Detailed Lebanese & Lebanese Related LCCC English New Bulletin For September 23/2018
Compiled & Prepared by: Elias Bejjani

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Bible Quotations
The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat; therefore, do whatever they teach you and follow it; but do not do as they do, for they do not practise what they teach
Matthew 23/01-12: "Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples, ‘The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat; therefore, do whatever they teach you and follow it; but do not do as they do, for they do not practise what they teach. They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on the shoulders of others; but they themselves are unwilling to lift a finger to move them. They do all their deeds to be seen by others; for they make their phylacteries broad and their fringes long. They love to have the place of honour at banquets and the best seats in the synagogues, and to be greeted with respect in the market-places, and to have people call them rabbi. But you are not to be called rabbi, for you have one teacher, and you are all students. And call no one your father on earth, for you have one Father the one in heaven. Nor are you to be called instructors, for you have one instructor, the Messiah. The greatest among you will be your servant. All who exalt themselves will be humbled, and all who humble themselves will be exalted."

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 22-23/18
Nasrallah’s Theatrical Threats Against Israel/Elias Bejjani/September 21/18
Why there is no ‘Maronite politics’ in Lebanon/Mohamad Kawas/The Arab Weekly/September 22/18
Iran: Attackers Who Killed 29 Revolutionary Guards Members Linked to Israel, U.S./Agencies/ September 22/18
Erdogate": Germany's Turkish Superstar/Stefan Frank/Gatestone Institute/September 22/18
Killing Free Speech/Judith Bergman/Gatestone Institute/September 22/18
United States Special Envoy on Iran Brian Hook to Asharq Al-Awsat: Iran Seeks to Repeat Lebanon's Model in the Region/Atef Abdul Latif/Asharq Al-Awsat//September 22/18
10 Things People Still Get Wrong About the Financial Crisis/Barry Ritholtz/Bloomberg/September, 22/18
Analysis/Downing of Russian Jet: Israel Fears Putin Will Clip Its Wings in Syria/Amos Harel/Haaretz/September 22/18
Cybersecurity needs top priority but is the threat often exaggerated/Ehtesham Shahid/Special to Al Arabiya English/September 22/18
Is a divided Syria a possibility/Abdulrahman al-Rashed/Asharq Al Awsat/September 22/18
The UAE’s message on Yemen/Abdullah bin Bijad Al-Otaibi/Asharq Al Awsat/September 22/18
15 years after Saddam’s ouster, the tragedy continues/Adnan Hussein/Asharq Al Awsat/September 22/18

Titles For The Latest LCCC Lebanese Related News published on September 22-23/18
Nasrallah’s Theatrical Threats Against Israel
AlRahi from Canada: Persistence on not forming a government is no longer acceptable
Hariri on Saudi National Day praises achievements and policies of Kingdom
Lebanon's Army Chief from Baalbek: No security plan but continuous security measures
STL Concludes Closing Arguments in Hariri Assassination Case
Lebanese Navy Rescues Dozens from Sinking Cyprus-Bound Boat
Child drowns after boat carrying Syrian refugees sinks off Lebanon
Dozens of Syrian Refugees Rescued off Lebanon after Boat Capsizes
Head of Lebanon’s Kataeb party MP Sami Gemayel.: Lebanon’s Political and Economic Collapse is Inevitable
Suspected Hizbullah Financer Arrested in Brazil
Report: LF, FPM Adamant on Govt. Positions
Report: International Keenness on Lebanon’s Stability
Rifi: Hizbullah Implicating Lebanon in Iran’s Interest
Hasbani: We are the most facilitating side in forming the new government
Shbib inaugurates Peace Exhibition, discusses environmental, developmental projects in open dialogue meeting
Solar lighting project inaugurated in Aishieh, funded by the Netherlands
Tony Frangiyeh calls for speeding up cabinet formation

Titles For The Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published onSeptember 22-23/18
One dead following police-involved shooting in Burlington, Ont.
Canada's cyclone causes several injuries, material damages
Vatican and China sign agreement on bishop appointments
SIS falsely claims responsibility for Ahwaz attack, Iranian opposition says
29 killed, 60 injured in Iran military parade attack on Revolutionary Guards
Iran: Attackers Who Killed 29 Revolutionary Guards Members Linked to Israel, U.S.
Rouhani lashes out: ‘Iran will defeat Trump just like it did Saddam’
US-Backed Forces Continue Offensive on ISIS in East Syria
Israel Says Keeps Syria Freedom of Action despite Downed Russia Plane
Netanyahu Seeks to Persuade Putin to Salvage Understandings on Syria
Fatah accuses Hamas of colluding with Israeli government
Military Operation Being Prepared for Idlib despite Turkish-Russian Deal
Who is Mazin al-Eshaiker, a technocrat who might just become Iraq’s next PM?
Yamani Accuses Iran of Sticking to ‘Expansionist Agenda’
Libya’s Haftar: LNA Not Involved in Tripoli Clashes
Egypt’s Al-Azhar Calls on World Peace Day for Ending Suffering of War Victims
ISIS chief Baghdadi masters art of disguise, but one mistake may end his luck

The Latest LCCC Lebanese Related News published on September 22-23/18
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.

AlRahi from Canada: Persistence on not forming a government is no longer acceptable
Sat 22 Sep 2018/NNA - Maronite Patriarch, Cardinal Beshara Boutros al-Rahi, deemed the continuous failure in forming a new government in Lebanon as "no longer acceptable."Speaking to members of the Lebanese expatriate community residing in Canada, the Patriarch strongly rejected "the current status quo in Lebanon," stressing that the Patriarchate will not maintain silence towards what is happening in the country. "The Lebanese emigrants are our ambassadors abroad," he added. "We will face the strong winds that hit Lebanon. We reject the prevailing situation. This is not Lebanon in its ways and traditions and we will not accept any negativity," al-Rahi emphasized.

Hariri on Saudi National Day praises achievements and policies of Kingdom

Sat 22 Sep 2018/NNA - Prime Minister Saad Hariri's media bureau indicated in a statement Saturday that: "Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri praised the great advancement and the developmental achievements of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in various fields, and the policy of openness and modernity adopted by the Saudi leadership to head towards the future and provide the means of a decent living to its people. In a statement to the Saudi Press Agency on the occasion of the Saudi National Day, Hariri said: "The Kingdom, under the leadership of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdul-Aziz and Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, has succeeded to continue providing the means of progress and needs to the Saudi people while at the same time facing a series of internal and external threats. It succeeded in confronting them and immunizing the Kingdom against these threats and maintaining its effective leading role in the region and the world." He added: "The wise policy adopted by the Kingdom's leadership in dealing with the crises and events plaguing many Arab countries for years, and the strong and effective actions, have undoubtedly had a decisive impact in facing the destructive scourge of terrorism and contributed to eliminating it and folding many attempts to tamper with the security and stability of the Kingdom. It also helped to uncover many plans and attempts to target the security and stability of societies and countries abroad. It also moved rapidly and effectively to counter the malicious schemes, face the coup against legitimacy in Yemen and eliminate all activities directly supported by Iran to target the territory of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia."Hariri said that "the economic plans and visions adopted by the Kingdom's leadership to diversify the sources of economic income and develop the regions and its opening up and giving women greater participation in public life, are all important positive factors that contribute to the advancement of the society and economy for the better and to keep up with modernity and respond to the aspirations of the Saudi people to progress and head to the future at a steady and promising pace. On this occasion, Lebanon recalls that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia stood by the Lebanese people and supported it in all the crises and Israeli aggressions over the past decades. It also extended a generous helping hand, whether by hosting the Taif Agreement that ended the civil war or by providing material and moral support to confront and overcome the effects and repercussions of the repeated Israeli aggressions on it over the past decades".Hariri concluded: "On the occasion of the Saudi National Day, I extend my heartfelt congratulations to the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Salman bin Abdul-Aziz, Crown Prince Mohamed Bin Salman and the brotherly people of Saudi Arabia. I ask God Almighty to grant the Kingdom, its leadership and people, more progress and prosperity."

Lebanon's Army Chief from Baalbek: No security plan but continuous security measures
Sat 22 Sep 2018/NNA - Lebanese Army Chief, General Joseph Aoun, indicated Saturday that there is no existing security plan but ongoing security measures that are increased/decreased in accordance with available information and indications. Aoun's words came during his visit to Baalbek earlier today, where he held a wide meeting with its dignitaries in the presence of Baalbek-Hermel Governor, Bashir Khodr. "Baalbek-Hermel is like any other Lebanese area, and it is not out of the law as some try to portray...The army is present in the region along with the rest of the security forces, and we are not the only ones responsible for its improved security situation, but also the people who have contributed to its stability through their devotion and sense of belonging to their city," said Aoun. "The journey is long but not difficult, and hand-in-hand we can to complete it," the Army Chief assured, adding, "The Baalbek International Festivals have reflected the true image of the city. Despite the rumors, the audience was great. Even those who were hesitant about the security situation decided to come back again, and the world sees Baalbek as the city of civilization and history.""The Lebanese army has lost 800 martyrs from Baalbek-Hermel in defense of all of Lebanon, from north to south and from east to west, and this is another proof that Baalbek is at the heart of the nation and in the heart of the army...and this is something we are all proud of," General Aoun asserted. He stressed on "the role of the media in showing the real and civilized facet of Baalbek, while avoiding mere focus on negative aspects that contributes to the distortion of the image of Baalbek and its people."

STL Concludes Closing Arguments in Hariri Assassination Case
Beirut - Asharq Al-Awsat/Saturday, 22 September, 2018/The Special Tribunal for Lebanon, which is examining the assassination of Lebanese former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, concluded on Friday its closing arguments after nine hearing days. The Judges will now withdraw to deliberate and will issue a judgment in due course, said the STL in a statement. 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 Defense 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. Seventeen victims participating in the proceedings followed the hearings of the closing arguments in the courtroom. Four “Hezbollah” members have been indicted with Hariri’s assassination on February 14, 2005, in a major car bombing that left 21 other people dead. The STL kicked off its proceedings on January 16, 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 of whom 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 six participating victims and a victimologist to testify. The Oneissi Defense presented the evidence of six witnesses, two live and four 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 indictment charges Salim Jamil Ayyash, Hassan Habib Merhi, Hussein Hassan Oneissi and Assad Hassan Sabra with conspiracy aimed at committing a terrorist act. Ayyash is also charged with committing a terrorist act by means of an explosive device, the intentional homicide of 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. Merhi, Oneissi and Sabra are also charged with being accomplices to each of the four counts charged against 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 July 11, 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 Badreddine was deceased, but without prejudice to the right to resume the proceedings, should evidence that he is alive emerge in the future.

Lebanese Navy Rescues Dozens from Sinking Cyprus-Bound Boat
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/September 22/18/Lebanon's navy rescued dozens of people, including Syrians, from a sinking boat off the country's northern coast on Saturday, the military and a security source said, adding one child had died. The military said in a statement it responded early Saturday to a sinking boat with at least 39 Syrian nationals on board "who were heading to Cyprus via an illegal route". "A navy patrol unit immediately headed there, retrieved the body of a five-year-old child and rescued the rest" of the passengers, it said. Four of those rescued were taken to nearby hospitals with the help of the Lebanese Red Cross, the statement added. The Red Cross confirmed to AFP that it was involved in the rescues, but declined to give any further details. A security source told AFP that Palestinian refugees were also among those rescued. "The child who died was a Palestinian refugee from the Nahr al-Bared camp," in the northern Lebanese city of Tripoli, the source said. The four people being treated in hospital included one Palestinian woman and three Syrians, the source added. The United Nations' refugee agency (UNHCR) has registered nearly one million Syrian refugees in Lebanon. Humanitarian representatives and government officials say the number is likely much higher, since many refugees who have fled Syria's civil war to Lebanon are not officially registered with the United Nations. Tens of thousands of Palestinian refugees also live in Lebanon, in a dozen squalid camps spread across the country. Earlier this month, Cyprus announced it was looking to broker a repatriation agreement with Beirut because of an increased influx of migrants from Lebanon to the Mediterranean island. Interior Minister Constantinos Petrides said his country faces one of the largest migratory flows per capita, with 4,022 asylum requests in the first eight months of 2018 -- 55 percent more than in the same period last year.

Child drowns after boat carrying Syrian refugees sinks off Lebanon
Reuters, Beirut/Saturday, 22 September 2018/A boat with around three dozen Syrian refugees on board sank off the coast of Lebanon on Saturday and most were rescued by the Lebanese army but at least one child drowned, security sources said. The boat was ferrying the refugees illegally to Cyprus, some 180 km away, when it foundered off the coast of northern Lebanon, the sources said. Three more of the people on boat were in a serious condition in hospital.Lebanon is hosting around 1 million registered refugees from Syria's civil war, according to the U.N. refugee agency UNHCR. The Lebanese government puts the figure at around 1.5 million.

Dozens of Syrian Refugees Rescued off Lebanon after Boat Capsizes
Asharq Al-Awsat/September 22/18/Dozens of Syrian refugees were rescued off the northern Lebanon coast after their boat capsized. The National News Agency said that 37 people, including two Lebanese people, were rescued by the Lebanese army. A five-year-old boy, Khaled Nijme, died in the incident, while three people were in a serious condition in hospital. The fishing boat was ferrying the refugees illegally to Cyprus, some 180 km (110 miles) away, when it foundered off the Akkar coast, security sources said. Lebanon is hosting around 1 million registered refugees from Syria’s civil war, according to the UN refugee agency UNHCR. The Lebanese government puts the figure at around 1.5 million.

