English LCCC Newsbulletin For Lebanese, Lebanese Related, Global News & Editorials
For April 17/2022
Compiled & Prepared by: Elias Bejjani

The Bulletin's Link on the lccc Site

News Bulletin Achieves Since 2006
Click Here to enter the LCCC Arabic/English news bulletins Achieves since 2006

Bible Quotations For today
Great Sunday of the Resurrection
Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Mark 16/01-08:”When the sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him. And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb. They had been saying to one another, ‘Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?’ When they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had already been rolled back. As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man, dressed in a white robe, sitting on the right side; and they were alarmed.But he said to them, ‘Do not be alarmed; you are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has been raised; he is not here. Look, there is the place they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him, just as he told you.’ So they went out and fled from the tomb, for terror and amazement had seized them; and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.”

Titles For The Latest English LCCC Lebanese & Lebanese Related News & Editorials published on April 16-17/2022
Resurrection: Life, Faith And Death…Halleluiah, Jesus has risen! Indeed He has risen./Elias Bejjani/ِApril 17/2021
Maronite Patriarch, Cardinal Bechara Boutros al-Rahi in his Easter message: Lebanese people are responsible for their political choices
Maronite Patriarch, Cardinal Bechara Boutros al-Rahi: Lebanon needs patriotic and sovereign parliamentary majority
Corona - Health Ministry: 112 new Corona cases, 3 deaths
Foreign Affairs Ministry denies circulated news on asking students benefiting from “Tobacco Department Grant” to receive its value in cash
Finance Minister's Media Office clarifies that "judicial decree will be signed as soon as its basic errors are resolved"
"Current stage requires us to unite, stand by our people,” says Arslan
Makhzoumi visits Al-Bukhari on blessed Ramadan: His auspicious return confirms Saudi Arabia's constant keenness on Lebanon's stability
Al-Mortada on ‘World Voice Day’: Lebanon will remain the voice of free culture, port explosion that will not subside until the voice of justice rises
“Lebanon in of need a glimmer of light, resurrection after all its pain,” tweets Mawlawi
Nasrallah, Al-Khair convene
Berri greets the Lebanese on Easter occasion
In Cyprus, Bou Habib says Lebanon ready to cooperate on offshore gas
Lebanon can't rely solely on civil society to bring change in the country/Michael Young/The National/April 16/2022
The Power of Lebanon’s Assassins/Justin SalhaniIn/kstick/April 16/2022
Fierce race in Lebanon elections expected with record number of women standing/Sally Abou AlJoud, Al Arabiya English/April 16/,2022

Titles For The Latest English LCCC Miscellaneous Reports And News published on April 15-16/2022
Kyiv military factory targeted in strikes
Ukraine’s Zelensky: Between 2,500 to 3,000 Ukrainian troops have died in war
Another 40,000 Ukrainians flee war: UN
Russia warns US of 'consequences' of Ukraine military aid
Over 900 civilians dead around Kyiv, Russia vows new attacks
Palestinians fear more incursions after Friday’s Israeli Al-Aqsa aggression
Hundreds rally against threat to close Turkish women’s rights group
North Korea tests new weapons system aimed at enhancing ‘tactical nukes’ efficiency: KCNA
Opponents of French far-right protest as election campaign enters final week

Titles For The Latest LCCC English analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on April 15-16/2022
The War on Young Minds/Techno Fog/IM—1776/April 16/2022
Tackling the Iranian Regime's Nuclear Threat/Dr. Majid Rafizadeh/Arab News/April 16, 2022
Turkish envoy attracts attention with veiled criticism of Iran in article for Israeli think tank /Menekse Tokyay/Arab News/April 16, 2022
Lifting sanctions will only convey Western weakness to Tehran/Dr. Majid Rafizadeh/Arab News/April 16, 2022

The Latest English LCCC Lebanese & Lebanese Related News & Editorials published on April 16-17/2022
Resurrection: Life, Faith And Death…Halleluiah, Jesus has risen! Indeed He has risen.
Elias Bejjani/ِApril 17/2021
Don’t be amazed. You seek Jesus, the Nazarene, who has been crucified. He has risen. He is not here (Mark 16/05)
Do not be afraid, “Don’t be amazed”, with these reassuring and soothing words The Angel spoke to Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome. They had came to the tomb on Sunday morning to mummify and anoint Jesus’ Body as the Jewish tradition required. They thought death had defeated Jesus and ended His life as it does to every human being. On their way, they were sadly thinking and wondering who will roll for them the stone away from the tomb’s entrance so they can get in and perform the mummifying and anointing process. While halfway from the tomb, they saw that the enormous stone had been rolled away. When they entered the tomb they found that Jesus’ body was not there. They found only the shrouds that His body was wrapped with on His burial after the crucifixion.
Saint Mark’s (16/01-13) Gospel describes thoroughly what has happened with these three loyal and faithful women: “When the Sabbath was, past Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome, bought spices, that they might come and anoint him. 16:2 Very early on the first day of the week, they came to the tomb when the sun had risen. They were saying among themselves, “Who will roll away the stone from the door of the tomb for us?” for it was very big. Looking up, they saw that the stone was rolled back. Entering into the tomb, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, dressed in a white robe, and they were amazed. He said to them, “Don’t be amazed. You seek Jesus, the Nazarene, who has been crucified. He has risen. He is not here. Behold, the place where they laid him! But go, tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He goes before you into Galilee. There you will see him, as he said to you.’” They went out, and fled from the tomb, for trembling and astonishment had come on them. They said nothing to anyone; for they were afraid. Now when he had risen early on the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, from whom he had cast out seven demons. She went and told those who had been with him, as they mourned and wept. When they heard that he was alive, and had been seen by her, they disbelieved. After these things he was revealed in another form to two of them, as they walked, on their way into the country. They went away and told it to the rest. They didn’t believe them, either.”
Lord Jesus who died on the cross, had risen from the dead on the third day just as He has said while proclaiming His message. He triumphed over death, defeated the forces of darkness, overcame pain, abolished anguish and brought despair to an end. He rose from the tomb to be constantly with those faithful to Him throughout their lives, and to never abandon them. He shall empower forever those who believe in His message and observe His commandments with the spirit of truth, knowledge, wisdom and solidarity with His Father, Almighty God.
Christ is the Way, Christ is the Truth, and Christ is the actual eternal life that we long for. We strongly believe with full conviction that Christ dwells in His Holy Church, and exists in its Mysteries (Sacraments). He is always present in the Holy Eucharist that we receive during every mass. Christ at all times is ready, willing and delighted to help us in our burdens when we call on Him and ask for His mercy. “Come to me, all you who labor and are heavily burdened, and I will give you rest. 11:29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart; and you will find rest for your souls. 11:30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew11:28)
The miracle of resurrection is the cornerstone of our Christian faith. This pivotal liturgical fact was strongly stressed by Saint Paul in his First Letter to the Corinthians, (15/12-26): ” Now if Christ is preached, that he has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, neither has Christ been raised. If Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain, and your faith also is in vain. Yes, we are found false witnesses of God, because we testified about God that he raised up Christ, whom he didn’t raise up, if it is so that the dead are not raised. For if the dead aren’t raised, neither has Christ been raised. If Christ has not been raised, your faith is vain; you are still in your sins. Then they also who are fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If we have only hoped in Christ in this life, we are of all men most pitiable. But now Christ has been raised from the dead. He became the first fruits of those who are asleep. For since death came by man, the resurrection of the dead also came by man. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, then those who are Christ’s, at his coming. Then the end comes, when he will deliver up the Kingdom to God, even the Father; when he will have abolished all rule and all authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy that will be abolished is death”.
Through Crucifixion and resurrection, Christ has overcome death, broke its thorn, and granted us His eternal forgiveness from the original sin. With His death and resurrection, death in its traditional earthly human concept has been abolished forever and Sin since then has become the actual death that leads the sinners to Gahanna into the unquenchable fire.
When our bodies die, we sleep in the hope of resurrection. On Jesus’ return on the Day of Judgment, the dead will be the first to rise and escort Him. “Behold, I tell you a mystery. We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we will be changed”, (Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians 15 / 51-52).
Easter Sunday is a holy feast of love, humility, forgiveness, brotherhood, tolerance and repentance. Religiously we are not to participate in any of these feast prayers or make any offerings or receive the Holy Communion unless we replace hatred with love, grudges with forgiveness, rejection of others with tolerance, arrogance with humility, greed with contentment, deception with transparency, and evil with righteousness.
If we do not learn how to tame our selfishness, anger, hatred and forgive others for whatever evil deeds they commit against us and reconcile with them, than we do not qualify to be called Jesus’ followers. Our prayers will not be heard or responded to, if we do not practice the grace of forgiveness as did He who was crucified for our salvation.
“If therefore you are offering your gift at the altar, and there remember that your brother has anything against you, leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift”. (Matthew 5/23-24).
Meanwhile our true faith in Jesus and in His Sacrifices won’t be complete unless we adopt in our thinking, deeds and language the pure components of sacrifice, honesty, truth, self respect, meekness and decency. “Let no corrupt speech proceed out of your mouth, but such as is good for building up as the need may be, that it may give grace to those who hear. Don’t grieve the Holy Spirit of God, in whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, outcry, and slander, be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving each other, just as God also in Christ forgave you. (Ephesians 4/29-32)
For our prayers to be looked upon and heard by Almighty God, we are required to reconcile with ourselves and with all others on whom we have inflicted pain and injustice, and treated with an evil manner. To please the Lord we are required to genuinely, heartily and overtly perform all required acts of repentance for all our mischievous conducts and wrongdoings. Mark 11/24-26: “Therefore I tell you, all things whatever you pray and ask for, believe that you have received them, and you shall have them. Whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone; so that your Father, who is in heaven, may also forgive you your transgressions. But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your transgressions”
Almighty God has endowed us with His love talent, (minas) and expects us to faithfully invest it in helping others who are in need. He expect us to observe all the teaching of His Bible so that He will reward us on the Day of Judgment and put us on His Right Side.
On this Holy Day of Resurrection, we must be aware that Jesus’ Holy blood was shed on the Cross for our sake. Remembrance of His death and resurrection is a Godly consignment that we are entrusted with. It’s up to us either to honour this trust or betray it. In regards to what is committed to us, Saint Paul conveyed to his disciple Timothy the following advice (6/20-21): “Timothy, guard that which is committed to you, turning away from the empty chatter and oppositions of the knowledge which is falsely so called; which some professing have erred concerning the faith”.
Halleluiah! Jesus has risen! Indeed He has risen.

