English LCCC Newsbulletin For Lebanese, Lebanese Related, Global News & Editorials
For January 20/2022
Compiled & Prepared by: Elias Bejjani

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Bible Quotations For today
Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. Go and learn what this means,
I desire mercy, not sacrifice.” For I have come to call not the righteous but sinners.
Saint Matthew 09/09-13/:”As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax booth; and he said to him, ‘Follow me.’ And he got up and followed him. And as he sat at dinner in the house, many tax-collectors and sinners came and were sitting with him and his disciples. When the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, ‘Why does your teacher eat with tax-collectors and sinners?’ But when he heard this, he said, ‘Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. Go and learn what this means, “I desire mercy, not sacrifice.” For I have come to call not the righteous but sinners.”

Titles For The Latest English LCCC Lebanese & Lebanese Related News & Editorials published on January 19-20/2022
President to meet diplomatic and consular corps members tomorrow and after tomorrow
Authorities Reportedly Intend to Postpone Municipal Polls
Jordan to sign deal to supply Lebanon with electricity: Energy minister
Report: French Efforts, Warning Played Key Role in Cabinet's Return
Protesters Back Jailed Hostage-Taking Depositor as ABL Rejects 'Violence'
Impoverished Lebanese, Syrians Struggle to Survive Cold
Pro-Aoun Officials Criticize Shiite Duo over Conditional Cabinet Return
International Support Group for Lebanon Urges 'Effective Govt. Decisions'
EU Delegation to Lebanon calls government to restore decision-making capability without further delays
Rahi meets Egypt Ambassador
Mikati meets economic delegation, Culture Minister
Agriculture Minister holds talks with Syrian counterpart in Damascus
Mawlawi, Bou Habib meet over preparations for expats vote
Army Chief meets SOJTF-Levant Commander
ISG urges expeditious and effective government decisions
Lavrov, Jumblatt broach Lebanon’s compounding crises
Amer Fhkoury Family seeks to sue Lebanon over dead father’s captivity/AP/January 19/2022
UN launches $1.6bn appeal to support Palestinian refugees in Lebanon/Najia Hossari/Arab News/January 19, 2022
Task Force Lebanon/Jean-Marie Kassab/January 19/2022

Titles For The Latest English LCCC Miscellaneous Reports And News published on January 19-20/2022
Bennett: Only Iran deal acceptable to Israel is no nuclear weapon program
Iran-backed Houthis’ attack on Abu Dhabi sends messages to Gulf region and the US
Abu Dhabi crown prince, US defense secretary discuss boosting military cooperation after Houthi attack
UAE ambassador to US: Houthis used missiles in attack on Abu Dhabi
UAE embassy calls on Biden administration to support re-designating Houthis as foreign terrorist organization
Iran Firefighters Protest Living Conditions on Deadly Blaze Anniversary
Putin, Raisi hail ties at decisive moment for Iran nuclear deal
Macron Says EU Must Work on New Security Pact to Put to Russia
Russia Says It Will Take Nothing Less but NATO Expansion Ban
Germany Tries Syrian Doctor for Crimes against Humanity
Israel Police Evict Jerusalem Residents from Disputed Houses
Erdogan signals thaw with Israel: it is the gas, stupid! 

Titles For The Latest The Latest LCCC English analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on January 19-20/2022
Iranian Destabilization Strategy and Regional Civil Wars/Charles Elias Chartouni/July 19/2022
'Warmer' peace with Israel offers Jordan better economic dividends/Hussain Abdul-Hussain and Enia Krivine/The Hill/January 19/2022
All the president’s enemies/Mitch McConnell is no Vladimir Putin, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei or Xi Jinping/Clifford D. May/The Washington Times/January 19/2022
Why America shares blame for the attack on Abu Dhabi/Faisal J. Abbas/Arab News/January 18, 2022
Party well and truly over for Britain’s worst prime minister/Baria Alamuddin/Arab News/January 19, 2022
Biden’s policy failures symbolize US leadership crisis/Ishtiaq Ahmad/Arab News/January 19, 2022
Assad Saves Us from a Terrible Choice/Robert Ford/Asharq Al Awsat/January 19/2022
Arabs and their Neighborhood…The Lines of Intersection, Overlap/Mohamed Orabi/Asharq Al Awsat/January 19/2022
What do Saudi Arabia’s critics actually want?/Jonathan Gornall/The Arab Weekly/January 19/2022
The Houthi attack on Abu Dhabi/Khairallah Khairallah/The Arab Weekly/January 19/2022
Erdogan will preside over the reunification of Cyprus, whether he wants to or not/Rami Rayess/Al Arabia/January 19/2022

The Latest English LCCC Lebanese & Lebanese Related News & Editorials published on January 19-20/2022
President to meet diplomatic and consular corps members tomorrow and after tomorrow
NNA/January 19/2022
President of the Republic, General Michel Aoun, will meet at 11:30 a.m. tomorrow, Thursday, the Dean of the Diplomatic Corps in Lebanon, Papal Ambassador Monsignor Joseph Spitri, members of the Arab and foreign diplomatic corps and directors of international organizations accredited in Lebanon, to extend congratulations on the occasion of the New Year.
For this occasion, the traditional celebration will be held in Presidential Palace, after it didn’t happen last year due to the "Corona" pandemic.
The Dean of the Corps, the Papal Ambassador, is scheduled to deliver a speech on the occasion, and President Aoun will give a speech in which he defines Lebanon's positions on the issues raised locally and regionally.
President Aoun will also receive, on Friday, for the same purpose, the Dean of the Honorary Consular Corps in Lebanon, Joseph Habees, and members of the corps.
The two occasions will be attended by the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates, Dr. Abdullah Bu Habib, and the Secretary-General of the Ministry, Ambassador Hani Shmaitli.
Former Minister Al-Khatib:
The President met former Minister Tarek Al-Khatib, today at Baabda Palace, and deliberated with him current political developments, especially after the resumption of cabinet meetings next week.
The meeting also tackled the needs of the Iklim al-Kharroub region in the Chouf district.
Syndicate of Topographers
President Aoun met the President of the Syndicate of Topographers, Dr. Sarkis Fadous, at the head of a delegation from the Syndicate.
Dr. Fadous thanked President Aoun for receiving the delegation, and pointed out that the visit comes after the new elections of the Syndicate.
Fadous also put the potential of topographers at the disposal of the President in any step that would help advance the country.
After discussing the tasks of the topographers and the sensitivity of their work, Dr. Fadous presented the delegation’s demands, which focus on the necessity to preserve the role of the Syndicate in the topics that fall into the core of its interests and powers, through cooperation with the Supreme Council for Urban Planning, and the necessity of establishing the Supreme Council for Survey, like many countries, and the lack of duplication in the profession so that the profession’s reference is limited to the union only, which is licensed by virtue of a law issued by the Parliament.
For his side, President Aoun welcomed the delegation, and appreciated their work, stressing the importance of what the Syndicate is doing on all Lebanese lands, and the great role it plays in many real estate matters.
Moreover, President Aoun expressed keenness to preserve the rights of the union and its members, promising to follow up on the demands that were presented, with those concerned to reach the desired solutions.
Denying President Aoun's Interference:
The Presidency Press Office clarified that what is issued in several media and social networking sites, that the President of the Republic, General Michel Aoun, "Interferes directly in the selection of the candidates of the Free Patriotic Movement" to the parliamentary elections is false.
The Press Office asserts that this news is fabricated and baseless, because the "Free Patriotic Movement" has its political leadership, to which it is up to nominate its candidates for the elections, and therefore what is said to the contrary does not correspond to reality. ----Presidency Press Office

Authorities Reportedly Intend to Postpone Municipal Polls
Naharnet/January 19/2022
There is an inclination to devise a draft law aimed at postponing municipal elections, media reports said on Wednesday. According to al-Joumhouria newspaper, the postponement will be due to “logistic and financial reasons, especially that their date comes after the parliamentary elections scheduled for May.” “There are suspicions that some parties are also seeking to postpone the parliamentary elections,” the daily added.

Jordan to sign deal to supply Lebanon with electricity: Energy minister
Reuters/19 January ,2022:
Jordan will next week sign a deal with Lebanon and Syria to supply Lebanon with electricity under a US backed regional plan to help the country ease acute power shortages, the energy minister said on Wednesday, Saleh Kharabsheh told state media the deal entails supplying Lebanon with 150 megawatts from midnight to 6 a.m. and 250 megawatts during the rest of the day. Under a plan agreed between Lebanon, Jordan and Syria in October, Jordan would supply Lebanon electricity via Syria to help boost Lebanon's power output, which now delivers a few hours a day of electricity at best. The plan, which has US backing, also aims to pump gas supplies through an Arab pipeline established about 20 years ago. Washington recently told the Lebanese government it should not fear a US sanctions law over its plans to receive energy supplies that would have to transit Syria, which is subject to sanctions. Lebanon is mired in a financial crisis, caused by a mountain of debt built up since the end of the 1975-1990 civil war, leaving the country struggling to find enough foreign exchange to pay for fuel and other basic imports.

Report: French Efforts, Warning Played Key Role in Cabinet's Return
Naharnet/January 19/2022
Hizbullah and Amal Movement’s return to Cabinet meetings was prompted by a surge in foreign pressures, especially from France, which played a key role in this regard, a media report said on Wednesday.
“Intensive French contacts and a stern warning were made throughout the previous days with the Lebanese parties that were blocking the government’s meetings,” an-Nahar newspaper quoted a senior French official in Paris as saying. “The French pressure remained strong on all parties, which were called by the French Presidency to secure a resumption of Cabinet sessions,” the official added. “Contacts with the Lebanese parties never stop, because French President Emmanuel Macron is closely following up on what’s happening in Lebanon,” the official went on to say.

Protesters Back Jailed Hostage-Taking Depositor as ABL Rejects 'Violence'
Naharnet/January 19/2022
Protesters and activists on Wednesday staged a sit-in outside the Justice Palace in Beirut in solidarity with a jailed man who took hostages Tuesday at a Bekaa bank and forced employees to give him $50,000 in cash from his own account.
The man, Abdallah al-Sahi, had turned himself in to security forces after obtaining the money. Bekaa prosecutor Judge Munif Barakat later issued a decision ordering the confiscation of the $50,000. Al-Sahi announced a hunger strike on Wednesday according to media reports. As al-Sahi’s move won praise on social media, the head of the depositors association, Hassan Mughniyyeh, accused the judiciary of collusion with the banks. “We won’t allow that Abdallah al-Sahi be persecuted,” Mughniyeh added, revealing that he had called the man’s sister and agreed with her that the sum of money “would not be handed over no matter what happens.” The Association of Banks in Lebanon meanwhile condemned “the repeated attacks that have recently targeted a number of branches, endangering employees’ lives.”In a statement, the Association condemned “all forms of violence,” warning that “attempted murder or even threatening to burn employees alive are acts that cannot be justified nor accepted under any circumstances.”“The recovery of deposits has one path: a comprehensive recovery plan that would revive the country through which the state would preserve depositors’ money,” ABL added.

Impoverished Lebanese, Syrians Struggle to Survive Cold
Associated Press/January 19/2022
A snowstorm in the Middle East has left many Lebanese and Syrians scrambling to find ways to survive, burning old clothes, plastic and in some cases even sheep manure to keep warm as temperatures plummet and poverty soars.
The storm, dubbed "Hiba" in Lebanon, began Tuesday night and is expected to peak on Thursday. The small country's massive economic collapse and currency crash has meant an increasing number of Lebanese families are not able to afford fuel to heat their homes this winter. Hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees in Lebanon and Jordan as well as others who were displaced by Syria's war are sheltering in poorly heated tents relying mostly on layers of blankets to keep warm.
"The situation is very, very difficult," said social activist Baseem Atrash, speaking from the snowcapped northeastern Lebanese town of Arsal near the Syrian border. Arsal is home to one of the largest Syrian refugee concentrations in Lebanon, with some 50,000 people, most of them living in flimsy tents. Atrash said Syrian refugees, as well as some Lebanese who have fallen into poverty since the country's financial meltdown began in October 2019, lack diesel for heaters, while constant power cuts make electric heaters useless. "They are burning anything to keep their heaters on from plastic to old clothes," Atrash said. Earlier this month, a Syrian mother and her three children died in their sleep after inhaling toxic fumes from burning coal to heat their room in a village in southern Lebanon. Lebanon, a country of 6 million people, is home to 1.5 million Syrians who fled the now decade-old civil war in their country. The United Nations estimates that 90% of Syrian refugee households live in extreme poverty. But as Lebanon grapples with an unprecedented economic crisis, the poverty has deepened for both Lebanese and Syrians. Sky-rocketing fuel prices coupled with a currency collapse has meant many essential commodities are now out of reach for the average Lebanese.
Nadim Attieh, a Lebanese residing at 750 meters above sea level, decided to donate some of his firewood to needy families after he heard of how cold it will get. Attieh used Twitter to spread the word of his in-kind donation: a ton of wood. It is enough for five or six families that would last them through the coldest three days ahead. "I have stocked up on wood during summer and I have a good quantity. So why not share with people who are underprivileged?" Asked Attieh, himself looking for a job after losing his in a Gulf country a couple of years ago. The cost of a ton of wood is now equivalent to five times the minimum wage, selling for 3 million Lebanese pounds ($120) while some 20 liters of diesel now goes for about 300,000 -- nearly ten times what it cost three years ago. International aid group CARE International said temperatures are expected to drop in Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria to well below freezing, endangering the lives of millions already living in precarious circumstances."People can see their own breath when lying on their thin mattresses, you will see children walk around in flipflops and ripped shirts. Families are afraid that they will freeze to death," said Jolien Veldwijk, CARE Syria Country Director.

