Detailed Lebanese & Lebanese Related LCCC English New Bulletin For September 29/2018
Compiled & Prepared by: Elias Bejjani

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Bible Quotations
Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint, dill, and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith
Matthew 23/23-26: "‘Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint, dill, and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. It is these you ought to have practised without neglecting the others. You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel! ‘Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and of the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup, so that the outside also may become clean.""

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 28-29/18
Hezbollah Built Missile Storehouses in Heart of Beirut's Civilian Population/Yaniv Kubovich/Haaretz/September 28/18
As Hariri verdict nears, Hezbollah’s choices are limited/Hussain Abdul-Hussain/Arab News/September 28/18
Putin’s adviser in Tehran with a deal: Israel to stop Syrian air strikes, Iran to halt arms shipments/DEBKAfile/September 28/18
Maybe This Financial System Can’t Be Fixed/Cathy O'Neil/Bloomberg/September, 28/18
Washington to Europe: We Forbid You/Abdulrahman Al-Rashed/Asharq Al-Awsat/September, 28/18
Iran’s Choice: Between Syria and Pakistan/Amir Taheri/Asharq Al-Awsat/September, 28/18
Bahrain’s Hezbollah and The Iranian Failure/Salman Al-dossary/Asharq Al-Awsat/September, 28/18
Analysis Netanyahu's UN Speech Was One of His Most Convincing and Effective Performances/Yossi Verter/Haaretz/September 28/18
FULL TEXT: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's 2018 UN General Assembly Speech/Haaretz/September 27/2018
Syrians caught in the middle of an unwinnable war/Sinem Cengiz/Arab News/September 28, 2018
Syria’s Kurds try to carve out a future among competing threats/Kerry Boyd AndersonKerry Boyd Anderson
Is Trump a populist/Mamdouh AlMuhaini/Al Arabiya/September 28/18
Is China’s BRI idea beginning to catch the world’s attention/Sabena Siddiqui/Al Arabiya/September 28/18
Why militant fundamentalism is post-modern, not orthodox/Adil Rasheed/Al Arabiya/September 28/18
Iran’s blame game deflects attention from regime’s support of terror/Dr. Majid Rafizadeh/Arab News/September 28/18
Welcome to Sanctuary Sweden/Judith Bergman/Gatestone Institute/September 28/18
The Shia Arabs of Khuzestan/Mehdi Khalaji/The Washington Institute/September 28/18

Titles For The Latest LCCC Lebanese Related News published on September 28-29/18
Hezbollah Built Missile Storehouses in Heart of Beirut's Civilian Population
Aoun: Majority Government Should Be Formed if Talks Fail
STL organizes seminar on victims’ representation in international courts
Lebanon Stresses Compliance With US Measures Against Hezbollah
Russia Says Return of Displaced Continues, New Steps Expected Within Days
Lebanon: Hariri Resumes New Round of Consultations to Avoid State Collapse
STL Registrar Meets Lebanese Officials, Attends Seminar on Victims Representation
Aoun: Majoritarian Govt. Could Be Formed, Parties Unwilling to Participate Can Stay Out
Rahi Says Aoun, Hariri Should Form Govt 'Despite Objections'
Hizbullah Minister Dismisses Israel Missile Site Claims as 'Lies, Illusions'
Another Lebanese Newspaper Stops Printing
Jihadist Detainee Linked to Iran Embassy Bombing Referred to Judicial Council
Jihadists who Plotted to Kill Ban Ki-moon in Lebanon Charged
Hamadeh, Rampling discuss ongoing educational cooperation
Guidanian, Shbib kick off Beirut Restaurants Festival
Bassil concludes US tour
Army chief visits wounded soldiers at AUH
Accused of Iranian Embassy blast referred to Justice Council
Samy Gemayel, Russian Ambassador Discuss Syrian Refugee Crisis
Samy Gemayel Demands Immediate Action to Stop Metn Environmental Crime
As Hariri verdict nears, Hezbollah’s choices are limited

Titles For The Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on September 28-29/18
Iran FM Rejects Israeli Atomic Warehouse Claims as 'Show'
Putin’s adviser in Tehran with a deal: Israel to stop Syrian air strikes, Iran to halt arms shipments
U.S. Pushes Forward with Plans for Anti-Iran Arab Alliance
Merkel, Erdogan Hold Tense Talks in Shadow of Protests
Indonesian City Hit by Tsunami after Powerful Quake
Sisi Calls for Resumption of Palestinian-Israeli Negotiations
Tel Aviv Flirts With Moscow From Golan Gate
Palestinians Doubt Trump’s Support for Two-State Solution, Boycott US Administration
Baghdad Awaits Kurdish 'Consensus Candidate' for Presidency
Arab Coalition Raid Kills Houthi Leader,14 Companions
Republicans agree to FBI probe into Kavanaugh and a Senate vote delay

The Latest LCCC Lebanese Related News published on September 28-29/18
Hezbollah Built Missile Storehouses in Heart of Beirut's Civilian Population
الهآررتس: صورة مخازن حزب الله للصواريخ في بيروت وسط مناطق سكنية

Yaniv Kubovich/Haaretz/September 28/18
Hezbollah’s goal is to build a long-range precision ground-to-ground missile force with Iranian funding and expertise in preparation for a war with Israel
Hezbollah has built weapons storage facilities in the heart of the civilian population in Beirut, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu revealed on Thursday in his speech to the United Nations General Assembly.
The missile storehouses are part of joint effort of Iran and Hezbollah to upgrade the organization’s missile forces, while Hezbollah’s goal is to convert its present missiles and build a long-range precision ground-to-ground missile force.
Israel has known of the sites Netanyahu exposed for about a year, but until now the information had been presented only to a small group of people inside the intelligence community.
Israel has acted in recent years in Syria and other countries to prevent these efforts, and locating these missiles in the heart of the Uzai neighborhood – near Beirut’s international airport – was intended to make it more difficult for the Israeli Air Force to attack the sites.
Alongside the site near Beirut-Rafic Hariri International Airport, another missile storage facility is located underneath the soccer stadium a Hezbollah-affiliated team. Another storage site for ground-to-ground missiles is in the middle of a residential neighborhood, near civilian buildings and only 500 meters from the airport’s runway. Other similar sites exist in the heart of Beirut's civilian population and elsewhere in Lebanon.
Israeli defense officials believe that manufacturing facilities for the precision missiles have not yet been built inside Lebanon, despite Hezbollah and Iran's wishes.
The project to build precision-guided missiles is Hezbollah’s flagship program in preparation for another round of hostilities with Israel. Hezbollah is upgrading its missile forces using Iranian knowledge, training and funding. Tehran ships the necessary resources via Syria, and Israel has been attempting to attack these shipments.
The attack last week by the Israeli Air Force on such a shipment is what led to the Syrian anti-aircraft forces shooting down the Russian spy plane, killing the 15 crew members aboard the plane. In his speech, Netanyahu threatened Hezbollah explicitly: “I have a message for Hezbollah today: Israel knows, Israel also knows what you’re doing. Israel knows where you’re doing it. And Israel will not let you get away with it.”Netanyahu presented an aerial photograph of the airport in Beirut to prove his point about Hezbollah using innocent Lebanese citizens as human shields. “Israel will do whatever it must do to defend itself against Iran’s aggression. We will continue to act against you in Syria. We will act against you in Lebanon. We will act against you in Iraq. We will act against you whenever, and wherever. We must act to defend our state and to defend our people.”
Aoun: Majority Government Should Be Formed if Talks Fail 28th September 2018/President Michel Aoun called for the formation of a majority government if efforts to establish a national unity coalition government fail. “If we cannot form a coalition government, then let it be a majority government according to the adopted rules. Whoever does not want to be part of it, can stay out,” Aoun reportedly told journalists on his flight back from New York where he attended the 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly. “I am the president, I cannot leave the government,” he added. "The solution requires someone to take the initiative. But that person would no be me. Some have denied me the right to reject a draft Cabinet line-up while it is stipulated by the Constitution," he said. Let them explain to me the meaning of partnership."

STL organizes seminar on victims’ representation in international courts
Fri 28 Sep 2018/NNA - Fifty Lebanese lawyers attended a two-day seminar entitled "Representing Victims before International and Internationalized Courts". The event was organized by the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) in partnership with the Institute for Human Rights of the Beirut Bar Association. The President of the Beirut Bar Association, Mr Andre Chidiac, and the Vice President of the STL, Judge Ralph Riachi, opened the seminar. "It is important for Lebanese lawyers to be exposed to the common law system, it will broaden their horizon and this kind of seminar aims to do so", said Mr Chidiac. Judge Riachi added "It is crucial for victims to participate in proceedings before international courts; however this participation needs to be more meaningful."The purpose of the seminar was to inform Lebanese lawyers of the rights of victims before international courts and to invite them to join the list of prospective victims’ counsel at the STL, the International Criminal Court (ICC) and the Kosovo Specialist Chambers (KSC). "In the last 20 years we have witnessed an important shift in international law, in which victims have become the drivers of justice and accountability", said the Registrar of the STL, Daryl Mundis, in his introductory remarks. Experts from the STL, ICC and KSC addressed topics including how victims can participate in proceedings before international tribunals, how to communicate with vulnerable persons, as well as the applicable criteria and processes for joining the list of victims’ counsel at international tribunals. "This seminar is very useful: I acquired new, interesting and important information on victim representation which is helpful as I intend to apply and be on the victims’ list of counsel before the STL and other international tribunals", said a participant. This event is part of the STL’s outreach efforts to engage with Lebanese legal professionals, academics and civil society by organizing lectures, conferences, and roundtable discussions on topics related to the mandate of the Tribunal and international criminal justice, including its unique role in facilitating the participation of victims’.--STL

Lebanon Stresses Compliance With US Measures Against Hezbollah
Beirut - Nazeer Rida/Asharq Al-Awsat/Friday, 28 September, 2018/The new US draft-law on Hezbollah is moving to an advanced stage involving media funders, economic and social institutions linked to the group, in what seems to be “an attempt to isolate the supporters of the party, which is facing increased financial pressure,” according to experts. The new draft-law imposes sanctions on the supporters of “Bayt al-Mal” and “Jihad Al-Bina”, which is involved in construction works, as well as the party’s media institutions, and includes advertisers who broadcast ads through Hezbollah’s channels. While the bill seeks to “increase pressure on banks dealing with the group,” Central Bank Governor Riad Salameh said on Thursday in response to a question about his willingness to enforce the sanctions: “We, as the central bank, issued circulars a while ago, and there aren’t new notices.” He explained and these circulars make Lebanon comply with the laws of countries that have currency or banks dealings with it. He pointed out in a radio interview that those circulars were sufficient enough whatever the new sanctions, adding that there was nothing new on this subject. The US House of Representatives unanimously voted to pass a bill calling for new and harsh sanctions against Hezbollah. The new sanctions aim to limit the party's ability to raise funds and recruit members, as well as increase pressure on the banks that deal with the group and the countries that support it, especially Iran. The sanctions also prohibit anyone who supports the party materially and in other means from entering the United States. According to Dr. Sami Nader, Director of Levant Institute for Strategic Affairs (LISA), the new bill shows that the circle of sanctions is widening, since it started with Hezbollah’s officials, then reached the entities associated with the party, and today includes the supporters of the group’s institutions.

Russia Says Return of Displaced Continues, New Steps Expected Within Days
Beirut /Asharq Al-Awsat/Friday, 28 September, 2018/George Shaaban, Advisor to the Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri, denied claims that Russia intended to halt its plan for the return of the Syrian displaced, noting that some new steps would be made in the coming days.
Shaaban, a member of the Lebanese committee appointed by the foreign ministry to discuss the issue of the return of the displaced, told Asharq Al-Awsat that he met on Thursday in Moscow with the Russian president’s representative for the Middle East and African countries, Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov, who assured him that the Russian plan for the return of the displaced persons was in full swing. Well-informed sources said that new steps would be made next week after the end of the meetings of the UN General Assembly in New York, where the Russian plan was discussed at the meetings of a number of countries concerned with the Syrian file. Meanwhile, Minister of State for Displaced Affairs Moein al-Merhebi linked the progress of the Russian plan with the change of the European and American positions regarding their support for the reconstruction of Syria. The minister told Asharq Al-Awsat that the current circumstances “do not suggest the possibility of launching the plan in a short time unless there is a change in the position of Europe and the United States, after they refused to finance the reconstruction of Syria” – a development that will hinder the return of the displaced, according to Merhebi.Around 4,100 people have voluntarily returned to Syria upon the initiative of the General Security since last June.

Lebanon: Hariri Resumes New Round of Consultations to Avoid State Collapse
Beirut - Youssef Diab/Asharq Al-Awsat/Friday, 28 September, 2018/Lebanese Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri kicked off on Thursday a new round of talks in an attempt to break the impasse that prevails over the cabinet formation and threatens the collapse of state institutions. Sources close to Hariri’s latest moves told Asharq Al-Awsat on Thursday that the PM was launching his round of talks based on new grounds that might push parties to offer some concessions. “Hariri is kicking off fresh talks based on the pressing economic situation, the weakening state caused by the absence of a government and the security gaps related to the latest problems that erupted at the airport,” the sources said. In this regard, Hariri sat down Thursday with leader of the Lebanese Forces, Samir Geagea, and member of the Democratic Gathering MP Wael Abu Faour to discuss the Christian and Druze knots. “During his meeting with Hariri, Geagea defined what the LF could accept or reject in the new ministerial formula,” LF media officer Charles Jabbour told Asharq Al-Awsat. He said the LF offered big concessions in the past and is currently unwilling to present more concessions to a level of abolishing itself and its popular representation. The sources uncovered that Hariri currently possesses new indicators that might produce a hole in the ministerial crisis. One of those indicators hints that President Michel and the Free Patriotic Movement of caretaker Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil would accept to give up the position of the Deputy Prime Minister and offer it to the LF. For his part, former Prime Minister Fouad Siniora called on Lebanese officials to help Hariri reach healthy solutions capable of producing a national unity government, which is qualified to remove the country from its sectarian sicknesses. “I suggest the formation of a small government that allows us to exit the current crisis,” he said.
STL Registrar Meets Lebanese Officials, Attends Seminar on Victims Representation
Naharnet/September 28/18/Special Tribunal for Lebanon’s (STL) Registrar Daryl Mundis met with Prime Minister Saad Hariri on a working visit to Beirut this week and discussed various matters relating to the Tribunal’s work, a press release said on Friday.
Mundis also met with Minister of Justice Salim Jreissati, Prosecutor General Samir Hammoud and members of the diplomatic community. On 27 September, Mundis attended and participated in a seminar “Representing victims before international and internationalized courts” organised by the STL in partnership with the Institute of Human Rights of the Beirut Bar Association. The Registrar is responsible for all aspects of the Tribunal's administration including the budget, fundraising, human resources and providing security.His responsibilities also include court management, oversight of the Victims’ Participation Unit, witness protection and language services.

