgarian business council Ahmed Alameddine. Petkov said after the meeting: “We agreed to enhance the relations between ABV and the Future movement, especially between the youth of the two parties. I also invited Prime Minister Hariri to visit Bulgaria. Mr. Alameddine and the Lebanese-Bulgarian business council are going to have a business conference in Sofia. We hope to have Prime Minister Hariri as a guest in Sofia. It will be good for Lebanon and Bulgaria.”
Hariri also received the Secretary General of the Muslim World League, Dr. Mohammed bin Abdul-Karim Al-Issa, in the presence of Mohammed Al-Sammak. During the meeting, Al-Issa presented to Prime Minister Hariri a gift, a piece of the Kiswah (the cloth covering the Kaaba) and a Quran. Talks continued over dinner.

Rampling after visiting Berri: We will continue our work together for Lebanon’s security, stability and prosperity
Wed 19 Sep 2018/NNA - In a press release by the British Embassy in Beirut, it said: "British Ambassador to Lebanon, Chris Rampling, on Wednesday met with House Speaker Nabih Berri. Following his meeting, Ambassador Rampling said: 'I'm delighted to have just had the opportunity to see the Speaker of the parliament. Lebanon is a wonderful country but also a country that is extremely important for the United Kingdom. We are proud of the work the UK and Lebanon have been able to do recently for the security and stability of Lebanon. And I'm thinking in particular of some of the work we have been able to do on helping the Lebanese Armed Forces to secure the Lebanese-Syrian border, education for all, and on service delivery in Lebanese municipalities. It is extremely important for us that the Lebanese State is strong, and the United Kingdom will continue to support Lebanon's security, stability and prosperity going forward. As I said to the Speaker, I very much look forward to continue to work with him over the coming years.'"

Netanyahu tells Putin Syria is to blame for downing of Russian plane
Reuters/September 19/18
Following Russian president's admission that shooting down of its plane was a result of a 'chain of tragic circumstances,' the prime minister holds Assad forces responsible for tragic incident and says Israel will provide 'all necessary information' to help investigation. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday that Syrian forces were to blame for the downing of a Russian military jet off Syria’s coast but he offered “all necessary information” to investigate the incident. Putin said earlier that the shooting down was the result of a chain of tragic and chance circumstances and appeared to somewhat defuse the situation though he said Russia needed to look further into what happened. “The prime minister expressed regret on behalf of the state of Israel for the death of the Russian soldiers and said responsibility for downing the plane was placed on Syria,” Netanyahu’s office said in a statement following their phone conversation. It said Netanyahu emphasized the importance of defense coordination with Russia that had managed “to prevent many losses on both sides in the past three years” in Syria’s civil war, where various outside powers have backed opposing forces. Netanyahu and Putin hold frequent meetings and phone conversations and military officials communicate to ensure their respective aircraft avoid accidentally clashing in the region’s airspace. Since intervening in Syria in 2015, Russia has usually turned a blind eye to Israeli attacks. Israeli officials say Israel has carried out about 200 such raids, often targeting Iran or Lebanon’s Hezbollah militia group, both close allies of the Syrian government, over the last two years. Netanyahu “offered to send the Israeli Air Force commander to Moscow to deliver all the necessary details” for the investigation, the statement said. He added that Israel was “determined to halt Iran’s military entrenchment in Syria and the attempts ... to transfer to (Iranian-backed) Hezbollah, lethal weaponry (to be used) against Israel.”Netanyahu’s statement was issued as sirens sounded throughout Israel to mark the beginning of the Yom Kippur religious fast day, when much of the country falls silent, with radio and television broadcasts going off the air and all transportation stopping for 24 hours.

Immunity Backs Lebanese Politicians' Frantic Tweeting
Sanaa el-Jack/ Asharq Al-Awsat/September,19/18
Taking to Twitter in service of their own ends, Lebanese politicians use the platform to expose secrets previously kept exclusive to political echelons. But unlike the average citizen, Twitter-active politicians enjoy immunity. Maj. Gen. Jamil al-Sayyid said that posting on Twitter was a simple daily habit he practiced with no expectations whatsoever for his account to pick up a following of over 300,000. “In the past, I was obsessed with the notion of expression, and made frequent contacts with televisions and newspapers to convey my stances,” he told Asharq Al-Awsat.
“But with Twitter, it’s like I have my own radio podcast, television broadcast and a newspaper right at home. It takes one sentence to make an impact," he added. In another muscle flexing Twitter spat, Environment Minister Tarek Khatib scolds Lebanese journalist Charles Ayoub over the latter’s prodding around affairs of the caretaker Foreign Minister, Gebran Bassil. In an Arabic tweet, Khatib tells Ayoub that his “harassment of great warriors will not take him any higher, and that Gebran Bassil will not stoop down to his level and grant him the privilege of response.” “You need a mental hospital,” Khatib slams Ayoub. Sociology Professor Dr. Talal Atrissi deplored double standards practiced in Lebanon that see to politicians getting off scot-free with blasting rivals, while the average citizen is dragged into investigations. A politician posts whatever comes to his mind on Twitter with minimal accountability. Unlike interviews and debates that are moderated by journalists, social media does not constrain the politician, Atrissi criticized. “The Lebanese see Twitter as an escape, and simply don’t care about filtering what they say because they do not personally know the reader or responder,” he added. “But if we assume that politicians are leaders and a role model for the public, then hearing an official cursing and using denigrate language makes way for others doing the same,” Atrissi said on the poorly, at times rudely, phrased tweets. Atrissi remarked that a politician is responsible whenever he or she speaks, explaining that an elected representative is not an ordinary person that can act freely and in an unbalanced manner. On social media, Lebanese politicians have not been shy in expressing hostility, brazenly lambasting their rivals. “The issue with Lebanese behavior is facing each other edgily and aggressively on Twitter-- as if there is hostility harbored against anyone who is not me,” Atrissi added. “We need a lot of time to change this culture of resentment, through deliberate steps that contribute to eliminating provocation.”

Controversy in Lebanon Over Street Named after Mustafa Badreddine

Beirut - Asharq Al-Awsat/Wednesday, 19 September, 2018/Interior Minister in the caretaker government Nohad al-Machnouk asked the municipality of a locality in Mount Lebanon to remove street signs bearing the name of late Mustafa Badreddine, a senior official in "Hezbollah" and a key suspect in ex-PM Rafik Hariri's assassination. Social networking sites reported on Monday that the minister had granted a year ago the municipality of Ghobeiry the permission to name a street after Badreddine, who was killed in Damascus in May 2016. After denying in a statement on Monday that he allowed the municipality to make such step, Machnouk addressed a letter to the concerned body, saying: “The application of powers provided for the municipality under the Municipalities Law is not absolute, but should guarantee that nothing in its practice affects the public order.” The letter came in response to the Ghobeiry municipality, which stressed that its decision was legitimate and legal and was taken a month after submitting its demand to the ministry and not receiving an answer of refusal or acceptance. The minister said in his letter that the interior ministry had the right not to consider a late response as a tacit consent, in accordance with the provisions of Article 63 of the Municipalities Law, “especially when the issue has political dimensions and sectarian and security aspects that would threaten security and order.”
“It is not permissible to consider the decision ratified and enforced, under the pretext of the passing of one month” since the submission of the demand to the ministry, Machnouk noted.