Pro-Aoun Officials Criticize Shiite Duo over Conditional Cabinet Return
Naharnet/January 19/2022
Parliamentary sources close to President Michel Aoun have described Hizbullah and Amal’s conditional return to Cabinet’s meetings as “precedent” that “violates both the constitution and the law.”Hitting out at Speaker Nabih Berri, who recently said that parliament is the “master of itself,” the sources told Ashraq al-Awsat newspaper that “the same as the legislative authority does not accept conditions, the executive authority must also practice its role away from any conditions.”Noting that the agenda of any Cabinet session is to be exclusively decided by the President and the Prime Minister, the sources stressed that “it is unconstitutional when any other side sets the agenda.”Hizbullah and Amal have announced that their return to Cabinet meetings is exclusively aimed at discussing the 2022 state budget, the economic recovery plan and other pressing economic and social issues. They had boycotted Cabinet since October 14, demanding the removal of Beirut port blast investigator Judge Tarek Bitar over alleged bias.

International Support Group for Lebanon Urges 'Effective Govt. Decisions'
Naharnet/January 19/2022
The International Support Group for Lebanon (ISG) said Wednesday that it has taken note of steps to reconvene the Council of Ministers, urging the resumption of its meetings as soon as possible. “The ISG urges expeditious and effective government decisions to initiate the direly needed reforms as well as measures, among which the swift adoption of a budget for 2022, that would enable an agreement with the IMF to support a way out of the macro-economic and fiscal crises,” it said in a statement. It further called on the Government of Lebanon to take the necessary steps to “ensure fair, transparent and inclusive elections in May 2022 as scheduled, including by enabling the Supervisory Commission for Elections to carry out its mandate.”As for the Beirut port blast investigations, the ISG reiterated its call for :justice and accountability through a transparent and independent investigation” and for “the respect of the independence of the judiciary.” The ISG also emphasized that it “continues to stand by Lebanon and its people.”The International Support Group has brought together the U.N. and the governments of China, France, Germany, Italy, Russia, the UK and the U.S., together with the EU and the Arab League.  It was launched in 2013 by the U.N. Secretary-General with former President Michel Suleiman to help mobilize support and assistance for Lebanon’s stability, sovereignty and state institutions.

EU Delegation to Lebanon calls government to restore decision-making capability without further delays
NNA/January 19/2022
The EU Delegation and the EU Member States call on the Government of Lebanon and other decision-making bodies to restore, without further delays, their decision-making capability, which would inter alia require the resumption of regular meetings of the Council of Ministers, in order to address the dramatic crises Lebanon is facing, the Delegation said in a statement it issued together with the diplomatic missions of the EU Member States in Lebanon on Wednesday. “We call on the Government of Lebanon and other decision-making bodies to conclude, without further delays, in line with their repeated and consistent announcements and commitments, an agreement with the IMF which would support in finding a way out of the macro-economic and fiscal crises the country is facing, and to take all the decisions and measures which need to be taken prior to such an agreement immediately,” the statement added.
“We urge the Government of Lebanon and other decision-making bodies to take all the necessary decisions and steps to enable the Supervisory Commission for Elections to carry out its mandate, in line with their repeated and consistent announcements and commitments, and take all other decisions and steps in order to ensure an adequate process leading to fair and transparent elections to take place on time in 2022.”“We repeat our call for justice and accountability through a transparent and independent investigation into the causes of the Beirut Port blast and for the respect of the independence of the judiciary and the principle of division of powers by Lebanese decision makers.” It concluded.

Rahi meets Egypt Ambassador
NNA/January 19/2022
Maronite Patriarch Beshara Rahi met Wednesday in Bkerki with Egyptian Ambassador to Lebanon, Yasser Alawi, who expressed "relief over the resumption of the Lebanese Cabinet sessions to address the problems Lebanon is suffering."Speaking to reporters, the diplomat highlighted "the importance and necessity to hold the parliamentary elections on their scheduled date."He also heaped praise on the "historic bilateral relations" between the two countries, reiterating Egypt's permanent support for Lebanon.

Mikati meets economic delegation, Culture Minister
NNA/January 19/2022
Prime Minister Najib Mikati met Wednesday at the Grand Serail with an economic delegation including Head of the Economic Committees Mohammad Choucair, former head of the Association of Banks in Lebanon Joseph Torbey, President of Beirut Merchants Association Nicolas Chammas, among others. Talks reportedly touched on an array of economic affairs. Mikati later received Minister of Culture Mohammad Mortada.

Agriculture Minister holds talks with Syrian counterpart in Damascus
NNA/January 19/2022
Minister of Agriculture Abbas Hajj Hassan held a meeting with his Syrian counterpart Mohammad Hassan Qatna and Syrian Minister of Transport Zouhair Khazim, at the Syrian Transport Ministry on Wednesday. A statement by Hajj Hassan's press office indicated that talks touched on the organization of the Lebanese agricultural products' transit.

Mawlawi, Bou Habib meet over preparations for expats vote
NNA/January 19/2022
Minister of Interior and Municipalities Bassam Mawlawi held a meeting Wednesday with Foreign Minister Abdallah Bou Habib, in the presence of Director General of the Personal Status Department General Elias Khoury, Bou Habib’s adviser Pascale Dahrouj, and Mawlawi's office head Lieutenant Colonel Ayman Mashmoushi. The meeting was devoted to discussing the ongoing preparations for the Lebanese expatriates' vote process in the parliamentary elections in May.

Army Chief meets SOJTF-Levant Commander
NNA/January 19/2022
Lebanese Army Chief, General Joseph Aoun, met Wednesday at his Yarze office with Commander of the Special Operations Joint Task Force (SOJTF)-Levant, Brig. Gen. Isaac J. Peltier.
The pair reportedly discussed the military cooperation between Lebanon and the U.S.

ISG urges expeditious and effective government decisions
NNA/January 19/2022
The International Support Group for Lebanon (ISG) takes note of steps to reconvene the Council of Ministers, and presses for the resumption of its meetings as soon as possible. The ISG urges expeditious and effective government decisions to initiate the direly needed reforms as well as measures, among which the swift adoption of a budget for 2022, that would enable an agreement with the IMF to support a way out of the macro-economic and fiscal crises, the Group said in a statement on Wednesday. It added: “The ISG further calls on the Government of Lebanon to take the necessary steps to ensure fair, transparent and inclusive elections in May 2022 as scheduled, including by enabling the Supervisory Commission for Elections to carry out its mandate. The ISG reiterates its call for justice and accountability through a transparent and independent investigation into the Beirut port explosion, and for the respect of the independence of the judiciary. The ISG continues to stand by Lebanon and its people.”

Lavrov, Jumblatt broach Lebanon’s compounding crises
NNA/January 19/2022
Russian Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov, on Tuesday welcomed in Moscow Progressive Socialist Party (PSP) Leader, Walid Jumblatt. The PSP issued a statement quoting the Russian Foreign Ministry, which said that the meeting between both sides mainly focused on the most recent developments in Lebanon, and stressed that Russian “concerns were expressed vis-a-vis the compounding economic crisis in Lebanon.” The Russian side reiterated its firm position in favor of Lebanon’s sovereignty, independence, unity, and territorial integrity. It also stressed the need to resolve outstanding issues by reaching consensus among Lebanese political components in accordance with the law and without any foreign interference. Regarding the situation in the Middle East, Lavrov stressed Russia's firm commitment to achieving a comprehensive and lasting settlement of to end regional conflicts through political and diplomatic means in accordance with the international legal framework, as well as to facilitate the return of Syrian refugees to their homeland.

عائلة الشهيد عامر فاخوري تقاضي الدولة اللبنانية في أميركا بجريمة اعتقاله والتسبب بوفاته
Amer Fhkoury Family seeks to sue Lebanon over dead father’s captivity
AP/January 19/2022
His family’s suit says he developed the illness and other serious medical issues while imprisoned during a visit to Lebanon.
The Fakhourys’ lawyer, Robert Tolchin, has asked a judge for permission to formally sue Lebanon, along with Iran.

CONCORD, N.H.: A Lebanese American man’s survivors, who filed an ambitious lawsuit last year alleging Lebanon’s security agency kidnapped and tortured him before he died in the U.S., hope to find an opening after the agency recently responded in an American court.
Amer Fakhoury died in the United States in August 2020 at age 57 after suffering from stage 4 lymphoma. His family’s suit says he developed the illness and other serious medical issues while imprisoned during a visit to Lebanon over decades-old murder and torture charges that he denied.
Fakhoury’s detention in 2019 and release in 2020 marked another strain in relations between the United States and Lebanon, which finds itself beset by one of the world’s worst economic disasters and squeezed by tensions between Washington and Iran.
Recently, lawyers representing Lebanon’s security agency, the General Directorate of General Security, asked to intervene in the Fakhoury family’s wrongful death lawsuit to have the allegations against it stricken. Lebanon is not named as a defendant in the suit, which targets Iran.
In its filing, the Lebanese security agency claimed the lawsuit falsely accuses it and its director of “serious crimes of kidnapping, torture and killing at the direction or aid of alleged terrorist organizations.”
In turn, the Fakhourys’ lawyer, Robert Tolchin, has asked a judge for permission to formally sue Lebanon, along with Iran. He referred to Lebanon’s action in the family’s response as “a very strange and unusual motion filed by a nonparty.”
The family’s lawsuit filed in Washington in May initially argued it was possible to sue Iran under an exception to the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act as it has been designated as a “state sponsor of terrorism” since 1984. The suit also described Hezbollah, now both a dominant political and militant force in Lebanon, as an “instrument” of Iran.
Iran has yet to respond to the lawsuit. It has ignored others filed against it in American courts in the wake of the 1979 Islamic Revolution and U.S. Embassy hostage crisis. Iran’s mission to the United Nations did not respond to a request for comment.
Similar lawsuits against Iran have won financial judgments, though receiving a payout can be complicated. Any award could come from the United States Victims of State Sponsored Terrorism Fund, which has distributed funds to those held and or affected by the hostage crisis.
Regarding Lebanon, Tolchin said the Fakhourys’ lawsuit would not make sense without the allegations against Lebanon’s security agency.
“We interpret that as a waiver of sovereign immunity,” he said to The Associated Press of the agency’s request. “You can’t come in and ask for affirmative relief on the merits, and, at the same time, claim to be immune.”
In a statement provided to The AP, an attorney for the agency, David Lin, said the Fakhourys’ position “that Lebanon or our client somehow waived sovereign immunity by seeking to strike baseless material from the complaint is baffling and wrong as a matter of law.”
A judge pushed back a deadline for the lawyers representing the security agency to respond to the Fakhoury’s request to sue by Jan. 26.
Mary Ellen O’Connell, a professor at the Notre Dame Law School, said it may be challenging for a case to be brought against Lebanon, which is not designated a “state sponsor of terrorism.”
“Not having that listing will be difficult to go after Lebanon, as opposed to Iran,” she said.
O’Connell also said a move like Lebanon’s to strike the allegations “is usually not accepted by the courts as a waiver” of sovereign immunity.
Fakhoury’s imprisonment in Lebanon took place in September 2019, not long after he became an American citizen. Fakhoury visited his home country on vacation for the first time in nearly 20 years. A week after he arrived, he was jailed and his passport was seized, his family has said.
The day before he was taken into custody, a newspaper close to the Iranian-backed Shiite group Hezbollah published a story accusing him of playing a role in the torture and killing of inmates at a prison run by an Israeli-backed Lebanese militia during Israel’s occupation of Lebanon two decades ago. Fakhoury was a member of the South Lebanon Army.
The article dubbed him the “butcher” of the Khiam Detention Center, which was notorious for human rights abuses. Fakhoury’s family said he had worked at the prison as a member of the militia, but that he was a clerk who had little contact with inmates. When Israel withdrew from Lebanon in 2000, Fakhoury left the country like many other militia members who feared reprisals.
Upon his return to Lebanon in 2019, Fakhoury was held for five months before he was formally charged, his family said. By then, he had dropped more than 60 pounds, was suffering from lymphoma, and had rib fractures, among other serious health problems, they said.
In its request to intervene, the security agency said Fakhoury was not kidnapped, but was “lawfully detained” for investigative purposes and then “handed off” to another agency responsible for prosecuting the alleged crimes. It called the allegations “scandalous, impertinent, and highly damaging.”
The family’s suit alleges security personnel made him watch as they beat prisoners and kept him isolated in an interrogation room, where he faced verbal and physical abuse with a black sack placed over his head. The lawsuit also claims Fakhoury was threatened with execution unless he signed a declaration saying he was guilty of the accusations mentioned in the newspaper article.
Eventually, the Lebanese Supreme Court dropped the charges against Fakhoury. He was returned to the United States on March 19, 2020, on a U.S. Marine Corps Osprey aircraft. He died five months later.
The lawsuit also linked Fakhoury’s eventual release to the U.S. government’s decision in June 2020 to free Kassim Tajideen, a Lebanese businessman who was sentenced to five years in prison for providing millions of dollars to Hezbollah.
The Fakhourys’ suit called it a “quid-pro-quo prisoner exchange.” However, Tajideen’s lawyer and the U.S. State Department at the time denied he was part of a prisoner exchange.
Fakhoury first arrived in the United States in 2001. He started a restaurant in Dover, New Hampshire, with his wife and put their four daughters through college. But his family said he felt Lebanon was still home, even though other members of his militia had been targeted in the years after the war.
As early as 2018, Fakhoury had sought assurances from the U.S. State Department and the Lebanese government that he could visit Lebanon freely. His family said he was told there were no accusations against him in Lebanon or no legal matters that might interfere with his return.
After his death, the Fakhourys started a foundation in his name dedicated to helping the families of hostages.
“This is a fight not just for us,” Guila Fakhoury, the oldest of Fakhoury’s four daughters, said in an interview about the lawsuit. “This a fight for our father and a fight for every American who is illegally detained, and for every person who is illegally detained.”
The lawsuit seeks financial damages and a jury trial.
“I know my dad will not rest in peace until we have justice for what has been done to him,” Fakhoury said.
N.B:Picure enclosed shows Amer Fakhoury’s three daughters