Maronite Patriarch, Cardinal Bechara Boutros al-Rahi in his Easter message: Lebanese people are responsible for their political choices
NNA/April 16/2022
Maronite Patriarch, Cardinal Bechara Boutros al-Rahi, warned of a double tragedy that is repeated every day, especially those with financial and tyrannical influence, as well as bribery of power and influence, saying: “Conscience is neither sold nor bought because it is sacred, and trading in it is a violation of it.”
In his message during Easter Mass, the Maronite Patriarch also commented on the return of the ambassadors of the Gulf states to Lebanon, saying: "As much as we welcomed the return of our Arab friends to Lebanon, we hope that the Lebanese themselves will return to their Lebanon and abandon their foreign loyalties and their affiliation with projects alien to our history and heritage."Patriarch Rahi also held the Lebanese people responsible for their political choices, saying: "If the people do not realize the danger of the stage and choose the forces capable of defending Lebanon's entity and identity, then these people themselves, not the political system, bear the responsibility for the great collapse."He warned against the danger of misleading people until they elect a parliamentary majority that does not resemble them and does not meet their ambitions, which would increase their isolation and collapse.
Rahi concluded by saying that Lebanon needs a parliamentary, national, sovereign, independent, militant majority that believes in the country's privacy, the legitimate state, constitutional institutions, and the army as a single reference for arms and security.

Maronite Patriarch, Cardinal Bechara Boutros al-Rahi: Lebanon needs patriotic and sovereign parliamentary majority
Naharnet/April 16/2022
Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rahi on Saturday called on the Lebanese to elect a “patriotic” parliamentary majority that believes in “sovereignty and independence" and in “the Lebanese Army as the sole authority for arms and security” in the country. “We are the movement of change, freedom and sovereignty in this Levant and we are the pioneers of political and intellectual renaissance. We resisted when resistance was an adventure, we rebelled when the uprising was being suppressed, and we raised the voice when voices fell silent,” al-Rahi said in his annual Easter message. “We persevered when aggressors and occupiers were kingdoms, empires and sultanates, so we will not submit and surrender today. Why don’t we rebel, put conflicts aside and come together in the country of unity and cultural and religious pluralism that we achieved together in 1920,” the patriarch urged. Referring to the upcoming parliamentary elections, al-Rahi said that “the more the people act to seriously confront this disastrous situation, the more the Arab and international community would be encouraged to assist them.”“We call on the Lebanese themselves to return to Lebanon and to abandon their foreign allegiances and their belonging to projects that are alien to our history and heritage,” the patriarch added. He accordingly called for eliminating “the hybrid identities that sneaked into our Lebanese identity throughout history.”Moreover, al-Rahi urged citizens to vote for “the forces who can defend Lebanon’s entity and identity, who can remain loyal to the martyrs of the Lebanese cause and who can restore Lebanon’s Arab and international ties.”

Corona - Health Ministry: 112 new Corona cases, 3 deaths
NNA/April 16/2022
In its daily report on the COVID-19 developments, the Ministry of Public Health announced on Saturday the registration of 112 new Coronavirus infections, which raised the cumulative number of confirmed cases to-date to 1,095,518. The report added that 3 deaths were registered during the past 24 hours

Foreign Affairs Ministry denies circulated news on asking students benefiting from “Tobacco Department Grant” to receive its value in cash
NN/April 16/2022
Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Emigrants denied in an issued statement this evening "the news circulating on social media about inviting students benefiting from the Department of Tobacco Scholarship, to attend to the Ministry's building to receive the value of their grant in cash," stressing that said news is “groundless”.“The Ministry affirms that around 542 students have started receiving the scholarship after the Lebanese embassies began distributing it to deserving students,” the statement clarified. m"The Ministry continues to work on finding a quick solution, in coordination with the Banque du Liban, to facilitate the delivery of the amounts owed to students in Russia, Ukraine, Iran, Cuba and Syria due to the difficulty of money transfers to these five countries," the statement assured.

Finance Minister's Media Office clarifies that "judicial decree will be signed as soon as its basic errors are resolved"
NNA/April 16/2022
The media office of Finance Minister Youssef Al-Khalil stressed in an issued statement this evening, that “the Minister of Finance affirms his keen interest in achieving justice and revealing the full truth in the Beirut Port explosion dossier,” adding that the provisions of the constitution and the laws in force, as well as his position, are clear and firm in this regard. “In this context, it is necessary to clarify to the Lebanese public opinion that the failure to sign the decree of the Court of Cassation’s judicial formations is due to the basic errors included that would create a precedent, if signed, which Lebanon can be spared,” the statement indicated. “Minister Al-Khalil assures that work is being done to resolve the obstacles facing the signing of the aforementioned decree, and confirms that he will sign it as soon as these obstacles are overcome,” the statement concluded.

"Current stage requires us to unite, stand by our people,” says Arslan
NNA/April 16/2022
Head of the "Lebanese Democratic Party", MP Talal Arslan, considered that the Lebanese are facing a “pivotal stage” in their country’s history, noting that “the acceleration of international and regional developments is a clear indication of this, whose impact on Lebanon will appear successively."
Arslan explained to a delegation of Druze religious clerics who visited him at his Khaldeh residence earlier today, "the details of his visit to Moscow and his meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and his deputy, Mikhail Bogdanov," praising "the Russian role in the region and the historical relationship that unites them with the Druze Unitarian Sect.""The current stage requires us to unite in solidarity and stand by our sheikhs and our people in the mountain and various Lebanese regions,” Arslan went on, stressing that “the upcoming elections are very important, but the most important thing is for them to pass quietly and for the stability and security of the Lebanese mountain to be maintained.”“Civil peace today is above all deadlines, entitlements and considerations," he asserted.

Makhzoumi visits Al-Bukhari on blessed Ramadan: His auspicious return confirms Saudi Arabia's constant keenness on Lebanon's stability
NNA/April 16/2022
MP Fouad Makhzoumi said in a tweet on Saturday: "I was honored to visit Saudi ambassador and friend, Walid Al-Bukhari, to congratulate him on the holy month of Ramadan and his favorable return, which affirmed Saudi Arabia's constant keenness on Lebanon's stability, and the relief it reflected on the Lebanese scene.”He added: “We discussed the general prevailing conditions, particularly the economic and social situation, and ways of strengthening relations between our two countries.”

Al-Mortada on ‘World Voice Day’: Lebanon will remain the voice of free culture, port explosion that will not subside until the voice of justice rises
NNA/April 16/2022
Minister of Culture, Judge Mohammad al-Mortada stressed, in a statement on the occasion of the “Word Voice Day” on April 16, that "Lebanon will remain the voice of free culture," recalling "the sound of the port explosion, which will not subside until the voice of justice rises, announcing the truth."
"April 16 is the World Voice Day, and Lebanon will remain the voice of liberal culture, the voice of values that struggle to lift injustice and confront aggression and liberation, and the voice of Fayrouz singing beauty, goodness and nostalgia to Arab cities from Beirut’s gulf, far-reaching the coast of Alexandria and passing through Jerusalem, Damascus, Baghdad and other capitals of Arab glory,” he said. “On the World Voice Day, we also remember the sound of the port explosion that ravaged the conscience of every Lebanese, which will not subside until the voice of justice rises, declaring the non-politicized truth away from the agendas of chaos they want for this country,” Mortada concluded.

“Lebanon in of need a glimmer of light, resurrection after all its pain,” tweets Mawlawi
NNA/April 16/2022
Minister of Interior and Municipalities, Judge Bassam Mawlawi, expressed his greetings to the Lebanese on the occasion of Easter, saying via Twitter: "How in need Lebanon is, after all its suffering, for a ray of light and resurrection…Happy Easter, may our country be blessed with goodness each year!”

Nasrallah, Al-Khair convene
NNA/April 16/2022
“Hezbollah” Secretary-General, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, met today with Head of the National Center in the North, Kamal al-Khair, in the presence of the Party’s National Relations Officer, Mahmoud Qamati.
Talks reportedly touched on electoral issues and the latest political developments.

Berri greets the Lebanese on Easter occasion

NNA/April 16/2022
Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri extended his warmest congratulations to the Lebanese in general and the Christian community in particular, on the occasion of Easter, hoping that “Easter will be a stop for the Lebanese to learn what this spiritual occasion embodies in terms of sacrifice and hope for the resurrection and salvation for Lebanon.”“The end of the Calvary Path begins with rejecting hatred, spreading love, and strengthening the bonds of unity....," Speaker Berri added.

In Cyprus, Bou Habib says Lebanon ready to cooperate on offshore gas
Naharnet/April 16/2022
Lebanon is ready to work with Cyprus to exploit potential gas deposits in waters between the two east Mediterranean countries, Lebanon's top diplomat said, even though a deal on offshore rights hasn't been formally finalized. Cyprus and Lebanon signed an agreement delineating their respective offshore exclusive economic zones in 2007, but the Lebanese parliament has yet to ratify it amid the country's ongoing maritime border dispute with Israel. Nevertheless, Lebanese Foreign Minister Abdallah Bou Habib said after talks with his Cypriot counterpart in Nicosia that "with Cyprus there's no problem, once we found gas we're ready to go, put it together." "We talked about it and I can assure you that Lebanon is ready to do it," Bou Habib said. The Lebanese top diplomat's remarks come as Europe is seeking new energy sources to wean itself off Russian gas in the wake of Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Cyprus has issued exploration drilling licenses to ExxonMobil and partner Qatar Petroleum, a consortium made up of French energy company Total and Italy's Eni, as well as Chevron and partner Shell, to most of its 13 segments in its exclusive economic zone off its southern coast. To the north, Cyprus faces an intense challenge from Turkey which claims much of the island's EEZ as its own and has sent warship-escorted survey ships into the area -- earning condemnation from the European Union, of which Cyprus is a member. Cyprus was split along ethnic lines in 1974 when Turkey invaded following a coup by supporters of union with Greece. The breakaway Turkish Cypriot north is only recognized by Turkey. Lebanon's Bou Habib said a U.S.-written mediation proposal submitted earlier this year that aimed at resolving the Lebanese-Israeli dispute, while much better than previous attempts, is "not enough yet."
He said both Lebanon's government and its lawmakers are "all in agreement" on what they seek from a deal with Israel. "Therefore the response to the Americans hopefully would be soon and it would be one response," Bou Habib said. Any discoveries within Lebanon's own economic zone would be a long-term boon for the crisis-hit country's beleaguered economy. Lebanon's economic crisis has been described by the World Bank as one of the world's worst since the 1850s. Tens of thousands of people have lost their jobs since October 2019 and the Lebanese pound lost more than 90% of its value.