Army Arrests Suspect Involved in Iranian Embassy Bombing 19th September 2018/The Lebanese Army's Intelligence unit on Tuesday arrested a main suspect involved in the double suicide bombing that targeted the Iranian embassy in Beirut five years ago. Palestinian factions inside the refugee camp of Ain al-Helweh handed Bahaeddine Hujeir, who is said to be linked to one of the two suicide bombers who carried out the attack, over to the Army. Two suicide bombings rocked Iran's embassy compound in Lebanon in November 2013, wounding 150 people and killing 30 others, including an Iranian cultural attache. The Abdullah Azzam Brigades claimed responsibility and threatened further attacks unless Iran withdraws forces from Syria.

Kataeb Party Joins International Democrat Union Wednesday 19th September 2018/Kataeb leader Samy Gemayel on Wednesday announced that the party has joined the International Democrat Union (IDU), a working association of like-minded political parties of the centre and centre right from all over the world.
Formed in 1983, the IDU provides a forum in which parties holding similar beliefs can come together and exchange views on matters of policy and organisational interest, so that they can learn from each other, act together, establish contacts and speak with one strong voice to promote democracy and centre-right policies around the globe.Founder Members of the IDU included Britain’s Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, then US Vice-President George Bush Sr, Paris Mayor and later President of France Jacques Chirac, German Chancellor Helmut Kohl and many other Party Leaders.
US terror survey blames Iran for 'fomenting violence' in Middle East
AP/September 19/18
The US has once again named Iran as the world's leading state sponsor of terrorism/The report said Iranian fighters and Iran-backed militias, like Lebanon's Hezbollah, had emerged emboldened
WASHINGTON: The US has once again named Iran as the world's leading state sponsor of terrorism, accusing it of intensifying numerous conflicts and trying to undermine governments throughout the Middle East. The State Department's annual survey of global terrorism released on Wednesday said Iran and its proxies are responsible for fomenting violence in Afghanistan, Bahrain, Iraq, Lebanon and Yemen. The report said Iranian fighters and Iran-backed militias, like Lebanon's Hezbollah, had emerged emboldened from the war in Syria and with valuable battlefield experience they seek to leverage elsewhere. "Iran remains the world's leading state sponsor of terrorism and is responsible for intensifying multiple conflicts and undermining US interests in Syria, Yemen, Iraq, Bahrain, Afghanistan, and Lebanon," he said. All three -- Daesh, Al-Qaeda and Iran -- "have both the capability and intent to strike the United States and our allies," State Department Coordinator for Counterterrorism Nathan Sales said. The report indicated a general increase in global cooperation to fight terrorism, including tracking and blocking financial flows to the groups. But this remains a challenge, Sales noted. "You have got to stop the flow of money to these organizations.""You have got to stop terrorist travel" as well, he added, pointing to the spread of airport detection systems like biometric face identification as a potent tool. In addition, the survey reported a 24 percent decrease in attacks around the world between 2016 and 2017. That was due mainly to a sharp decline in the number of attacks in Iraq, where the Daesh group has been largely displaced.
Hezbollah Ritually Humiliates the UN
طوني بدران: حزب الله يهين ويحتقر الأمم المتحدة بخطابه وبكل طقوسه وممارساته

