Detailed Lebanese & Lebanese Related LCCC English New Bulletin For September 25/2018
Compiled & Prepared by: Elias Bejjani

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Bible Quotations
If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not withhold his own Son, but gave him up for all of us, will he not with him also give us everything else?
Letter to the Romans 08/28-39: ""We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn within a large family. And those whom he predestined he also called; and those whom he called he also justified; and those whom he justified he also glorified. What then are we to say about these things? If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not withhold his own Son, but gave him up for all of us, will he not with him also give us everything else? Who will bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? It is Christ Jesus, who died, yes, who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who indeed intercedes for us. Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will hardship, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, ‘For your sake we are being killed all day long; we are accounted as sheep to be slaughtered.’ No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord."

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 24-25/18
Aoun to Le Figaro: Lebanon holds onto dissociation policy from regional conflicts/NNA/September 24/18
The Special Tribunal for Lebanon: Playing It Safe Has Achieved Nothing/Michael Young/The National/September 24/18
What Nasrallah's Latest Speech Reveals about Hezbollah's Balancing Act in Syria/Richard Hall/The National/September 24/18
Rafiq Hariri is everywhere and everyone’s concern/Radwan al-Sayed/Al Arabiya/September 24/18
Why offend Kuwait now/Nadim Koteich/Al Arabiya/September 24/18
After Downing of Spy Plane, Russia to Supply Assad Regime With S-300 Air Defense System/Haaretz/Jack Khoury and Reuters Sep 24, 2018
Analysis/Russia's Claims on Downed Plane Over Syria Are Dubious, but Will Usher in New Reality for Israel/Amos Harel/Haaretz/September 24/18
A Month of Multiculturalism in Britain: August 2018/Soeren Kern/Gatestone Institute/September 24/18
The Iranian 'Surgeon' Is Also Ill
Ghassan Charbel//Asharq Al-Awsat/September 24/18
Turkey set to sink deeper into the Syrian imbroglio/Yasar Yakis/Arab News/September 24/18
Who killed the Revolutionary Guards in Ahwaz/Mashari Althaydi/Al Arabiya/September 24/18
High time Iran’s terror activities in Europe are stopped/Hossein Abedini/Al Arabiya/September 24/18
ISIS Is Poised to Make a Comeback in Syria/Hassan Hassan/ The Atlantic/September 24/18
Why foreign nationals should beware of traveling to Iran/Dr. Majid Rafizadeh/Arab News/September 24/18

Titles For The Latest LCCC Lebanese Related News published on September 24-25/18
Lebanon: Merkel’s Offer Renews Dispute Between Amal, FPM
Aoun to Le Figaro: Lebanon holds onto dissociation policy from regional conflicts
Aoun: No Shot to be Fired from Lebanon if No Israeli Aggression
Aoun from NY: Let the World Hear Lebanon’s List of Priorities
Parliament Discusses Pending Draft Laws as Govt Delay Persists
Kataeb leader Samy Gemayel Calls for Government of Specialists if 'Shares Partitioning' Fails
Bassil Says 'Lira Rumors' Aimed at Influencing Govt. Shape
FPM, PSP Hold 'Very Positive Meeting' after War of Words
The Special Tribunal for Lebanon: Playing It Safe Has Achieved Nothing
What Nasrallah's Latest Speech Reveals about Hezbollah's Balancing Act in Syria
Rafiq Hariri is everywhere and everyone’s concern
Why offend Kuwait now

Titles For The Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on September 24-25/18
After Downing of Spy Plane, Russia to Supply Assad Regime With S-300 Air Defense System
US troops to stay in Syria as long as Iran forces operate on foreign soil - Bolton
Iran warns US, Israel after parade attack, arrests ‘large network of suspects’
Lieberman: Israel Won't Change Policy in Syria Despite Russian Plane Downing
Russia Accuses Israel of 'Criminal Negligence'
Turkey’s Erdogan vows to impose secure zones east of Euphrates in Syria
Iraq: Kurdish House Scrap Over Presidential Post
Israel Shocked by Russia’s Blame for Downing of Plane by Syrian Forces
Putin Tells Netanyahu He Rejects Israeli Version of Syria Plane Downing
France Warns of Risk of 'Perpetual War' if No Syria Deal
White House Insists Not Seeking Iran Regime Change
US, UAE Reject Iran’s Accusations
Saudi Crown Prince: We Will Not Allow Any Attack on Our Sovereignty
Israel Orders Khan Al-Ahmar Residents to Voluntarily Demolish Their Houses
Muslim Brotherhood chief, 65 others get life for Egypt attack

The Latest LCCC Lebanese Related News published on September 24-25/18
Lebanon: Merkel’s Offer Renews Dispute Between Amal, FPM
Beirut - Caroline Akoum, Youssef Diab/Asharq Al-Awsat/Monday, 24 September, 2018/Tension renewed Sunday between the Amal Movement and the Free Patriotic Movement after an audio recording revealed that Lebanon’s government had rejected last month’s offer of German Chancellor Angela Merkel to enable the country power supply with the help of the German company Siemens, and instead have decided to stay attached to the Turkish power ships as a solution to the electricity crisis. In the leaked audio recording, MP Yassine Jaber from the Amal Movement parliamentary bloc, explained that Lebanon’s government rejected Merkel’s offer, which allows the German Siemens company build plants for the production of electricity for a very low price and in a period not exceeding 18 months. Prior to the audio recording, reports emerged saying Merkel was upset from the way she was treated in the Lebanese capital.
“This presidential tenure will destroy Lebanon,” Yassir was heard saying in the audio recording, later spread on social networking websites. He said the president and the energy minister are pressing to get $500 million on top of the $1.5 billion to provide electricity for a number of hours until the end of 2018. Caretaker Energy Minister Cesar Abi Khalil responded on Sunday to Jaber's accusations and said the Siemens company “did not take part in any tendering process.” Progressive Socialist Party leader Walid Jumblatt wrote in a tweet that he supported Jaber's statements. “His voice exposes the farce of the Turkish (power) ships, which are one of the main reasons behind the deficit and the public debt,” Jumblatt said. Meanwhile, former MP Boutros Harb told Asharq Al-Awsat that the political crisis in Lebanon was not limited to disputes over the distribution of ministerial shares. “It is more linked to the upcoming presidential race,” he explained.

Aoun to Le Figaro: Lebanon holds onto dissociation policy from regional conflicts
NNA/September 24/18
President Michel Aoun reiterated that Lebanon hold onto the dissociation policy from regional conflicts, especially in Syria, renewing rejection of interfering in another country's domestic affairs. "Lebanon refuses to meddle in the internal affairs of any country; we hold onto the dissociation policy pertaining to the conflicts jolting the region, especially in Syria," Aoun said. "Our embassy in Syria and the Syrian embassy in Lebanon are still open," he stressed. The President made these remarks during an interview with Le Figaro magazine, published in today's issue. Maintaining that he had worked on restoring the state authority, Aoun indicated that his accomplishments included the reorganization of the army and the military operation against terrorist groups in the Anti-Lebanon region. "The country was rescued from the terrorists of Daesh and al-Nusra Front who had sneaked into Lebanon from Syria," he said."Security had been restored," he added.
On the fight of corruption, he stressed that the battle was still underway, vowing not to allow any violation in that respect. "The judiciary will have the final word." Moreover, Aoun said that the real change was embodied by the endorsement of a new election law instead of that adopted since 1926. "We adopted the proportional vote mode which allows a better representation of the Lebanese people," he explained. In response to a question about Hezbollah's "possession of veto right" on the strategic decisions, Aoun answered: "No. In Lebanon, the system is consensual; expressing an opinion does not mean the practice of veto." "The international pressures against Hezbollah are not new, and they are increasing. Some sides are seeking to square political accounts with Hezbollah after they failed to do so militarily, since it defeated Israel in 1993, then in 1996, and particularly in 2006," he explained. "Hezbollah's popular base constitutes more than the third of the Lebanese people," he underlined. "Unfortunately, some foreign public opinion is determined to make Hezbollah an enemy," he added.
Asked whether the south of Lebanon could be used in the confrontation between Iran and Israel, Aoun said: "No." "If there is no Israeli attack on Lebanon, then not a single gunshot will be fired from the Lebanese soil. But in the event of any attack on Lebanon, then we have the right to self-defense," he added.
In response to a question about the possibility of integrating Hezbollah fighters within the army, Aoun said that this suggestion might be a solution. He added: "But, for the time being, some are condemning its intervention in the war against Daesh and al-Nusra in Syria. Yet the truth is that the terrorists were attacking our lands, and Hezbollah was defending the lands.""This party does not play any military role on the Lebanese internal scene and it is not conducting any action along the borders with Israel," he continued. "Hezbollah's situation has become related to the Middle East question and to solving the conflict in Syria," he added. Asked about what Lebanon awaits from Europe and France, the President said that Lebanon sought their support as to the progressive and safe return of displaced Syrians to the safe zones in Syria, as well as the increase of their contributions to UNRWA, and their contribution to the investment projects pledged during CEDRE. "We share together the same course, history, values, and future," he concluded.
Aoun: No Shot to be Fired from Lebanon if No Israeli Aggression
Naharnet/September 24/18/President Michel Aoun has stressed that “not a single bullet” will be fired from Lebanon if Israel does not attack first. “We have adopted the policy of dissociating ourselves from the conflicts in the region, especially in Syria, and if Lebanon does not come under any Israeli aggression, not a single bullet will be fired from its territory,” Aoun, who is in New York for the annual U.N. General Assembly meetings, told France's Le Figaro newspaper.
Warning that Israel is seeking to “fragment the region into sectarian parts and minority alliances,” the president emphasized that such formats “contradict with the nature of our system” and “are doomed to fail.”“In Lebanon, the system is based on consensus and having a say does not mean that a veto is being used and some foreign public opinion is insisting on turning Hizbullah into an enemy,” Aoun added. Separately, the president called on France and Europe to “back a gradual and safe repatriation of Syrian refugees and to contribute to UNRWA and the CEDRE projects.”
“One of each three residents in Lebanon is either displaced or a refugee, and naturalizing them in Lebanon would alter our demographic character in an irreversible manner,” Aoun warned.
“Everyone knows my history and only Lebanon's interest dictates my work,” the president said.

Aoun from NY: Let the World Hear Lebanon’s List of Priorities
Naharnet/September 24/18/President Michel Aoun said on Monday that he is in New York to make the whole world hear the list of priorities for Lebanon. “Let the whole world hear Lebanon’s positions regarding issues of priority,” said Aoun in a statement upon his arrival in NY where he will be taking part in the annual meetings of the U.N. General Assembly. He added: “The current conditions in Lebanon and neighboring countries make Lebanese participation in the meetings of the General Assembly a necessity dictated by the accuracy of the stage.”Aoun and First Lady Nadia Aoun, arrived at John F. Kennedy Airport in New York. at around midnight. Aoun expressed his hope that his participation in the U.N. General Assembly would allow him to convey Lebanon's positions, on regional and international developments, to the leaders of the world who meet in New York.

Parliament Discusses Pending Draft Laws as Govt Delay Persists
Naharnet/September 24/18/Lebanon’s parliament convened on Monday to discuss several draft laws on its agenda as the formation of the country’s government stalls. VDL (93.3) said at the beginning of the session, Speaker Nabih Berri noted that based on “Article 69, the Parliament legislation is legal, it gives us that right,” he said in reference to the parliament meeting in the absence of a government. It added that MPs have generally stressed the need for the formation of a new Cabinet, noting the country’s “difficult economic and living conditions.”MP Anwar al-Khalil sounded the alarm noting the repercussions at the “monetary level” shall the Cabinet formation delay persist. The controversial issue of establishing waste incinerators was discussed. MP Paula Yacoubian, who strongly rejects it, said the draft law must not be approved. Before joining the parliament session, Yacoubian was among a group of protesters, the Waste Management Coalition, who rallied outside the parliament rejecting the draft. “It must be returned to the joint parliamentary committees and studied well,” she said. Attending the session, PM-designate Saad Hariri said: “I have asked the municipalities for alternative solutions. But the lack of any, and in the absence of any initiative the suggestion to establish incinerators, which i am against, was proposed.”