Lebanon can't rely solely on civil society to bring change in the country
Michael Young/The National/April 16/2022
With elections on May 15, it remains to be seen what gains civilian candidates make against the political class
Earlier this month, the deadline was reached for presenting candidate lists for Lebanon’s parliamentary elections on May 15. The main takeaway was that the opposition, mostly made up of civil society groups, failed to form unified lists, with one notable exception. That means opposition candidates will go into the elections divided, giving an advantage to the lists prepared by the country’s political leadership, which the opposition aims to unseat. There had been much hope, both in Lebanon and abroad, that civil society would make gains against the corrupt political class. While opposition candidates, who were motivated to challenge established politicians in the wake of the popular uprising of October 2019, are likely to win some seats, this will be too little to change anything. The Lebanese political class is resilient, aided by the short memories of voters whom the politicians effectively robbed.
That said, Lebanese civil society is remarkable, both for its pluralism and energy. However, it would be a mistake to overstate its capacities. Pluralism also means fragmentation, reflecting the fundamental nature of Lebanon’s social makeup. Civil society groups that are expected to change the country’s social and political landscape also happen to be among the divided system’s most typical emanations. The reason why civil society in Lebanon is so vigorous is that those pursuing political or social objectives have always had a strong impulse to circumvent the state and those who control it. Because the political class has resisted anything that might threaten its prerogatives and power, those wanting to achieve anything have done so outside the realm of state institutions.
This has been helped by a fairly liberal Ottoman law from 1909 that allows people to form associations without having to seek prior state approval. In a noteworthy case, in the early 1990s an election monitoring group, called the Lebanese Association for Democratic Elections (Lade), established itself under that law. The interior minister at the time, Michel Murr, tried to impose prior approval and block Lade. The group effectively ignored him and began monitoring elections anyway, winning that battle.
After the Lebanese uprising of October 2019, there was speculation that the traditional political leadership had suffered a decisive setback. This belief only hardened as the economic system collapsed starting that November, and declined further in the years that followed. Last year, the World Bank described the economic crisis as “likely to rank in the top 10, possibly top three, most severe crises episodes globally since the mid-19th century.”In this dire economic context, there was some confidence that civil society candidates would make a breakthrough in elections, given the potential for popular anger at the politicians who plundered the state and brought about the economic collapse. However, the traditional leaders also exploited this situation to use the crisis as a way of dispensing patronage and assistance to the vulnerable, thereby creating greater dependency.
This has been a major factor lowering the chances of civil society lists to make substantial electoral gains. Another has been the electoral law itself. Lebanon votes on the basis of a proportional law, with a threshold determined by dividing the number of votes by the number of seats in a constituency. That means that if there is a high number of voters in a voting district, the threshold can rise to a level that eliminates most independent lists. The upcoming elections are also expected to give a better sense of how the Lebanese diaspora will vote. There are twice as many registered diaspora voters this year as in the 2018 elections. However, whether the diaspora is more likely to vote for civil society lists or party lists remains unclear. Certainly, some parties, such as the Free Patriotic Movement led by Gebran Bassil, expect a strong vote in their favour, but there is also much outrage overseas at the behaviour of the political class, so surprises are likely.
The problem is that by not unifying their efforts and forming joint lists, civil society groups have shot themselves in the foot. In several key districts, including Beirut I and Baabda, civil society lists will be competing against one another, which will only benefit the traditional political forces. The reasons for this inability to come together include clashing egos and the willingness of some groups, and the unwillingness of others, to form alliances with traditional political parties that had supported the 2019 uprising.
One civil society list that will be worth watching, however, is the list running in the South Lebanon III district, where the two major Shiite parties, Hezbollah and Amal, are dominant. This list alone unified all civil society groups active locally, in an area that has suffered greatly from the economic crisis. If voters are not intimidated, one can expect surprising breakthroughs. It would be an irony if civil society shows its true potential in an area where the established political parties may well use force to prevent them from gaining.

The Power of Lebanon’s Assassins
Justin SalhaniIn/kstick/April 16/2022
Political assassinations and a lack of justice are part of Lebanon’s post-civil war legacy.
On Oct. 13, 1990, Lebanon’s civil war officially ended. The leaders of the various fighting factions had reached something of a stalemate as Syria’s army occupied much of the country, so in 1989 the surviving members of Lebanon’s last parliament — elected in 1972 — adopted the Ta’if agreement, where the power balance would be redrawn between religious sects. Five months after the war’s official end date, all stakeholders agreed on amnesty, which decided that none of the war’s various forms of violence, including murders and massacres, would be prosecuted at any point in the future. That decision has shaped the post-war period, paving the way for morally corrupt warlords to become a class of kleptocrats that occupy official government posts. More significantly, this new political system meant that pursuing justice was inconceivable and potentially lethal.
Since the war ended, the country has seen dozens of journalists, thinkers, politicians, and security agents assassinated. After each one, Lebanon’s political class has united in maintaining an impunity climate. Sometimes, it’s widely known who is behind the murders. According to them, the pursuit of justice for political assassinations would unravel the fragile status quo and plunge the country into civil war. That nihilist logic has accelerated Lebanon’s demise by discouraging and blocking efforts to hold perpetrators accountable.
When Lebanon’s 15-year civil war ended, violence was still a part of most people’s daily lives. The country largely fell under foreign control, with the south occupied by Israel and the rest under Syrian hegemony. While the liberation of the south in 2000 was cause for national celebration, the country was — and remains — split over the role of Syria in Lebanon. For Syria’s allies, the neighbor to the east and north acted as a political stabilizer that kept the Lebanese from regressing into confessionally divided violence. But anyone who vocally opposed Syria’s influence was met with strong-armed repression — or even killed.
When Lebanon’s 15-year civil war ended, violence was still a part of most people’s daily lives. For example, anyone who vocally opposed Syria’s influence was met with strong-armed repression — or even killed.
According to multiple research institutes documenting the subject, Lebanon has averaged more than one political assassination a year since independence in 1943. Since then, around 200 political murders or attempted murders have been recorded in Lebanon. But the violence is rarely evenly distributed. It comes in spurts.
In 2005 alone, more than a dozen bombs exploded around the country. The assassinations started with an explosion that killed former Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri and 21 others on Valentine’s Day. The murder of Hariri, a figure who had worked mainly in collaboration with Damascus, set off a series of protests that would officially end Syria’s 15-year occupation of Lebanon. Suddenly, the shackles of fear were gone, and various journalists and politicians started criticizing Syria’s role in Lebanon in ways Hariri never had.
But while Syria’s troops were gone, they maintained considerable influence over Lebanon’s security forces and one of its two most powerful political blocs. Syria’s influence was evident with the killings of former Communist Party leader Georges Hawi and journalists Samir Kassir and Gebran Tueni later in 2005. All three men were outspoken critics of Damascus’ role in Lebanon.
Two other journalists were also targeted with car bombs that year, as was the Lebanese Defense Minister Elias Murr. Three more members of parliament — all critics of the Syrian regime — would be assassinated in the next two years, along with a terrorism investigator from Lebanon’s Internal Security Force who had been investigating Hariri’s murder. In addition, the publisher and activist Lokman Slim was executed less than a year after receiving death threats containing Hezbollah slogans. Slim said that should anything happen to him, he held Hezbollah and their allies Amal culpable. Of all the people attacked, only Murr was notably pro-Syrian.
The use of political assassinations in Lebanon is not exceptional. Like elsewhere in the world, they are used as a tool to protect privilege and political power. In Lebanon, that power is most notably represented by Hezbollah, the only political actor to retain its arsenal of weapons after the civil war ended. Only Hariri’s assassination would arguably undergo a serious investigation and judicial process out of these assassinations.
The Hariri trial took place because of UN intervention in the form of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon. Lebanon’s High Judicial Council, a body that recommends judges to specific courts, is neither independent in its appointments — 8 of 10 are chosen by the executive branch — nor in its financing, which comes from the Justice Ministry. Their decisions are also not subject to appeal. Moreover, all three men convicted of planning Hariri’s murder were Hezbollah operatives. So it took an international tribunal to do what a Lebanese court never could. And it still took 15 years.
The amnesty declaration strips Lebanon of justice in the past, and the politically weighted judicial system often robs it in the present and kills expectations that it may, one day, rear its head in the future.
Many in Lebanon have memories of violence, even massacres. But those crimes can never turn into anything more than memories. The amnesty declaration strips Lebanon of justice in the past, and the politically weighted judicial system often robs it in the present and kills expectations that it may, one day, rear its head in the future. The hopelessness is also due to the fact that while Hezbollah and their pro-Syrian allies might be the prime suspects behind many of the political killings, their political opponents are not willing to publicly stand against them. That may be because political figures who have shown a willingness to play the game and maintain the status quo can enrich themselves via the state’s coffers, increase their political power, or both. On the other hand, bravery might be rewarded with political isolation, smears from one of the country’s many politically owned media channels, or a footnote on a Wikipedia page as the country’s latest unsolved political murder. For example, in 2013, an explosion rocked central Beirut killing eight people, including Mohammad Chatah, a former aide to senior figures in Hariri’s Future Movement and a former finance minister. Chatah’s former employers told one of his sons that the killers were known and would be arrested. Yet, there has been no progress almost nine years later.
“It was a political decision not to pursue those answers,” a former minister of the interior and member of the Future Movement told Chatah’s son in 2019. “The situation in this country does not work in favor of men like your father. And regardless, it was beyond my control.”
Hezbollah has profited from the post-war political system due to its military arsenal. According to the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Hezbollah was called the “world’s most heavily armed non-state actor” in 2018, despite losing heavily in the Syrian civil war. Therefore, even if trials could move forward, they would be near impossible to enforce — as the international tribunal for Hariri’s murder shows.
“The lack of rule of law and inability to enact justice is accepted as part of polity in Lebanon due to Hezbollah’s disproportionate power,” Dr. Drew Mikhael, a senior research fellow at Queen’s University in Belfast, told Inkstick over the phone on Apr. 4, 2022.
And while many others in the political establishment enjoy less power, they’ve still profited handsomely. Hezbollah has evolved into protectors of a system where impunity reigns and the corrupt profit. Even if they were to give up their arms, the profitability of post-war amnesty could mean that another hegemon may be interested in maintaining the status quo.
The power imbalance creates the conditions for political murder, where the overwhelming bulk of the responsibility lies. But while there is a real fear of fatal repercussions, at what point does accepting the status quo and profiting from it devolve into a form of collusion?
Lebanon’s power imbalance is currently protected by regional and international interference by Syria and Iran. There’s been plenty of interference from western powers and their Gulf allies too, notably Saudi Arabia which is notorious for handling dissidents in their way. All parties have flooded the country with money and sided with actors that strip the Lebanese of justice — first through amnesty and now through politically weighted courts that serve the country’s warlords turned kleptocrats.
While many still fight, most notably the families of victims who perished in the Aug. 4, 2020 Beirut port blast, few have experienced real justice in Lebanon, which has led to a sense of fatalism or even nihilism in the Lebanese collective imagination. According to Human Rights Watch, since the blast, security services have treated four politically sensitive murder investigations with “gross negligence.” Some of the murders, if not all, could be connected to the information behind the blast.
Elections, set for mid-May, are another avenue for reform. Still, only 45% of voters who took part in Lebanon’s last elections in 2018 said they would vote for new parties, according to polls conducted by the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung Foundation. Moreover, half the population doesn’t plan to vote at all, which indicates a sense of dissatisfaction with the political system, and the idea that justice will never be received.
“Because of the trust the Lebanese have towards the government, it is highly likely that a large number of Lebanese people will simply not vote because they don’t trust that the interior ministry will hold elections with integrity,” Amal Hamdan, an electoral systems and framework expert, told Al Jazeera.
Still, civil society is fighting for an independent judiciary. Lebanon’s political elite has conspired to create one of the world’s worst economic crises in over 150 years, leading to mass emigration in 2019 as many begrudgingly join their compatriots abroad in the Lebanese diaspora.
Bestowed with total impunity, perpetrators assassinate rivals to reinforce red lines against political foes. This is the legacy of post-war amnesty, still robbing victims of justice 32 years later.
*Justin Salhani is a Paris-based writer, journalist, and producer interested in identity, migration, Lebanese society and politics, cosmopolitanism, and the anthropology of soccer, among other things that don’t fit in a short bio. He has previously been based in Beirut, Washington, DC, and Milan.