Aoun: Majoritarian Govt. Could Be Formed, Parties Unwilling to Participate Can Stay Out

Naharnet/September 28/18/Returning from New York where he took part in the U.N. General Assembly, President Michel Aoun said on Friday that a majoritarian government can be formed shall efforts fail to form a national unity one, and that parties unwilling to participate are free to leave the government. “There are two kinds of governments, a national coalition one and a majoritarian. Let a majoritarian government be formed shall we fail to form a national coalition one, according to the rules in place. Those who do not wish to participate can leave,” said Aoun.
To a question on whether such a choice is applicable and capable of being endorsed in parliament, Aoun said in remarks he made to reporters: “A government can be formed based on the convictions and standards replicated in the proportional representation system. If some continue to refuse, let it then be formed based on convictions. “I as President can’t leave the government, but parties that support me can,” he added. Lebanon has been unable to form a Cabinet since May 24 when PM-designate Saad Hariri was tasked with the mission. Wrangling between political parties over portfolios and shares, mainly the Christian and Druze representation, has delayed his task..On linking a political solution in Syria to the return of Syrian refugees in Lebanon, Aoun said the international community seems determined to link the two issues together for political ends, “there is a certain background related to the many facets of politics,” he said.

Rahi Says Aoun, Hariri Should Form Govt 'Despite Objections'
Naharnet/September 28/18/Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rahi made an appeal from Canada to the President and the PM-designate to speed the government formation “despite objections” of some political parties, as he warned of the repercussions as a result of failure, the National News Agency reported on Friday. “I appeal to President Michel Aoun and PM-designate Saad Hariri to speed the formation process. Enough with consultations, it is time that a government be announced because our homeland is heading to destruction,” said Rahi. “These are not only my words, these are the words of the international community which is keen on Lebanon, may be a little more than our officials are,” added the Patriarch in remarks he made to reporters from Canada where he leads a pastoral visit. Rahi said he sees no justification for the failure to form the government the moment Hariri was designated to do so, “enough with consultations here and there. Let Hariri and Aoun form it despite rejections,” he added. Hariri was tasked with the formation process on May 24 but his mission has been delayed because of wrangling between political parties over Cabinet shares.

Hizbullah Minister Dismisses Israel Missile Site Claims as 'Lies, Illusions'

Naharnet/September 28/18/Israel's claims about the presence of missile sites for Hizbullah near Beirut's airport are “lies and illusions,” a Hizbullah minister has said, in the group's first comment on the allegations. “Let us leave (Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin) Netanyahu to his lies and illusions. Let him talk and incite the way he wants. We will only say that the Resistance has its capabilities -- as Secretary-General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah has said -- and we are concerned with repelling his aggression and any new aggression on Lebanon,” caretaker Sport and Youth Minister Mohammed Fneish said. “The Israelis know very well what awaits them if they carry out any attack on Lebanon. If they do not know, they will be surprised,” Fneish added, in an interview with the Central News Agency. During his address before the U.N. General Assembly on Thursday, Netanyahu claimed that Hizbullah has positioned three missile sites near Beirut's Rafik Hariri International Airport. Netanyahu also held up what he called "a picture worth a thousand missiles" and titled "Beirut Precision Guided Missile."Israeli army spokesman Avichai Adrai meanwhile published pictures of the alleged sites on Twitter. He said the sites include the football stadium of the Hizbullah-affiliated al-Ahed club, another site near the airport and the Ouzai fishermen's harbor.

Another Lebanese Newspaper Stops Printing

Agence France Presse/Naharnet/September 28/18/Lebanese newspaper al-Anwar on Friday said its publisher was suspending its print version, as it became the latest victim of the country's media crisis. "Dar al-Sayyad has decided to stop publishing al-Anwar from next Monday," the political daily said on its front page. The newspaper, which was first issued in 1959, said the demise of its print version was due to "financial losses."The publisher's eight other publications -- including popular cultural weekly al-Shabaka -- would also cease to be printed, it said. It was not immediately clear if there were any plans for the publications to continue to have a presence online.Founded in 1943 by Lebanese writer Said Freiha, Dar al-Sayyad has offices in London, Dubai, Riyadh, Cairo and Damascus, as well as Beirut. The press in Lebanon has been in crisis for several years, both as it struggles to adapt to the digital era and faces economic difficulties. In June, prestigious pan-Arab newspaper al-Hayat closed its Lebanon offices, where it was first founded in 1946 before later becoming Saudi owned. Its printing presses in Beirut stopped the same month, leaving its international version only available online. In late 2016, Lebanese newspaper as-Safir shuttered 42 years after it published its first edition, with the founder saying it had run out of funds. Other newspapers have carried out mass layoffs or suspended salary payments.

Jihadist Detainee Linked to Iran Embassy Bombing Referred to Judicial Council
Naharnet/September 28/18/Lebanon’s military court referred to the Judicial Council an accused reportedly involved in the 2013 bombing of the Iranian embassy in Beirut, LBCI TV station said on Friday. The station said the accused, Bahaeddine Mahmoud Hujeir, is also involved in plotting for the assassination of Lebanese politicians and businessmen. The Lebanese Army Intelligence had arrested Hujeir last week in the southern Palestinian refugee camp of Ain el-Hilweh. Hujeir has ties to the jihadist Abdullah Azzam Brigades and to the two suicide bombers who carried out the embassy bombing. He had prior knowledge of the attackers’ intention and has recently pledged allegiance to the Islamic State terror group, it added. In November 2013, at least 23 people were killed and more than 145 others were wounded in twin blasts near the Iranian Embassy in the neighborhood of Bir Hassan in Beirut's southern suburbs.

Jihadists who Plotted to Kill Ban Ki-moon in Lebanon Charged

Naharnet/September 28/18/State Commissioner to the Military Court Judge Peter Germanos on Friday charged four Palestinians with belonging to the jihadist Islamic State group and plotting acts of terror in Lebanon and Italy. The four men, among whom only one is in custody, had planned to “assassinate former U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon during his 2013 visit to Lebanon and his inspection of U.N. forces operating in south Lebanon (UNIFIL),” the National News Agency said. They were also charged with “attempting to poison water tanks used by the Lebanese Army to kill the biggest number of soldiers and also with plotting a terrorist operation in the Sardinia region in Italy.”Germanos referred the file to First Military Examining Magistrate Riad Abu Ghayda, demanding “the interrogation of the detainee, the issuance of an arrest warrant for him, and the issuance of three in-absentia arrest warrants for the three fugitives.” The detainee, born in 1991, admitted to links with an IS member in Syria "who tasked him with making explosives and concocting poison," General Security said in a statement on Thursday.
He prepared to "concoct a quantity of deadly poison along with someone living in a foreign country" for two planned poisonings. The first was to "poison one of the water tanks from which the Lebanese Army's trucks fill up on water every day to take it to the army barracks."The second was to "carry out a mass poisoning in a foreign country" through "poisoning food during a public holiday," the statement said, apparently referring to Italy's Sardinia. Lebanon has been heavily impacted by the civil war in neighboring Syria since it erupted in March 2011. Security forces have on several occasions arrested suspected IS members. They are usually tried by military courts, but their trials have dragged on due to the amount of cases. Lebanon has been rocked by several suicide bombings since 2013, some of them claimed by IS. The extremist group in August last year evacuated a Lebanese-Syrian border region under an unprecedented deal to end three years of jihadist presence there.

Hamadeh, Rampling discuss ongoing educational cooperation
Fri 28 Sep 2018/NNA - Caretaker National Education and Higher Education Minister, Marwan Hamadeh, met on Friday at his ministerial office with the British Ambassador to Lebanon, Chris Rampling, accompanied by British Council Director, David Knox. Attending the meeting had also been General Director of the Higher Education Ministry, Fadi Yarak. Discussions reportedly touched on means of educational and cultural cooperation between the two countries. Minister Hamadeh welcomed the new British Ambassador in Lebanon upon assumption of his diplomatic duties, stressing the profound Lebanese-British relations at the various national and developmental levels, especially in the field of education. Hamadeh hailed the munificent British support and contributions to the education of Lebanese and displaced persons through the funding of the Ministry's program aimed at ensuring education for all children on Lebanese territory. The Minister cited the recent British donation for the advancement of education, worth 100 million dollars. Hamadeh thanked the British government and the British Council, departments and institutions for their partnership and cooperation with the Ministry of Education, including supporting educational curricula modernization project, and teachers' training on up-to-date teaching methods."This contributes to raising the level of performance of the Lebanese educational system," Hamadeh corroborated. Hamadeh also lauded the distinctive British commitment to the development of the Ministry's capabilities in terms of inclusive education and care for students with learning difficulties. Ambassador Rampling, for his part, emphasized the distinct relations with Lebanon, stressing ongoing educational cooperation with the Ministry, through ensuring support for the Ministry's program aimed at securing education for all for the coming stage.

Guidanian, Shbib kick off Beirut Restaurants Festival

Fri 28 Sep 2018/NNA - Caretaker Tourism Minister, Avedis Guidanian, Beirut Governor, Judge Ziad Shbib and the Dean of the Syndicate of Owners of Restaurants, Cafes, Night-Clubs and Pastries in Lebanon, Tony Ramy, kicked off Friday the third edition of the Beirut Restaurants Festival at the Trainstation Mar Mikhaël. The Festival is organized by the Syndicate of Owners of Restaurants, Cafes, Night-Clubs and Pastries, in partnership with "Hospitality Service". The inaugural ceremony took place in the presence e of scores of political, economic, cultural, diplomatic and military dignitaries, in addition to crowds of visitors who came from the various Lebanese regions, to enjoy the taste of the Lebanese and international cuisine. Minister Guidanian welcomed in his speech the existing cooperation between the Ministry and the touristic syndicate and unions, hailing the role undertaken by the private sector in support of tourism. Governor Shbib, for his part, hailed Guidanian's dynamism and positive spirit which ensures a climate conducive for the advancement of the touristic sector and its growth.

Bassil concludes US tour
Fri 28 Sep 2018/NNA – Caretaker Foreign Minister, Gebran Basil, on Friday returned to Beirut winding up a tour in the US where he met with the Lebanese Diaspora in Boston, Philadelphia and New Jersey. In New York, Bassil held talks with more than 20 Foreign Ministers who had partaken in the UN General Assembly.

Army chief visits wounded soldiers at AUH

Fri 28 Sep 2018/NNA - Army Commander Gen. Joseph Aoun Friday visited the wounded soldiers at the American University Hospital (AUH), where he was briefed on their medical conditions, treatments and various needs. The wounded soldiers got injured as an army intelligence patrol was pursuing a drug dealer in the area of Hermel's Marjehin.Gen. Aoun hailed the army soldiers' sacrifices and bravery in carrying out their duties, wishing the wounded speedy recovery.
Army Commander, Gen. Joseph Aoun, on Friday welcomed at his Yarzeh office MP Nicolas Sehnaoui, on top of a delegation. Discussions reportedly touched on the current situation in the country. Gen. Aoun then met with a delegation of the UNHCR, led by Mireille Girard, with the current situation of the Syrian refugees in Lebanon featuring high on their talks.

Accused of Iranian Embassy blast referred to Justice Council

Fri 28 Sep 2018/NNA - Government commissioner before the military court, Judge Peter Germanos, has referred Bahaeddine Hojeir for the Council of Justice, for trial in the case of the explosion of the Iranian Embassy in Beirut in 2014 and the killing of a number of security members and civilians, National News Agency correspondent reported on Friday. It is to note that Hojeir is the emir of Abdullah Azzam Brigades in Ain-el-Hilwe refugee camp, and is in charge of issuing Fatwas allowing suicidal operations in the country.

Samy Gemayel, Russian Ambassador Discuss Syrian Refugee Crisis 28th September 2018/Kataeb leader Samy Gemayel on Friday met with Russian Ambassador Alexander Zasypkin, with talks featuring high on the latest developments in Lebanon and the region. The meeting, held at the party's headquarter in Saifi, focused on the Syrian refugee crisis, as the Russian diplomat relayed to Gemayel his country's viewpoint and explained its approach regarding this issue.

Samy Gemayel Demands Immediate Action to Stop Metn Environmental Crime 28th September 2018/Kataeb leader Samy Gemayel on Friday called on the environment minister to stop the "crime" being committed against nature in the Metn towns of Zandouka and Al-Qosaybeh where a road is being randomly and recklessly constructed.
"Hello your excellency, the minister of environment! We are sorry for bothering you again. This is a new environmental crime to be added to the list," Gemayel wrote on Twitter. "We demand an immediate action to reduce attacks on forest areas." Earlier this week, Gemayel demanded an immediate action to end the chaos caused by quarries, as a video showing rocks falling on the Metn express highway went viral. "Good morning your Excellency, the minster of environment! Sorry for bothering, but the chaotic quarries are having no mercy either on trees or humans. We demand a swift action before a disaster takes place," Gemayel wrote on Twitter on Wednesday.