Parliament OKs Waste Law as Protesters, 2 MPs Warn of Incinerators
Naharnet/September 24/18/The parliament on Monday approved a controversial waste management law amid an outcry from civil society groups and the two lawmakers Paula Yacoubian and Osama Saad. “In its legislative session held under the chairmanship of Speaker Nabih Berri, the parliament approved today the draft law included in the decree 8003 that is related to the integrated management of solid waste,” the National News Agency reported. A group of protesters rejecting the draft law had earlier staged a sit-in outside parliament that coincided with the legislative session. Campaigners from the Waste Management Coalition demanded that lawmakers “return and amend” the draft law, citing “public safety.”MP Osama Saad, who took part in the sit-in, said: “The file of waste management in Lebanon is controlled by politics and mafias. It has dangerous repercussions on the health of Lebanese. The crisis must be addressed differently.”MP Yacoubian for her part stated: “We reject legalizing incinerators through the parliament because cancerous diseases in Lebanon are spiking high. It is crucial that the draft law be rejected.”Lebanon's parliament had convened on Monday to study several draft laws including the one on waste management. An unprecedented waste-management crisis had erupted in July 2015 after the closure of the central Naameh landfill. It saw streets overflowing with waste and the air filled with the smell of rotting garbage in the capital Beirut and Mount Lebanon. The crisis sparked months of violent street protests against the entire political class, with protesters and environmentalists calling for eco-friendly solutions that do not involve incinerators and landfills.
Kataeb leader Samy Gemayel Calls for Government of Specialists if 'Shares Partitioning' Fails Monday 24th September 2018/Kataeb leader Samy Gemayel on Monday deemed the delay in the government formation as a crime, calling for a Cabinet that includes specialists if no agreement is reached over the partitioning of ministerial shares. Speaking at the Parliament session, Gemayel sounded the alarm over the economic situation in the country, saying that the state's revenues have declined during the first quarter of 2018 despite the new levies and tax hikes approved last year. The Kataeb lawmaker also pointed out that the Parliament has the right to legislate under a caretaker government as stipulated by the Constitution, noting, however, that the ratified draft laws will not go into effect. "They will all come into effect," Berri replied.
Bassil Says 'Lira Rumors' Aimed at Influencing Govt. Shape
Naharnet/September 24/18/Free Patriotic Movement chief and caretaker Foreign Minister Jebran Bassil has warned that “rumors” about the resilience of the Lebanese currency are aimed at influencing the structure of the new government. “We as Lebanese have to choose between officials who want to work and officials who want to lie,” said Bassil at a meeting with the Lebanese community in Boston, on the eve of his participation in the works of the U.N. General Assembly in New York as part of the Lebanese delegation that is led by President Michel Aoun.
“Our conflict in Lebanon is between the past and the future,” Bassil added, noting that “we must only pick the good parts of the past.”“Whenever you hear them lying, be confident that someone will confront them. A lot of things will be achieved... and the presidential term -- which they do not want to succeed -- has succeeded and will continue to succeed,” the FPM chief emphasized. He added: “They are likening us to themselves but we are not like them. Unfortunately, Lebanon is living an atmosphere of rumors and this is frustrating the people. Instead of moving from a truth to another they are transferring us from one lie into another, as if for example power cuts would only affect a certain group.”And lamenting that “their entire concern is focused on making the presidential term a failure,” Bassil stressed that “what has been achieved over the past two years -- such as liberating Lebanon from terrorism and the electoral law -- is sufficient to consider the presidential term a success.”“Our economic situation is not only linked to the formation of the government. They are fabricating rumors about the lira and other issues in order to form the government that they want. We on the other hand consider the formation of the government a necessity, but the issue is not enough for the rise of the economy,” Bassil said. “We are the wounded and the martyrs of obstruction,” the FPM chief added, calling for the formation of a “functional government.”
FPM, PSP Hold 'Very Positive Meeting' after War of Words
Naharnet/September 24/18/Senior officials from the Free Patriotic Movement and the Progressive Socialist Party held a meeting Monday in the Mount Lebanon region and stressed “the importance of preserving civil peace,” a joint statement said. “The meeting's atmosphere was very positive and the conferees stressed the importance of preserving the civil peace climate which characterizes the Mt. Lebanon region in general,” the statement said. “The difference in opinion should remain purely political, away from polarization and tensions at the level of the two parties' bases and supporters,” it added. The two parties also agree to intensify their meetings and communication. The development follows a war of words between the leaders and officials of the two parties that spread to supporters on social networking websites. The FPM and the PSP have been trading jabs in recent months against the backdrop of the stalled Cabinet formation process, with PSP chief Walid Jumblat demanding all three Druze seats in the government for his party amid the rejection of the FPM and its leader MP Jebran Bassil. The confrontation escalated further after FPM-backed officials sacked the employee Nizar Hani from the Environment Ministry and the employee Raja al-Ali from Electricite Du Liban in response to caretaker Minister Marwan Hamadeh's firing of Hilda Khoury from the Education Ministry. Jumblat has also slammed President Michel Aoun's tenure as a failure and the “tenure of thugs” while describing Bassil as “the Jared Kushner of Lebanon,” drawing violent responses from FPM ministers and supporters.PSP supporters also launched anti-FPM hashtags on social media in support of their party.

The Special Tribunal for Lebanon: Playing It Safe Has Achieved Nothing
مايكل يانغ: مقاربة المحكمة الدولية الخاصة بلبنان بشكل آمن لم تحقق أية نتيجة
Michael Young/The National/September 24/18
Recently, the US national security adviser, John Bolton, denounced the International Criminal Court and threatened that if its judges probed war crimes by the United States, they would be liable to arrest and sanctions. To many people this was a broadside against international justice, serving to place Washington above the law.It would be easy to limit such base intentions to the United States. However, in September, halfway around the world, the Special Tribunal for Lebanon was entering its final proceedings. The message from that experience also showed to an extent that justice is not a priority of other states, or for that matter of international organisations.
The Special Tribunal was established by the United Nations to try those responsible for the assassination of the former Lebanese prime minister, Rafik Hariri, in 2005. It is an anomaly: a mixed Lebanese-international court that applies both Lebanon’s criminal code as well as laws relating to terrorism. Strictly speaking, it is not there to apply international law, but was set up under international auspices to stand above a Lebanese justice system that is vulnerable to political pressure.
In that sense, the Special Tribunal was partly the product of a specific era of politics that existed at the end of the 20th century, in which the view prevailed that international laws and norms of conduct could gain prominence in governing internal state and inter-state relations, regardless of sovereignty. If so, that ambition was blindsided by reality. From the very start, the Special Tribunal was marred by the shortcomings of the investigation into Hariri’s killing that served as the basis for its indictments.
The principal problem is that the second commissioner of the UN investigation − a Belgian judge named Serge Brammertz – did not advance significantly in his investigation between 2006 and 2008. This was a crucial moment in the investigation, as it then still had UN Security Council authority and the momentum to compel suspects to sit and offer testimony. Yet Mr Brammertz did almost nothing during that time, a fact confirmed by several people who worked with him.
Even the most sensitive aspect of the crime − analysis of the perpetrators’ communications − was left to the Lebanese. Working in 2006 and 2007, a Lebanese security officer named Wissam Eid uncovered a web of telephone calls between the conspirators. It was only near the end of his term, in October 2007, that Mr Brammertz decided to bring in a British data company that confirmed that Eid − who was himself assassinated in January 2008 − had laid bare the tangle of data that connected the closed circle of assassins.
Yet what price did Mr Brammertz pay for failing to advance the investigation? He was promoted to the post of prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. In certain judicial circles, the view was that he was a careerist who, in order to gain personal advancement, would deliberately avoid rocking the boat. It appears that when Mr Brammertz took the job in Beirut, he knew that the UN “did not want another trouble spot”. After all, those were the very words used by then UN secretary general Kofi Annan in 2005 to warn Mr Brammertz’s predecessor Detlev Mehlis.
That is not to say that Annan sought a cover-up, but Mr Brammertz likely understood that slowing the investigation to a snail’s pace would neutralise it, and that the mood at the UN was such that no one would protest. Indeed, when Hezbollah became a suspect in the crime, there was even further motivation to proceed carefully, for fear it may provoke a conflict between Lebanese Sunnis and Shia.
The ensuing legal process suffered because of Mr Brammertz’s lack of effort. When the Special Tribunal finally issued an indictment in 2011, it relied on the telecommunications analysis initially carried out by Eid. None of the four men indicted were ever arrested. Nor did prosecutors have detailed witness testimony pointing to the suspects. This made for an indictment built on circumstantial evidence, glaring in its failure to offer a motive for the crime. The indictment so irked the current prosecutor, Norman Farrell, that he sought to tighten it later on.
The big loser, however, was Lebanon, which had paid millions of dollars for an outcome mired in ambiguity. But what was most remarkable was how the UN had allowed the process to drift to the point of near-irrelevance. The primary result was not exposing the guilty, but a process that had stagnated to the point that the suspects either had plenty of time to get away or were killed. Although their deaths could not be directly linked to the Hariri assassination, this was the case with one of the indicted men, Mustapha Badreddine, as well as two of Syria’s principal intelligence officers in Lebanon in 2005, Rustom Ghazaleh and Jameh Jameh.
Some may write this off as a simple case of bureaucratic inertia on the part of the UN, but Annan’s revealing comment and Mr Brammertz’s elevation suggest something much deeper. Pursuing justice can cause political problems, and problems are precisely what the UN is supposed to avoid or, at least, manage. Also, at a time when states are more protective of their sovereign rights than ever, the idea of ceding autonomy to independent bodies is thoroughly unpopular.
So, while Mr Bolton may embody American arrogance and disdain for international justice, he is in good company. As the Special Tribunal showed, there is more than one way to ensure that the guilty go unpunished

What Nasrallah's Latest Speech Reveals about Hezbollah's Balancing Act in Syria
Richard Hall/The National/September 24/18
Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah has said that his group will maintain a presence in Syria for now, but that some fighters will return home to Lebanon as fighting subsides. "We will stay there until further notice," Nasrallah said in a televised address on Wednesday night. "The quietness of the fronts and fewer threats... will naturally affect the current numbers.” Nasrallah’s comments reflect his organisation’s changing role in Syria, as the uprising against the Syrian government has largely been quelled. The Lebanese militant group and political party has been a key ally of President Bashar Al Assad in Syria’s civil war, and its intervention was a major factor in the regime’s survival. Hezbollah began sending fighters and advisors to bolster the Syrian government early on in the conflict. The group’s involvement was a poorly guarded secret for some time, but as casualties piled up and funerals became a regular occurrence, it became impossible to hide.
In May 2013, Nasrallah publicly conceded that Hezbollah — which was founded to resist Israel’s occupation of Lebanon — was fighting in Syria. “It is our battle, and we are up to it,” he said, as his forces were engaged in heavy fighting for the city of Qusayr, just over the border.
“Hezbollah’s participation was important in the consolidating what was left of the Syrian army, and reversing the loss of morale and leadership,” said Heiko Wimmen, Lebanon project director at Crisis Group. But now that Assad has recaptured much of the country from rebels, Hezbollah’s role in Syria is taking on a much broader scope.
“There is a regional strategic struggle over the position of Iran and its allies going on. Hezbollah has unique capacities that are quite valuable for the pro-Iranian camp,” said Mr Wimmen. “From their perspective, these capacities are needed in Syria. It would not make any senses to bring them back to Lebanon, where deterrence against Israel is secured.”Hezbollah initially saw the fight across the border as a threat to its own survival. For years, Syria has been a conduit through which the group has received arms from Iran. The removal of Assad would have cut off a key supply line. To fight Israel, the argument went, Hezbollah must fight in Syria. “Hezbollah is also using its stronger influence in Syria to go after the group's and Iran's ideological foe: Israel,” said Phillip Smyth, a fellow at the Washington Institute and a researcher on Shia armed groups. “Syria is a major section in what will be the ‘next war,’ a potential regional war pitting Iran's proxy groups against Israel.”Hezbollah has lost 1,665 fighters in Syria, according to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, and spent significant political capital propping up Assad.
Rafiq Hariri is everywhere and everyone’s concern
Radwan al-Sayed/Al Arabiya/September 24/18
Few people, other than historians, remember Churchill, Stalin or Mao Zedong, in spite of the significance of these leaders’ achievements. This is for two reasons. Their actions veered between war and peace and between good and beneficial and because the fates of their countries changed after them, to the complete opposite in some cases.
Zayed and Hariri
This is not the case with the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan for example as he established a state that none of his contemporaries could have imagined accomplishing. He led this state to success during his time and his sons followed on his steps and have achieved marvelous success. His sons have continued to build on the success of the founding father, and here they are celebrating the centennial of their great father as they continue to build upon what he established. This is also the case with Rafiq Hariri as he contributed to ending the civil war and in reconstructing Lebanon. He educated generations, promoted peace and harmony and drew in everybody’s participation. It is for this reason that each success in Lebanon, reminds people of him and his path. Every failure of the state or the community also reminds of him in the context of why did Hariri succeed, while his enemies fail? After 13 years of his martyrdom, Rafiq Hariri is still widely remembered. The Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL), which is investigating his murder, will soon give its verdict against those accused of killing him, based on 1,236 pieces of evidence. Of course, Lebanon and the region witnessed tremendous changes since Hariri’s death. Thus the news of a verdict by the STL soon – after people were about to give up on the court – came as a shock to several parties.
After 13 years of his martyrdom, Rafiq Hariri is still widely remembered.
Hezbollah and the STL
As for Hezbollah which the STL accused four of its members of assassinating Hariri, a verdict against them will come at a totally unsuitable time. After the assassination, Hezbollah became too big, fought a war against Israel, occupied Beirut, controlled state institutions and the premiership, the presidency of the republic and the speakership of parliament. It also indulged in vandalism on the instructions of Vilayat-e Faqih. The leader of the party himself considered that the “Resistance” forces to be more powerful than all Arab armies! However, now that it has been categorized as a terror group and became internationally pursued, the STL has worsened its reputation and noted that Hezbollah’s glories included criminal political assassinations, most importantly of Rafiq Hariri. The Iranians had believed that their opportunity in the Levant had come when the US occupied Iraq in 2003. While Iran was going back to revive its nuclear program and infiltrating Iraq, the region lost some of its most important leaders like Sheikh Zayed, King Hussein, King Fahd, Yasser Arafat and Saddam Hussein. Thus the Iranians thought that by killing Hariri, who was widely popular around the world, the Middle East would be left without big leaders. They told Bashar al-Assad (who unlike his father was not inclined to Hariri) that Hariri posed a threat to him even in Syria. All senior officials in Hafez Assad’s administration were friends of Hariri. However, like all assassins, they did not consider the long term consequences so they attacked Lebanon’s leaders and high-ranking Assad regime officials in order to give a chance to Bashar al-Assad to govern. However, leaders of the March 14 movement, who were powerful in the Lebanese government and the parliament at that time, did not stand idle and sought the establishment of the STL to try Hariri’s assassins, especially after Syrian troops withdrew from the country.
Alive after death
When we say that the situation has changed a lot since Hariri’s assassination in 2005, it’s because Hariri’s enemies have taken control over power everywhere but later the countdown for their glories and control began even in Iraq and Syria. This is happening in Iraq after the consequences of their sabotaging acts began to surface and it’s happening in Syria because despite everything they provided for Assad, the Russians have the upper hand. In addition to being attacked by Israel without responding to it, these enemies have suffered from the same burdens Iran is suffering from due to the policies of murder, displacement, nuclear weapons’ programs and militias that are brought from across the world and due to the US’ confrontation of them for their encroachment during Trump’s term. Iran’s sectarian project still has its supporters in Lebanon, as well as in Syria and Iraq. However, even after his death, Rafiq Hariri can still tell his opponents and supporters that he is still present with his peaceful developmental and constructive agenda and his Arab political integrity.

