Detailed Lebanese & Lebanese Related LCCC English New Bulletin For September 22/2018
Compiled & Prepared by: Elias Bejjani

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Bible Quotations
Now you Pharisees clean the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness.
Luke 11/37-41: "While he was speaking, a Pharisee invited him to dine with him; so he went in and took his place at the table.The Pharisee was amazed to see that he did not first wash before dinner. Then the Lord said to him, ‘Now you Pharisees clean the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness. You fools! Did not the one who made the outside make the inside also? So give for alms those things that are within; and see, everything will be clean for 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 21-22/18
Nasrallah’s Theatrical Threats Against Israel/Elias Bejjani/September 21/18
Conclusion of closing arguments in Ayyash et al. case/NNA/September 21/18
Making, drinking arak a source of national pride in Lebanon/Associated Press/September 21/18
Daesh leader Baghdadi, world’s ‘most wanted’, sought in Syria offensive/AFP/September 21, 2018
Iran’s ageing warplanes in ‘show of strength’ near Strait of Hormuz/Arab News/September 21/18
Russia & Israel at odds over cause of Il-20 crash after Israeli air force chief’s Moscow talks/DebekaFile/September 21/18
Ignore regime rhetoric, US sanctions are hitting Iran hard/Dr. Majid Rafizadeh/Arab News/September 20/18
Analysis/Putin Has Little Choice but to Allow Israel to Continue Operating in Syria/Anshel Pfeffer/Haaretz/September 21/18
Can Turkey, Israel strike a balance/Sinem Cengiz/Arab News/September 21/18
How Kissinger drew up the future of Jordan, Israel and Palestine/Shehab Al-Makahleh/Al Arabiya/September 21/18
Surviving office politics without going mad/Dr. Mohamed A. Ramady/Al Arabiya/September 21/18
Will Imran Khan’s visit to Saudi Arabia further Pakistan’s core interests/Sabena Siddiqui/Al Arabiya/September 21/18
Caring about individuals’ rights is the goal/Hassan Al Mustafa/Al Arabiya/September 21/18
The trial of Al-Rashid and Al-Ma’mun in the Iraqi parliament/Mashari Althaydi/Al Arabiya/September 21/18

Titles For The Latest LCCC Lebanese Related News published on September 21-22/18
Nasrallah’s Theatrical Threats Against Israel
Brazilian police arrest fugitive linked to Hezbollah
President Aoun Meets USA FBI Chief
FBI chief meets Lebanese leaders, expresses support to army
United States Federal Bureau of Investigation Director Christopher Wray Visits Lebanon
Hariri, Wray tackle overall situation
Army commander meets Foucher, American delegation
Ibrahim, Wray tackle security situation
Netanyahu Threatens Crushing Response After Hezbollah Missile Bravado
UNIFIL Head Commends Patriarch’s Role
Report: Govt. Deadlock Lingers in Absence of Serious Efforts
Rifi: Hizbullah Implicating Lebanon in Iran’s Interest
ISF Foils Drug Smuggling Attempt to Egypt
Rahi on Pastoral Visit to Halifax
Finance Minister to Seek Solution to Housing Loans Crisis
Shiites across Mideast Mark Ashoura, Mourning Saint's Death
Health Minister: Cancer Cases Increasing at Alarming Rate
Hankache Says Lebanon Going Through Worst Economic Situation
Riachy, Muslim World League's Secretary dwell on importance of dialogue and communication
Kabbara deems Lebanon's relation with Saudi Arabia excellent
Conclusion of closing arguments in Ayyash et al. case
Making, drinking arak a source of national pride in Lebanon

Titles For The Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on September 21-22/18
Dead, Including Suspect, after Maryland Warehouse Shooting
12 Killed, 14 Wounded in Mozambique Jihadist Attacks
Israel Reinforces Nuclear Facilities to Counter Iranian Threats
Daesh leader Baghdadi, world’s ‘most wanted’, sought in Syria offensive
How Russia, Turkey excluded Iran from Sochi deal on Syria’s Idlib
Israel says ‘transparent discussion’ was held in Moscow over plane downing
Israel: We proved to Russia that Assad's regime downed their plane
Pompeo: Will respond immediately to Iranian actions against our interests
Iran’s ageing warplanes in ‘show of strength’ near Strait of Hormuz
Turkey: Joint Patrols with U.S. to Begin Soon in Syrian Town
Russia’s Lavrov says US is threat to Syria’s territorial integrity
Russia Warns US is 'Playing with Fire' over Sanctions
Macron Honours Algerians Who Fought for Colonial France
Abbas denies Palestinians refused peace talks with Israel
Gaza officials say Palestinian killed at border protest

The Latest LCCC Lebanese Related News published on September 21-22/18
Nasrallah’s Theatrical Threats Against Israel/
حزب الله والأسد وإيران هم حماة حدود إسرائيل في لبنان وسوريا
Elias Bejjani/September 21/18
In reality and far away from deceiving patriotic actual rhetoric, Hezbollah Hassan Nasrallah’s empty, laughableو and theatrical rhetorical threats against the state of Israel with his Iranian cache of devastating missile’s …As well as the high tone- angry responses of Israel’s Netanyahu and Adarei are simply a mere convergence of mutual interests and an exchange of governing benefits…No more no less.
All this charade of threats is happening at the expense of all the region’s citizens (Syrians, Israelis, Palestinians, Jordanians) in general, and on the expense of Lebanon and its people in particular.
In reality Hezbollah, Iran and Assad’s Syrian regime are all devoted military guards for Israeli’s border in both Lebanon and Syria.
In conclusion, as long as the Terrorist Iranian hostile regime is freely expanding on all levels and in all domains, politically, denonationally, and militarily in both Lebanon and Syria, as well as in Iraq and Yemen, all the Israeli, Arabic and Western rhetoric against Iran and its Mullah’s regime expansionism schemes and terrorism are not serious, but mere theatrical.

Brazilian police arrest fugitive linked to Hezbollah
The Associated Press, Sao PauloFriday, 21 September 2018/Federal police in Brazil have arrested a fugitive accused of belonging to Lebanon’s Hezbollah militia and of being a key financier of terrorism. Police said in statement that they took Assaad Ahmad Barakat into custody in the border city of Foz de Iguacu on Friday. Authorities in Paraguay are seeking Barakat on allegations of false representation. In 2004, the US Treasury Department accused Barakat of serving as a treasurer for Hezbollah and ordered American banks to freeze any of his assets found in the United States. The US government considers the Lebanese militia to be a terrorist organization.At the time, Barakat was serving time in a Paraguayan prison for tax evasion.
President Aoun Meets USA FBI Chief
Associated Press/Naharnet/September 21/18/President Michel Aoun received on Friday at Baabda Palace, visiting FBI Director Christopher Wray who expressed support to the Lebanese army. A statement released by the presidential palace said Aoun received Wray and told him that Lebanon has succeeded in fighting terror groups thanks to U.S. support and that of friendly countries. Aoun stressed the importance of “continued cooperation between the US and Lebanon’s army,” hailing the army’s role in the elimination of terrorists. For his part, Wray praised “the ability and efficiency of the military to maintain security and combat terrorism.”He thanked Aoun for “Lebanon's efforts to ensure the safety of Americans.”Washington has been a major supporter of Lebanon's army, and has provided more than $1 billion in military assistance to Lebanon since 2006. The Lebanese army last year captured areas along the Syrian border that were controlled by the Islamic State group and al-Qaida-linked fighters. IS and al-Qaida had claimed responsibility for a wave of bombings in Lebanon over the past years that killed dozens.
Lebanese security agencies are still pursuing militants across the country.

FBI chief meets Lebanese leaders, expresses support to army
Washington has been a major supporter of Lebanon’s army, and has provided more than $1 billion in military assistance to Lebanon since 2006.
Associated Press/September 21/2018/BEIRUT: Lebanon says FBI Director Christopher Wray has expressed support to the Lebanese army during a visit to Beirut.A statement released by the presidential palace in Beirut said President Michel Aoun received Wray on Friday and told him that Lebanon has succeeded in fighting terror groups thanks to U.S. support and that of friendly countries. Washington has been a major supporter of Lebanon’s army, and has provided more than $1 billion in military assistance to Lebanon since 2006. The Lebanese army last year captured areas along the Syrian border that were controlled by the Islamic State group and al-Qaida-linked fighters. IS and al-Qaida had claimed responsibility for a wave of bombings in Lebanon over the past years that killed dozens. Lebanese security agencies are still pursuing militants across the country.

United States Federal Bureau of Investigation Director Christopher Wray Visits Lebanon
Fri 21 Sep 2018/NNA - Today, FBI Director Christopher Wray visited Lebanon to reaffirm the U.S. government’s commitment to the Lebanese-American partnership. Director Wray, accompanied by Ambassador Elizabeth H. Richard, met with President Michel Aoun, Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri, and Speaker of Parliament Nabih Berri, among other senior Lebanese officials. They discussed issues relating to the close law enforcement and security cooperation between the United States and Lebanon. Lebanon is a key partner on law enforcement, including the fight against terrorism and the preservation of cultural heritage through preventing antiquities trafficking. Director Wray’s visit highlights the importance that the United States places on its relationship with Lebanon, and our continued commitment to the security of both the United States and Lebanon.

Hariri, Wray tackle overall situation
Fri 21 Sep 2018/NNA - Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri on Friday afternoon welcomed at the Center House the director of the US Federal Bureau of Investigation, Christopher Wray, accompanied by the US Ambassador to Lebanon, Elizabeth Richard, and a delegation.
Discussions reportedly touched on the general situation in the region and means of security cooperation between the two countries.

Army commander meets Foucher, American delegation

Fri 21 Sep 2018/NNA - Army Commander, Michel Aoun, met this Friday at his Yarzeh office with the French Ambassador to Lebanon, Bruno Foucher, with talks reportedly touching on the general situation in Lebanon and the broad region. Maj. Gen. Aoun also met with an American delegation from the DGMT Defense Governance and Management Team, with talks reportedly touching on the bilateral ties between the armies of both countries.

Ibrahim, Wray tackle security situation

Fri 21 Sep 2018/NNA - General Security chief Abbas Ibrahim welcomed this Friday at his office the director of the US Federal Bureau of Investigation, Christopher Wray, accompanied by the US Ambassador to Lebanon, Elizabeth Richard, and a delegation. Conferees discussed the current security situation in Lebanon and the broad region, as well as means of cooperation to combat terrorism. Wray hailed the achievements of the Directorate in this regard.

Netanyahu Threatens Crushing Response After Hezbollah Missile Bravado
Agencies/Friday 21st September 2018/Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday warned Hezbollah against attacking his, saying any military action by his group would be met with a “crushing blow.”His remarks came hours after the leader of Hezbollah boasted that the Iran-backed group now possesses “highly accurate” missiles, despite Israeli attempts to prevent it from acquiring such weapons. “I heard the boastful words that came from Hezbollah,” said Netanyahu. “This is coming from the same man who, after 2006, said that if he knew what the Israeli response would be to the kidnapping of three of our soldiers, he would have thought twice whether to do it.” “So today I advise him to think not twice, but twenty times. Because if he confronts us, he will receive a crushing blow he can’t even imagine,” Netanyahu threatened.

UNIFIL Head Commends Patriarch’s Role

Naharnet/September 21/18/UNIFIL’s Head of Mission and Force Commander Major General Stefano Del Col commended the role played by Maronite Patriarch Bechara al-Rahi in “carrying a message of peace and stability,” a press release said. Del Col has met with al-Rahi in Bkirki on Thursday. During the meeting, Del Col commended the “crucial role played by the Cardinal in carrying a message of peace and stability – which is essential to implementing UNIFIL’s mandate.”He also thanked Rahi for his continuous and important support to UNIFIL’s work in south Lebanon. “I expressed gratitude for the Cardinal’s valuable efforts and vital role in fostering dialogue and building bridges of communication with various religious groups,” said Del Col after the meeting. “This has had a pronounced impact on UNIFIL’s area of operations.” Noting that religious values deserve the highest respect and consideration, Del Col expressed his keenness to continuously engage with various religious leaders in a dialogue based on mutual respect and trust. Today’s meeting was one of a string of visits with religious leaders in south Lebanon and other parts of the country.

Report: Govt. Deadlock Lingers in Absence of Serious Efforts
Naharnet/September 21/18/Conflict over the Christian representation between President Michel Aoun and Lebanese Forces chief Samir Geagea has “complicated” further the mission of Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri to form a new government after more than five months of delay, the Kuwaiti Asseyasah daily reported on Friday. Parliamentary sources following on the formation process “drew a dark image of the process,” saying the dispute between the Free Patriotic Movement of Aoun and the LF “drew higher barriers” in front of Hariri’s already delayed mission to line a government that meets approval of all political parties. The sources who spoke on condition of anonymity, told the daily: “There are no serious discussions to form a government in the short run. It has become evident that no one is willing to facilitate Hariri’s mission. “President Aoun and the FPM do not want to let the LF get four portfolios, nor do they want to allocate three Druze seats to the Progressive Socialist Party. The crisis is lingering, it will even get more complicated,” they said. Hariri was tasked with forming a government on May 24 but wrangling between parties over shares and portfolios has delayed his mission.'