Head of Lebanon’s Kataeb party MP Sami Gemayel.: Lebanon’s Political and Economic Collapse is Inevitable
Beirut - Caroline Akoum/Asharq Al-Awsat//September 22/18/Head of Lebanon’s Kataeb party MP Sami Gemayel warned on Friday that the country was on the verge of political and economic collapse, calling for declaring a state of emergency to “avoid the worst.”He said during a press meeting that the political course in the country began to change when in 2015 some members of the March 14 coalition retracted their opposition to the election of Michel Aoun as president. He also accused some of these sides of “surrendering to ‘Hezbollah’”. This ultimately allowed the party to assume control of political life in Lebanon through the government and later a parliamentary majority which it won through the proportional representation electoral law that was originally proposed by the group itself. Aoun’s election as president in 2016 was a turning point in Lebanon’s history, added Gemayel. He explained that since his election, “Hezbollah” has seized control of the presidency, government and parliament. Those who believed that Aoun’s election will lead him to break off his alliance with “Hezbollah” have been proven wrong, he continued. In fact, he remarked, Lebanon’s problems have been compounded since the party came to power. He explained that “Hezbollah” has cost Lebanon is “Arab cover” and the United States has also threatened to veto some Lebanese institutions should the party take control of certain ministries. These threats include stopping aid to the Lebanese army, which Gemayel said would spell “catastrophe” for Lebanon.
On the economic level, the lawmaker warned that “the collapse was only a matter of time,” noting that the public deficit in the first four months of 2018 rose 130 percent compared to last year.
He noted that the poor economy was probably one of the reasons hindering the formation of a new government. “Either the political powers are unaware of the looming danger or they are stalling in forming a new government to avoid shouldering the responsibility of what will happen,” he added.
“They should, therefore, declare a state of economic emergency before it is too late,” suggested Gemayel. “Despite the challenges, we will continue with our confrontation and continue to make alternative proposals on various issues. I cannot, however, guarantee that the collapse can be avoided,” especially given that the political powers are seeking ministerial portfolios at the expense of national interests, he added. “Unfortunately, even if a new government is formed now, nothing will change,” he warned. In addition, Gemayel criticized some statements by some pro-March 8 figures against some Arab countries, accusing them of trying to drive a wedge between Lebanon and its historic friends. “We do not want Lebanon to be part of the regional conflict, but we also refuse for it to be used as a platform to attack countries that have played a positive role in its history,” he stressed.

Suspected Hizbullah Financer Arrested in Brazil
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/September 22/18/Brazilian police on Friday arrested a Lebanese citizen on suspicions of raising funds for Hizbullah, which the United States considers a terrorist group. Assad Ahmad Barakat, 51, was arrested on Brazil's three-way border with Argentina and Paraguay close to the world-renown Iguazu Falls, accused of carrying fake identity documents, federal police said. "Members of the Barakat Clan made purchases worth $10 million, without declaring their value, at a casino in the Argentine city of Iguazu," Brazilian police said, "with the view to laundering the organization's money." The money was allegedly destined for Hizbullah's coffers, but the funds and other assets were frozen by Argentine authorities, Brazilian police said. Barakat spent six years in a Paraguayan prison for tax evasion but was released in 2008, after which he moved to Brazil. In 1989 he had obtained Paraguayan nationality but was stripped of it in 2003 following his conviction. Yet in April he was issued a Paraguayan passport, according to Asuncion, which says it is investigating that case. In 2006 Barakat was added to a US list of individuals and groups operating in the triple border area and financing Hizbullah, which has close links to Iran's regime. The US Treasury Department described Barakat as a "global terrorist," and said his network was a "major financial artery to Hizbullah."Around one million people live in three cities that converge on the triple border, an area US officials suspect of harboring dormant Islamic terror cells. As well as a military group, Hizbullah also has a political wing that features prominently in Lebanon's governing coalition. While Washington considers the whole group a terrorist organization, the European Union only designates its military wing as such.

Report: LF, FPM Adamant on Govt. Positions
Naharnet/September 22/18/The Lebanese Forces said that consultations to solve the Cabinet formation delay are “almost blocked until the FPM chief seizes to annul others,” in light of the latter’s claims that “external interferences are hampering the line up,” al-Joumhouria daily reported on Saturday. LF sources told the daily: “Government negotiation are almost halted until (Foreign) Minister Jebran Bassil (FPM chief) stops attempts to annul others.” LF has made many “concessions,” they said, but “were surprised that others have no intention to ease the process.” They said Bassil has “rejected” a government format presented by PM-designate Saad Hariri to President Michel Aoun although it gained approval of Speaker Nabih Berri and Hariri. They said the party will stick to its initial demands regarding number of portfolios, after the latest concessions they made were turned down. On Wednesday, LF chief Samir Geagea said his party won’t accept less than 30 percent of the ministerial shares allocated for the Christian community, which “should be at least five ministers shall a 30-member Cabinet be formed.” Meanwhile, FPM also stressed adherence to their positions saying “we won’t grant gifts to anyone at the expense of the Movement or the share of the President,” noting that Aoun “believes that external interferences are pressuring Hariri and obstructing the formation.”

Report: International Keenness on Lebanon’s Stability

Naharnet/September 22/18/Lebanon affirms commitment to UN Security Council Resolution 1701 despite Israeli violations amid “American and European” assurances that stability in the Mediterranean country is key in light of the regional turmoil raging around it, al-Joumhouria daily reported on Saturday.
Ministerial sources who spoke on condition of anonymity, said “Lebanon received affirmation, from Americans and Europeans” that maintaining stability is essential. However they did not say whether these assurances “came after or before the mutual threats” between Lebanon and Israel, but they “clearly reflect direct confirmation by the Americans specifically, that the Lebanese front is not close to ignition,” said the sources. The daily said “Americans do not want additional hotbeds of tension in the region. Their priority today is Syria and the rapid developments in it militarily and politically, and how to manage the political conflict between them and the Russians.”On Thursday, Hizbullah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah warned it had acquired "precision missiles" despite extensive efforts by neighbour and foe Israel to prevent the movement developing this capability. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu replied saying Nasrallah should not think twice but "at least 20 times" before deciding whether to attack Israel. "If he seeks conflict with us, he will receive a blow he cannot even imagine," Netanyahu said in a statement. Israel has fought several conflicts against Hizbullah, the last in 2006.
UN Resolution 1701 is a resolution that was intended to resolve the 2006 Israel-Lebanon conflict. It was unanimously approved by the United Nations Security Council on 11 August 2006. The Lebanese cabinet unanimously approved the resolution on 12 August 2006.

Rifi: Hizbullah Implicating Lebanon in Iran’s Interest
Naharnet/September 22/18/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.
Hasbani: We are the most facilitating side in forming the new government
Sat 22 Sep 2018/NNA - Caretaker Public Health Minister, Ghassan Hasbani, stated Saturday that the Lebanese Forces Party has been the most facilitator in forming the new government. "The Lebanese Forces Party is a guarantee within any government of transparency, productivity and real partnership, and hence ensuring the success of the presidential mandate. We are the most facilitators of the new government formation, whereby we have offered numerous proposals relating to our representation due to the urgency of accelerating its formation, especially at economic and daily-living levels...But the greed of some is limitless!" Hasbani exclaimed. "Our rightful representation in the next government is a debt we owe to our people, who broke the silence from Baalbek-Hermel to Marjayoun and Hasbaya and gave us a bloc of 15 deputies and votes that embody the aspirations of the Lebanese," he added. "Our foundation is clear: we will provide all facilities to form a government, but no concessions at the expense of the dream of our martyrs and the trust that our people invested in us," Hasbani underscored. The Caretaker Minister's words came as he represented LF Party Chief, Samir Geagea, at the memorial Mass ceremony held in Saint George Greek Orthodox Church at Jdeidet Marjayoun earlier today, in tribute to the souls of the fallen martyrs of the Lebanese Resistance.

Shbib inaugurates Peace Exhibition, discusses environmental, developmental projects in open dialogue meeting
Sat 22 Sep 2018/NNA - Beirut Governor, Judge Ziad Shbib, took part in a dialogue meeting on Saturday organized by the "Third Voice for Lebanon" Association, within the framework of its "Peace Exhibition" held under his patronage. Shbib shed light on the role of civil education and the importance of citizenship and its legal and national implications. He stressed that "sectarianism is the opposite of citizenship," adding, "The Lebanese entity was first established in Mount Lebanon based on distinguishing between citizens according to their religious faith, and each of us has become steadfast in this sectarian distribution and convinced of it over generations.""After 160 years, sectarianism proved to be the root cause and the main reason for Lebanon's problems and our failure to reach the nation we aspire for," Shebib asserted. "Certainly, a real citizenship can be built, provided that the law is the master, and that it contains in its content rules that impose real citizenship that are applied effectively and without discrimination," he emphasized. Shbib had earlier inaugurated the "Peace Exhibition" which included the planting of an olive tree, and spoke about "the importance of the Beirut Home Building that reflects the history of Beirut through its architecture and the various life stages witnessed over the last 100 years to-date, especially the years of war."The Beirut Governor considered that students' projects and topics ought not to be confined to the notion of peace alone, but also to war. "We are dealing with a generation that is still living the dream phase and is looking to change the world, so we must pin our hopes on them to make a better future for Lebanon," he said.

Solar lighting project inaugurated in Aishieh, funded by the Netherlands
Sat 22 Sep 2018/NNA - A solar energy project, funded by the Kingdom of the Netherlands as part of the Military-Civil Cooperation Program, was inaugurated on Saturday in the town of al-Aishieh in the district of Jezzine. The inauguration ceremony was attended by Military-Civil Cooperation Directorate Head, Brig. Gen. Elie Abi Rashid, representing Army Commander General Joseph Aoun, and Deputy Dutch Ambassador Margrit Verwigk, as well as prominent officials and figures from the region. In his word on the occasion, Abi Rashed said, "The Military-Civil Cooperation Directorate has always placed citizens' interests at the core of its concerns, namely in the educational, medical, environmental, social, humanitarian and disaster management fields."Verwigk, in turn, confirmed her country's continued support for Lebanon and its army, and its ongoing active participation in the Cooperation Program.

Tony Frangiyeh calls for speeding up cabinet formation
Sat 22 Sep 2018/NNA - MP Tony Frangiyeh called on the political class to speed-up the formation of a new government for the sake of the country. "I call on all political counterparts to speed-up the new government formation, in order to carry out the required reforms in all sectors and to find solutions to pending files," Frangiyeh said during a political rally Saturday morning.Frangiyeh expressed pessimism over the near end of the cabinet formation crisis, saying: "There are no signs of forming a government in the near future

Why there is no ‘Maronite politics’ in Lebanon
Mohamad Kawas/The Arab Weekly/Sunday 23/09/2018
Maronite politics manifests today in several ways hardly expressed anymore by the old concept of “Christian Lebanon.”
Unexpected divisions. Lebanon’s Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil speaks during a news conference in Beirut, last June. (Reuters)
The government crisis in Lebanon has highlighted the signs of fracture inside what used to be known as “Maronite politics” in Lebanon.
In reality, the government crisis has at its base a Christian-Christian disagreement, or more precisely a Maronite-Maronite disagreement, about the nature of the Christian quota in Lebanon’s government. At stake is the leadership of the Christian community in Lebanon, given that the outcome of that competition prepares for filling the position of Lebanese president in 2022. Divisions in the Christian bloc in Lebanon were unexpected. What was expected was that Maronite politics would play a vital and neutral role in Lebanon, given the other fierce schism in the region — the one between Sunnis and Shias. Observers discovered that Maronites have become players in the big Lebanese schism and their political fate has become intimately tied to the Sunni-Shia rivalry.
There have been proposals to rid Lebanon of the sectarian rivalry between the Sunnis and the Shias by giving Christians a greater role in Lebanese politics, similar in importance to the role of the Maronite before the 1989 Taif Agreement.
Those voices did not wish to undo the Taif Agreement, which ended 15 years of civil war but pointed out that Lebanese Maronite Christians do not have an independent model for Lebanon, which is different from models propagated by various elements of Lebanese society.
Christian political leaders do not say Lebanese Maronites can come up with an independent political agenda for Lebanon. They say the Christian camp has reached high levels of discord such that its internal crises have become an obstacle to forming a government in Lebanon and a hindrance to the political system in the country. Former member of parliament Fares Saeed rejected the idea of elaborating a purely Christian agenda for Lebanon, which would be independent of the overall Lebanese context. “There shouldn’t be a Christian project for Lebanon,” he said. “There should only be a Lebanese project for all the sects in Lebanon.” Saeed quoted Patriarch Nasrallah Boutros Sfeir: “Lebanon does not belong to the Maronites; rather, it’s the Maronites who belong to Lebanon.”
Inside the Christian camp, there are two competing schools. The first says that Lebanese Christians must be an integral part of a regional coalition grouping all other minorities regardless of their religions, sects or ethnicities. This school finds its origins in the ideology that accompanied the creation of the Lebanese entity. That ideology states that Lebanon is the home country of minorities. Lebanese President Michel Aoun has been accused of belonging to this school, which would explain his preference to ally himself with Hezbollah, Damascus and Tehran rather than with Lebanon’s Arab environment.
The second school finds its roots in the Christians’ experience in the civil war and their acceptance of the Taif Agreement, which clearly states that Lebanon is an Arab country. This Christian school says it believes in ending the idea of a “Maronite exception” in Lebanon and in working towards a full partnership with the Lebanese Muslims since the agreement states that Lebanon is the definitive homeland for all Lebanese. Given this background, all Lebanese Christians must accept that Lebanon is part of the Arab region.
Saeed is also coordinator of the March 14 coalition, which had refused the compromise that put Aoun in the presidency. “The idea that Lebanon is a homeland for all minorities in the region is dead and so is the idea that Maronite Christians are an exceptional community in Lebanon. What we have now is the idea that Lebanon is collective living, which is the fundamental idea behind the Taif Agreement and the constitution,” Saeed said.
While some people close to Aoun concluded that the Aounist movement and its Free Patriotic Movement party are the real representatives of Christian forces in Lebanon and their independence, others disagree and say the Aounists draw their strength from their alliance with Hezbollah.
So when Aoun and his son-in-law, Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil, oppose proposals for a new government put forth by Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri, they are taking advantage of Hezbollah’s forceful dominance of political life in Lebanon.
Christian politician and former minister Sajaan Qazi said, contrary to what some might believe, “the large victories obtained by the Aounist movement during the last three general elections in Lebanon were made possible only by the last three agreements that the general (Aoun) had struck with Hezbollah in 2006 (St Michael’s Agreement), with the Lebanese Forces Party in 2015 (the Declaration of Intentions), and in 2016 with the Future Movement (the Presidential Agreement).”
Saeed said the old understanding of Maronite politics is part of old history. He indicated that “the (Lebanese) Shias today are trying to appropriate for themselves the idea of ‘exceptional sect.’ In other words, they’re trying to put in place a ‘political Shia ideology’ that would replace the pre-war political Maronite ideology.”Saeed said: “Back in time, the Maronites had argued that Lebanon was a Maronite invention, so they naturally had the right to govern it. Today the Shias are saying: ‘We are the ones who have protected Lebanon from Israel and terrorism’ and he who protects the land governs the land.”
Observers said the main beneficiary of this internal Christian conflict is Hezbollah, as long as its bickering partners stay within the boundaries of the party’s will and agenda. They point out that when the independent Christian forces come together with big Christian parties, such as the Forces or the Phalanges, to vex Aoun and Bassel, that doesn’t necessarily mean that foundations are being laid for a new “Maronite politics,” even if their movement represents new efforts to position themselves within the spirit of the March 14 coalition.
Some Lebanese politicians have concluded that a purely Christian Maronite political camp is missing in the Lebanese scene where already two camps, the Shia political camp, headed by Hezbollah and Amal Movement, and the Sunni political camp, headed by the Future Movement, are battling it out. However, Maronite politics manifests today in several ways hardly expressed anymore by the old concept of “Christian Lebanon.”
**Mohamad Kawas is a Lebanese writer.

The Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on September 22-23/18
One dead following police-involved shooting in Burlington, Ont.
The Canadian Press/September 22, 2018/BURLINGTON, Ont. — A 32-year-old man was shot and killed following an exchange of gunfire with police that also sent two officers to hospital west of Toronto, Ontario's police watchdog said. Five officers were involved in the shootout at a Burlington, Ont., gas station early Saturday morning, said Monica Hudon, a spokeswoman for the Special Investigations Unit. "When the man exited the gas station bathroom there was an exchange of gunfire between him and five police officers," she said. She said four of the officers were members of the Halton Regional Police and one was a provincial police officer. Hudon said the man, who has not been publicly identified, was shot and pronounced dead on scene. "Two Halton police officers were also struck and they were taken to hospital for treatment," she said, adding that the officers are in non-life-threatening condition. She said one of the officers that was shot was engaged in gunfire with the man while the other officer that was injured was not shooting at the man. Hudon said police were initially looking for a suspect involved in a collision, and around 5:30 a.m. police received a call about a suspicious man in a gas station bathroom. She said shots were fired when police arrived to investigate. Hudon and provincial police said they could not provide any further information on the collision. Police tape closed off the gas station for much of Saturday and Hudon said five investigators and two forensic investigators have been assigned to the case. The SIU is automatically called in to investigate reports involving police where there has been death, serious injury or allegations of sexual assault.

Canada's cyclone causes several injuries, material damages

Sat 22 Sep 2018/NNA - The strong typhoon that struck Friday evening several neighborhoods in the west of the Canadian capital, Ottawa, as well as the south and its suburbs, injured 25 people, two of them in critical condition," NNA correspondent in Canada reported. "Eighty people were evacuated from the city and public transport buses were used to shelter those affected, after the hurricane caused significant damages to hundreds of buildings and shops, in addition to disrupting electricity power to tens of thousands of homes, uprooting trees and destroying dozens of cars," NNA correspondent added. Moreover, air traffic stopped at Ottawa International Airport and resumed at 9 pm. The Meteorological Department announced that the wind speed had reached a peak of two hundred and eighteen kilometers per hour.

Vatican and China sign agreement on bishop appointments
Sat 22 Sep 2018/NNA - The Vatican and China have signed a historic provisional agreement on the appointment of bishops. The agreement was signed in Beijing and announced while Pope Francis was visiting Lithuania at the start of a four-day trip to the Baltic countries. The Vatican said the accord was “not political, but pastoral”. China cut off diplomatic ties with the Vatican in 1951. A Holy See statement did not mention Taiwan, which the Vatican recognises diplomatically. In China, the foreign ministry said in a statement that the two sides had signed an agreement to maintain communications and work to improve relations. --- The Guardian
SIS falsely claims responsibility for Ahwaz attack, Iranian opposition says
Staff writer, Al Arabiya English/Saturday, 22 September 2018/An Ahwazi political group has refuted claims that ISIS carried out the deadly attack on a military parade in the southwestern Iranian city of Ahwaz on Saturday, killing at least 29 people, including 12 Iranian Revolutionary Guards, and injuring 60 others. The spokesman of the "Arab Struggle Movement for the Liberation of Ahwaz" Yaquob Hurr al-Tisteri said in an interview with Al Arabiya News Channel that “ISIS claims of the attack are not true”. He then said that the attack was executed by national resistance individuals without specifying whether his group had any specific knowledge on which group carried out the attack. The spokesman told Al Arabiya that civilians were killed due to random shooting by the Iranian security forces and that sources on the ground said individuals "responded in retaliation". Meanwhile, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani ordered the security forces to use their powers to identify the perpetrators of the attack. For his part, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said his country would respond “quickly and decisively” to the attack, charging agents of a “foreign regime” with responsibility.Zarif tweeted: “Terrorists attacked Ahwaz after a foreign regime recruited, armed and paid them.”

29 killed, 60 injured in Iran military parade attack on Revolutionary Guards
Agencies/Saturday, 22 September 2018/At least 29 people, including 12 Iranian Revolutionary Guards, were killed and 60 others injured in a shooting claimed by ISIS during a military parade in the southwestern Iranian city of Ahwaz on Saturday, state television reported. “Shooting began by several gunmen from behind the stand during the parade. There are several killed and injured,” a correspondent told state television, which later reported the precise death toll. The report on Saturday described the assailants as “Takifiri gunmen,” a term previously used to describe ISIS. The ISIS, through its propaganda agency Amaq, claimed responsibility for the shooting, saying that “fighters attacked a gathering of Iranian forces in the city of Ahwaz in southern Iran.”But an Ahwazi political group's spokesman refuted the ISIS claim, saying only that national resistance groups carried out the operation.
State television showed images of the immediate aftermath. In it, paramedics could be seen helping someone in military fatigues lying on the ground. Other armed security personnel shouted at each other in front of what appeared to be a
Women and children also died in the assault, state news IRNA agency reported. Brigadier General Abolfazl Shekarchi, a senior spokesman for Iran’s armed forces, said the attackers had hidden weapons in an area near the parade route several days in advance. “All four terrorists were quickly neutralized by security forces,” Shekarchi told state television. The semi-official ISNA news agency published photographs of the attack's aftermath, with bloodied troops in dress uniforms helping each other walk away. The attack struck on Ahwaz's Quds, or Jerusalem, Boulevard. Ahwaz is the capital of Iran's oil-rich Khuzestan province. The province in the past has seen Arab separatists attack oil pipelines. Meanwhile, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani ordered the country’s security forces to identify those responsible for the attack on the military parade, the semi-official ISNA news agency said.

Iran: Attackers Who Killed 29 Revolutionary Guards Members Linked to Israel, U.S.
Agencies/ September 22/18
29 killed, 60 wounded in military parade attack, state media reports ■ Foreign Minister Zarif promises 'swift' response ■ ISIS, anti-government group claim attack.
Gunmen disguised as soldiers attacked an annual military parade in the southwest Iranian city of Ahvaz on Saturday, killing 29 and wounding dozens of people, state TV reported. 12 of those killed are reported to be members of Iran's Revolutionary Guards Corps, the semi-official Tasnim news agency said.
State television said the assault, which wounded more than 60 people, targeted a stand where Iranian officials were gathered to watch an annual event marking the start of the Islamic Republic's 1980-88 war with Iraq. Iranian President Hassan Rohani ordered security forces to "use all their power" to identify military parade attackers, the ISNA news agency reported. the assailants as "Takifiri gunmen," a term previously used to describe the Islamic State group. vement called the Ahvaz National Resistance claimed responsibility for the attack. All four attackers were killed. Islamic State militants also claimed responsibility. Neither claim provided evidence. However, a spokesman for the Iranian military has since said the attackers were trained by two Gulf states, and are connected to Israel and the U.S. "These terrorists... were trained and organised by two ... Gulf countries," Brigadier General Abolfazl Shekarchi told the official news agency IRNA. "They are not from Daesh (Islamic State) or other groups fighting (Iran's) Islamic system ... but they are linked to America and (Israel's intelligence agency) Mossad."Four militants carried out the attack and two of them were killed, according to the semi-official ISNA news agency. There has been no claim of responsibility for the attack. An unnamed spokesman for the Revolutionary Guards blamed Arab nationalists, who he said were backed by Saudi Arabia, ISNA reported.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has gone on Twitter blaming regional countries and their "U.S. masters" for the attack on the military parade. Zarif also warned that "Iran will respond swiftly and decisively in defense of Iranian lives" after the attack in Ahvaz.
An anti-government Arab group, the Ahvaz National Resistance, was responsible for the attack, a spokesperson for the group told Reuters.  Yaghub Hur Totsari, spokesman for one of the two groups that identify themselves as the Arab Struggle Movement for the Liberation of Ahvaz, said the Ahvaz National Resistance, an umbrella organization of all armed movements, was behind the attack but did not specify which group. Iran was holding similar parades in several cities including the capital Tehran and the port of Bandar Abbas on the Gulf. "There are a number of non-military victims, including women and children who had come to watch the parade," IRNA quoted an unnamed official source as saying. Ali Fadavi, a deputy Guards commander, said the attack was a continuation of the activities of Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.
"This terror act is not a sign of power, but one of weakness and a continuation of the actions of Daesh (Islamic State) in Iraq and Syria where they shoot innocent people," Fadavi was was quoted by the semi-official Fars news agency as saying. The Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corp (IRGC) have been the sword and shield of Shi'ite clerical rule since Iran's 1979 Islamic Revolution. The Guards also play a major role in Iran's regional interests in countries such as Iraq, Syria and Yemen. "Three of the terrorists were killed on the spot and a fourth one who was injured died in hospital," Brigadier General Abolfazl Shekarchi, a senior spokesman for Iran's armed forces, told state television. A video distributed to Iranian media showed soldiers crawling on the ground as gunfire blazed in their direction. One soldier picked up a gun and got to his feet as women and children fled for their lives. Ali Hosein Hoseinzadeh, deputy governor in Khuzestan province, was quoted as saying the death toll was expected to rise. One of those killed was a journalist. The bloodshed struck a blow to security in OPEC oil producer Iran, which has been relatively stable compared with neighbouring Arab countries that have grappled with upheaval since the 2011 uprisings across the Middle East. Tensions between traditional rivals Iran and Saudi Arabia have surged in recent years, with the two countries supporting opposite sides in wars in Syria and Yemen and rival political parties in Iraq and Lebanon.
Rouhani lashes out: ‘Iran will defeat Trump just like it did Saddam’
Agencies/Saturday, 22 September 2018/Iranian President Hassan Rouhani lashed out at US President Donald Trump on Saturday, saying Trump would fail in his confrontation with Iran "just like Saddam Hussein did."Rouhani was referring to the 1980s war between the two Middle Eastern powers, and vowing that Tehran will not abandon its missiles despite US pressure."The same will happen to Trump. America will suffer the same fate as Saddam Hussein," Rouhani said in a speech carried live by state television that marked the start of the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war. "We will never decrease our defensive capabilities... we will increase them day by day," Rouhani said at a military parade. "The fact that the missiles anger you shows they are our most effective weapons," he said, referring to the West. Iran has ballistic missiles with a range of up to 3,500 kilometers, enough to reach both Israel and US bases in the Middle East.
US-Backed Forces Continue Offensive on ISIS in East Syria
Paris - London - Asharq Al-Awsat/Saturday, 22 September, 2018/US-backed forces have launched an offensive on ISIS’ last stronghold in eastern Syria, but the man dubbed the world's "most wanted"-- ISIS 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” 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 ISIS 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. Iraqi political commentator Hisham al-Hashemi, an expert on the 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 Hajin in Syria's southeast. As the caliphate crumbled, Iraqi forces and coalition-backed forces in Syria have killed or captured several ISIS leaders. 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 ISIS holdouts, in an area around the Euphrates extending around 50 kilometers into Syria. "This is the last bastion for ISIS’ 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-Muhajir," 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. The anti-ISIS coalition may be hoping Baghdadi again gives away his whereabouts by mistake, as in November 2016 when Iraqi forces fighting to retake Mosul from ISIS picked up on a short radio exchange between him and his men. "He spoke for 45 seconds and then his guards took the radio from him," a senior Kurdish official who heard the call told Britain's Guardian newspaper, which revealed the near-miss in January. "They realized what he had done," the official added, saying the call was traced to a village west of Mosul. If Baghdadi does manage to outfox the coalition, he could join one of ISIS’ underground cells in Iraq or Syria.
Israel Says Keeps Syria Freedom of Action despite Downed Russia Plane
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/September 22/18/Israel's coordination with Russia on its attacks in Syria remains unchanged despite the deadly downing of a Russian plane, and the Jewish state retains its right to decide on military actions, an Israeli official said. Syrian air defences mistakenly shot down the military plane following an Israeli raid on Monday night, killing 15 Russians and fuelling speculation Moscow would seek to curb Israeli actions in Syria. Israel, which carries out regular strikes against pro-government forces in war-torn Syria, has a de-confliction agreement with key regime backer Russia to avoid clashes between their respective air forces. An Israeli military official, speaking to journalists on condition of anonymity, said Friday that the deal remained in place. "There have been no changes to the de confliction mechanism as a result of this unfortunate event," the official said. He said the two sides had committed to the "very effective" mechanism but stressed that Israel's "freedom of movement is paramount". Israel and Russia created the mechanism in 2015, when Russian forces intervened in Syria's civil war to support its ally President Bashar al-Assad. Israel regularly carries out strikes in Syria against the Syrian government, its Lebanese ally Hizbullah and Iranian targets. Despite the mechanism, Syrian air defences on Monday night mistakenly struck a Russian Il-20 military plane after an Israeli raid on a Syrian army facility, killing all the crew members. The Russian military accused Israeli pilots of using "the Russian plane as a cover, exposing it to fire from Syrian air defences", saying they reserved the right to respond. But Russian President Vladimir Putin later adopted a more conciliatory tone, saying the incident was the result of "tragic accidental circumstances". An Israeli military delegation travelled to Moscow on Thursday to express sorrow over the deaths and to share information on the incident with their Russian counterparts.
The Israelis "provided proof" to the Russians that their plane had been shot down because the Syrian batteries had "fired recklessly, irresponsibly and unprofessionally, long after our planes were no longer there," the official said. The Syrians fired for a total of 20 missiles, he said.
Israeli planes were "not anywhere near the Russian plane," he added. He also disputed initial claims by the Russians that the Israelis had only warned them of their planned attack a minute before, and had used the Russian plane as a cover. "We definitely gave a warning time much longer than one minute, we acted in accordance with the standard operating procedures that are in place with the Russian military, this time as we have done before."He denied reports that Russian officials had rejected the Israeli conclusions, adding that Israel would continue to constantly review the existing protocols with Moscow. "There might be improvement, mutual improvement. But it's still unclear. The mechanism continues to work, it continues to operate, it continues to de-conflict," he said. Israel has struck multiple times inside Syria in recent months and says it will continue to operate to stop weapons reaching Hezbollah, a Lebanon-based movement backed by the Jewish state's arch-rival Iran.
Netanyahu Seeks to Persuade Putin to Salvage Understandings on Syria
Tel Aviv - Nazir Magally Asharq Al-Awsat/Saturday, 22 September, 2018/Israeli Air Force Commander Maj. Gen. Amikam Norkin said that during his recent visit to Moscow he succeeded in limiting the crisis with Russia and resuming high-level security coordination between the two army commanders on their activities in Syria. This came following the downing of a Russian plane off the coast of Syria. Fifteen Russian crew were killed when the IL-20 surveillance plane crashed near Latakia on Monday. Russia has said Syria shot the plane down shortly after Israeli jets hit a target in the area.
Upon his return from Moscow, Norkin told his government that the Russians had made it clear that they have banned foreign aircraft in Syrian airspace, political sources said. However, he said "this situation will not last and that the Israeli warplanes will be able to return to launch raids in Syria.”Norkim has conveyed Israeli concern of Iran exploiting the new situation to transfer arms to Syria and from there to “Hezbollah” in Lebanon, according to the sources. Israeli media reports said Friday that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is trying to salvage understandings with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
These understandings stipulate that ‎Israel will not harm head of the Syrian regime Bashar al-‎Assad, and in return, Putin will not prevent Israel from acting against Iran as it pleases, according to IsraeL Hayom newspaper. “This is the deal that will be tested again in light of Russia’s rage over the recent Israeli raids on Latakia.”Norkin has held several meetings with commander of the Russian air force, senior commanders of the Russian army and other air force officials at the defense ministry’s headquarters in Moscow. He presented the officials with the Israeli findings on the incident, saying there was proof Israel bore no responsibility for bringing down the Russian plane. The Israeli delegation shared intelligence regarding Iranian efforts to establish a permanent military presence in Syria and to transfer advanced weaponry to armed groups in the region. “It is not right to accuse us of starting the battle, which led to the downing of the Russian plane. The battle started when Iranians brought large quantities of weapons directed at Israel from Iran to Syria and Lebanon,” Norkin explained.