Why offend Kuwait now?
Nadim Koteich/Al Arabiya/September 24/18
Out of the entire Lebanese context, a political commentator on Al Manar television channel that is affiliated with Hezbollah criticized the Kuwait Emir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah. His comments sparked a wave of political and media condemnation which reflects Kuwait's position among the Lebanese people with all their social, sectarian and political sections.
Criticism backfires
Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri was one of the prominent voices who condemned the comments made by the commentator from Hezbollah’s side. I was told that he had instructed his team not to receive the young commentator who was sharing pictures with him (with Berri). As for Al-Manar, it disclaimed the comments of its guest and directed, through an urgent news series, good words about Kuwait and its Emir. In a televised address in 2015, Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah saluted the Emir of Kuwait amid what he called a Kuwaiti consensus to denounce the terrorist bombing of the Imam al-Sadiq mosque in Kuwait. In this sense, this offense came outside the context of the many Lebanese conflicts in which local affairs are mixed with regional ones in a very complex manner. What produced this reaction from Hezbollah and the Amal Movement was that they found themselves a prey to exploitation by a commentator whom they have always spoiled, provided with information and analysis and sponsored his television appearances, the latest of which came on the party’s TV channel to serve an agenda that was not a priority for either.
Analyzing the content of this invective indicates that the commentator jumped from the promotion of false news about the visit of the Emir of Kuwait to Washington, to immediately bringing back up an insulting phrase used by Bashar al-Assad in 2006 to criticize former Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora. Perhaps, he wanted to use other expressions made by Assad. What we can understand from this that the offense is an intentional Syrian message which the commentator has been requested to convey to Kuwait. But why now?
Criticism of Kuwaiti Emir is an intentional message from Syria directed through a commentator on Al-Manar TV channel
Syrian message
About a week ago, the UN Security Council witnessed a debate between Kuwait’s Ambassador to the UN Mansour Al-Otaibi and Assad’s representative Bashar Al-Jaafari during a session devoted to deliberating on a draft resolution over the humanitarian truce in Syria and which was prepared by Kuwait in coordination with Sweden. Kuwait’s delegate had previously spoke of the unjustified absence of the Houthi militia from the Geneva round of consultations on Yemen and said that not attending was another episode of the Houthis’ ongoing series of violations of international law and international humanitarian law and their failure to comply with the relevant resolutions of the Security Council. Otaibi urged to work towards a political solution based on the three agreed terms of reference: the Gulf initiative and its executive mechanism, the outcomes of the national dialogue in Yemen and the relevant Security Council resolutions, in particular Resolution 2216, which is a full and comprehensive commitment to the Gulf framework to the solution which Syria, Iran and their tools are trying to abort in all the present cases and crises. The Emir of Kuwait had also made a generous initiative to resolve the Gulf crisis during his meeting with US President Donald Trump, in full compliance with the 13 conditions set by the Gulf States on Qatar as a framework for the solution.
False presumption
This Kuwaiti constancy in terms of its political stances regarding the region’s crises and which Kuwait expresses in its own calm way may have been misunderstood by those who imagine Kuwait to be a Trojan Horse in the heart of the Gulf because of its political and social particularities and the distinctions of its political system. In any case, it is not surprising that this or that country, especially those who are blinded by the severity of their crises, imagine that persuading Kuwait fully or partially to play the role played by Qatar is a possibility. This false presumption reflects political ignorance and resembles the clinging of the desperate to false hopes. An example of this are the illusions broadcast by some commentators about dates for a meeting for the normalization of relations between Kuwait and the Assad regime through the reopening of the embassy or the appointment of a Chargé d'affaires. This kind of news keeps appearing, yet nothing of the sort has happened. There have also been other reports about the Gulf; however, it’s enough to follow up on Gulf media to learn that the Gulf’s commitments regarding the Syrian crisis have not changed, with an openness to discuss all frameworks and mechanisms to resolve the crisis in accordance with these commitments, most notably the right of the Syrians to determine their fate and the Syrians’ and the Arabs’ right to end the Iranian occupation. The good thing about the recent media fuss sparked by the cheap remarks against a major Arab figure like that of the Emir of Kuwait is that it expresses the desperation of those gambling on the fragmentation of the Gulf decision. It also showed the desperate attempts to break the unity of the position led by Saudi Arabia and the complete inability to understand the constants of policy making in this part of the world. He who insulted cannot but insult if he realizes that the wisdom of Kuwait is not languor, and that the calmness of its policy is not weakness. Finally, as Abu at-Tayyib al- Mutanabbi said: “If you see the fangs of the lion, don't think the lion is smiling.”

The Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on September 24-25/18
After Downing of Spy Plane, Russia to Supply Assad Regime With S-300 Air Defense System
هآررتس ووكالات: بعد اسقاد طائرتها المتخصصة بالتجسس فوف سوريا روسيا سوف تزود الأسد بنظام اس 300 الجوي

Haaretz/Jack Khoury and Reuters Sep 24, 2018
Senior Russian defense official quoted saying that deployment of S-300 in Syria would severely hamstring the Israel Air Force ■ Kremlin says decision is not directed at any third country
Russia will supply Syria with S-300 anti-aircraft missile systems, as part of measures against Israel for the downing of its intelligence plane near Latakia last week, the Russian newspaper Kommersant reported Monday.
The report quotes a senior official in the Russian defense ministry, who posited that the deployment of S-300 in Syria would severely hamstring the Israel Air Force.
"It would be a very effective change," the official told Kommersant, and explained that Syrian air space would be safeguarded by advanced systems instead of the current, dated ones.
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu later declared on Monday that Moscow would deliver the S-300 to Syria, confirming the report. Last week's crash, which killed 15 people, had forced Moscow to take "adequate retaliatory measures to increase the safety of Russian military fighting international terrorism in Syria," Shoigu said in a televised address. Shoigu said Russia will equip Syrian anti-aircraft units with Russian tracking and guidance systems in order to identify Russian aircraft. "A modern S-300 air defense missile system will be transferred to the Syrian armed forces within two weeks," he said. The system will "significantly increase the Syrian army's combat capabilities," he said. A spokesperson for Syrian President Bashar Assad also confirmed Monday that Russian President Vladimir Putin had told Assad that Moscow would bolster Syria's air defenses over a phone call.
"President Putin held Israel responsible for bring down the plane and informed President Assad that Russia will develop Syria's air defense systems," the Syrian presidency said.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Russia's decision to supply Syria with the S-300 system is aimed at increasing safety of Russian military. When asked about relations with Israel, Peskov said the decision was not directed at any third country.
Russia's Defense Ministry on Sunday formally blamed Israel for the downing of the Russian aircraft last week over Syria, accusing the Israeli military of "criminal negligence." Israel has denied the allegation, claiming the mechanisms to coordinate with Russia were used properly prior to the downing of the Illyushin. In a report detailing the circumstances surrounding the incident, Russia accused Israel of deliberately misleading Russia on its planned airstrikes, preventing the downed plane from moving to a safe place on time.
Moscow had planned delivering the S-300 to the Bashar Assad regime in April, in response to the combined airstrike by the U.S., France and Britain. Sources within the Russian government said at the time that if Israel were to attack the systems, the results would be "catastrophic."
Shoigu said on Sunday that Russia is now going to go ahead with the shipment because "the situation has changed, and it's not our fault." He also said that Russia would start to electronically jam aircraft flying in to attack targets in Syria. "We are convinced that these measures will calm down some hotheads and keep them from careless actions which pose a threat to our troops," Shoigu said. Several reports had been made in recent years of Russia's intent to transfer the S-300 to the Assad regime. Each report was followed by heavy pressure exerted by Israel including talks between former Israeli president Shimon Peres, current president Reuven Rivlin, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Putin and his predecessor, Dmitry Medvedev."A few years ago we considered the requests of our allies in the West and did not supply the S-300 missiles to Syria," said Col. Sergey Rodsky after the attack in April. "Given what has transpired, we are reconsidering the matter, not only in relation to Syria, but also in relation to other countries."*The Associated Press contributed to this report.
US troops to stay in Syria as long as Iran forces operate on foreign soil - Bolton
Arab News/September 24, 2018/NEW YORK: US National Security adviser John Bolton said on Monday that US troops would not leave Syria "as long as Iranian troops are outside Iranian borders."He also said Iran was responsible for attacks in Syria, and Lebanon and was responsible for the shooting down of a Russian military aircraft last week.  Bolton's worning on iran came as France warned Monday that the Middle East risked “perpetual war” unless a peace agreement can be reached in Syria. Syrian President “Bashar Assad but also those who support him have a responsiblity to work for a political solution,” French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told reporters at the United Nations. “If not, we risk heading toward a sort of perpetual war in the area,” he said. Meanwhile, France has called for stronger international sanctions on Libyans who stand in the way of a political solution in the conflict-ridden country. The current situation "forces us to show greater firmness toward those who want to insist on the status quo for their sole benefit," Le Drian said, urging sanctions against the "militia members who threaten Tripoli."

Iran warns US, Israel after parade attack, arrests ‘large network of suspects’
Agencies/Monday, 24 September 2018/The deputy head of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards warned US and Israeli leaders on Monday to expect a “devastating” response from Tehran, accusing them of involvement in an attack on a military parade in the city of Ahwaz.
Thousands of people packed the streets of the southwestern Iranian city of Ahwaz to mourn the victims of Saturday’s assault that killed 29 people, including 12 members of the elite Revolutionary Guards. “You have seen our revenge before ... You will see that our response will be crushing and devastating and you will regret what you have done,” Hossein Salami said in a speech before the funeral of the victims in Ahwaz, broadcast live on the state television. Iran’s intelligence minister, Mahmoud Alavi, said a large network of suspects had already been arrested in connection with the attack, the judiciary’s news agency Mizan reported. Four assailants fired on a viewing stand in Ahwaz where Iranian officials had gathered to watch an annual event marking the start of the Islamic Republic’s 1980-88 war with Iraq. ISIS’s Amaq agency posted a video of three men in a vehicle who it said were on their way to carry out the attack. A man wearing a baseball cap emblazoned with what appears to be a Revolutionary Guard logo discussed the impending attack in Farsi in the video. (With Reuters)
Lieberman: Israel Won't Change Policy in Syria Despite Russian Plane Downing
Agencies/Monday 24th September 2018/Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman on Sunday affirmed that his country won't change its policy in Syria, adding that it will continue to conduct military operations in Syria despite the Russian Il-20 plane downing incident.
“We have been operating prudently and responsibly and only in cases where we've had no other choice. So nothing has changed or will change. This is our policy,” Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman told the local radio station Kan. “We won’t let Syria be turned into a main Iranian military facility against the Israeli state. We continue to act… and we have all the necessary means and opportunities to this end,” he noted. According to Lieberman, Israeli military servicemen continue to pin their hopes on good communication, which they established with Russian military units in Syria three years ago to avoid potential conflicts. “The whole incident is under examination and control. We have an ongoing dialogue. The general picture and facts are all clear, and I think the situation will be resolved,” Lieberman said. Last week, a Il-20 military plane disappeared from the Russian radar screens while on its way back to the Syrian airbase Hmeymim, which lies 35 kilometers away from the Mediterranean shore. According to the Russian Ministry of Defense, at around the same time, four Israeli F-16 military jets attacked Syrian targets in Latakia, having informed the Russian side just one minute prior to the attack. The Russian Ministry of Defense accused the Israeli Air Force of providing misleading information about the area where planned air strikes on Syrian targets were to take place, violating an agreement with Russia. It also accused Israel's fighter pilots of using the bigger Ilyushin as cover, resulting in Syria's Soviet-era S-200 air defence system interpreting the Russian plane as a target.