UN launches $1.6bn appeal to support Palestinian refugees in Lebanon
Najia Hossari/Arab News/January 19, 2022
BEIRUT: The UN on Wednesday launched a special international appeal for $1.6 billion to help improve living conditions for Palestinian refugees in crisis-hit Lebanon.
Philippe Lazzarini, commissioner general of the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees in the Near East, made the donations plea for “vital humanitarian assistance” as part of the agency’s focus on this year’s “funding requirements and priorities.”
Addressing a press conference at the UN’s Beirut office, he said: “UNRWA is seeking to obtain $1.6 billion from the international community in 2022 to support Palestinian refugees.
“This funding will enable UNRWA to cover the needs of millions of Palestine refugees and provide them with vital lifesaving services and programs, which include education, health, and food aid, as well as additional emergency funding to meet the humanitarian needs arising from crises in Gaza, the West Bank, Jerusalem, Syria, and Lebanon,” he added. The appeal came in the wake of an open sit-in carried out by dozens of Palestinian refugees in front of the UNRWA headquarters in the Lebanese capital. The demonstrators have been protesting the agency’s decision to cancel a rental allowance for Palestinians displaced from Syria to Lebanon during the Syrian war.They set up a tent dubbed Tent 194, in reference to the international resolution that stipulates the return of Palestinian refugees to their homes.
The number of Palestinian refugees displaced from Syria to Lebanon had decreased from more than 40,000 to 18,000, according to a census by the Palestine Liberation Organization.
Some had returned to Syria, while others had legally migrated from Lebanon to Europe, specifically in the context of family reunification, and a number had drowned off the Lebanese coast while trying to escape by boat.
Lazzarini said: “UNRWA is facing a chronic funding shortfall that undermines its efforts to provide humanitarian support to some of the most vulnerable refugees in the world, whose needs are constantly increasing, while the COVID-19 pandemic continues to pose serious health risks and exacerbate economic difficulties across the region. “An estimated 2.3 million Palestinian refugees are now believed to live in poverty. Anguish and despair prevail among the Palestinian refugees, and many in Gaza, Syria, and Lebanon have expressed their willingness to use any means to try to emigrate outside the region,” he added.
Palestinian refugees in Lebanon, similar to Lebanese citizens, are having to contend with the fallout from the country’s economic collapse.
Hisham Debsi, director of the independent Palestinian center Tatweer for Strategic Studies and Human Development, told Arab News: “There is no food crisis in the Palestinian refugee camps because more than 16,000 Palestinians receive their salaries from the PLO in US dollars, and employees of UNRWA and Islamic organizations in the camps receive high salaries in US dollars.
“A large number of refugees receive social benefits in US dollars, and those who are not paid by the Palestinian factions, are provided financial assistance by the active Palestinian civil society organizations.
“Refugees struggle with health and educational services. The beds allocated to UNRWA in hospitals in various Lebanese areas are limited, and the Palestinian health insurance is limited to Red Crescent hospitals, whose health services the refugees find questionable, and the UNRWA budget, as it claims, does not allow it to increase health coverage.
“The greatest harm is in the education sector because UNRWA services do not cover all tuition fees, so schools are being merged, which leads to overcrowding, thus resulting in a decline in the educational services,” he said.
The biggest issue being faced by the latest generation of Palestinians has been a lack of job opportunities. Debsi noted that a Tatweer study had found that most young Palestinians were looking to immigrate to a third country to obtain another nationality that would secure them a better life, while many no longer had plans to return to Palestine. “These young people have recently launched movements in search of resettlement in a third country. They succeeded in collecting the files of 10,000 Palestinian youth, and they delegated a group on their behalf to transfer their files from the UNRWA to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees as individuals who want to emigrate and not as Palestinian refugees. “This action has provoked the Palestinian factions, that tried to suppress these movements,” Debsi added.
Ayham Sahli, an assistant researcher at the Institute for Palestinian Studies in Lebanon and an activist for Palestinian refugees who fled from Syrian to Lebanon, told Arab News: “The reduction in the UNRWA budget allocated to Palestinian refugees who fled from Syria to Lebanon was unjustified. It reduced the aid from $115 per person to $25, citing lack of funding. “Not all Palestinian refugees in Lebanon receive aid; many suffer under extreme poverty, especially those who are not affiliated with any Palestinian faction and are not in contact with any civil society organization.”

Task Force Lebanon
Jean-Marie Kassab/January 19/2022
With a firm grip we hold our cedar high and,
with hard steel we will shield it and,
with our bodies we will protect it and,
with dedication and power we will free it and preserve it and,
with responsibility we will keep it green and clean and,
with courage and lack of fear our blood will be his whenever needed and,
with all the dedicated patriots we will do it and keep it free, sovereign and neutral.
We are the Resistance
We are Task Force Lebanon

The Latest English LCCC Miscellaneous Reports And News published on January 19-20/2022
Bennett: Only Iran deal acceptable to Israel is no nuclear weapon program
Lahav Harkov/Jeruralum Post/January 19/2022
Bennett isn't willing to legitimize Iran's right to enrich uranium for nuclear weapons, as negotiations about the 2015 nuclear deal continue. An Iran deal acceptable to Israel would not allow the Islamic Republic to enrich uranium at high levels, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said Tuesday in a video conference with the World Economic Forum in Davos. Asked what kind of agreement between world powers and Iran would be one Israel approves of, he responded: “Effectively, that Iran has to give up its nuclear-weapon program.” “Why would anyone legitimize their right to enrich uranium at a massive capacity?” Bennett asked. “They are now enriching at 60% grade in these huge factories. Why are they doing it? You don’t need 60% [enriched] uranium for anything but a nuclear weapon.” His remarks come as the P5+1 negotiates with Iran to return to compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal, which restricted Tehran’s uranium enrichment to 3.67% and cut almost all of its stockpile of enriched uranium. The US and the E3 – France, Germany and the UK – have questioned how seriously Iran is taking the talks, which they say are moving too slowly and that there is only a matter of weeks for the 2015 agreement to still be relevant.
Bennett cited the Iranian nuclear archive that the Mossad smuggled into Israel in 2018 as evidence that “these guys are trying to develop a nuclear weapon.”
“I don’t see any rationale why it makes sense for the free world to sign a deal that would give them money and at the same time allow them to continue” enriching uranium at high levels, he said. Bennett warned against lifting sanctions on Iran, saying that would bring “terror on steroids.”“Everything we’re seeing will be doubled and tripled because they’ll be much stronger,” he said.Bennett reiterated his metaphor of Iran as an octopus, with its head safe in Tehran while it stretches its arms across the Middle East to commit acts of terrorism and destabilize the region in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Yemen, the Gaza Strip and elsewhere. He called on “decent countries, the free world to call Iran out on what it is doing. They are the source of terror in the Middle East and we have to fight back.”Bennett also spoke in praise of the Abraham Accords and said he hopes to establish more ties for Israel in the region.
“We have a common foe in the region, that’s Iran, and we need [to work with] countries that want to fight radical Islam,” he said. Abraham Accords countries “are coming to see Israel as an anchor of stability in a very tumultuous region – not only in a security sense but also in our economy,” he added.
Bennett cited his meetings with Jordan’s King Abdullah and Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi as part of his outreach to the region and said he wants to “inject more content into these relationships.” Regarding the Palestinians, Bennett said Israel has made moves to improve their quality of life, including increasing the number of permits to work in Israel and greater integration into the hi-tech sector. “My first policy is to improve quality of life for everyone here,” he said. “I believe that business, the economy and jobs is the most sustainable way to bring stability.”However, “we have to be cognizant of the fact that there is a meaningful terror threat from the Palestinians to Israel that we have seen time and again, even in the past few weeks,” Bennett said. “I want to be very clear about that,” he added. “I won’t do anything that can threaten Israel’s security or weaken our ability to defend ourselves by ourselves. Ultimately, the Palestinians have a big choice to make – whether they want to go down the path of terror or peace and prosperity... We here are very positive about prosperity and people-to-people peace.”

Iran-backed Houthis’ attack on Abu Dhabi sends messages to Gulf region and the US
Associated Press/January 19/2022-
The main message to the region after Monday’s Houthi drone attack on Abu Dhabi was loud and clear. Peaceful relations with regional neighbours are not on the agenda of Iran nor that of its proxies in Yemen. “The Houthis aren’t interested in peace and remain hostage to their regional backer, which treats our region’s security as a mere negotiating card,” Saudi deputy defence minister Prince Khaled bin Salman tweeted on Tuesday, referring to Iran. The Iran-backed Houthis had used drones, Monday, in an attack on Abu Dhabi, the UAE’s capital city, killing three people and injuring six. The Saudi-led military coalition launched aerial counter-attacks against Houthi military installations in the night between Monday and Tuesday. The drone attack is bound to increase wariness about Iran’s regional designs as it puts the spotlight on Tehran’s support for its Houthi proxies in the Yemen war, especially through the procurement of sophisticated weapons including drones and missiles.
Monday’s attack will also cast a long shadow over the periodic talks between Saudi Arabia and Iran on ending Yemen’s war and will affect Emirati engagement with Tehran, analysts and Gulf sources say. “Saudi Arabia and the UAE will continue to talk to Iran, but this sends another negative signal that you cannot trust Iranian intentions,” said Riyadh-based Gulf Research Centre’s Abdulaziz Sager. The attacks will give additional credence to Gulf Arab states’ calls to address Iran’s missiles and regional behaviour, along with its nuclear programme in any talks with Tehran. The United Arab Emirates demanded on Tuesday an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council to address the deadly drone attack on its capital by Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthi rebels.
“The United Arab Emirates calls on the Security Council to speak with one voice and join in firmly and unequivocally condemning these terrorist attacks,” said the UAE’s ambassador to the UN, Lana Nusseibeh, in a letter to the Security Council’s president. “This illegal and alarming escalation is a further step in the Houthis’ efforts to spread terrorism and chaos in our region,” she added.
The attack triggered wide international condemnation, including from the United Nations chief. “The Secretary-General expresses his concern and deplores the recent Saudi-led Coalition’s airstrikes in Sana’a that resulted in numerous civilian casualties,” said Stephane Dujarric, spokeswoman for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, at a press conference Tuesday.
“He reminds all parties of their obligations under international humanitarian law to protect civilians, adhering to the principles of proportionality, distinction and precaution.” For now, Tehran has been trying to preserve the cloak of deniability over their involvement in the attack. An Iranian security official told Reuters the Houthis “don’t need Iran’s or any other country’s approval or help”. But nobody in the Gulf region believes the Houthis would launch such attacks without Iran knowing and approving of it beforehand. Abdulaziz Sager said there was “no way” the Houthis would have launched their attack on Abu Dhabi without Iranian knowledge. Through the Houthis, Iran is perceived as sending a message to the United States amid current talks to revive the 2015 nuclear deal. The essence of that message is that Tehran’s role is essential for war and peace and that Iran’s network of regional proxies will allow it to strike at the interests of the US and its allies anytime and anywhere in the region.
But from the Gulf states, there is likely to be a push for a robust US response as Biden’s administration Yemen policy is widely blamed in the Gulf region for having emboldened the Houthis. Last year, Washington halted support for “offensive operations” by the Saudi-led coalition and revoked the Houthi movement’s terrorist designation. For now, Tehran is also trying to keep the recent developments related to attack on Abu Dhabi separate from the formal agenda of the nuclear talks. “The attacks would not impact the nuclear talks in Vienna. These are two separate issues,” a senior Iranian official told Reuters Tuesday on condition of anonymity. “What happened yesterday was the result of ongoing crisis in Yemen.”Official reactions in Tehran were significant in the sense that they did not even express regret and much less attempt to denounce the civilian deaths caused by the Houthi attacks. Iran’s foreign ministry, responding to what it called “recent Yemen-linked developments”, said on Tuesday military attacks were not a solution to the crisis in the region, state media reported.
Foreign ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh, referring to the rise in regional tensions, said Iran has always emphasised that the solution to any regional crisis is not to resort to war and violence and only in a calm atmosphere … one can hope to establish peace and stability,” state media said.
But Gulf experts say immediate military repercussions would be in Yemen and against the Houthis, while the UAE gathers evidence on where the drones were manufactured and launched. The UAE said on Monday it reserved the right to respond to the Houthi strike.The Arab alliance has moved this month to reverse Houthi gains in the energy producing Marib region, with a decisive role played by Emirati-backed Yemeni forces in the Iran-backed militias’ setbacks in Shabwa and Marib governorates.