As Hariri verdict nears, Hezbollah’s choices are limited
Hussain Abdul-Hussain/Arab News/September 28, 2018
It is finally coming to an end. Set up in 2009 principally to investigate and try the perpetrators of the 2005 bombing in Beirut that resulted in the killing of the former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, the UN Special Tribunal for Lebanon is preparing, at last, to issue its decision. The trial itself didn’t actually get underway until 2014. Now, in just weeks, the tribunal will render its verdict on the guilt of four accused, tried in absentia Salim Jamil Ayyash, Hassan Habib Merhi, Hussein Hassan Oneissi and Assad Hassan Sabra. As usual with murder and other acts of dastard-liness in Lebanon, Hezbollah’s fingerprint is all over the case. Still, the “Party of God,” as it styles itself, has simultaneously called the tribunal meaningless while promising to wage civil war if this “meaningless” court implicates Hezbollah. It is a sign of desperation at Hezbollah’s central offices.
Unlike the US, which unequivocally considers Hezbollah a terrorist group, Europe sees it as a militia with a “political wing.” European capitals maintain links with the latter. However, should the tribunal find Hezbollah implicated in Hariri’s assassination, and Lebanon doesn’t react appropriately, Europe will be forced to cut ties with the group. This will isolate further Hezbollah and its sponsor, Iran, even as both are desperately seeking international friends to help counter renewed American sanctions.
A reasonable person might think that the way out of its hole is for Hezbollah to seek a compromise with the tribunal and the international community, whereby it gives up its militia in return for an acquittal: An offer to temper its unholiness in the manner of realpolitik. But realpolitik is a bridge too far for Lebanon’s radicals. And in any case, such decisions are not made in Beirut. For its part, Tehran cares not one jot that Hezbollah finally will be exposed explicitly as a criminal network (the world already implicitly understands it to be so). After all, Hezbollah was set up by Iran for the express purpose of executing dirty deed in its neighborhood. So forget reason, which stretched to its logical conclusion should mean the dismantling of everything that Hezbollah stands for.
The absence of logic notwithstanding, Hezbollah and Iran’s confusion can be at least appreciated, if one follows the tangled reasoning. Neither Hezbollah nor Iran thought the murderous deed they perpetrated would have had such long-lasting repercussions. And why would they? Political murder in the Levant isn’t so extraordinary. Indeed, Hezbollah must have believed that Hariri’s assassination would be quickly subsumed under the rolling headlines of modern Levantine misery. Hezbollah’s allies in government even attempted to speed things along by tampering with the crime scene, towing away burned-out cars in Hariri’s convoy and quickly filling in the huge crater the bombing caused. But they were surprised at the anger that followed, which fueled a demand for a probe of unimpeachable credibility.
Should the tribunal find Hezbollah implicated in Hariri’s assassination, and Lebanon doesn’t react appropriately, Europe will be forced to cut ties with the group.
And now, what to do when that unimpeachable credibility is about to unleash its verdict? Hezbollah can drop the act of national unity and replace the prime minister-designate, Saad Hariri, the son of Rafik, with its own loyalist Sunni prime minister. It can even send Hariri back into exile to make sure that no Lebanese official endorses the tribunal’s verdict. But by shutting down local figures like Hariri, the last bridge between Hezbollah’s version of Lebanon to the rest of the world, the party only would be shooting itself in the foot.
An alternative would be for Hezbollah to keep Hariri and supporters of the tribunal in government, and essentially hold them “hostage”: Should the court issue a verdict against the party’s interest, Hezbollah would harass Hariri and others in such a way that would risk their safety. And thus, to guarantee their wellbeing, Hariri and opponents of Hezbollah would be compelled to distance themselves — if not straight out denounce — the tribunal. In this way, Hezbollah can propagate the idea that the tribunal is an instrument of a foreign conspiracy that lacks any support within Lebanon.
Finally, there is the option of civil war, which the party has been threatening for some time. But the problem here is that Hezbollah has grown so militarily powerful, and has so much compromised the state, that there is nobody who can fight back. Hezbollah has so emasculated all other factions that no one can oppose it by arms. In the surreal world that Lebanon inhabits, Hezbollah can threaten a civil war and no one would show up.
Hezbollah and its allies have already stalled the formation of a Hariri Cabinet. Originally, the freeze was for the purpose of convincing Hariri, along with Druze leader Walid Jumblatt and Christian leader Samir Geagea, to agree to reconnect with Syrian leader Bashar Al Assad. The delay was also partially so the Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil the son-in-law of President Michel Aoun, could make sure that a new Cabinet would guarantee his eventual succession to Aoun.
But now, the tribunal has displaced calculations over Assad and over Bassil’s succession plans. And it becomes harder for Hezbollah to enter a “national unity” government under Hariri, so long as the prime minister refuses to denounce the tribunal. While seemingly strong, Hezbollah’s choices are limited.
The truth will emerge and show that the party assassinated Rafik Hariri. The media outlets of Iran, Hezbollah and their allies can deny this and claim it to be a conspiracy against the party. But the world and (most) Lebanese know better. It is a party that isn’t beyond assassinating rivals while claiming to be a “liberating” force.
*Hussain Abdul-Hussain is the Washington bureau chief of Kuwaiti daily Al-Rai, and a former visiting fellow at Chatham House in London. Twitter: @hahussain
Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not necessarily reflect Arab News' point-of-view
The Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on September 28-29/18
Iran FM Rejects Israeli Atomic Warehouse Claims as 'Show'
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/September 28/18/Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on Friday dismissed Israeli claims that Tehran was harbouring a secret atomic warehouse. "No arts & craft show will ever obfuscate that Israel is only regime in our region with a *secret* and *undeclared* nuclear weapons programme," Zarif said in a tweet. He called on Israel saying it was "time to fess up and open its illegal nuclear weapons" programme to international inspectors. "How can Israel, as the only holder of nuclear weapons in the Middle East, so shamelessly accuse a country whose programmes have repeatedly been declared as peaceful by the IAEA," the UN nuclear watchdog, Iran's official IRNA news agency quoted Zarif as saying. He said Israel and the United States stood "alone" on the world stage, as "policies forced by Netanyahu on America" had driven them both to isolation.
Zarif was responding to allegations made by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday in a speech to the UN General Assembly, embellished by ample use of the colourful props that have become his trademark. Netanyahu held up a map and a photograph of an outwardly "innocent looking compound" which he said was a secret atomic warehouse in Tehran and urged the IAEA to inspect. "Today, I'm disclosing for the first time that Iran has another secret facility in Tehran, a secret atomic warehouse for storing massive amounts of equipment and materiel from Iran's secret nuclear weapons programme," he said. Israel, along with Saudi Arabia and its allies, are the main supporters of US President Donald Trump's abandonment of a landmark 2015 nuclear accord between the major powers and Iran. The move, announced in May and accompanied by the subsequent reimposition of crippling US sanctions, has put Washington at odds with other major powers, including longstanding allies.

Putin’s adviser in Tehran with a deal: Israel to stop Syrian air strikes, Iran to halt arms shipments
DEBKAfile/September 28/18
DEBKAfile Exclusive: President Vladimir Putin sent his national security adviser Nikolai Patrushev to Tehran on Thursday, Sept. 27, to test a proposal: If Israel halted air strikes over Syria, would Iran stop shipping arms and military equipment to Syria for Hizballah? A part of this deal, not yet spelled out, may be Russia’s cancellation – or postponement – of its S-300 air defense missile delivery to Syria. Our exclusive sources report Putin has been pushing this plan in back-channel contacts with Washington and Jerusalem in the hope of cooling the crisis sparked by the downing of the Russian Il-20 spy plane by Syrian missiles. Those sources say that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu tends to accept it. On Thursday, Patrushev put the offer before Ali Shamkhani, Secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council. An answer was not expected on the spot, since a decision on a matter as weighty as this would be in the hands of supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. The ayatollah will also be counting the days to the next round of US sanctions on Iranian oil sales and banking transactions going into effect on Nov. 4. While Patrushev was in Tehran, Netanyahu used his speech before the UN General Assembly for an all-out attack on the Iranian regime, exposing a second nuclear site in Tehran, a “secret atomic warehouse.” Shakhmani commented: “…if it (Israel) continues its attacks it will face regrettable reactions.”He told the Russian official that he would refer the new proposal to the Iranian leadership. DEBKAfile’s sources add: The Russian-Israeli crisis over the downed Il-20 has passed into the hands of four national security advisers: John Bolton for the Trump administration and Meir Ben Shabat for Israel, as well as Patrushev and Shakhmani, Their conclusions will be put before President Putin and Prime Minister Netanyahu for a final decision when they meet again. Both sides agree that this meeting should take place soon, but no date is yet scheduled.
U.S. Pushes Forward with Plans for Anti-Iran Arab Alliance
Associated Press/Naharnet/September 28/18/The Trump administration pressed ahead Friday with plans to create an "Arab NATO" that would unite U.S. partners in the Middle East in an anti-Iran alliance. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met in New York with foreign ministers from Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to advance the project. The State Department said Pompeo had stressed the need to defeat the Islamic State group and other terrorist organizations as well ending the conflicts in Syria and Yemen, securing Iraq and "stopping Iran's malign activity in the region.""All participants agreed on the need to confront threats from Iran directed at the region and the United States," the department said in a statement. It added that the ministers had "productive discussions" on setting up what is to be known as the "Middle East Strategic Alliance" to promote security and stability in the region. The statement gave no timeframe for establishing the alliance but said Pompeo would continue to work on it in the coming weeks and months. Progress on creating the bloc has been hampered by an unresolved dispute between Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the UAE and Qatar that has split the membership of the Gulf Cooperation Council. The Saudis and Emiratis accuse Qatar of not doing enough to fight extremism, "financing terrorism" in some cases and getting too close to Iran. Qatar denies the charges. Since June 2017, the Saudis, Emiratis and Bahrain, along with Egypt, have been boycotting Qatar and demanding that it limit its diplomatic ties with Iran, shut down the state-funded Al-Jazeera news network, and sever ties to militant groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood and Lebanon's Hizbullah. Mediation by Kuwait and the United States has failed to end the dispute, which U.S. officials have warned could affect the fight against the Islamic State.

Merkel, Erdogan Hold Tense Talks in Shadow of Protests
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/September 28/18/Germany's Angela Merkel hosts Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Berlin Friday to try to repair badly frayed ties, a task complicated by planned anti-Erdogan protests and the chancellor's own domestic woes.The pair are meeting a day after Germany beat Turkey to become the Euro 2024 host nation, following a tight race that took on political significance when Erdogan fanned accusations of German discrimination in football. In an editorial in the Frankfurter Allgemeine daily, Erdogan said he wanted to "turn the page" on a long period of tensions, sparked by Berlin's criticism of his crackdown on opponents after a failed 2016 coup. His state visit to Germany, complete with military honours, is Erdogan's first there since becoming president in 2014 and comes as he is sparring with US President Donald Trump and the Turkish economy is in rapid decline. But critics, including rights campaigners and German politicians, are angered by the red-carpet treatment for a leader who has built an increasingly authoritarian reputation and just 18 months ago accused Berlin of "Nazi practices". Merkel herself has repeatedly stressed the importance of good relations with Ankara, a partner she relies on to help stem the flow of migrants to Europe. Yet she vowed not to turn a blind eye to human rights violations during her talks with Erdogan. "When there are differences in political systems and things to be criticised, then we express criticism -- and we will do that tomorrow," Merkel said at an event in Bavaria late Thursday. "But that does not mean that I do not want a stable Turkey."The hostility towards the visit comes at an awkward time for the veteran chancellor, who can ill afford any missteps after being weakened by a slew of crises that have rocked her fragile coalition. Merkel last week was forced to backtrack on a decision to promote a domestic spy chief who was under fire for his alleged far-right sympathies, prompting the chancellor to admit she had misread the public mood.
'Not Welcome'
Erdogan critics have vowed to take to the streets across Germany to protest everything from Turkey's record on human rights and press freedom to its offensive against Kurdish militia in Syria. Some 10,000 people are expected to rally under the motto "Erdogan Not Welcome" in Berlin on Friday. Demonstrators are also planning to protest in Cologne on Saturday where Erdogan will open one of Europe's largest mosques, commissioned by the disputed Turkish-controlled Ditib organisation, after a working breakfast with Merkel. "Erdogan wants a fresh start with Germany. This is an opportunity," the daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung said, urging Merkel to push Ankara to end its repressive tactics and free the five remaining German-Turkish nationals considered political prisoners by Berlin. "But we can't just forget everything that happened. It could take years to rebuild trust."
Banquet snub?
Relations between the two NATO countries soured after Turkish authorities arrested tens of thousands of people in a mass purge over the attempted putsch against Erdogan. But a gradual rapprochement began after German-Turkish journalist Deniz Yucel was freed in February. He still face terror-related charges in Turkey however. Germany is home to a three-million strong Turkish community and observers said Merkel now faced the delicate balancing act of accepting Erdogan's outstretched hand without glossing over their disagreements. Erdogan for his part said he would use his trip to urge Germany to show "the necessary support" in the fight against "terrorist groups" like the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) and the movement of Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, whom Ankara blames for the coup. Turkey's stalled EU membership bid and its role in the conflict in Syria are also on the agenda. In terms of economic cooperation, Der Spiegel weekly reported that German conglomerate Siemens was in talks to lead a potential 35-billion-euro ($40-billion) deal to modernise Turkey's rail infrastructure. In a sign of the contentious nature of the visit, several opposition politicians have vowed to boycott Friday's state dinner in Erdogan's honour.Merkel too will be absent, although her office insists it's not out of the ordinary for her to skip such events.

Indonesian City Hit by Tsunami after Powerful Quake
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/September 28/18/A powerful earthquake hit central Indonesia on Friday, causing a tsunami that slammed into a city on Sulawesi island with officials saying the tremor had leveled "many" buildings. The shallow 7.5 magnitude quake sparked terror among locals who fled into the streets and raced to higher ground fearing tsunami waves. The disaster agency briefly issued a tsunami warning before lifting it. But dramatic video footage filmed from the top floor of a parking ramp spiral in Palu, a city of 350,000 nearly 80 kilometers (50 miles) from the quake's epicenter, showed a churning wall of whitewater mow down several buildings and inundate a large mosque. Rahmat Triyono, head of the agency's earthquake and tsunami division, later confirmed the city was struck by a freak wave. People living hundreds of kilometers from the epicenter reported feeling the massive shake, hours after a smaller jolt killed at least one person in the same part of the Southeast Asian archipelago. There were no immediate reports of deaths or injuries after the latest tremor, but it was a higher magnitude than a series of quakes that killed hundreds on the island of Lombok this summer. The quake hit just off central Sulawesi at a shallow depth of some 10 kilometers just before 6:00 pm local time (1100 GMT), the U.S. Geological Survey said. "There are reports that many buildings collapsed in the earthquake," national disaster agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said in a statement. "Residents panicked and scattered out of their homes." Pictures supplied by the agency showed a badly damaged shopping mall in Palu where at least one floor had collapsed onto the story below. Other pictures showed major damage to buildings, with rubble strewn about the road and large cracks running through pavements. Facebook Live video showed long traffic jams formed in some parts of the region as terrified residents packed into cars, trucks and motorbikes to flee to higher ground following the tsunami warning. Search and rescue teams have been dispatched to hard-hit areas, Nugroho said. AFP phone calls to several regional hospitals went unanswered and Palu's main airport was closed around 7.30 pm local time, with authorities saying it would not open for 24 hours. Friday's tremor was centered 78 kilometers north of Palu, the capital of Central Sulawesi province, but was felt in the far south of the island in its largest city Makassar and on the neighboring island of Kalimantan, Indonesia's portion of Borneo island. The initial tremor struck as evening prayers were about to begin in the world's biggest Muslim majority country on the holiest day of the week when mosques would be especially busy. It was followed by a series of powerful aftershocks, including one measuring 5.7 magnitude.
'Earthquake, earthquake!'
"I was about to start prayers but then I heard people shouting 'earthquake! earthquake!' so I stopped," Andi Temmaeli from Wajo, south of Palu, told AFP. Lisa Soba Palloan, a resident of Toraja, also south of Palu, said locals felt several quakes Friday. "The last one was quite big," she said. "Everyone was getting out their homes, shouting in fear." Quakes of similar magnitude can cause great damage to poorly built or designed structures, including the toppling of chimneys, columns and walls, according to USGS. Indonesia is one of the most disaster-prone nations on earth. It lies on the Pacific "Ring of Fire", where tectonic plates collide and many of the world's volcanic eruptions and earthquakes occur. This summer, a series of powerful quakes hit Lombok, killing more than 550 people on the holiday island and neighboring Sumbawa.
Some 1,500 people were injured and about 400,000 residents were displaced after their homes were destroyed. Indonesia has been hit by a string of other deadly quakes including a devastating 9.1 magnitude tremor that struck off the coast of Sumatra in 2004. That quake triggered a tsunami that killed 220,000 throughout the region, including 168,000 in Indonesia. The Boxing Day disaster was the world's third biggest quake since 1900, and lifted the ocean floor in some places by 15 meters. Indonesia's Aceh province was the hardest hit area, but the tsunami affected coastal areas as far away as Africa. Among the country's other big earthquakes, a 6.3-magnitude quake in 2006 rocked a densely populated region of Java near the city of Yogyakarta, killing around 6,000 people and injuring 38,000. More than 420,000 people were left homeless and some 157,000 houses were destroyed. A year earlier, in 2005, a quake measuring 8.7 magnitude struck off the coast of Sumatra, which is particularly prone to quakes, killing 900 people and injuring 6,000. It caused widespread destruction on the western island of Nias.
Sisi Calls for Resumption of Palestinian-Israeli Negotiations
Cairo, New York – Walid Abdul Rahman/Asharq Al-Awsat/Friday, 28 September, 2018/Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi underlined the need to resume negotiations between Palestinians and Israelis, during his meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York. According to the Egyptian presidency, the meeting, which was held on Wednesday evening, saw discussions over the means to revive the peace process, with Sisi stressing the need to reach a just and comprehensive solution to the Palestinian cause in accordance with the two-state solution and the relevant international references. “The President affirmed that a final and just settlement of the Palestinian issue will contribute to the creation of a new reality in the Middle East, in which all the peoples of the region will enjoy stability, security and development,” said Ambassador Bassam Radhi, spokesman for the Egyptian presidency. He added that the Israeli prime minister expressed his appreciation for Egypt’s important role in the Middle East and its efforts to combat terrorism and to establish stability and peace in the region. Cairo is mediating a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas amid frequent violent clashes along the border between Israel and Gaza. The meeting between Sisi and Netanyahu is the second since 2014, and the first in Sisi’s second term. In September 2017, the Egyptian president met with Netanyahu in New York to discuss the peace process between Palestinians and Israelis on the sidelines of the UN meetings. Sisi also met with Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte. The president welcomed the development of bilateral relations between the two countries. According to a presidential statement, the meeting touched on ways to enhance joint cooperation between the two sides, especially in the economic and trade fields, as well as discussing increasing the volume of Italian investments in major development projects in Egypt. The two sides also reviewed the latest developments in the region, especially the fight against terrorism and illegal migration and the situation in Libya and Syria.