Russia Accuses Israel of 'Criminal Negligence'
Moscow - Raed Jabr/Asharq Al-Awsat/Monday, 24 September, 2018/Russia’s Defense Ministry on Sunday accused Tel Aviv of “criminal negligence” in dealing with Moscow, in a tone that reflected the failure of both sides to contain their dispute, one week after the Syrian regime accidentally shot down a Russian military plane, killing more than a dozen people. Moscow blamed Israel again for the downing by Syrian anti-aircraft fire of a Russian spy plane during an Israeli air raid in Syria. It said Russia’s military had been misled by the Israeli Forces about the time and location of the airstrike, showing a 3D rendering of the incident, which purported to display the actions of all the aircraft involved. "The Israeli military command either does not value the current level of relations with Russia or does not control certain military units," Russian Defense Ministry Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov said Sunday. Russian circles said the tough tone used by the Russian ministry proves that Moscow plans to escalate and might stop coordinating with Tel Aviv in Syria, a decision that hampers the Israeli forces' ability to conduct operations against Iran and its proxies in Syria. Also, those circles said Moscow is waiting for Israel to take serious steps to contain the repercussions of last week’s development. "Objective data says that the actions of Israeli pilots, which led to the death of 15 Russian military personnel, point to either lack of professionalism or criminal negligence," Konashenkov said. "This is why we believe that the Russian Il-20 aircraft tragedy is solely the fault of the Israeli Air Force and those who made decisions concerning such actions."The Russian official also said Russia has taken measures in Syria to accommodate Israeli demands, including the relocation of Iranian troops from the border of the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights and providing Russian patrols in the area. Konashenkov said last week’s incident is an extremely ungrateful response to all that has been done by the Russian Federation for Israel and the Israeli people recently.
Turkey’s Erdogan vows to impose secure zones east of Euphrates in Syria
Reuters/24 September 2018/ISTANBUL: Turkey will take action east of the Euphrates river in Syria and impose secure zones as it has done in the northwest of the country, President Tayyip Erdogan said in comments broadcast on Turkish media on Monday. Earlier this year, Turkey carried out a military operation to seize control of Syria’s Afrin region from the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia, which Ankara considers a terrorist organization. The YPG also controls the Syrian region east of the Euphrates. “God willing, in the period ahead we will increase the number of secure zones in Syria, encompassing the east of the Euphrates,” Erdogan said in a speech during a visit to New York. Before the Afrin operation, Turkey also carried out a cross-border operation dubbed “Euphrates Shield,” which targeted both the YPG and Daesh fighters east of Afrin. After the completion of Euphrates Shield in early 2017, Turkey set up local systems of governance in the swathe of land under its control and protected by Turkish forces. It has done the same in Afrin. Erdogan has in the past warned of new military operations against the YPG along the Syrian border and if necessary into northern Iraq. Expanding Turkey’s military campaign into the much larger Kurdish-held territory east of the Euphrates would risk confronting troops of NATO ally the US, that are deployed alongside a YPG-dominated force there. The YPG has been Washington’s main ally against Daesh in Syria, infuriating Ankara which sees the Kurdish force as an extension of a militant group waging a decades-long insurgency in southeast Turkey. Erdogan’s comments come a week after he and Russia’s Vladimir Putin announced a deal under which Russian and Turkish troops will enforce a demilitarized zone in northwest Syria’s Idlib region.

Iraq: Kurdish House Scrap Over Presidential Post
Baghdad, Erbil- Hamza Mustafa and Ihsan Aziz/Asharq Al-Awsat/Monday, 24 September, 2018/The race over the presidential post in Iraq led on Sunday to a dispute in the Kurdish house, placing the two largest parties on opposite sides. For more than 15 years, the Kurdistan Democratic Party and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan were the touchstones in the Iraqi political balances. However, conflict arose Sunday between them after the KDP, headed by Masoud Barazani, rejected the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan’s nomination of Barham Salih for the presidential post and instead chose to back the candidature of Fuad Hussein, a member of the Kurdistan Region Presidential Council. Hussein is not a member of the KDP party. And what worsened the row between the two Kurdish parties was the presence of two high-ranking delegations in Baghdad, the first headed by Prime Minister of the Kurdistan Region Nechirvan Barzani and the second headed by PUK candidate Salih. Accordingly, the Presidential election scheduled to take place in Iraq on 25 September has been postponed. A statement issued by Parliament said Tuesday’s session would instead discuss the situation in Basra and the formation of permanent committees in parliament. Since July, the oil-rich region of Basra has witnessed many protests, leading to the death of dozens. In addition to the PUK’s presidential candidate Barham Salih and the PDK’s candidate Fuad Hussein, there are six candidates, including a woman, running for the post. According to the constitution, the deadline to elect a president is Oct. 02. Separately, Baghdad was suffering from a similar split between the two main Shiite blocs: the Reform and Reconstruction bloc and al-Bina (Construction) bloc. On Sunday, Barzani met with head of Sairoon Coalition Muqtada al-Sadr in Najaf following meetings held last Saturday with Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi and leader of the Fatah alliance Hadi al-Ameri and head of the Hikma Front Ammar Hakim.

Israel Shocked by Russia’s Blame for Downing of Plane by Syrian Forces

Tel Aviv- Nazir Majli/Asharq Al-Awsat/Monday, 24 September, 2018/Israel was shocked with Russian accusations that it was responsible for the downing of the Ilyushin 20 plane in Lattakia a week ago. Officials declined to comment publicly on the issue, however, they leaked to the media explanations, assessments and political stances that Russians are launching a campaign aimed at establishing a new position that restricts the freedom of the Israeli air force to carry out raids on Iranian bases in Syria. Former chief of Israel’s air force indicated that Russia received IAF chief Maj. Gen. Amikam Norkin, last Thursday, and listened to his explanations about the downing of the plane. According to the retired general, Moscow accepted Israeli explanations that the Syrian defenses are responsible for attacking the plane, however, they offered a contradicting rhetoric in their public campaign. He believes Russian officials are in a very difficult position given that their Syrian allies dropped a plane and killed all 15 crew members. Military expert Ron Ben-Yishai indicated in his op-ed in Yedioth Ahronoth that the most striking thing about the report produced by the Russian Defense Ministry is the fact that it ignores the findings of the investigation conducted in Israel that were presented by Maj. Gen. Norkin and Israeli intelligence officials who accompanied him to Moscow in a bid to lower the ensuing tension. In an unprecedented diplomatic move, Israel sent its air force commander with authorized and detailed documentation to Moscow which was intended not only to shed light on what transpired, but also on the events leading up to it. Yet, the Russians ignored Israeli reports and bore Israel the sole responsibility for the incident. The report didn’t even try to refute Israel’s claims or to make counterclaims against the information Russians had been provided just days earlier. The report seems as though absolutely no attempt to clarify matters was made by the Israeli side. They demonstrated just how “ungrateful Israel apparently is to the charitable Russians who are trying to protect it and are only repaid in bad faith,” added Yishai. The expert believes that upon analyzing the Russian position, two major conclusions can be depicted.
First, they are trying to ensure that the Russians did not provide their Syrian allies with the electronic signals to identify their planes. The aim is to show that the incident was not due to Syrian army’s ignorance, but rather that Russian officers who operate jointly with the Syrian air defenses did not train them well or provide them with radars to detect the plane. The second reason is to solicit new compromises from Israel regarding the situation in Syria. The Defense Ministry did not include in its report any warning or threat of retaliation. “It can be assumed that the Russians will try to use the crisis against Israel to limit the freedom over Syria’s skies which it has been granted by Moscow through new agreements,” he indicated. The Israeli government must ignore the Russian lies and the refusal to take into consideration the investigation findings, in the hope that this will calm the situation, and it will be possible to fully resume the security coordination with the Russians. Haaretz’s military correspondent, Amos Harel considered that Russian Defense Ministry's report should not surprise anyone in Israel, except maybe for a few supporters of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. “No matter how good his relations with Russian President Vladimir Putin may be, Netanyahu cannot make the problem disappear,” he said. An experienced pilot described Russian inquiry's as “rather dubious”, according to Harel, who added that some of the claims included in its announcement “are strange”.
The bottom line still depends on Putin’s decision, who will probably take the report's findings and come out with new agreements with Israel in Syria. The Russian President is aware of an Iranian attempt to smuggle arms into Syria and Israel’s intention to attack the shipment, and this will be another test for the Russia-Israeli agreements, concluded Harel.

Putin Tells Netanyahu He Rejects Israeli Version of Syria Plane Downing
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/September 24/18/Russian President Vladimir Putin told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that he disagreed with the Israeli version of events concerning the downing of a Russian plane over Syria last week, the Kremlin said Monday. "The information provided by the Israeli military... runs counter to conclusions of the Russian defense ministry," its said of Sunday's call, adding that the actions of the Israeli pilots had led to the plane being targeted by Syrian air defense systems.

France Warns of Risk of 'Perpetual War' if No Syria Deal

Agence France Presse/Naharnet/September 24/18/France warned Monday that the Middle East risked "perpetual war" unless a peace agreement can be reached in Syria. Syrian President "Bashar al-Assad but also those who support him have a responsibility to work for a political solution," French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told reporters at the United Nations. "If not, we risk heading toward a sort of perpetual war in the area," he said.

White House Insists Not Seeking Iran Regime Change

Agence France Presse/Naharnet/September 24/18/The White House insisted Monday it was not seeking the overthrow of Iran's clerical regime even as it seeks at the United Nations to pile pressure on Tehran. "As I have said repeatedly, regime change in Iran is not the administration's policy," national security advisor John Bolton told reporters as he previewed President Donald Trump's week at the global body. "We've imposed very stringest sanctions on Iran, more are coming, and what we expect from Iran is massive changes in their behavior," he added.

US, UAE Reject Iran’s Accusations

London- Asharq Al-Awsat/The United States Ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, advised Iranian President Hassan Rouhani to “look in the mirror” rather than blame the United States for an attack this weekend in Ahvaz province during an annual military parade that killed 25 people and wounded dozens more.Before heading to the UN General Assembly meetings in New York, Rouhani accused the US and other countries of being responsible for the assault, where militants disguised as soldiers opened fire on the parade crowd in Ahvaz. “It is America who supports these little mercenary countries in the region,” Rouhani said, adding that Washington provokes and provides them with their required necessities to execute such crimes. During an interview with CNN, Haley dismissed the claims, saying the President needs to “look at his own home base.”
“The Iranian people are protesting. Every ounce of money that goes into Iran goes into his military. He’s oppressed his people for a long time,” Haley told CNN host. On Sunday, Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) vowed to take "deadly and unforgettable" vengeance against attackers, according to Iranian media. Several top senior Iranian officials condemned the attack accusing foreign parties who are against Iran’s regional policies of standing behind the deadly attack. After Rouhani’s statement, Iranian Foreign Ministry summoned the United Arab Emirates' (UAE) charge d'affaires and expressed strong protest against the remarks made by one of the UAE officials. However, UAE’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash responded Sunday by denying Iranian allegations alluding to his country’s involvement in training gunmen that attacked the military parade. The “formal incitement against the UAE from within Iran is unfortunate, and has escalated after the Ahvaz attack,” Gargash said in a tweet. The official asserted that UAE’s historical position against terrorism and violence is clear and Tehran’s allegations are baseless. On Sunday, Iran also summoned ambassadors of the United Kingdom, Netherlands and Denmark, accusing them of harboring Iranian opposition groups, namely Patriotic Arab Democratic Movement in Ahvaz. Later, ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack and published a video with three men who supposedly attacked the parade.Meanwhile, Reuters quoted spokesman of Ahvaz National Resistance as claiming responsibility for Saturday’s attack. Arabs account for 3 percent of Iran's 80 million population, according to Iranian figures, however, Ahvazis contest statistics issued by Iranian authorities. Activists say Ahvazis are between 8 million and 12 million and reside in three southern provinces known as Khuzestan, bordering Iraq, Bushehr and Hormozgan, along the east coast of the Gulf. Last March, several protests erupted in Ahvaz after Iranian television broadcast a popular children’s program on Iranian people without referring to Arabs. In January 2017, residents in Ahvaz cities joined others in over 80 Iranian cities protesting lack of services, poor economic situation and mismanagement. According to US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, authorities arrested more than 400 Ahvazi since the popular protests.

Saudi Crown Prince: We Will Not Allow Any Attack on Our Sovereignty

Jeddah/Asharq Al-Awsat/Monday, 24 September, 2018/Saudi Arabia is proud of its achievements and position on international, Islamic and Arab arenas and its influential role in achieving regional and international security and peace, stated Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Vice President of the Council of Ministers and Minister of Defense. Speaking on the 88th National Day, the Crown Prince took the opportunity to recall the achievements of the country’s founder King Abdul Aziz and his sons. He praised the growth and prosperity achieved under Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman. “We are proud of developmental achievements and economic prosperity and social security thanks to the efforts of its sons and daughters,” he said. The Crown Prince stressed that the kingdom will remain steadfast in the principles of tolerant Islam, a religion of moderation, and in fighting extremism and terrorism. Saudi Arabia will continue to “protect Islam’s principles of tolerance, and continue its war on terrorism,” he said. The Prince warned that no one will be allowed to attack the sovereignty of the kingdom or tamper with its security. Prince Mohammed recalled that success and achievements were possible thanks to the establishment of transparency and justice to promote integrity and fight corruption and the efforts to achieve Vision 2030. Vision 2030 “looks forward to the future,” and seeks to place Saudi Arabia “at the forefront of countries with continuous follow-up, guidance and support from King Salman,” added the Crown Prince. He concluded by thanking God “for His generosity toward our country to serve the Two Holy Mosques and care for Hajj and Umrah pilgrims and visitors.”