Rifi: Hizbullah Implicating Lebanon in Iran’s Interest
Naharnet/September 21/18/Former Justice Minister Ashraf Rifi urged Lebanese officials to make a “formal reaction” regarding Hizbullah and how it reportedly keeps “implicating lebanon in financial and economic problems.”Hizbullah leader Sayyed Hassan “Nasrallah is authorizing the state to dissociate itself while keeping (his own fighters) involved in Syria and Yemen as he stands besides Iran in the face of (US) sanctions,” said Rifi in a tweet. “Hizbullah is implicating Lebanon financially and economically in favor of Iran and so far we have not heard an official reply to that,” he added. On Wednesday, Nasrallah announced 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. “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.”Later on Thursday, Nasrallah and in an address marking the tenth night of Ashura defied Israel saying Hizbullah had acquired "precision missiles" despite extensive efforts by Israel to prevent the movement developing this capability. Israel this month acknowledged carrying out more than 200 strikes over the past 18 months in war-torn Syria, where Hizbullah fights alongside Israel's arch-foe and Shiite powerhouse Iran in support of the Damascus regime. Israel has said it is working to stop both Iran and Hizbullah from acquiring sophisticated arms.

ISF Foils Drug Smuggling Attempt to Egypt
Naharnet/September 21/18/The Internal Security Forces police announced a big win on Friday after arresting six people on charges of smuggling “massive amounts” of drugs from Lebanon to Egypt. In a statement, ISF said the bust is a result of drug investigations and continuous drug suppression efforts that resulted in the arrest of two suspects, a Turkish national identified as M.Y and Lebanese Aa.Z, in the Keserwan area of Okaibe. They were preparing to smuggle “massive amounts of cannabis from Lebanon to Egypt via sea,” the ISF statement said.
The Turkish suspect admitted that he had smuggled drugs from Lebanon to Egypt between the year 1978 until the early nineties. In July, he said he returned to Lebanon for a new operation to smuggle “massive amounts of drugs to Egypt” and that he made contacts with four Lebanese individuals to assist him. They were all arrested by the police in Beirut's Cola and Salim Salam neighborhoods and in the Bekaa town of Douris. They detainees have all admitted to the charges.

Rahi on Pastoral Visit to Halifax

Naharnet/September 21/18/Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rahi kicks off a pastoral visit on Friday to Halifax, in eastern Canada, where he is expected to visit Montreal, Toronto, Cornwall and Ottawa, the National News Agency reported on Friday. Rahi will chair the 5th Conference of Maronite Bishops and General Directors of Congregations. He will attend as well the inauguration of several churches.The Maronite Patriarch will wind up his visit to Canada on October 1st, after which he will head to the Vatican.
Finance Minister to Seek Solution to Housing Loans Crisis Friday 21st September 2018/ Friday 21st September 2018/Caretaker Finance Minister Ali Hassan Khalil revealed on Thursday that he will request the allocation of LBP 100 billion ($66.6 million) to help solve the housing loans crisis. Khalil told LBCI that the alloted sum is aimed at covering the interest rates of housing loans worth $1 billion. "This solution doesn't include any new levies or tax hikes," the minister assured.A few months ago, the Public Corporation for Housing and the Housing Bank stopped processing new applications for subsidized loans due to lack of cash. The Central Bank usually provides funds that allow banks to offer very low interest mortgages to low-income and first-time homebuyers.

Shiites across Mideast Mark Ashoura, Mourning Saint's Death
Associated Press/Naharnet/September 21/18/Shiites across the Middle East on Thursday marked Ashoura, an annual commemoration mourning the 7th century death of Prophet Muhammad's grandson Hussein, one of Shiite Islam's most beloved saints. For Shiites, who represent over 10 percent of the world's 1.8 billion Muslims, the remembrance of Hussein is an emotional event that sees many believers weep over his death at the Battle of Karbala in present-day Iraq. Some beat their backs with chains, flagellating themselves in a symbolic expression of regret for not being able to help Hussein before his martyrdom. But the commemorations can prove tempting targets for Sunni extremist groups, who view Shiites as heretics. In Iran, the Mideast's Shiite power, groups of men beat their backs with chains in Tehran. Other mourners beat their chests while carrying black, green and red flags. State television showed similar mourning ceremonies across the country. For Iranians, this Ashoura comes as the United States is re-imposing sanctions on Iran previously lifted by its nuclear deal with world powers, despite Tehran's compliance with the accord. While Iran's national currency, the rial, plummets, Ashoura provides a moment to fuel mourners' defiance with its message of sacrifice and dignity in the face of coercion. Hussein "insisted on the truth until the end," said Milad Ghodrati, 36, of Tehran. "He lost everything to defend the truth."
In the Iraqi city of Karbala, hundreds of thousands of mourners gathered around Imam Hussein's shrine, chanting and striking themselves in rhythm to an imam calling out over loudspeakers. Many pressed up against the mausoleum holding his remains, reaching out to touch it.
Lebanese Shiites also went out on the streets. Hizbullah leader Hassan Nasrallah gave one of his traditional Ashoura speeches, saying on Thursday that the group now possesses "highly accurate" missiles despite Israeli attempts to prevent it from acquiring such weapons.
In neighboring Pakistan, paramilitary troops, police and intelligence agents fanned out to protect mourners' processions. Authorities cut mobile phone services in major cities holding commemorations for fear of militant bombings. Motorbikes were stopped from carrying multiple passengers to prevent drive-by shootings. Some mourners there sliced their backs with knives to express their grief. Battered by brazen and deadly attacks by an Islamic State affiliate in Afghanistan, minority Shiites stationed heavily armed guards at their mosques Thursday. Police also were on hand. Basir Mujahid, a spokesman for Kabul's police chief, said large vehicles, including trucks and SUVs, were banned from streets where mosques are located to prevent car bombs.

Health Minister: Cancer Cases Increasing at Alarming Rate Friday 21st September 2018/Caretaker Health Minister Ghassan Hasbani announced that the rate of cancer patients in Lebanon has increased by 5.5 percent yearly from 2005 to 2016, local newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat reported Friday. "We have determined the rate based on statistics of people who register at the health ministry for treatment. Thus, the real number is probably higher," Hasbani said, noting the rate of cancer patients in Lebanon is equal to or higher than rates in Europe. The most common reasons of cancers in Lebanon, according to Hasbani, are air pollution, waste burning and contamination of groundwater and irrigation water. The World Health Organization estimated over 17,000 new cancer cases in 2018 in Lebanon, with 242 cancer patients for every 100,000 Lebanese. The Human Rights Watch repeatedly warned of the health risks of the waste crisis in Lebanon, adding that smoke from the open burning of household waste has been linked to heart disease, cancer, skin conditions, and respiratory illnesses.
Hankache Says Lebanon Going Through Worst Economic Situation 21/2018/Kataeb MP Elias Hankache on Friday urged a rational and fair solution to the ongoing housing loans crisis, saying that it is highly important to know how to end this problem. "The economic repercussions of this crisis are not limited to the real estate sector as it gives rise to social vices, thus undermining the youth's faith in this country and forcing them to leave," Hankache said in an interview on New TV. The Kataeb lawmaker reiterated the party's proposal to impose taxes on private banks and maritime properties in order to secure the funds needed to reactivate subsidized loans. "This file cannot bear further delay, especially that Lebanon has never gone through such a bad economic situation as it is today."Turning to the government formation stalemate, Hankache criticized political forces that are still haggling over ministerial shares, slamming the prevailing recklessness and indifference towards the country's critical condition. Hankache pointed out that the Kataeb has not engaged in talks over the Cabinet formation, adding that the party's presence in any government is regarded by some as inconvenient given that it does not keep mum over shady deals and erroneous decisions. "The Kataeb party decided to give the a President and the PM-designate a chance based on their pledges to form a rescue government that pulls the country out of all the problems facing it. However, we have not witnessed anything but political degradation over the past nine months." "The Kataeb party won't be an absolute opposition or support force. It will rather deal with each issue separately," he noted. Asked about the normalization of ties with Syria, Hankache called on those who are eager to achieve this issue to work first on ending all the pending files between the two countries, notably the case of the Lebanese detainees in Syrian jails. "We don't have to normalize ties with the Syrian regime while the case of [former Minister] Michel Samaha and [Syrian security official] Ali Mamlouk is not closed yet."
Riachy, Muslim World League's Secretary dwell on importance of dialogue and communication
Fri 21 Sep 2018/NNA - Caretaker Minister of Information, Melhem Riachy, on Friday met with Secretary General of the Muslim World League, Dr. Mohammad bin Abdel Karim al-Issa, at Phoenicia Hotel where he is staying. The pair reportedly discussed the perspectives of dialogue and communication among the people, and their importance in contributing to progress and development. Also, al-Issa felicitated Riachy on his efforts to bolster the means of dialogue and to turn the Ministry of Information into a ministry of communication and a podium for dialogue.
Moreover, al-Issa heaped praise on Riachy's speech during the most recent meeting of the Arab Information Ministers. Both men agreed to keep on communication and discussions for the best public interest.
Kabbara deems Lebanon's relation with Saudi Arabia excellent
Fri 21 Sep 2018/NNA - Caretaker Labor Minister, Mohammed Kabbara, congratulated Saudi Arabia on its 88th national day, deeming Lebanon's relation with the Kingdom as "excellent."Minister Kabbara heaped praise on the role played by the Kingdom in the Arab and Islamic worlds reflecting the spirit of the wise leadership in the Kingdom. The Minister said that the Lebanese hold for Saudi Arabia and its leadership sincere loyalty and cordiality. Kabbara also hailed the appointment of Saudi Minister Plenipotentiary Charge d'Affaires Walid Bukhari as the Kingdom's Ambassador to Lebanon, who was capable of building a wide spectrum of friendship with the Lebanese people. "Bukhari's appointment as an ambassador to Lebanon shall have positive outcome on the relationship and shall give further interaction between the two countries," Kabbara maintained.
Conclusion of closing arguments in Ayyash et al. case
Fri 21 Sep 2018NNA
In a press release by the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, it said: "The closing arguments in the Prosecutor vs. Ayyash et al. case (STL 11-01) concluded today, after 9 hearing days. As Presiding Judge Re stated, the closing arguments "are an important part of trials conducted under international criminal law procedural rules (...) and allow the Prosecution and Defence to argue based on the entirety of the evidence before the Trial Chamber whether the Prosecution has proved its case beyond reasonable doubt." The Legal Representatives of Victims summarized the views and concerns of the victims in their closing arguments before the Trial Chamber. 17 victims participating in the proceedings followed the hearings of the closing arguments in the courtroom. The Judges will now withdraw to deliberate and will issue a judgement in due course.
The trial in the Ayyash et al. case opened before the Special Tribunal for Lebanon on 16 January 2014. Since then, there have been 406 trial days. Currently, 72 victims are participating in the proceedings through their legal representatives. The Judges received the evidence of 307 witnesses. 269 were Prosecution witnesses, of whom 119 testified in the courtroom in the Netherlands or via video link from Beirut. The evidence of additional 150 witnesses was received in statement form, in accordance with the STL Rules of Procedure and Evidence. The Legal Representatives of Victims presented evidence of 31 witnesses, called 6 participating victims and a victimologist to testify. The Oneissi Defence presented the evidence of 6 witnesses, 2 live and 4 in written form. The Trial Chamber also called one witness for itself. The Trial Chamber received into evidence 3,131 documentary exhibits - 2,487 for the Prosecution, 599 for the four Accused and the former Accused, 45 from the Victims’ Legal Representatives and one admitted by the Chamber of its own volition. The exhibits total 144,928 pages.
The transcript of the 406 days of proceedings to date totals 35, 876 pages in English, 36,552 in French and 18,688 in Arabic. The final trial briefs filed by the Prosecution, Victims’ Legal Representatives and the Defence add up to over 1,400 pages of written substantive submissions with 31 annexes totalling in 1, 748 pages.
Background Information: The Ayyash et al. case relates to the 14 February 2005 attack which killed 22 individuals, including the former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, and injured 226 others. The indictment charges Salim Jamil Ayyash, Hassan Habib Merhi Hussein Hassan Oneissi and Assad Hassan Sabra with conspiracy aimed at committing a terrorist act. Mr. Ayyash is also charged with committing a terrorist act by means of an explosive device, the intentional homicide of Mr. Hariri with premeditation using explosive materials, the intentional homicide of an additional 21 persons, with premeditation using explosive materials and with the attempted intentional homicide of 226 people with premeditation by using explosive materials. Mr. Merhi, Mr. Oneissi and Mr. Sabra are also charged with being accomplices to each of the four counts charged against Mr. Ayyash. All four Accused remain at large. The proceedings against them are being held in absentia.
Initially, Mustafa Amine Badreddine was charged in the indictment. However, on 11 July 2016, following reports of his death in May 2016, the Trial Chamber terminated the case against him pursuant to an order of the Appeals Chamber- rendered by the majority of the Appeals Chamber Judges - that Mr. Badreddine was deceased, but without prejudice to the right to resume the proceedings, should evidence that he is alive emerge in the future.
The trial began on 16 January 2014 with the opening statements by the Prosecutor, the Legal Representatives and the Defence counsel. The Prosecution then started the presentation of its case which ended on 7 February 2018. Evidence was called by the Trial Chamber at the request of victims participating in the proceedings case- interposed in the Prosecution case- between 28 August and 7 September 2017. The Trial Chamber also called one witness. Counsel for Mr. Oneissi elected to present a Defence case and called two witnesses who testified on 14 and 15 May, and 5, 6 and 7 June 2018, and tendered documents for admission into evidence. Counsel for Mr Oneissi closed their case on 28 June 2018. The Trial Chamber heard its witness on 25 and 26 June 2018. The Prosecutor and the Legal Representatives of Victims filed their final briefs on 16 July 2018 and the Defence teams for the four Accused on 13 August 2018.
The presentation of the closing arguments concludes the trial hearings in the Ayyash et al. case but is not a finding of guilt or innocence. The Judges have now withdrawn to deliberate and will issue a reasoned judgement that will find an accused "guilty" or "not guilty." A finding of guilt may be reached only when a majority of the Trial Chamber is satisfied that guilt has been proved beyond reasonable doubt (Rule 148). If a trial chamber finds an accused guilty it will subsequently decide on the sentence. Following the first instance judgement, appeals proceedings may be initiated before the STL Appeals Chamber."--STL