Fatah accuses Hamas of colluding with Israeli government
Staff writer, Al Arabiya English/Saturday, 22 September 2018/The Palestinian Fatah faction has accused the Hamas leadership of colluding with the Israeli government and abandoning the "right of return" principle. In a statement released on Friday, Fatah said that the Hamas movement is sending messages to the American administration and to the Israeli government, asserting its acceptance of a deal on the basis of a state in Gaza under its control with a long term truce, at the expense of an independent Palestinian state to be established within the June 1967 borders, with East Jerusalem as its capital and the Right of Return of the Palestinian People. The movement pointed out that the Palestinian president rejected the US-Israeli proposal on what was described as the “deal of the century” in the name of the Palestinian people, but Hamas leaders are working to send signals of willingness to accept. Fatah also pointed out that Hamas is carrying out its plan, “exploiting the public’s preoccupation with the battles of steadfastness on the ground in Jerusalem and Khan al-Ahmar, and in all the sites of confronting the settlement and the occupation.”News about Qatari communications and Hamas’ approval. Israeli TV channel 10 previously revealed that Emir of Qatar Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani tried to contact by telephone, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to convince Israel of Doha's plan to conclude a truce agreement with the Palestinian factions in Gaza, led by Hamas, through written messages and confidential communications in order to communicate with Netanyahu and convince him. The TV channel further revealed that Qatar’s foreign minister, Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani, sent a letter last May aimed at delivering a plan. According to the Israeli channel, the Qatari proposal revealed that Hamas agreed to stop the violence in exchange for a plan to improve the infrastructure, electricity and sanitation in Gaza, as well as the establishment of commercial infrastructure through a port or airport in Gaza.

Military Operation Being Prepared for Idlib despite Turkish-Russian Deal
Moscow - Raed Jaber/Asharq Al-Awsat//September 22/18/Moscow is seeking to retrieve the highly-sensitive espionage devices that were on board the Russian jet that was accidentally downed on Monday by Syrian regime air defenses, sources told Russia’s Nezavisimaya Gazeta newspaper. A specialized Russian navy ship arrived off the Syrian coast to retrieve the devices from the Ilyushin 20 military plane that crashed in the Mediterranean. Russian media had previously reported that the aircraft was filming military operations in Syria. They speculated that it was filming the Israeli strikes on Syria’s Latakia that preceded its downing. The regime air defenses on Monday night mistakenly struck the military aircraft after the Israeli raid on a regime facility, killing all 15 crew members. On Thursday, the Russian navy shut vast areas of the eastern Mediterranean, off the coasts of Syria, Lebanon and Cyprus, in order to carry out drills. Russian circles speculated, however, that the closure was aimed at keeping jets and ships away from the crash site. A political observer told Nezavisimaya Gazeta, however, that Russian naval drills were being held in preparation for a possible assault on Syria’s Idlib province despite a deal that was reached this week between Moscow and Ankara to avert such a campaign. The daily quoted Lebanese media as saying that the Nusra Front in Idlib was seeking to violate the Turkish-Russian deal. Since the deal was signed on Monday, signs began to emerge that strikes may be carried out against the Nusra Front and other extremist groups if they refuse to respect the agreement that calls for their withdrawal from a demilitarized zone by mid-October. Ankara and Moscow reached an agreement on Friday on the borders of the demilitarized zone to be set up in Idlib. The agreed borders take into account Idlib’s geographical structure and residential areas. A military offensive also appeared likely after Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said that his forces will continue their operations in Idlib in cooperation with Russia. Moscow also said that it was preparing to carry out operations against extremist groups there, reported Nezavisimaya Gazeta. This was confirmed on Friday when Russian Defense Minister Sergei Lavrov asserted that the demilitarized zone in Idlib “was not the final solution, but a necessary step towards reaching a settlement in Syria.”He added that the Turkish-Russian agreement was primarily aimed at eliminating the threat of terrorism.
Who is Mazin al-Eshaiker, a technocrat who might just become Iraq’s next PM?
Staff writer, Al Arabiya English/Saturday, 22 September 2018/Sources with close knowledge of internal political consultations have asserted that among the names being floated by political groups for Iraq’s premiership include that of Mazen al-Eshaiker. Several observers have said that al-Eshaiker might have better chances in case Adel Abulmahdi is not able to grab the opportunity of becoming Iraq’s next prime minister. Sources said that the political powers had reached a semifinal agreement to present a candidate for the prime minister position – one who would not belong to any party and did not hold any position in the previous governments. Al-Eshaiker meets both conditions. The sources also said that the political groups had agreed that the next prime minister would have the freedom to choose the ministerial structure of his government.Al-Eshaiker confirmed that he was among the nominees for prime minister and thanked all those who trusted him as an independent technocrat candidate. Al-Eshaiker, an electronic engineering graduate from the University of California in 1985, expressed via Facebook his appreciation for the people’s trust and support for his candidacy. He highlighted that the incoming government has many challenges to improve the political, economic and security situation. “Ministers needs to be chosen according to integrity, experience and competence standards,” he wrote. Al-Eshaiker pointed out that Iraq is on the edge economically. “There is no way to continue with the quota system. Dividing the ministries according to the nationalities and sects was the reason for the reluctance of most voters not participating in the last parliamentary elections,” he wrote. The economic and political expert, Mazen al-Eshaiker, was born in Karbala governorate. He was one of the Bairaq al-Khair al mondawi in the Victory Alliance headed by Haider al-Abadi. So far al-Fath, Saairun, al-Qarar, al-Wataniya and al-Hekma had approved accepted him to be one of the candidates, while he awaits for other blocs to approve. Al-Eshaiker had established many electronic labs in the US, Mexico, China, Thailand, Taiwan and Singapore, he was the General Manager of Motorola Iraq from 2003 to 2007. Then he became an economic expert in the premiership before being CEO of Asia cell Telecom in Sulaymaniyah and then he managed the Nalco Oil Company in Basra. The main factors of al-Eshaiker’s program mainly depends on a strong developmental economic program, aside from the policy of piling employees in the governmental departments and allowing the free economy to take its natural place in construction, industry, agriculture, trade and tourism to absorb the Iraqi competencies and the unemployed labor force, to raise the living standards and service for all the Iraqi people.

Yamani Accuses Iran of Sticking to ‘Expansionist Agenda’
New York - Ali Barada/Asharq Al-Awsat//September 22/18/Yemeni Minister of Foreign Affairs Khaled al-Yamani has accused Iran of sticking to its policy of expansion in the region and to its support of Houthi militias in Yemen. Secretary-General of the Gulf Cooperation Council Abdullatif bin Rashid al-Zayani and Yamani took part in the opening of the Conference on Yemen entitled “Challenges of Political Solution, Humanitarian Action, Restoring Stability and Reconstruction.” The conference, which was held in New York on the eve of the 73rd Session of the UN General Assembly, was attended by dozens of US, European, Arab and other officials and diplomats, in addition to delegations representing the Arab Coalition to Support Legitimacy in Yemen, especially from Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and the Gulf Cooperation Council. Yemen’s FM stressed the importance of cooperation among states to put pressure on Houthis and force them to comply with the aspirations of the Yemeni people, face Iran's terrorist agenda in the region and reach lasting and sustainable peace in Yemen.
He explained that, among others, these objectives could be achieved by committing to the three UN references. “The Yemeni government has always been and will continue to work on reaching a sustainable peace based on the three references, which we emphasize on during today’s meeting, mainly the Gulf Initiative and its Executive Mechanism, the outcomes of the National Dialogue Conference and Security Council resolutions, in particular Resolution 2216, said Yamani. “In this context, the government delegation accepted (UN Special Envoy to Yemen Martin) Griffiths’ invitation to the Geneva consultations earlier this month, hoping to discuss confidence-building measures as a first step towards the full implementation of Resolution 2216, which would have contributed to alleviating the suffering of thousands of Yemeni families that need humanitarian and international support.” “However, despite all the attempts made by the UN, Saudi-led Arab Coalition states and the ambassadors of the countries sponsoring the political process in Yemen, the intransigence of the Houthi militias and their irresponsible behavior towards the Yemeni people prevented this from happening,” Yamani added. Zayani, for his part, accused the Houthis of obstructing the United Nations’ efforts aimed at reaching a political settlement, stressing that the three references reflect the Yemeni people’s will.
“The GCC states will continue to intensify the provision of relief and assistance to Yemen’s various areas, including those controlled by the Houthis through KSRelief, Red Crescent Societies and other Gulf charitable organizations in coordination with relevant UN organizations,” he said.

Libya’s Haftar: LNA Not Involved in Tripoli Clashes
Cairo – Khaled Mahmoud/Asharq Al-Awsat/September 22/18/Libyan National Army commander Khalifa Haftar reiterated a warning that his forces could intervene to restore calm in Tripoli following the renewal of militia clashes in the capital. “When the time is right, we will move towards Tripoli,” he told a meeting with tribal officials. “Such a move will calm all sides,” he stressed, while adding that the LNA was not involved in any of the military operations in Tripoli. Moreover, Haftar said that the militias involved in the clashes were being supported by the Government of National Accord that is headed by Fayez al-Sarraj.He vowed, however, that the law will hold everyone accountable for their actions, adding that the LNA “now controls the majority of the country… and is claiming victories against the terrorists.”Clashes between rival militias had erupted in Tripoli in August. They eventually ended with a United Nations-brokered ceasefire on September 4. The deal collapsed this week, however. Eleven people have been killed in the renewed fighting, including five civilians and three military personnel. Thirty-three people have been wounded. The latest figures bring to 96 the total number of people killed in the fighting. The clashes have pitted various rival militias, including the 7th Brigade, against each other. On Friday, the “Tripoli protection force,” comprised of various armed brigades in the capital, announced the launch of an operation to expel the “outlaws”, meaning the 7th Brigade and its backers, from the city. Meanwhile, the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) identified two militia leaders, vowing that they will be held accountable for their actions. Violators of security will also be persecuted by international law, it warned. It urged all warring parties, “especially those fighting under the command of Salah Badi, to immediately cease all acts of violence in Tripoli,” adding that “targeting civilians and civilian installations is prohibited by International Humanitarian Law and constitutes war crimes.”The Badi militias, however, rejected the UN stance, listing in a statement a number of violations committed by rival militias. Moreover, they urged the UN mission to “refrain from becoming embroiled in the actions of the corrupt militias.” Badi claimed that his militias were acting in self-defense and that they will not stand idly by as they come under attack from rival militants.