Israel Orders Khan Al-Ahmar Residents to Voluntarily Demolish Their Houses

Tel Aviv /Asharq Al-Awsat/Monday, 24 September, 2018/The Israeli occupation authorities began the practical translation of a decision to demolish the houses in the village of Khan Al-Ahmar. Israel on Sunday ordered residents to voluntarily demolish their constructions by October 1 or Israeli authorities would enforce the demolition orders. The occupation forces stormed Khan Al-Ahmar area in a display of force. They surrounded Al-Tadamon tent and handed over the official orders, which stated that demolitions must include all buildings located inside the area. They also prevented Palestinian citizens and Israeli Jewish and foreign activists from reaching the Bedouin village by establishing checkpoints. In response, a sit-in organized by the residents continued for the 19th consecutive day, while the national and Islamic forces in Ramallah and Al-Bireh called for action against the implementation of the Israeli plan to demolish the residential area. In a new statement, the forces demanded an intensification of daily, round-the-clock and overnight presence in the protest tent to counter any attempt to evacuate Khan Al-Ahmar by force. Israel’s Supreme Court has rejected petitions to prevent the move, siding with the authorities which say the village was built without the required permits. Palestinians say such documents are impossible to obtain. Residents of Khan al-Ahmar arrived from the Negev desert in 1953. Since then, they lived in conditions that lacked the most basic necessities, until Israel decided to expel them ten years ago. Bedouins in the area have been engaging in a peaceful confrontation since 2009 against demolition orders. However, the Israeli High Court of Justice rejected their petitions at the end of May and supported the demolition, giving the state the freedom to choose the timing of execution. Around 200 Palestinians, 53 percent of whom are children and 95 percent registered with the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), live in the village located in the east of Jerusalem. Some 170 pupils from nearby areas benefit from the school located in the village.

Muslim Brotherhood chief, 65 others get life for Egypt attack
AFP, Minya/Monday, 24 September 2018/An Egyptian court on Sunday sentenced 66 people to life in prison, including Muslim Brotherhood chief Mohammed Badie, over an August 2013 attack on a police station in Minya. Death sentences were meted out to 183 people over the deadly attack on the police station in the southern province, before a retrial was ordered. On Sunday, around 700 people were tried again in this case, defense lawyer Abdel Moneim Abdel Maqsood told AFP. Sixty-six of the 700 were sentenced to life imprisonment, which is 25 years in Egypt, 288 were acquitted, six have died since the first trial and the rest were sentenced to between three and 15 years in prison. Badie, 75, was on Sunday convicted of inciting his supporters to violence in the Minya case following the ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in July 2013. Badie, on trial in 35 cases related to the Brotherhood, has been sentenced to death in several of them but the verdicts have been overturned by the court of cassation. He got life sentences in more than five cases.

The Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on
September 24-25/18
Analysis/Russia's Claims on Downed Plane Over Syria Are Dubious, but Will Usher in New Reality for Israel
عاموس هاريل من الهآررتس: ادعاءات روسيا حول اسقاط طائرتها في سوريا مريبة ومشكوك بها ولكنها نذير لواقع اسرائيلي جديد
Amos Harel/Haaretz/September 24/18
With Israel insisting on its right to attack Iranian arms shipments to Hezbollah, Jerusalem is bound to face a dilemma soon .
The Russian Defense Ministry's scathing report, which placed the full responsibility for the downing of the Ilyushin plane over Syria last week on Israel, should not surprise anyone in Israel – except maybe for a few foolish supporters of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. No matter how good his relations with Russian President Vladimir Putin may be, Netanyahu cannot make the problem disappear. Russia suffered an embarrassing blow when Assad's anti-aircraft fire shot down the plane, and it still has widespread interests to promote in Syria. It was rather clear that the affair would lead to a Russian condemnation of Israel and to certain demands, even though the bottom line still depends on Putin’s decision.
Moscow cannot accuse the main culprit responsible for the incident – its ally, the Assad regime (although it is amazing to see that blame for the Syrian anti-aircraft forces does not even appear in the Defense Ministry's official statement). It was therefore clear from the beginning that the responsibility would be placed on Israel. It is also interesting that all the blame is directed at the Israel Defense Forces, which the Russians accuse of being unprofessional or “criminally negligent, at the very least.” The Israeli political leadership is not mentioned, except for one general claim regarding Israel's dangerous offensive police in Syria.
The Russian inquiry's credibility is rather dubious. Some of the claims included in its announcement are strange. For instance, the Russians claim Israel gave them a warning of only one minute, and it is surprising that Israel has not stated the real number, a much longer period of time. According to experienced Israeli pilots, the claim that the Israeli warplanes hid behind the Russian intelligence gathering plane is unreasonable and does not fit in with accepted operational conduct.
The accusation that Israel supposedly deceived the Russians about the location of the planned attack also seems illogical. According to Russia, the Israeli air force informed it about an attack in northern Syria, while the attack occurred in western Syria. In reality, Latakia is located in north-west Syria, as even a quick glance at a map of the country will reveal. And because the military coordination has been working successfully for three years now, during which hundreds of Israeli attacks have taken place, it is hard to believe that the two sides have yet to make clear between them some basic terminology.
The Russian announcement focuses mostly on the tactical level and does not include imposing any sanctions against Israel. Russia accuses Israel of ungratefulness in light of the steps it has taken on behalf of Israeli interests, such as distancing Iranian forces from the Israeli border on the Golan Heights (the Russians say they succeeded in distancing them to a far point, 140 kilometers away, while in reality it is 85 to 100 kilometers, a buffer zone that does not include Damascus, where Iranian soldiers still remain).
On the strategic level, it is likely that Putin – who has the final word on the Russian side – will leverage these serious claims in the Defense Ministry report to demand increased diplomatic coordination with Israel in Syria, and to impose stricter rules for the joint military coordination mechanism between the two countries.
Brig. Gen. Assaf Orion of the Institute for National Security Studies estimates that the price Putin will demand from Israel may come from another direction: Insisting on selling advanced anti-aircraft systems to Syria, despite Israel's opposition. Alternatively, he could also pressure Netanyahu to help ease tensions between Russia and the United States. In the meantime, the IDF Spokesperson issued a statement Sunday rejecting the main points of the Russian investigation but promising to maintain security coordination between Israel and Russia.
The practical test for the relations between the two countries is sure to come soon, when a new intelligence warning pops up about an Iranian attempt to smuggle arms into Lebanon on a route near the Russian bases in northwestern Syria, or to establish a new military site. Because Iran is determined to continue with its arms shipments to Hezbollah, and Israel has stated publicly that it stands on its right to attack such shipments, Jerusalem is bound to face a dilemma: Should it attack once again near the Russians and risk increased tensions with them?
This is not the end of an era for Israel’s military operations in Syria, where it has conducted hundreds of attacks in the north over the past six years. But for now, it looks as if the situation on the northern front will also not return fully to the conditions that existed there before the Russian plane was shot down.
Israel has operated freely in northern Syria for years thanks to the combination of offensive actions and good diplomatic relations with the Russians. Mostly, Israel acted with strategic acumen, achieving a large part of the goals it set for itself.
But Israel is not a superpower and is not invincible. It will have to take into account Russian considerations and maybe even adapt its offensive operational model. From conversations I conducted with senior defense officials, it seems they ascribe great importance to the implications of the latest incident. Those who continue to claim that this is just a mild bump to the wing must be so busy defending Netanyahu’s image that they are simply no longer capable of analyzing reality objectively.
*Amos Harel/Haaretz Correspondent