Making, drinking arak a source of national pride in Lebanon
Associated Press/September 21/18
Some Beirut bars have introduced an infused version of arak, adding a twig of basil or rosemary, to attract young drinkers.
TAANAYEL, Lebanon: Every part of Lebanon’s national drink, arak, is infused with tradition — from distilling the aniseed-tinged liquor to the ritual of mixing it at the table, when the transparent liquid suddenly turns milky white as water is added.
Arak is a staple of big Sunday meals. With a sweet taste and high alcohol content, around 40 percent, it’s best consumed with food — lots of it. That makes it perfect for Lebanon’s traditional meze, spreads of never-ending small dishes that family and friends Iinger over for hours.'
Aficionados say arak is vital to digesting the homemade raw meat dishes that are central to a meze. The real impact comes at the end of the meal, when you stand up after all that eating and the alcohol from glass after glass really hits.
Arak is comparable to Greece’s Ouzo or Turkey’s Raki, which are also grape-based drinks with the licorice-like flavor of anise. Lebanese say arak is smoother. Many families make it at home, each boasting their particular flavor and kick. Restaurants often serve both commercially produced versions and homemade varieties, known as “Arak Baladeh.” Regulars usually opt for the homemade.But the tradition is facing competition in Lebanon as young generations opt for liquors like vodka or whiskey that are easier to mix and drink — without a meal.
With so much home production, it is hard to tell how much arak is made. Lebanon’s Blom Bank estimated in 2016 that around 2 billion bottles a year are produced in the country, with nearly a quarter of it exported, mostly for Lebanese expats yearning for their local drink.
At a recent festival in Taanayel, a town east of Beirut, several commercial companies and smaller boutique houses showcased their araks in a celebration aimed at promoting the drink to the young.
Christiane Issa, whose family owns one of Lebanon’s largest arak producers, Doumaine de Tourelles, said the drink is a natural digestif. It was a nod to Lebanon’s growing market for holistic and natural products.
“The most important thing about arak is that our grandfathers used herbs to treat illness, not medicine. They believed in herbs, so they chose to make arak with green anise because it has anethole, a compound that aids digestion,” said Issa, the company’s administrative manager.
Some Beirut bars have introduced an infused version of arak, adding a twig of basil or rosemary, to attract young drinkers. Issa suggests watermelon.
It is to be drunk from small glasses — bigger than a shot glass but smaller than an Old Fashioned glass — arranged on a tray at the top of a table laden with meze. A new glass is used with each new serving. Some prefer to drink it in a tall glass. Passions run strong over every detail of arak tradition.
It is often mixed in a traditional glass pitcher, round with a short beak-like spout. That makes it easy to drink straight from the pitcher when the party really gets going.
Drinkers staunchly debate the best way to mix.
Some prefer half water, half arak — a strong, sweet mix, usually not for the newbies. More common is one-third arak to two-thirds water, to prolong the drinking and the gathering.
No one can clearly explain the difference, but theories abound. Some say arak is further weakened if the ice is already sitting in the glass. Others say, don’t question tradition.The ice cubes are another discussion. For some, the glass is filled with ice cubes first before pouring the drink. Those truly religious about the drink insist that ice must come last.
The making of arak is a family affair, with secrets passed from one generation to another.
Central to the process is a triple distillation using a still called a “karakeh” in Arabic.
The harvest is in September and October. The grapes are crushed and left to ferment for three weeks. The mix is then put in the lower part of the karakeh, where it is heated until it evaporates and cooled in the top part by a stream of cold water. At this stage, it is pure alcohol. Anise and water may be added in the second or third distillation. The mix is what makes each house’s taste unique.
Homemade arak usually goes straight into gallon containers after distillation, ready for drinking. In commercial production, the arak sits in clay jugs for a year, making it smoother, Issa said.
Issa’s father introduced a new technique, letting it sit in the clay jugs for five years before going to market. Her family bought Doumaine de Tourelles 18 years ago and now it produces 350,000 bottles a year of Arak Brun, named after the Frenchman who founded it in 1868.“Wine ages but arak rests,” Issa said.
At the Taanayel festival, visitors sipped on the sweet drink with their meals.
Michel Sabat was marketing his new Arak al-Naim, or “Arak of Paradise.”
He said with so many producers, arak can only get better.
“There is a lot of competition here in Lebanon, so those who produce arak have to make sure it is very good quality

The Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on September 21-22/18
Dead, Including Suspect, after Maryland Warehouse Shooting
Associated Press/Naharnet/September 21/18/A woman working a temporary job at a drugstore warehouse in Maryland got into an argument at work Thursday morning and began shooting colleagues, killing three before fatally turning the gun on herself, authorities and witnesses said.
Workers at the Rite Aid distribution center in northeastern Maryland described terrifying moments of "crazy" gunfire and people screaming and running in all directions after the shooting. Others said they helped the wounded, one person tying blood-soaked jeans around a man's injured leg in a bid to stop the bleeding. Harford County Sheriff Jeffrey Gahler said at a news conference that the woman was later identified as a temporary employee of the distribution center, Snochia Moseley of Baltimore County. "She had reported for her workday as usual, and around 9 a.m. the shooting began, striking victims both outside the business and inside the facility," Gahler said. "We do not at this time have a motive for this senseless crime." Krystal Watson, 33, said her husband, Eric, works at the facility and told her told her that the suspect had been arguing with somebody else near a time clock after a "town hall meeting.""And she went off," she said. "She didn't have a particular target. She was just shooting," Watson said as she drove away from a fire station where relatives tried to reunite with loved ones.
The sheriff said the call about shots fired came in at about 9:06 a.m. and deputies and other officers were on the scene in just over five minutes. The shooting began outside the business and continued inside, he said. It appears only one weapon was used — a 9 mm Glock handgun that was registered in Moseley's name — and no shots were fired by responding law enforcement officers, Gahler said. Walter Zambrano, 64, who described himself as a worker at the distribution center, said he was in the bathroom when shooting broke out and saw nothing as he hid, frightened for his life. The person was "shooting like crazy," Zambrano said, speaking in Spanish. He said the gunfire seemed to go on several minutes, and when it was over he sprinted outdoors. On the way out, he said he saw a female co-worker down on the floor. The scene, he said, was one of chaos. "Everyone was screaming, running this way and that. I didn't know which way to run," he said. The sheriff said three victims were fatally shot and three more were wounded but were expected to survive. They were not immediately identified. Moseley died at a hospital from a self-inflicted gunshot wound, Gahler said. Area hospitals reported receiving five patients from the incident. Susan Henderson, spokeswoman for the drugstore chain Rite Aid, described the building where the shooting took place as a support facility adjacent to a larger building. The company said in a statement that the facility had been closed temporarily and grief counselors will be made available to workers. The company didn't immediately respond to an inquiry about Moseley's employment history.
Mike Carre, an employee of a furniture logistics operation next to the distribution center, said he helped tend to a wounded man who came hobbling in, bleeding from his leg. He called 911 from a bathroom before helping colleagues wrap the man's blood-soaked jeans above his injury to cut off blood flow. Carre said the man told him the shooter "just came in in a bad mood this morning. He said she's usually nice. But today, I guess it wasn't her day. She just came in to pick a fight with someone." "She pulled out a gun and she just started shooting at her co-workers."
Harford County Executive Barry Glassman said that, unfortunately, incidents like this are "becoming a too-often occurrence not only in Harford County but in the country." The attack came nearly three months after a man armed with a shotgun attacked a newspaper office in Annapolis, Maryland, killing five staff members. Authorities accused Jarrod W. Ramos of attacking The Capital Gazette because of a longstanding grudge against the paper. It came less than a year after a fatal workplace shooting less than 10 miles (16 kilometers) from the warehouse, in which five were shot, three fatally. And it followed another shooting Wednesday in Wisconsin in which authorities say a gunman shot four co-workers before being killed by responding officers. On Thursday, 33-year-old Dominique Norton of Aberdeen, endured an excruciating wait of nearly two hours to be reunited with her mother, 62-year-old warehouse worker Irene Norton. Dominique Norton said she didn't know that her mother was unharmed until she got off a bus at the fire station and they tearfully embraced. "I busted out crying. I was relieved and shaken," she said. "I am praying for all of the victims."
12 Killed, 14 Wounded in Mozambique Jihadist Attacks
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/September 21/18/Twelve villagers were killed and 14 injured in an attack by suspected jihadists on a village in a gas-rich region of northern Mozambique, a local source told AFP on Friday. Since October, the southeast African country's golden vision to exploit its gas reserves has been thrown into doubt by an explosion of bloodthirsty assaults in the region where the industry plans to base its hub. "Ten people killed were shot by firearms and two burnt (to death) after 55 houses were charred. A person was beheaded after being shot dead" in the northern village of Paqueue late Thursday, said the source. A health official in the Cabo Delgado region, who declined to be named, said that an ambulance was dispatched to Paqueue to "rescue the 14 wounded". In a separate incident, a military convoy came under attack near the Tanzanian border north of Paqueue, killing a senior army officer, according to a police source. "The attack occurred at night when defence and security forces routinely patrol. The attackers wore military uniforms and had large-calibre firearms," said the source who declined to be named.

Israel Reinforces Nuclear Facilities to Counter Iranian Threats

Bloomberg/September 21/2018/Israel is upgrading and reinforcing its nuclear facilities to withstand attacks to counter Iranian threats to strike the Jewish state’s nuclear sites, the head of the country’s Atomic Energy Commission said. “We cannot ignore the repeated and explicit threats, made by Iran and its proxies, to attack Israel’s nuclear sites,” Zeev Snir said in a speech Tuesday to the 62nd General Conference of the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna. “These outrageous threats require Israel to take action and continue to protect and defend its nuclear facilities.”Israel historically has refused to confirm reports that its nuclear plant near the desert town of Dimona, formally classified as a research center, is in fact a plant for building nuclear bombs. The plant was renamed last month for former President Shimon Peres, who was instrumental in developing the French-built reactor when he was deputy director of Israel’s Defense Ministry in the late 1950s. Snir also said Iran had lied to the IAEA, and the world, regarding its long term plan to acquire military nuclear capabilities. He urged the agency to conduct a “robust verification of Iran’s clandestine activities.” The IAEA previously had reported that Iran coordinated a nuclear-weapons program before 2003, and continued assessing a range of technologies relevant to building a bomb until 2009. In a recent report seen by Bloomberg, IAEA inspectors said Iran is keeping to the terms of the 2015 deal, signed with international powers, that limits its nuclear program. Hezbollah, Iran’s proxy militia in Lebanon, has repeatedly threatened to target the Dimona reactor if war breaks out. In recent years, Israel has carried out dozens of strikes on Iranian assets and proxies in Syria, where Tehran is fighting alongside President Bashar Assad’s forces, and has pledged to prevent Iran from arming Hezbollah with high-quality precision missiles.