Abu Dhabi crown prince, US defense secretary discuss boosting military cooperation after Houthi attack
Arab News/January 19/2022
RIYADH: Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed held a phone call with US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin to discuss the recent Houthi attacks on the UAE and boosting defense coordination, Emirates News Agency reported on Wednesday. The Iran-backed militia launched a number of explosive-laden drones and ballistic missiles targeting a key oil facility and an airport in Abu Dhabi on Monday, killing three people and injuring seven. Sheikh Mohammed and Austin discussed military and security cooperation and coordination in different areas of defense between the two countries following the terrorist attacks. The two sides also discussed the threat the Houthis pose to regional security and stability, and “the need to take a firm international stance toward such aggressive practices,” the statement said. During the call, Austin reiterated US condemnation of the attacks and said his country stood by the UAE against threats to its security and territorial integrity. They also spoke about the strategic bilateral relations, as well as regional and international developments of common concern.

UAE ambassador to US: Houthis used missiles in attack on Abu Dhabi
Tuqa Khalid, Al Arabiya English/19 January ,2022
Yemen's Iran-backed Houthi militia used cruise and ballistic missiles, as well as drones, in Monday’s attack on Abu Dhabi that killed three people, the UAE ambassador to the US said on Wednesday. “A combination of cruise missiles, ballistic missiles, and drones targeted civilian sites in the UAE. Several were intercepted, a few of them didn’t, and three innocent civilians unfortunately lost their lives,” ambassador Yousef Al-Otaiba said in a panel hosted by the Jewish Institute for National Security of America. This marked the first acknowledgement by UAE officials that missiles were used by the Houthis in Monday’s attack on Abu Dhabi which led to a fire breaking out and resulted in the explosion of three petroleum tankers, and another fire that broke out in the area of the new construction site of Abu Dhabi International Airport. In addition to the three causalities, six others were wounded.
Yemen’s Houthi militia claimed responsibility for the attack saying it conducted an operation “deep in the UAE,” and the group’s spokesman said they fired five ballistic missiles and “a large number” of explosive-laden drones at “sensitive sites” in the UAE. Otaiba said the Houthis were a “terrorist organization” that attacked civilians in a country “that was not at war.” “We have long left the Yemen war. We are still being a target. And for the sake of transparency, we are asking our friends in the [US] administration and in Congress to re-instate the Houthi terrorist designation as an FTO,” he added.
President Joe Biden’s administration revoked a terrorist designation of the Houthis introduced by former President Donald Trump in January of last year. Biden also announced in ending US support for the offensive operations of the Arab Coalition, led by Saudi Arabia, which intervened in Yemen in 2015.
Saudi Arabia and the UAE maintained over the course of the past year that they will continue to treat the Houthis as a terrorist organization regardless of whether the US decided to designate the group as such.

UAE embassy calls on Biden administration to support re-designating Houthis as foreign terrorist organization
Arab News/January 19/2022
LONDON: The UAE embassy in the US on Wednesday called on the Biden administration and Congress to support the re-designation of the Houthi militia as a foreign terrorist organization. Three people were killed and eight wounded after a Houthi missile and drone attack set off an explosion next to oil giant ADNOC's storage facilities and started a fire at Abu Dhabi airport. The UAE’s ambassador to the US, Yousef Al-Otaiba, also summarized a phone call between the US Secretary of Defence Lloyd Austin and the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, the embassy said.
The two officials agreed on unity of action in response to the Houthi terror attack and discussed urgent steps to tighten air defenses against missiles and drones and enhanced maritime security to stop weapons flows, the embassy said. The ambassador will join the UAE Director of National Intelligence, Ali Al-Shamsi, for meetings with the White House and Congress later on Wednesday in Washington DC, the embassy added.

Iran Firefighters Protest Living Conditions on Deadly Blaze Anniversary
Asharq Al-Awsat/Wednesday, 19 January, 2022
Dozens of firefighters rallied in Tehran to protest their living conditions, local media reported on Wednesday, marking the fifth anniversary of a tower blaze that caused the death of many of their colleagues. Sixteen firefighters died when Plasco, the oldest high-rise in Iran's capital, collapsed on January 19, 2017 after a blaze engulfed the building. Four civilians also lost their lives, state media reported at the time. The 15-storey building, home to a shopping center and hundreds of clothing suppliers, collapsed while emergency services personnel were still evacuating people from the inferno. More than 100 firefighters and their family members gathered in front of the municipality and city council in central Tehran to mark the anniversary, ISNA news agency reported. The firefighters, many wearing their red uniforms, chanted: "Adequate livelihood is our inalienable right", and "We are tired of promises and lies, not of fire and smoke," the agency said. They held placards reading, "discrimination, mismanagement, low pensions, welfare problems", it added. The protesters also demanded that parliament address their issues including providing proper housing for firefighters in Tehran and increasing their salaries, according to the report.
Hit by severe economic sanctions imposed since 2018 by the United States, Iran has seen its inflation rate surge to close to 60 percent. Other professions have also rallied over the past few days. Hundreds of teachers across Iran protested changes to their pay and pensions. Civil servants in the judicial sector also demonstrated, after the government refused to increase their pay. The Plasco disaster sent shock waves across Iran. Rescue teams worked for days to recover bodies from under the rubble. The owners and city officials were criticized for failing to prevent the disaster at the building, which according to the fire brigade was known to breach multiple safety regulations. A new building replacing the old tower has been completed with 20 floors, five of which are underground. But it "has not yet received the approval from the fire department," the department's spokesman Jalal Maleki told state TV on Wednesday. The building's management have "promised us not to inaugurate it until they get the fire department's approval and they have so far kept their promise," he added.

Putin, Raisi hail ties at decisive moment for Iran nuclear deal
AFP/19 January ,2022
Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Iranian counterpart Ebrahim Raisi hailed bilateral ties during a meeting in Moscow Wednesday, as pressure mounts for a decision on the Iran nuclear deal. Raisi said he had presented Moscow with draft documents on strategic cooperation that would cement joint collaboration for the next two decades. “We in Iran have no limits for expanding ties with Russia,” the Iranian leader said on his first state visit since taking office in August. He said Tehran wanted to develop relations with Moscow that would “not be temporary, but permanent and strategic”.
“Today's exceptional circumstances require significant synergy between our two countries against US unilateralism,” he said in televised remarks. Putin praised the countries' “close cooperation” on the international stage and said “it is very important for me to known your opinion on the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action”. The 2015 accord between Iran and world powers -- the US, France, Britain, Russia, China and Germany -- offered Tehran relief from crippling international sanctions in return for deep curbs on its nuclear programme. But the unilateral US withdrawal from the agreement in 2018 under former president Donald Trump prompted Tehran to walk back on its commitments. Talks to restore the accord began again last year but stopped in June, when Iran elected Raisi. They then resumed in November. This is the ultraconservative president's most significant visit abroad since he took over in August from moderate Hassan Rouhani, who was the last Iranian president to visit Russia in March 2017. Moscow and Tehran have strong political, economic and military ties, shared interests in Afghanistan, and are key allies of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in his country's decade-long civil war.

Macron Says EU Must Work on New Security Pact to Put to Russia
Asharq Al-Awsat/Wednesday, 19 January, 2022
European Union countries must work together on a new stability and security deal that they could then discuss with Russia, French President Emmanuel Macron told the European Parliament on Wednesday. Referring to "destabilization efforts" in the continent, Macron, speaking as France starts its presidency of the EU, said Europe wants to find a political response to the conflict in Ukraine. "The security of our continent is indivisible", Macron said referring to Russia, adding that Europe must define its own security standards. He added that Europe must "bring ourselves to a position to make sure they can be respected," without elaborating. Earlier US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who arrived in Kyiv for talks, warned that Russia could launch a new attack at "very short notice". Separately, Macron said the EU must review its relationships with the Western Balkans and offer them "sincere" prospects of joining the bloc. The EU must also propose a new alliance to African countries, he said, adding that EU and African countries would discuss it at a summit in February.

Russia Says It Will Take Nothing Less but NATO Expansion Ban

Associated Press/Wednesday, 19 January, 2022
Russia maintained a tough posture amid the tensions over its troop buildup near Ukraine, with a top diplomat warning Wednesday that Moscow will accept nothing less but "watertight" U.S. guarantees precluding NATO's expansion to Ukraine. Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov, who led the Russian delegation at the security talks with the U.S. in Geneva last week, reaffirmed that Moscow has no intentions of invading Ukraine as the West fears, but said that receiving Western security guarantees is the categoric imperative for Moscow. The talks in Geneva and a related NATO-Russia meeting in Brussels last week were held as Russia has amassed an estimated 100,000 troops near Ukraine in what the West fears might herald an invasion.In a move that further beefs up forces near Ukraine, Russia has sent an unspecified number of troops from the country's far east to its ally Belarus, which shares a border with Ukraine, for major war games next month. Ukrainian officials have said that Moscow could use Belarusian territory to launch a potential multi-pronged invasion. The Russian Defense Ministry said Wednesday that some of its troops already have arrived in Belarus for the Allied Resolve 2022 drills. It said the exercise will be held at five firing ranges and other areas in Belarus and also involve four Belarusian air bases. Amid the soaring tensions, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken visited Ukraine on Wednesday to reassure it of Western support in the face of what he called "relentless" Russian aggression.
Russia has denied that it intends to attack its neighbor but demanded guarantees from the West that NATO will not expand to Ukraine or other former Soviet nations or place its troops and weapons there. It also has urged NATO to roll back the deployments of its troops and weapons to Central and Eastern European nations that have joined the alliance after the end of the Cold War. Washington and its allies firmly rejected Moscow's demands but kept the door open to possible further talks on arms control and confidence-building measures intended to reduce the potential for hostilities.
Ryabkov insisted, however, that there can't be any meaningful talks on those issues if the West doesn't heed the main Russian requests for the non-expansion of NATO. He warned that the Russian demands contained in draft agreements with the U.S. and NATO "constitute a package, and we're not prepared to divide it into different parts, to start processing some of those at expense of standing idle on others." The Russian diplomat underlined that Ukraine's increasingly close ties with NATO allies pose a major security challenge to Russia. "We see the threat of Ukraine becoming ever more integrated in NATO without even acquiring a formal status of a NATO member state," Ryabkov said, pointing at Western powers supplying Ukraine with weapons, training its troops and conducting joint drills. "This is something that goes right to the center of Russia's national security interests, and we will do our utmost to reverse this situation, to rebalance this situation through diplomatic means."Russia annexed the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine in 2014 after mass protests prompted Ukraine's Moscow-friendly leader to flee to Russia. At the same time, Russia also cast its support behind a separatist insurgency that swept over large areas in eastern Ukraine. More than 14,000 people have been killed in nearly eight years of fighting there. Asked if Russia could accept a moratorium on NATO's expansion eastward, an idea circulated by some political experts, Ryabkov answered with a firm no, saying that Moscow has seen the West backtracking on previous promises. He emphasized that "for us, the matter of priority is achievement of watertight, bulletproof, legally binding guarantees" that Ukraine and other ex-Soviet nations will not join the alliance. Ryabkov suggested that the U.S. could also take a unilateral obligation to never vote for NATO membership for Ukraine and other ex-Soviet nations. Russia has urged the U.S. and NATO to provide a quick written response, and Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters Wednesday it expects to receive it "within days."