Fierce race in Lebanon elections expected with record number of women standing
Sally Abou AlJoud, Al Arabiya English/April 16/,2022:
In a country where women comprise less than 5 percent of parliament, 118 women candidates created cracks in the political glass ceiling, vying for a broader representation in the 128-seat male-dominated Lebanese public office in the general elections on May 15.
The unprecedented number of women running for legislative seats accounted for a staggering 37 percent uptick from the 86 who ran in 2018. It came a long way compared to the paltry number of 12 and 4 who ran in 2009 and 2005, marking a rising wave of interest among Lebanese women to throw their hat into the ring and run for office. Men still make up the bulk of candidates on the 103 electoral lists – at around 84 percent – and evoked mixed reactions among voters and experts. Some see no reason to celebrate, while many onlookers were urging people to hone in on the impressive qualitative turnout rather than the numerical, which panned out despite a substantial absence of national effort and a gender quota to support women in politics.
“Women's presence in today's elections is earnest, stronger, and well-balanced, regardless of the number,” the Arab Women Organization director-general, Fadia Kiwan, told Al Arabiya English. “This qualitative change and surge in women candidates that I insist we are witnessing are more crucial than the numerical change.”Kiwan has been examining developments in the local media and its perception of women candidates and noticed an improved effort to give women more television air time compared to 2018.
A special show called 50/50 has been hosting women candidates on the local television channel LBCI, shedding light on their electoral campaigns and providing them a space to discuss and take political stances.
“The stump speech of many women candidates from various electoral lists is substantive, with strong content, and concerned with the political and social issues in a profound way,” Kiwan signaled. “It is clear that there is an effort, deliberation, and precision on these women's part.”
Incorporated in the healthcare force and fighting for healthcare rights, including those of the marginalized populations’ members, is a staple in Nuhad Doumit’s career and activism. One of the many achievements attributed to the 64-year-old nurse is lobbying for the Order of Nurses, established in 2002.
The activist-turned-parliamentary candidate, is running on the Beirut Al-Taghyeer list in the Beirut II (West Beirut) district. She first ran for the legislative elections in 2018 on the civil society list Kulluna Beirut, but failed to pass the electoral threshold.
“It was a daring experience, for a woman and a nurse, to say that I am a free person who believes in democracy and one’s competence – not gender, sect nor age – to do what they have set out to do,” Doumit said. “My candidacy went very well considering that I was on a list facing the traditional leaders’ lists, with no money, no media exposure, and no support.”
Today, she braces for a similar tough fight.
Despite Lebanon’s reputation for being a liberal enclave within the Arab world fostering a progressive image, the middle eastern nation, reeling from compounding crises for the past two years, ranked 147th out of a total of 149 countries in 2018, based on the Global Gender Gap Index. It was one of the lowest rates of women's political representation in the region. The number of women elected in the last five general elections, which varied between three to no more than six out of 128 seats, tells the story of the abysmal female representation in legislative bodies and the slow and lopsided progress in enhancing their participation over the years.Joelle Abou Farhat, the co-founder of fiftyfifty, an organization that lobbies for gender parity in all political arenas and elected councils, said that the patriarchal and sexist mindset in certain districts deems women not cut out for politics. Only male candidates are taken seriously, which is an issue that requires time to reform.
“It's a historic number to us,” Abou Farhat said. “This is the first time in the history of Lebanon that 118 women are on electoral lists running for in the parliamentary elections.”
“If we see this as a political marathon, women in Lebanon are 30 years behind, and we are telling them to run alongside men in this marathon,” Abou Farhat stated. “For the past three decades, and even more than that, women were barred from participating in the political life because of the wars that Lebanon experienced and all the aggravated political problems where the ultimate decision in the country lies in the man's hands alone.”
Women were at the heart of and played a paramount role in the Lebanese October 17 popular uprising in 2019, which experts say has propelled this surge in women candidates. It was in addition to demanding all-encompassing gender and human rights, steering the narrative, and calling for landmark protests such as the women-led demonstration marching from Ain el-Remmaneh to Chiyah – strongholds of opposing religious factions – where people took a stand against sectarian-fueled violence. They managed to hold decision-making positions within organizing bodies during the protests.
Securing fair and equal political representation for women has become a central focus for many developing political parties and movements that emanated from the revolution.
Having been convinced that she could never put her political expertise to work with any of her country’s traditional parties who would dictate what she is capable of, consultant and business pioneer Gistelle Semaan found her place with the National Bloc during the uprising. Founded in 1946, the democratic and secular party refused to partake in the civil war and was revived in early 2019.
The 31-year-old candidate, who is running on the Shamaluna list in the North III district, said that in addition to her plan to reform the economic, social and judicial sector, she will endeavor to legislate laws governing personal status, legal marriage age, gender quota and women's ability to pass on their nationality upon marriage. “I want my successful personal career to be mirrored in a true political change,” Semaan told Al Arabiya English. “I have the utmost belief that I can contribute to this change and work for the benefit of my country; I am capable of achieving anything I set my mind to.”
Out of the 118 women candidates, only six are affiliated with a political party, Abou Farhat said. “Political parties around the world have a vital role to play when it comes to including women in elections, where many times they create a gender quota within the party, but this role in Lebanon is absent today.”
A couple of gender quota bills calling for around 20 percent reserved parliamentary seats for women divided equally between Muslims and Christians and coupled with at least 40 percent of women on candidates lists were developed and then shelved by a joint parliamentary committee, citing “technical loopholes.”“The political decision allowing women to participate in political life has not been taken yet, and a high-level decision is pivotal for women’s participation in politics,” said Nada Anid, founder of Madanyat, a local organization that pushes for equitable participation of women, men, and youth in political and public life. “It’s not something that only NGOs can achieve,” Anid added.
Both Anid and Abou Farhat do not expect a big turnout in women becoming members of parliament. The woman who does not make it into parliament should not be touted as a weak candidate, Anid insisted, because she is not offered the same means and opportunities as her male counterpart.
Barriers such as deep-rooted bias, low exposure, and budget restrictions play a role in blocking female candidates.
“Women in Lebanon remain subservient to men,” Doumit said. “They still need extensive training in empowerment, advocacy, and leadership. We need to push them to take the lead in different matters in life, such as speaking up, establishing financial independence, demanding their rights, and occupying political positions that are usually male-dominated.”

The Latest English LCCC Miscellaneous Reports And News published on April 16-17/2022
Kyiv military factory targeted in strikes
AFP/April 16, 2022 08:21
KYIV: A military hardware factory in the Ukrainian capital Kyiv was hit by strikes early Saturday, an AFP journalist said, a day after Russian forces bombed a missile unit outside the city. Smoke rose from the area and there was a heavy police and military presence after Kyiv mayor Vitali Klitschko announced on social media there had been explosions in the capital’s Darnyrsky district. Russia’s defense ministry said Moscow’s forces had used “high-precision long-range” weapons to hit facilities at an armaments plant in Kyiv. The strike on the Ukrainian capital is among the first since invading Russian forces began withdrawing from regions around Kyiv last month, instead turning their focus on gaining control of the eastern Donbas region. Russian strikes on Friday however hit the Vizar plant, near the capital’s international airport, seriously damaging the facility that produces missiles in the overnight strikes.
Russia said it had used sea-based long-range missiles to hit the factory, which Ukraine’s state weapons manufacturer says produced Neptune cruise missiles. Klitschko said authorities were still determining whether anyone had been killed or injured in the attack.Residential areas of Kyiv were struck repeatedly at the beginning of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine from late February. Moscow has denied intentionally striking civilian infrastructure.

Ukraine’s Zelensky: Between 2,500 to 3,000 Ukrainian troops have died in war
Reuters/April 16,
ODESSA, Ukraine: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Friday told CNN that between 2,500 to 3,000 Ukrainian troops have died so far in the war with Russia and another 10,000 have been injured.