Tony Badran/Tablet Magazine/September 19/18
In what is becoming a yearly ritual, the United Nations Security Council unanimously adopted resolution 2433 end of August, extending the mandate of the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) for another year. The usual actors played their familiar scripted roles: Hezbollah restated its red lines through its habitual threats. Hezbollah’s little helper, “the Lebanese government,” demanded the world continue with the status quo and otherwise keep quiet, and, finally, the Europeans, namely France, led the charge at the UN Security Council to ensure the Lebanese got what they wanted, and blocked any attempt by the United States to introduce amendments to the mandate.
There was one change from last year’s performance, however. Whereas a year ago U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley expressed optimism at the minor and entirely cosmetic changes the United States did manage to introduce, this year, Amb. Haley didn’t even attend the voting session and declined to issue a statement afterwards.
This was fitting, as UNSCR 2433, like its predecessor UNSCR 2373, is an abject failure. What was lauded last year as an improvement, which was supposed to enhance UNIFIL’s freedom of operation, of course always in coordination with the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF), predictably proved hollow. In fact, Hezbollah made a point to underscore that fact.
On August 4, following a well-established modus operandi, Hezbollah orchestrated an attack on a UNIFIL patrol in the town of Majdal Zoun, north of Naqoura. “The locals”—a Hezbollah tongue-in-cheek euphemism—spotted the Slovak unit taking pictures and surrounded it and obstructed its path. When the patrol tried to escape, the Hezbollah “locals” attacked it, damaging its vehicles. As the patrol moved on, Hezbollah operatives in nearby villages cut it off again, attacked it, confiscated some of its weapons, its cameras and equipment and set fire to their vehicle near the headquarters of the Italian contingent. Later on, Hezbollah “negotiated” the return of the equipment through the LAF, clarifying precisely the role the LAF plays in Lebanon, that of Hezbollah errand boys.
The attack was part of a concerted Lebanese messaging campaign—itself now a fixed annual ritual—in the lead-up to the UNIFIL mandate renewal. In particular, the messaging targeted the incoming UNIFIL force commander as well as France. The message was the same as ever: follow the red lines Hezbollah sets, don’t think about changing UNIFIL’s mandate, or else.
As usual, the pro-Hezbollah newspaper al-Akhbar was the preferred conduit for these threats. Addressing the incoming Italian commander of the force, Maj. Gen. Stefano Del Col, al-Akhbar advised the new UNIFIL commander to understand that his mission is “to keep the peace in the south, and not to protect Israel’s security.” Consequently, it added, “he should jettison NATO and Chapter 7 experiences which are impossible to implement in Lebanon.”
The Hezbollah mouthpiece also addressed the French—in keeping with last year’s practice—dispensing with the veneer of subtlety altogether: “the French have approached the matter of renewing the international force’s mandate not as a file which concerns Israel’s security, but as one which concerns French national security, considering the presence of French officers and soldiers in south Lebanon (around 1,200 soldiers). And so they responded to the Americans’ requests by rejecting any attempt to amend UNIFIL’s mission—out of their concern for the security of their soldiers in the south.”
The French seem to have obliged once more. Reportedly, the United States wanted to introduce a condemnation of Hezbollah’s armed activity by name—incredibly, a resolution about armed activity in south Lebanon never mentions the group by name—as well as of Hezbollah’s environmental organization, “Green Without Borders,” which has observation posts along the Blue Line under the cover of environmental work. Apparently, this was not acceptable to the other members of the Security Council.
The United States did manage to add an expression of “concern” over the publicized visits last year by commanders of Iranian-led Shi’ite militias to the Blue Line. Needless to say, there was no holding the Lebanese to account. Instead, when not praising them effusively, UNSCR 2433 robotically continues the practice of urging more international funding for the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) in order to extend “the control of the Government of Lebanon over all Lebanese territory.”
All of which underscores why this approach is a fool’s errand. It’s not just because not one European country would agree to any meaningful changes to the UNIFIL mission, but also because the force’s mandate is predicated on coordination with the Lebanese government and the LAF. That would be the LAF which chaperoned Hezbollah’s media tour along the Blue Line last year. As for the Lebanese government, a couple of weeks ahead of the vote to extend UNIFIL’s mandate, the Minister of Finance Ali Hassan Khalil declared in an interview that in 2006, “There were those who thought of taking advantage of the Israeli aggression to pounce on the Resistance and the weapons of Hezbollah.” Khalil then added, “Today, it is forbidden to raid the Resistance’s arms depots, and any idea of pulling the arms to beyond the Litani River, we refuse to even discuss.” That is, lest anyone harbor any illusions about what “coordinating” with the LAF and “extending government authority” actually mean.
Naturally, Washington ignores this inconvenient reality. At the same time, the United States managed to add to the UN Secretary General’s reporting obligations a request for “an annex on the implementation of the arms embargo.” It should make for interesting reading, considering that Iranian airliners fly in weapons straight into Beirut Airport. However, one must question the point of it if we’re not going to hold the Lebanese to account, and instead continue to churn out inanities about “strengthening state institutions.” For if there’s one thing more useless than UNIFIL, it’s the Lebanese state with which it’s required to coordinate.
The failure reflected in UNSCR 2433 is an outgrowth of the abject failure and ludicrousness of U.S. policy in Lebanon. As a result, any attempt to tweak the existing, flawed framework ends up in the realm of the absurd. Take for instance UNIFIL’s Maritime Taskforce. In its bid to cut spending, the US is looking to reduce the Taskforce, ultimately leading to its termination. There is little doubt about the ineffectiveness of the Taskforce, since, like UNIFIL more broadly, it cannot interdict and board vessels, and must refer them to the LAF. Over more than a decade, it referred 10,500 suspicious vessels to the LAF, which unsurprisingly found none to be carrying arms. The times such cargo ships get interdicted is when the Israeli navy does it, as happened in 2009 with the MV Francop, which was carrying hundreds of tons of Iranian arms to Hezbollah.
But what UNSCR 2433 does is to call on Lebanon “to develop a plan to increase its naval capabilities, including with appropriate support from the international community” so that the Taskforce’s responsibilities could transition to the LAF, as the latter’s capabilities are built up. In other words, the proposed remedy to the ineffectiveness of UNIFIL and the direct, active complicity of the LAF in facilitating arms smuggling to Hezbollah, is to … give more money to the LAF. I mean, what better way to spend the money we would save from funding UNIFIL?
Both the LAF and UNIFIL share the same objective of not disturbing the status quo, which is to say, not to cross Hezbollah’s red lines. In turn, this raises a question about the point of underwriting this arrangement altogether, while pretending UNIFIL is doing something that it clearly cannot and will not do. Instead, UNIFIL has become more akin to yet another UN aid agency. It clears minefields, and works “together with the Lebanese authorities, in creating the conditions conducive for the population to build their future.” It also “works closely with many municipalities and local authorities to strongly support their communities.” It even hires Hezbollah members and supporters!
Beside that, UNIFIL, as Hezbollah’s effective threats have demonstrated, functions as hostages or human shields of sorts. As the pro-Hezbollah al-Akhbar put it, after it relayed the group’s threat, “the ‘internationals’ [UNIFIL] have proved that what matters to them most is to finish their term without any Israeli aggression.” That is, do the time, keep the peace with Hezbollah, and don’t rock the boat.
In other words, the UNIFIL mission will continue to be a waste of time and money. Its mandate will continue to be predicated on coordination with the LAF, especially as no contributing state will want to risk the safety of its soldiers. Which is to say, the whole affair is an elaborate make-believe. We make believe UNIFIL is doing its job. Washington makes believe the LAF is a real option for advancing the US interest in Lebanon, which is the disarmament of Hezbollah. Since this is not reality, the US government compensates this failure with platitudes and Arab-style poetry about the LAF as the “sole legitimate defender” of Lebanon, and about the “reactivation of Lebanese state institutions,” and other meaningless words. Perhaps we should start to consider bringing down the curtain on the whole sorry play.

The Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on September 19-20/18
Iran’s Zarif Demands European Real-Time Action to Save Nuclear Deal
London - Asharq Al-Awsat/Wednesday, 19 September, 2018/Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has urged European countries to take practical steps to keep Tehran in the nuclear deal. He also invited Iranian parties to accept implementing Financial Action Task Force (FATF) standards on countering money laundering and the prevention of terrorist financing. Zarif announced Tuesday that he would meet with his counterparts in countries remaining in the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), otherwise known as the Iran deal, next week. Despite the upcoming meeting, Zarif reiterated his demand for the Europeans to “carry out practical steps” to maintain the agreement, saying that Europeans know well that Iran takes its decisions based on their ability to implement these steps. Head of Atomic Energy Organization of Iran Ali Akbar Salehi also called on the European Union to speed up steps announced to make up for the US exit. On the other hand, Zarif called on Iranian lawmakers to pass three of the four Iranian government draft resolutions submitted in March, which aim to make it easier for Iran to join international agreements on financial transparency and money laundering and terror funding counter-efforts. Conservative deputies have pushed against Iran joining the FATF after Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei announced last June his opposition and urged parliamentarians to pass local alternative laws in July. FATF is an intergovernmental organization founded in 1989 on the initiative of the G7 to develop policies to combat money laundering and terror funding. Last week, Iran’s Expediency Discernment Council opposed a bill set for Iran to join FATF, after a row took place between the conservative body and government officials. Zarif's call comes less than 10 days after Iranian reformist lawmaker Mahmoud Sadeghi quoted “credible sources” about Khamenei's recent agreement for Iran to join. Conservatives standing against the bill propose that Iran joining the international taskforce will expose monetary movement and transactions of the cleric-led regime. Iran’s Revolutionary Guard activity will be exposed and face implications, conservatives argue. They are mostly concerned for activity pertaining to the Guard’s foreign arm, the Quds Force, which sponsors pro-Iranian armed groups abroad. Referring to the withdrawal of international companies as a result of fears of the return of US sanctions, Zarif described the pullout as “temporary.”
U.S. Says Terror Attacks Down but Global Threat More 'Complex'
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/September 19/18/The near-defeat of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria has forced a dispersal of the group that has made the global threat of terror attacks much more complex, the U.S. State Department said in a report Wednesday.
Islamic State, al-Qaida and related jihadists have decentralized and are adopting new technologies like simple chemical weapons and small drone systems to be able to pose a threat far from their traditional operating zones, according to the department's report on terrorism in 2017. "They have become more dispersed and clandestine, turning to the internet to inspire attacks by distant followers, and, as a result, have made themselves less susceptible to conventional military action," it said. "Further, the return or relocation of foreign terrorist fighters from the battlefield has contributed to a growing cadre of experienced, sophisticated, and connected terrorist networks, which can plan and execute terrorist attacks."State Department Coordinator for Counterterrorism Nathan Sales said global terror attacks fell 23 percent and deaths due to terrorism fell 27 percent in 2017 from 2016. That decline was almost wholly due to the fall of Islamic State in Iraq, where coalition and government forces have captured most of the territory it once controlled. But members of the group have dispersed away from the Middle East and are surfacing with their own operations and networks elsewhere, including Southeast Asia. Last year Islamic State operatives conducted attacks in England, Spain, Egypt, the United States and Philippines, the report noted. The report pointed out that Islamic State is also now threatening China and Chinese interests around the world, after some Chinese nationals joined the group. He said al-Qaida, despite living in the Islamic State shadow for several years, remains a very potent threat globally, responsible for, among others, a truck bomb attack in October 2017 in Mogadishu, Somalia that killed more than 300 people. "Al-Qaida is a determined and patient adversary," he said. The third major threat, in U.S. eyes, is Iran, which Sales said uniquely has the entire power of the state behind its plotting of attacks. "Iran remains the world's leading state sponsor of terrorism and is responsible for intensifying multiple conflicts and undermining U.S. interests in Syria, Yemen, Iraq, Bahrain, Afghanistan, and Lebanon," he said. All three -- Islamic State, al-Qaida and Iran -- "have both the capability and intent to strike the United States and our allies," he said. The report indicated a general increase in global cooperation to fight terrorism, including tracking and blocking financial flows to the groups. But this remains a challenge, Sales noted. "You have got to stop the flow of money to these organizations.""You have got to stop terrorist travel" as well, he added, pointing to the spread of airport detection systems like biometric face identification as a potent tool.