A Month of Multiculturalism in Britain: August 2018
Soeren Kern/Gatestone Institute/September 24, 2018
When the rape charge was put to him, Al-Noor, through his interpreter, told Hull Crown Court: "Guilty. Yes, I did that. Why not?"
A police officer phoned a charity to ask whether it was "culturally acceptable" for an Iraqi pedophile [whom he had just arrested] to have a 12-year-old girlfriend.
Officials received dozens of reports last year that women wanted to block visas to the UK for men they had been made to marry in countries such as Pakistan, India, Bangladesh and the United Arab Emirates.
British teenagers are being forced to marry abroad and are therefore effectively raped and often impregnated while the Home Office "turns a blind eye" by handing visas to their husbands, according to The Times. Pictured: An image from the video "Right to choose: Spotting the signs of forced marriage - Nayana", produced by the UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office.
August 1. In a landmark ruling, a high court judge declared that a Muslim wife could divorce her husband and claim his assets, despite the fact that they married in an Islamic ceremony called a nikah, which is not legally recognized in Britain. In a written ruling, Mr. Justice Williams, who heard the case in the family division of the high court in London, concluded that the marriage fell within the scope of the 1973 Matrimonial Causes Act because the couple had expectations similar to those of a British marriage contract. The decision came after Nasreen Akhter divorced her husband, Mohammed Shabaz Khan, who attempted to block her separation on the basis that they were not legally married according to English law and only under Sharia law. Previous cases involving nikah marriages concluded that they were legally non-existent, meaning that spouses had no redress to the courts for a division of matrimonial assets if a marriage broke down. The ruling will make it easier for women who are married under Sharia law to divorce their husbands and split their assets. The ruling also appears to enshrine two parallel justice systems — British law and Sharia law — in Britain.
August 2. British teenagers are being forced to marry abroad and are therefore effectively raped and often impregnated while the Home Office "turns a blind eye" by handing visas to their husbands, according to The Times. Officials received dozens of reports last year that women wanted to block visas to the UK for men they had been made to marry in countries Pakistan, India, Bangladesh and the United Arab Emirates. In almost half of the cases, records show, the visas were approved. Yvette Cooper, chairwoman of the home affairs select committee, said that she would demand answers from the Home Office over the findings. Experts believe there are thousands of victims in Britain, but that the vast majority are too afraid to come forward.
August 3. Safaa Boular, 18, of Vauxhall, London, was sentenced to life in prison, with a minimum 13-year term, for plotting a jihadi attack on British soil. Alongside her mother and sister, who were imprisoned in June, Boular was part of Britain's first all-female ISIS cell. Boular presented herself at the trial in Western clothing and declared herself deradicalized, but Judge Mark Dennis QC warned that she posed an ongoing threat: "There is insufficient conclude at this stage that the defendant is a truly transformed individual."
August 4. A police officer phoned a charity to ask whether it was "culturally acceptable" for an Iraqi pedophile to have a 12-year-old girlfriend, according to an investigation carried out by The Times. The officer had arrested the 26-year-old man but wanted to be "culturally sensitive" after the suspect said the relationship was acceptable in his community. The charity that took the call, Karma Nirvana, told the officer to deal with the man as he would any other suspected child abuser. The charity, which works with victims of forced marriage, said the case showed the danger of officers whose professional judgment was clouded by fear of being called racist.
August 5. Former foreign secretary (and possible future prime minister) Boris Johnson sparked a political firestorm after making politically incorrect comments about the burka and the niqab, the face-covering garments worn by some Muslim women. He compared Muslim women wearing burkas to bank robbers and letter boxes, but added, "that's still no reason to ban it." The ensuing debate over Islamophobia revealed the extent to which political correctness is stifling free speech in Britain. It also exposed deep fissures within the Conservative Party over its future direction and leadership. London Police Commissioner Cressida Dick said that Johnson's remarks did not "reach the bar" to be a criminal offense.
August 6. The Daily Mail removed a report from its website that described the French capital as "Powder Keg Paris" after a French activist, Marwan Muhammad, complained that the report was Islamophobic. The article reported that 300,000 illegal migrants were living in the suburb of Saint-Denis, north of Paris, where drug dealing, crime and poverty were rising due to "immigration on a mammoth scale."
August 6. Muhammed Mucahid, a 57-year-old a Turkish migrant living in London, was arrested after allegedly sexually assaulting a 13-year-old boy in the restroom of a McDonald's restaurant in Southend-on-Sea. Mucahid was accused of watching the boy attempt to use a urinal, then ushered or pushed him into an empty cubicle. It is alleged he kissed him on the cheek before the boy managed to escape and get back to his father, who had been waiting in line to order food.
August 7. Ishaq Al-Noor, a 21-yer-old Sudanese asylum seeker, was sentenced to 16 years in prison for raping a 17-year-old student in a cemetery in Spring Bank in Hull, East Yorkshire. When the rape charge was put to him, Al-Noor, through his interpreter, told Hull Crown Court: "Guilty. Yes, I did that. Why not?" Al-Noor, of West Hill, needed the services of one of the few interpreters in Britain who could speak his particular Sudanese dialect.
August 8. A Sky Data Poll found that 60% of Britons surveyed said that it is not racist to compare Muslim women wearing burkas to bank robbers and letter boxes, while 59% were in favor of a burka ban.
August 9. Three members of a Rochdale pedophile grooming gang were stripped of their British citizenship and now face possible deportation to Pakistan. Taxi drivers Adil Khan, Abdul Aziz and Abdul Rauf were among nine men imprisoned for gang raping teenage girls in 2012. In 2016, Theresa May, Home Secretary at the time, ruled that the three should have their names deleted from the roll of British citizens. The trio, all of whom have British children, challenged the decision. They claimed it violated their human right to a family life. Senior judges at the Court of Appeal ruled that stripping them of citizenship is "conducive to the public good."
August 10. A bus driver in Bristol was disciplined after asking a Muslim woman to remove her face veil. "This world is dangerous," he told her. The 20-year-old woman was with her two-month-old baby when the driver of a bus destined for Bristol's city center explained that if he could not see her face, he did not know what she was capable of doing. "I've been humiliated in public, and I'm disappointed," the woman said. "It's 2018, we shouldn't be like that. I'm being stereotyped." The bus company apologized for the driver's actions and said they took action against him.
August 10. Lewis Ludlow, a 26-year-old convert to Islam from Rochester, Kent, pled guilty to plotting a terror attack on London's Oxford Street. Ludlow, who also used the name Ali Hussain, planned to rent a van and hit pedestrians. He also targeted Madame Tussauds and St Paul's Cathedral, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said. Ludlow said that he had hoped to kill up to 100 people.
August 10. Prime Minister Theresa May was accused of trying to censor photos of her at a halal butcher for fear of alienating voters. The photo was taken during a campaign stop at London's Smithfield Market, but her aides begged photographers not to use it, according to the Sun. The source said: "Her staff pleaded with us. They were terrified it would alienate people. Her team were petrified." The Prime Minister's office insisted that there were no restrictions on photos.
August 11. Liam Bradley, a 48-year-old motorcycle instructor, accused a Shell gasoline station in Blackburn of "racism" after he was told to remove his helmet while a woman in a burka was refueling her vehicle next to him. Venting his frustration on Facebook, Liam branded the different treatment as "racism at work in Britain," and urged people to share his post so as to not "let them get away with it." The post quickly went viral.
August 13. Razwan Faraz, a former deputy head teacher at the Nansen Primary School in Birmingham, lost an appeal to get his job back. Faraz, who was fired after saying that homosexuals should be "eradicated," had alleged that he was the victim of religious discrimination, but a judge threw out his claim for unfair dismissal. Nansen Primary was embroiled in the "Trojan horse" scandal, in which an anonymous letter exposed an alleged plot by a group of conservative Muslims to take over several Birmingham schools and impose an Islamist ethos there.
August 14. Salih Khater, a 29-year-old British citizen of Sudanese origin, swerved his car into cyclists and pedestrians before driving towards police and crashing into a barrier outside the Houses of Parliament. Police said his case was being treated as terrorism due to the location, methods and alleged targeting of civilians and police officers.
August 15. Thirty-two members of a Muslim sex gang were charged with offenses including rape and trafficking after an investigation into sex crimes against children in Huddersfield. Police in West Yorkshire said the five alleged victims were girls aged between 12 and 18, with the offenses said to have occurred between 2005 and 2012. Those charged include: Banaras Hussain, 37; Banaris Hussain, 35; Mohammed Suhail Arif, 30; Iftikar Ali, 37; Mohammed Sajjad, 31; Fehreen Rafiq, 38; Umar Zaman, 30; Basharat Hussain, 31; Amin Ali Choli, 36; Shaqeel Hussain, 35; Mubasher Hussain, 35; Abdul Majid, 34; Mohammed Dogar, 35; Usman Ali, 32; Mohammed Waqas Anwar, 29; Gul Riaz, 42; Mohammed Akram, 41; Manzoor Akhtar, 29; and Samuel Fikru, 30. A further 12 men who were not named for legal reasons were charged with "numerous offenses in connection with the same investigation."
August 16. A sermon at the Didsbury Mosque, where the Manchester bomber worshipped, called for the support of armed jihadist fighters, according to the BBC. In December 2016, an imam at the mosque was recorded praying for "victory" for "our brothers and sisters right now in Aleppo and Syria and Iraq." The imam, Mustafa Graf, said that his sermon did not call for armed jihad and he has never preached radical Islam. The recording the BBC obtained is of Friday prayers at the mosque six months before Salman Abedi detonated a suicide bomb after an Ariana Grande concert at Manchester Arena in May 2017. Abedi and his family regularly attended the mosque and his father sometimes led the call to prayer. The family's whereabouts on the day of the sermon are not known, but the BBC reported that Abedi bought a ticket for the concert 10 days later. The bomb killed 22 people as well as the attacker, and injured hundreds of others.
August 17. A three-year-old girl was hospitalized after allegedly being subjected to female genital mutilation, which left her severely wounded. A London couple — the man, 42, and woman, 36, of African heritage — was accused of carrying out the procedure. The case is only the third time that charges of FGM have been brought to court. The two previous cases both resulted in acquittals, meaning that there has not been a single FGM conviction in the UK despite its being illegal in the country since 1985.
August 19. The number of girls being forced into marriage ahead of the summer holiday period has increased by more than a third in recent years, according to the national charity Karma Nirvana, which provides training to the police, National Health Service and social services. The group condemned the Home Office for shelving a campaign to raise awareness of the practice of girls taken abroad to be married off to strangers during the "critical" run-up to the summer break — the time of the year when the problem is at its peak. Speaking to The Independent, Karma Nirvana revealed that it had learned of 150 new cases of forced marriage from May to July, an increase of more than a third compared to the same period in 2015, when it received 99 new cases. The charity also found that cases of forced marriage had soared by 40% at the start of the school holidays in 2018. The charity also said that in July, it was receiving reports of cases at a rate of two a day, more than double the average of 25 seen in the first four months of the year, with 44 cases reported in May and June. Karma Nirvana's founder, Jasvinder Sanghera, warned that thousands of girls would not be returning to school in September, having had their educations cut off and, in many cases, been left trapped in a cycle of poverty after falling victim to the crime.
August 20. Senior politicians and animal welfare groups condemned the British government over a deal that allows meat from lambs slaughtered without being stunned to be exported to Saudi Arabia. They said that the deal, estimated by the government to be worth £25 million ($33 million; €28 million) over the next five years, showed a disregard for animal welfare.
August 22. Abdul Jalil, a 64-year-old migrant from Bangladesh, was found guilty of cheating the British welfare system out of £28,000 ($37,000; €32,000) over a period of eight years. Jalil was spared time in jail after he told probation officers that "he would do unpaid work as long as it's light work." The judge ordered him to complete 120 hours.
August 24. A Muslim family was filmed butchering animal carcasses on a patio in public housing in Dagenham, Essex. The footage sparked a hygiene probe from the local council but a woman at the property denied any wrongdoing. It was not known if the family — celebrating Eid al-Adha, the Muslim festival of sacrifice — slaughtered the animals at home or were simply butchering them. A columnist, for the Sun, Anila Baig, said that Muslim families traditionally sacrifice a goat or sheep and divide it into portions for Eid al-Adha, but added: "In this day and age, it's extremely unusual for someone to do this themselves at home." Mohammed Shafiq, of the Ramadhan Foundation, insisted the family had done nothing wrong in practicing their religion.
August 24. The Lancashire County Council temporarily suspended its ban on beef and lamb from animals that are not stunned, as is required before Islamic religious slaughter. The move is aimed at giving all of Lancashire's county councilors the chance to reconsider the authority's ban on halal meat from unstunned animals. The county council's cabinet decided in July to provide only stunned halal meat, except poultry, to schools. But the Lancashire Council of Mosques objected and threatened to ask Muslim families across the county to boycott all school meals.
August 25. Yusuf Aka, a 22-year-old man from Grovebury Walk, Leicester, was sentenced to five years in prison for randomly stabbing a man during a violent rampage at a hospital in the city. Aka, on parole from a seven-year sentence for armed robberies when the incident happened, told the Leicester Crown Court that he did what he did because he wanted "attention."
August 26. British Somali teenagers are being taken back to their parents' homeland under the pretense of a holiday vacation and then kept in detention centers before being forced into marriages, according to the Guardian. The latest government figures showed a 100% year-on-year increase in the number of forced marriage cases handled by Home Office involving Somali children and teenagers. In 2017, the figure rose to 91. There were calls from 65 females and 26 males. Of those, 23 were under the age of 15. London had the highest number of victims at 64. When the Guardian contacted several UK-based Somali community organizations and charities, most said they had not heard of the practice or denied that forced marriage involving British Somali nationals was taking place.
August 30. Mohammed Hamza Siddiq, a 37-year-old convert to Islam, appeared at Westminster Magistrates' Court on charges of encouraging terrorism on Facebook. Siddiq, formerly known as Andrew Calladine, did not enter a plea and was remanded in custody.
August 30. Abubaker Deghayes, 50, a former leader of the al-Quds Mosque in Brighton and brother of Guantanamo detainee Omar Deghayes, was sentenced to 18 months in prison after being found guilty of attempting to pervert the course of justice. Blackfriars Crown Court in London heard how Deghayes, who arrived in Britain from Libya in 1991 and is the father of two jihadis killed in Syria, threatened to have his wife shot if she gave evidence against him in a separate trial. In it, he was accused of assaulting his wife and children in what was described as an exorcism. Judge Rajeev Shetty reprimanded Deghayes for refusing to stand for the court: "You appear rather arrogant with no respect for the secular nature of our laws. You have refused to stand with the court opening and closing. This does not insult me but insults our proud legal system."
August 31. Naa'imur Zakariyah Rahman, a 21-year-old jihadi from Finchley, north London, was sentenced to 30 years in prison for plotting to kill Prime Minister Theresa May. Rahman, who pledged allegiance to ISIS, had planned to bomb the gates of 10 Downing Street, kill guards and then attack the prime minister with a knife or gun. His plan was discovered by a network of undercover counter-terrorism officers from the Metropolitan police, the FBI and MI5. Judge Charles Haddon-Cave said that Rahman was "a very dangerous individual" and that it was "difficult to predict when, if ever, he will become deradicalized and no longer be a danger to society."
*Soeren Kern is a Senior Fellow at the New York-based Gatestone Institute.
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The Iranian 'Surgeon' Is Also Ill
Ghassan Charbel//Asharq Al-Awsat/September 24/18
This month saw two events related to the Iranian “prestige”. On September 8, Iranian missiles rained down on the headquarters of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) in Koysinjaq, southeast of Erbil, in Iraqi Kurdistan. The IRGC claimed responsibility for the rocket attack and distributed videos showing how it hit the target at a meeting of the leadership of the opposition Kurdish party.
It was clear that claiming responsibility and disseminating images of the strike constituted an explicit message from Iran to its enemies in the region that its missiles were able to cross the border separating maps and also capable of hitting definite targets. This power display came at a time when Iranian positions in Syria were under constant attack by Israel, while Iran could not respond through the Syrian territory because of Russia’s tight controls there.
On September 22, Iran was stricken by an incident also related to its “prestige”, but this time on its own territory. Armed men surprised the IRGC and the Iranian army by attacking a podium for senior officials during a military parade in Ahvaz, killing and injuring dozens of IRGC and army members. If the first incident provided evidence, from Tehran’s view point, that the Guards were capable of reaching enemies, the second incident gave proof that Iran’s security was vulnerable. Moreover, if the attack against the KDP headquarters in Koysinjaq revealed that Khomeini’s Iran could not solve its chronic problem with its Kurds, the Ahvaz incident also showed that Iran’s problem with the Arabs of Ahvaz continues and worsens.
It is evident that the Iranian authorities’ anger mounts not only because of the security breach of a place that is supposed to be highly fortified, but also because this incident revealed the persistent problem of ethnic and sectarian minorities, despite Tehran’s attempt to present itself as guarantor of the safety of minorities in some parts of the region.
Forty years ago, the Iranian revolution tried to say, upon its victory, that a new era in the Middle East had begun, and that the uprising that was born outside the world of the two camps that existed at that time had sufficient solutions for the suffering of the “vulnerable peoples.”
Resorting to memory is helpful sometimes. A few days after the revolution, Khomeini received a high Kurdish delegation from Iraq’s Kurds, who came to congratulate the new regime and explore the stances. The delegation discussed the grievances of the Kurds, who are subjected to attempts to uproot them and obliterate their identity, culture and aspirations. Khomeini’s response was that these injustices against the Kurds of Iran would no longer exist “because the revolution is Islamic, belongs to all and does not differentiate between Muslims.” Forty years later, the attack on Koysinjaq came to remind that the situation of Iran’s Kurds has not changed.
Iran accused separatists from Ahvaz of carrying out the attack. It said they had received support from two Gulf States, and that their move “is part of an American-Israeli conspiracy to destabilize Iran.” The country promised a quick and decisive response.
There are those who believe that the Ahvaz attack will give President Hassan Rouhani the opportunity to speak in New York about “terrorism” that targets his country. But it is certain that the rising Iranian tension is also linked to other dates. It is obvious that President Donald Trump will employ his presence at the UN General Assembly and the Security Council to launch a broad campaign on Iran’s nuclear ambitions, missile arsenal and destabilization policy in the region. This date gains more importance as it comes weeks ahead of Trump’s deadline for the second round of sanctions against Iran - oil sanctions that he said would be the toughest in history.
There is no doubt that Iran’s recent behavior bears the hallmarks of the loss that resulted from America’s exit from the nuclear deal and Washington’s insistence that the missile arsenal and regional behavior be part of any future agreement with Iran.
Dreams of taking advantage of the fruits of the nuclear deal to fund the large-scale attack in the region have ended. The past weeks have shown that the European stance, which is committed to the nuclear agreement, is by no means a reasonable or acceptable cushion for Iranian concerns.
Taking into consideration the drop of the Iranian currency, the recent protests in different parts of the country and the disclosure of Iran’s crises with its Kurdish, Arab, Baloch and Turkmen citizens, we can understand the current tension. As the Soviet citizens once complained about the deterioration of their situation, while their country was pumping billions into the veins of the Castro regime, Iranians will complain about the deterioration of their situation and the spending of their country’s wealth in regional adventures.
It is clear that we are on the threshold of a more heated chapter in Iran’s relations with the region and with the United States. Iran behaves as if it has lost the “deal of the century” when it lost the US signature on the nuclear deal. Then it discovers that the Middle East works like communicating vessels… That those who export strife, will surely import it one day… And that those who contribute to the dismantling of maps of others, may push their own map to a similar fate. Iran thought it was a skilled surgeon in a sick area, and now it discovers that the “doctor” is also ill. Most likely, Iran was harassing the “Great Satan” to force it to be its biggest partner in the region. Back to the recent past: One day, former Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said important words to the late Iraqi president Jalal Talabani. He said: “Tell your friend, US Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad, what the Americans want from us? We supported the liberation of Iraq from Saddam Hussein. We supported the Governing Council and the election of the President of the Republic. We supported this new situation that the Americans have established in Iraq. There is nothing the Americans did and we did not support. Tell your friend what they want from us more.”