Another 40,000 Ukrainians flee war: UN
AFP/April 16, 2022
UNHCR said 4,836,445 million Ukrainians had left the country since the Russian invasion on February 24 -- a number up 40,200 on Friday's total
It is one of the fastest-growing displacement and humanitarian crises ever
GENEVA: Many of the nearly five million people who have fled Ukraine will not have homes to return to, the United Nations said Saturday as another 40,000 fled the country in 24 hours. UNHCR, the UN refugee agency, said 4,836,445 million Ukrainians had left the country since the Russian invasion on February 24 — a number up 40,200 on Friday’s total. The UN’s International Organization for Migration (IOM) says nearly 215,000 third-country nationals — largely students and migrant workers — have also escaped to neighboring countries, meaning more than five million people in all have fled Ukraine since the war began. It is one of the fastest-growing displacement and humanitarian crises ever. “People’s greatest wish is to go back home. But for so many, there is no home to return to since it’s been destroyed or damaged, or is located in an area that is not safe,” said Karolina Lindholm Billing, UNHCR’s representative in Ukraine. “Housing is one of the areas of greatest concern. Although hundreds of thousands of people are now staying in temporary reception centers or with hosting families who have generously opened their homes... longer term solutions need to be found.”Nearly 2.75 million Ukrainian refugees — nearly six in 10 — have fled to Poland. More than 730,000 reached Romania. UNHCR figures show nearly 645,000 Ukrainians fled in February, with nearly 3.4 million doing so in March and more than 800,000 leaving so far this month. Women and children account for 90 percent of those who escaped, with men aged 18 to 60 eligible for military call-up and unable to leave. Nearly two-thirds of all Ukrainian children have been forced from their homes, including those still inside the country. Beyond the refugees, the IOM estimates 7.1 million people have left their homes but are still in Ukraine. Before the invasion, Ukraine had a population of 37 million in the regions under government control, excluding Russia-annexed Crimea and the pro-Russian separatist-controlled regions in the east. Here is a breakdown of how many Ukrainian refugees have fled to neighboring countries, according to UNHCR:Nearly six out of 10 Ukrainian refugees — 2,744,778 so far — have crossed into Poland. Many people who go to Ukraine’s immediate western neighbors travel on to other states in Europe’s Schengen open-borders zone. Magdalena Tosheva, the IOM’s site manager at the Medyka crossing in southeastern Poland, said that despite a decrease in arrivals, refugees still needed access to information, transport, accommodation, work and education. “People were arriving stressed, tired and cold from the other side of the border,” she said. “Vulnerable people are mainly women with very small children with no solutions, no relatives here, no protective environment.” A total of 732,473 Ukrainians entered the EU member state, including a large number who crossed over from Moldova, wedged between Romania and Ukraine. The vast majority are thought to have gone on to other countries. Another 484,725 refugees have sought shelter in Russia.
In addition, 105,000 people crossed into Russia from the separatist-held pro-Russian regions of Donetsk and Lugansk in eastern Ukraine between February 18 and 23. A total of 454,098 Ukrainians have entered Hungary. The Moldovan border is the closest to the major port city of Odessa. A total of 421,130 Ukrainians have crossed into the non-EU state, one of the poorest in Europe. Most of those who have entered the former Soviet republic of 2.6 million people have moved on but an estimated 100,000 remain, including 50,000 children — of whom only 1,800 are enrolled in schools. A total of 332,707 people crossed Ukraine’s shortest border into Slovakia. Another 22,827 refugees have made it north to Russia’s close ally Belarus.

Russia warns US of 'consequences' of Ukraine military aid
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/April 16/2022
Russia has formally complained to the United States over its military aid to Ukraine, warning of "unpredictable consequences" if shipments of advanced weaponry go forward, U.S. media reported. In a diplomatic note this week, Moscow warned the United States and NATO against sending the "most sensitive" weapons for Kyiv to use in the conflict with Russia, saying such shipments were "adding fuel" to the situation and could come with "unpredictable consequences," the Washington Post reported. The warning came the same week that U.S. President Joe Biden pledged a new $800 million military aid package for Ukraine, including helicopters, howitzers and armored personnel carriers. "What the Russians are telling us privately is precisely what we've been telling the world publicly -- that the massive amount of assistance that we've been providing our Ukrainian partners is proving extraordinarily effective," the Post quoted a senior administration official -- who spoke on condition of anonymity about the note -- as saying. The State Department declined to comment on reports of the formal note. "We won't confirm any private diplomatic correspondence," a State Department spokesperson said.
"What we can confirm is that, along with allies and partners, we are providing Ukraine with billions of dollars' worth of security assistance, which our Ukrainian partners are using to extraordinary effect to defend their country against Russia's unprovoked aggression and horrific acts of violence."
According to the New York Times citing US officials, the note was sent through normal channels, and was not signed by any senior Russian officials. The formal correspondence indicates Russia is concerned about the United States' ongoing material support for Ukraine, an anonymous US official told CNN. CNN also reported that one source familiar with the document said the complaint could mean Moscow is getting ready to adopt a more aggressive stance against the United States and NATO as the invasion of Ukraine continues. Biden told his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky of the new weapons aid package over the phone Wednesday, as Russia refocused its efforts eastward, the new frontline of the seven-week-old war. "As Russia prepares to intensify its attack in the Donbas region, the United States will continue to provide Ukraine with the capabilities to defend itself," Biden said. "This new package of assistance will contain many of the highly effective weapons systems we have already provided and new capabilities tailored to the wider assault we expect Russia to launch in eastern Ukraine." Zelensky for his part tweeted that he and Biden had discussed the "additional package of defensive and possible macro-financial aid."The new assistance included some of the heavier equipment that Washington had previously refused to provide to Kyiv for fear of escalating the conflict with nuclear-armed Russia, and comes after previous weapons aid already supplied to the Ukrainian army.

Over 900 civilians dead around Kyiv, Russia vows new attacks
Associated Press/April 16/2022
Indignant over what it called Ukrainian strikes in Russian territory and following the stunning loss of its Black Sea flagship, Moscow threatened renewed missile attacks on Kyiv, where authorities said the bodies of more than 900 civilians were found outside the capital. Most had been shot dead, police said, and likely "simply executed." Russian forces prepared for a renewed offensive in eastern Ukraine, and fighting also went on in the pummeled southern port city of Mariupol, where locals reported seeing Russian troops digging up bodies. In the northeastern city of Kharkiv, the shelling of a residential area killed seven people, including a 7-month-old child, and wounded 34, according to regional Gov. Oleh Sinehubov. Early Saturday, Kyiv's eastern district of Darnytskie was struck, Mayor Vitali Klitschko said in an online posting. He said rescuers and paramedics were on the scene. He warned residents who have fled the capital not to return for their safety. In the towns around Kyiv, said Andriy Nebytov, who heads the region's police force, bodies were abandoned in the streets or given temporary burials. He cited police data indicating 95% died from gunshot wounds. "Consequently, we understand that under the (Russian) occupation, people were simply executed in the streets," Nebytov said. More bodies are being found every day under rubble and in mass graves, he added, with the largest number found in Bucha, more than 350. According to Nebytov, utility workers gathered and buried bodies in the Kyiv suburb while it remained under Russian control. Russian troops, he added, had been "tracking down" people who expressed strong pro-Ukrainian views.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy accused Russian troops occupying parts of the Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions in the south of terrorizing civilians and hunting for anyone who served in Ukraine's military or government.
"The occupiers think this will make it easier for them to control this territory. But they are very wrong. They are fooling themselves," Zelenskyy said in his nightly video address. "Russia's problem is that it is not accepted — and never will be accepted — by the entire Ukrainian people. Russia has lost Ukraine forever."Officials think 2,500 to 3,000 Ukrainian troops have died in the war, Zelenskyy told CNN in an interview. He said about 10,000 have been injured and it's "hard to say how many will survive."More violence could be in store for Kyiv after Russian authorities accused Ukraine of wounding seven people and damaging about 100 residential buildings with airstrikes in Bryansk, a region bordering Ukraine. Authorities in another border region of Russia also reported Ukrainian shelling Thursday. "The number and the scale of missile attacks on objects in Kyiv will be ramped up in response to the Kyiv nationalist regime committing any terrorist attacks or diversions on the Russian territory," Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said. Russia used missiles to destroy a facility for the repair and production of missile systems in Kyiv, Konashenkov said. The Ukrainian state arms manufacturer, Ukroboronprom, said Russian forces struck one of the missile workshops at the Vizar plant, located near Kyiv's Zhuliany airport.
Ukrainian officials have not confirmed striking targets in Russia, and the reports could not be independently verified.
However, Ukrainian officials said forces did strike a key Russian warship with missiles. A senior U.S. defense official backed up the claim, saying the U.S. now believes the Moskva was hit by at least one Neptune anti-ship missile, and probably two. The official spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss an intelligence assessment. The Moskva, named for the Russian capital, sank while being towed to port Thursday after taking heavy damage. Moscow did not acknowledge any attack, saying only that a fire had detonated ammunition on board. The loss of the ship represents an important victory for Ukraine and a symbolic defeat for Russia. The sinking reduces Russia's firepower in the Black Sea and seemed to symbolize Moscow's fortunes in an eight-week invasion widely seen as a historic blunder following the Russian retreat from the Kyiv region and much of northern Ukraine.
"A 'flagship' russian warship is a worthy diving site. We have one more diving spot in the Black Sea now. Will definitely visit the wreck after our victory in the war," Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov tweeted Friday.
Russia's warning of renewed airstrikes did not stop Kyiv residents from taking advantage of a sunny and slightly warmer spring Friday as the weekend approached. More people than usual were out on the streets, walking dogs, riding electric scooters and strolling hand in hand.
Such tentative signs of prewar life have resurfaced in the capital after Russian troops failed to capture the city and retreated to concentrate on eastern Ukraine, leaving behind evidence of possible war crimes. But a renewed bombardment could mean a return to the steady wail of air raid sirens heard during the early days of the invasion and to fearful nights sheltering in subway stations. In Mariupol, the city council said Friday that locals reported seeing Russian troops digging up bodies buried in residential courtyards and not allowing new burials "of people killed by them."
"Why the exhumation is being carried out and where the bodies will be taken is unknown," the council said on the Telegram messaging app.
Fighting continued in industrial areas and the port, and Russia for the first time used the Tu-22М3 long-range bomber to attack the city, said Oleksandr Motuzyanyk, a spokesman for the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense.
Mariupol has been blockaded by Russian forces since the early days of the invasion, and dwindling numbers of Ukrainian defenders have held out against a siege that has come at a horrific cost to trapped and starving civilians.
The mayor said this week that the city's death toll could surpass 20,000. Other Ukrainian officials have said they expect to find evidence in Mariupol of atrocities like the ones discovered in Bucha and other towns outside Kyiv.
Mariupol's capture would allow Russian forces in the south, which came up through the annexed Crimean Peninsula, to fully link up with troops in the Donbas region, Ukraine's eastern industrial heartland and the target of the looming offensive. It's not certain when Russia will launch a full-scale campaign. Also Friday, a Russian rocket hit an airport at night in the central city of Oleksandriia, Mayor Serhiy Kuzmenko said via Facebook. He made no mention of casualties. And a regional Ukrainian official said seven people were killed and 27 wounded when Russian forces fired on buses carrying civilians in the village of Borovaya, near Kharkiv. The claim could not be independently verified. Dmytro Chubenko, a spokesman for the regional prosecutor's office, told the Suspilne news website that authorities had opened criminal proceedings in connection with a suspected "violation of the laws and customs of war, combined with premeditated murder."