Trump Says U.S., N. Korea Making 'Tremendous Progress'
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/September 19/18/President Donald Trump on Wednesday said U.S. relations with North Korea are making "tremendous progress" from the days before his presidency when the two countries appeared close to "going to war."Trump said a recent letter from North Korean leader Kim Jong Un confirmed the positive track, which he said has seen the hardline communist country promise to halt its nuclear missile test program and mount a combined bid with South Korea for the 2032 Olympic Games. "We're making tremendous progress with respect to North Korea. Prior to becoming president, it looked like we were going to war with North Korea and now we have a lot of progress," Trump told journalists at the White House. "A lot of tremendous things but very importantly no missile testing, no nuclear testing.""The relationships, I have to tell you, at least on a personal basis, are very good. It is very much calmed down," Trump said. An unprecedented June summit in Singapore between Trump and Kim aimed to break a decades-long standoff between the two countries, which have never formally ended the 1950-1953 Korean War. However, critics accused Trump of naively playing into the North Korean's hands by giving him credibility with little concrete in return.

Cyprus, Egypt Sign Accord for Gas Pipeline
Asharq Al-Awsat/Wednesday, 19 September, 2018/Cyprus and Egypt on Wednesday signed an agreement paving the way for the Mediterranean’s first subsea pipeline to carry natural gas from the island’s "Aphrodite" offshore field to Egypt for re-export to Europe. "Today’s signing is an important milestone, not only for Cyprus but also the entire eastern Mediterranean region," said Cypriot Energy Minister George Lakkotrypis after he signed alongside visiting Egyptian Oil Minister Tarek el-Molla. He said the agreement, "the first of its kind in our shared region", was crucial for channeling gas from the "Aphrodite" field to Egypt and to attract multi-billion-dollar infrastructure investments. A joint committee would be set up in 30 days to oversee the project. Texas-based Noble Energy in 2011 made the first discovery off Cyprus in the Aphrodite block estimated to contain 4.5 trillion cubic feet (130 billion cubic feet) of gas but it has yet to be extracted. Cyprus aims for natural gas to start flowing to Egypt’s LNG facilities in 2022, thus generating its first revenue from natural gas. The island has also issued exploration licenses to ENI of Italy, the US firm ExxonMobil and France’s Total.

Tsunami’ of Changes in Algerian Army Leadership

Algiers - Boualem Goumrassa/Asharq Al-Awsat/Wednesday, 19 September, 2018/Algerian Air Force Commander Major General Abdelkader Lounes was officially removed from his position, according to the Ministry of National Defense, just 24 hours after sacking Defense Ministry Secretary-General Mohamed Zenakhri and replacing him with General Abdelhamid Ghris. In a statement, the Ministry indicated that Deputy Minister of National Defense, Chief of Staff of the People’s National Army Lieutenant-General, Ahmed Gaid Salah, will visit the Air Force Command on Wednesday where he will chair the appointment ceremony of Major-General Hamid Boumaaza as Commander of the Air Force.
Over the past two months, about 20 senior officers have been sacked and replaced. During Lounes’ tenure, two military planes have crashed - One in 2013 when at least 63 people were killed and another last February, claiming the lives of more than 250 people. The army has opened an investigation into the two incidents, but has not announced the results. French-speaking opposition newspaper al-Watan reported that based on the military prosecutor’s order, the homes of five army generals, who are under travel ban, were searched a few days ago. The newspaper was referring to the commander of the first military zone in central Algeria, Lahbib Chentouf, the commander of the second military zone, Major General Said Bey, fourth military commander Abderrazak Cherif, Director of Finance at the Defense Ministry Boudjemaa Boudouaouar, and the head of the gendarmerie, Major General Menad Nouba. Watan said the campaign also included the director of the army's social security fund, Major General Mohammad Remili, and commander of Algeria’s ground forces Major-General Ahcene Tafer. The post of the army’s commander of ground forces is highly respectable. It has been previously occupied by the current Army Chief of Staff Lieutenant-General Ahmed Gaid Salah . Media sources said some sacked generals were under investigation in corruption cases, but no official charges have been issued against them. The Algerian public has been preoccupied with several corruption cases after 701 kg of cocaine were confiscated at the end of May. Little is known about this case, except that the main culprit, Kamal Shekhi, a red meat importer, is in prison.