Egypt’s Al-Azhar Calls on World Peace Day for Ending Suffering of War Victims
Cairo - Walid Abul Rahman/Asharq Al-Awsat/September 22/18/Egypt’s al-Azhar expressed hope that the International Day of Peace, which fell on September 21, would be an opportunity for the world's decision-makers to shoulder their moral and humanitarian responsibilities towards the suffering of victims of wars and conflicts. In a statement on Friday, al-Azhar stressed that it has constantly sought in recent years to spread and promote a culture of peace and dialogue among followers of different religions and peoples from different civilizations. It added that it has held many conferences and events for this purpose, stressing that its Grand Imam Dr. Ahmed al-Tayeb has prioritized defending the values of tolerance and coexistence and rejecting the calls of extremism, racism and isolation. Al-Azhar recalled the suffering of the Palestinian people under the brutal Zionist occupation, the distress of hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslims and the plight of people fleeing wars and conflicts that have destroyed their homeland and deprived them of security and stability. Meanwhile, Egypt's Grand Mufti Shawki Allam stressed the importance of spreading peace in different parts of the world, especially in conflict zones. “The world greatly needs peace and security given its suffering at the hands of terrorism, violence and flagrant aggression against the rights of peoples, who continue to endure the scourge of war and occupation, especially in the occupied Palestinian territories,” he added. “Terrorism seeks to impose its control and spread its influence on the public and youth, whether through force or oppression or the dissemination of false fatwas and misguided ideas that are promoted on social and other audiovisual media,” he stated. “This has had the worst impact in spreading violence and chaos and threatening peace and security in many countries in the world.”Allam, therefore, urged all global decision-makers and international organizations to work hard to end wars and conflicts and support occupied peoples in obtaining their legitimate rights.

ISIS chief Baghdadi masters art of disguise, but one mistake may end his luck
Staff writer, Al Arabiya English/Saturday, 22 September 2018/Despite the launch of a major offensive on the last pocket of the ISIS extremist group in eastern Syria, close to the Iraqi border, the leader of the terrorist group Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi might succeed once again in escaping, observers have warned. While the Syrian Democratic Forces, supported by the US-led coalition launched on September 10 the final phase of the attack on ISIS, targeting Hajin town and its suburbs, where Baghdadi is believed to exist, many have speculated that he might have already escaped. Prominent Kurdish figure Rezdst Kubani who was present at a military position in the area said that: “It is the last stronghold for ISIS fighters. All its foreign leaders and warlords from outside Syria are gathered in the towns of al-Soussa, Hajin and al-Shaafa and we will kill them there.”Baghdadi masters the art of disguise
But Hassan Hassan, a senior research fellow at the Program on Extremism at George Washington University said that monitoring the location of Baghdadi may not be easy. Hassan told AFP news agency that Baghdadi “learned how to hide well,” adding that he and his organization “had learned lessons from the mistakes which ended the lives of their leader Abu Omar al-Baghdadi and their military commander Abu Hamza al-Muhajir in 2010,” meaning that “only a small number of trusted people know where is he.” While Hisham al-Hashemi, the Iraqi expert in the extremist organization, said that: “Baghdadi is hiding in the Syrian desert, an area between Iraq and Syria, and he moves between the Baaj (northwest of Iraq) and Hajin in Syria.”
Waiting for a fatal mistake
A senior Iraqi intelligence official said in early May that Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was in an area on the Iraqi-Syrian border and was traveling “in hiding, not in a convoy, accompanied by four to five people, including his son and son-in-law.”Commenting on the incident, researcher Hassan Hassan, pointed out that these areas appear limited on the map, but “on the ground they are large areas of mountains, deserts, rivers and villages in Iraq and Syria, providing many hideouts.”
He added that “With the strong technical support of the US-led coalition, the Iraqis and the Syrians have the resources to monitor him, and he may be arrested for an error committed by himself or his men,” he said. This error may be similar to the one that almost happened on November, 3, 2016, when the Guardian newspaper reported in January, “when he spoke 45 seconds on the radio with his men during the Iraqi forces’ offensive to restore Mosul, He was spotted immediately.” “His bodyguards took him away immediately after they realized what he had done,” said a senior Kurdish official who listened to the radio during the incident. If Baghdadi can escape this time, he may join secret cells of the organization in another part of Iraq or Syria.
News of Baghdadi escape to Afghanistan through Iran
Meanwhile, Asharq al-Awssat newspaper quoted security sources and other extremist groups in Pakistan as saying that Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi arrived in the state of Nangarhar in eastern Afghanistan after crossing the Iranian territory. Baghdadi relocation, according to the sources, who asked not to be identified, came after the arrival of hundreds of ISIS members to the province after crossing the Iranian territory, through the city of Zahedan in eastern Iran, where sources said that the terrorist organization maintains a headquarter of the hospitality of its fighters with the knowledge and coordination with the Iranian Revolutionary Guards. Baghadadi, one of the world’s most wanted, has survived over the years from several air strikes and at least once been wounded, but experts still warn he is mastering the art of disguise and may also escape this time

The Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on September 22-23/18
Erdogate": Germany's Turkish Superstar
Stefan Frank/Gatestone Institute/September 22/18
Two German national soccer team players of Turkish origin had a photo-op with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and gave signed club shirts as gifts to him. One of the shirts bore the message (in Turkish): "With respect to my president. Yours faithfully".
After the first exit poll, thousands of Turks in German cities took to the streets, honked car horns and waved Turkish and AKP flags, celebrating Erdogan's election victory until well after midnight.
"When do you finally realize that the most important requirements for integration are not language and upward mobility, but emotional bonds and identifying with the country in which one lives?" — Hamed Abdel-Samad, German-Egyptian political scientist.
Ilkay Gündoğan, who played for the German national soccer team in this year's World Cup, posed for a photo-op with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan shortly before the tournament. Gündoğan -- who holds only German citizenship -- gave Erdogan a signed shirt bearing the message (in Turkish): "With respect to my president. Yours faithfully".
This summer, the German public began to realize that there are hundreds of thousands of Germans of Turkish origin who revere as their leader not German Chancellor Angela Merkel, but Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
In a country where Erdogan is arguably the most-despised foreign leader, this revelation was probably bound to create a dust-up. For years, Erdogan's human rights violations, his slander against Germany (where he sees "Nazi practices" at work) and the imprisonment in Turkey of German citizens on trumped-up terrorism charges have been regular news in the German media. The fate of German-Turkish journalist Deniz Yücel, arrested by the Turkish police in February 2016, then held in solitary confinement in a Turkish prison for almost a year, has caused as much public outrage in Germany as the imprisonment and subsequent house arrest of Pastor Andrew Brunson has in the United States. Cem Özdemir, a former chairman of Germany's Green Party -- who in 1994 became the first member of the German parliament who had Turkish roots -- has called Erdogan a "hostage taker".
So it was not surprising, shortly before the soccer World Cup, when two German national soccer team players of Turkish origin had a photo-op with Erdogan, that there was a national outcry.
In a meeting at London's Four Seasons Hotel on May 15, Mesud Özil (Arsenal London) and Ilkay Gündoğan (Manchester City), two midfielders who had been called up by Germany's coach, Joachim Löw, for the World Cup in Russia, gave signed club shirts as gifts to the Turkish president. The shirt given by Gündoğan -- who holds only German citizenship -- bore the message (in Turkish): "With respect to my president. Yours faithfully". Erdogan's Justice and Development Party (AKP) immediately distributed the pictures through its media channels and used it in its election campaign.
In Germany, the reaction to the "Erdogate" scandal was seismic. Cem Özdemir said:
"The name of the President of a German national team player is Frank-Walter Steinmeier, the Chancellor is Angela Merkel, and the parliament is called Deutscher Bundestag. It is located in Berlin, not in Ankara."
Reinhard Grindel, president of the German Soccer Association (DFB) said:
"The DFB, of course, respects the special situation of our players with migrant backgrounds, but soccer and the DFB stand for values that Mr. Erdogan does not sufficiently respect. That is why it is not good that our international players let themselves be manipulated for his electoral campaign. In doing that, our players have certainly not helped the DFB's work on integration."
Fueling the anger further was Özil's and Gündoğan's refusal to admit that the photo-op might have been a mistake, as well as the behavior of high-ranking DFB officials, who tried to explain it away. They cited as excuses the ethnicity of the players (who were both born in Germany) or their "young age" (Gündoğan is 27, Özil is 30).
In the last two test matches ahead of the tournament, German fans booed both Özil and Gündoğan. Some, in a foul against Gündoğan, even cheered.
In an attempt to heal the rift, German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier received Özil and Gündoğan in his official residence in Berlin. During a subsequent interview in Die Zeit, however, Steinmeier sadly admitted that the players had not acknowledged any wrongdoing.
DFB director Thomas Bierhoff nevertheless insisted that Özil and Gündoğan were "still good ambassadors for integration". In 2010, Özil had, in fact, been awarded a "prize for successful integration" by the Hubert Burda Media group, and in 2014, the German president awarded him Germany's highest sports award, the Silver Laurel Leaf. Özil had been elected Germany's player of the year five times.
The debate about the incident, which continued during the World Cup, took on even more steam after Germany's disastrous performance at the tournament -- the worst showing of a German soccer team in 80 years. That debacle put pressure on the soccer association. Many called on Özil finally to issue an apology or face consequences.
DFB president Reinhard Grindel, said:
"It is true that Mesut has not said anything yet, which has disappointed a lot of fans... Mesut, when he returns from vacation, should publicly give his view. We also want to wait and see how Mesut gets involved. It is only fair that we give a deserving international who made a mistake a chance."
Two weeks later, Özil posted three open letters on social media (in English), concluding with his resignation from the German national squad. He also hit out at the "racism" to which he claimed to have been subjected:
"It is with a heavy heart and after much consideration that because of recent events I will no longer be playing for Germany at international level whilst I have this feeling of racism and disrespect."
To back up his claims, Özil quoted a xenophobic insult that had allegedly been yelled at him in a stadium, as well as derogatory comments made in the social media by two men -- one, a virtually unknown local politician of Germany's Social Democratic Party (SPD); the other, a vice-chairman of a theater in Munich.
While Germany's biggest tabloid Bild criticized Özil for his "whining resignation" and his "confused reckoning with Germany", most German newspapers did an about-face and jumped on the Özil bandwagon. The very newspapers that had harshly criticized Özil a few weeks earlier for his "chat with a despot" now attacked Grindel for his "silence" and "failure" to speak out in Özil's favor; and congratulated Özil for sparking a debate about integration of immigrants. "Finally, racism is called racism," ran the headline in Berlin's Tagesspiegel.
The chairman of the Central Council of Muslims in Germany (ZMD), Aiman Mazyek, urged DFB president Grindel and the DFB's general manager, Oliver Bierhoff, to resign. The "foul" both had committed, in Mazyek's view, was to ask Özil to provide an explanation:
"Putting the boot in is punished with a red card in sports... Bierhoff and Grindel must step down if they have not learned anything else in their long career than, 'You lose as Özil', instead of, 'You lose as a team.'"
In Turkey, Özil's resignation and his statement in which he complained about German "racism" turned him into a superhero. Erdogan personally called Özil to express his support. Devrek, the Turkish home town of Özil's grandparents, and that had already named a street after Özil, replaced a billboard showing Özil in a long-sleeved German training top with another in which he was seen with Erdogan.
All of a sudden, it was not Özil, but Germany that stood in the dock. German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas saw the need to protect Germany's reputation against allegations of "racism": "I do not think that the case of a multi-millionaire who lives and works in England tells much about Germany's integration capacity", he said.
While many commentators seem particularly interested in assigning guilt, there were two important takeaways from the debate.
One was that Erdogan is tremendously popular among German-Turks. That became clear in Turkey's recent presidential elections. Erdogan won 52% of the overall vote in the election -- but received 64.8% of the votes cast in the 13 voting stations that Turkey set up in in Germany. His best result was in Germany's industrial hub, Essen, where an astonishing 76.3% of Turkish voters cast their votes in his favor. "Germany stays an Erdogan bastion," wrote the Frankfurter Allgemeine daily. After the first exit poll, thousands of Turks in German cities took to the streets, honked car horns and waved Turkish and AKP flags, celebrating Erdogan's election victory until well after midnight. This triggered harsh condemnations from German politicians -- especially from those on the left, who are otherwise diehard supporters of multiculturalism.
Notably, there is a huge gap between the election results in Germany on one side, and in the UK and the US on the other. In Germany, Erdogan won about two-thirds of the votes; his main opponent, the Social-Democrat Muharrem Ince, won about 20%. In the UK and the US, the outcome was the reverse: 72% of Turks in the USA and 59% of Turks in the UK voted for Ince, only 16% and 22% percent respectively for Erdogan.
Why is Erdogan so much more popular among Germany's Turks? Gökay Sofuoglu, chairman of the Turkish Community in Germany, told the German news agency DPA that while the Turks in Germany were mostly laborers from rural parts of Anatolia, who brought with them their conservative values, the Turkish voters in the UK and the USA were mostly students and highly-educated people who lean towards the opposition.
The second reason, for many German-Turks, is that Turkey is their "fatherland." As most of the Turks who celebrated Erdogan's victory on German streets were young people who are third generation migrants -- whose parents were born in Germany -- the mindset of their ancestors has apparently been passed from one generation to the next. With this in mind, one might take another look at Özil's letter of resignation:
"Whilst I grew up in Germany, my family background has its roots firmly based in Turkey. ... During my childhood, my mother taught me always to be respectful and never to forget where I came from, and these are still values that I think about to this day. ... My mother has never let me lose sight of my ancestry, heritage and family traditions. For me, having a picture with President Erdogan was not about politics or elections, it was about me respecting the highest office of my family's country. Although the German media have portrayed something different, the truth is that not meeting with the President would have been disrespecting the roots of my ancestors."
So it suddenly makes sense that Turkish newspapers wrote that the Anatolian village Devrek was Özil's "hometown" -- even though he was born in Gelsenkirchen, Germany, and spent his whole life in Germany, before moving to Madrid and later to London.
In his new book, Immigration. Ein Protokoll des Scheiterns ("Immigration. A record of Failure"), German-Egyptian political scientist Hamed Abdel-Samad, one of Germany's best-known critics of Germany's passive approach to immigration and integration, wrote:
"Even parents who are not very conservative bow to the pressure exerted by the migrant community and raise their children in accordance with religion and traditions. The fatal consequence of this kind of upbringing is that the community's sympathies and acceptance count more than the child's wellbeing."
One of the reasons why the communities are so powerful, according to Abdel-Samad, is because through the years, almost homogenous neighborhoods have developed:
"There is no mingling with other foreigners and especially not with Germans. Compared to the early years, the infrastructure has tremendously expanded and so have the mechanisms of control. This is why, in my opinion, the children of the third and fourth generation have more difficulties [integrating]."
If, 57 years after the arrival of the first Turkish guest-workers, the integration of their grandchildren still cannot be viewed as successful, what does that bode for the prospects for integrating the children and grandchildren of the more than one million migrants from Africa, Asia and the Middle East who have arrived in Germany since 2015?
Clashes in the future could be far more serious than this summer's spat – unless Germany wakes up. In a debate that has dragged on for months, Hamed Abdel-Samad, right after Özil's and Gündogan's photo-op with Erdogan, published a statement on his Facebook page:
"Two super-integrated German-Turks for whom all the doors to a career in Germany were opened have never campaigned for the release of imprisoned journalists in Turkey, instead they made an election campaign for Erdogan. Now all the social-romanticists may ask themselves what we have done wrong that German-Turks find Erdogan attractive."
Erdogan's supporters in Germany, Abdel-Samad wrote, "are not the ones who are left behind and rejected" but "people who want to belong to the victors and view Erdogan as an alternative and antithesis to Europe".
"All the ones who have celebrated Özil as the personification of successful integration should not be surprised that his fans among the German-Turks will now vote for Erdogan after they have seen him smirking on this picture. When do you finally realize that the most important requirements for integration are not language and upward mobility, but emotional bonds and identifying with the country in which one lives?"
*Stefan Frank is a journalist and author based in Germany.
© 2018 Gatestone Institute. All rights reserved. The articles printed here do not necessarily reflect the views of the Editors or of Gatestone Institute. No part of the Gatestone website or any of its contents may be reproduced, copied or modified, without the prior written consent of Gatestone Institute.