Palestinians fear more incursions after Friday’s Israeli Al-Aqsa aggression
Mohammed Najib/Arab News/April 16, 2022 19:16
RAMALLAH: Palestinians returned to the Al-Aqsa compound on Saturday following Friday's violent clashes between worshippers and Israeli forces, but tension and anxiety remain as extremist Jewish groups threaten to storm the mosque on Sunday. Nabil Faydi, a political analyst from East Jerusalem, said Jerusalemites feared the temporal division of Al-Aqsa Mosque between Muslims and Jews as happened at the Ibrahimi Mosque in Hebron. But he added that it would be impossible for such a policy to succeed at Al-Aqsa. “Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock are a red line for the Palestinians,” he told Arab News. “Israel is trying to separate the 350,000 Palestinians living in East Jerusalem from the Palestinians living in the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and inside Israel. But recent events have proven that the Palestinians are united. It is a matter of Al-Aqsa Mosque.”He described Friday's attack as an Israeli “test balloon” to measure the Palestinian reaction. “But what happened in Al-Aqsa confirms that the Palestinians are ready to redeem the mosque with their lives. They will not allow the practice of Jewish rituals inside Islam's third holiest site.”
The Organization of Islamic Cooperation condemned the Israelis' incursion into the sacred mosque and their assault on worshippers inside Al-Qibli Mosque and in Al-Aqsa plaza, which left over 150 worshippers injured and saw hundreds of others arrested. “This dangerous escalation is an affront to the feelings of the entire Muslim Ummah and a blatant violation of international resolutions and instruments,” the OIC said. It held the Israeli occupation fully responsible “for the fallout of such daily crimes and offenses against the Palestinian people, their territories and sanctuaries.”
It called on the international community, particularly the UN Security Council, to act against these constant violations. Despite political differences among Palestinian groups — whether they are secular, Islamist, or Marxist — about the best method to adopt in their struggle against the Israeli occupation to liberate their land, the only thing that unites them is Al-Aqsa Mosque, which they consider a red line, not to be touched. Ibrahim Al-Anbawi, a resident of East Jerusalem, described the situation as worsening and said there was intense anger among the Jerusalemites because of what had happened on Friday, which caused a great deal of embarrassment for Jordan and the Palestinian Authority.
Both were accused of failing to protect Islamic holy sites, and they were urged to take strong positions on the Israeli threats. Meanwhile, massive incursions will mark the week-long Jewish Passover into Al-Aqsa, which would keep the pot boiling, said Palestinian sources. Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh said: “The battle is not over and the resistance will not stop. There is no truce agreement with the criminal Israeli occupation, and it must stop its violations.” Dozens of students from Al-Quds University in Abu Dis, southeast of Jerusalem, suffered after inhaling tear gas fired by Israeli troops in and around their campus on Saturday. The students had gathered to condemn Israeli atrocities in Jerusalem and Jenin. Roni Shakid, a senior researcher at the Truman Institute for Peace Studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, told Arab News: “As the Palestinians' dream of having an independent Palestinian state fades, the only thing they can fight for is protecting national symbols, and here Al-Aqsa Mosque stands out as the most important of those sacred symbols they believe they should protect and preserve.”Imad Mona, a bookstore owner in East Jerusalem, told Arab News that the merchants in the Old City and East Jerusalem were expecting more sales in Ramadan as the number of Al-Aqsa visitors from the Palestinians living in Israel, the West Bank, and even from East Jerusalem, was increasing. But the prevailing tension and Israeli permit restrictions on West Bank residents during the Jewish holidays have limited the number of worshippers visiting the mosque. Any security deterioration in Al-Aqsa Mosque will quickly cast a shadow over the situation in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Last May, Hamas targeted Jerusalem and Tel Aviv with missiles following the Israeli authorities’ attack on Al-Aqsa Mosque. At the end of 2000, the Palestinians fought the Al-Aqsa second Intifada, which lasted nearly four years, during which about 4,464 Palestinians were killed, 47,440 were wounded, and 9,800 were arrested. The violence began with a provocative visit to Al-Aqsa by former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.

Hundreds rally against threat to close Turkish women’s rights group
AFP/April 16, 2022 23:47
ANKARA: Hundreds of people demonstrated on Saturday in several Turkish cities including Istanbul and Ankara against a move to close one of the country’s most respected women’s rights groups. “It is not possible to stop our fight. We are not going to allow the closure of our association,” the secretary-general of We Will Stop Femicide, Fidan Ataselim, told AFP. An Istanbul prosecutor on Wednesday filed a lawsuit aimed at shutting down the association for “activity against law and morals.” According to Ataselim, the lawsuit accuses the group of conducting activities that violate Turkey’s “laws and morals.”The association was a vocal critic of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s decision last year to pull Turkey out of the Istanbul Convention, which requires countries to set up laws aimed at preventing and prosecuting violence against women. We Will Stop Femicide says 280 women were killed in Turkey last year, many of the murders committed by family members.Another 217 women died in suspicious circumstances, including those officially registered as suicide, the group says.Ataselim said the lawsuit was filed based on a complaint registered by a group of Turks through a website set up by the presidency to field citizens’ requests. The complaint accused the group of “destroying the family based on the pretext of defending women’s rights,” Ataselim said. The language is similar to that used by Erdogan in his decision to withdraw from the Istanbul Convention, which Turkey signed in 2011. Social conservatives in Turkey claim the convention promotes homosexuality and threatens traditional family values. “Don’t prosecute women, but murderers!” Hundreds of demonstrators gathered in Istanbul shouted. Representatives of opposition parties as well as relatives of domestic abuse victims took part in the demonstration. “These women are fighters... I wanted to be there to support them,” said Nihat Palandoken, the father of a young girl killed in 2017.

North Korea tests new weapons system aimed at enhancing ‘tactical nukes’ efficiency: KCNA
AFP/April 17, 2022 02:14
SEOUL: North Korea has test-fired a new weapons system, under the supervision of leader Kim Jong Un, that it claims will boost the efficiency of its tactical nuclear weapons, state media said early Sunday.
The “new-type tactical guided weapon... is of great significance in drastically improving the firepower of the frontline long-range artillery units and enhancing the efficiency in the operation of tactical nukes,” the official Korean Central News Agency reported, without specifying when the test took place.
It said the test was successful. Kim gave a military research team “important instructions on further building up the defense capabilities and nuclear combat forces,” the report added. Photos carried by the Rodong Sinmun newspaper showed a grinning Kim — surrounded by uniformed officials — applauding as he watched what it said was the test-firing of the weapon.On Friday, North Korea marked the birthday of North Korea’s founding leader, Kim’s grandfather Kim Il Sung, with a huge public procession, fireworks and synchronized dancing — but no military parade as many observers had predicted.
Analysts and South Korean and US officials also had thought a nuclear test was possible on the important anniversary. The anniversary celebrations came three weeks after North Korea staged its largest intercontinental ballistic missile test ever — the first time Kim’s most powerful weapon had been fired at full range since 2017. That test was the culmination of a record-breaking blitz of sanctions-busting launches this year and signalled an end to a self-imposed moratorium on long-range and nuclear tests. Long-range and nuclear tests have been paused since Kim met then-US president Donald Trump for a bout of doomed diplomacy, which collapsed in 2019. Officials and analysts say North Korea may carry out its seventh nuclear test in the coming weeks.Satellite imagery has shown signs of new activity at a tunnel at the Punggye-ri nuclear testing site, which North Korea said was demolished in 2018 ahead of the first Trump-Kim summit. North Korea has tested nuclear weapons six times since 2006 and touted the success of its last and most powerful one in 2017 — a hydrogen bomb with an estimated yield of 250 kilotons. With a new nuclear test, experts say Pyongyang will seek to miniaturise nuclear warheads to mount on its ICBMs. South Korean officials have said Pyongyang could still stage a military parade or carry out a weapons test on or around April 25, the anniversary of the founding of the Korean People’s Army. That anniversary coincides with the joint military exercises between Seoul and Washington, which is due to start on Monday. South Korea and the United States regularly stage military exercises, but Pyongyang has long protested the drills as a rehearsal for war.

Opponents of French far-right protest as election campaign enters final week
Reuters/April 17, 2022 00:28
PARIS: Thousands of anti-far right protesters marched across France on Saturday as opponents of presidential candidate Marine Le Pen seek to form a united front to prevent her from winning an election runoff against incumbent Emmanuel Macron on April 24.
Macron, a pro-European Union centrist, won the presidency in 2017 after easily beating Le Pen when voters rallied behind him in the runoff to keep her far-right party out of power. This year, the first round of voting last Sunday set up the same battle, but Macron is facing a much tougher challenge.
In central Paris, thousands of people gathered chanting anti-far right slogans and warning of democratic upheaval if Le Pen were to win. One banner read: “Against the far-right. For justice and equality, not Le Pen at the Elysee,” referring to the French president’s official residence.
“If the far-right is in power we will see a major collapse of the democratic, anti-racism and progressive camps,” Dominique Sopo, president of SOS Racism, which along with dozens of rights groups, unions and associations called for the protests, told Reuters.
“People need to realize that despite their anger toward Emmanuel Macron and his policies, there is no equivalence between a liberal, conservative candidate and a far-right candidate.”Police had warned of possible incidents as demonstrators convened in some 30 cities, but the protests ended peacefully.
Macron, who held a rally in Marseille as he tries to convince left-wing voters to pick him on April 24, is slightly ahead in opinion polls.
“The far-right is a risk to our country,” he told supporters overlooking the Mediterranean port city, which put far-left candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon first on April 10. “Don’t heckle them! Beat them!,” he said. Prior to the first round of the election Le Pen successfully tapped into anger over the cost of living and a perception that Macron is disconnected from everyday hardships. That saw her finish with 23.1 percent of votes compared to 27.85 percent for Macron. However, she has appeared more rattled this week as the focus has turned to her manifesto and opinion polls have shown Macron extend his lead. An IPSOS-Sopra-Steria poll on Saturday showed the president winning the runoff with 55.5 percent of votes. He has won backing from former presidents Nicolas Sarkozy and Francois Hollande. Hundreds of celebrities and sporting figures have also endorsed him to block Le Pen coming to power. Le Pen, whose stance is anti-immigration and euroskeptic, has sought in recent years to soften her image and that of her National Rally party. Opponents, including Macron, have said her program is full of lies and false promises — an accusation Le Pen has rejected.
Speaking to reporters on a campaign stop in southern France, Le Pen dismissed the planned protests as undemocratic. “The establishment is worried,” she said. “That people are protesting against election results is deeply undemocratic. I say to all these people just go and vote. It’s as simple as that.”
With the electorate fragmented and undecided, the election will likely be won by the candidate who can reach beyond his or her camp to convince voters that the other option would be far worse. For decades, a “republican front” of voters of all stripes rallying behind a mainstream candidate has helped to keep the far right out of power. But Macron, whose sometimes abrasive style and policies that veered to the right have upset many voters, can no longer automatically count on that backing. Highlighting how, for some voters, picking Macron is no easy decision, one banner read in Paris: “Neither Le Pen, neither Macron.”
Climate change activists from Extinction Rebellion had earlier forced the closure of a main square and avenue in the capital, protesting the environmental programs of both candidates. “This election leaves us no choice between a far-right candidate with repugnant ideas ... and a candidate who during five years cast the ecology issue aside and lied,” Lou, 26, a history teacher, who joined the Extinction Rebellion movement two years ago, told Reuters.