Daesh leader Baghdadi, world’s ‘most wanted’, sought in Syria offensive
AFP/September 21, 2018
There have been recurring reports of Baghdadi being killed or injured, but the elusive leader is believed to be still alive.
In August, he resurfaced in a purported new audio recording in which he urged his followers to keep up the fight despite Daesh having lost around 90 percent of the territory it held at the height of its reign of terror.
PARIS: US-backed forces have launched an offensive on Daesh’s last stronghold in eastern Syria, but the man dubbed the world’s “most wanted” — Daesh leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi — could yet again slip through the net, experts warn. There have been recurring reports of Baghdadi being killed or injured, but the elusive leader, whose only known public appearance dates to July 2014 when he proclaimed a cross-border caliphate from the pulpit of a mosque in the Iraqi city of Mosul, is believed to be still alive. In August, he resurfaced in a purported new audio recording in which he urged his followers to keep up the fight despite Daesh having lost around 90 percent of the territory it held at the height of its reign of terror. He also urged them to continue waging lone-wolf attacks in the West. In May, a senior Iraqi intelligence official told AFP that Baghdadi had been moving discreetly between villages and towns east of the Euphrates river in Deir Ezzor province, near the Iraqi border. He was traveling in a small group of “four or five people” including male relatives, the official said. Iraqi political commentator Hisham Al-Hashemi, an expert on the Sunni extremist group, said his security sources told him Baghdadi was hiding out in the Syrian desert and regularly moved between Al-Baaj in northwest Iraq and Hajjin in Syria’s southeast. As the caliphate crumbled, Iraqi forces and coalition-backed forces in Syria have killed or captured several Daesh leaders. On Wednesday an Iraqi presented as Baghdadi’s deputy, Ismail Alwan Salman Al-Ithawi, was sentenced to death by a court in Iraq after being apprehended in Turkey and extradited as part of a joint Turkish-Iraqi-US operation. In May, Iraqi forces claimed to have captured five top Daesh commanders in a cross-border sting. The US-backed Kurdish-Arab alliance launched Operation Roundup last week, the third phase of a year-old operation to clear southeastern Syria of its last Daesh holdouts, in an area around the Euphrates extending around 50 kilometers (30 miles) into Syria. “This is the last bastion for Daesh’s mercenaries,” Zaradasht Kobani, a Kurdish commander with the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces, told AFP. “We will eliminate them here,” he said. But reeling in Baghdadi will not be simple, said Hassan Hassan, a senior research fellow at the Program on Extremism at the George Washington University in Washington. “He and his group learned from previous mistakes that led to the killing of the top two leaders in 2010, (al-Baghdadi’s predecessor) Abu Omar Al-Baghdadi, and his war minister Abu Hamza Al-MuHajjir,” Hassan told AFP. “This means that only a very few and highly-trusted people know where he is.” The mountains, desert, river valleys and villages of the border area provide “several possible hideouts,” Hassan noted.

How Russia, Turkey excluded Iran from Sochi deal on Syria’s Idlib

Saleh Hamid, Al Arabiya EnglishFriday, 21 September 2018/The outcomes of Sochi summit on September 17 between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, regarding Syria’s Idlib and creating a demilitarized zone instead of launching a military offensive, has taken Iran by surprise, destroying all hopes it built during an earlier summit held in Tehran with the participation of both Moscow and Ankara.The Iranian government reluctantly declared its support for the Sochi deal despite its previous insistence on inciting the completion of military operations in Idlib and supporting the forces of the Syrian regime, the Revolutionary Guards and its militias.The trilateral summit between Iran, Russia and Turkey in Tehran on September 7 saw coordination and harmonization of positions between Hassan Rouhani and Vladimir Putin on the implementation of military operations against armed groups in Idlib.While Erdogan opposed any attack against Idlib, saying that Turkey could move the groups that Russia and Iran oppose from the areas that it controls so that Idlib will be under the control of “moderate forces”, the Iranian media applauded the Tehran summit and said it was time for Iran and Russia to restore Idlib and hand it over to Bashar al-Assad regime, vowing to end what it described, the Turkish arrogance. But 10 days after the Tehran summit, the Sochi summit excluded Iran and dealt a blow to its hopes, especially that Putin openly declared his refusal to launch a military offensive in Idlib and his deal with Erdogan to establish a demilitarized zone between the forces of the Syrian regime and the opposition groups at a depth of 15 to 25 km where they will be monitored by Russian and Turkish forces who will conduct patrols in this region. While Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif welcomed the Sochi deal as “responsible diplomacy,” Iranian media outlets of the regime and analysts close to the authority attacked the deal and viewed it as marginalizing Iran’s role in Syria. In an interview with the Iranian Diplomacy website, Qasem Moheb Ali, a diplomat and former director of the Middle East Department of the Iranian Foreign Ministry, said that Tehran’s competitors, in their analysis of the recent economic and social situation in Iran, expected to gain concessions from Tehran, especially with the re-imposing of harsh US sanctions in November. He believed that Russia and Turkey - without naming them - want to pressure Iran to give up its role in Syria in exchange for standing up to American pressure. Moheb Ali implicitly admitted that Iran’s policy in Syria failed, saying: “Iran’s policy of keeping Bashar al-Assad and his likes and maintaining power in the hands of the Alawites and other allies will not get anywhere, because the international community, especially the Arab countries in the region and even the Syrian community, do not accept this equation.” “This is the impasse of Iran, as the efforts of the international community are now focused on the total elimination of Iran’s influence in the Middle East,” he said.For his part, Iranian diplomat and political analyst Ali Khorram considered Iran’s position to be weak in regional equations. “The government must be vigilant in making decisions so as not to be surprised by future changes,” he said in an interview with “Intikhab” or Election website which is close to the Iranian government. “The question now at the international level is how, 10 days after the Tehran summit, only two of the three countries sit and reach a deal which is completely the opposite of Tehran summit,” he said. While reformist figures critical of Iran’s intervention in Syria said that although the regime spent billions in Syria to support Bashar al-Assad and the tens of thousands of Revolutionary Guards and militia casualties, Russia still uses Iranian forces as mere infantry for Russian troops. This analysis reinforces Russia’s failure to take a stand on continued Israeli attacks on Iranian bases and forces in Syria. They also saw that Russia wanted through those pressures to force Iran to withdraw from Syria, which was confirmed by the United States National Security Advisor John Bolton. Observers believe that the Sochi deal between Putin and Erdogan to establish a demilitarized zone in Syria’s Idlib, is a new political blow to the Iranian regime and represents a “collapse of the strategic depth of the regime.”

Israel says ‘transparent discussion’ was held in Moscow over plane downing
AFP, Moscow/Friday, 21 September 2018/Israel’s air force commander held a “transparent discussion” with Russian officials in Moscow on Thursday, the Israeli army said, after a Russian warplane was downed by Syria earlier in the week following Israeli air strikes. Major General Amikam Norkin led a delegation to the Russian capital to share the military’s findings on the incident, which Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has blamed on Israel. “The meetings were held in good spirits and the representatives shared a professional, open and transparent discussion on various issues,” the Israeli army said in a statement after the visit by Norkin. “Both sides emphasized the importance of the states’ interests and the continued implementation of the de-confliction system,” the army said, referring to information exchanged between Israel and Russia to reduce the risk of air incidents.Syrian air defenses shot down the Russian Il-20 military plane on Monday, killing all 15 soldiers aboard after Israeli missiles struck the coastal region of Latakia. The incident was the worst case of friendly fire between Moscow and Assad’s regime since Russian forces intervened in the war-torn country in late 2015. Afterwards, the Russian military accused Israeli pilots of using “the Russian plane as a cover, exposing it to fire from Syrian air defenses”. Israel denied the allegations, saying its jets were already back in its airspace when Syrian forces launched the missiles that hit the Russian plane. In a letter to his Russian counterpart on Wednesday, Assad offered his condolences for the deaths after the plane was downed by Syria’s Russian-made S-200 air defense system. “This unfortunate incident was the result of Israeli arrogance and depravity,” the Syrian leader said. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Thursday that he had sent Norkin to Moscow to “preserve cooperation between our two countries”. Netanyahu expressed his “sorrow” to Russian President Vladimir Putin in a phone call on Tuesday but insisted the Russian plane was shot down by “extensive and inaccurate Syrian anti-aircraft (fire)”. Putin has said the incident was the result of “tragic accidental circumstances,” but also warned Netanyahu against carrying out such operations in the future. According to Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, Putin held talks with his Security Council on Thursday. “The strengthening of the security of the Russian military in Syria after the disaster of Il-20 was on the agenda,” Peskov said, quoted by news agency Ria Novosti. Israel has vowed to stop its arch-foe Iran, which backs the Assad regime, from entrenching itself militarily in neighboring Syria. Earlier this month, Israel acknowledged having carried out more than 200 strikes in Syria over the past 18 months, mainly against Iranian targets.

Israel: We proved to Russia that Assad's regime downed their plane

Staff writer, Al Arabiya EnglishFriday, 21 September 2018/Israel provided Moscow with proof it was not responsible for the downing of a Russian plane in Syria, an Israeli military official said on Friday. Fifteen Russian crew were killed when the IL-20 surveillance plane crashed near Latakia in northern Syria on Monday. Russia has said Syria shot the plane down shortly after Israeli jets hit a target in the area. An Israeli delegation including its air force chief and other officers traveled to Moscow to brief about the incident. “We proved how the Syrian reckless anti-air fire was the direct cause of hitting the Russian aircraft,” said the military official, who briefed reporters on condition of anonymity. “They fired quite recklessly and irresponsibly and unprofessionally into the air long after our planes were no longer there.”Israel has not altered its coordination with Russia on attacks it carries out in Syria, said the Israeli official. “There have been no changes to the de-confliction mechanism as a result of this unfortunate event,” he said.With Agencies

Pompeo: Will respond immediately to Iranian actions against our interests
Staff writer, Al Arabiya EnglishFriday, 21 September 2018/The US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Friday, that Iran is the biggest sponsor of terrorism in the world, stressing that Washington will respond immediately to any Iranian actions against its interests. “We have told the Iranians that we will immediately respond to any attack from them or their agents on our interests,” Pompeo said. It is noteworthy that Pompeo confirmed in late August that the Strait of Hormuz is subject to international navigation, and that Iran does not control it as it claims. He also stressed that the strait is an international corridor, noting that the United States will continue to work with allies in the region to ensure free shipping and trade in international waters. The official IRNA news agency reported on Friday that the air force was conducting exercises near the strategic Strait of Hormuz in the Gulf. Read more
Iran’s ageing warplanes in ‘show of strength’ near Strait of Hormuz
Arab News/September 21, 2018/
The drill involved fighter jets from the Iranian military and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps But experts cast doubt on Tehran’s air power
JEDDAH: Iran’s fleet of ageing warplanes took to the skies above the Arabian Gulf and the Sea of Oman on Friday in what Tehran billed as a “show of strength” to its adversaries. The drill involved fighter jets from the Iranian military and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), including US-made F-4, French Mirage and Russian Sukhoi-22 planes, and five logistics and combat helicopters. Iran said the maneuvers were a warning to Iran’s enemies that they faced a quick, “stern response” and “pounding reply” in case of any ill-will. However, experts were quick to cast doubt on whether Iran’s air power presented any genuine threat. “This is the second exercise involving the Iranian army and the IRGC regarding scenarios for the Strait of Hormuz,” Dr. Theodore Karasik, senior adviser with Gulf State Analytics in Washington and a leading security analyst, told Arab News. “While Tehran's exercises show that the ‘asymmetric’ doctrine is alive and well, the role of Iran's air assets is another question. Even if these aircraft are involved in an exercise, in an actual confrontation they would be picked off quite easily because Iran simply doesn’t have a viable air force.”Iran attracted widespread international ridicule in August when it unveiled what it said was its first domestically designed and manufactured fighter jet. The Kowsar was said to be a “fourth-generation” warplane with advanced avionics, radar and fire-control systems, to be used for short aerial support. The launch was attended by President Hassan Rouhani, who was photographed in the cockpit. However, aviation experts quickly pointed out that the new jet was in fact a slightly modified Northrop F-5, designed in the 1950s and used by US forces since the 1960s. A more serious threat to regional security and stability takes place on Saturday, when Iran will stage a naval military drill in the Gulf, involving about 600 naval vessels. “Their naval capabilities are much better than their air force,” Karasik said. “Their scenario practice involves asymmetric naval strikes with speed boats, and also the laying of mines.” Tehran has suggested in recent weeks that it could take military action in the Gulf to block other countries’ oil exports in retaliation for US sanctions intended to halt its sales of crude, which begin on Nov.4. Washington maintains a fleet in the Gulf that protects oil shipping routes, and has pledged that the flow of oil will not be interrupted. Tehran has been under increasing pressure since May, when President Donald Trump pulled America out of the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers. US allies in Asia are already cutting back on their purchases of Iranian crude. In July, Rouhani said that if renewed sanctions threatened Iran’s crude oil exports, the rest of the Middle East’s exports would be threatened as well.