Turkey set to sink deeper into the Syrian imbroglio
Yasar Yakis/Arab News/September 24/18
Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin last week struck an important deal on Idlib at a summit in Sochi.
Before the meeting, many observers thought that a confrontation between Turkey and Russia was likely. Hours before, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said: “We have to admit that there are differences among the approaches.” With this statement, Russia may have wished to send a message to Turkey that the bargaining was going to be tough. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov had floated the idea of opening humanitarian corridors to let civilians leave Idlib before the military operation. Turkey remained lukewarm to this idea, because it would dilute the cease-fire efforts.Despite this negative preamble, the summit was successful. It established a 15 to 20 kilometer-wide demilitarized zone around Idlib, between the rebels and the government forces, to be jointly patrolled. Putin said in the press conference after the meeting: “Jabhat Al-Nusra, Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham (HTS) and other similar opposition factions must remove their heavy weapons, mortars, tanks and rocket systems from the demilitarized zone by Oct. 10.” He deliberately mentioned the names of the rebel organizations and the heavy weapons because he wanted to publicly put on record the critical points of his agreement with Erdogan.
In turn, the Turkish president said: “The opposition will continue to remain in the areas where they are. In return, we will ensure that the radical groups, which we will determine with Russia, will not operate in the area under discussion.”
In a sense, Turkey will have to do the dirty work in Idlib, but it chose to do so of its own volition.
This part of the statement implies that the two leaders had not yet identified which organizations are to be considered radical. Apparently there is much more hard work to do by experts to sort out the details left vague by the leaders for the sake of “constructive ambiguity.” The first controversy may arise here, between Turkey and Russia, because their definition of radical groups differs. Small-scale clashes may take place during the implementation of the agreement, but the deal has to be praised for having prevented a major operation. Turkey assumed a gigantic responsibility. It may have wished to buy time and postpone the bloodshed that would be inevitable in the case of a military operation. Or it may have wished to obtain leverage by gaining the allegiance of as many opposition factions as possible, giving it a stronger voice at the negotiating table. But many questions still remain unanswered: Who is going to force the HTS to take its heavy weapons out of the demilitarized zone and will Turkey fight them if they resist? The radicals know that such a move would tighten the circle around them by one more notch, and they would react accordingly. Turkish authorities have not yet disclosed the size of the military unit that will be deployed in Idlib. Experts estimate that 30 to 40,000 soldiers may be needed. The bigger the military presence, the more it will be exposed to harassments. On the other hand, the more the Turkish army moves from the moderate opposition toward the radicals, the stiffer the resistance will become.
Turkey will let the radicals choose between surrendering and being eliminated. Such an offer will push them to adopt a hostile attitude. If they surrender, where are they going to be sent or accommodated? If they ask to be evacuated to other Syrian provinces controlled by the Turkish army, such as Afrin, Al-Bab or Jarablus, what are they going to become after the Syrian government extends its sovereignty to these provinces? In a sense, Turkey will have to do the dirty work in Idlib, but it chose to do so of its own volition.
Had Turkey not proposed a cease-fire when the military operation was impending, carnage was going to become difficult to avoid, including high civilian casualties. A huge wave of refugees was going to move toward the Turkish border. Turkey’s initiative prevented this undesirable scenario.
By agreeing to this deal, Putin satisfied Turkey’s demand of delaying, postponing or canceling the military operation. He thus kept Turkey on board in the Astana process. The truce has provided a chance to cool down the conflict, though the possibility of its resurgence is not yet entirely avoided.
Paragraph 9 of the joint communique that followed the agreement provides for the strengthening of the Joint Russian-Turkish-Iranian coordination center that was established when the de-confliction areas were created. If the center functions effectively, NATO member Turkey will be cooperating with Russia more closely than with its allies. Despite its imperfections, the deal is worth the efforts made to achieve it. If it fails, the hostilities will resume, but the target group may be smaller after separating the moderates and the radicals.
In any event, Turkey’s continued involvement in Idlib may sink it deeper into the Syrian imbroglio.
*Yasar Yakis is a former foreign minister of Turkey and founding member of the ruling AK Party. Twitter: @yakis_yasar

Who killed the Revolutionary Guards in Ahwaz?
Mashari Althaydi/Al Arabiya/September 24/18
Who murdered and injured dozens at the Iranian Revolutionary Guard’s military parade a few days ago in the Ahwaz region in Iran: The Arab region that has revolted against Tehran’s oppressive authorities for years? The attack – as it is known – was shocking as it was captured live on television. It killed 29 people and injured many others. The enemies of the ruling Khomeini regime are many on both the domestic and foreign levels. There is the Mojahedin-e Khalq organization, the largest real Iranian opposition network. There is also of course the Arab-Ahwazi opposition in all it colors, those who adopt the military option and those who reject it and those who want complete independence and those who reject it, while settling fora formula that guarantees the Ahwazis’ identity and interests. Of course, accusing Riyadh is nonsense, and so is accusing Abu Dhabi. They’ve never done this before, neither with Tehran nor with a country other than Iran, and they will not do it now and will not do it in the future. The Arab Struggle Movement for the Liberation of Ahwaz is one of the Ahwazi operating factions that adopted the operation, just like the mysterious ISIS. Of course, there is the opposition inside Iran from within the Republic’s tent, the sons of the Green Movement and last but not least, there are the Kurds. We here note the recent shelling of the Kurdistan Democratic Party’s headquarters in Iraq by Iranian missiles.
Why is ISIS’s responsibility for the attack doubted?
Because the Iranian regime’s accusation of it is flawed with the suspicion of political exploitation of the Ahwaz attack, especially as Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif was quick to hint that Saudi Arabia and other regional countries, as he described them, and of course the US stand behind the attack through ISIS. And as they said: “The Ahvazi struggle movement” or perhaps the Kurds. What’s important is that they are “agents” of Riyadh or Washington or Abu Dhabi. This is the Iranian regime’s narrative especially towards Riyadh as the daily newspaper Kayhan’s headline, and its editor-in-chief Hossein Shariatmadari, who is Supreme Leader Khamenei’s consultant, vowed retaliate in Riyadh! Of course, accusing Riyadh is nonsense, and so is accusing Abu Dhabi. They’ve never done this before, neither with Tehran nor with a country other than Iran, and they will not do it now and will not do it in the future. This terrorist militant behavior is the nature of the Iranian regime and its affiliates. May God have mercy on the soul of Rafiq Hariri as now the whole world knows who killed him and his comrades on that sad Lebanese day! Tehran’s regime is cornered due to American pressure, and President Trump promised to do more. He will dedicate a part of his UN speech to talk about the Iranian regime. Trump’s friend and attorney, New York’s former mayor Rudy Giuliani said during a meeting a few days ago that American sanctions on Iran will lead to a “successful revolution.”
Did the demons of the Revolutionary Guard in the dark secret world plan this operation? We cannot go in this direction, although the Revolutionary Guard experts have previously sacrificed Shiites in terror operations in Iraq to make bigger political gains. The real threat on the Iranian regime is the collapse of the economy and the people’s anger at the regime, including the oppressed Ahwazis. The real enemy of Tehran’s rulers is their evil policies, and not any other party.

High time Iran’s terror activities in Europe are stopped
Hossein Abedini/Al Arabiya/September 24/18
In retaliation to the recent nationwide uprisings in Iran, the Iranian regime continuously conspires to commit terrorist activities against its opponents in Europe. They see the ever-growing popular protests as a real threat to their stranglehold of the country.
Hundreds of thousands of Iranians in defiance of severe state repercussions attend protests regularly in over 140 cities calling for the overthrow of the Iranian regime. These protests are in response to nearly 40 years of oppression, human rights violations, and corruption that has left millions of Iranians in economic despair. The Iranian regime’s high-ranking officials have recognized the people’s alternative, the democratic coalition of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) of which the People’s Mojahedin Organisation of Iran (PMOI) is a member, as key organizers of these protests who act at the behest of the will of the Iranian people.
As such, Iran’s primary focus is to eradicate the NCRI and PMOI who are based in Europe. The Iranian regime holds no prejudice as to who they target and how, including supporters, as shown in their recent terrorist attempt in Paris on June 30, 2018, at an NCRI-organized Free Iran Gathering. Their targets included all in attendance such as European MPs, American dignitaries and tens of thousands of Iranians who are also European citizens. On September 12, 2018, the NCRI in a press conference in London exposed Iran’s terrorist plans and activities in Europe. They identified key members within their chain of command, including Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and Hassan Rouhani who hold key roles. Further, Iranian embassies across Europe were identified as terrorist hubs that spy on Iranian dissidents and human rights activists and carry out orders instructed by Tehran.
The NCRI called for urgent action from European governments to prevent Iran from committing terrorism. The Iranian regime is feeling the effects of its unpopularity and now is in a desperate, weakened state, preparing to commit further terrible atrocities so as to hold on to power. Their fear of the organized Resistance, the NCRI, and its growing support supersedes their fear of retaliation by European countries as a result of decade-long appeasement policies.
Recent terror plots in Tirana and Paris
Since the Mullah’s hijacked the 1979 Iranian revolution, the regime has based their policies around terrorism so as to impose fear on a nation, cause instability in the region, and eliminate any opponents.  Although a large proportion of their terrorist activities have been based in the Middle East, there have been several operations in Europe such as the assassination of Kazem Rajavi, a renowned human rights activist in Geneva, Switzerland, in April 1990. Today, Iran has stepped up its operations in Europe. In March 2018, in Tirana, Albania, Iranian agents attempted to inflict causalities on Iranian political refugees who were in the midst of celebrating the Persian New Year. Two Iranian personnel under the guise of journalists were detained in relation to this foiled terrorist attack, which was confirmed by the US State Department and the Albanian government. Similarly, in June 2018 Iranian personnel attempted a terrorist attack on a gathering in Paris, France. In addition to tens of thousands of European citizens, nearly 600 parliamentarians and dignitaries from 70 countries around the world were in attendance - including cross-party delegation of members of parliament from the UK and American dignitaries such as Mayor Rudy Giuliani.
The National Council of Resistance of Iran called for urgent action from European governments to prevent Iran from committing terrorism. The Iranian regime is feeling the effects of its unpopularity and now is in a desperate, weakened state, preparing to commit further terrible atrocities so as to hold on to power. Their fear of the organized Resistance, the NCRI, and its growing support supersedes their fear of retaliation by European countries as a result of decade-long appeasement policies
An Iranian ‘diplomat’ in Vienna was arrested in Germany as being responsible for handing over bombs to the two perpetrators in Luxembourg who wished to attack the gathering in France. With the help of German, French and Belgium authorities – the attack was foiled hours before and perpetrators detained.
Most recently, in the United States, two Iranian operatives were arrested on charges of spying and collecting information to carry out a possible terrorist attack. This current new wave of terrorist activities by the Iranian regime should be of high concern to all governments.
Terrorism chain of command
In January 2018, according to information from within Iran, the Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) headed by Hassan Rouhani took the decision to carry out the Paris terrorist operation. Other members of the SNSC, include Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and Commander of the Quds Force Qassem Soleimani. This plan was later taken to Ali Khamenei, Supreme Leader, for final approval. After the Supreme Leader’s approval, the operation was assigned to a department within Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence Services (MOIS) named Organization of Foreign Intelligence and Movements. This department is responsible for terrorist operations and espionage outside of Iran, including Europe, and is headed by Reza Amiri Moghaddam, a top security official. Moghaddam was directly involved in instructing the Iranian ‘diplomat’ in Vienna, Assadollah Assadi, to execute the Paris operation.
Assadi used the Iranian embassy in Vienna to instruct a sleeper cell of terrorists in Belgium to carry out the attack. He was involved in personally handing over the bombs to the perpetrators, and has been detained since the terrorist plot was foiled, according to statement by Belgian and German authorities.
Role of Iran’s embassies in Europe
In addition to collecting intelligence, Iranian embassies are used to provide logistics support to terrorists including weapons, explosives and money. In some instances, assailants have used the embassies to hide after an operation. With around 30 embassies dotted across Europe, the Iranian regime has created a network to operate effectively in every location. By investigating and closing these embassies, Iran’s threat in Europe can be halted at its source.
Stopping Iran’s terrorist activities
The Mullahs believe the only solution to stopping their overthrow is to strike blows to the organized alternative to its reign and focuses on terrorism and propaganda to do so. For decades, Europe has taken the policy of appeasement in relations with Iran, and the regime intends to use this relationship as an advantage to operate across Europe. Resorting to tactics of terrorism, means that a policy of appeasement and continued diplomatic relations by European governments with Iran is illegitimate and a safety concern for innocent European citizens. Silence to the fact that Iran has plotted attacks in Europe, is tantamount to giving the green flag to the regime in Tehran to continue such terrible activities. We should not allow the Iranian regime, in its phase of demise, to threaten the lives of Iranian refugees, activists and opponents.
Therefore, certain urgent and imperative measures should be taken to halt Iran’s activities: Firstly, without any political considerations or favors, Iran’s terrorists must be prosecuted in European courts instead of extradition to Iran. With regards to the detained terrorists behind the Paris 2018 attack, they must be tried in Belgium where they were detained. Secondly, Western governments should arrest, try and expel any Iranian intelligence ministry spies and agents and finally all European countries including UK must shut down and investigate with immediate effect Iran’s centers, and hidden sleeper cells in Europe.