Tel Aviv Flirts With Moscow From Golan Gate
Tel Aviv, New York - Nazeer Majli, Asharq Al-Awsat/Friday, 28 September, 2018/Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said on Thursday Tel Aviv was ready to reopen the Quneitra crossing between the occupied Golan and Damascus, a step considered by analysts as an attempt to “flirt” with Moscow following the accident of the Russian warplane two weeks ago. Lieberman said his country was now capable to operate the crossing, both from a security and administrative point of view. "We are ready to open the Quneitra crossing as we did in the past. The United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) has returned to the crossing and they are prepared as well. The ball is now in the Syrian court," Lieberman said during a tour of the Quneitra border crossing in the Golan Heights, accompanied by the head of Home Front Command, Maj. Gen. Yoel Strik. The minister said the reopening merely means that security considerations now allow the crossing to operate.Analysts in Tel Aviv said this Israeli “offer” was not only directed towards the Syrian regime but mainly towards Russia, which entered into a large diplomatic crisis with Israel since Assad's forces accidentally shot down a Russian intelligence plane while trying to repel alleged Israeli airstrikes on Syrian targets in Latakiya. The Syrian side of the Quneitra crossing, primarily used by UN personnel, was captured four years ago by Syrian rebels, and later by other groups, until Syrian regime forces took control of it. "The fact that we have come here, to Alpha Gate—and as far as we are concerned UNDOF forces have also begun to operate and patrol the area with the assistance of Israeli forces — means that we are ready to open the crossing," the Israeli minister said. A senior political source in Tel Aviv said that negotiations between Israel and Russia are being conducted at various levels, and that the assessment is that when the mourning is over in Russia and the atmosphere clears, a meeting will take place between Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Palestinians Doubt Trump’s Support for Two-State Solution, Boycott US Administration

Ramallah - Kifah Zaboun /Asharq Al-Awsat/Friday, 28 September, 2018/Palestinians are skeptical about US President Donald Trump’s support for a two-state solution and insist on continuing to boycott the United States and finding an alternative mechanism to revive the political process. Commenting on recent remarks by Trump, who said that he liked the two-state solution, Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki said: “We heard the same statement from him when he met with [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu at the White House in February 2017. He repeats this statement every time he meets with Netanyahu. There is nothing new about it.”Trump made his remarks during a meeting with Netanyahu on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York. “I like a two-state solution. That’s what I think works best… That’s my feeling,” Trump stated. However, hours later, Trump noted he might also support a one-state solution. During a press conference on the sidelines of the UNGA, he said: “If the Israelis and the Palestinians want one state, that’s OK with me. If they want two states, that’s OK with me.” He added that he wanted to be able to make a deal so that people would not be killed.
In response, the Palestinian foreign minister stressed that the US president should declare his support to the two-state solution based on the 1967 borders, and should acknowledge that the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem were occupied territories. He also accused the Trump administration of launching a comprehensive war against the Palestinians, “even though they [the Palestinians] are not looking for a confrontation with the Americans.”Maliki emphasized that the current US administration was biased in favor of Israel, stressing that the Palestinians were urging the international community to assume a more active role in the peace process. This issue was in fact discussed on Thursday during a consultative meeting held by the Palestinian presidency with European countries on the sidelines of UNGA. More than 40 countries attended the meeting, including members of the Security Council, members of regional and international organizations, and special envoys for the peace process. “One of the main objectives of this meeting is to support this collective process,” said Palestinian Ambassador to the UN Riyad Al-Mansour. According to Mansour, all participants have expressed their commitment to the two-state solution and to the agreed bases of the peace process, and emphasized their readiness to enable this collective process.

Baghdad Awaits Kurdish 'Consensus Candidate' for Presidency
Baghdad - Hamza Mustafa/Asharq Al-Awsat/Friday, 28 September, 2018/While estimates contradict regarding the two main Kurdish candidates for the presidency (nominee of Kurdistan Democratic Party Fuad Hussein and Patriotic Union of Kurdistan nominee Barham Salih, Baghdad awaits a consensus candidate. Iraqi Parliament Speaker Mohammed al-Halbousi announced Thursday that the next Monday of October will be the date for electing the president. He added that in case no agreement was reached then the next day of the month will be the final date for elections. In the same context, Halbousi announced that seven candidates will run for the presidency – six out of them are Kurdish and one is Arab. Candidate Serdar Abdullah stated to Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper that it is for everyone’s best to agree on a consensus candidate in order to avoid a disaster in the Kurdish arena. He added that he launched an initiative in this context and held discussions with the two main Kurdish parties. Abdullah expressed his willingness to withdraw from the elections in case an agreement was reached. He added that time is still needed before real democracy is reached.
Lawmaker Mohammed al-Karboli told Asharq Al-Awsat that there is no decision yet as to which candidate will be supported. Mohammed al-Ghabban, former interior minister, said to Asharq Al-Awsat that the right thing is for both main Kurdish parties reach an agreement. Head of the al-Wataniya Coalition Ayad Allawi said that Masoud Barzani called for peace and affirmed that the Kurdish case can’t be solved by wars and tension.

Arab Coalition Raid Kills Houthi Leader,14 Companions
Taiz/Asharq Al-Awsat/Friday, 28 September, 2018/Yemeni army forces announced the killing of a top Houthi leader alongside a number of companion militiamen in a raid conducted by the Arab Coalition east of Hodeidah. Houthi attempts to infiltrate National Army outposts west of Taiz were also thwarted. The Saudi-led Arab Coalition is backing the Yemeni freely-elected government headed by President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi against Iran-backed militias staging a nationwide coup. At least 20 militiamen were killed in Taiz battlefronts, an army statement said. “A senior Houthi leader, Colonel Ali Ahmad al-Muwadi, formerly operating under the alias Abu Muqaddam, was killed alongside 14 of his companions in an air raid by Arab Coalition air forces in Hodeidah,” the army’s Giant Brigades said in a statement posted on Facebook. “The raid targeted barracks and Houthi militia concentrations aiming to establish a new supply route for reinforcements to back Hodeidah positions,” the statement added. National Army forces in Taiz continue to thwart coup infiltration attempts in the area. Meanwhile, Yemeni Vice President and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Yemeni Armed Forces, Lieutenant General Ali Mohsen Al-Ahmar, renewed the army pledge to raise the national flag over the mountains of Maran, a Houthi stronghold. Lt-.Gen. Al-Ahmar’s remarks follow Yemenis commemorating the 56 anniversary of 26 September in six districts of Saada governorate for the first time since it was controlled by the Houthi militias. These celebrations were organized after the government-controlled Yemeni army undertaking efforts to liberate some areas of Saada, the birthplace of the Houthi coup leader Abdul-Malik al-Houthi. Units of the Yemeni army participated in these celebrations, vowing to liberate all of Saada governorate. September 26 is celebrated as Revolution Day celebrating the North's revolution against the imams.
Republicans agree to FBI probe into Kavanaugh and a Senate vote delay
CNN/September 28/18/Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation was suddenly thrown into doubt Friday as Senate Republicans called for a one-week delay so that the FBI can investigate sexual assault allegations facing President Donald Trump's Supreme Court nominee. The Judiciary Committee will ask the White House to instruct the FBI to conduct the investigation into "current credible allegations" against Kavanaugh with the provision it ends no later than Friday, October 5.

The Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on
September 28-29/18
Maybe This Financial System Can’t Be Fixed
Cathy O'Neil/Bloomberg/September, 28/18
Ten years after a crisis that brought the world to the brink of Armageddon, the people overseeing the world’s largest economy insist they’ve reduced the risk of another financial disaster. Just one problem: We need a different financial system, not just better risk management.
I had a front-row seat for the watershed event of the 2008 crisis, the failure of the investment bank Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. I was a quantitative analyst for the hedge fund D.E. Shaw, of which Lehman owned 20 percent. I worked on modeling futures markets with Larry Summers, who at the time was a managing director. The crisis caught us unawares, as it did the most of the economic community. Our mathematical models had told us that such a disaster was vanishingly unlikely.
So what has changed? Not enough. To a troubling extent, the same models dominate. Banks use them to estimate how much they might lose on any given day. Regulators employ them to verify that banks aren’t engaging in illegal speculation, and to ensure that they have enough capital to weather the next crisis.
There are two kinds of algorithms in finance: those that are meant to work, and those that aren't. The former are typically for trading. Their creators want them to work because they generate profits, at least in good times. The latter — risk models — are supposed to predict the bad times. Nobody really wants to think about that, so they are designed to be functionally weak: wrong enough to take advantage of the rules, but not so wrong that it’s obvious. It’s called juicing your Sharpe ratio, emphasizing your returns and obscuring your risks.
Better risk models are no solution. As I realized after a few years working on credit-derivative models, it’s a matter of politics, not math. Experience has taught bankers not to worry about the downside. The government bailed them out with no personal repercussions and without fundamentally changing the system. Regular folks — and particularly people of color, who had a disproportionate amount of their wealth tied up in real estate — suffered the consequences.
This raises two philosophical questions. First, is it even possible to model risk? I doubt it. There are so many impediments: faulty data (for example, using the performance of old, responsibly underwritten mortgage loans as a proxy for new ones based on fake income); asymmetric information (banks know more about the risks lurking in securitized products than do the customers who buy them); the inherent backward-looking nature of all models (they rely on past performance to predict the future, so they’re blind to new problems); and the strange hubris of those who believe that computers can solve problems people can’t. Maybe it’s not humanly possible to get risk modeling right.
Second, what is the financial system’s proper role as a public good? What would it look like if it heeded the lessons of the crisis, balanced short-term profit against long-term benefit, and took the social contract seriously? I’m guessing it would be smaller, less exciting, less speculative, more focused on value and less reliant on “sophisticated” risk models that fail at precisely the wrong moment. Instead, the system generates runaway inequality, burgeoning debt loads, and subprime auto lending defaults. Even after 10 years, the financial crisis is still very real for too many Americans. There’s no easy answer. I’m not holding my breath for wisdom to conquer greed. It will probably take another crisis to make us recognize where we’ve fallen short. The question is whether we will be in any state to do something about it when that time comes.

Washington to Europe: We Forbid You
Abdulrahman Al-Rashed/Asharq Al-Awsat/September, 28/18
This is the first American-European confrontation of its kind and the reason is Iran. In the past, relations have witnessed differences in policies between the Atlantic’s two banks in terms of major issues such as the liberation of Kuwait, Iraq’s invasion and other issues but the confrontation is now different.
Europe is confronting Washington as a group and it’s conspiring to rebel against President Trump’s decisions to punish Iran. He’s now threatening the opposing Europeans with sanctions and the American government has warned them that it will destroy the SWIFT payment system that’s headquartered in Brussels, the capital of the EU, if they try to violate sanctions on the Tehran regime. Europe’s major powers, Germany, France and Britain, do not hide their desire to defy the American government’s resolution in order to thwart its decision to punish Iran. Following dozens of meetings, the EU member states set a series of solutions, which include protecting their companies from American sanctions, encouraging them to seal prohibited deals, setting an alternative cash payment system that does not pass through New York, away from SWIFT, and setting new independent financial methods that facilitate trade with Iran. They also proposed the idea of using the old barter system as for instance Europe sells merchandise or provides services in exchange for Iranian oil.
These attempts at defying the US either directly or evasively did not go unnoticed and Washington does not look at them as policies that oppose it and that are taken by sovereign states. It does not want to accept that they are the result of the signed JCPOA deal, which European countries that are allied with it (the US) want to commit to. Washington views the German, French and British efforts as a plan that defies it and aims to sabotage its efforts, and not just an act that respects the deal. This is a rare battle in the history of allies, Europe and the US. The American government benefited from the UN General Assembly meetings to convey its stance collectively. President Donald Trump confirmed his insistence on sanctions against the Iranian regime and said: “I know, they will suffer and they will return to negotiations, and I am ready to negotiate. I do not want negotiations on the basis of strength or weakness, but negotiations that aim to reach a solution.”
US National Security Advisor John Bolton appeared in several television interviews and made harsher statements against the Europeans as he noted that his country’s policy is “firm and fixed” in imposing these economic sanctions and the US will not allow the EU or any other party to undermine these sanctions. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo did the same as he warned that Europeans measures against US policy have dangerous consequences on regional security and peace and warned that the US is watching what they’re doing.
We can say today that the Iranian delegation is returning from New York with the worst disappointment in the history of diplomacy. All its efforts and mediations and its game failed in inciting Europe against its ally the US. In weeks, the most important sanctions against the Iranian regime and which pertain to oil and the dollar will be implemented.