Killing Free Speech
Judith Bergman/Gatestone Institute/September 22/18
The OIC's media strategy encourages "accurate and factual portrayal of Islam. Emphasis should be directed at avoidance of any link or association of Islam with terrorism or the use of Islamophobic rhetoric... such as labeling criminal terrorists as 'Islamic' fascists, 'Islamic' extremists."
That part of the strategy has already had much success across the Western world, where authorities and media do not want to label Muslim terrorists as Islamic, but routinely describe them as "mentally ill."
The OICs highly ambitious plans to do away with freedom of speech go severely underreported in the West. Mainstream journalists do not appear to find it dangerous that their freedom of speech should be supervised by the OIC, while Western governments, far from offering any resistance, appear, perhaps for votes, to be cozily going along with everything.
The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) is trying to curb your freedom of speech -- yet again[1].
In June, the first "I 1st Islamic-European Forum for examining ways of cooperation to curb hate speech in the media," initiated by the OIC, ironically but sadly took place at the Press Club Brussels Europe.
The director of the information department of the OIC, Maha Mustafa Aqeel, explained that the forum is part of the OIC's media strategy[2] to counter "Islamophobia":
"Our strategy focuses on interacting with the media, academics, and experts on various relevant topics, in addition to engaging with Western governments to raise awareness, support the efforts of Muslim civil society bodies in the West, and engage the latter in developing plans and programs to counter Islamophobia."
Unlike almost all other intergovernmental organizations, the OIC wields both religious and political power. It describes itself as:
"...the second largest inter-governmental organization after the United Nations with a membership of 57 states spread over four continents. The Organization is the collective voice of the Muslim world... espousing all causes close to the hearts of over 1.5 billion Muslims of the world."
According to the OIC's Charter, one of the objectives of the organization is "To disseminate, promote and preserve the Islamic teachings and values based on moderation and tolerance, promote Islamic culture and safeguard Islamic heritage,"[3] as well as "To protect and defend the true image of Islam, to combat defamation of Islam and encourage dialogue among civilisations and religions."[4]
At the 11th Session of The Islamic Summit Conference (Session of The Muslim Ummah in The 21St Century) in Dakar, Senegal (13-14 March 2008), the member states of the OIC decided to "renew our pledge to work harder to make sure that Islam's true image is better projected the world over..."[5] and to "seek to combat an Islamophobia with designs to distort our religion"[6].
In 2008, the OIC published its 1st OIC Observatory Report on Islamophobia. This document listed a number of interactions that OIC representatives had with Western audiences -- including the Council of Europe, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), and academics and others at universities such as Georgetown and Oxford -- and stated:
"The point that was underscored in all these interactions was that Islamophobia was gradually gaining inroads into the mind-set of the common people in Western societies, a fact that has created a negative and distorted perception of Islam. It was emphasized that Muslims and Western societies would have to address the issue with a sense of commitment to ending Islamophobia... Islamophobia poses a threat not only to Muslims but to the world at large."[7]
Since that 1st OIC Observatory Report on Islamophobia, the OIC opened its Permanent Observer Mission to the EU (in 2013) and also cooperates with the OSCE and the Council of Europe "to combat stereotypes and misunderstandings and foster tolerance."[8] In December 2017, the OIC and the EU agreed on strengthening bilateral cooperation, when they held their second Senior Officials' Meeting (SOM) at the OIC headquarters, during which both sides agreed on "strengthening bilateral cooperation through concrete actions".
The OIC was concrete in its demands to the West. In a statement delivered at the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, the OIC Secretary General called for Europe to "Prosecute and punish for racial discrimination... through the framework of appropriate legislation" and also to "Strengthen existing legislation on discrimination and discriminatory and 'unequal treatment' adopted by EU council directives"[9].
Today, many Western European governments are prosecuting their own citizens for criticizing Islam or Muslims in, for example, Sweden, Germany and the UK, although it is unclear, whether or how much of this development can be directly attributed to the OIC.
In Sweden, for instance, pensioners especially have been prosecuted for making critical comments about Islam on Facebook. A 71-year-old woman referred to so-called unaccompanied minors as "bearded children" and said -- not inaccurately (here and here and here) -- that some seem to be "engaged in rape and demolishing their [asylum] homes". In February 2018, a Swedish court sentenced her to a fine for "incitement of hatred against an ethnic group".
In Germany, a journalist, Michael Stürzenberger, was handed a six-month suspended jail sentence for posting on his Facebook page a historical photo of the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al-Husseini, shaking the hand of a senior Nazi official in Berlin in 1941. The prosecution accused Stürzenberger of "inciting hatred towards Islam" and "denigrating Islam" by publishing the photograph.
In addition to cultivating high-level contacts with Western actors, the OIC also is pursuing a comprehensive media strategy, agreed upon in Saudi Arabia in December 2016 and focused on the West.
This OIC media strategy claims as one of its goals:
"To increase the interaction with media outlets and professionals, while encouraging accurate and factual/portrayal of Islam. Emphasis should be directed at avoidance of any link or association of Islam with terrorism or the use of Islamophobic rhetoric in the war on terror, such as labeling criminal terrorists as 'Islamic' fascists, 'Islamic' extremists."[10]
Part of that strategy has already had much success across the Western world, where authorities and media do not want to label Muslim terrorists as Islamic, but routinely describe them as "mentally ill."
The OIC also notes that it would like media professionals and journalists "to develop, articulate and implement voluntary codes of conduct to counter Islamophobia"[11], while at the same time engaging Western governments "in creating awareness against the dangers of Islamophobia by addressing the responsibility of media on the issue"[12]. The OIC additionally states that it would like to train foreign journalists to "deal with the phenomenon of hatred and defamation of the Islamic religion"[13]-- as exemplified by the recent European-Islamic Forum, where attendees were introduced to the OIC's "Program for Training Media Professionals on Redressing Stereotypes about Islam".
As maintained earlier here, European journalists -- helped along by the EU -- are already very adept at censoring themselves, which means that the OIC's work is probably already more than half-done when it comes to Europe.
Finally, the OIC media strategy calls for fostering a "network of high profile western public figures supporting efforts to combat Islamophobia in politics, journalism and civil society" as well as teams of scholars academics, and celebrities, who will be the faces of the campaign.[14]
The IOC mentions the following, among others, as examples of mass media campaigns it aims to launch as part of its media strategy[15]:
Television and advertising campaigns "targeting public transport (bus and metro) famous newspapers and magazines for each country two times in one year".
Arranging three talk shows per year in key TV channels in US and Europe about Islam with the participation of selected members from Muslim countries.
10 lectures per year in each country (universities, unions and suggested important centers) "about Islamic role in building cultures and connect between religions".
Visits to schools and universities by OIC "specialist teams".
Hosting 100 "Western activists" from various fields in selected Muslim countries where they "can interact with intellectuals, politicians, media figures, and religious scholars".
Produce one-hour documentary "examining the growth of Islamophobia in the West and its impact on Muslims around the world and interfaith relations" for broadcasting "on mainstream networks such as Britain's BBC and Channel 4 or America's PBS".
The OIC is being assisted in all these efforts by "prestigious public relations companies such as UNITAS Communications which is based in London, UK and Golden Cap based in Jeddah, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia"[16].
The OIC promises that it will also create a fund to support local anti-Islamophobia initiatives, and monitor media and place commentary and news stories in key Western publications.
It is important to note that in the years 1998-2011, the OIC sought to advance an agenda in the UN, banning "the defamation of religions", but the OIC gave up on the ban after realizing that there was not sufficient support there for the proposal. "We could not convince them," said Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, the Turkish head of the IOC at the time. "The European countries don't vote with us, the United States doesn't vote with us."
Instead of pursuing the ban on defamation of religions, the OIC shifted its focus to UN Resolution 16/18 [17] which calls upon states to take concrete steps to prohibit discrimination on the basis of religion, "foster religious freedom and pluralism," and "counter religious profiling which is understood to be the invidious use of religion as a criterion in conducting questionings, searches and other law enforcement investigative procedures."
Andrew C. McCarthy, a critic of Resolution 16/18, maintains that:
"Sharia forbids any speech — whether true or not — that casts Islam in an unfavorable light, dissents from settled Muslim doctrine, has the potential to sow discord within the ummah, or entices Muslims to renounce Islam or convert to other faiths. The idea is not merely to ban gratuitous ridicule — which, by the way, sensible people realize government should not do (and, under our Constitution, may not do) even if they themselves are repulsed by gratuitous ridicule. The objective is to ban all critical examination of Islam, period..." [Emphasis in original]
The OICs highly ambitious plans to do away with freedom of speech go severely underreported in the West. Mainstream Western journalists do not appear to find it dangerous that their freedom of speech should be supervised by the OIC, while Western governments, far from offering any resistance, appear, perhaps for votes, to be cozily going along with everything.
*Judith Bergman is a columnist, lawyer and political analyst.
[1] See also "Organization of Islamic Cooperation's 'Islamophobia' Campaign against Freedom" and "The OIC vs. Freedom of Expression"
[2] See also "The OIC/NGOs cooperation in combating Islamophobia" from the International Conference on Islamophobia, Istanbul 2007.
[3] OIC Charter Article 1(11)
[4] Ibid., Article 1 (12)
[5] 11th Session of the Islamic Summit Conference, Dakar Declaration, p 4
[6]Ibid., p 4
[7] 1st OIC observatory report on Islamophobia (May 2007 to May 2008) p 24 (section 4.5.)
[8] 1st OIC observatory report on Islamophobia (May 2007 to May 2008) p 30. (sections 4.5.7 and 4.5.8)
[9] Ibid., p 30 (Section 4.5.8)
[10] OIC Media Strategy in Countering Islamophobia and Its Implementation Mechanisms, p 2, (section I (2))
[11] Ibid., p 4, Section III (1)
[12] Ibid., p 4, Section III (3)
[13] Ibid., p 5, Section III (7)
[14] Ibid., pp 3-4, Section II(2) and (7)
[15] Ibid., pp 8-9, Section 7
[16] Ibid., p 6
[17] Resolution 16/18 on Combating intolerance, negative stereotyping and stigmatization of, and discrimination, incitement to violence and violence against, persons based on religion or belief. The resolution was passed in the UN Human Rights Council in 2011 with support from both OIC member countries and Western countries, including the United States.
© 2018 Gatestone Institute. All rights reserved. The articles printed here do not necessarily reflect the views of the Editors or of Gatestone Institute. No part of the Gatestone website or any of its contents may be reproduced, copied or modified, without the prior written consent of Gatestone Institute.