The Latest LCCC English analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on April 16-17/2022
The War on Young Minds
Techno Fog/IM—1776/April 16/2022
On the New Religion and the cost of letting the Left define Freedom
“If we believe in a particular social character, a particular set of attitudes and values, we naturally believe that the general education which follows from these is the best that can be offered to anyone: it does not feel like ‘indoctrination,’ or even ‘training’; it feels like offering to this man the best that can be given.”
— Raymond Williams, The Long Revolution
At least for decades now the Left has recognized that schools must be converted to a type of national church, emphasizing and focusing on secular values. But the movement needed converts. And so Americans were warned that the country would “lose its soul” if it did not turn Left before it was too late; or as Richard Rorty suggested at the end of the 20th century, America must fully “devote itself to ‘a conscious social ideal’.”
Students — or more appropriately, their targets — were to be able to recognize, through instruction from the State, “the struggle for social justice as central to their country’s moral identity.” Of course, one would rightly assume the country’s moral identity, in the progressive view, must be consistent with the individual’s moral identity. We might even go as far as to identify that as the merger of Church and State.
But the greatest danger of forced State instruction, or what we might otherwise call “public schools,” is what will be compelled. Today, the latter is decided not by what is moral or what is right, and certainly not by the parents — but by whoever is in power. Courts won’t help us if kids are victimized by curriculum, having consistently and repeatedly held that “the education of the Nation’s youth is primarily the responsibility of parents, teachers, and state and local school officials, and not of federal judges.”
In fact, one of the deficiencies of our current system is that Supreme Court precedent is itself used to uphold instruction on Critical Race Theory and other damaging movements. When a Las Vegas prep school was sued in 2020 for instructing students that the families “reinforce racist/homophobic prejudices” and that “people of color cannot be racist,” the defense argued that according to the Supreme Court, “the First Amendment affords educators broad discretion to set curriculum, and those decisions do not violate the First Amendment as long as the curriculum is reasonably related to a legitimate pedagogical concern.”
They know just what they can get away with.
Recognizing the limitations of court intervention, many conservatives have rightly fought back, arguing we should limit what instructors can teach to kids and thus prevent the promotion of evil and the corruption of young minds. The liberal-right joins forces with progressives in condemning these efforts, saying we should simply “propose better curriculums and enforce existing civil rights laws.” Those proposals however ignore the limitations of our civil rights laws (which do not prohibit indoctrination) and most importantly the motivations of the pro-CRT crowd, which has no appetite for mediating the educational wars. They demand total victory, and their spoils are the young.
Faced with all this, what is a parent to do when their legislators and educators have teamed up to promote “gender identity” to 5-7-year-olds? For right-liberals like David French, it’s up to the parents to help children “unlearn lessons they’ve learned at school.” People like French would have the parents do the impossible so that the current order can be preserved. Yet the current order will not be preserved.
What lies beneath the Regime’s decision to give elementary school kids condoms and birth control, is the idea of childhood sexual agency. Similarly, childhood transgenderism – which now includes puberty blockers and top- and bottom-surgery – is based in part on the belief that children have the capacity to make these decisions for themselves. But how much further will they try to take the sexualization of children? Or, put differently: if children can make those decisions, then what other decisions can a child make?
Those are dangerous questions, and you can see where their philosophy ultimately leads. As Henry A. Giroux wrote in Stealing Innocence: Corporate Culture’s War on Children back in 2000, public schools are now the tool by which “learning becomes indispensable to the very process of social change, and social change becomes the precondition for a politics that moves in the direction of a less hierarchical, more radical democratic social order.” Taking them for their word, the radicalization and sexualization of the young is a means to an end, and one likely to be taken to ever-more extreme lengths. This is one of the reasons we see the progressive politicians and corporations attacking Florida’s new bill that “bans classroom instruction on ‘sexual orientation’ or ‘gender identity’ in kindergarten through third grade.” Florida is thwarting their plans for your child.
Those in the press and the ‘moderators of decency’ on the Right can object to the label of “Groomer” all they want, but they can’t (or simply refuse to) tell us where the craziness of the movement will stop.
If we are to view the latest progressive instruction as new freedoms (liberation from religious or moral constraints), then we must also recognize that they do not come without costs. Redefine the family unit and watch your sons be incarcerated and your daughters become single parents. Throw aside Christianity and be subject to the trends of secular morality, wherever those might lead you. Grant the people “choice” and observe the bodies processed as biological waste and the flirtation with infanticide (or, what the Left repackaged as “perinatal death related to a failure to act”). Albert Camus was right when he wrote that once cast off the fetters of religion, “hardly was [man] free, when he created new and utterly intolerable chains.” Liberty becomes bondage.
Who will pay the price for the sexualization and indoctrination of the young? And at what cost? The answer to the first question, of course, is the young themselves. As for what the cost is, on the large scale – the question of its effects on society – that answer is unknown. What is the impact of adding more broken people to an already broken society? We might soon find out, but for the time being, we can only speculate.
But for individuals who fall victim to their influence and delusions, the cost is already quantifiable, and ultimately devastating. While the teachers and activists and politicians of the New Religion push the boundaries of human freedom (“You can be whoever you want to be”) to the cheers of their small but vocal constituency, it is ultimately our children suffering from confusion, suicidal thoughts, and gender mutilation. We must stop this before it’s too late.
Not long ago, there was a time when children dreamed of who they would be when they grew up. Now they have more pressing questions: Who is my father? Am I a girl? Should I chop off my penis? Unless we collectively act now, those who will be there to provide the answers to such questions are the same ones who made our children question their identity in the first place. Dare I say: the Groomers.
*Techno Fog is a lawyer. He writes on technofog.substack.com

Tackling the Iranian Regime's Nuclear Threat
Dr. Majid Rafizadeh/Arab News/April 16, 2022
[N]o deal will stop the ruling mullahs of Iran from pursuing their nuclear ambitions.
The only way to deter or stop Iran is to impose drastic economic sanctions on the regime again, thereby cutting the flow of funding to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and -- one hopes for the sake of the repressed Iranian people as well as any stability in the region -- bringing the regime financially to its knees. No deal will stop the ruling mullahs of Iran from pursuing their nuclear ambitions. The only way to deter or stop Iran is to impose drastic economic sanctions on the regime again. (Image source: iStock)
If we closely examine the Iranian regime's nuclear file, it reveals that no deal will stop the ruling mullahs of Iran from pursuing their nuclear ambitions. A few years after the 1979 revolution, the Islamic Republic appeared to make the advancement of a nuclear program a top item on its agenda after consolidating power in 1984. In the decade after, the Islamic Republic began its nuclear program with the help of some intermediaries such as Russia, China and Pakistan.
At the time, the head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization, Gholamreza Aghazadeh, acknowledged that Pakistan assisted Tehran. He pointed out "I do have information that some years ago, through intermediaries, we received pieces for centrifuges". According to the United States intelligence, A.Q. Khan, who was known as "the father of Pakistan's nuclear bomb", sold expertise and equipment to North Korea, Libya and Iran, and made more than $50 million.
Since then, the Iranian regime has been progressing steadily and investing in its nuclear program for more than three decades. Currently, it has reached a point near the "nuclear threshold." The regime is perhaps weeks away from obtaining the weapons-grade materials necessary for a nuclear weapon. According to a report in the New York Times:
"Iran has come within roughly a month of having enough material to fuel a single nuclear weapon, crossing a threshold that may raise pressure on the United States and its allies to improve the terms of a potential deal to restore the 2015 nuclear agreement."
Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz, during a briefing at the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem, told ambassadors from countries on the United Nations Security Council that Iran "is only around 10 weeks away from acquiring weapons-grade materials necessary for a nuclear weapon".
The only times the Iranian regime has supposedly scaled back its nuclear program was due to two critical reasons. The first was linked to the drastic economic sanctions which threatened the ruling clerics' hold on power, forcing the leadership to recalculate its priorities. The sanctions prior to the 2015 nuclear deal, for example, were significant, as they endangered the power of the ruling clergy and ultimately brought Iranian leaders to the negotiating table between 2013 and 2015.
There were four rounds of sanctions. The five permanent members of the UN Security Council unanimously called on all countries to freeze the financial assets of Iranian entities linked to the nuclear program, to ban Iran's import and export of "sensitive nuclear material and equipment," and to sanction the supply or sale of nuclear-related equipment and technology. They also imposed restrictions on Iranian bank transactions and called on countries to inspect Iranian ships and cargo planes where there were reasonable grounds to believe that the regime was smuggling prohibited products.
After the Iranian regime was able to make the world powers lift the major economic sanctions, however, Iran began clandestinely pursuing its nuclear ambitions even during the term of the nuclear deal. For instance, the detection of radioactive particles in Turquz Abad, Iran's reluctance to answer simple questions about the secret facility, and non-partisan evidence about Iran's nuclear activities at the location, all point to the fact that Tehran was most likely violating the 2015 nuclear deal since it was reached.
The second reason the Iranian regime may have scaled back on achieving its nuclear ambitions was linked to the fear of military operations against Tehran. After the US invaded Iraq in 2003, Iranian leaders rushed to offer the Bush administration a deal that would reportedly have curtailed their nuclear program. That was probably because the Islamic Republic was concerned that the Bush administration might next attack Iran or its nuclear facilities. then US President George W. Bush did in fact debate bombing Iran, as he pointed out in his memoir, Decision Points, "I directed the Pentagon to study what would be necessary for a strike." He added, "This would be to stop the bomb clock, at least temporarily."
The only way to deter or stop Iran is to impose drastic economic sanctions on the regime again, thereby cutting the flow of funding to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and -- one hopes for the sake of the repressed Iranian people as well as any stability in the region -- bringing the regime financially to its knees.
*Dr. Majid Rafizadeh is a business strategist and advisor, Harvard-educated scholar, political scientist, board member of Harvard International Review, and president of the International American Council on the Middle East. He has authored several books on Islam and US foreign policy. He can be reached at Dr.Rafizadeh@Post.Harvard.Edu
© 2022 Gatestone Institute. All rights reserved. The articles printed here do not necessarily reflect the views of the Editors or of Gatestone Institute. No part of the Gatestone website or any of its contents may be reproduced, copied or modified, without the prior written consent of Gatestone Institute