Iran’s Choice: Between Syria and Pakistan

Amir Taheri/Asharq Al-Awsat/September, 28/18
Almost a week after the attack on a military parade in Ahvaz, southwest Iran, left dozens dead, there is still no consensus on who was responsible.
As in all such cases, conspiracy theories abound.
While officials have blamed half a dozen foreign powers, including Holland and Denmark, not to mention Great Britain and the American “Great Satan” and its Arab allies, regime opponents see the attack as an inside job.
The trouble is that one could easily find some justification for almost all rival theories. Denmark and Holland have given asylum to more than a dozen Ahvazi activists opposed to the regime in Tehran. One of the most prominent among them, Ahmad Molla Nisi, was assassinated in The Netherlands last October with the Dutch police blaming a hit-squad from Tehran. For its part, Denmark has hosted at least two seminars by anti-mullah exiles in 2916 and 2017. In recent months, Washington and London have also hosted two conferences of groups regarded by Tehran as “secessionists”.However, the claim that this may have been an inside job could also be evoked in a set of questions. How did the terrorists cross the border, supposedly from Iraq, without being detected?
How did they manage to hide their weapons in a park just 20 meters from the route of the parade? How come the route of the parade was not subjected to a routine security inspection before the event? Why wasn’t any of the military, political and clerical grandees at the parade hit by the attackers who fired at ordinary conscripts and spectators? Why were the parading conscripts given empty guns which meant they couldn’t fire back in self-defense?
And why did the officer in command of the parade took a full five minutes, in an episode that lasted just over 10 minutes, before he ordered soldiers to fire back at the attackers? To be sure, it is quite possible that all those shortcomings were due to sheer incompetence and lack of coordination between the various branches of the military and security organizations. For the past few years, one central theme of the regime’s propaganda has been the claim that Iran as a nation, and not necessarily just its regime, is under attack from foreign enemies ready to go to any length to pursue diabolical aims. One claim is that “we have to fight in Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Yemen and Bahrain so that we won’t have to fight in Iran itself.”
That claim is used to justify virtually all of the regime’s political, economic and diplomatic failures. Regime propaganda opposes the freedom to security by claiming that if Iranians do not enjoy normal freedoms they should be grateful to enjoy security from the violence that has gripped so much of the Middle East.
“Do you want Iran to become another Syria?” President Hassan Rouhani demands when faced with tough questions on such issues as economic meltdown and lack of basic freedoms. The Ahvaz attack punches several holes in the regime’s narrative.
People now ask: Why should we accept the lack of basic freedoms when you cannot even provide security? Whichever way one looks at it, the rhetorical question is misplaced. For there can be no freedom without security and no security without freedom.
The regime’s discourse raises many other questions.
Isn’t it possible that Iran’s security is threatened precisely because the regime is interfering in other nations’ affairs? How could we expect not to face hostility when our policies are almost deliberately aimed at fabricating more and more enemies for Iran?
Could we field an army of 80,000 in Syria with the express mission of killing Syrians without provoking acts of revenge? Could we manipulate an armed state within the Lebanese state without causing some resentment? And could we expect the Iraqis to grin and bear it in the face of our brazen intervention in their affairs? The pseudo-argument about preventing Iran from becoming “another Syria” does not justify the regime’s failure to develop credible institutions capable of developing and implementing rational policies. Foreign Minister Javad Zarif has tried to justify the regime’s radicalism, which includes sponsoring terrorism, as “a choice we made.” It isn’t clear who he means by “we” who made the choice. His argument is that if Iran becomes an ordinary nation-state, behaving like a law-abiding and responsible member of the international community, it would be “just another Pakistan” with no place in headline news.
He points out that Pakistan has more than twice as many people as Iran and is already a nuclear power but still carries no weight in international politics while Iran, thanks to its radicalism, is “a power that counts.”The truth is that, though regarded as a troublemaker, the Islamic Republic counts for very little in the bigger scheme of things.
In Syria, it has been reduced to a side-kick for the Russians and excluded from major decisions. In Iraq, the Islamic Republic has managed to antagonize even the Shiites who were originally sympathetic to Iran. In Yemen, its Houthi clients are now confined to a mousetrap of their own creation. The truth is that the Khomeinist ideology is not a popular export item especially at a time that its absurdity is becoming daily more apparent. Rouhani claims he wants to save Iran from becoming another Syria. Zarif wants to save us from becoming another Pakistan. Rouhani forgets that part of the tragedy in Syria is due to the Islamic Republic’s ill-advised support for a despot rejected by his people. Zarif forgets that Pakistan, though not featuring in President Donald Trump’s tweets as much as Iran, is doing better than Iran in many fields. Its economy is growing twice as fast as Iran’s and its currency is solid in contrast with Iran’s plummeting rial. Apart from 63 men convicted of terrorism, Pakistan has virtually no political prisoners and prisoners of conscience while the Islamic Republic’s official number is around 5000. But, when all is said and done, why should we restrict Iran’s choice between becoming another Syria or another Pakistan? A third choice is possible: Iran could ditch the false identity of the Islamic Republic and re-become Iran!

Bahrain’s Hezbollah and The Iranian Failure

Salman Al-dossary/Asharq Al-Awsat/September, 28/18
For nearly four decades, Iranian attempts have not stopped to simulate the Lebanese Hezbollah experience, but with a Bahraini version. Since its arrival in 1979, the Khomeini regime has been betting on its strategic project of establishing the Bahraini Hezbollah and benefiting from Shiite political Islam groups to implement the fervent Iranian desire.
However, with all the great support it has received financially, logistically and politically, the Iranian project in Bahrain is still stumbling and faces failure with every new effort, since the first coup attempt led by the Shiites and their allies in 1981, just two years after Khomeini’s arrival, passing by a second attempt by the Bahraini Hezbollah to try to overthrow the regime by force and establish a pro-Iranian regime. A third attempt, which coincided with the events of the Arab Spring in 2011, has uncovered all Bahraini political associations that had pretended to be part of the reform project of the King of Bahrain, in addition to a fourth attempt that was discovered on Tuesday, when 169 members of Bahrain’ Hezbollah were charged with “establishing and joining a terrorist group, perpetrating a bombing, committing attempted murder, training on the use of weapons and explosives, and possessing and manufacturing explosives and firearms without a license, as well as funding a terrorist group,” according to the Bahraini authorities. If some Arab countries suffer the most from the Sunni political Islam groups, Bahrain also suffers, but from the Shiite political Islam groups, which are in turn aligned with the Iranian project under the direct supervision of the IRGC. However, what is very dangerous in the Bahraini case is the official support that extremist groups receive from Iran and its wings in the region, such as the Lebanese Hezbollah, which has caused much of the chaos that has affected Bahrain, including the targeting of more than 200 educational institutions and vital installations, such as power stations, communication towers, public parks and commercial banks, in addition to blocking roads on commercial streets.
Although failure has besieged Iran in all of its attempts, it is insisting on reiterating its efforts. This is an essential part of the Iranian doctrine that seeks to establish a foothold in the Gulf States. One of the main objectives of the Iranian regime is to infiltrate the Gulf through the Kingdom of Bahrain, which Iran considers as a launch pad, through which it can expand in other Gulf countries, and of course Saudi Arabia.
It is true that the Iranian regime was able to establish wings in more than one Arab country, but its project to form a party that imitates the Lebanese Hezbollah in Bahrain has failed. This has confirmed that the Iranian regime is firmly attached to its plan to infiltrate the heart of the Arabian Gulf, despite great discrepancy in geopolitics that makes this Iranian dream impossible to apply in the Gulf region, and the lack of popular acceptance by the Bahrainis, even from the Shiites themselves, to such a subversive party.
The political history of Bahrain and its social reality, similarly to the other Gulf States, are completely different from other Arab countries, where Iran has found a favorable environment in which it can expand.
This makes the Bahraini State able to suppress all Iranian attempts in about 40 years to revive dormant cells that Iran founded in order to implement its stumbling project.

Analysis Netanyahu's UN Speech Was One of His Most Convincing and Effective Performances
Yossi Verter/Haaretz/September 28/18
Well equipped with Israeli intelligence achievements, the prime minister formulated a precise and credible indictment against Iran ■ Those expecting a statement of renewed negotiations with the Palestinians were disappointed
Placard after placard, aerial photo after aerial photo, sensational revelation ahead of dramatic expose – Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech Thursday at the United Nations was one of his most professional, persuasive and effective appearances. Well equipped with Israeli intelligence achievements, he formulated a precise and credible indictment against Iran and its proxies in the Middle East.
Netanyahu has apparently fallen in love with the effect he had with his document and CD show in the Prime Minister’s Office in May. He makes public use of the Mossad’s achievements more than any other prime minister in recent history. This has political significance, of course: in the collective imagination, the prime minister is seen as the person without which this would not have happened. And indeed, Israeli intelligence has chalked up considerable achievements in the past. Previous prime ministers did not run to the UN General Assembly waving these secret materials like a cheerleader waving pompoms.
Israelis watching Netanyahu certainly did so with mixed feelings. On the one hand, they appreciated his phenomenal skills as a presenter on an international level of the Israeli case. On the other, fear crept into the hearts of some: Where is all this good, in the bad sense, leading us, if not to all-out war in the north?
Netanyahu could not have been clearer in his threats against Hezbollah, which is hiding facilities to upgrade precision missiles within spitting distance of Beirut International Airport. “We won’t let them get away with it.” He will have to make good on the check he waved publicly. An attack on these facilities will certainly lead to a response that could develop into an all-out conflict.
Netanyahu’s speech was 40 minutes long. Most of it was devoted to Iran. The evidence that indicates the presence of a nuclear storage facility in downtown Tehran, not far from the storage facility from which hundreds of CDs and notebooks were taken by the Mossad in February, will have to be checked. It may be assumed that the Mossad operatives will get fed up with the many emails that will be circulated in the coming days and weeks among European capitals in an attempt to persuade their leaders who are still holding fast to the nuclear agreement to wake up and listen to the music Netanyahu is playing for them. This will be the push that comes after the revelation.
Netanyahu has appeared many times before the UN General Assembly over the past decade. His speeches are usually about Iran. As long as a Democratic president was in the White House, leading a different policy, Netanyahu looked and sounded like a stubborn child, a rejected nudnik, repeating his frightening apocalyptic messages like a broken record.
Over the past two years, and more so over the past year, the world has changed. President Donald Trump has taken his country out of the nuclear agreement, imposed paralyzing sanctions on the Iranian government and transferred the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem. Netanyahu could appear this time self-assured and arrogant, like a rooster atop the mud of his poultry run. Trump is behind him, one hundred percent.
He gave the American president the reward of his sustained applause during Trump’s speech. In the visitors’ gallery, the prime minister’s entourage gave a standing ovation to their “Donald.” This embarrassing show of Israeli provincial sycophancy, with the notable absence of Sheldon and Miriam Adelson, the casino owners, for whom Netanyahu’s charm has faded in the shadow of Case 2000.
Anyone expecting a statement heralding even the slightest hope of renewed negotiations with the Palestinians was disappointed. The right wing declared business as usual. The all-clear was sounded in the settlements. It could be seen that peace-shmeace with the Palestinians was of interest to him like his speech interested the American TV channels on Thursday, riveted as they were to the hearing on Capitol Hill.
For a moment, the day before yesterday, it looked as though something good was threatening to move on the Israeli-Palestinian front. The American president expressed his love for the idea of two states (and afterwards did a reversal in a typical act of shallow trickery). The Israeli prime minister uttered the word “state” for the first time in a while spiced with a thousand reservations and conditions. Suspicious minds immediately accused him of moving to the left in order to buy the hearts of the legal elites soon deciding about his three bribery cases.
The schedules definitely match: the investigations will near completion around the beginning of 2019. Trump’s peace plan is supposed to be presented at around the same time. Elections will be held either before or after or in tandem. But this train, the investigations train, cannot be stopped, even if Netanyahu disguises himself as Shimon Peres.