Germany Tries Syrian Doctor for Crimes against Humanity
Agence France Presse/Wednesday, 19 January, 2022
German prosecutors accused a Syrian doctor Wednesday of torturing detainees and killing one of them while working in military hospitals in his war-torn homeland, on the first day of a landmark crimes against humanity trial in Frankfurt. The accused, 36-year-old Alaa Mousa, arrived in Germany in 2015 where he continued to practice medicine until his arrest.
The trial at Frankfurt's higher regional court is the second of its kind in Germany, and adds to other European efforts to hold loyalists of President Bashar al-Assad's regime to account for alleged war-era atrocities. Mousa faces 18 counts of torturing detainees at military hospitals in Homs and Damascus in 2011-12, including setting fire to a teenage boy's genitals. He also faces one count of murder, for having allegedly administered a lethal injection to a prisoner who resisted being beaten. The accused helped to perpetrate "a systematic attack on the civilian population," said federal prosecutor Anna Zabeck as she read out the charge sheet. He "tortured detainees by inflicting substantial bodily harm on them," she told the court. The defendant, who wore a blue suit and an FFP2 face mask in court, kept his head down while the charges were being read out. He has denied the allegations. His trial comes after another German court last week sentenced a former Syrian colonel to life in jail for overseeing the murder of 27 people and the torture of 4,000 others at a Damascus detention center a decade ago.
That verdict, hailed by victims as "historic", marked the culmination of the first trial globally over state-sponsored torture in Syria.
Universal jurisdiction -
The proceedings in Germany are made possible by the legal principle of "universal jurisdiction" -- which allows countries to try people for crimes of exceptional gravity, including war crimes and genocide, even if they were committed in a different country. Other cases involving the Syrian conflict have also sprung up in France, Norway, Sweden and Austria. "Over the past decade, a large amount of evidence about atrocities in Syria has been collected, and now... those efforts are starting to bear fruit," said Balkees Jarrah of Human Rights Watch. Mousa, a married father of two, addressed the court in fairly fluent German during the opening hearing, providing details about his education and employment history. He said he had worked "in several military hospitals" in Syria. He also told judges he belonged to Syria's Christian minority. Mousa is expected to address the accusations against him in later hearings.
'Absolute power'
Mousa left Syria for Germany in mid-2015, arriving not as a refugee but on a visa for skilled workers. He worked in several places as an orthopedic doctor, including the central spa town of Bad Wildungen, before being arrested in June 2020 after Syrian witnesses came forward. Federal prosecutors say Mousa worked in military hospital 608 in the Syrian city of Homs and military hospital 601 in the capital Damascus, where injured detainees were brought after being arrested for opposing Assad's regime. But instead of being treated, many were tortured "and not infrequently killed" in such hospitals, as part of Assad's brutal repression of the opposition, prosecutors allege. In one case, Mousa is accused of having poured flammable liquid on a prisoner's wounds before setting them on fire and kicking him in the face so hard that three of his teeth had to be replaced.Mousa is also alleged to have given a fatal injection to an inmate who was trying to fend off a beating, which prosecutors say was to demonstrate his "absolute power" over the prisoners.
'Sexualized violence'
Rene Bahns, a lawyer for the civil parties in the case, representing victims' rights, told AFP the examples highlighted "the use of sexualized violence" in the Syrian torture system. On another occasion, Mousa was called to a prison in Homs where an inmate was suffering an epileptic attack. Prosecutors say the accused punched him in the face, hit him with a plastic pipe and kicked him in the head. The man died a few days later, shortly after taking a tablet given to him by Mousa, though the cause of death is unclear. Other inmates were kicked and beaten, sometimes with medical tools, according to prosecutors. The war in Syria has killed close to half a million people since it broke out in 2011.Germany has taken in some 800,000 Syrian refugees.

Israel Police Evict Jerusalem Residents from Disputed Houses
Agencies/January 19/2022
Israeli police on Wednesday evicted Palestinian residents from a disputed property in a flashpoint Jerusalem neighborhood and demolished the building, days after a tense standoff. The predawn demolition took place in Sheikh Jarrah, an east Jerusalem neighborhood where attempts by Jewish settlers to evict longtime Palestinian residents have sparked protests that last year helped lead to an 11-day war between Israel and Gaza militants. The latest demolition is a separate case, with the city removing the family to make way for what it says will be a large special-needs school for Palestinian children in the area. But it also has set off local protests and drawn international criticism. Early this week, residents of the building held a tense standoff with police who came to evict them. They climbed on the roof of the home and threatened to set gas tanks on fire. Eventually police backed off, after demolishing a nearby plant nursery owned by the family. Police moved in under the cover of darkness early Wednesday, removing the family and demolishing the home. Police said 18 people were arrested for public disorder. The Salhiya family say they purchased the property before 1967, when Israel captured east Jerusalem, while the state has argued against the family's claims in court. The municipality says the land was always zoned for public use and seized the property in 2017. It says the Salhiya family are squatters, and the buildings were constructed illegally in the 1990s. It says it will compensate the rightful owners and build the school to serve the local Palestinian community.
"These illegal buildings had been preventing the construction of a school which can benefit the children of the entire Sheikh Jarrah community," the city and police said in a joint statement. The case has been in court for several years, and a Jerusalem judge last year ruled in favor of the city and authorized the eviction. The family has appealed and is awaiting a ruling, but the judge did not freeze the eviction order. Palestinians in east Jerusalem say it is almost impossible to get building authorization from the city, forcing them to build homes without permits. Hagit Ofran, a researcher for the anti-settlement group Peace Now, acknowledged the family had been unable to prove ownership. But she said it was clear they have lived there for years. She said another site in the neighborhood given to an ultra-Orthodox Jewish boarding school could have been used for the special-needs school. She also said the house could have been left intact since the new school is to be built on a nearby plot of land. "This expropriation could have been done without evicting them," she said. "It's in Sheikh Jarrah, it's in this very sensitive time, all the world is looking and the government didn't find the sense to stop it."
Laura Wharton, a dovish member of the city council, accused the city of decades of "criminal neglect" of its Palestinian residents, who make up about one-third of the population. "I protest, object and regret the conduct of the whole thing and expect the municipality and the government to begin treating every resident with equality and respect," she said. Dozens of Palestinian families in east Jerusalem are at risk of eviction by Jewish settler organizations, and thousands face the threat of demolition because of discriminatory policies that make it extremely difficult for Palestinians to build new homes or expand existing ones. Other threatened evictions in Sheikh Jarrah and other neighborhoods, which are tied up in decades-old legal battles between Palestinian residents and Jewish settlers, set off protests and clashes last year that eventually helped ignite the 11-day Gaza war. Israel captured east Jerusalem, along with the West Bank, in the 1967 Mideast war and annexed it in a move not recognized by most of the international community. Israel considers the entire city to be its capital, and the municipality says it is working to improve services for all residents. The Palestinians want east Jerusalem to be the capital of their future state, and the city's fate is one of the most divisive issues in the century-old Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Erdogan signals thaw with Israel: it is the gas, stupid!
The Arab Weekly/January 19/2022
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Tuesday he is open to mending Turkey’s frayed ties with Israel following a US decision to end support for a Mediterranean gas pipeline opposed by Ankara. Erdogan’s comments follow a year in which Turkey, battered by an economic crisis at home, has taken steps to improve relations with a host of regional rivals. Turkey’s relations with Israel entered a deep freeze after the death of ten civilians in an Israeli raid on a Turkish flotilla destined for the Gaza Strip in 2010, even though diplomatic and economic ties remained intact. Israel and a group of countries, including Turkey’s historic rival Greece, then began work on a joint pipeline to bring eastern Mediterranean Sea gas to Europe. Turkey strongly opposed the project and staked its own territorial claims on the region’s energy wealth. The pipeline was also supported by the former administration of US president Donald Trump. But Israeli and other media have reported that Washington privately informed Greece last week that current US President Joe Biden’s team no longer backed the pipeline project because it created regional tensions with Turkey. “I think the US decided to pull back after looking at the (project’s) finances,” Erdogan said during a joint media appearance with visiting Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic. Erdogan said he was resurrecting talks with Israel on an old idea to bring Mediterranean gas to European clients via Turkey. “We can still do that,” Erdogan said. “We are now holding talks with President (Isaac) Herzog. He could visit us in Turkey. Prime Minister (Naftali) Bennett also has a positive approach,” Erdogan said. “As Turkey, we will do our best to cooperate on a win-win basis,” he added. “As politicians, we should not be there to fight but to live in peace.”

The Latest The Latest LCCC English analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on January 19-20/2022
شارل الياس شرتوني: استراتيجية إيران لزعزعة الاستقرار والحروب الأهلية الإقليمية
Iranian Destabilization Strategy and Regional Civil Wars
Charles Elias Chartouni/July 19/2022

The latest drone attacks on the Abu Dhabi airport succeeds to a series of attacks on Saudi Arabia and the UAE and attests to the open state of belligerence assumed by Iran and its allies, the Houthi rebels. Whatever might be the circumstantial motivations, the new Iranian policy course displays its flaunted expansionist aims, commitment to destroy the remnant geopolitical order, and conflict militarization strategy as defining markers of its ongoing policy orientation, while pursuing the nuclear negotiations with the US and its partners. Evidently, these paradoxes raise serious questions about their impact on negotiations, their relevance and eventual finalization, if they ever make it to the end. This deliberate sabotaging far from being an erratic move on the Iranian side, adds to its maneuvering around the inspection regimes set by the United Nations Atomic Agency, and makes observers wonder about the ultimate goal of the Iranian authorities. No matter what would be the future evolutions, the credibility and the scope of the incoming accords are at stake and leave us with a sense of corrosive uncertainty on how serious and sustainable the future accords would be, if they fail to address the Iranian destabilization strategy and its open ended scenarios. What would be the purview of the Vienna negotiations if they fall short of the ultimate normalization strategy of the Iranian regime, its due integration into the international community, and effective partnership in a regional conflict resolution scheme.
It’s inconceivable from a methodological point of view to disassociate the different agendas and proceed on a segmented basis which fails to understand their integrated nature, and establish the connective strands between them. The success of negotiations depends on the ability to weave the different planes into one political narrative, otherwise the eventual accords will go awry and fail to achieve their purported objectives. The ambivalence of the Iranian demeanor makes us question the primary intentions and subtexts, in the first place, and wonder about the Iranian regime willingness to challenge its political views and maverick political positioning in the rising context of the New Cold War, and amidst the wreckage of a disheveled Middle Eastern geopolitical order. It’s redundant to dwell on the methodological intricacies of the ongoing negotiation process, if the intellectual and ethical framing are in default and the underlying intentions are inherently biased.

'Warmer' peace with Israel offers Jordan better economic dividends
Hussain Abdul-Hussain and Enia Krivine/The Hill/January 19/2022
For the first time in seven years, the Jordanian royal court recently released a photo of King Abdullah II meeting with an Israeli official, Defense Minister Benny Gantz, Jan. 5 in Amman. This gesture is a clear indication that relations between the two neighboring countries are warming up again. After a decade of sluggish growth and falling standards of living, Jordan likely wants to capture a bigger share of the growing pie of Arab economic cooperation with Israel.
U.S. legislators from both parties recently launched a bipartisan House-Senate caucus that would be a “cheerleading squad” for the Abraham Accords, signed last year between Israel and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Bahrain.
In the first year of peace between Israel and the UAE, bilateral trade reached $700 million. In 2020, bilateral trade between Israel and Jordan stood at $250 million, 27 years after they had signed a peace treaty. These numbers suggest that Jordan has much to gain by moving beyond the “cold peace” it has with Israel and embracing the accords.
In December, Israel and Jordan signed an agreement to facilitate Jordanian exports to the West Bank. The deal’s ambitious goal is to increase the total from $150 million to $700 million a year. In July, Israel agreed to increase its annual supply of fresh water to its eastern neighbor by 50 million cubic meters, doubling the previous figure. The UAE brokered a deal in which Jordan produces solar energy for the Israeli market, and Israel reciprocates by desalinating Mediterranean water for supply to Jordan.
Israel’s peace with Jordan remains colder than expected because some Jordanians see the agreement as a political necessity rather than a true opportunity. They argue that relations with Israel should remain a purely government-to-government affair, rather than a bond between two peoples. Some even argue that while peace is net positive for the Israeli economy, it is a net negative for Arab economies.
The data say otherwise. One “fruit of peace” with Israel, according to the Tony Blair Institute, “was the start of a process that led to a series of international trade agreements and placed Jordan on a path of accelerated, export-driven economic growth.”
The institute observed that during “the 2000s the Jordanian economy grew at an average real rate of 6 percent a year. Jordanian exports of goods increased fourfold, from $2 billion in 2000 to $8 billion in 2008. Jordan’s gross domestic product (GDP) per capita more than doubled, and unemployment declined from 15 to 12 percent, despite an annual 5 percent growth in the Jordanian workforce.”
Because of its political stability and economic growth, Jordan attracted Iraqi immigrants, followed by waves of Syrian and Iraqi refugees starting in 2011. The population of Jordan has thus doubled over the past decade, putting pressure on the economy. The wars in Iraq and Syria have also interrupted regional trade and tourism, a further drag on the Jordanian economy. Over the past decade, the economy has grown by only a bit more than 2 percent per year, while per capita GDP has fallen significantly.
The road ahead for Jordan will be difficult, but the Abraham Accords offer Amman the opportunity to collect more dividends of peace. The bigger the volume of trade in goods and services between Israel and Arab countries, the bigger the regional economic pie and the bigger share Jordan can capture for its own economy.One positive sign is that Israeli tourism in Jordan is on the rise as more Israelis choose to vacation in Aqaba — a Jordanian resort town on the Red Sea — over Israel’s Eilat. And since Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula — once a popular escape for Israeli vacationers — has become riskier due to a surge of Islamist terrorism, Jordan has become the best alternative. Leaders in Egypt, until recently the only other Arab country with a peace treaty with Israel, have recognized the opportunity to forge deeper economic ties and have been trying to turn their country’s “cold peace” with Israel into a warmer one. In September, Abdul-Fattah al-Sissi became the first Egyptian president to openly meet with an Israeli prime minister in a decade. In October, Egyptian airlines announced that it will fly its trips to and from Israel under its own name, 39 years after flying under the guise of the non-existent airliner Sinai Air. In November, Israeli generals visited Sinai for a rare public meeting with their Egyptian counterparts.
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When Arab countries launched their boycott of Israel in 1948, they reasoned that such policy would result in Israel dying off. But Israel survived. Enforcement of the boycott became inconsistent during the 1990s, when Israel seemed to be approaching peace with the Palestinians. Yet until the Abraham Accords, the notion of a true partnership with Israel still seemed out of bounds. The accords offer the Jordanian economy an opportunity for further integration into the regional economy of Arab countries that are living at peace with Israel, and therefore more growth.
America and its allies can do more to help Jordan economically. At $38 billion, or 90 percent of its GDP, Jordan’s national debt is surging, while debt service is consuming money that could be invested in productive sectors. A donor conference could offer Amman assistance and low interest loans that could help tame its debt. As the past three decades have shown, investing in Jordan does more to stabilize the region, both politically and economically, than trying to fix some of the country’s troubled neighbors.
*Hussain Abdul-Hussain is a research fellow and Enia Krivine is the senior director of the Israel Program and National Security Network at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (@FDD), a nonpartisan research institute focusing on national security and foreign policy. Follow Hussain on Twitter @hahussain and Enia @EKrivine