Turkey: Joint Patrols with U.S. to Begin Soon in Syrian Town
Associated Press/Naharnet/September 21/18/Turkey says joint patrols with U.S. forces will start soon in the strategic northern Syrian town of Manbij. The patrols are part of a "road map" that Ankara and Washington agreed on in June to defuse tensions amid Turkish demands for the withdrawal of a U.S.-backed Kurdish militia that freed the town from the Islamic State group in 2016. Presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin said Friday that "joint training and joint patrols will begin very soon" in Manbij. Manbij has been a significant issue in strained relations between the two NATO allies. Turkey considers the U.S.-backed Syrian Kurdish militia, the Kurdish People's Protection Units, or YPG, a terror group that is part of a Kurdish insurgency within Turkey. Kalin said continued U.S. support for the Kurdish forces remains "a serious concern."

Russia’s Lavrov says US is threat to Syria’s territorial integrity
Reuters, Moscow/Friday, 21 September 2018/Russia’s foreign minister Sergei Lavrov said on Friday that the United States’ control over the eastern bank of the Euphrates river posed the main threat to Syria’s territorial integrity, Interfax news agency reported. He also said that Russia and Turkey have agreed on the borders of an Idlib demilitarized zone and that Nusra front fighters should leave the zone by mid-October. On Monday and after lengthy talks with his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Russian president Vladimir Putin said that Moscow and Ankara have agreed to create a “demilitarized zone” around Syria’s rebel-held province of Idlib. Full story

Russia Warns US is 'Playing with Fire' over Sanctions
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/September 21/18/Moscow said Friday Washington's latest raft of anti-Russian sanctions that also target China undermined global stability, warning the United States against "playing with fire." "It would be good for them to remember there is such a concept as global stability which they are thoughtlessly undermining by whipping up tensions in Russian-American ties," deputy foreign minister Sergei Ryabkov said in a statement. "Playing with fire is silly, it can become dangerous," he added. "We recommend that Washington's operators of the sanctions machine at least superficially acquaint themselves with our history to stop going round in circles."On Thursday, the United States expanded its sanctions war against Russia to China, for the first time announcing punitive measures against a Chinese military organisation for buying Russian fighter jets and missiles. The State Department also announced it was placing 33 Russian intelligence and military-linked actors on its sanctions blacklist. All of them -- defence related firms, officers of the GRU military intelligence agency, and people associated with the Saint Petersburg-based Internet Research Agency disinformation group -- have been on previous US sanctions lists and 28 of them have already been indicted by Robert Mueller, who is investigating Russia election meddling. Ryabkov reiterated that none of the rounds of sanctions had managed to force Russia to change its course so far. "The numerous American 'black lists' increasingly repeat each other. It is funny but it is so," he said. "It appears that it has become a sort of national pastime there," Ryabkov said, adding that the latest round of anti-Russian measures was the 60th since 2011.
Macron Honours Algerians Who Fought for Colonial France
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/September 21/18/French President Emmanuel Macron announced honours on Friday for Algerians who fought alongside French troops in Algeria's war of independence, part of fresh moves to confront France's painful legacy in north Africa.
Macron is to grant national awards to more than 20 former fighters and people who have battled for recognition of the Algerians who fought for Paris in the country's brutal eight-year liberation war. After a peace accord granted Algerian independence on March 18, 1962, only around 60,000 Algerian loyalists known as "harkis" were allowed into France. There, they suffered rampant discrimination and, in many cases, poverty. The rest -- between 55,000 and 75,000, according to historians -- remained in Algeria, where many were massacred after being accused of being traitors. Notifications published in the official journal on Friday showed that Macron would grant the Legion d'Honneur, the country's top honour, to six former fighters and the co-founder of an association which has fought for their rights. Another 19 people are to be granted an Order of Merit, ahead of France's National Harki Day on September 25. The fate of the harkis in France and their descendants, who number hundreds of thousands, remains a highly sensitive issue in France, acting as a reminder of its colonial history. Previous presidents of the left and right had taken cautious steps to acknowledge and face up to French wrongdoing in Algeria and after the war. Rightwing leader Nicolas Sarkozy admitted in 2012 that France failed in its duty towards the Algerians who fought for France, saying the country "should have protected the harkis from history, it did not do so."Macron has gone further than his predecessors in addressing France's past in Algeria. Last year he sparked controversy on the campaign trail by declaring that France's colonisation of Algeria was a "crime against humanity", leading to protests from some harki groups. And last week he acknowledged that the French military instituted a "system" that facilitated torture as it sought to cling on to its 130-year rule in the country. He made the announcement while admitting that the French state was responsible for the torture and death of mathematician Maurice Audin, a French Communist pro-independence activist who disappeared in Algiers in 1957. The 1954-1962 Algerian war of independence sparked fears of a coup in France, with mutinous generals reluctant to relinquish the colony. The conflict left at least 400,000 people dead.

Abbas denies Palestinians refused peace talks with Israel
AP/September 21, 2018/Abbas’ denial came after talks in Paris with French President Emmanuel Macron Friday. Abbas asked Macron to pass the message onto US President Donald Trump. (Reuters)
PARIS: Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas has denied US claims the Palestinians have refused to enter peace talks with Israel. Abbas’ denial came after talks in Paris with French President Emmanuel Macron Friday. Abbas asked Macron to pass the message onto US President Donald Trump. US National Security Adviser John Bolton said earlier this month that the Palestinian de facto embassy in Washington was being shut because the PLO hadn’t taken steps toward negotiations. Abbas said “we didn’t reject negotiations as the Israelis claim,” adding that the Palestinian side is “ready for any confidential or public talks.”Abbas also said “the Europeans are working seriously to substitute and fill the American (funding) gap” after the Trump administration canceled over $200 million in aid for Palestinian projects.

Gaza officials say Palestinian killed at border protest
The Associated Press, Gaza CityFriday, 21 September 2018/Gaza’s Health Ministry says a Palestinian has been killed and dozens injured by Israeli fire at a border protest. Israel’s military said Palestinians hurled grenades, explosive devices and rocks toward troops and one soldier sustained light injuries from shrapnel. It said aircraft struck several targets in Gaza in response on Friday. The weekly protests with additional days and locations has increased since Egypt-mediated cease-fire talks stalled this month. Hamas has been leading the protests since March in part to draw attention to a decade-old Israeli-Egyptian blockade imposed after it took control of the enclave in 2007. Since then, 135, mainly unarmed, protesters have been killed by Israeli fire, according to Gaza’s Hamas-run health ministry and local rights group. An Israeli soldier was killed by a Gaza sniper in that time.

The Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on September 21-22/18
Russia & Israel at odds over cause of Il-20 crash after Israeli air force chief’s Moscow talks
DebekaFile/September 21/18
Russia and Israel agreed to continue their military coordination in Syria, although Israel’s Air Force chief Maj.-Gen Amikam Nurkin and Russian officers differed sharply on the circumstances which caused the Russian Il-20 spy plane to crash last Monday. The absence of a joint Russian-Israel communique summing up a day and-a-night of intense interviews upon the departure of the Israeli delegation on Friday, Sept. 21 indicated that each side adhered to is own version of the event and the crisis between Moscow and Jerusalem is not over. According to a subsequent IDF announcement, the coordination mechanism between Israel and the Russian command in Syria was nonetheless functioning “routinely.”
The Israeli military tried to put a positive face on the Moscow talks, describing them as friendly and positive, including even an Israeli invitation to the Russian investigators to come to Israel to further pursue their inquiries. This was in striking contrast to the hostile Russian media coverage of the tough interviews. The Russians insisted that, when Syrian air defenses shot down the Russian Ilyushin-20 spy plane, an Israeli air raid was still ongoing in Latakia, whereas the IDF probe established that the Israeli fighter jets had returned to home base.
That was one of several points of discord.
Syrian anti-air fire was “reckless, irresponsible and unprofessional and the direct cause of downing the Russian aircraft.”
The plane was struck by large Syrian SA-5 anti-air missiles.
The Syrian missile barrage went on for 40 minutes – after Israel planes were gone and landing at their home base.
A video recording of the conversation between the Israeli Air Force Command in Tel Aviv and the Russian Khmeimim Air Base proves that Israel gave the Russians much longer than one minute’s notice of the coming air raid over Latakia and disproves the Russian claim.
The Israeli delegation presented evidence disproving the Russian MoD’s accusation that the Israeli jets acted provocatively in using the Russian aircraft against Syrian missiles.
The IDF’s investigation of the incident as presented in Moscow covered three main points:
1. Evidence of Iran’s deepening military presence in Syria.
2. Tehran’s exploitation of Syria for funneling strategic weapons to Hizballah.
3. The Israel air raid over Latakia and how the Russian reconnaissance plane came to be shot down by Syrian air defense fire.
The Russian version of the Ilyushin incident and the Israeli delegation’s findings – as released to local media on Friday.
The Israelis presented a 40-page report on the IDF investigation “which absolved Israel of involvement in the tragedy.”
The IDF maintained in particular that the Syrian missile which downed the Ilyushin was fired “almost an hour after Israeli jets had returned to base.”
The Russian military “previously claimed that the IL-20 was shot down during the attack by Israeli aircraft [of Iranian targets in Latakia] – and does not withdraw its accusations against Israel.”
The Russian militia refutes reports in the Israeli media that the failure of the “friend or foe” identification system could have caused the tragedy – as “not correct.”
Moscow continues to stand behind the words of Igor Konashenkov, the Russian Defense Ministry spokesman. He said that “each system has its own identification system – the Russian Il-20 plane as well as the Syrian S-200. They don’t automatically ‘recognize’ each other, so this requires a special request and matching codes which change regularly.”
Both countries’ militaries agreed “to continue coordinating their actions in Syria and to carry on implementing the system of deconflictization.”
As to the future impact on Russian-Israeli relations of the plane incident, that decision is up to President Vladimir Putin, as DEBKAfile reported earlier. He will also decide to what extent – if at all – the Israeli air force will continue to enjoy free rein to pursue its government’s objective of ridding Syria of Iran’s military footprint. For now, it is too soon to predict Putin’s response, our sources confirm.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters in Moscow on Friday that President Putin had been briefed on what an Israeli military delegation had to share with the Russian Defense Ministry on the downing of its jet in Syria, but stressed a decision on the Kremlin’s next step was premature.
“It is too early to ask about that. You should ask the Defense Ministry,” Dmitry Peskov told reporters in Moscow after a query about the Russian government’s future relationship with Israel.
The spokesman confirmed that Putin was “aware of the information” presented, but added this was “special data,” and only military experts were capable of saying whether it was satisfactory.

Ignore regime rhetoric, US sanctions are hitting Iran hard
د. ماجد ربيزاده: لا مصداقية للخطاب الإيراني المدعى عدم الإهتمام بالعقوبات الأميركية لأنها تصيب إيران بقوة
Dr. Majid Rafizadeh/Arab News/September 20/18

Analysis/'With Russian Presence in Syria, Israel Air Force Has to Be Very Precise'
عاموس هاريل من الهآررتس: على إسرائيل ان تكون غارتها دقيقة جداً في سوريا بسبب وجود روسيا فيها