FULL TEXT: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's 2018 UN General Assembly Speech
Haaretz/September 27/2018
Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the UN General Assembly's 73rd session that Israel has uncovered an Iranian atomic warehouse and reiterated Israel's stance on the threat posed by Tehran as well as potential resolutions for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Read his full remarks bellow:
“Distinguished delegates, ladies and gentlemen,
When I spoke here three years ago Israel stood alone among the nations. Of the nearly 200 countries that sit in this hall, only Israel openly opposed the nuclear deal with Iran. We oppose it because it threatens our future, even our very survival. We opposed it because the deal paved Iran’s path to a nuclear arsenal. And by lifting the sanctions, it fueled Iran’s campaign of carnage and conquest throughout the Middle East. We oppose it because the deal was based on a fundamental lie that Iran is not seeking to develop nuclear weapons.
Now, Israel exposed that lie earlier this year. Last February, Israel conducted a daring raid on Iran’s secret atomic archive. We obtained over 100,000 documents and videos that had been stashed in vaults in an innocent-looking building in the heart of Tehran. In May, I presented a short summary of what we obtained to the international media. I provided hard evidence of Iran’s plans to build nuclear weapons and its plans to deceive the international community. Israel shared this information and more damning evidence that we found with members of the P5+1 and with the international atomic energy agency. Months have passed, the IAA has still not taken any actions. It has not posed a single question to Iran. It has not demanded to inspect a single new site discovered in that secret archive.
So given this inaction, I decided to reveal today something else that we have shared with the IAA and with a few intelligence agencies. What I’m about to say has not been shared publicly before. Today I’m disclosing for the first time that Iran has another secret facility in Tehran. A secret atomic warehousec for storing massive amounts of equipment and material for Iran’s secret nuclear weapons program.
In May we exposed the site of Iran’s secret atomic archive. It’s right here in the Shuabad Distrcit of Tehran. Today I’m revealing the site of a second facility: Iran’s secret atomic warehouse. It’s right here, in the Turkuzahbad Distrcit of Tehran. Just three miles away. Let me show you exactly what the secret atomic warehouse looks like. Here it is. You see, like the atomic archive it’s another innocent-looking compound. Now for those of you at home using Google Earth, this no longer secret atomic warehouse. You have the coordinates, you can try to get there. And for those of you who try to get there: It’s 100 meters from the rug-cleaning operation. By the way, i hear they do a fantastic job of cleaning rugs there. But by now they may be radioactive rags. This is the second secret site. Now countries with satellite capabilities may notice some increased activity on the alley in the days and weeks ahead.
The people they see scurrying back and forth are Iranian officials desperately trying to finish the job of cleaning up that site. Because you see-- since we raided the atomic archive they’ve been busy cleaning up the atomic warehouse. Just last month they removed 15 kilograms of radioactive material. You know what they did with it? Those 15 kilograms of radioactive material, they had to get it out of this site so they took it out and they spread it around Tehran in an effort to hide the evidence. The endangered residents of Tehran may want to know that they can a geiger counter on Amazon for only 29.99$. As of today, that’s just four million Iranian reals.
But we’ll get to that later, I’ll talk about the Iranian economy in a minute. They took this radioactive material and spread it around Tehran. Now the Iranian officials cleaning out that site still have a lot of work to do because they’ve had at least 15 ship containers, they’re gigantic, 15 ship containers full of nuclear-related equipment and material stored there. Now since each of those containers can hold 20 tons of material this means that this site contained as much as 300 tons of nuclear-related equipment and material.
Right here. So, distinguished delegates, you have to ask yourself a question. Why did Iran keep a secret atomic archive and a secret atomic warehouse? Because after all, when South Africa and Libya, when they gave up their nuclear programs the first thing they did was to destroy both the archives and the material and equipment. And the answer to the question is simple: The reason Iran didn’t destroy its atomic archive and its atomic warehouse is because it hasn’t abandoned its goal to develop nuclear weapons. In fact, it planned to use both of these sites in a few years when the time would be right to break out to the atom bomb. But ladies and gentlemen, rest assured, that won’t happen. It won’t happen because what Iran hides Israel will find.
Ladies and gentlemen, I have a message to the head of the IAA, Mr. Yukiya Amano. I believe he’s a good man. I believe he wants to do the right thing. Well Mr. Amano, do the right thing. Go inspect this atomic warehouse. Immediately. Before the Iranians finish clearing it out. Distinguished delegates, do you remember when we were promised that inspections could take place anytime, anywhere? Remember that? Anytime, anywhere. Well, how about inspections right here, right now? And Mr. Amano-- while you’re at it, inspect the other sites we told you about. Once and for all, tell the world the truth about Iran.
Now I also have a message today for the tyrants of Tehran. Israel knows what you’re doing and Israel where you’re doing it. Israel will never let a regime that calls for our destruction to develop nuclear weapons. Not now, not in ten years, not ever.
And Israel will do whatever it must do to defend itself against Iran’s aggression. We will continue to act against you in Syria. We will act against you in Lebanon. We will act against you in Iraq. We will act against you whenever, and wherever. We must act to defend our state and to defend our people. Distinguished delegates, three years ago, a few weeks after the nuclear deal was completed i asked this question from this very podium: Does anyone seriously believe that flooding Iran’s radical theocracy with weapons and cash will curb its appetite for aggression?
But many of the deal’s supporters believed just that. They believed that Iran’s regime will become more moderate, more peaceful. They believed that Iran would use the billions of dollars it received in sanctions relief to improve the lives of its people. To solve the water problem. To solve the trucking problem. To solve the electricty problem. Hosppitals, schools. That’s what they believed. Perhaps some of you also believed in that. Well, that didn’t happen. Instead, Iran used the money to fuel its vast war machine. Just this past year Iran has attacked Kurds in Iraq, slaughtered Sunnis in Syria, armed Hezbollah in Lebanon, financed Hamas in Gaza, fired missiles into Saudi Arabia and threatened freedom of navigation in the straits of Hurmuz and the Strait of Bab al-Mad.
Some peace. Some moderation. Now if you think, if you think that Iran’s aggression has been confined to the Middle East think again. Last month two Iranian agents were arrested for plotting terror attacks right here, in the United States. And several weeks ago, Iranian agents were arrested for plotting terror attacks in the heart of Europe. Yet while the US is confronting Iran with new sanctions Europe and others are appeasing Iran by trying to help it bypass those new sanctions.
Now I’ve just used a word. A tough word. A very strong word. Appeasement. And I use it reluctanctly. But unfortunately that’s exactly what we’re seeing again. In Europe. Think about this. The same week Iran was caught red-handed trying to murder European citizens, European leaders were rolling out the red carpet for President Rohani, promising to give Iran even more money. I’m a historian’s son, I have to ask: I ask it not merely as a historian’s son, as a jew, as a citizen of the world, as someone who has lived through the 20th century- have these European leaders learned nothing from history? Will they ever wake up? Well we in Israel-- we don’t need a wakeup call because Iran threatens us every day. Because despite the best of hopes and there were many hopes around the nuclear deal this deal did not push war further away. It brought war ever closer to our borders. In Syria, Iran has tried to establish permanent military bases against us and has already launched missiles and drones into our territory. In Gaza Iran is arming terror groups to launch rocket attacks into our cities and terror attacks against our civilians. In Lebanon, Iran is directing Hezbollah to build secret sites to convert inaccurate projectiles into precision-guided missiles. Missiles that can target deep inside Israel within an accuracy of ten meters. Hezbollah, listen to this, Hezbollah is deliberately using the innocent people of Beirut as human shields. They’ve placed three of these missile conversion sites along Beirut’s international airport. Here’s a picture that’s worth a thousand missiles. Here’s Beirut’s international airport. Here’s the first missile site. It’s in the Uzai neighborhood, on the water;s edge, a few blocks away from the runway. Here’s the second site. It’s underneath a soccer stadium, two blocks away. And here’s the third site. It’s adjacent to the airport itself, right next to it. So I have a message for Hezbollah today: Israel knows, Israel also knows what you’re doing. Israel knows where you’re doing it. And Israel will not let you get away with it.
Ladies and gentlemen, the nuclear deal supporters were wrong about what would happen when sanctions would be removed. They were wrong, dead wrong about what would happen when sanctions would be restored. They argued that US sanctions alone will have little economic impact on Iran. That’s what they said. Really? Well let’s see what happened to Iran’s economy now that President Trump has forced companies to choose between doing business with Iran and doing business with the US, whose GDP is fifty times the size of Iran’s GDP. A year ago Iran’s economy was booming. Now it’s collapsing. Iran’s currency is plummenting. Inflation and unemployment are soaring. British airlines, German banks, French oil companies, Japanese oil importers and many others are scrambling to get out. If that’s little economic impact, imagine what will happen with the next batch of US sanctions imposed in November.
The deal’s supporters were also wrong when they argued that restoring sanctions would rally the Iranian people around the regime. Well, they’re definitely rallying but not around the regime-- they’re rallying against the regime. They’re not chanting ‘Death to America.’ They’re chanting ‘Death to the Dictator.’ They’re not chanting ‘Export the Islamic Revolution,’ they’re chanting ‘Leave Syria,’ ‘Leave Lebanon,’ ‘Leave Gaza,’ ‘Take Care of Us, in Iran.’
I listened to these protests. I talked to the Iranian people. I share these videos. And I get so many responses. From Iranians. At first I thought these are Iranian exiles in the safety of London or Paris or Los Angeles. No. Iranians from Iran, embracing Israel, criticizing the regime--- that’s an understatement--- with their names. And I ask my intelligence people: What’s going on? And shortly after the protests broke out, not because of what I said but it was an indicator of something extraordinary that was taking place there because in these protests the Iranian people are showing unbelievable courage. From the urban centers to the outlying villages, and it’s embracing now the whole of Iran. From the striking Bazaar merchants to the young women uncovering their hair: the people of Iran are bravely standing up to a regime that has brutally repressed them for four decades and that has squandered their money, still squanders their money, in bloody wars across the Middle East.
So here’s what I say to Europe’s leaders and to others: Instead of cuddling Iran’s dictators, join the U.S. and Israel and most of the Arab world in supporting new sanctions against a regime that endangers all of us in all of the world.
Israel is deeply grateful to President Trump for his bold decision to withdraw from the disasterous nuclear deal with Iran. Many, many of our Arab neighbors are also grateful. And everyone who cares about the peace and security of the world should also be grateful. But ladies and gentlemen, I have an important confession to make: This may surprise you but I have to admit that the Iran deal has had one positive consequence, an unintended one but a positive consequence-- by empowering Iran, it brought Israel and many Arab states closer together than ever before in an intimacy and friendship that I have not seen in my lifetime and would have been unimagineable a few years ago.
And you know, when you form friendships around a threat, around a challenge, you quickly see opportunities. Not only for security but how to bring a better life for our people, which Israel can help and wants to help do. Israel deeply values these new friendships and I hope the day will soon arrive when Israel will be able to expand peace, a formal peace, beyond Egypt and Jordan to other Arab neighbors, including the Palestinians. I look forward to working with President Trump and his peace team to achieve that goal. I also want to use this opportunity, we’re here at the UN, a place I know because I served here as ambassador many years ago for many years, so I know something about the UN. So I want to use this opportunity to express Israel’s appreciation to President Trump and Ambassador Haley for the unwavering support they’ve provided Israel at the UN. They have unequivocally backed Israel’s right to defend itself. They rightly pulled out of a history-denying UNESCO and a morally bankrupt UN Human Rights Council. They have more resolutions about Israel than the rest of the world combined, I think. And tenfold compared to, I don’t know, Iran, Syria, you name it. Not even tenfold, because you can’t multiply zero by any number.
They stopped funding, President Trump and Ambassador Haley, they stopped funding an unreformed UNRWA, an organization that instead of solving the Palestinian refugee problem, perpetuates it.
Day after day, the Trump administration has stood up to what has long been a specialty here at the UN—slandering Israel. Even though the shameful resolution comparing Zionism to racism was repealed 25 years ago, I’m sorry to say that its foul stench still clings to these halls.
Israel airlifted Ethiopian Jews to freedom and a new life in Israel, in the Jewish state. Yet here at the UN, here at the UN, Israel is absurdly accused of racism.
Israel’s Arab citizens vote in our elections, serve in our parliament, preside over our courts, and have exactly the same individual rights as all other Israeli citizens. Yet here at the UN, Israel is shamefully accused of apartheid.
Today, there are at least five times as many Palestinians as there were in 1948, the year of Israel’s founding. Yet here at the UN, Israel is outrageously accused of ethnic cleansing.
Ladies and Gentlemen, you know what this is?
It’s the same old antisemitism with a brand new face. That’s all it is.
Once, it was the Jewish people that were slandered and held to a different standard.
Today, it’s the Jewish state that is slandered and held to a different standard.
Here’s an example: Take the outlandish attacks that have been leveled against Israel after our Knesset, our parliament, recently adopted a law declaring Israel the nation state of the Jewish people.
Mind you, Israel is a free country. You can oppose a law, and people did. You can call for different wording in this or that clause, or you can call to add or subtract a clause. You can do that.
But when Israel is called racist, Israel is called racist for making Hebrew its official language and the Star of David its national flag, when Israel is labeled an apartheid state for declaring itself the nation state of the Jewish people, this is downright preposterous. And you know why?
Because represented in this hall today are more than 100 countries that have only one official language, even though many other languages are commonly spoken within those countries. There are more than 50 countries here that have crosses or crescents on their flags, even though they have many non-Muslims and non-Christians, many of them, living in their midst. And there are dozens of countries that define themselves as nation states of a particular people, even though there are many ethnic and national minorities within their borders.
None of those countries are denigrated or libeled for celebrating their unique national identity. Only Israel is denigrated. Only Israel is libeled.
What is unique about the Jewish people is not that we have a nation state. What is unique is that many still oppose us having a nation state.
Moments ago, President Abbas outrageously said that Israel’s Nation State Law proves that Israel is a racist, apartheid state.
President Abbas, you should know better. You wrote a dissertation denying the Holocaust. Your Palestinian Authority imposes death sentences on Palestinians for selling land to Jews. Did you hear that? If a Jew buys an apartment, a piece of land anywhere in the Palestinian territories, the Palestinian who sold him that land is executed. That’s what the law says.
President Abbas, you proudly pay Palestinian terrorists who murder Jews. In fact, the more they slay, the more you pay. That’s in their law too. And you condemn Israel’s morality? You call Israel racist?
This is not the way to peace. This is not the way to achieve the peace we all want and need and to which Israel remain committed. This body should not be applauding the head of a regime that pays terrorists. The UN should condemn such a despicable policy.
And the UN, the UN which brokered a ceasefire in 2014, should demand that Hamas release our fallen soldiers Oron Shaul and Hadar Goldin, who was kidnapped when Hamas violated that very ceasefire.
Hamas should also release the two Israeli citizens it holds captive, Abera Mengistu and Hisham al Sayed.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Every time I stand here, I feel as I do today. I am privileged to stand here as the Prime Minister of the Jewish and democratic state of Israel.
Some believe that Israel cannot be both Jewish and democratic. This is false. Israel is both, and Israel will always remain both.
Ever since Abraham and Sarah made their journey to the promised land nearly 4,000 years ago, the Land of Israel has been our homeland. It’s the place where Isaac and Rebecca, Jacob, Leah and Rachel carried on their eternal covenant with God.”

Syrians caught in the middle of an unwinnable war
Sinem Cengiz/Arab News/September 28, 2018
While EU foreign-policy chief Federica Mogherini was delivering a speech about the plight of the Syrian people at an EU event on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly last week, there were other concerns, calculations and plans in the minds of the leaders of countries involved in the conflict. “There is no winner in this war. There might be military victories but there is no winner in this war — certainly not the people of Syria, who are paying the highest price,” Mogherini said at the event, which was attended by a large number foreign ministers, including those from Turkey, Russia, Lebanon and Jordan.
“Nobody will win, neither the war nor the peace, without a negotiated political solution. Too often we discuss of Syria but not with Syrians,” she added.
This is sadly the ugly truth. The discussions about Syria are concentrated more on the regime and the sphere of influence of other countries with vested interests rather than the Syrian people.  History provides a long list of examples, including the experiences in Libya and Iraq, that show no one can truly win a war when innocent people are affected. Even if one day the conflict ends, those who have been affected by years-long bloodshed will never be considered as winners, rather the losers in an unwinnable war. I’ve tried to rewrite this paragraph as best I can to make it clearer, but to be honest, I was not entirely clear on the point(s) the writer was trying to make here. Is it that even when a war is over and one side is declared the victor, the people are still losers as a result of the damaging effects on them and their country of years of conflict? That is my best guess, but it is not very clear and you might want the writer to clarify and have another go at expressing it. Though the prospects of peace seem distant at the moment, there is still hope for a political solution in Syria, but not one based on models applied to other war-torn countries in the past. Since the beginning of Syrian war, several models have been proposed, such as a “Dayton-Type solution,” a version of the American-brokered peace accord that ended the Bosnian War in 1995, or a “Kosovo-Type” agreement. History provides a long list of examples, including the experiences in Libya and Iraq, that show no one can truly win a war when innocent people are affected.
However, a tendency to oversimplify and misread the causes of Syrian conflict based on inaccurate comparisons does not help the Syrian people. The country needs its own unique solution, a recipe prepared in its own kitchen and served to all segments of Syrian society sitting at the same table — a solution based on a united and inclusive Syria. Beside the issue of the need for a political solution, as underlined by Mogherini, the matter of Syrian refugees is also at the top of the agenda at the UN General Assembly. The ongoing Syrian conflict has created what the UN describes as one of the worst refugee crises since World War II. More than 6 million Syrians are internally displaced, and a further 6 million have fled to other countries, mostly Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan.
The experiences of these three countries with refugees have been similar but they have taken different approaches to the crisis, and as a result, the living conditions differ significantly in each. Unfortunately, there has not been a comprehensive comparative study of the status and conditions of refugees in these three countries. This month, Russian President Vladimir Putin, an ally of the Syrian regime, and Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, a supporter of the opposition forces, agreed to establish a demilitarized buffer zone in Idlib province to prevent a planned regime attack on the city. More than 3 million people live in the opposition-controlled province, raising fears of a humanitarian catastrophe if an assault goes ahead.
Given that there remains this risk of a major increase in the flow of refugees should the Idlib agreement collapse, a study examining the integration policies of the three countries, the local responses to the refugees and how these nations will handle another influx is vitally important.
Peace is at stake. It is hard to predict how the agreement will affect developments in Syria and the Syrian people. We can only hope it does not collapse, otherwise, we will once again take a step back from a political solution toward another refugee crisis likely to cause a humanitarian catastrophe of immense proportions. The situation is not only unpredictable in Syria but also unprecedented in the region. It would not be wrong to argue that for the first time since World War II, almost all countries stretching from Iran to Libya are involved in conflicts, whether militarily or politically. This has not only raised the degree of uncertainty but also complicated further the understanding of alliances and enmities in the region. Because we do not see a direct war in Syria where one state is attacking another, but rather a proxy, ideological and sectarian war, the eventual loser will not be any specific state — it will be the Syrian people, sadly.
*Sinem Cengiz is a Turkish political analyst who specializes in Turkey’s relations with the Middle East. Twitter: @SinemCngz