All the president’s enemies/Mitch McConnell is no Vladimir Putin, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei or Xi Jinping

Clifford D. May/The Washington Times/January 19/2022
As he begins his second year in office this week, President Biden looks toward the horizon and sees multiple challenges and threats. Three of the most worrisome:
Russia’s strongman, President Vladimir Putin, having taken the Crimean Peninsula and Donbas region from neighboring Ukraine, now has troops poised for a possible further invasion of that former Soviet state.
Iran’s strongman, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who commands military proxies in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Yemen, is continuing to develop nuclear weapons, key to furthering his neo-imperialist ambitions.
China’s strongman, President Xi Jinping, having stamped his boot on the people of Hong Kong, is now considering the deployment of his increasingly powerful militar
In a fiery speech last week, Mr. Biden boasted that he’s “worked in foreign policy my whole life.” He warned of forces “that value power over principle” that pose a “grave threat” to “our democracy,” promote “subversion” and maybe preparing for an “onslaught.”
We must choose “democracy over autocracy, light over shadows, justice over injustice!” he declared.
Oh, I should mention: He was referring not to foreign tyrants but to members of Congress who disagree with his legislative proposals.
What are we to make of such rhetoric? An election year has begun, and Mr. Biden would doubtless prefer not to talk about the fiasco of the Afghanistan surrender and withdrawal, the absence of security on the Mexican border, the highest inflation rate in 40 years, unionized teachers refusing to return to the classroom and confused pandemic policies.
But does he sincerely believe that those who oppose a bill to nationalize election procedures are, as he put it, “on the side” of Jefferson Davis, the rebel leader and slavery defender, while those who agree with him are “on the side of Abraham Lincoln”?
He went on to pledge that he would fight “all enemies — foreign and, yes, domestic” — equating elected American lawmakers with ultranationalist Mr. Putin, Mr. Khamenei and Chinese Communist Party Chair Xi.
Beyond slandering his former colleagues, such comments trivialize the life-and-death crises in Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Asia. After all his years on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, is it possible that Mr. Biden doesn’t get that?

Why America shares blame for the attack on Abu Dhabi
Faisal J. Abbas/Arab News/January 19, 2022
The deadly terrorist attack on Abu Dhabi on Monday by the Houthi militia in Yemen, despicable as it was, came as no surprise to those of us in the region — especially here in Saudi Arabia — who are already familiar with how low these terrorists can sink.
Enabled by their backers in Iran, the Houthis have launched waves of drone and missile attacks targeting civilians and key infrastructure in the Kingdom, from Jazan in the southwest to Riyadh itself.
Yes, there is a war going on in Yemen, and wars have inevitable consequences. Some people will say the UAE and Saudi Arabia must have expected that civilian casualties would be one of them.
Non-combatants, including innocent people in Yemen, have died — although it is important to point out that there is no moral equivalence here. When the Coalition to Restore Legitimacy in Yemen causes civilian casualties it does so by accident, it investigates, and it apologizes; the Houthis kill innocent people deliberately, then brag about it.
What the UAE and Saudi Arabia could not have expected, however, was that the US under the Biden administration would turn its back on them — long-time allies and partners — in the way that it has, by revoking the Trump-era designation of the Houthis as a terrorist group, and withdrawing Patriot air-defense batteries even as the Kingdom was coming under attack from Houthi missiles.
Iran is currently not the only enabler of these terrorists; they would never have dared to strike had they not felt empowered by the Biden administration’s failure to support its allies
These actions were unexpected not just because of the history and the strategic logic behind the alliance, but because America has seen at first hand what the Houthis are capable of.
Not only is the group’s official motto “Death to America,” but it also attacked the US Navy on three occasions in late 2016 at a time when Barack Obama was trying to appease Iran.
The US says it revoked the Houthi terrorist designation because it was hampering the flow of aid to Yemen, an argument that convinces no one. As Adel Al-Jubeir, the Saudi Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, told Arab News in an interview last year, the Taliban, Daesh, Hezbollah, Al-Shabab and Boko Haram are all on the US terrorism list, but that does not impede the flow of aid into Afghanistan, Syria, Lebanon, Somalia or the Sahel.
As for the withdrawal of the Patriot batteries, the US says it had been planned for some time as part of a strategic regional reorientation, and was not intended against Saudi Arabia specifically — although if that were true, why could the decision not simply be reversed when Washington can see that the Kingdom continues to come under missile attack? Not only that, but in behavior that defies logic, while some misguided US legislators continually try to block US arms sales to Saudi Arabia, some media commentators have the audacity to criticize the Kingdom for turning to other countries to secure weapons with which to defend itself.The war in Yemen is not going the Houthis’ way. Coalition forces have driven them out of Shabwa and made military gains in the battleground province of Marib. Wounded animals lash out, so the attack on Abu Dhabi was in many ways predictable. However, sad to say, Iran is currently not the only enabler of these terrorists; they would never have dared to strike in such a way had they not felt empowered by the Biden administration’s failure to support its allies and partners.
It was reported by Bloomberg on Monday that the UAE would ask the US to reinstate the Houthis on its terrorist list. Acceding to that request is the very least America can do.
*Faisal J. Abbas is the editor in chief of Arab News. Twitter: @FaisalJAbbas

Party well and truly over for Britain’s worst prime minister

Baria Alamuddin/Arab News/January 19, 2022
Boris Johnson has always had a fundamentally problematic relationship with the truth. Lies, cheating and obfuscation ooze from him like water, so it was always predictable that he would ultimately face being brought down by a lie that was too flagrant even for him to get away with.
The “Partygate” saga has been British politics at its most unedifying, with Boris at each juncture blurting out whatever untruths he thought he could get away with about why he and his staff were holding boozy parties — including one notorious alcohol-soaked event on the eve of Queen Elizabeth’s lonely funeral for her husband — while other people’s elderly relatives were forced to die alone because of COVID-19 regulations. This labyrinthine web of deceit and dissembling included the prime minister’s excruciating appearance in the House of Commons last week to offer an apology that wasn’t an apology for his attendance at a party that he hadn’t realized was a party – at his own home!
Johnson’s skeleton-littered path to Downing Street took shape after he stabbed Prime Minister David Cameron in the back by spearheading the 2016 Brexit campaign, which must go down in history as the largest barrage of lies ever fired at the British public: Brexit would be quick, painless and glorious, and would usher in an era of prosperity, sovereignty and hope for the UK. If only!
In 2019, Johnson elbowed his predecessor Theresa May out with his pledge to “Get Brexit done,” acting in tandem with Machiavellian political knife-fighter Dominic Cummings — who, since his dismissal in 2020, has reserved his sharpest knives for Boris) Their “vision” turned out to be the most brutal of all possible Brexits, with consequences that have been ruinous for British farmers, fishermen, food producers and domestic industry. British dairy and meat products took a 30-40 percent hit in early 2021, with a new swath of regulations and bureaucracy to be introduced at the beginning of 2022 likely to be even more devastating for businesses exporting to the EU, previously the destination for over 60 percent of British food exports. Disingenuous dealing by Boris’s officials over Northern Ireland has exacerbated sectarian tensions that ultimately threaten to tear the UK apart.
For all his sloganeering about “global Britain,” foreign policy under Johnson came straight from the Trump playbook: Steadfast non-engagement with international challenges, in tandem with ever-harsher measures to shut out millions of refugees, resulting from the international community’s abandonment of its conflict resolution role and failure to police international law in the face of genocide and crimes against humanity.
Johnson lied that folding the Department for International Development into the Foreign Office would not affect Britain’s aid commitments — and promptly slashed development aid by upwards of 60 percent to some of the poorest states in the world, leaving countless numbers to starve. During his own 2016-18 tenure as foreign secretary, Johnson proved wholly disinterested in foreign affairs, while plotting his next promotion.
By calculatedly disassociating Britain’s foreign policy and human rights architecture from that of the EU, British diplomacy has become a bad joke. Instead of taking united stands on principled issues as part of a community of nations, Britain is left to grandstand alone — which often means that UK positions on human rights play second fiddle to craven efforts to seek trade deals. Even when Britain gets it right, it becomes highly vulnerable to pressure, such as a recent statement from Britain’s Ambassador to Tripoli that Libyan politicians tripped over themselves to condemn in the strongest terms as neo-imperialist interference. The unmistakeable impression is that Boris’s “Global Britain” scarcely knows or cares what goes on beyond its shores.
At home, with little in the way of domestic vision, Boris sought to rouse his reactionary grassroots with full-on cultural warfare, a repulsive reversal of his predecessors’ efforts to make the Conservatives more diverse, moderate and forward-looking. This “war on woke” culminated in a bizarre campaign in support of the statue of a wealthy 17th-century slave trader, felled by anti-racism protesters in an echo of campaigns against symbols of a racist past in Trump’s America.
Britain has had many hapless and disgraced prime ministers, but none before Johnson has so spectacularly failed to respect the gravity of the office, or be so unsuited to the rigors and intellectual challenges it presents. Psychologically, Johnson proved wholly unprepared for the COVID pandemic; he failed to appreciate the scale of the threat and continually delayed the imposition of measures until infection rates were far advanced, resulting in Britain’s exceptionally high death rate. “Let the bodies pile up,” he declared at one point when facing pressure to take renewed action.
Britain has had many hapless and disgraced prime ministers, but none before Johnson has so spectacularly failed to respect the gravity of the office.
This shame-proof prime minister has survived numerous political scandals. However, with public support cratering, recent events augur the beginning of the end for his premiership. Conservative MPs had backed him as the most promising vote-winner in their party, mistaking his bumbling, clownish demeanor for charisma. But in a party known for ruthless shifts in loyalties, a critical mass of politicians are turning away from Boris’s increasingly toxic brand.
On international issues, Britain has traditionally sailed alongside the US, but the chronic dysfunction in American politics further renders it problematic for the UK to correct its course on the sea of world affairs. Even after Britain does rid itself of Boris, few easy solutions present themselves. There is scant political appetite for reopening the deep, festering wound of Brexit, although compromises with the EU may gradually be sought to repair some of the economic damage.
After five years of doggedly pursuing the Brexit cul-de-sac, Boris’s plague-stricken, friendless, and economically battered Britain is an introverted and isolated place, with a long distance to travel before rediscovering any conceivable form of global role.
*Baria Alamuddin is an award-winning journalist and broadcaster in the Middle East and the UK. She is editor of the Media Services Syndicate and has interviewed numerous heads of state.