Renewed Battle for Yemen's Hodeida Sparks Humanitarian Crisis Fears
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/September 19/18/Fears were growing of a humanitarian crisis in Yemen after Saudi-backed government forces launched a series of attacks on rebel-held Hodeida, as a charity warned Wednesday that more than five million children were at risk of famine in the war-torn state. The Huthi rebels accused the government and its Saudi-led allies of deliberately targeting food warehouses as the coalition said it had resumed a "military operation to liberate Hodeida and its port". Pro-government forces and medical sources in Hodeida province told AFP that 40 Huthis had been killed around the embattled city since Monday night. The fight for Hodeida, which the Huthis seized in 2014, was put on hold for 11 weeks as the United Nations struggled to bring warring parties to peace talks in Geneva. But the talks collapsed earlier this month after the northern Yemeni rebels refused to attend.
The Red Sea port city is a vital lifeline for aid shipments to Yemen, the most impoverished country in the Arab world. The UN has warned that any major fighting could halt the distribution of food to eight million Yemenis dependent on aid to survive. Disruption to supplies coming through Hodeida could "cause starvation on an unprecedented scale", charity Save the Children said in a report on Wednesday. An extra one million children now risk falling into famine as food and fuel prices soar, bringing the total to 5.2 million, the charity said.
- Claims over food warehouses - Brigadier General Ali al-Taniji, commander of coalition forces on Yemen's west coast, confirmed Tuesday that the alliance had launched an operation in Hodeida, in a statement to state media in the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia's main partner in the coalition. Speaking on condition of anonymity, a senior coalition official told AFP the operation was being fought on multiple fronts. Residents in and around the city, home to 600,000 people, reported hearing explosions throughout Monday night. "International food supply warehouses were targeted in Hodeida, a clear sign that there is a plan... to make warehouses and densely populated neighbourhoods legitimate targets," said the head of the rebels' Supreme Revolutionary Council, Mohammed Ali al-Huthi. He also accused the international community of being complicit in the attacks, saying "tolerance of terrorism has only encouraged (the coalition) to plan and deliberately commit crimes". A spokesman for the Saudi-led coalition did not respond to a request for comment, while a World Food Programme spokeswoman declined to say whether the UN agency's facilities had been hit. Saudi Arabia and its allies accuse the Huthis of smuggling arms from Iran through Hodeida, a charge the rebels and Tehran deny, and they have imposed a partial blockade on the port. UN envoy Martin Griffiths is due in Riyadh on Wednesday, having left the Yemeni capital Sanaa after a three-day trip. Progress was made to resume consultations and confidence-building measures, including the reopening of Sanaa airport to commercial flights and the release of prisoners, the envoy's office said in a statement. Griffiths is pushing for new peace negotiations after the Geneva talks failed to get off the ground, with the Huthis saying they had not received guarantees for their safe return home afterwards.
- Humanitarian flights -The UN has said it is working to open a humanitarian air bridge to transport Yemeni cancer patients abroad for treatment. But the Huthis said plans to fly patients out of rebel-held Sanaa on Tuesday had been stopped by the coalition, accusing it of failing to cooperate. World Health Organization spokeswoman Fadela Chaib told AFP there was "no date set for the first flight" pending "final approval from all parties". While the rebels control the capital, Saudi Arabia and its allies control Yemen's airspace and have put Sanaa's international airport under blockade. In wheelchairs and carrying sick babies, Yemenis in Sanaa lined up Tuesday outside the health ministry as rumours of the impending flight spread. Ahmed Awad bin Mubarak, Yemen's ambassador to the UN, said his government was willing to "do whatever it takes to alleviate the suffering and pain of Yemenis", in a letter to Secretary General Antonio Guterres. But he asked that the UN and all its branches not sign agreements "except with the legitimate, internationally recognised government of Yemen". Saudi Arabia and its allies launched a major operation to retake Hodeida in June before announcing the pause for peace talks. The troops, backed by coalition air strikes, have retaken a number of towns across Hodeida province but have not yet breached the city. The Saudi-led alliance intervened in the Yemen conflict in 2015 in a bid to bolster embattled Yemeni President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi, whose government is recognised by the UN, in his war against the Huthis. Nearly 10,000 people have since been killed and the UN says Yemen is now facing the world's worst humanitarian crisis.

UN Envoy Leaves Sanaa amid Houthi Promise to Attend Geneva Consultations
Sanaa - Asharq Al-Awsat/Wednesday, 19 September, 2018/UN envoy to Yemen Martin Griffiths concluded his visit to Sanaa after holding meetings with Houthi leaders on the possibility of resuming the Geneva talks after the previous round failed because the insurgent delegation did not attend. The Office of the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Yemen (OSESGY) said in a tweet on Tuesday that Griffiths held constructive meetings in Sanaa with Ansarullah leadership, General People’s Congress (GPC), and the negotiating delegation. The Office indicated that Griffiths “made progress on ways to resume consultations and Confidence Building Measures, including release of prisoners, economic situation and re-opening of Sanaa airport.”The UN envoy is scheduled to visit Saudi Arabia on Wednesday to meet the Yemeni government and coalition officials. Houthi leader Abdul Malik al-Houthi told Griffiths that a delegation from his group will attend the upcoming round of consultations in Geneva, GPC sources indicated. Houthi confirmed to Griffiths the group would engage in good faith in the next round of consultations, but without indicating the international commitments the envoy had offered to the group, the sources told Asharq Al-Awsat. Earlier this month, the Houthi delegation did not attend the Geneva talks with the legitimate government after it conditioned that an Omani plane must transport the delegation and dozens of its leaders and injured members to Muscat before going to Geneva. In spite of the UN's efforts, the group insisted on its demands with the aim of thwarting the peace efforts and prolonging the war. The UN envoy is seeking to achieve progress in his mission by reaching an agreement between the legitimate government and the militias to build confidence before entering into details of the negotiations on security and military conditions and political arrangements. Griffiths arrived in Sanaa last Sunday from Muscat after meeting with Houthi spokesman and head of delegation Mohammed Abdulsalam, who said on his Twitter account that Abdulmalik al-Houthi also met with Griffiths in Sanaa."They agreed on a set of measures to pave the way for future peace talks to end the war," Abdulsalam said without giving further details. The UN envoy met with the delegation of militias, President of Supreme Political Council Mahdi al-Mashat, and the militias' Foreign Minister Hisham Sharaf, as well as a number of GPC’s leaders. According to sources, Griffiths was informed that the group’s commanders insist on their own conditions to attend the meetings, which prompted him to meet the group’s leader to ensure his approval for the delegation’s attendance of the consultations. The Houthis informed Griffiths of their demand to open Sanaa airport to commercial flights and pay the salaries of employees before engaging in negotiations. They also want guarantees regarding the transfer of their negotiating delegation to Geneva and its return to Sanaa. The legitimate government accuses the militias of not being serious about achieving peace and alleviating the sufferings of the Yemeni people. The international envoy angered the legitimate government in his statement after the failure of the last round of consultations. Griffiths did not hold Houthis responsible for disrupting the peace process by not attending the negotiations in Geneva. Observers believe the militias will sabotage any international effort for progress because they are dictated by Iran. The legitimate government has confirmed its support to any peace effort as long as it is based on the three references. Separately, the World Health Organization (WHO) is working to open a humanitarian and medical air corridors for Yemeni civilians who are suffering from conditions untreatable in Yemen. “The aim is to help patients suffering from cancer, chronic diseases and congenital anomalies receive the treatment they need,” said Nevio Zagaria, the representative of the organization in Yemen. “Twelve conditions have been agreed. It’s so important that people who have these conditions receive support and care,” he explained. Some Yemeni activists feared Houthis will use this medical bridge to smuggle their commanders. However, Zagaria asserted that civilians suffering from leukemia, early stage tumors, cervical and thyroid cancer, and patients who need radiotherapy, and bone marrow and kidney transplants, are the only ones who will benefit from this bridge.