Turkish envoy attracts attention with veiled criticism of Iran in article for Israeli think tank
Menekse Tokyay/Arab News/April 16, 2022
Hasan Murat Mercan noted that Turkey and Israel were under threat from similar regional malign actors, without mentioning Iran
Ambassador also underlined the need for cooperation against terrorism
ANKARA: An article by Turkey’s Ambassador to Washington for Tel Aviv University’s Dayan Center for Strategic Studies journal Turkeyscope, has raised questions about the state of Turkey’s relations with Iran.
Apart from seeking cooperation between Turkey and Israel in fields of security and energy, Hasan Murat Mercan noted that the two states are under threat from similar regional malign actors, without mentioning Iran.
The article didn’t go unnoticed by the Iranian media. The London-based TV station Iran International commenting on the article: “Ankara’s envoy to Washington has called for Israeli-Turkish cooperation in countering regional threats, in a possible hint at Iran, amid improving bilateral ties.”
The ambassador also underlined the need for cooperation against terrorism.
“Turkish-Israeli interaction offers more than a conventional regional partnership in the face of malign actors and trends. Conventional partnerships are for a particular issue, be it against a threat or for an objective. Conventional partnerships have expiration dates. Turkey and Israel, on the other hand, share a common neighborhood, heritage, and not least, a common future,” he said in his article, which was entitled “Turkey and Israel: Optimism must prevail.”
The ambassador continued: “Dealing with malign actors and their activities throughout our region is a particular area for enhanced coordination. The Turkish-Israeli partnership would be effective to further curb destabilizing moves in the broader Middle East and North Africa.”
Israel and Turkey have always shared concerns over Iranian influence in Syria, with Iran’s proxies, including Hezbollah and Shiite militias, threatening Turkish interests.
Ambassador Mercan, a figure close to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and a founding member of the ruling Justice and Development Party, called for re-designing Turkish-Israeli relations toward mutual trust.
“Turkish and Israeli geostrategic interests dictate a close and multi-layered partnership. “There is no room for complacency for both countries when it comes to: (i) managing regional dynamics that contain, inter alia, (a)symmetrical security threats and challenges, (ii) the need to further secure and diversify energy supply routes, and (iii) promoting inter-cultural synergy as a bulwark against Islamophobia and Anti-Semitism and all sorts of hate crimes.”
It is not the first time that Mercan has underlined Turkey’s concerns about the Iranian threat to the region’s security.
In a speech to Haaretz in 2008 as president of the Turkish parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee, Mercan said a nuclear-armed Iran would pose a threat to Turkey.
As part of bilateral moves to mend ties, Israeli President Isaac Herzog met Erdogan last month in Ankara. Erdogan recently said that Turkey and Israel can cooperate to carry Israeli natural gas to Europe.
“While there are fluctuations in Turkey-Iran relations, these countries know how to keep the relationship in certain contours,” Gallia Lindenstrauss, a senior research fellow at the Institute for National Security Studies in Israel, told Arab News.
“There is, however, Turkish frustration from the growing competition between the two in northern Iraq, as well as the continuing competition in Syria,” she added.
Several acts of espionage by Iranian agents against Israelis and Iranian dissidents on Turkish soil were recently revealed and thwarted by Turkish intelligence agencies.
Since last year, Turkish security forces increased their operations against the Iranian espionage network in the country.
After detaining Iranian spies over a plot to kidnap a former Iranian soldier last October, other spies were also arrested in February before they carried out a plan to kill Turkish-Israeli businessman Yair Galler.
On the energy front, Iran also halted gas flow to Turkey for 10 days in January.
Lindenstrauss said that cases such as the revelation of Iranian spies and the temporary halt of gas supply in the winter also increase tensions.
“Also, one cannot overlook the fact that Turkey is getting closer to the Arab Gulf states — mostly out of economic necessity — which also makes it less tolerant of Iranian attempts to increase its regional influence,” she said.
Despite being part of the Syria-focused Astana peace talks with Iran and Russia, Ankara mostly shares a common perception with Gulf countries of Iran as a threat.
However, Soner Cagaptay, director of the Turkish program at the Washington Institute, said that Turkey has always separated its relations with Iran from its rapprochement process with Israel.
“Turkey has had competitive relations with Iran in the region. They see each other as two large ‘former imperial’ but ‘currently hegemonic’ powers that have the right to shape regional developments,” he told Arab News.
“Throughout history, both countries avoided direct clashes despite coming very close to conflict in Syria with Turkish troops on one hand and Hezbollah and Iranian proxies on the other coming at close fire range.”
According to Cagaptay, the normalization of ties between Turkey and Israel will first include energy cooperation.
The US government has repeatedly suggested the establishment of alternative pipelines from Israel to Greece passing through Turkey amid sanctions on Russia over its invasion of Ukraine that threaten severe shortages across Europe.
“At this stage, Turkey and Israel have similar objectives in Syria. They both have right of passage agreements, which allow Israel to strike Hezbollah and Turkey to strike the Kurdistan Workers’ Party,” he said.
In the meantime, Turkish state-run media channel TRT World recently published an article about whether the Ukraine fallout may lead to Iran gaining the upper hand over Russia in Syria.
“Tehran is trying to take advantage of the Ukraine crisis and strengthen its own position in the Syrian arena. Soon after Russia attacked Ukraine in late February, Iran and the Syrian regime increased their strategic engagement by increasing military diplomacy,” the article said. “At the same time, pro-Iranian fighters are working on relocating to different parts of Syria.”

Lifting sanctions will only convey Western weakness to Tehran
Dr. Majid Rafizadeh/Arab News/April 16, 2022
The Iranian regime continues to defy the international community. Ever since that community set out to punish Iran for its illicit nuclear activities, and its support of global terrorism and regional warmongering, Tehran seems to have been able to find ways to sidestep the sanctions regime through money laundering, smuggling and hostage taking.
Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who enjoys the final say in Iranian foreign policy, believes his government must find other paths to move forward in the face of international sanctions. During his new year address in March 2021, three months before installing Ebrahim Raisi as the new president, Khamenei gave instructions on how to steer the regime away from a vulnerability to sanctions.
“Our emphatic advice to the officials of our country, whether those who are now in office or those who will come later, is not to tie our economy to the lifting of sanctions,” he said. “Presume that the sanctions will remain. Plan the country’s economy based on the continuation of sanctions.”
It is important to point out that oil and gas have historically been the backbone of Iran’s gross domestic product. The regime will find it extremely difficult to fund the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ military adventurism, and its militias and terror groups in the region, without the profits from the export of oil and gas. That is most likely why the Iranian regime has been attempting to sell oil through smuggling.
In fact, by resorting to propaganda the regime is not even attempting to hide its violations of sanctions and how it is cheating, as it has used official and unofficial channels to send the message that it will not bend under Western sanctions.
For instance, the regime’s minister of oil, Javad Owji, claimed on April 6 that more than $16 billion of new oil contracts have been signed since Raisi became president. On April 3, Iran’s official news agency, IRNA, boasted: “According to the estimates of oil market consultants and analysts, despite the sanctions Iran was able to double its exports in 2021 since the beginning of the year.”
Currently, Iran’s leaders appear to be pushing for more concessions from the West. Nevertheless, some of them believe that the regime ought to revive the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, commonly known as the Iran nuclear deal, as soon as possible and at all costs. This is due to the additional benefits and flow of funds that a renewed nuclear deal would bring to the regime and its beneficiaries.
It is time to learn from the Iranian people’s resistance against their regime and to stand tall instead of lying low.
As Ali Akbar Salehi, former nuclear negotiator and former head of the regime’s Atomic Energy Organization, told state-controlled news outlet Shafaqna: “Currently there is an exceptional opportunity for Tehran if the JCPOA is revived. It is an opportunity for a significant export of Iranian oil, for which there is demand now.”
But there are also some in Tehran who believe it is time to push the West for maximum concessions.
So far, these Iranian hopes have turned out to be short-lived. The clerical regime openly insisted that Washington should remove the Revolutionary Guards from its list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations, which sparked heated debate in the US and the Middle East. In addition, Moscow threw a wrench in the works of the nuclear negotiations in Vienna when it asked Washington for its deals with Tehran to be sanctions-free.
In 2018, the US, under President Donald Trump, decided that the 2015 nuclear deal was incapable of curbing Tehran’s regional and ballistic missiles ambitions and withdrew from the agreement. As a consequence, many sanctions that had been lifted under the deal were reimposed. The regime’s illicit activities throughout the Middle East were not immune to the renewed austerity this created in Tehran.
The regime stepped up its nuclear program and increased its hostility toward the US military and its allies in the region. Tehran and its mouthpieces in the West continue to claim the regime has been successfully circumventing sanctions, for example by restoring oil sales to pre-sanctions levels.
No matter how much of this is true, the Iranian regime’s smuggling networks and a clandestine finance system have indeed provided a vital lifeline that has given the regime the perception it can take advantage of the current situation and ridicule the West’s determination for retribution.
The underlying problem is that the longer the regime’s cheating and violations go unpunished, the more it believes it can continue to spoon-feed the IRGC and its regional proxies enough to keep the Iranian people suppressed and its neighbors living in dread.
If the world is truly to change the attitude of the Iranian regime, it should not be appeasing it and lifting the sanctions against Tehran, the IRGC, and its militias and terror groups across the region.
Waving sanctions, offering political concessions and security guarantees will only convey a message of remorse and weakness to the Iranian regime. It is time to learn from the Iranian people’s resistance and to stand tall instead of lying low.
• Dr. Majid Rafizadeh is a Harvard-educated Iranian-American political scientist.