ISIS Is Poised to Make a Comeback in Syria
Hassan Hassan/ The Atlantic/September 24/18
On the surface, the Syrian civil war appears to be nearing its final stage. Bashar al-Assad's regime and its Russian and Iranian backers won the battle that mattered the most for them in July, when they drove the moderate rebels out of their last bastion in the southern Syrian city of Deraa. With that military victory, any hopes of a moderate takeover must be laid to rest. But while the rebels have been defeated, their grievances remain. Hundreds of thousands of people have been killed, mostly by government and government-allied forces; millions have been displaced; whole towns have been bombed out of existence. Now the situation is poised to worsen as the regime is readying its forces to attack Idlib, home to Turkish-backed rebels, jihadis, and countless civilians.
The demise of the rebellion has set the stage for jihadis allied with Islamic State and al-Qaeda to pick up the pieces. If history is a guide, they will exploit the volatile situation; they will co-opt the resistance against Assad, the surviving symbol of repression, use it to fill their ranks, and establish a permanent post in the region. The Trump administration has just one last chance to get peace talks back on track and curb extremist influence.For years after the invasion of Iraq in 2003, dozens of armed groups of various ideological backgrounds sustained a deadly resistance against American troops. At one point, the United States seemed like it was losing the war as jihadis and others forced American troops into fortified barracks. The situation began to shift in 2007 and 2008, thanks to a counterinsurgency strategy led by General David Petraeus.
Drafting off a troop “surge,” Petraeus did not defeat the insurgency so much as transform it, converting former foes fighting an occupation into allies against the specific threat of jihadis within the broader conflict. For a time, many Sunnis saw the Americans as partners who would enable them to control their areas independently; no longer would they have to answer to the Shia-dominated government in Baghdad. Together they turned Iraq into a much safer place. But the U.S. did not resolve the underlying problems that had fueled the fight against American soldiers and the government in Baghdad. The U.S. did not push for the true integration of Sunni forces into the Iraqi state or secure them any real semblance of self-government. On the contrary, the U.S. stood by as Baghdad clamped down on Sunni communities to avoid a perceived threat to Shia hegemony.
Jihadis preyed on Sunni disillusionment and, to coin a phrase, rose from the ashes of the surge. By the summer of 2014, al-Qaeda in Iraq, which became the Islamic State, was able to set itself up as the only true militant opposition to the government in Baghdad; all other rebel forces had been vanquished. isis took over one third of Iraq, and seemingly overnight it morphed into a transnational organization operating across the region. isis could not have come to control such vast areas by virtue of its military strength alone. It grew so quickly because the U.S. occupying force had only deflected the insurgents’ energy, without ever resolving their complaints. isis effectively tapped into what one might call the insurgency’s latent energy.
In Syria, a similar process may be playing out.
In the early months of 2015, it seemed as though Assad and Iran might lose to the Syrian rebels—just as it seemed the U.S. would lose to the insurgents in Iraq prior to 2007. The rebels controlled most of the country, and were marching into Assad’s strongholds in western Syria. But then Russian President Vladimir Putin intervened. The Russians waged a relentless air campaign, and, on the ground, directly engaged local forces opposed to the regime as well as their regional backers. Turkey, once the rebels’ most committed sponsor, started working closely with Moscow to redraw the military and political map in Syria. With time, the Syrian rebellion degenerated from a mass movement animated by revolutionary zeal into a confused mess beholden to foreign interests. Instead of waging all-out war against the regime, it focused primarily on de-escalating the conflict through local ceasefires guaranteed by Russia, Turkey, and Iran. The Russians succeeded in fragmenting the rebels and threw their ranks into disarray. Thus in Deraa two months ago, even though the rebels were heavily armed and boasted large numbers, they surrendered to the Russians without much of a fight. They had already crumbled from within thanks to a combination of Russian military force and diplomacy.
Often, as the Iraq example demonstrates, the demise of an insurgency helps its most extreme elements. After the superficially successful surge, isis gained a monopoly over political violence in Sunni Iraq; it no longer had to compete for influence and recruitment with its erstwhile violent rivals.
There are signs that jihadis associated with both isis and al-Qaeda in Syria are similarly well positioned. Granted, local alternatives to these extremist groups still exist, but they no longer present a coherent message of resistance. For example, Adham Akrad, a moderate rebel commander from Deraa with the Free Syrian Army, appeared in a video recently urging the government to release individuals previously given guarantees of safety by Russia. Unlike jihadis who strongly reject any reconciliation with the regime, Akrad seemed to acknowledge that he was negotiating with a dominant power.
Other rebel groups that once dominated the militant landscape in Syria —Jaish al-Islam, Suqour al-Sham and Ahrar al-Sham — have been weakened to the point of irrelevance. Some of these forces were also rivals to isis and al-Qaeda. Their disappearance is a net gain for the jihadis.
Despite wishful thinking, the conflict in Syria is not over yet. One third of Syria is still outside of the regime’s control, under Turkish influence in the northwest and American protection in the east. As in Iraq, moreover, the regime’s military gains could prove temporary.
There is a vast arc of vulnerable areas that Damascus probably cannot secure: a rough terrain of deserts and river valleys extending from the Israeli borders in the southeast to Iraq in the east and then to Turkey in the northwest.
Already the two main jihadi groups, al Qaeda and isis, are becoming the last men standing in these rural and remote areas. It will not be difficult for them to tap into a pool of human and material resources to fight against a vicious, deeply unpopular dictatorship controlled by an Iranian-backed minority sect. To win recruits, jihadis may not even need to win hearts and minds—they need only convince the disaffected that they represent the only viable opposition left against the government. Having inherited the Syrian uprising and its energy, they could become permanent fixtures of the Syrian scene.
Again, unless grievances are resolved, insurgencies do not simply go away. They can lie dormant for years or even decades, only to re-emerge later. Indeed, the Syrian conflict over the past few years could be traced in part to the Islamist insurgency of the 1970s and 1980s waged against the current president’s father, Hafez. That rebellion was seemingly crushed after the government launched a deadly campaign in Hama, killing between 10,000 and 30,000 people. The government also embarked on a systematic and educational campaign to uproot Islamism from Syrian society. Yet many individuals who lived in exile after 1982, or their descendants, have gone on to fight Hafez’s son. And many groups integral to the current uprising, including Jabhat al-Nusra, Ahrar al-Sham, Nour ad-Din Zinki, and Faylaq al-Sham, could be considered the direct ideological heirs of the old Islamist insurgency.
To date, the U.S. has made serious military and diplomatic mistakes that could help the jihadists inherit the insurgency.
The Trump administration has limited its operations to eastern Syria. It has allowed northwest Syria to fall completely off its radar and given over the south to Russia. Already, the northwest has become a stronghold for two of the most dangerous al-Qaeda franchises, one focused on global jihad and another on local battles. And isis has its eyes on the south.
In order to win against extremists in the short and long term, the U.S. must expand its aperture, not narrow it, even as it recognizes that a military victory by Assad will make it impossible to resolve the tensions that could fuel new conflicts. Luckily, the U.S. has an important card to play: its presence in the east. From this base, the U.S. could help create a truly representative governing body that—in the future, once peace finally arrives—will have some autonomy from Damascus. The U.S. should agree to leave Syria only after it achieves a meaningful political settlement that recognizes local authority. To realize this goal, the U.S. should work with its European allies to revitalize the Geneva process. The U.S. is suffering from serious Middle East fatigue, but an apparent victory isn’t good enough. Its choice is clear: Root out the problems that drive violent radicalism now, or fight the jihadists again in the future.

Why foreign nationals should beware of traveling to Iran
الدكتور ماجد ربيزاده: لهذه الأسباب على الأجانب الحذر من السفر إلى إيران

Dr. Majid Rafizadeh/Arab News/September 24/18
At these critical times, foreign nationals ought to be extremely cautious about traveling to the Islamic Republic of Iran. Some foreign governments have prudently begun to warn their citizens. For example, the British Foreign Office has recently warned all UK-Iranian dual nationals not to travel to Iran. Its statement declared: “There is a risk that British nationals, and a higher risk that British/Iranian dual nationals, could be arbitrarily detained in Iran. All British nationals should consider carefully the risks of traveling to Iran.”
While some may view such a move as unprecedented, it is without adoubt a significant blow to the so-called moderate administration of Hassan Rouhani and his Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif.
One of the promises of the Iranian president and the loyalists of his political party, the Moderation and Development Party, has been to improve diplomatic relationships with the rest of the world, specifically European countries. Iranian leaders have also been boasting that the EU is on the side of Tehran after the US withdrew from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, commonly labeled as the Iran nuclear deal, and imposed sanctions on Tehran.
Rouhani also famously pledged to improve the nation’s tourism industry and attract more tourists in order to enhance the country’s economy. In fact, the president encouraged foreign citizens to come to Tehran and frequently put significant emphasis on the intersection between the private sector, tourism and foreign nations. He wrote on Twitter: “Our approach to develop #tourism sector is to develop ground for private sector. We welcome Iranian investors, both home and abroad.”
Foreign nationals ought to be extremely cautious about traveling to Iran as the regime is desperate for more hostages to exploit for political, geostrategic and financial gain.
It is important to point out that the UK has wisely realized the danger that its citizens can face in case they travel to Iran, in spite of the fact that the UK has an embassy in Tehran and in spite of the fact that the UK and the Iranian government have diplomatic ties at this moment.
The British government has become extremely frustrated with the Iranian regime’s treatment of British citizen Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe. Zaghari-Ratcliffe — a project manager at the Thomson Reuters Foundation — was with her infant daughter when the Islamic Republic confiscated their passports. She has since been imprisoned for more than two years on trumped-up charges such as orchestrating a “soft overthrow” and “spreading propaganda against the state.”
Despite the fact that the UK has increased trade with Iran (up 153 percent in the 12 months to March 20), reopened its embassy in Tehran and strengthened its ties with Iran in the last few years, specifically after the nuclear deal, the Iranian authorities have not changed their policy of hostage-taking.
In fact, the number of foreign nationals imprisoned in Iran has increased in the few years since the West enhanced its political and economic ties with the Islamic Republic. The US State Department has also acknowledged the increasing threat against Americans since the deal was reached, stating in a travel warning: “Iran has continued to harass, arrest, and detain US citizens, in particular dual nationals.”
The Iranian regime seeks to achieve several objectives by targeting foreign citizens and taking them hostage. One objective is to use hostages as political pawns and leverage against other governments. This has been the policy of the theocratic establishment since the revolution in 1979, starting with the takeover of the US Embassy in Tehran, which led to 52 Americans being held hostage for 444 days. The regime released them when it had achieved its political and ideological objectives.
Another objective is to pressure other governments into granting Tehran more economic concessions. For example, in the case of Zaghari-Ratcliffe, Tehran attempted to pressure the UK government into paying off $530 million of debt. The Iranian regime also secretly received $400 million in cash from the Obama administration when it swapped four Iranian-Americans for seven Iranian prisoners in the US.
The regime is also trying to keep Iranian society insulated from exposure to the West, since Iran’s ruling clerics oppose and resent any cultural, political or social influence linked to the West. Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei has frequently warned that the biggest threat to Iran is the infiltration of Western culture and ideology. This is because he and the senior cadres of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps fear that the Western culture and lifestyle will further push Iran’s youths into rising up against the regime.
In a nutshell, foreign nationals ought to be extremely cautious about traveling to the Islamic Republic, particularly at this critical time. Hostage taking is a core pillar of the ruling mullahs’ foreign policy and the regime’s revolutionary ideology. The theocratic establishment is desperate for more foreign hostages in order to exploit them as political, geostrategic and financial pawns. The UN should take Iran’s hostage-taking policy seriously and hold the Iranian authorities accountable.
*Dr. Majid Rafizadeh is a Harvard-educated Iranian-American political scientist. He is a leading expert on Iran and US foreign policy, a businessman and president of the International American Council. Twitter: @Dr_Rafizadeh