United States Special Envoy on Iran Brian Hook to Asharq Al-Awsat: Iran Seeks to Repeat Lebanon's Model in the Region

Atef Abdul Latif/Asharq Al-Awsat//September 22/18
A few weeks before the second package of US sanctions on Iran comes into force early next month, the Iranian crisis appears to be entering a new phase of complexity since US President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from the nuclear deal in May.
The White House says the next sanctions will only be part of a package of unprecedented measures that will be taken to force the Iranian regime to put an end to its destructive regional policy and return to the negotiating table. In contrast, the administration says that an “unprecedented package of incentives awaits Tehran if it stops its aggressive behavior.”
The most important question is how far the Iranian regime will continue with its policies and to what extent US sanctions could affect Tehran to force it to sit on the negotiating table and respond to the demands of the Iranian people and the international community.
In an exclusive interview with Asharq Al-Awsat, the United States special envoy on Iran, Brian Hook, revealed that the nuclear agreement has helped Tehran expand the financing of terrorism and accused the regime of seeking to repeat Lebanon’s model in the region, pointing out that the US sanctions were not aimed at the economy but were targeted against the regime.
Asked about his recent comments that the US did not want to forge a personal agreement with Iran, but rather a treaty, Hook stressed that the latter was more permanent and sustainable as it is negotiated by the president and ratified by the Senate.
“The Iran nuclear was not submitted as a treaty to the Senate, because it did not enjoy the support of the Congress,” noting that former President Barack Obama has decided to do a personal agreement with Iran that existed as long as he was in office. He stressed that when Obama left office, the agreement lost its legal status.“In our view, any agreement on the nuclear program with Iran should be submitted as a treaty,” he explained, adding that any new treaty would cover a range of subjects, not only Tehran’s nuclear activities. “When Iran starts behaving like a normal country, it can enjoy the privileges of a normal country,” Hook noted.
He also emphasized that the mistake in the Iranian nuclear deal was that it was limited to the country’s nuclear activities.
“When you look at the range of threats that Iran presents, it is much bigger than nukes; it includes missiles of many varieties, maritime aggressions, cyber-attacks, the export of revolution, terrorizing other nations, destabilizing its neighbors, taking hostages, conducting assassinations, bombings and hijackings,” the US envoy said. “Over 39 years, it has a very violent record,” he added, stressing the necessity for Iran to change its behavior and return to the negotiations. Asked whether the US Administration has already prepared the treaty and was waiting for the Iranians to agree to talk about it, Hook said: “We have set forth the areas that we would like to talk about with Iran, and a bit part of that is all the areas that have the positive things for the Iranian people.” He noted that the current administration “has stood squarely with the Iranian people from the very first day validating their demands for reform.”
“A lot of their reforms are our reforms,” he affirmed.
Asked why Iran would want to sign a treaty with the US as long as it was still receiving support and aid from the European Union within the present nuclear deal, Hook said: “The Iranians may not want to go to the negotiating table now, but history shows that Tehran returns to negotiations when pressure grows on it.”In this regard, he highlighted a sharp decline in the volume of foreign direct investment in Iran because of the tightening of US sanctions, especially with regard to bank transfers, as well as the problem of inflation and the deterioration of the local currency. He added that Iranians were facing strong economic problems “because they mismanage their economy, make many bad decisions, and spend a lot of money on violent misadventures around the Middle East.”
“At a certain point, the Iranian regime has to decide whether the cost-benefit is there,” the US envoy noted. “We are prepared to be discussing a great many benefits for Iran if Iranians chose to adopt a different path,” he added.

10 Things People Still Get Wrong About the Financial Crisis

Barry Ritholtz/Bloomberg/September, 22/18
One of the most intriguing aspects of the 2007-09 financial crisis is how little understanding there is of what actually occurred. Some of this has to do with the complexities of the event, as well as how hard it is to identify forces lurking below the surface that had built up over the years.
Even a decade later, many people still cling to false ideas about the underlying causes (there wasn’t just one, folks!) of the crisis. What follows are my 10 favorite flawed memes, misunderstandings and just outright falsehoods about the financial crisis and its aftermath:
No. 1. Lehman’s collapse caused the crisis: “If only we had saved Lehman Brothers, we could have avoided the crisis,” goes a popular lament. This reflects a fundamental misunderstanding of the scale of the dislocations. To accept this premise — former Lehman employees are some of the loudest apostles of this theory — then one has to pretend an entire universe of other issues didn’t exist.
Lehman, like Bear Stearns before it, suffered from many of the same issues that afflicted most of the US’s other big banks and brokers: too much junk paper, too much leverage, too little capital and deficient risk controls. Lehman was simply among the most overleveraged and undercapitalized of the lot.
No. 2. If not for X, we would have been OK: Take your pick of things to insert here, but it’s important to understand that this was not a single event, but rather the result of many factors that came together over time. These include: the Federal Reserve’s ultralow interest rates, a fundamentally weak recovery from the dot-com collapse, the housing boom and bust, huge amounts of financial leverage, securitization of mortgages, the embrace of derivatives and reckless deregulation of the financial industry that enabled much of the above, and more. I depicted these elements via this graphic in “Bailout Nation.”
No. 3. Repeal of Glass-Steagall: The argument is that in the decades after Glass-Steagall was enacted during the Great Depression, Wall Street crises were confined to Wall Street and didn’t spill onto Main Street. See as examples the 1987 stock-market crash or the Mexican peso crisis of 1994. But the causative issue we run into to is the but-for test. Would we have had a crisis if Glass-Steagall were still in place? I don’t see how we can make that claim. Perhaps had Glass-Steagall not been repealed, the crisis might have been smaller, but it is very hard to say it wouldn’t have occurred anyway.
No. 4. Bailouts were the only option: There were many other options, but they would have been very painful and required considerable foresight. I believed then (and still believe) that the best course of action would have been prepackaged bankruptcies for all the insolvent institutions instead of bailouts. I would have had the federal government provide debtor-in-possession financing, allowed qualified private institutional investors to bid on the assets thereby letting markets set the valuations, with the government picking up the rest. It would have been more difficult in the short term, but the economy would have rebounded much sooner.
No. 5. Taxpayers were repaid in full and even made a profit: There are two major issues with this claim: The first is that the Troubled Asset Relief Program and most other loans and bailouts were all (or almost all) repaid. But to make that happen, the federal government in a move questioned by tax experts allowed failed American International Group to carry forward the net operating losses for use to offset future earnings; this was a stealth bailout worth tens of billions of dollars that didn’t appear to “cost” anything. Meanwhile the Federal Reserve kept rates at zero for almost a decade. This resulted in a huge transfer from savers to bailed-out lenders.
The federal government also took a huge amount of risk during a period when financial markets tripled. And that is before we account for all of the collateral losses and moral hazards we created.
No. 6. No one went to jail because stupidity isn’t a crime: This one is laugher, from the behavior of the executives at Lehman Brothers to all of the foreclosure fraud that took place. Jesse Eisinger, author of “The Chickenshit Club: Why the Justice Department Fails to Prosecute Executives,” explained how the white-collar defense bar successfully lobbied and undercut the Department of Justice during the years before the crisis. You can’t convict a criminal if you don’t have the personnel, intellectual firepower or stomach to prosecute in the first place.
No. 7. Borrowers were as blameworthy as lenders: First, we know that for huge swaths of the banking industry, the basis for lending changed in the run-up to the crisis. For most of financial history, credit was granted based on the borrower’s ability to repay. In the years before the crisis, the incentive to lend shifted: It was based not on the likelihood of repayment but on whether a loan could be sold to someone else, often a securities firm, which would repackage the loan with other loans to create a mortgage-backed security. Selling 30-year mortgages with a 90-day warranty changes the calculus for who qualifies: just find a warm body that will make the first three payments; after that it’s someone else’s problem.
Second, we know that if you offer people free money, they will take it. This is among the reasons we have banking regulations in the first place. We expect the banking professionals to understand risk better than the unwashed masses.
No. 8. Poor people caused the crisis: This is another intellectually dishonest claim. If any US legislation such as the Community Reinvestment Act was the actual cause of the crisis, then the boom and bust wouldn’t have been global. Second, if poor people and these policies were the cause, then the crisis would have been centered in South Philadelphia; Harlem, New York; Oakland, California; and Atlanta instead of the burgeoning suburbs of Las Vegas, Southern California, Florida and Arizona. The folks making this argument seem to have questionable motivations.
No. 9. The Fed made a mistake by stepping in when Congress refused: Congress is the governmental entity that should have done more in response to the crisis. But it didn’t, and all of those members who opposed efforts to repair the economy and financial system should have been thrown out of office. The Fed gave cover to Congress, creating congressional moral hazard and allowing it to shirk its responsibilities. We don’t know how the world would have looked if that hadn’t happened, but I imagine it would be significantly different than it does today — and not necessarily better.
No. 10. Lehman could have been saved: This is perhaps the most delusional of all the claims. Lehman was insolvent. We know this from an accounting sleight-of-hand it performed called Repo 105, in which it which “sold” $50 billion in holdings to an entity it owned, booked a profit just before quarterly earnings, then repurchased the holdings. The sleuthing done by hedge-fund manager David Einhorn reached the same conclusion about Lehman’s solvency long before the collapse; the Fed itself also made clear that it couldn’t take on Lehman’s losses.
When people stubbornly refuse to acknowledge facts, when they insist on staying married to their own faulty belief system, it becomes very challenging to respond with sound policies. As a society, the sooner we reckon with reality, the sooner we can begin to avoid disasters like the financial crisis.

Analysis/Downing of Russian Jet: Israel Fears Putin Will Clip Its Wings in Syria

Amos Harel/Haaretz/September 22/18
Asked whether shooting down the Russian aircraft would affect the Israeli air force’s freedom of action over Syria, Defense Minister Lieberman performed more evasion maneuvers than the Russian Ilyushin pilots did Monday night. The Russian plane downing incident is not yet settled between Moscow and Jerusalem, despite President Vladimir Putin’s relatively forgiving statement and despite Israel’s sending its air force commander to Russia on Thursday morning. Russia has been sending mixed messages since the incident and, as usual, there is a gap between the Russian statements and actions. It takes a great deal of optimism to believe that Russia’s announcement Wednesday that its closing the airspace west of Syria’s coast for a week, due to a drill, is a mere coincidence. Asked Thursday morning whether shooting down the Russian aircraft would affect the Israeli air force’s freedom of action over Syria, Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman performed more evasion maneuvers than the Russian Ilyushin pilots did on Monday night. Lieberman, who was interviewed on Army Radio’s program “Dekel-Segal," failed to provide a real response. No doubt the party mainly responsible for the incident is Syria, whose air defense operated “unprofessionally and irresponsibly,” as Lieberman described it. But Moscow does not appear inclined to forgive – and will likely try to extract practical advantages from Israel’s embarrassment. Israel is convinced it has good explanations for what happened. The air force’s inquiry showed that the Syrians launched massive anti-aircraft fire when the Israeli planes were already back in Israel’s sky. The warning to the Russians, Israel says, was given in keeping with the time frame agreed upon between the two states since they set up the mechanism to prevent friction between Israeli and Russian aircraft in September 2015. The Russian plane was shot down mainly because of a communication failure – between Israel and Russia, between the Russian aerial control system or between the Syrians and their Russian patrons. Israel denies the first possibility – and this is probably what the air force chief Maj. Gen. Amikam Norkin told his hosts. Moscow must direct its complaints toward the Syrians. If there’s truth in the reports that arrests were carried out in Syria’s aerial defense ranks, it appears Russia has been doing that as well. Intelligence Minister Yisrael Katz said on Thursday that Putin refused to answer a call from Syrian President Bashar Assad right after the incident. Israel hopes the Russians will make do with closing the aerial space for a week, and not impose further restrictions – such as banning Israel from flying near their bases in the north of Syria, in a way that could limit the Israeli presence in Syria’s air space to Damascus and south of it. According to foreign media, some of the Israeli air strikes were carried out from a great distance outside Syria’s territory. However, such a Russian restriction could spur the Iranians, the Assad regime and Hezbollah to establish an attack-safe space in the north of Syria. In the long run, it could also enable Iran to continue to strengthen its military hold in this region and expand the weapon smuggling operations to Lebanon.
Lieberman told the Army Radio that the talks he and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had with senior Russian officials, in addition to sending Norkin to Moscow, are not to be taken for granted and attest to the good relations between the two countries. It also shows that Israel feels uncomfortable with the incident and its results, even if it caused them only indirectly.
Israel has become used to acting on its northern front almost uninterruptedly in recent years. After its F-16 was shot down by Syrian anti-aircraft fire in February Israel drew the operative conclusions, but continued its attacks, despite the increasing fire against its planes.
Perhaps the week’s events mark the beginning of a broader process, in which Russia will endeavor to limit Israel’s freedom of action. The picture of the campaign in Syria has altered after Assad’s victory in the civil war, and perhaps Israel too will have to adjust its military activity there to a certain extent.