Amos Harel/Haaretz/September 21/18
Brig. Gen. Uri Oron, head of the Israeli Air Force Intelligence, talks to Haaretz about the fast-changing situation in the north, the new reality in Syria and how Israel maintains its aerial superiority.
When Brig. General Uri Oron spoke with Haaretz earlier this week, nobody could have foretold events, though Syria and especially the Russian aerial presence there were central to the conversation with the Israel Air Force’s head of intelligence.
Asked when he started the job, Oron answered, “With Putin.” Which means the summer of 2015, shortly after which the Russian president sent two squadrons to Syria. Back then Syrian President Bashar Assad seemed headed for defeat, but the Russian jets would later sway the civil war in Syria in his regime’s favor.
The Russian return to the region, two and a half decades after they had been perhaps present in spirit but missing in action because of the collapse of the Eastern Bloc, changed the rules of the game on Israel’s northern front. In contrast to some of the earlier forecasts, published here too, Russia did not severely constrain action by the IAF. They did, however, demand that Israel not imperil Russian planes in the area, or its people on the ground. Russia and Israel consolidated an agreement to minimize friction, under which Israel would provide early warning to the Russian air force about its attacks in Syria, and in general would avoid flying near, let alone bombing near, Russian interests.
When Moscow felt that Israel was nearing its line in the sand, it protested publicly, for instance in March 2017, February 2018 and just now, when the Syrian aerial defense shot down a Russian Ilyushin plane without meaning to, following an Israeli air raid in northwest Syria.
“Russia’s aerial involvement in Syria decided the war in Assad’s favor, categorically,” Oron told Haaretz. “In the summer of 2015 everyone was sure that ISIS was about to roll over Damascus too. The Russians’ arrival in Syria was one of the strongest things to shape reality in the area in recent years, together with the superpowers’ nuclear agreement with Iran. Does the Russian presence constrain the IAF’s activity? It challenges us. We have to be very precise. [But] that doesn’t mean that the IAF only flies in Israeli skies.”
According to statistics the Israeli army provided on the eve of Rosh Hashana, the IAF has attacked Syria more than 200 times since the beginning of 2017. There were dozens of attacks during the preceding five years (during which the civil war went on). At first Israel’s moves focused on preventing advanced weapons, mainly guided ones, from being smuggled through Syria to Hezbollah.
In the last 18 months this effort has expanded: Now a significant part of it is invested in curbing Iran’s attempt to establish itself in Syria. The military outposts of the Revolutionary Guards have been attacked, as have weapons systems, and the bases of Shi’ite militias financed by Tehran. What the army calls “the battle between the wars” has become the key mission of the IAF, as the main executor of the policy in recent years.
“This is a struggle over hegemony,” says Oron. “Iran isn’t monolithic. It isn’t that the entire Iranian public supports it, or even the whole system. But they do aspire to establish military abilities to enable themselves to establish a sort of hegemony in Syria, not an attempt to make Syria Shi’ite. It is a huge challenge and we are trying to prevent this process. It isn’t our mission to ensure that no Iranian flags fly over any Syrian settlement.”
The IAF is an effective tool in this struggle, Oron explains, and it is the job of IAF intel to analyze and describe the fight: Bottlenecks, points of influence. “The first months were different,” he says. “For the first time, we met Iranian forces in Syria.”
The first incident happened on February 10, 2018, when the IAF downed an armed Iranian drone that had penetrated Israeli airspace, and then, in reaction, bombed the Syrian air base called T-4, by the city of Homs. Syria’s air defense in turn shot down an Israeli F-16 that had participated in the assault, over Israeli soil. The pilot and navigator ejected and were hurt.
Oron dismisses the notion that the drone had been a planned Iranian-Syrian ambush, explaining, “The battle is a complex one in a non-sterile environment. The reality has changed. He [the Assad regime] is trying to confront us face-to-face. The Iranians, too, are trying to give Syria aerial defense systems and drones. We cannot accept harm to our freedom of movement. I have been saying for two years now: Look what’s happening in Yemen. Houthi rebels are doing much the same: Receiving and using weapons that originate in Iran.”
Four different elements are operating on Israel’s northern front, Oron says: Russia, Iran, the Assad regime and Hezbollah, at varying levels of coordination and sometime with discrepancies in their interests.
“The dynamics are changing. I have to assume constant change and describe it in real time. What I saw in May I won’t see in December,” Oron says. And the major change in recent months is the regime regaining sovereignty over broader swaths of Syria. “In south Syria, the story is over,” Oron says. “The regime is back.”
Israel’s last major confrontation with Iran happened on May 10. The Revolutionary Guards shot missiles from Syrian territory at the Israeli side of the Golan border, in retaliation for attacks on Iranian fighters and Shi’ite militias beforehand. Most of the Iranian missiles landed in Syrian territory and four were intercepted by the Iron Dome system. Israel reacted with a massive attack on Iranian targets and Syrian anti-aircraft batteries.
Oron says that the map of Iranian presence in Syria constantly changes.
It isn’t that the Iranians are devoting less effort to their establishment, but on May 10 Israel demonstrated grit and ability, Oron says, and the neighborhood noticed. “But we never thought that this one action would lead to regional peace. Our situation is better than in May, but the attacks didn’t end Iran’s wish to establish itself in Syria.”
Iran has also been placing ground-to-ground missiles in Syria and recently in Iraq as well, and Israel is within their range. Oron confirms that Israel keeps a constant watch on Iran’s abilities, and Iraq has to stay in sight too. “A year ago we weren’t watching Iraq at all,” he says.
“The Iranians will try to bring more measures into Syria that could influence Israel from there. They understand the power of high-trajectory missiles,” he adds, referring not just to missiles but also to rockets. “We also see Iranian involvement in missile production sites in Syria and Lebanon.”Much of the Israeli effort devoted to thwarting arms smuggling and damaging production sites targeted Hezbollah’s project to integrate navigation systems into its arsenal of rockets. Oron suspects the organization hasn’t reached the maximal level of accuracy: “They aren’t where they’d like to be.”
Kibbutz kid
Oron, 51, is the son of former Meretz chairman Haim Oron. He grew up on Kibbutz Lahav in the Negev. His younger brother is also in the IAF. This, Oron’s first interview, was given ahead of his retirement from active service in October.
Drafted in 1986, Oron was a combat pilot for years, among other things commanding an F-16 squadron during the Second Lebanon War, and commanding the air force base in Hatzor.
“I fully believe that the success of the air force depends on its ability to operate as a relevant, effective aerial power, which relies on accurate intelligence,” Oron says. “We have to bring intelligence that enables us to overcome the enemy, to understand the rival system at the closest level. We can do it. We brought intelligence that will enable resolution. There are not a few places where I say: It works. The purpose is to cause accurate damage without major collateral damage. You see around us, in recent years, various attitudes towards using aerial force. I don’t want to judge others. It isn’t only a matter of the IAF intelligence but also of army intelligence. We cooperate day by day, minute by minute. It wasn’t like that in the past.”
The pace of events and their consequences require the IAF intelligence to have a grasp of strategic significance as well, Oron explains. “These are complex systems,” he says, and the IAF can’t just be tapped to bomb things. “Our unique quality is, after all, the ability to translate this information into precise information to bomb targets.”From his personal perspective too, the world is different now, he says. As a young pilot 25 years ago he was taught how to attack missile launchers based on intelligence that would pinpoint the location; the pilots would locate where the enemy was managing its fire, say a missile battery, and they’d take it out. “The final processing was in my head,” he says. “Today a critical component can be hidden inside a container or a house. I have to bring the pilot accurate intel. The good news is we’re managing to do it,” Oron says, thanks to a combination of visual and cyber information, and other sources.
Can the IAF maintain its aerial superiority? It can, says Oron.
“The number of antiaircraft missiles shot at us in Syria in the May attack – we hadn’t seen a thing like that since the Yom Kippur War,” he says. The IAF counted 170 of them. “But I think we are managing to maintain our freedom of action and aerial superiority, to take action when and where necessary. Our challenge is to develop combat systems that change at the same pace as the software system on your cellphone.” True, it will be harder and take more effort, he admits.
He keeps a copy of the reprinted list of targets the IAF gave its pilots at the start if the Six-Day War, which destroyed most of Egypt’s and Syria’s fighter jets on the ground. Noting that the intelligence available today is more detailed and accurate, espionage remains the same now as then – deciphering what the enemy is up to. “They worked on it for 11 years. They started the day after the [1956] Sinai campaign.”
In the summer four years ago, at the height of Operation Protective Edge, Meretz head MK Haim Oron talked with Haaretz. Both his sons and other family members were participating in the mission; his grandson Zamri, Uri’s nephew, who was in an elite military engineering unit, was badly wounded. “I reject and am outraged by the idea that left-wingers need to declare loyalty [to the state],” Haim Oron told Haaretz correspondent Gidi Weitz. “I absolutely refuse to allow anyone to put me in that position. I refuse to be a party to the horrific manipulation ... [and] to hold up a ‘Let the IDF win’ banner.”
Former Meretz chairman Haim Oron in the Knesset plenum, 2011
Former Meretz chairman Haim Oron in the Knesset plenum, 2011Tomer Applebaum
Once when he was addressing the Knesset plenum, Haim Oron said in the interview, and he spoke heatedly about the code of purity of arms, he got heckled, he thinks by Miri Regev (today the culture minister), who shouted that he was stabbing the soldiers in the back. “It’s insulting that I need some kind of character reference in the form of a fighting son or grandson,” he said.
Uri Oron says the family context is there in the background for him: “I can’t say it isn’t. When my family and people dear to me are attacked and sullied, it’s less gratifying. But the separation of powers with us is very clear. My father deals with it by himself, well. People who know what his boys do keep things in proportion. I never took it to rage and anger. I think it would make my father angry, to stand on the dais and be accused of treachery – I assume it’s not pleasant.”
Do they talk about values in warfare in the house? They do, says Oron, like in a lot of homes in Israel. “The dialogue at home was always very businesslike. Even when I had to explain, I explained the same things at home and to officers. I am talking about two aspects of values: decision-making processes and faith in commanders. When you trust both, you can take action.”

Analysis/Putin Has Little Choice but to Allow Israel to Continue Operating in Syria
أنشل بفافر من الهآررتس: ليس أمام بوتين خيار غير السماح لإسرائيل متابعة غارتها في سوريا

Anshel Pfeffer/Haaretz/September 21/18
Putin is an expert dancer in the delicate balance of feeding anti-Semitic conspiracy theories to his public while maintaining personal relations with Israel. The public contradictions serve him - and are central to his Syria strategy.
There is a carefully maintained dissonance between the way the Kremlin’s propaganda television channels, Russia Today and Sputnik News, talk about Israel and the tone of their paymaster Vladimir Putin.
While RT and Sputnik both employ and regularly host a cast of conspiracy theorists, Holocaust deniers and Jew-baiters of George Galloway’s ilk, Putin is in public almost constantly respectful, at times verging on deferential, of Israel. Since coming to power nearly two decades ago, he has made sure to periodically meet with Israel’s leaders, Ehud Barak, Shimon Peres, Ariel Sharon, Ehud Olmert and since his re-election in 2009, has had an ever-intensifying dialogue with Benjamin Netanyahu.
Those close to Putin say he is both a philo-Semite and that in his analyses of the decline and fall of the Soviet empire, has come to the conclusion that one of the biggest mistakes of its leaders was to have made enemies of Israel and world Jewry. But if Putin admires and respects Jews, why allow his propagandists to smear them?
RT and Sputnik play a central role in Putin’s campaign to undermine the western democracies and their alliances. Their audiences are the growing fringes of the nativist-right and “anti-imperialist” left. Anti-Semitism, of the overt kind and the more subtle "anti-Zionist” and “globalist” types, have been used as fodder to the masses’ paranoia since the time of the Czars. It’s a tried and trusted formula. Putin relies, however, on his personal relations with Jewish and Israeli leaders to offset this. It’s the kind of delicate balance he is an expert dancer of.
On Tuesday, as news arrived of the shooting-down of the Russian spy-plane by a Syrian missile, both approaches were on display simultaneously. The Defense Ministry in Moscow fed the Russian media a lurid story of how Israeli F-16s had intentionally hid behind the Russian aircraft, perfidiously engineering the deaths of fifteen Russian airmen. The fact that any military expert worth their salt would have immediately realized the outlandishness of such a scenario was immaterial. The Kremlin’s audience of addicts needs its conspiracy fix. Meanwhile, Putin spoke with Netanyahu and released a contradictory statement saying that he had both authorized his Defense Ministry’s version and that it was “a chain of tragic accidental circumstances.”
Putin needs to make these public contradictions. Not only to assuage both his anti-Semitic fans across the world and his Israeli counterparts, but because it is central to his Syria strategy.
One of the misconceptions of the Russian deployment to Syria is that it is a symbol of resurgent Russian military power. The truth is that in raw military terms, the Russian contingent is rather small - at its peak barely twenty fighter-bombers, and backed by a paltry “package” of support aircraft in the MEDEVAC, ELINT, air-tanker and command-and-control roles. A similar deployment by the United States, would have involved dozens of support aircraft, an aircraft carrier sailing nearby with a carrier wing of nearly fifty F-18s, and the full resources of a super-power capable of operating and fighting across the globe.
Russia does not have those resources. Its air-force and navy are still undergoing a drawn-out process of re-equipment after long years of post-Soviet neglect. Its Syrian deployment has stretched its long-range capabilities to the maximum and the shooting-down of the Ilyushin is not only a human tragedy but a loss of a scarce asset. According to assessments, Russia has only about ten of these nearly 50-year-old aircraft, which need long periods of maintenance between missions. Attempts to develop a successor are not going well.
The Russian intervention in Syria has achieved its objective of preserving the Assad regime, not because of any unique military advantage, but simply because there was no significant opposition. All it needed to tilt the balance between the regime and the rebels back in Assad’s favor was a relatively small investment of Russian air-power, backed by Shi’a cannon fodder, “boots on the ground,” provided by Iran. The United States, had it chosen to, or even Britain or France, could have fielded far superior forces to try and save civilian lives on the rebel side, as they did in Libya.
Putin is highly aware that Syria has two well-armed neighbors, Israel and Turkey, that could have easily disrupted his plans, should they have chosen to. Of course, both Benjamin Netanyahu and Recep Tayyip Erdogan have little interest in a military confrontation with Russia. But the fact that both regional powers have the capability to wield more firepower in Syria than Russia could bring all the way there is a reason for Putin to treat them with respect and seek accommodations.
That’s why on Monday, at their meeting in Sochi, Putin accepted Erdogan’s demands to cancel the planned Syrian-Russian assault on the remaining rebel enclave in Idlib province, on Turkey’s border. And why Putin is always prepared to talk to Netanyahu on the phone, even on Tuesday after his Defense Ministry had just accused Israel of causing the deaths of fifteen Russian servicemen.
It’s understandable that Russia cannot allow itself to lose face and therefore will not be blaming its Syrian ally in public – although unconfirmed sources from Syria have reported that Russian military police abducted and are brutally interrogating officers and soldiers from the Syrian air-defense battery that fired the fateful missile. That’s why the Russian double-speak is necessary and Israel has to go through the motions of sending its air-force commander to Moscow to present his version of events. But this is mainly for appearances sake.
The facts on the ground haven’t changed. If anything, the shooting-down of the Ilyushin has served to underline just how threadbare the Russian deployment is and how little it can trust its Syrian allies. Israel may have to lower the profile of its operations in Syria for a while, but it cannot allow Iran and Hezbollah free rein to smuggle weapons. A suspicious Putin needs to make sure Israel won’t cause damage to the regime and ruin his plans and therefore has little choice but to allow Israel to continue operating.