Madrid Mulling Recognition of Palestinian State

Salzburg (Austria) - Shawqi al-Rayyes/ Asharq Al-Awsat/Wednesday, 19 September, 2018/Spanish Foreign Minister Josep Borrell has dropped a bombshell by revealing that the recognition of the Palestinian state is on the agenda of the government in Madrid. Borrell made the revelation hours before arriving in the Austrian city of Salzburg along with Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez to attend a two-day European Union summit on migration and Brexit. Spain’s FM said Madrid would give its European partners an acceptable deadline to reach consensus on the issue. Each state would be allowed to take the decision it deems appropriate if the EU fails to reach a consensual decision, he said. But Borrell stressed that Spain would engage in heavy diplomatic activities with its European counterparts to achieve a common stance on the matter. Asharq Al-Awsat has learned that the Spanish Foreign Minister has lately contacted the Palestinian leadership and discussed the recognition issue with his French and German counterparts. He and Sanchez are keen to recognize the Palestinian state similar to Sweden, which became the first EU member in western Europe to make the move in 2014.

Algeria Sacks Ground Forces Chief in Army Overhaul
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/September 19/18/Algeria's commander of ground forces has been retired, the defense ministry said Wednesday, a day after confirmation of the air force chief's ouster as part of a sweeping overhaul of the military. The armed forces chief of staff, Ahmed Gaid Salah, is to preside over a ceremony on Thursday at which Major General Said Chanegriha will take over as ground forces commander. He will replace "Ahcene Tafer, who has been retired," the defense ministry said in a statement. Tafer had served as ground forces chief since 2004, after having first held the post between 1994 and 2000. The 74-year-old survived an Islamist attack on his convoy in 2008. The defence ministry's announcement was the first official confirmation of Tafer's dismissal, which like other high-level army sackings had been reported in Algerian media. It came a day after the ministry confirmed that Algeria's air force chief, Abdelkader Lounes, had also been pushed into retirement. A broad shake-up of the military hierarchy was initiated earlier this year by President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, who came to power in 1999 and under the constitution is supreme commander of the armed forces. In early July, the commander of the national gendarmerie was sacked, along with the heads of three out of six military districts. The powerful director general of Algeria's police force, Abdelghani Hamel, was dismissed by the president in late June. A string of other high-profile dismissals, including the air force chief of staff and the head of the air defense force, were reported by Ennahar TV but have not been confirmed by the government. At the start of September, army monthly El-Djeich said the military overhaul was part of a normal process of changes at the top. The firing of top army figures, who are considered king-makers in Algeria, comes just eight months ahead of the country's presidential election. There is widespread uncertainty over whether the ailing 81-year-old Bouteflika will seek a fifth term in office.

The Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on September 19-20/18
Turkish Education: Same Old Religious Obsession, Only Worse
Burak Bekdil/Gatestone Institute/September 19/18
In 2017, Turkey stopped teaching evolution at secondary school: for extremists, Darwinism remains a taboo subject. Instead, school textbooks started teaching Turkish pupils "jihad."
A good school, according to extremists, is not where science is taught at universal standards; it is where pious students grow.
Turkey's Higher Education Board in 2016 asked 1,577 university deans (reportedly every dean in the country) to resign "for the sake of democracy."
Secular Turks were shocked when Binali Yıldırım, then Minister of Transport, explained that in his youth, he changed his choice of university to avoid a school where male and female students sat together. (Photo by Erhan Ortac/Getty Images)
Secular Turks were shocked when Binali Yıldırım, then Minister of Transport, explained to an interviewer why, in his youth, he changed his choice of university:
"I visited Bogazici University and saw that girl and boy students were sitting together... I feared I could go astray. And I decided to attend the technical university."
Yıldırım who later became President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's choice for prime minister now serves as parliament speaker.
It is not surprising that for Turkey's extremists, governance broadly means the Islamization of everything, including education at every level. In a 2017 speech, Erdoğan boasted that, after his Justice and Development Party came to power, the number of students at the religious imam hatip schools rose from 60,000 to 1.3 million.
Unsurprisingly, Erdoğan has often declared his political ambition not as raising honest, well-educated, free minds, but as "raising pious generations."
A good school, according to extremists, is not where science is taught at universal standards; it is where pious students grow.
In a 2017 study, Deniz Kandiyoti and Zühre Emanet, two scholars at the University of London, wrote: "The drastic transformation of Turkey's educational landscape under Justice and Development Party (AKP) presents an exemplary case study of the embeddedness of the freedom to think, write and teach in the vagaries of systems of governance."
In 2017, Turkey stopped teaching evolution at secondary school: for extremist Muslims, Darwinism remains a taboo subject. Instead, school textbooks started teaching Turkish pupils "jihad."
Erdoğan's efforts to Islamize education even further have not ceased. Most recently, on September 10, the Education Ministry removed the co-education clause from its regulations, causing fears that the move could lay the groundwork for gender-segregated education on a wider scale.
Turkey's Higher Education Board, widely viewed as a council used by governments to shape education policies that reflect partisan political agendas, in 2016 asked 1,577 university deans (reportedly every dean in the country) to resign "for the sake of democracy." According to a report by World Education News + Reviews:
"Turkey's current crackdown on academic freedoms poses steep barriers to growth, as does its rocky relationship with the EU. At stake are not only student flows, but international research cooperation, financial aid, and other issues central to the quality and reputation of the Turkish education system at large."
Erdoğan's obsession about ever more religious education has transformed Turkish universities into blocks of buildings with a library, a mosque and hundreds of thousands of conservative Muslim students, run by pious academics and academic boards. Erdoğan has the power to appoint the presidents of 200 or so Turkish universities. Piousness, however, does not bring academic success.
According to The Times Higher Education's World University Rankings, Turkey, with a population of 80 million people, has only 22 universities in the top 1,000 list, with the best one ranking only in the 301-350 bracket.
Turkish academia, however, has its own success stories to please Erdoğan and his choice of hundreds of university presidents. According to a study by Rice University involving 22,525 scholars worldwide and measuring piety in academia, Turkish lecturers appeared to be the most religious. A total of 609 Turkish scientists in the fields of physics and biology participated in the study: 85% of them confirmed that they believe in God while 63% said they prayed often.
It is no wonder why Turkey does not have a single Ivy League-level university. Turks, however, do not seem unhappy that their schools are not world-class, so long as their students, scholars and university presidents are pious.
*Burak Bekdil, one of Turkey's leading journalists, was recently fired from the country's most noted newspaper after 29 years, for writing in Gatestone what is taking place in Turkey. He is a Fellow at the Middle East Forum.
© 2018 Gatestone Institute. All rights reserved. The articles printed here do not necessarily reflect the views of the Editors or of Gatestone Institute. No part of the Gatestone website or any of its contents may be reproduced, copied or modified, without the prior written consent of Gatestone Institute.