Cybersecurity needs top priority but is the threat often exaggerated?
Ehtesham Shahid/Special to Al Arabiya English/September 22/18
All things cyber need security in today’s day and age. But is everything thrown at us in the name of cyber security genuine? Are individuals, organizations and even governments compelled to purchase stuff to cyber-secure based on threats that either don’t exist or are exaggerated?
Not many would say this on record but there exists an impression that some part of this is done with the intention of making money. Others say warnings may be legitimate but the extent of danger is overstated.
Just as threat perceptions differ based on intensity and target, so do response to them, depending on where they emanate from and the damage they threaten to cause.
Early last year, Dr Ian Levy, Director at UK intelligence agency GCHQ, accused cyber security firms of using an exaggerated fear of hacking, especially state-sponsored threats, to sell products. “We are allowing massively incentivized companies to define the public perception of the problem,” Dr. Levy is quoted to have said.
Matter of perception
Even if non-experts or alarmists exaggerate threats, there is still a consensus that cyber security is becoming a challenge and exaggeration is a matter of perception. But there are also those who suggest that cyber threat has too often been misrepresented.
“Although the motivation for cyber-attacks has only been associated with criminal behavior, espionage, and even terrorism, current (US) administrations and the media would have the country believe that cyber war is upon us,” says American Intelligence Journal’s paper, aptly titled Cyber Threat: A Misrepresentation of the True Cyber Threat.
The article seeks to demonstrate that cyber war is a misnomer. “To date there has been an inability to acquire any substantial, irrefutable evidence of cyber warfare, only speculations based on historical information, rumors, propaganda, and misinterpretation or misrepresentation of facts,” it says.
According to the paper, misrepresentation of cyber threat can lead to loss of support, which, in turn, “would stymie the development and implementation of activities to prevent, mitigate, and raise awareness about the cyber threat”.
Growing problem
There is no denying though that the challenge of securing cyber space is significant and can affect organizations, states and individuals. Cyberattacks can cause havoc in telecommunications, banking, social media, medicine, and energy sectors, besides several others.
Peter W. Singer, Strategist and Senior Fellow at The New America Foundation, believes cyberattack is a real and growing problem. According to him, with last year seeing a near doubling in the number of reported cyber incidents to 159,700, they are also growing in scale.
“Mega breaches are ones that involve more than 10 million files. In 2012, there was just 1 mega-breach. Now they are happening almost every other week”, Singer told Al Arabiya English, adding that like every problem, ignorance breeds fear.
“So the best thing that one can do to become less fearful of the threats is to understand them, which also means one won’t be taken in by false threats,” he emphasizes. According to him, retail and health have seen major issues recently, but all sectors are touched by threats, from banking to energy to defense.
A video monitor shows the threat level to the nation’s infrastructure in the Department of Homeland Security’s National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center in Arlington on Aug. 22, 2018. (AP)
‘Weaponization of social media’
But are companies ready to spend more, driven by fear of being less secure? “I fear two changes mean less security. One is the emergence of the Internet of Things (IoT), which means not just files stolen, but “things” like cars or toys or buildings etc. hacked and physical damage cause,” says Peter W. Singer.
To him, the second change is the growing “weaponization of social media”, where the hack is not of the system, but the people and ideas on the system. “We see it everywhere from rise of ISIS to Syrian Civil War to Israel vs Hamas to Trump and Russia. This is what I call “LikeWar”, he says.
Eric Hoh, President of Asia Pacific at FireEye, stresses the need for greater investment into cyber security, citing the case of Singapore personal data hack that hit 1.5 million last month.
“Many businesses and governments in Southeast Asia face cyber threats, but few recognize the scale of the risks they pose. Singapore ranks among the leaders in cyber security, and we would like to see more governments follow their lead in disclosing breaches,” says Hoh.
According to him, a cyber espionage threat actor could leverage disclosure of sensitive health information, or financial health related vulnerabilities to coerce an individual in position of interest to conduct espionage.
While that doesn’t sound like an exaggeration, it is also true that there are no quick fixes to the cyber security challenge, and breaches are inevitable. Till that happens, “it’s important that business and governments work together to improve our collective security so that when breaches do occur, we can minimize the consequences,” says Hoh.
Varying responses
Pawel Fleischer, Warsaw-based Project Officer for Security and Defense Domain, admits there are cases, e.g. at inter-state level, where cyber threats are exaggerated. However, like sectors, countries too differ in terms of their approach when it comes to tackling cyber threats.
“It should be remembered that the state uses similar ICT technology (especially in the case of American-Chinese competition). So far, there has been no Copernican revolution introducing the technology, to a large extent minimizing the risk of attack,” says Fleischer. According to Fleischer, it is also a case of who has the wherewithal to tackle this challenge.
“In the United States, for instance, great emphasis is placed on building one’s own cyber defense capabilities in the defense sector. Only large companies, such as Google, Amazon or specialized consulting companies with a long tradition are allowed to implement joint projects with government administration,” he says.
End of the day, each sector is vulnerable to cyberattacks, depending on the intention of the attacker. Fleischer believes both governments and cyber security institutions are trying to implement new legal and procedural solutions to better safeguard against attacks.
Cost of cybercrime
Salman Waris, Partner- TMT Practice, TechLegis Advocates & Solicitors, cites industry estimates to suggest that the cost of cybercrime to the global business vary between $600-800 billion.
Hence, according to him, it can be said that cyber security is a real issue in post-modern world. This is supported by a recent research of the European Commission, which indicated that 80 percent of organization in Europe experienced a cyberattack in 2017.
“However, there may be a certain exaggeration of the threat as the estimates of the cost of show significant variation, which reflects the absence of data and differing methodologies,” he says.
Waris says cybercrime remains a growth industry and it would be correct to say we are heading toward a phase of greater cyber insecurity, especially so as more business activities move online and as more consumers around the world connect to the Internet.
“As more autonomous devices are connected the opportunities for cybercrime will grow,” Waris sums it up.

Is a divided Syria a possibility?
Abdulrahman al-Rashed/Asharq Al Awsat/September 22/18
Despite their different political positions regarding Syria, the US, Iran, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Iraq and Israel almost all agree on preserving the geographical unity of the Syrian state. Dividing Syria would adversely affect not only the regime but the whole region, and goes against international agreements. On the other hand, even if these countries agreed on the unity of Syrian lands, they would still disagree on Syria’s system of government, whether presidential, parliamentary or federal, and may also disagree on the drafted constitution, including the issues of the president’s powers and the rights of ethnic groups among others. There have been many disappointments with Damascus, even after the opposition’s concessions and its declared acceptance of the current Syrian regime in exchange for its recognition of the basic rights of individuals and groups at odds with the regime, in addition to the exit of Iran and its militias. However, none of these expectations was realized, and it seems impossible that Damascus will realize them, either because it cannot do so or because it does not wish to do so. Facing this impasse, it will be hard to preserve the unity of Syria as we know it, or rather as we did in the past. The territories west of the Euphrates are a conflict zone, where Americans and Kurds maintain a strong military presence. The Iraqis want to control the areas bordering their provinces, like Anbar. Israel has drawn a buffer zone and placed it under its aerial control, banning Iranian troops and its militias from deploying there. And, finally, the Turks have a great influence in Idlib province, and maintain a present in Afrin and other areas (in Aleppo province) that have come under their influence since Operation Olive Branch in early 2018. Had the war decisively ended and only one side won, like the Syrian regime, it would have been normal - as in all wars - for everyone to submit to Damascus’ will. But the war is being ended with the support of several powers, and for different reasons.
The US aim is to eradicate ISIS and similar terrorist organizations, Turkey wants to prevent Kurdish separatists from establishing a state of their own in Syria or seizing areas of influence there, and the Israelis are fighting both ISIS and the Iranians.
Will the Syrian regime agree to evict the Iranians and their militias, primarily Hezbollah? Will the Syrian regime stop threatening Lebanon and interfering in its tenuous national balance?
An unchanged regime
Damascus has not yet shown its ability or desire to change. Indeed many still see it as the same regime that existed before 2011. Moreover, it neither seems to want to break its alliance with Iran despite all the promises and expectations, nor looks interested in changing its domestic policy.
At this juncture, we will probably witness a replay of what happened in Iran after the war of 1990-1991. Back then, in order to preserve the balance of regional powers, the American government decided to keep its troops in Iraq’s Kurdistan Region; and this was the main factor that prevented Baghdad from threatening regional stability. Will the Syrian regime agree to evict the Iranians and their militias, primarily Hezbollah? Will the Syrian regime stop threatening Lebanon and interfering in its tenuous national balance? Will the Syrian regime renounce its support of its old friends, like Hamas and Islamic Jihad? Will it abstain from ruining peace plans in Palestine like it used to do in the past? The answers will depend on the regime’s situation in the near future. Currently, it looks as if it is being rehabilitated after it was about to lose its battle for survival; and as a price for its return to the international community, the powers concerned expect different behavior from Damascus, noting that the regime’s promises on their own will not be enough.

The UAE’s message on Yemen
Abdullah bin Bijad Al-Otaibi/Asharq Al Awsat/September 22/18
The UAE’s recent message to the Security Council about Yemen confirms the established principles of the coalition in support of legitimacy in Yemen and which is led by Saudi Arabia. It also supports efforts of the UN envoy there in accordance with UN resolutions, the Gulf initiative and the outcomes of the national dialogue. Some UN bodies lack the knowledge and awareness about the regional and political conditions that control some of the crises in the region. Some of these bodies’ officials seek personal glory and have no problem that the crisis is ongoing to an unacceptably long duration.
A clear perspective
The Yemeni crisis is one of these crises where without a clear stance regarding the Houthi crimes and without considering the Houthis as a terrorist force that has hijacked the state, the political process would remain in disarray for a prolonged period without there being any real political solution. The UAE’s message stressed that military solutions are the last resort. However, liberating Hodeida is a necessity so that the Houthis accept a political solution and return to negotiations. I believe that this is necessary on all fronts, especially as the coalition is fully supported by the US administration which two of its prominent figures — Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and Secretary of Defense James N. Mattis — said that the coalition led by Saudi Arabia and the UAE is extremely keen on not subjecting civilians to any harm and is operating based on the highest global standards in this regard.
The Houthis’ abstention from any political negotiations and talks is clear evidence that they prefer that the situation stays as it is without changing it or improving it. The Houthis’ abstention from any political negotiations and talks is clear evidence that they prefer that the situation stays as it is without changing it or improving it. This is an Iranian-Brotherhood request that’s supported by Qatar and that is preferred by UN institutions. On the other hand, the Yemeni state, army and resistance and the Arab Coalition want a real solution that rids the Yemeni people from the Houthi militia and the terrorist militias as well, both are important missions for the Yemeni people, the state and other countries.
Popular support
The US administration has made it clear that it supports the Yemeni state and the Arab Coalition. The Arab Coalition supports the Yemeni state in finding an effective solution for Yemen and in supporting what must be militarily done as a last resort to eliminate this Iranian militia and restore the state and the capital Sanaa from these militias’ violent ideological claws. The Yemeni people know what the Coalition in support of legitimacy represents as a supporting friend and savior in these bleak circumstances they’re going through. People also greatly appreciate the historical role played by the Coalition at the political, economic and humanitarian levels and welcome the military victories that is leading towards freedom and demand more of these victories. It is the Saudi-UAE alliance that is leading the interests of the Arab world and confronting the Iranian threat in the region and the world. It is also the one that saved a number of Arab countries after the fundamentalist and extremist Muslim Brotherhood spring that’s known as the ‘Arab Spring’. It strengthened the old international alliances with major powers in the world, while working everywhere to achieve major goals. This alliance has been victorious and time has proven its effectiveness.
Paving way for political process
The UAE’s message to the Security Council conveyed a clear stance that sums up the position of the Coalition and is consistent with the vision and goal upon which the UAE became part of the coalition. “To that end, carefully calibrated and with a clear purpose toward restarting the political process, Yemeni Government forces backed by the Coalition have now intensified military operations against the Houthis in the Hodeida area and on other fronts,” the letter read. Finally, there is much room for work in Yemen especially in the next two months as all internal and international circumstances are present to finalize plenty of what is required to rescue Yemen from the Houthi militia and to finalize the preparations for reaching the desired solution.

15 years after Saddam’s ouster, the tragedy continues

Adnan Hussein/Asharq Al Awsat/September 22/18
Many people wonder why, even after 15 years of Saddam Hussein's ouster, Iraq has not succeeded in being a stable country whose people enjoy the wealth of its natural resources, just like similar oil-producing countries. Here is an attempt to understand the issue.
The mirage of hope
At the time of the collapse of the biggest statue of Saddam Hussein in Baghdad’s central Paradise Square on April 9, 2003, many Iraqis, those living in the country as well as those who had fled it to escape repression, wars and poor living conditions, thought that Iraq's run of bad luck would turn into good fortune.
Even after US troops which destroyed the statue destroyed the state structures, the Iraqis hoped that Saddam's opponents returning from abroad would be able to rebuild the country at record speed, thinking that many of those who would run the country were highly qualified and experienced, especially those who had lived, learned and worked in European countries and the United States.
However, it wasn’t long before the Iraqis discovered that they had built castles in the air. Iraq had just come out of a dark tunnel but there was no light at the end of this tunnel, and the country once again entered a bleak phase.
Violence, terrorism and sectarian civil wars became the only features of the new stage. As years passed, administrative and financial corruption hogged the daily headlines. And now 15 years later, it turned out that nearly half of Iraq's estimated $1 billion in oil revenues have been siphoned off to a majority of high-ranking state personnel and their partners who facilitated the looting, laundering and smuggling of the country’s fortunes abroad.
Post-Saddam, the new political class came to power without much administrative experience
These high-ranking officials (ministers, ministry deputies, general directors, governors and even deputies in the federal parliament, the Kurdistan Regional Parliament and the provincial councils) were mostly members and supporters of the many Shiite and Sunni political parties, which dominate the political process. They were appointed to these posts according to an unconstitutional system which is based on a sectarian and partisan quota system. These posts and positions were distributed on parties which in turn handed them over to loyalists, relatives and affiliates, without taking into account the standards of competence, experience, integrity and nationalism. The result was that they miserably failed in the administration of the state, provoking popular discontent caused by the collapse of the public service system and the deterioration of living conditions leading to high levels of unemployment and poverty despite abundant oil revenues.
Politicians by chance
The media and the popular discourse started bandying the expression “politicians by chance” to describe those who took over the administration of the state in the post Saddam Hussein era. It is an expression that is not far from truth since the new political class with its overwhelming majority came to power without much administrative experience. Their experience has been limited to secretive partisan activities mostly outside of Iraq. If we name members of the Governing Council which ran the country in the first year after the overthrow of Saddam's regime, we will find that only three members out of 25 had any administrative experience. The three members were former diplomat, former foreign minister and the representative of Iraq at the United Nations for several years Adnan Pachachi and then there were Ahmad Chalabi and Iyad Allawi, who were the heads of private financial and technological companies (Allawi also worked as a consultant for UNICEF). But these three men have not been able to play effective roles in the new regime compared to other, “the politicians by chance” who got out of their secret cellars.
Sidelining the competent
Pachachi was a strong candidate to be the first president of the republic in the new era, but Shiite and Sunni parties strongly opposed this because he was a liberal secularist.
Allawi was entrusted with the first interim government, which only lasted one year. Its task was to prepare the country for the election of a national constituent assembly that would write the new constitution. This is indeed what happened, but they did not renew his term. The quota system was put into effect; as such the prime minister should be a Shiite.
Allawi was Shiite, but his party, the National Accord, was secular so they set him aside. They later worked to prevent him from presiding over the government even when his bloc
Iraqiya came first in the 2010 elections with 91 seats in parliament. He should have been entrusted with the formation of the government since he is the winner of the elections, but his rival Nuri al-Maliki, the head of the State of Law Coalition, was against the idea of commissioning Allawi and formed a Shiite alliance after the end of the elections. He went to the Federal Court to issue a ruling that the term the “largest bloc”found in the Constitution does not necessarily mean the winning bloc in the elections, but the one which is formed in Parliament after the elections!
Chalabi, who is considered the godfather of the operation of “liberating Iraq” from the Saddam regime, did not have better luck. He was deputy prime minister for a year, and none of the Shiite or Sunni parties wanted him to play a much important role because it would come at the expense of the roles planned for the “politicians by chance”. As a result of the “politicians by chance” governing the country, bloody and devastating sectarian and terrorist violence swept the country. Iraq’s social and economic life was undermined by administrative and financial corruption. ISIS occupied a third of the country, causing a disaster which healing from its repercussions will require decades. The great disaster is that the “politicians by chance” are still strongly clinging on to their failed and destructive experience. What has happened in the May 12 elections right up to the recent sessions of the new parliament show that they are clinging to the quota system with tooth and nail, which in effect points to a bigger tragedy.