Can Turkey, Israel strike a balance?

Sinem Cengiz/Arab News/September 21, 2018
After the deal between Moscow and Ankara to prevent a Syrian regime offensive in Idlib province, there have been reports of talks between Turkey and Israel next month to repair relations and exchange ambassadors.
Turkish-Israeli ties over the past decade have seen ebbs and flows. The latest blow was in May, when Turkey recalled its ambassador and expelled Israel’s following the killing by Israeli forces of 60 Palestinians during protests along the Gaza border. Israel responded by expelling Turkey’s consul general in Jerusalem and summoning its deputy ambassador in Tel Aviv, while a war of words erupted between Turkey’s president and Israel’s prime minister.
Israel’s Foreign Ministry recently issued an internal tender to fill the position of ambassador to Turkey in the summer of 2019. Turkey has sent a commercial attache to its embassy in Tel Aviv after a years-long absence.
Turkish-Israeli relations have seen ups and downs politically but not economically. Even during political standoffs, commercial ties have developed. If the latest “secret” discussions make progress, the embassies will reopen in early October and the two countries will accelerate efforts toward economic cooperation.
Israel and Turkey also share an interest in opposing growing Iranian dominance in the region
There have been reports that Turkish and Israeli diplomats flew to the UAE to hold secret back-channel talks in a bid to repair relations. Even if such a meeting were held, it would not be made public. We will only know the truth if in the coming weeks Israel and Turkey exchange ambassadors.
Turkish-Israeli cooperation in the region is beneficial for both sides, and the timing of reports of rapprochement does not seem to be a coincidence. A number of factors form the basis for bilateral cooperation despite disagreements. Among the most important are concerns over security threats both countries face due to instability in Syria.
Israel and Turkey also share an interest in opposing growing Iranian dominance in the region. Though their threat perceptions regarding Iran differ significantly, their efforts to rekindle relations are pragmatic and realistic, particularly when it comes to Iran gaining the upper hand in Syria.
Also, Ankara’s complex relations with the US, its rapprochement with Russia and the latest developments regarding Idlib seem to have once again pushed Turkey and Israel to repair relations out of mutual interest. Although a partner with Tehran in the Astana peace process, Ankara’s silence over recent Israeli airstrikes against Hezbollah and Iranian targets in Syria can be read in this context. History is a good reminder of Turkish-Israeli cooperation against common threats. In 1996, they signed an agreement to cooperate in military training when Turkey was troubled with threats from Syria, Iraq and Iran. One of the most important regional developments in the 1990s was the rise of strategic ties between Turkey and Israel. Today is not much different in terms of security threats and mutual interests.
It would be unrealistic to expect a return to those halcyon days in Turkish-Israeli relations, and Israel has done little to change its negative image among the Turkish public, but mutual interests on several fronts can provide the basis for repairing ties.
• Sinem Cengiz is a Turkish political analyst who specializes in Turkey’s relations with the Middle East.

How Kissinger drew up the future of Jordan, Israel and Palestine
Shehab Al-Makahleh/Al Arabiya/September 21/18
On September 2, 2018, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas told a number of Israeli lawmakers in his office in Ramallah that US President Donald Trump’s senior adviser Jared Kushner and US special envoy Jason Greenblatt have asked him earlier if he advocates for the formation a Palestinian-Jordanian confederation, as a prelude to resolving the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.
Supposedly, if Abbas is factual and the Americans have really commended a peace plan hinging on a Palestinian-Jordanian confederacy, is it the right move? Is it the best time for such a move? For many Jordanians and even Palestinians, it is opaque why Abbas included Israel in the proposed confederation: Jordan, Israel and the Palestinians. Is he repeating what former American Secretary of State Henry Kissinger sought to achieve in the 1970s between Arabs and Israelis through a gradual peace process?
It sounds like Abbas has assigned himself as a representative of two countries: Jordan and Israel to assign this responsibility to declare a theoretical move that would be acceptable for some players but not for the main ones, which are Jordan and Israel.
As Israel is reluctant, even unwilling, to pull out from any of the disputed areas, and as long as the Palestinians are not alacritous to relinquish their rights in an independent state, the proposed scenario seems spooky
Jordan has confirmed its rejection of this idea, which goes viral in the media every time, and then promoting this confederation scenario to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Will this proposal bring a settlement to the long festering conflict? Will this be accepted by Israel and Jordan at a later stage?
As Israel is reluctant, even unwilling, to pull out from any of the disputed areas, and as long as the Palestinians are not alacritous to relinquish their rights in an independent state, the proposed scenario seems spooky. In 1974, Henry Kissinger said: “Due to lack of verifications and readiness that Israel is prepared to withdraw from at least some of the disputed territories, or that the Palestinians are eager to settle for something less than an independent state, what is there to talk about thereto? What territories, if any, will be given up by Israel? Who shall rule there? And what security arrangements will prevail after Israel’s pullout?”
In fact, there is no crystal clear answer to any of these queries, mostly due to the gloomy outlook of the future relationship between the Palestinian Authority and Israel. The major concerns are: The peace process and the spirit of the Oslo Agreement which was signed by Palestinian and Israeli leaders in 1994, the predicament of Palestinian representation and the nature of the final solution to the conflict.
The confederal scenario
Some politicians on both sides of the Jordan River started to promote the notion of a confederacy. Politically, the unanimity on this agreement between Palestinians and Jordanians is vague because it does not reveal what Palestinian polity or state would be in the West Bank and in the Gaza Strip. As long as the Palestinian leadership insists on an independent state based on a two-state solution, what does Abbas really mean by saying: Tripartite confederation?
In the 1970s, Kissinger said that a confederation requires constitutional authority for the Palestinians based on an agreement between Israel, Jordan and the Palestinians, which ensures the new body a sovereign entity, where Palestinians are granted internationally recognised passports. This would give the security and foreign policy to Jordan to tackle, where citizens of the three states enjoy economic and business activities that help the flow of goods and commodities and movement of people across borders without hindrances.
Jordanian political elites were preoccupied with talking about a confederate regime between the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan and the Palestinian state after Abbas had raised this notion. The important thing is not the idea or the principle, but that Arabs do not read history, which has been proposed long time before.
The declaration of this notion is simply to end the talk about the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and the right of return, by integrating the rest of the state of Palestine into an internationally recognized political entity to gain international political character to break the deadlock of the two-state solution and end any future negotiations about the return of refugees, which Israel says are only 80,000 in Jordan and 20,000 in Lebanon.
In the absence of any indication of Israel’s willingness to withdraw from at least some of the disputed areas with the Palestinians, have any of those wars between Arabs and Israelis resolved aggression? Did all these wars resolve the escalation or restored lands, wondered Kissinger. In this context, is there any realistic diplomacy that can ignore the questions posed by Kissinger at that time: “What land, if any, will Israel replace? Who will rule there, and what security arrangements will prevail after the Israeli withdrawal?”
Pressuring Jordan
In the 1970s, Kissinger sought a tripartite confederation: Jordanian - Palestinian - Israeli. Today, according to the deal of the century, this formula is closer to being formed because of common denominators between Jordanians and Palestinians. Kissinger said to a group of Jewish leaders in New York City in 1974: “We wanted to keep the Soviets out of the diplomatic game in the Middle East so that they would not have a hand in the region.
We also sought to strengthen the Israeli army to help find a diplomatic solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict. When the 1973 war broke out, we had to think about a number of things: First, what would be the impact of the oil crisis on Western Europe and Japan to keep them away from Israel, and I should tell you that every European leader I saw told me that he would not allow any European country to witness recession.
Second, our impression is that Israel must be strong, but the Israeli force does not prevent the spread of Communism in the Arab world, the Israeli force provides security for Israel, the best defense against the Communist tide in the Arab world is to strengthen moderate Arab governments. It is hard to claim that Israel is strong and that it serves US interests. Washington’s goal is to support Israel to prevent the spread of Communism in the Arab world in exchange for ensuring Israel’s security. Later on, comes the solution of the Arab conflict through gradual talks.
Simply what Abbas did is exercising more pressure on Jordan to act more to resolve the impasse in Palestinian-Israeli talks at a time where Jordan is undergoing high security threats, tough economic conditions and some political turmoil due to regional developments.
Any future solution to the Israeli issue will not be far from what Kissinger proposed and worked on for many years. Arabs should have read his papers thoroughly to assimilate his concepts and tricks before outfoxing Israelis as the final solution will be at the expense of Jordanian and Palestinian interests.

Surviving office politics without going mad
Dr. Mohamed A. Ramady/Al Arabiya/September 21/18
Nearly all professional white-collar employees have had to cope with internal office politics that sometimes leads to acute depression, verging on going mad.
In the Gulf, with multi nationalities working together, differences in work ethics and management style adds to this real or imaginary paranoia that becomes detrimental to the efficient working of the organisation.
No amount of written corporate ethics and company policies can overcome the negative effects of internal office politics. In recent European work place surveys, estimated three-quarters of employees say their boss is the most stressful part of their job, while a third dread going to work because of colleagues.
Similar surveys in the Gulf would probably evidence the same results. So how can employees who really wish to make a successful contribution to their firm navigate, mitigate or deal with office politics?The problem becomes more acute if one is dealing with truly underhand colleagues. But the reality is there: in most organisations, especially where bosses allow this type of behavior to run rampant, the office setting is one where it even involves backstabbing bosses to co-workers who try to sabotage your work, thus ensuring that relationships and power are tightly knit in the workplace.
A better way to deal with difficult colleagues is to ask them for a private conversation, and calmly ask them why they acted how they did, rather than accusing them
Demoted or alienated
Office politics can be either a positive or negative influence on your career. If you aren’t successful in dealing with it, you can lose your job, get demoted or be alienated from key projects or people. If you are successful in dealing with politics, you can gain access to key influential players inside the company and even gain a promotion. To start with, no one is going to help you but yourself. To fix a toxic work culture, you need to get involved for it is a truism that that when people feel they don’t belong in a group, their physical health and wellbeing plummets. The first step is an obvious one – if one is feeling isolated or excluded by negative office politics, it makes sense to try to make friends.
If one person at work is the main source of conflict, the best way to deal with them is to unite with your co-workers, in effect grouping against a bully. By doing this, it can hopefully contain the bully, who, with their behaviour exposed, loses the power to terrorise – and faces the threat of isolation.
This strategy also works with game-playing colleagues – people with bullying tendencies often try to isolate victims, so the more people you have on your side, the less likely you are to be taken advantage of at work, but this strategy calls for confidence and strong leadership character.
A major source of office politics is when predator office colleagues poach the hard work of employees. In this case, when you are subject to colleagues’ political tactics – such as taking credit for your work – it’s important not to retaliate.
People are human and it is very tempting to expose the co-worker or boss in front of others, but this can backfire. Be smarter and document your work efforts. This ensures that when documenting your work thoroughly this lets let co-workers and your bosses’ superiors know what you are doing and have done.
This protects your reputation: if colleagues call your work ethic into question, you then have a way to prove your productivity. Another simple advise is not to sink to their underhand level and be above them.
When colleagues try to make you look bad or undermine you, it’s tempting to do likewise. However, this can backfire: you may come across as petty, and is unlikely to change your boss or co-worker’s behaviour, and in fact worsen your position.
Level of frustration
Making others look bad brings work politics to an elevated level of frustration and resentment. Most of the time, you don’t consciously try make someone look bad. However, you can be careless or not aware of the impact of your actions on others.
Actively try to make people look good because this will come back and look favourably on you. If you’re voicing concerns or criticism of your own, be confident and assertive but not aggressive. And make sure that you take an organizational perspective, and not simply a selfish one.
A better way to deal with difficult colleagues is to ask them for a private conversation, and calmly ask them why they acted how they did, rather than accusing them. Again, people respond to frankness and this is often the best way to change behaviour, as it requires them to reflect on their actions. Other actions that an individual can take seem impossible on the surface but are worth an effort. These include keeping it professional at all times. No matter how frustrated, irritated or short-tempered you become, it’s vital you keep your professional composure. Things will affect you at work that you don’t want to react to and lose yourself. Remember that part of the political game is keeping yourself level headed and composed and especially don’t whine and complain. It’s easy to complain about management, your boss, other people, your workload, deadlines and projects.
Also, you will find many others who will join you in the complain game because it’s a nice release and feels good to find others who share your frustrations. However, whining and complaining is a passive approach that is about standing on the side-lines and judging versus proactively working toward eliminating the cause of the problem.
Burning bridges
Another simple advice, sometimes done through gritted teeth, is don’t make enemies or burn bridges. There will be people at work you won’t like or respect. It’s important to not let this affect your ability to get along with them.
It’s easy to make enemies or have someone not like you or you not like them. However, this makes your job more difficult and just expands the work politics that already existed.
Some advocate that it is better to change the whole office culture from within. Office politics should be looked at as something that can be reframed into a positive, and an effective way to do this is to praise others, encourage teamwork and be empathetic to your co-workers.
By making an effort to change the culture to one of kindness and honesty, you can create a better environment for everyone. However, this is a long term and often lonely road to take, with others too timid to join in this office cultural change especially if it involves senior bosses doing the bullying. For some people, the effort of attempting to navigate and even change poor office politics is too much of an uphill battle. If this happens then there is a simpler option: ditch the co-workers entirely by working for yourself. This is a final desperate option, as it implies that you really do not understand the formal and informal organizational structure of your company. Employees are often fixated on people’s rank or job title. There are other ways of mapping an organization’s power structure. To do this, ask yourself questions like, “Who are the real influencers?,” “Who has authority but tends not to exercise it?,” “Who is respected?,” “Who champions or mentors others?,” and “Who is the brains behind the business?
“Now that you know how existing relationships work, you can start to build your own social network. Look beyond your immediate team, and cross the formal hierarchy in all directions – co-workers, managers and executives. Don’t be afraid of politically powerful people. Instead, get to know them, and build high quality connections that avoids flattery at all cost, as astute managers can see through this. In the final analysis, like it or loathe it, office politics are a fact of life in any organization and it not going to go way. However, it is possible to promote yourself and your cause without compromising your values or those of your organization. All workplaces are political to some extent, simply because people bring their personal emotions, needs, ambitions, and insecurities into their professional lives. Office politics arise when these differences of personality and opinion become difficult to manage as humans are swayed by emotions, and no wonder many companies are trying to replace humans with robots and Artificial Intelligence at work. Robots don’t complain unless employees metamorphose into human robots, but this will take out the fun from office politics.