Iran’s Callous, Deadly Message
Eli Lake/Bloomberg/September 19/18
When a regional power wants to assert itself and intimidate its rivals, it has several options: Stage a military exercise, test a missile, maybe even have a high-ranking general deliver a threatening speech. Rarely does signaling deterrence mean killing innocents.
Yet this is exactly what Iran did earlier this month when it launched a barrage of missiles at the headquarters of the Kurdistan Democratic Party of Iran, or KDPI, during a meeting of its 21-member central committee. Six of its members were killed, according to one of the survivors, Khalid Azizi, a member of the committee. The strike was significant for a few reasons. First, its location: outside of Iranian territory, in northern Iraq. Iran has supported militias that have killed Iraqis and coalition forces in Iraq since the US- led invasion in 2003. But it has not launched a direct military strike into Iraqi territory since the mid-1990s, during the Kurdish civil war.
More important, Iran faces no real danger from the Kurds, especially the KDPI. Some Kurdish separatists in Iran have conducted attacks on Iranian targets over the years. But the KDPI has pursued a nonviolent strategy for equal political rights in Iran. There is “no evidence” that the KDPI was launching terrorist attacks, said Michael Rubin, an expert on Iran and Iraq at the American Enterprise Institute. He called the group “basically a coffee klatch for Iranian Kurdish exiles.” Even after the missile strike, the KDPI has refrained from calling for a violent response. Instead, it announced a general strike for the Iranian Kurdish region. “We don't want weapons or training from other countries,” Azizi said. Instead, he said, the organization seeks a political solution. “The best revenge is to organize Kurds in Iranian Kurdistan against the regime,” he said, and “to find a common agenda among all of the Iranian opposition.”
Iranian state media initially described the strike as a successful act of counterterrorism. Later, however, the mask slipped. In a television interview, the head of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps said the missile strike was intended as a warning to America. “The attack against the terrorists in Iraq’s Kurdistan conveys a message to the enemies, particularly those superpowers who think they can impose their evil plots on Iran and bully us,” said Major General Mohammad Ali Jafari.
That’s a not-so-veiled threat to military bases in the Iraqi Kurdish region that host US special operations forces and intelligence officers. In fact, Iranian-backed militias have recently fired at the airport compound in Basra, where there is also a US consulate. The White House subsequently warned Iran that it would be held responsible for any attack on US personnel.
Finally, the missile strike is notable for its precision. Eleven years ago I visited this very compound, which is sprawling. That Iran was able to hit the room where the KDPI central committee was meeting suggests they had both valuable intelligence and the technology to exploit it.
For his part, Azizi seemed resigned to the uncomfortable position in which his organization finds itself. “Iran is trying to provoke a war so they can kill more of us,” he said. “They want to divert the attention of the people in Iran to say we are the enemy.”
That’s undoubtedly correct, and Iran's Kurds are also wise to refrain from responding in kind to Iranian aggression. The West, however, need not show such restraint. The US and European leaders should schedule a summit with a delegation of Iranian Kurds to discuss how the free world can help their struggle. Iran’s leaders would certainly get that message.

China Is Overtaking the US in Scientific Research
Peter R. Orszag/Bloomberg/September 19/18
Thirty years ago in December, the modern exchange of scholars between the US and China began. Since then, Chinese academics have become the most prolific global contributors to publications in physical sciences, engineering and math. Recent attempts by the US to curtail academic collaboration are unlikely to change this trend. For decades, China's growth was driven by shifting workers from agriculture to manufacturing. As the country started to approach the so-called Lewis turning point, when such shifts no longer raise overall productivity, the government made an increasingly concerted effort to build the scientific base to provide another vector for growth. The results of those efforts are showing up in both the rankings of Chinese universities (11 of the top 100 globally) and in scholarly output.
Qingnan Xie of Nanjing University of Science & Technology and Richard Freeman of Harvard University have studied China’s contribution to global scientific output. They document a rapid expansion between 2000 and 2016, as the Chinese share of global publications in physical sciences, engineering and math quadrupled. By 2016, the Chinese share exceeded that of the US. Furthermore, the authors argue that these metrics -- which are based on the addresses of the authors -- understate China's impact. The data don't count papers written by Chinese researchers located in other countries with addresses outside China and exclude most papers written in Chinese publications. The researchers adjusted for both factors and conclude that Chinese academics now account for more than one-third of global publications in these scientific fields.
The quality of Chinese research is also improving, though it currently remains below that of US academics. A recent analysis suggests that, measured not just by numbers of papers but also by citations from other academics, Chinese scholars could become the global leaders in the near future. Similarly, Xie and Freeman examine authorship of publications in Nature and Science, arguably the two most prestigious scientific journals. They find that in 2016, 20 percent of the authors were Chinese -- more than twice the share in 2000.
At the same time, this dramatic expansion in scientific scholarship has raised serious concerns, including whether the Chinese government exerts excessive influence over both Chinese students and professors in the US A related concern is whether the deep ties between Chinese and US academics facilitates too much technology transfer and even academic espionage. Perhaps partly in response to these concerns, the US government has recently begun tightening the rules for obtaining study or work visas. The scientific community has reacted with alarm, arguing that the scientific process requires open collaboration and that individual episodes of espionage or other inappropriate behavior should be dealt with through criminal prosecution or academic expulsion rather than blanket restrictions.
Although many Chinese students seem undeterred by the visa restrictions, over time the impact is likely to deter foreign study at US universities. Students from China represent almost a third of the foreign students at US institutions, and some American colleges are already feeling the financial impact of diminished overall foreign interest. Whatever the other costs or benefits of the restrictions, and I believe there are more of the former than of the latter, they seem unlikely to alter in any significant way the global rise of China as an academic power. We may not want to admit it yet, but the rise of China to the top ranks of global scientific achievement is now a historical fact.