Biden’s policy failures symbolize US leadership crisis
Ishtiaq Ahmad/Arab News/January 19, 2022
President Joe Biden entered office a year ago with a promise to reclaim America’s global leadership by renewing multilateralism, resetting relations with China and Russia, ending the war in Afghanistan and reviving the Iran nuclear deal. However, his subsequent policies aimed at realizing these core foreign policy objectives — pursued with weak deterrence and meek diplomacy — have failed to produce the desired outcomes.
Consequently, allies in Europe and the Middle East still doubt if they can fully trust the US. While China has expanded its economic clout in Asia, Russia has raised the security stakes in Europe. Beset by a humanitarian crisis, Afghanistan could implode at any time. And Iran continues to play deadly games in the region, while pursuing brinkmanship in nuclear negotiations.
There is little doubt that Biden’s lack of leadership and strategic thinking has put the world at greater risk of conflict.
Where to begin. Multilateralism: Yes, he has brought America back to global institutions and the Paris climate accord, led the global climate discourse and sponsored a summit for democracy. But on the global issues that really matter, the US has opted to go alone — it backstabbed France by signing a secret nuclear submarine deal with Australia and the UK; it exited Afghanistan without consulting the allied nations in NATO; it debated democracy, while keeping half of the world out; and it appeased Iran, forgetting what Tehran does to America’s time-tested Arab allies in the neighborhood.
Of course, unilateralism at the expense of multilateralism cannot buy America the global goodwill it desires. A democracy in turmoil at home loses the moral high ground to nudge its illiberal variants abroad, be it the coup in Myanmar or the protests in Kazakhstan. Diplomacy is set to fail when its basic premises are wrongly framed. Even deterrence comes to naught when the enemy is cunning to the core.
Vladimir Putin has led Russia in the last 20 years with a mastery that only a spook can display. Compare his composure to Biden’s frailty and the dynamics of European security become clear. Moscow means business when it says NATO must not enlarge into what it treats as its own post-Soviet sphere of influence. The threat of punitive economic sanctions can work neither here nor in the case of Gazprom, which has already laid down Nord Stream 2. Germany needs Russian gas more than ever. Kiev and Warsaw may cry wolf about Russian blackmail. But against Putin’s brinkmanship, Biden will do as he does best: Damage limitation.
What about China, which Biden and the team have made enemy No. 1 for no good reason? It is hard to believe that a supposedly dovish leader would militarily frame the economic competition with China in Asia-Pacific, even rallying his NATO and G7 counterparts to test Chinese patience over Taiwan, Hong Kong and the South China Sea. Beijing has risen economically through a great national effort and under successive visionary leaders. If its edge in critical technologies like 5G is a problem, then why not invest in their research and development? Why push China toward an existential conflict it wants to avoid at all cost? And without stating what the end goal is.
Meanwhile, as Washington is busy forging security partnerships such as AUKUS, the Chinese are expanding their geoeconomic influence in the region, recently joining the 15-nation Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership. The US is not even bothering to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, whose predecessor was created under its auspices as an economic counterweight to China. Beyond Asia-Pacific, Beijing has done an investment deal with the EU and fostered trade and investment partnerships across the Middle East and North Africa.
On the military exit from Afghanistan and the nuclear talks with Iran, the less said the better. Secretary of State Antony Blinken is particularly fond of passing the buck and blaming the Trump administration for negotiating the fateful peace deal with the Taliban and pushing the Iranians toward resuming their nuclear weapons program. But the buck stops with the Biden administration. In the case of the withdrawal from Afghanistan, by pushing back the deadline but moving ahead with the plan, it paved the way for the Taliban’s victory and its tragic consequences. In the Vienna talks on the Iran nuclear deal, who is saber-rattling whom is crystal clear. The Biden administration doesn’t even care what its Arab allies say about the danger posed by the clerical regime’s ballistic missiles and malign acts.
However, it would be unfair to blame Biden alone for the great mess America’s relations with the world are in today. All of his foreign policy gaffes are symptomatic of a deepening crisis in American leadership.
The roots go back to America’s unipolar moment three decades ago, when it had the chance to reshape global institutions to preserve the rules-based international order. Instead, imperial hubris led its military-industrial complex to tread dangerous terrains and wage expansive wars. The consequent reality, marked by an overstretched military draining vital economic resources, has polarized politics in the US and eroded its influence in the world.
Unilateralism at the expense of multilateralism cannot buy America the global goodwill it desires.
This has created an acute leadership dilemma concerning the policy choice between domestic renewal and foreign assertion. In terms of strategic preferences, nationalism has superseded internationalism — Trump’s “America First” versus Biden’s “Build Back Better” reflects this tendency. This is why, barring some exceptions, major US foreign policies denote continuity along bipartisan lines, such as imposing punitive trade tariffs on China and the security disengagement from the Middle East.
America is in dire need of domestic healing to overcome its bitter political divide, economic meltdown and pandemic battle. However, despite eroding influence abroad and deep divisions at home, the US faces a world with both traditional geopolitical threats and new challenges tied to globalization. Managing them requires adapting to a multipolar world, where China and Russia matter. While competing with them, the US must muster their support, alongside its traditional allies, to reshape the global order in ways that serve common goals.
Biden has so far failed to provide the sort of leadership that America and the world need at this critical juncture — one that does not squander global obligations for the sake of domestic renewals or let the latter determine the contours of the former. Will he be any different in the remaining three years of his presidential term? Only time will tell.
*Ishtiaq Ahmad is a former journalist who has been vice chancellor of Sargodha University in Pakistan and Quaid-e-Azam Fellow at the University of Oxford.

Assad Saves Us from a Terrible Choice
Robert Ford/Asharq Al Awsat/January 19/2022
It is easy to welcome the decision of the court in Koblenz that convicted Anwar Raslan of responsibility for torture, rape and murder at Branch 251 in Damascus. When I was ambassador in Damascus I heard from Syrians about several detention centers, among them Branch 251. We knew intellectually about the mistreatment of prisoners, but only after I saw the Caesar photographs did I begin to understand the enormous brutality.
The Koblenz court convicted this colonel in the Syrian General Intelligence Division of involvement in 27 cases of torture, rape and murder at Branch 251. It is worth noting that a German expert in identifying evidence told the court that 110 victims among the 6,786 dead in the Caesar photos appeared to be from Branch 251 based in part on the number code written on their bodies.
In 2022 not even government loyalists dispute the government’s brutality. The loyalists can only respond that the opposition and ISIS also mistreat detainees. However, the scale of murder and abuse in the government centers far exceeds the violations committed by the opposition or ISIS.
One of the problems with discussions about Syria is that too often the opposition is considered equally bad, equally responsible for the tragedy. The Koblenz trial reminds us that, in reality, the tragedy in Syria is mainly the responsibility of the Syrian government.
The United Nations Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, praised the court’s decision saying that it was a major step forward for truth, justice and reparations for the violations in Syria. One victim outside the court house told the Independent newspaper on January 13 that the court decision tells every politician and security officer in Syria who commits violations that “you cannot escape justice and you will be held accountable one day.”
No doubt President Assad, General Hossam Luka who commands the General Intelligence Division (and therefore Branch 251 among others) and other security officers in Syria heard that message clearly. They also noticed two other aspects of the case. First, the German court decided that even if Raslan did not himself torture and rape, he did not stop other security officers from abusing prisoners and thus he carried responsibility.
We also saw this principle in the Nuremburg trials of Nazi war criminals. Assad and his circle carry the responsibility under this principle. Damascus also noticed that Raslan’s defection did not prevent his receiving a sentence of life in prison. The reaction inside Damascus will be clear: to avoid accountability and prison Damascus will reject compromises or concessions such as the Caesar sanctions demand because the leaders will be more afraid of justice one day.
We should be frank and say the reality: the insistence on justice for the crimes in Syria is easy to understand and support, but this insistence makes a negotiated political solution to the war impossible.
Assad and his circle will not surrender and accept trials like Koblenz. In addition, they cannot surrender some of their lower-level officers to face trials because they would risk a revolt inside their security forces. The government’s only choice is to totally dominate the remains of Syria and evade justice. The United Nations human rights team welcomed the Koblenz decision but probably the United Nations political team under Geir Pederson recognized their job is now more difficult than ever.
Algerian President Bouteflika in 1999 issued amnesties to both security forces and Islamic armed groups, even terrorist groups, who were responsible for atrocities during the civil war there. He expanded the amnesty in 2005. It is easy to criticize Bouteflika now. Of course, he stayed too long in the President’s chair. And Western human rights organizations complain the amnesty allowed those responsible for human rights violations in the Algerian war to escape justice. They are right, but we must also acknowledge that the amnesty did help reduce the fighting in Algeria after years of murder and intense violence. It is worth noting that the Algerian army won a military victory in the war, but it demanded an amnesty to protect its officers legally afterwards.
Of course, it is impossible to imagine that the Syrian government and its security forces would ever trust an offer of immunity or respect an amnesty. Assad and his aides would never trust their fate to promises from others, not even from President Putin or Supreme Leader Khamenei. Instead, the security forces kill fighters from the armed opposition who agreed to reconciliation because the security forces fear another revolt and eventually facing justice. In the end, the Syrian government’s stubbornness and fear allow us to escape the terrible choice between demanding justice for all and accepting a negotiated political settlement that would have to include an amnesty.

Arabs and their Neighborhood…The Lines of Intersection, Overlap

Mohamed Orabi/Asharq Al Awsat/January 19/2022
The current and clear state of discrepancy between the Arabs and their neighboring countries did not suddenly emerge. It simply reflected a path that affected almost most of the interactions of the past decade and was expressed by the growing appetite of Israel, Iran, Turkey, and Ethiopia, to interfere in various ways in the scope of Arab national security as a whole, and the security of certain countries in particular.
We can describe the Iranian intervention, for example, as a rough one. While the Turkish interference was initially soft, it has gradually taken a stricter form, as we saw in Iraq, Syria, and Libya.
Here, it is necessary to point out that there is an enormous amount of intertwining and parallel and overlapping relations between the four active countries in the region, namely: Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Qatar, and the neighboring countries, including Iran, Turkey, Israel, and Ethiopia.
Because of these intersections, we can observe a direct impact from each neighboring country on the chronic problems in the Arab region. In other words, the last ten years witnessed a reshuffle of the axes of power in the region.
At the present moment, we will find that Iran and Turkey have gained influence and presence in Syria and Iraq, while Tehran’s role has increased in Lebanon and Yemen. Ankara has also been able to express its influence in Libya and Somalia and to a lesser extent in Lebanon. Not to mention the relentless attempts to influence Tunisia.
At the onset of the Arab Quartet boycott crisis, Turkey sought to appear in the position of a partner supporting Doha, and also joined Iran in efforts to influence the Hamas movement.
As for Ethiopia, it threatened the security of two Arab countries, namely: Egypt and Sudan, through the gateway to water security, and continued building the Renaissance Dam, ignoring attempts to reach a final and binding legal agreement. Addis Ababa also sought to lure Ankara and Tehran to support it against Cairo and Khartoum, leading to the subsequent consolidation of Ethiopia’s relations with Somalia and Djibouti.
On the other hand, Israel was almost experiencing strategic reassurance over the past decade, which was evident in its achievement of some gains by expanding the scope of normalization with new Arab countries, including active ones.
Only the Iranian nuclear program, about which Tel Aviv expressed its deep strategic concern, disturbed this Israeli comfort.
Returning to analyzing the nature of Iranian interference in Arab national security, we will find that within Yemen and Lebanon, such involvement poses a threat to Saudi national security and the safety of vital sea lanes. On another level, this interference can be considered a major challenge to Egyptian national security, which is threatened to the west by the direct and indirect Turkish presence in Libya, not to mention Ankara’s support for Ethiopia.
However, the end of 2021 witnessed some developments in the interaction between regional powers. We have followed the signs of Turkish flirtation to resume relations with Egypt, although it has not reached specific results yet. We also monitored an Emirati rapprochement with Turkey and Iran and developments of the new path of normalization with Israel.
Qatar was also able to assume an active role with Afghanistan and Turkey while maintaining normal relations with Iran.
Saudi Arabia, in turn, has restored, through discreet moves, the cohesion of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) system, in the face of regional and international obstacles. As for Egyptian diplomacy, it has calmly dealt with national security challenges in the four directions.
What’s Next?
Given the interdependence between Arab countries and their neighborhood, we can consider the year 2022 the foundation for the next decade, through which we can anticipate the future of the region in the coming phase.
Based on the current facts and the consequences of the repositioning of international powers engaged in the region, as well as their involvement in conflicts geographically far from the Arab and Middle Eastern spheres, I expect the appetite of the four neighboring countries to decline, in parallel with an increasing willingness of Arab actors to enter into the new decade with a more pragmatic and coherent policy. As for the reasons behind an expected decline in the appetite of regional countries for rough interventions, they are mainly due to high hopes in the implementation of an efficient joint Arab strategic action, and the mounting international pressure on neighboring countries “because each of them has a file that disturbs the international community.” Another reason is that international relations are being reformulated, which means that the current problems will no longer be a priority, as international attention will shift towards more pressing issues, such as climate change and Chinese-Western competition. Energy and water files will also emerge as a major concern of the international community. There is no doubt that stability in the region has become an urgent matter for active countries, which will push towards achieving development and cooperation for all parties. Thus, the coming year will be the beginning of turmoil and weakness in the neighboring countries, especially: Iran, Turkey, and Ethiopia. Perhaps one of the determinants of the New Year and decade is that zero-sum problems will have no place in the region. The different strategic directions will push Arab and regional actors to search for a way to exploit the intertwining and different trends, to create a new system, based on each country’s knowledge of the red lines that should not be crossed and by excluding military confrontation, whether on Arab or neighboring land, the Red Sea or the eastern Mediterranean. In conclusion, we can say that the year 2022 will bring warmer approaches, but without expanding the policy of normalization with Israel, with the expectation of some rationalization in Turkey’s policy towards the region, and the exertion of Gulf pressure on Ethiopia over the Renaissance Dam. But the turmoil in Sudan and Ethiopia itself may delay attempts to reach a final agreement on the file.
As for the Arab files of Palestine, Syria, Libya, and Yemen, they are likely to linger and not be included in the framework of the final comprehensive solution.