Syria’s Kurds try to carve out a future among competing threats
Kerry Boyd AndersonKerry Boyd Anderson
Last week, the Democratic Union Party (PYD), the main Kurdish party in Syria, marked the 15th anniversary of its founding. During that time, the party has shifted from being an obscure Kurdish political branch into one of the primary players in the fight against Daesh. Now, however, the party — and Syrian Kurds in general — face a critical turning point. In July 2012, the Assad regime withdrew its forces from the Kurdish areas of northeastern Syria to focus on fighting rebels in other parts of the country. While there are numerous Kurdish political parties, the PYD was the only one with the readily available militia and institutional structures capable of filling the resultant power vacuum. Since then, it has been the primary organization governing and defending the Kurdish areas of Syria.
The Syrian Kurds went from being “forgotten” people to global acclaim for their critical role in fighting Daesh from 2014 to 2017. They constituted the backbone of the multi-ethnic, US-supported Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which was the primary on-the-ground force fighting Daesh. Washington provided the SDF, including its Kurdish elements, with air support and, eventually, military equipment.
The Syrian Kurds might yet negotiate a deal with the Assad regime that provides them with a degree of self-governance.
However, as the threat posed by Daesh faded, US support for the Syrian Kurds became shaky. In November, President Donald Trump reportedly told the Turkish president that Washington would stop providing weapons to the Kurds. While there are still US troops in Syria focused on the mission to defeat Daesh, and working with the SDF, Trump said in March and in April that he wanted to pull out the US forces very soon. The president’s comments come on top of a history that has demonstrated the willingness of the US to turn its back on the Kurds. Kurdish leaders are aware, therefore, that they must find a way to survive in Syria without relying on US assistance.
The Kurds are now between a rock (Turkey) and a hard place (the Assad regime). They must decide which enemy is worse and which one they can work with. It seems clear that the PYD sees Turkey as its main enemy, while Turkey views the PYD as part of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which it considers a terrorist group, and has already taken significant action to undermine Kurdish territorial gains. It is likely that some Syrian Kurds view the Assad regime as the greater threat, but since the PYD is the strongest Kurdish faction, its choices will shape the future of the Syrian Kurds.
Nonetheless, the Assad regime is a threat. The Kurds previously suffered under it, partly for the same reasons other Syrians did and partly because the regime sought to wipe out the Kurdish identity. While the Kurds want autonomy, or some form of a strong role in a decentralized, federal Syria, the regime wants the Kurdish territory — and its valuable oil and agricultural resources — back under its control.
Over the summer, the PYD held discussions with the regime about the future of the Kurdish regions and other ethnically mixed territories that Kurdish-led forces captured from Daesh. It does not yet appear that the negotiations have led to any substantial agreements.
The Syrian Kurds might yet negotiate a deal with the Assad regime that provides them with a degree of self-governance. After a potentially draining offensive in Idlib province, the regime might be exhausted and willing to compromise. Its Russian and Iranian allies might persuade Assad to negotiate with the Kurds so he can focus on reinforcing his authority elsewhere. However, Iran has no interest in an autonomous Kurdish region in Syria that might encourage similar aspirations among its own Kurdish population. Moscow, meanwhile, hopes to strengthen relations with Ankara and is unlikely to support an agreement that Turkey would find unacceptable. Negotiations could fail and the Assad regime might attack the Kurds and regain control by force.
The Syrian Kurds have few friends. Iraqi Kurds have been an ally of sorts; they sent reinforcements during the battle of Kobani but are weaker now, and the Kurdistan Regional Government relies on its relations with Turkey. Despite tensions between Washington and Ankara, the US is unlikely to support Kurdish aspirations at the cost of its relationship with a NATO ally.
There are good reasons why the international community should be reluctant to abandon the Kurds.
Though far from a perfect example, the nascent Kurdish government is more moderate and democratic than most in the region and could play an important role in stabilizing a post-conflict Syria. The Kurds fought against Daesh, not only saving themselves but also diminishing the threat to the world, and they deserve something more for that than words of praise. Furthermore, a strong risk remains that Daesh, or some new version of an extremist group, will re-emerge in Syria and the world might once again want help from the Kurds.
**Kerry Boyd Anderson is a writer and political risk consultant with more than 14 years’ experience as a professional analyst of international security issues and Middle East political and business risk. Twitter: @KBAresearch

Is Trump a populist?
Mamdouh AlMuhaini/Al Arabiya/September 28/18
At the beginning of Trump’s era, his rivals described him as a fascist. This is of course not true because fascism means military parades, arresting traitors, mobilizing for war and oppressing the press. This is fascism as per Mussolini’s way as he did all of the above and also changed newspaper headlines because he adored the role of editor-in-chief, which was his job before he became a prime minister.
Does Trump do this? Of course not. The press insults him every day and he cannot throw a single editor in a cell in a police station. He’s a man of money and business and does not want to start new wars and is so far incapable of suspending his Secretary of Justice‎ Jeff Sessions whom he just offends every day for the purpose of making him quit, but Sessions, however, is holding on to his post. His rivals describe him as such to destroy his image and distort his reputation. It’s just a lie that’s accepted in the political conflict and the electoral game. Trump has repeatedly done it with his rivals, and he is the one who stirred controversy that Obama was not born in the US and asked him to show his birth certificate until he reluctantly did. It was a mere trick and an empty accusation but the aim was political and electoral and it was to put Trump’s name on the nationalist political radar again, and he succeeded.
In less than two years since he became president, he suffocated the Iranian regime, punished Assad, participated in eliminating ISIS, strengthened ties with allies and negotiated with the North Koreans. Populist presidents do not usually do this
Mamdouh AlMuhaini
In addition to accusing him of fascism, he’s also accused of populism. This is really worthy of a debate especially that this accusation is made on a daily basis in political articles and programs.
On the contrary
So the important question is: Is Trump really a populist like we hear every day? The answer is no. The populist is an isolationist, and he destroys or does not care about international institutions or world order, and tears apart trade agreements. Regarding isolationism, it’s difficult to argue that President Trump is a populist with a withdrawal approach in foreign policy as his men in this regard are hotheaded hawks.
In less than two years since he became president, he suffocated the Iranian regime, punished Assad, participated in eliminating ISIS, strengthened ties with allies and negotiated with the North Koreans. Populist presidents do not usually do this as they are politically isolated. They don’t deal with matters of the world and they retreat within their homelands. If we look at these populism standards, we would see they apply to his predecessor Barack Obama whose practical approach was purely isolationist.
It’s true that Trump attacked major institutions like the NATO but he did not undermine it, like he had threatened and promised, but he actually pushed other countries to contribute more to its budget hence strengthen it. Populism also means ending ties with traditional allies with whom there are mutual interests and who, through them alone, the formation of liberal world order is maintained.
Trump of course did not end these ties but he actually restored the coherence of the world order and his administration launched a war on the evil powers which seek to destroy it, like the Iranian regime which is suffering under the weight of economic sanctions. What about trade deals? Populists of course reject open free trade but the ongoing conflict between his administration and Beijing is not about that.
The Europeans are more harmed than the Americans from the Chinese partner that steals patents and that does not make fair laws of competition between the two parties. All indicators and statements say that Trump’s administration does not want to undermine commercial ties with China but wants to restore balance to them and push China to play by the same rules everyone else is playing by. The crisis with China is not new and many former presidents have suffered from it but Trump wanted to handle it. It will be an achievement that will increase his stakes and luck in the next elections.
In terms of domestic trade, Trump cannot be described as a populist. He used his mind and hunch as a businessman before anything else. He decreased taxes, eased restraints and stimulated investment hence the economy revived. We can say he is a populist in terms of local policy as he played on the national and patriotic sentiment to strengthen his electoral base and mobilize it behind him.
Trump is in fact a populist in the local political rhetoric but he is a traditional republican in foreign policy and economy and he did not deviate from the doctrine of his predecessors much. In brief, Trump is populist in rhetoric and a Republican in his actions. However he is completely different than a dangerous category of new republicans, like Ted Cruz, who can be described as populists and isolationists and who do not care about what happens in other countries even if massacres are committed against children. These figures criticized Trump’s foreign policy and were enraged every time he intervened on the foreign level, even if it’s to strike Assad. They of course do this to make political gains because foreign interventions are usually unpopular decisions.

Is China’s BRI idea beginning to catch the world’s attention?
Sabena Siddiqui/Al Arabiya/September 28/18
Representing 25 percent of the global population and generating one third of the world’s GDP, China-European Union (EU) relations happen to be next in global significance only to China-US relations. Bilateral trade has grown to such an extent that the EU is China’s biggest trade partner while China is the EU’s second largest trade partner after the United States as it has invested around $235 billion in the EU countries whilst slowing down its US investment to just $103 billion in 2015-2016.
Having had several opportunities for bilateral co-operation, it has been a viable and productive partnership. For starters, the EU countries had joined up the Asian Infrastructure Bank (AIIB) in 2015 even though the US showed reluctance.
In return, China also joined the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) so working together is not something new in their bilateral relations.
Consequently, it was considered likely that the EU would become part of China’s mega-project, the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). The absence of any rivalry and a general convergence of strategic interests could have made a sustainable, long-term partnership possible, especially as the EU did not feel geopolitically threatened by China.
However, it seems that the prospect of more Chinese leverage in Europe has made the EU somewhat unsure, particularly keeping in view its growing economic presence in Central and East European countries (CEEC).
The absence of any rivalry and a general convergence of strategic interests could have made a sustainable, long-term partnership possible, especially as the EU did not feel geopolitically threatened by China
Cross-border links
Recognizing the need for connectivity with Asia, the European Commission has gone ahead with a strategy of its own instead to create cross-border links, modernize transport and energy and improve digital infrastructure links with the continent.
Releasing the policy document, EU Foreign Affairs representative Federica Mogherini said, “Our approach is the European Union’s way to establish stronger networks and strengthen partnerships for sustainable connectivity.”
Increasing the EU’s external action budget to 123 billion euros for the years 2021-2027, it is proposed to raise further money from the private sector and implement mega-projects in Asia.
Seeking to benefit countries both in the ‘end-point’ and areas of transit, the focus is on speeding up investment and innovation while further strategy will be unveiled and put up for voting in October at the inter-governmental Asia-Europe forum meeting for 51 countries in Brussels.
Pledging to remain engaged with China, the EU made it clear in a press release that it would make sure that systems and networks would be inter-operable and the initiatives of both China and the EU would work with synchronicity. Presenting an opportunity for co-operation in line with the Belt and Road Initiative, construction of ‘the European way’ is not a direct counter to the BRI.
Instead, this new venture seems to symbolize that Europe wants to independently tackle and execute the project on its own terms and conditions. Though it may look like Europe is putting up a contender initiative to the BRI, the reality can still prove quite different.
More infrastructure plans are exactly what Asia has needed to be on par with developed countries since decades. Such new ventures highlight that planning the BRI was timely and beneficial from both the regional and global perspective.
Infrastructure gap
Being the fastest growing economic region in the world today, Asia does require a yearly investment of no less than 1.3 trillion euros ($1.5 trillion) to bridge its infrastructure gap. Providing significant opportunities for European companies, this development venture makes sense as the Trans-European transport network requires 1.5 trillion euros in the years 2021-2030.
Since a while, President of the European Commission, Jean Claude Juncker’s Juncker Commission had been focusing on the field of infrastructure, recommending that a climate of entrepreneurship was the only way to bring back jobs, investment and growth to the EU.
Thus, pitching in and investing on infrastructure and trade connectivity works for both the EU and Asia. Ostensibly, plans were underway since 2016 to engage with Asia according to the EU’s Global Strategy, a ‘connected Asia’ covers political and security matters as well as trade and investment. Being a ‘rising continent’ due to its massive population, it remains the world’s biggest market for showcasing products.
In the meantime, the US is also planning to follow the Chinese example like the EU, by launching its own mega-infrastructure projects around the world. Offering developing countries alternate financing options for much-needed infrastructure, preparations are being made these days to finalize funding arrangements.
Working to resolve any barriers, the US Congress plans to pass a bill through Senate for facilitating “international development.” Having nearly wound up the Overseas Private Investment Corp., which promotes US investment abroad in 2017, this development represents a sharp U-turn in strategy.
Additionally, a new agency mainly based on the popular OPIC pattern would run several international development programs.
Summing it up, it appears that the BRI idea has been a success and various geopolitical and geo-economic factors have prompted more global powers to follow suit, in the long run it is beneficial for all as it helps to reduce the poverty and infrastructure gap in developing nations and works for the betterment of mankind.