Russia and Israel carry on their Syrian tango — for now

Dr. Theodore Karasik/Arab News/September 19/18
On the same day that Russia and Turkey agreed to the next steps regarding Idlib and a demilitarized zone that avoids a battle for the city for now, a Russian Ilyushin Il-20 reconnaissance plane was shot down by a Syrian S-200 battery in the wake of an airstrike by four Israeli F-16 jets on Syrian facilities in Latakia province. Immediately, tensions rose over what may happen next, given the confluence of actors in this hot conflict environment. Naturally, conflicting stories of what exactly happened resulted from the news of Moscow’s plane falling off radar screens over the Mediterranean Sea.
Remarkably, despite the super-charged geopolitical environment, this event was resolved with a certain decorum unseen before. This diplomatic achievement is based on the fact that Israel and Russia have a remarkably close relationship, in which Moscow has not, until now, interfered with Israeli air operations in Syria. That agreement seems to be holding.
There is no doubt that the strategic relationship between Russia and Israel is different than between Moscow and Ankara. The agreements reached between Vladimir Putin and Benjamin Netanyahu in the wake of the Israeli prime minister’s visit to Moscow to meet with the Russian president for Victory Day in May have allowed Israeli jets greater latitude in their pinpoint targeting of higher value Iranian ground targets in Syria without Russian interference.
Both Putin and Netanyahu were sharp but cordial in the wake of the downing of the plane. Putin said of the incident off the coast of Syria: “It looks most likely in this case that it was a chain of tragic chance events, because an Israeli aircraft did not shoot down our aircraft. But, without any doubt, we need to seriously get to the bottom of what happened.” In response, Netanyahu expressed regret at the loss of 15 Russian personnel, stressing Syria was to blame. These comments were given knowing that Russia said it was given less than a minute’s warning by Israel ahead of the strikes, which was not enough time to get the military surveillance plane out of the way. However, the Israeli jets were already back in Israeli airspace when the Il-20 was shot down by Syrian anti-aircraft fire.
Putin recognizes that Netanyahu wanted to send a message to the Syrian regime in the direct aftermath of the Idlib agreement between Moscow and Ankara. But Israel also wanted to send a message to Iran and Hezbollah that, despite Idlib, there would be more targeted strikes.
Naturally, Russia will take the necessary actions to protect itself. Moscow’s next move will be to beef up its forces and protection for aerial assets. Putin said the “retaliatory measures” would be “aimed first and foremost at further ensuring the safety of our military personnel.” The loss of a Russian aircraft with such identification, friend or foe (IFF) failure is likely to affect future capability and performance during any other Israeli air operation. These types of failures tell Israel and other actors with sophisticated air force capabilities of how clumsy Russian-Syrian de-confliction is in such an environment.
The inability to adequately identify the Russian aircraft by Syrian air systems is a major operational failure
Syria is likely to face Moscow’s ire as a result of this event. Since Syria’s 44th Air Defense Battalion is the one that shot down the Russian aircraft, the Russian Military Police has reportedly arrested all of the battalion elements — “from the Battalion Commander to even the youngest soldier” — and taken them to the prison at Hmeimim Air Base. To be sure, the loss of a Russian aircraft with 15 on board is a failure of the Russian-Syrian military relationship in terms of training. The inability to adequately identify the Russian aircraft by Syrian air systems is a major operational failure.
The Syrian S-200 operators undoubtedly experienced a catastrophic failure, which raises questions about Russian air operations in the immediate aftermath of this event. Losing one of these aircraft, which is likely equipped with Moscow’s latest technology, in this active war zone means Russia will need to focus on the immediate future of Syrian air defense, and also replace its lost intelligence asset. That means, for Israel, perhaps more opportunities to either send messages or hit other Iranian targets. In other words, the status quo in terms of a Russian-allowed alleyway for Israeli aircraft remains open.
Overall, the Syrian shoot-down of a Russian aircraft reflects very poorly on interoperability between the two country’s militaries. This is not a new phenomenon for Russian and Syrian military operations and, because of the nature of the battlefield, it may occur again. In this particular case involving the Il-20, and because of unique circumstances, agreements between Putin and Netanyahu helped to temper down a potential blow-up. This event is going to allow Israel and Russia to continue their mutually beneficial strategic tango in the Syrian theater despite the testy accusatory rhetoric from politicians.
• Dr. Theodore Karasik is a senior adviser to Gulf State Analytics in Washington, D.C. He is a former RAND Corporation Senior Political Scientist who lived in the UAE for 10 years, focusing on security issues. Twitter: @tkarasik

Russia to beef up air defenses, aircraft to curtail Israeli air operations in Syria
روسيا تعزز دفاعاتها الجوية وطائراتها للحد من العمليات الجوية الإسرائيلية في سوريا

DEBKAFile/September 19/18
Russian President Vladimir Putin’s response to the downing of the Il-20 by Syria was mild in tone, but his reference to a probe in depth and extra security for Russian troops was coldly menacing.
On Tuesday, Sept. 18, Putin took a call from Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who expressed regret for the loss of 15 Russian military lives aboard the plane downed over the Mediterranean on Monday and held Syria responsible. Putin had just attributed the misfortune to a “chain of tragic circumstances,” without blaming Israel – in contrast to his Defense Minister. Gen. Shoigu, in a harsh telephone call to his Israeli opposite number, Avigdor Lieberman, said that 15 Russian military service people had died because of Israel’s “irresponsible actions.”
This was a bit like a good cop, bad cop routine, except that behind it Putin and Shoigu had almost certainly agreed on the need for hard-hitting measures to curtail the Israeli Air Force’s freedom of operations in and near Syrian skies.
Most alarmingly, even though the plane was shot down by a Syrian missile, Israel appears to be in line for a diplomatic clobbering as well, judging by the ominous official comments coming from Moscow on Wednesday:
The Russians are launching a criminal probe into the crash, according to an announcement by Russia’s Investigative Committee spokeswoman Svetlana Petrenko. Who is the criminal and what is the crime? That announcement was followed by a tart remark from Kremlin spokesman Dmitri Peshkov that “Israeli data on the Il-20 crash in Syria has not yet arrived.” He added that the Russian president and Israeli Prime Minister had agreed that a delegation of experts led by the Israeli Air Force commander would visit Moscow and bring with him data referring to the circumstances of the crash. “Our experts will certainly study it,” he said.
The exact military measures to be taken by Moscow are still to be determined, but an approximate precedent may be indicative. Three years ago, Turkish fighter jets shot down a Russian Su-24M over the Syrian-Turkish frontier, triggering a major crisis between Moscow and Ankara. One of the pilots was killed and the second rescued by Russian special forces. Moscow responded by rushing over the Moskva missile cruiser, armed with S-300F air defense missiles (NATO code: SA-N-6 Grumble), to the waters of northern Syria and southern Turkey.
Advanced S-400 anti-air batteries were shipped to the Russian Khmeimim Air Base in Latakia. These measures gave Ankara due notice that any Turkish planes venturing into Syrian air space henceforth did so at their peril.
And indeed, up until the present, the S-400s are still in place and the Turkish air force gives Syrian skies a wide berth – excepting only the Afrin enclave north of Aleppo which the Turkish army seized earlier this year.
None of this interfered with the efforts of the Russian president and Turkey’s Tayyip Erdogan to build a coalition with Iran for Syria, while pretending that Moscow-Ankara relations were in perfectly good working order.
Putin may therefore keep his relations with Netanyahu as cordial as ever before, while, at the same time, we may soon see, in the aftermath of the shooting down of the Ilyushin by Syrian missiles, the arrival in Syria for the first time of Russia’s most advanced air defense and radar systems. Of most concern to Israel is the possible installation of those systems on Tel al-Haara, a peak rising 1,100 meters over Quneitra, which commands Israeli air space over the Golan and its northern regions, as well as northern and central Jordan and the eastern Mediterranean. Advanced Russian fighter jets may also be posted to Khmeimim to waylay Israeli warplanes.
In some ways, the Il-20 incident and these new measures have come at a convenient moment for the Russian deployment in Syria. On Sept. 7, Alexander Kinshchak, Russian ambassador to Damascus, quietly remarked: “We are helping our Syrian partners to restore, modernize and boost the efficiency of the integrated air defense system.” He explained: “Much is yet to be done because everything was in utter devastation, but certain results can already be seen.”
Our military sources inferred that the Russian envoy was talking about arming Syrian air defenses for the first time with advanced Russian S-300 batteries. Their delivery may well coincide with Moscow’s response to the Il-20 incident.
The Israeli Air Force will soon therefore be called on to tackle new and daunting challenges in its operations against Iran in Syria.
In Washington, meanwhile, the first question President Donald Trump faced at his joint press conference with the visiting Polish president on Tuesday was this: Has the downing of the Russian plane exacerbated the threat of a military clash between Russia and America in Syria? Trump merely commented laconically that he had heard about a Russian plane being shot down by Syrian missiles; He then moved on to the next question without answering.