What do Saudi Arabia’s critics actually want?

Jonathan Gornall/The Arab Weekly/January 19/2022
According to the usual media suspects, an alliance of critics determined to seize any opportunity to undermine Saudi Arabia, the recent Red Sea International Film Festival was a “whitewash.”December’s inaugural Saudi Arabian Grand Prix and the Dakar Rally? Cynical exercises in “sportswashing.”
Likewise, the Saudi International golf tournament, to be held at King Abdullah Economic City in February. As for recent performances by the Canadian singer Justin Bieber and French DJ David Guetta, both of whom faced and resisted calls to boycott the kingdom, critics disappointingly failed to come up with a suitably snappy put-down. “Sonic-sluicing,” perhaps? Maybe not.
But here is an idea. Instead of sniping every time Saudi Arabia takes another step toward constructive engagement with the wider world, how about its critics hold fire and meet it halfway, as some of the world’s leading artists and sportspeople are doing? Saudi Arabia is in the midst of momentous change. This is, of course, exactly what its vociferous, self-righteous critics claim to be clamouring for but, ironically, cannot quite bring themselves to applaud even as it is happening. Those who criticise the kingdom for not changing fast enough, or for having the temerity to set and abide by its own laws and customs, should pause and consider not only the scale and nature of the great changes being introduced but also the history of a country that until recently was all but cut off from the wider world.
Many of the demands being made of Saudi Arabia betray a fundamental ignorance of that history and of the Islamic culture that underpins the state.
It is not the job of the Saudi leadership to pander to the cultural sensitivities of foreign critics. But, having set its heart on bringing about change, it is the leadership’s job to balance the concerns and ambitions of the different sectors of its own society.
This is no easy task. While acknowledging and responding to the hopes and expectations of its young and increasingly globalised population, Saudi Arabia, the birthplace of Islam, must also respect and manage with sensitivity the concerns of the more conservative elements of a deeply religious society, founded on the very bedrock of Islam. Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the driving force behind the momentous changes taking place in the kingdom, has spoken frankly about the dismal consequences for his country and its people of the events of 1979, the Islamic revolution in Iran and the shocking takeover by Islamic fundamentalists of the Great Mosque of Makkah.
In the face of those seismic events, the kingdom defensively reverted to a more austere interpretation of Islam and brought down the shutters.
Until then, as the crown prince told CBS News during a televised interview in 2018, “we were just normal people developing like any other country in the world ... Women were driving cars. There were movie theatres in Saudi Arabia. Women worked everywhere.”
Four decades later, Saudi Arabia is once again developing, although not like any other country in the world. A trailblazer in the era of oil, the kingdom is determined to become a leading force in the age of renewable energy and climate-change mitigation.
As set out in the Vision 2030 blueprint for the future, to make its way in a post-oil world, it is working hard to diversify its economy away from reliance on fossil fuels, a strategy that in time will benefit the entire world.
At the same time, Saudi Arabia is opening its doors to that world. A series of megaprojects, from the development of the historic site of Diriyah, to the creation on the Red Sea of the smart megacity NEOM, aims to bring tourists to the kingdom in vast numbers.
The advance guard of the visitors whose personal experiences will slowly alter the world’s perception of Saudi Arabia are the high-profile artists and sports people currently running the gauntlet of criticism to give the kingdom and its people the chance they deserve.
Take four-time Formula One champion Sebastian Vettel, who organised a karting event for women in Jeddah on the sidelines of December’s Saudi Grand Prix. “In general, we have so much focus on negative examples when it comes to shortcomings of certain countries,” he told the BBC. “If we look through a western-European lens there are a lot of things that should be improved and have to be addressed. But it’s also true some things are changing” and he added, for people such as the women who had taken part in the karting, “it makes a big difference.”
And that is the point that the pack of critics snapping at Saudi Arabia’s heels seems incapable of grasping. What kind of a country do they want Saudi Arabia to be? A closed, conservative kingdom at odds with the modern world?
Or the open, rapidly-evolving nation that is currently working to bring about change and progress, for the benefit of its largely youthful population and the world at large? Saudi Arabia is a country of more than 35 million people, half of whom are under the age of 25. Each one of them has hopes and dreams for their future and for the futures of their children. If only for their sake, surely the time has come to give Saudi Arabia a break, and the chance to show the world what it is capable of achieving.

The Houthi attack on Abu Dhabi

Khairallah Khairallah/The Arab Weekly/January 19/2022
More than anything else, the terrorist targeting of the United Arab Emirates has revealed the extent of the blow suffered by the Houthis (Ansar Allah group) in the Yemeni governorates of Shabwa and Marib.
In fact, it was a severe blow altogether to the Iranian project in Yemen. The forces of the Giants Brigade, which are mostly from Yemen’s south, were able to bring about a major change on the ground after the city of Marib itself was on the verge of falling into the hands of the Houthis, that is, into the hands of Iran. It is certain that the air force of the Arab coalition played a major role in defeating the Houthis in Shabwa and in achieving breakthroughs in the Marib governorate itself. Instead of searching for a peaceful solution for the havoc it has wreaked on Yemen, the Ansar Allah group confirmed, through its missile and drone attacks on the Mussafah Industrial Area and Abu Dhabi Airport, that it is simply bent on escalation.
Moreover, the attacks showed that it is holding on to the belief that the Iranian project in Yemen is still alive and well. The Houthis seem to think they are able to transform an area extending from Marib to the port of Hodeidah on the Red Sea, without forgetting Sana’a, into a swathe of land serving as a base for the missiles and drones of the “Islamic Republic.”
Their terrorist act is perhaps the most potent indication that the mullahs’ regime cannot change its aggressive nature. It can pretend to be moderate, here and there, such as by expressing readiness for dialogue with Saudi Arabia.
But in reality, the Iranian regime always needs to export its crises beyond its borders, including to the UAE, a peaceful country, that is looking for zero problems with all countries of the world, including Iran.
Only a few weeks ago, UAE National Security Advisor Sheikh Tahnoun bin Zayed was in Tehran. It seems clear that Tehran says something in public and does the opposite in secret.
Regionally, the targeting of the UAE is a dangerous development which has to be seen from two perspectives. The first relates to the Houthis themselves, who cannot engage in any peace project. This was confirmed by their rejection of the Saudi peace initiative of last March. That dismissal was expressed by the late Iranian High Commissioner in Sana’a, Hassan Erlo, who quickly tweeted, “The initiative of Saudi Arabia in Yemen is a project of permanent war and of war crimes, not an end to the war.” The Houthis had no choice but to obey the will of Erlo, the Iranian “Revolutionary Guard” officer.
The second perspective relates to Iran itself. In light of its upping the ante with the UAE, one realises all manoeuvres by the Islamic Republic aim to promote its expansionist project, whether in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Yemen … or in the Vienna talks.
It is unfortunate that Iran only ever provides evidence, again and again, that it cannot be a normal country among others in the region nor is it able to establish good relations with its neighbours.
The Iranian aggression against the UAE, an aggression carried out by Houthi proxies, showed that the problem with Iran is not in its nuclear programme as much as its behaviour outside its borders. That problem stems from its sectarian militias, missiles and drones.
What Iran has done in Yemen proves that all it wants is to consolidate its role as the regional hegemon, even if this is at the expense of certain Arab countries and their well-being. In Yemen, for example, one sees no other Iranian project outside Tehran’s attempt to convert part of its territory into a base for Iranian missiles and drones which are used to blackmail the countries of the region and the world.
The Houthis do not have any civilisational project which they can offer Yemen. The most dangerous manifestation of this state of affairs is the disastrous shape of education in Yemen today. Hundreds of thousands of children are on the streets. If they were ever taught anything, it was myths and slogans which do not bring food to the table. Instead of preparing these children for the future, the Houthis have plunged them into pointless wars under extremist slogans that perpetuate the culture of death.
In the end, the UAE will prove, as usual, that it is not a country that can be subjected to blackmail. The Emirates will respond in the appropriate manner, as it possesses the means of responding in Yemen where it has only done good deeds. One remembers that Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, may God have mercy on him, was behind the rebuilding of the Marib Dam, which was inaugurated in 1986, so that the Yemenis had water to remain on their land. The UAE was behind the Marib dam while Iran was behind the Marib wars, which must end some day.

Erdogan will preside over the reunification of Cyprus, whether he wants to or not

Rami Rayess/Al Arabia/January 19/2022
The recent news that Turkey is talking to Armenia to improve relations is indicative of the panic setting in for Recep Erdogan. He knows better than most that his national and regional clout is fast diminishing.
The emnity between the two nations means they currently have no diplomatic relations or open borders between them.
The situation's genesis dates back to the slaughter of thousands of Armenians by the Ottoman Turks during the First World War, and was not helped when Turkey supported Azerbaijan against Armenia during the 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
Then came the rebuff of Erdogan’s offer to assist Kazakhstan to quell civil unrest during violent public protests. Nur-Sultan instead reached out to Russia for help, and Moscow sent in a peace-keeping force.
Aside of these issues, it had been going rather well for Erdogan and Turkey for a while.
The Organization of Turkic States, comprising Turkey, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan, allows Ankara to extend its sphere of influence.
His core support has been happy with his governance, including his handling of the Kurds, but that was then. It’s becoming very different now.
The President reshuffled the country’s constitution and granted himself enormous prerogatives, making him the uncontested autocratic leader of the country. As such, the buck stops with him.
Reviving the old Ottoman dream is but one dimension of his policies. The empire once described as the sick man of Europe is becoming ill once again.
The Kremlin’s intervention in Kazakhstan was in harmony with a mandate from the Collective Security Treaty Organization, led and dominated by Moscow. The Organization is on an opposing side to the Organization of Turkic States.
Several of the members of both are the same. Nur-Sultan’s decision to request help from Moscow is a blow to Ankara and Erdogan himself.
The Central Asian Republics are in Russia’s backyard, and all have strong relationships with Moscow.
Contrary to what many might think, for Turkey to preserve whatever political influence it has left in the region, Erdogan must go.
It’s that simple. And it’s only a matter of time before this realization makes it happen.
Many point to the fact that he’s a Machiavellian street fighter who has ruled the country with an iron fist, constantly overcoming significant problems in the past.
With Turkey’s economy in freefall, the value of the Lira plummeting, and inflation soaring, it’s clear that Erdogan isn’t an outstanding economist. It’s his policies that are in play, after all.
Compare this to the economic recovery policies that helped him build his popularity over the years, and you’re left wondering if he applied a financial strategy formed elsewhere, but claimed as his own.
He waged a so-called “war of economic independence,” saying that he rejected policies that weakened Turkey. He was committed to focusing on investment, production, employment, and exports. It hasn’t worked.
Of all the woes, Erdogan faces the one that will give him sleepless nights in Cyprus.
In parallel to his regional power around his borders diminishing, in the annexed region of northern Cyprus, all is not well with the Turks.
The state, which only Ankara recognizes, is being impacted heavily by the failures of Erdogan’s economic catastrophe. Protestors have taken to the streets, calling for a detachment of Northern Cyprus’s currency away from the Turkish Lira.
The total dependence of the north of the island on Turkey’s economy has led to a situation where the proclaimed republic barely has any potential for survival. It is internationally isolated, and its only thoroughfare to the world is through Ankara.
Turkish Cypriots in a 2004 referendum favored the reunification of the divided island. It has been 38 years since the Turks invaded and proclaimed the northern part as an independent state.
In November 2021, Erdogan visited Northern Cyprus and said: “There are two peoples and two separate states in Cyprus. Talks are needed for a solution based on two separate states.” He has consistently refused a federal solution, but the island’s reunification is inevitable.
For Turkey, at the national level, repression continues and only exacerbates the severe financial crisis. At the regional level, the influence retreat is evident on several fronts. Ankara attempts now to reduce tensions with neighbors around Arabia, including Egypt and the United Arab Emirates.
From everything that’s impacting Turkey, the Cyprus situation is one that most concerns Erdogan. His 19-year rule isn’t over yet, but his legacy is inevitably going to be as the President who oversaw Cyprus’s reunification.