Why militant fundamentalism is post-modern, not orthodox
Adil Rasheed/Al Arabiya/September 28/18
It might seem ironic but religious fundamentalism is quite a modern, sui generis phenomenon. As its quest for truth is driven more by casuistry than spirituality, it strives to confute the orthodox and traditional practices of various faiths, polities and cultures. Thus, fundamentalism is modern not merely because of its emergence in relatively recent times, but because it attempts to impose a systematic structure to dogma and is generally averse towards religion’s essentially metaphysical and esoteric dimensions. By discarding the intricacies of the metaphorical, fundamentalism clings to a literalist defense of scripture that invariably gives its arguments a reductionist, absolutist and intolerant streak. In its pursuance of minimalism to ostensibly achieve pristine purity of faith, it sets itself up against intellectualism, aestheticism and mysticism, and so it finds few scholars, thinkers or artists among its obscurantist following.
Fundamentalism in our times is remarkably innovative in that it has transported religion out of its spiritual realm and brought its distorted version into the socio-cultural, political and even economic domains
Metastasizing menace
The term fundamentalism originated in late 19th century when it referred to the extremist beliefs of certain Protestant sects in Britain and the US, which insisted on the literal inerrancy of the Bible.
However, this mimetic threat soon spread to other religions including some segments of Islam, even though this trend has arguably shown signs of general regress in recent times.
Although simplistic in its vehement adherence to “the inviolable basic principles”, fundamentalism in our times is remarkably innovative in that it has transported religion out of its spiritual realm and brought its distorted version into the socio-cultural, political and even economic domains.
Surprisingly like neo-liberalism, fundamentalism rejects tradition and “cultural specificity in favor of abstract universalism”. Thus, Muslim fundamentalist movements generally reject all the orthodox schools of religious jurisprudence or doctrines. In this, they are remarkably anarchist, even post-modern.
Post-modern moorings
In an article titled “Post-Modern Jihad”, published in The Weekly Standard soon after the September 11 attacks in 2001, Waller Newell (Professor of Political Science and Philosophy at Carleton University) wrote “the ideology by which al-Qaeda justifies its acts of terror owes as much to baleful trends in Western thoughts as it does to a perversion of religious beliefs. Osama’s doctrine of terror is partly a Western export.”
In the article, the scholar traces the influences of Nazi philosopher Heidegger and post-modern ideologues like Foucault on the Iranian Revolution and al-Qaeda.
He writes: “The relationship between postmodernist European leftism and Islamist radicalism is a two-way street: Not only have Islamists drawn on the legacy of European left, but European Marxists have taken heart from Islamist terrorists who seemed close to achieving the longed for revolution against American hegemony.”
According to noted expert on Islamist terrorism Olivier Roy, “In the 1960s, in Western Europe we had a tradition of youth radicalization from the Marxist revolution. Suddenly around the 1990s, the dream of the Marxist revolution disappeared and al-Qaeda and ISIS filled the vacuum”.
Similarly Ofri Ilani writes: “Individualism, hatred of the establishment and a cult of emotion activate the jihadists, just as they activated the anarchist assassins in the 19th century or the Red Brigades in the 1970s”.
The loss of meaning
Since ancient times, religion instituted meaning in human consciousness through its spiritual injunctions, ethical distinction of right from wrong as well as restrictions on the bestial and carnal instincts. With the coming of European enlightenment, rationalism and science set new standards of personal, societal and universal values.
However, with the rise of post-modern philosophies, certitude in established institutions of faith, ethics and even reason started to crumble and thereby the very construct of meaning began to blur. A similar trend is perceptible in the descent of militant fundamentalism from its avowed pursuance of essential religious truths to a near complete breakdown of any ethical construct it claimed to cling to.
Like post-modern Marxist revolutionaries, the bestial has gained pre-eminence over both the spiritual and the rational, leading to a near collapse of faith and any semblance of good sense. Borrowing ideas from their post-modern ideological mentors, groups like al-Qaeda and ISIS have violated the very basic injunctions of their avowed faith.
As Newell puts it: “For Foucault as for Fanon, Hezbollah, and the rest down to Osama, the purpose of violence is not to relieve poverty or adjust borders. Violence is an end in itself … That is how al Qaeda can ignore mainstream Islam, which prohibits the deliberate killing of noncombatants, and slaughter innocents in the name of creating a new world, the latest in a long line of grimly punitive collectivist utopias.”
One could definitely add the name of ISIS on the list of these post-modern, neo-fundamentalist purveyors of violence. Not surprisingly, militant fundamentalism strives in places of utter chaos and confusion.
The remedy to clearly lies in restoring religion to its rightful and exclusive preserve of spiritualism, while leaving socio-political issues to institutions of national and international polity. There can be no space for religion in the political domain.

Iran’s blame game deflects attention from regime’s support of terror

Dr. Majid Rafizadeh/Arab News/September 28/18
Iran’s state-owned Persian news outlets have this week dedicated significant coverage to the attack that occurred during a military parade in the southwestern city of Ahvaz on Saturday. Gunmen opened fire, killing at least 25 people and wounding 55 more. The military parade was being carried out by members of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and its elite Quds Force.
The attack casts doubts on the Iranian leaders’ claim that it is the safest country in the region. Last year, a pair of attacks shocked the capital of Tehran, where at least 12 people were killed at the Iranian Parliament and Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini’s mausoleum, which is one of Iran’s most sacred places.
Iranian leaders have long been attempting to project Iran as the safest and most secure country in the Middle East in order to further rally and galvanize domestic and international support, as well as increase the popularity of the IRGC, which safeguards the nation.
An important issue to address is the Iranian leaders’ reaction to this development. In such scenarios, the theocratic establishment resorts to various tactics. First of all, instead of examining the underlying causes of the attack, it plays the blame card.
For example, immediately after the attack and without providing any evidence or proof, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei accused other countries in the region, particularly the Gulf Arab states. He said in a statement on his website: “This crime is a continuation of the plots of the regional states that are puppets of the United States, and their goal is to create insecurity in our dear country.”
The message was the same across the Iranian regime’s political spectrum. Even the so-called moderate politicians of Iran joined the hardliners in pointing fingers at other nations. For instance, Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif blamed other countries in the region and their “US masters.”
Such a tactical game played masterfully by the Iranian regime will only escalate tension in the region, and increase distrust among nations.
The attack casts doubts on the Iranian leaders’ claim that it is the safest country in the region
It should be noted that the reason behind this strategy is to deflect attention from the regime’s support for terrorist and militia groups across the region. Iran has been providing military, financial, intelligence and advisory assistance to various Shiite militia groups in countries including Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen. The Islamic Republic has also sheltered terrorist leaders from extremist groups such as Al-Qaeda, according to several intelligence reports.
Iran’s sectarian agenda of supporting Bashar Assad and Shiite militia groups across the region has intensified regional sectarianism and empowered extremist groups such as Daesh to recruit more fighters. In a recent survey on global terrorism, the Islamic Republic was again ranked as the top state sponsor of terrorism in the world.
Iranian leaders will more than likely attempt to buttress their unfounded arguments that extremist groups are Tehran’s rivals, or that Iran is fighting extremism and terrorism in the region. This is to assist the hardliners in further justifying the deployment of more forces and intensifying their involvement in the region.
By blaming other nations for the attack, Iranian leaders are also attempting to deflect media attention away from the dire situation of the people in Ahvaz, which is the capital of Khuzestan Province. The IRGC parade, which was intended to show Iran’s military strength, was conducted in one of the country’s most neglected cities.While the Iranian people have been struggling politically and economically, the citizens of Ahvaz in particular have been encountering extreme difficulties for various reasons. In spite of the fact that Ahvaz is rich in natural resources, the indigenous Arab residents of Khuzestan are plagued with severe socioeconomic deprivation, suffer from one of the highest rates of poverty in Iran, and have a high level of water and air pollution. The nearby oil facilities surround and suffocate the city by releasing toxic materials and pollutants into the air. In fact, Ahvaz was in 2015 ranked the most polluted city in the world by the World Health Organization. The failures of the Iranian regime mean that Ahvaz’s residents are facing such difficulties and poverty while they are living in one of the most oil-rich cities of the Islamic Republic.
Finally, Iran should be cognizant of the fact that its policy of supporting terror groups can have unintended consequences. In the next phase, the IRGC will most likely attempt to impose fear in the country, capitalize on rally round the flag syndrome, justify its military engagements in the region, galvanize more public support for involvements in other regional countries, increase the military budget, and tighten domestic control through heightened securitization by police and intelligence forces.
*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

Welcome to Sanctuary Sweden!

Judith Bergman/Gatestone Institute/September 28/18
Translations of this item:
Feras, an illegal alien to begin with, and a convicted felon, was allowed to stay in Sweden for the sole reason that he committed a violent hate crime against Swedish Jews. This despite the fact that Sweden had rejected his asylum request, and he therefore lacked any legal right to stay in the country.
The precedent that this case establishes is highly disturbing: If you commit crimes against Jews that can "be perceived as a serious political crime directed against other Jews," then you might be eligible for asylum in Sweden. The rights of Sweden's vulnerable Jews have apparently ceased to matter.
In Sweden, and perhaps other places as well, it appears that that the "human rights" of foreign aspiring murderers are more important than the human rights of law-abiding citizens.
Are you in a European country illegally, flouting your deportation order and committing arson? No problem. If the country to which you are to be returned might conceivably harm you, instead you are welcome to stay in Sweden, commit more crimes and harm Swedes.
A Swedish Court of Appeal recently overturned the deportation ruling against one of three convicted perpetrators of an arson attack against the synagogue of Gothenburg in December 2017, on the grounds that it would be in contravention of his "fundamental human rights".
The 22-year old Arab man from Gaza, known as Feras, was in Sweden illegally when he committed the attack. His asylum request had been rejected by the Swedish Migration Agency (Migrationsverket); he had apparently been told to leave the country, but he did not. For reasons that are unclear, he was not held for deportation, but still walking around freely in Sweden.
Feras used that freedom to participate in an attack on the Gothenburg synagogue. Approximately 10-15 other young men, of whom only three were charged, joined him. It seems that while young Jews were gathered for a party in an adjacent building, Feras and his friends threw burning objects at cars parked inside the synagogue fence. No one was hurt and the fires were quickly extinguished by rain, leaving only marginal material damage. The court therefore refused to categorize the crime as attempted murder, as the prosecution had requested. Both the lower court and the Court of Appeal did find, however, that the arson attack constituted an anti-Semitic hate crime.
Previously, the lower court had convicted Feras of "grossly unlawful threats and attempted serious damage" and had sentenced him to two years in prison and subsequent deportation. The Court of Appeal nevertheless said that Feras "...committed grossly unlawful threats with the intention of violating members of the Jewish congregation, but that the act can also be perceived as a serious political crime directed against other Jews."
"Given the possible interest of Israel in the matter and the insecure situation prevailing at the border crossings to Gaza and the West Bank and in the areas themselves, the Court of Appeals considers there is reasonable reason to fear that NN's fundamental human rights would not be safeguarded if he were expelled to Palestine. The Court of Appeal therefore rejects the prosecutor's request for deportation..."
The court also referred to reports concerning human rights and democracy in Israel and "Palestine" by Sweden's Foreign Ministry.
The court, in other words, speculated that because Feras tried to burn Jews, which "can also be perceived as a serious political crime directed against other Jews," Israel has a security interest in questioning him. For that reason alone -- with no evidence or details set forth -- returning him to the region of Israel and Gaza would supposedly be in contravention of his "fundamental human rights". The Court of Appeals' ruling meant that Feras, an illegal alien to begin with, and a convicted felon, was allowed to stay in Sweden for the sole reason that he committed a violent hate crime against Swedish Jews. This despite the fact that Sweden had rejected his asylum request, and he therefore lacked any legal right to stay in the country. After he finishes serving his two years in prison, he will be out, and free possibly to commit new hate crimes against Jewish citizens in Sweden.
The precedent that this case establishes -- if the case is not appealed and reversed by the Supreme Court -- is disturbing: If you commit crimes against Jews that can "be perceived as a serious political crime directed against other Jews," then you might be eligible for asylum in Sweden. The rights of Sweden's vulnerable Jews have apparently ceased to matter.
Actually, no Swedish citizens' rights appear to matter in the Swedish court system anymore. In 2017, a report showed that 75% of foreigners who were sentenced to prison and subsequent deportation for serious crimes were nevertheless set free after serving their sentences and allowed to stay in Sweden for a variety of reasons. In the years 2000-2014, Swedish courts did not even sentence to be deported 20% of convicted foreign rapists, who were registered to the same address in Sweden. For pedophile rapists the number was even lower: 17%. According to more recent statistics, 9 out of 10 convicted foreigners in Sweden are not deported.
The problem extends to terrorists as well. In 2017, for example, a Syrian who arrived in Sweden as a "refugee" in 2015 was acquitted in court of attacking Shia Muslims with firebombs. However, having said in monitored conversations that he saw himself as a jihadist who wanted to become a martyr, and considering that he had been in touch with ISIS, Swedish intelligence evidently deemed him too dangerous to stay in Sweden. The immigration authorities sought to have him deported to Syria, but they did not succeed. It seems the law does not permit his deportation to Syria: he risked being arrested or executed there. Instead, he was also released to walk freely around in Malmö.
In Sweden, and perhaps other places as well, it appears that that the "human rights" of foreign aspiring murderers are more important than the human rights of law-abiding citizens.
*Judith Bergman is a columnist, lawyer and political analyst.
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The Shia Arabs of Khuzestan
Mehdi Khalaji/The Washington Institute/September 28/18
Tribal identity supersedes religious affiliation in this community, helping explain why Tehran can expect further challenges from this southwestern province.
In the aftermath of the September 22 attack in Ahvaz, in Iran's Khuzestan province, many have remarked on the Arab residents of the area. Yet unlike other ethnic minorities in the country—e.g., Kurds in the northwest and Baluch people in the eastern province of Sistan and Baluchestan and western province of Kurdistan—these Arabs are predominantly Shia. A decade ago, in reaction to systematic discrimination against Arab citizens and a desire to be welcomed by the pan-Arab movement, a wave of the area's Iranians converted to Sunni Islam, but just as quickly the trend dissipated. This is perhaps because tribal identity prevails over religious tendency in the social makeup of the Ahvaz Arab community.
This tribal rule posed a major obstacle to national consolidation and modernization under Reza Shah Pahlavi, whose government fought against the forces of Sheikh Khazal al-Kabi, the strongman who presided over the area. With its ultimate victory in 1925, the central government took full control over Khuzestan. Yet Reza Shah sought conformity from residents, enacted through measures such as a ban on school instruction in local languages and the printing of publications in any language other than the official tongue, Persian. Such dictates have stirred frictions ever since.
After the 1979 revolution, the Islamic leadership followed the Pahlavi dynasty's lead by continuing to subvert the demands of ethnic minorities. Under the Pahlavis, oil-rich Khuzestan, brimming with oil companies and refineries, had become one of Iran's most developed and prosperous provinces, but the eight-year war with Iraq wreaked widespread destruction in the province.
As for links between Iranian Arabs—who are largely concentrated in Khuzestan—and Arabs abroad, they can be explained in roughly two ways:
The historical tribal relationship between the Khuzestan Arabs and Arabs in neighboring Basra province, in Iraq. Indeed, borders drawn in the twentieth century divided both tribes (ghabile) and subtribes (ashira), such as the Bani Kab, Bani Said, Bani Turuf, Bani Khaled, Bani Tamin, Bani Assad, and al-Kanana. Over the last decade, the opening of borders has facilitated widening interactions and relationships within families and tribes, in turn creating security concerns for the Iranian government. This plays out especially through the ability of anti-government elements such as Mujahedin-e Khalq and Salafist groups to cross into the country. Also, given Basra's status as a historic center for Akhbari Shiism, Arabs in Khuzestan tend to have little faith in the official Shia clerical establishment. Akhbaris—"literalists," as translated—do not share the views of the dominant Usuli school in Iran and are politically quietistic. They do not believe in the legitimacy of ijtehad (independent reasoning by clerics) and have no source of emulation (marja taqlid), as Usuli Shiism requires. Both tribal ties and theological affinities reinforce anti-government sentiments within Khuzestan's Arabs and anti-Iran sentiments within the Shia community in southern Iraq.
The role of Iranian Arab elites, who became Westernized as a result of Pahlavi-era modernization and tend to be secular and advocate pan-Arabism. Since the inception of the Islamic Republic, pan-Arabism has been a security concern for the regime, never more than during the Iran-Iraq War and corresponding emergence of pro-Saddam groups. Pan-Arabism intertwined with separatist ambitions gave rise to organized opposition groups and an ongoing clash between government and Arab activists. These activists accuse the Islamic Republic of carrying out discriminatory anti-Arab policies, intentionally keeping the province underdeveloped and poor, and preventing Arab citizens from holding sensitive or high-level positions in government bureaus.
In broad-brush terms, the Khuzestan Arab community illustrates the ways in which the Middle East divide often transcends that between Sunni and Shia, or between Arab and Persian. For the Iranian regime in particular, in light of the recent terrorist strike, complex ethnic and tribal aspirations in Khuzestan could be the source of future headaches, if not crises.
*Mehdi Khalaji is the Libitzky Family Fellow at The Washington Institute.