Will Imran Khan’s visit to Saudi Arabia further Pakistan’s core interests?
Sabena Siddiqui/Al Arabiya/September 21/18
As Prime Minister Imran Khan completes his visit to Saudi Arabia, it is seen as the initiation of a new foreign policy to further Pakistan’s core national interests. Maintaining close strategic, military and economic ties since decades, Saudi Arabia was the first choice of the young government for upgrading ties to a new dimension. Additionally, it seems that the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman and Khan will be able to synchronize Pak-Saudi ties on a personal level as they share similar interests. Somewhat like Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s holistic package for economic, cultural and societal reforms, Vision 2030, Imran Khan also has plans for social reform and has taken the first steps towards austerity. Trying to diversify Pakistan’s economy with tourism and attract more foreign investment, Khan wants to solve the housing problem and provide employment opportunities for the youth.
Likewise, appreciating the effective anti-corruption drive run in Saudi Arabia under the supervision of the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Khan has resolved to end corruption in Pakistan.
Economic assistance
On the sidelines, there were reports that Imran Khan might seek Riyadh’s economic assistance instead of going for a bailout package from the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Accordingly, the entourage accompanying Khan included his Finance Minister Asad Umar and financial advisor, Abdul Razzak Dawood. Such a bailout package might mean that Saudi Arabia would deposit a certain amount in Pakistan’s exchequer and provide it the necessary “cushion” to survive the drastic depletion in foreign exchange reserves. Oil on deferred payments might also be offered by Saudi Arabia just like in the past when Pakistan had to face international economic sanctions after carrying out the 1998 nuclear explosions. Right now, Pakistan requires $12 billion at least to survive the economic crisis, which is deepening with every passing day. Reaching out to friendly countries for the assistance might be a better option than resorting to the IMF, but these speculations are not confirmed yet.
Noting the upgrade in relations, thinktank RUSI recently reported that Pak-Saudi relations had entered the “strategic domain where both countries are fine with each in pursuing their own interests independently.” Notwithstanding any political differences in the past, the two sides are exploring new avenues of trade collaboration. Sharing intelligence to combat terrorism, strategic working groups have been formed and the two countries have a more inter-dependent security relationship, which remains unaffected by their ties with any other countries.
Announcing Saudi participation in CPEC and Pakistan’s role in furthering “Vision 2025”, both the countries have now “institutionalized” their strategic ties, says the report. Thus, Pak-Saudi ties have been further consolidated due to a convergence of interests and become an unflinching force. More inter-dependent in nature now, bilateral relations remain unaffected by their ties with any other countries. Even though this equation had needed a reset since a while due to divergences over the regional scenario, there have never been any trust issues between the two states. Describing Pak-Saudi relations as “probably one of the closest relationships in the world between any two countries without any official treaty”, former intelligence head Prince Turki al-Faisal had aptly assessed the depth of bilateral ties.
CEPEC and Middle East
As the China- Pakistan Economic Corridor (CEPEC) makes its way towards the Middle East, the synergy in Pak-Saudi relations makes sense as the economic, strategic and security interests of both nations are conjoined. Not only does Saudi Arabia host the largest Pakistani diaspora in the world, Pakistan’s energy security also depends on it. In reciprocation, Pakistan facilitates the kingdom with military training programs and a security guarantee for its holy sites as the only Muslim nuclear power. Any destabilization of Saudi Arabia directly impacts Pakistan’s interests and as the sole Muslim nuclear power it guarantees security. Having had close military ties over the years, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir observed that, “Pakistan had a role to play in sharing with the world the lessons it had learned from its own war on terror.” Addressing strategic and security issues together, both nations are on a solid upward trajectory. Working on Vision 2030 as well as the CPEC will bring both nations closer. As far as trade is concerned, Saudi Arabia is among the main 15 export partners of Pakistan and trade is above $4 billion per annum with prospects that a Bilateral Investment Treaty could be signed.
Remaining the biggest exporter of oil and petroleum products to Pakistan, Saudi Arabia is also the key market for Pakistani goods and services. Interestingly, both Saudi Arabia and Pakistan have a young population in the majority and need to provide employment. With its partnership in Saudi Vision 2030, Pakistan can provide technical and managerial workforce required for these mega-projects and it can also help with training in skills.

Caring about individuals’ rights is the goal
Hassan Al Mustafa/Al Arabiya/September 21/18
Friedrich Nietzsche wrote ‘Ecce Homo: How One Becomes What One Is’ when he was ill and tired and in a state of disgust. His work however was not random in focusing on man as the “individual” in the philosophy of Nietzsche occupies an important place, as he is the one who should live “high up” right there near the “spring” with the “cold winds and eagles” embracing the mountains and confronting the sunrays with his fiery heart. Nietzsche wishes that this superior state can take man away from false morals, bad habits and a hypocritical social system, because such a system suppresses instincts of the body and the boldness of the spirit. In his ‘Social Contract’, Jean-Jacques Rousseau built his theory on society and the civil state on the principle of ‘contract’, which cannot come about without an authorization from the “individual”. As such, although the transition to the “city” resulted in something of an apparent limitation to the freedom of the individual, it was within the context of preserving and consolidating it, and creating a healthy legal and social environment in which the individual lives.
The preservation of people’s safety in society and the safety of those detained in prisons are responsibilities that have the same value because everyone is a citizen, with the same rights and duties, living in a legal entity which is the “state”
The Kingdom and preserving human rights
This centrality of man in modern philosophies was the main reason for writing my last two articles in the Riyadh newspaper about the Binaa program for detainees at the General Intelligence Prison in the Eastern Province of the Kingdom. I am mentioning this because someone asked me a question about the purpose of writing about this program. The preservation of people’s safety in society and the safety of those detained in prisons are responsibilities that have the same value because everyone is a citizen, with the same rights and duties, living in a legal entity which is the “state”.
In the year 1435 H, the Kingdom issued the Code of Criminal Procedure. According to Mohammed al-Muadi, the official spokesperson of the Human Rights Commission, “the Kingdom is a party in five conventions and three optional protocols of the United Nations' basic international human rights conventions and is also a party in many regional charters pertaining to human rights.” The laws and treaties referred to have not been signed as a luxury, but rather to be executed and developed. They are part of the culture and the therapeutic behavior on which modern approaches to “prisons” have been built and transformed into rehabilitation centers and spaces for intellectual reviews and discussions rather than punitive places.
The modern state is far from the concept of "revenge" because it is an entity that cannot coexist with the concept of “hatred”. One of its most important functions is to regulate the lives of citizens and guarantee their rights, including those who have violated the law. The failure of some people to abide by these regulations does not permit others or even institutions to react to this by non-compliance, otherwise the "law" will lose its meaning, and society will return to the life of the jungle. During a discussion with a number of the ‘Binaa’ program team, I found that they had an open mindset about the importance of the individual and expressing his problems without coercion during the sessions of the rehabilitation courses. This is one of the strengths of the program and a key factor behind its success.

The trial of Al-Rashid and Al-Ma’mun in the Iraqi parliament!
Mashari Althaydi/Al Arabiya/September 21/18
A recent scene at the new Iraqi parliament looked like it was from a history series or a modern comedy series that’s mocking old historical scenes like Egyptian actor Mohammed Saad, who’s famous for his character El-Limby, did when he wore Abu Dulama’s turban and spoke formal Arabic in his character’s sarcastic way. The scene was an angry and loud comment by a Member of Parliament who is supposed to represent the Iraqi people, especially the people of Basra, Nasiriyah, Samawah and Hillah. The angry MP was Ammar Tohme, the head of the Islamic Virtue Party, one of the parties which God troubled Iraq with, similar to the Sunni Iraqi Islamic Party, the Muslim Brotherhood’s branch in Iraq. Why was MP Ammar angry? Is it because of the extreme thirst of the people in Basra during these days when they are commemorating the memory of Husseini’s Karablan thirst in 14 centuries ago? Regardless of the shallow and primitive perspective he has on history and even if we assume his genius theory is accurate, what is more important for the Iraqi people in central and south Iraq near Kufa and Najaf? Today’s problems or the vendettas against the Abbasid era?
Upset for the wrong reasons
Was Mr. Ammar Tohme voicing anger over the hundreds of billions of dollars that were stolen from the Iraqi state funds, as late Ahmed Chalabi, the founder of al-Bait al-Iraqi al-Shiite (the Shiite home) confirmed?
Did Tohme’s veins pop out of his neck because of violations against Iraq’s sovereignty, whether by Iraq or even the Americans? No, he wasn’t angry for any of these reasons. He was screaming and his eyes popped out when a “civil” MP, who was the parliament’s pro term speaker given his age, until Mohammed al-Halbousi was elected speaker of parliament, spoke about the country’s situation. During the first parliament session to be attended by all MPs, the respectable civil MP Mohammad Ali Zainy, who belongs to a movement that fights sectarianism, whether Sunni or Shiite, spoke in sorrow and national innocence about the tragedy of the Iraqi people due to the collapse of services and spread of corruption. He voiced surprise how this has become the situation of Baghdad, the center of the world, the jewel of the ancient world and the home of Al-Rashid and Al-Ma’mun.
All that Tohme found in Zainy’s statements to be angry about was that he mentioned Haroun Al-Rashid and Al-Ma’mun. Because they killed the imams of Ahl al-Bayt. This is what Tohme said. Regardless of the shallow and primitive perspective he has on history and even if we assume his genius theory is accurate, what is more important for the Iraqi people in central and south Iraq near Kufa and Najaf? Today’s problems or the vendettas against the Abbasid era?
Iraqi writer Adnan Hassan wrote in the Iraqi Al-Mada newspaper: “Islamic Virtue Party MP Ammar Tohme was not agitated that the Iraqi people are still suffering from injustice and are still deprived and humiliated and their rights and dignity are violated during the current regime in which political Islam groups are influential. He was not provoked by the fact that Baghdad has become one of the dirtiest capitals in the world and the least suitable for human life.”Iraq really deserves better than this. We wish they would have done for Baghdad one quarter of what Haroun and his son Abdullah (Al-Ma’mun) did.