English LCCC Newsbulletin For Lebanese, Lebanese Related, Global News & Editorials
For September 06/2022
Compiled & Prepared by: Elias Bejjani

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Bible Quotations For today
Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven
Matthew 18/01-05: "At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, ‘Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?’ He called a child, whom he put among them, and said, ‘Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever becomes humble like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me."

Titles For The Latest English LCCC Lebanese & Lebanese Related News & Editorials published on September 05-06/2022
Report: Hoschtein to visit Paris, Israel, before arriving in Lebanon later next week
Mikati says govt. to assume president powers in event of presidential 'vacancy'
Berri says govt. formation talks hit 'dead end'
Bukhari says Taif Agreement not a 'mysterious riddle'
Dozens of Lebanese and Syrian migrants trapped at sea
Aoun Saliba says she’s not nominated for presidency
Qaouq: Hezbollah encouraging efforts to expedite govt. formation
Abi Ramia slams Geagea as 'Israeli agent' over anti-Aoun remarks
Schedule of panels for Middle East Clean Energy 2022
Lebanese MP issues urgent Italian sea-rescue plea
Mikati chairs meeting for ministerial committee following up on financial crisis impact on the public sector, receives invitation to attend...
Berri tackles economic, financial conditions with Deputy PM Chami, meets Talal Abu-Ghazaleh and Economy Ministry Director General
Lebanon, is bigger then to be swallowedظGeneral Fayez Karam/From May 12/1999 Archive/Free translation by: Elias Bejjani
One Last Chance for Lebanon: Between Nuclear Dust and Lessons from Iraq/Sam Menassa/Asharq Al Awsat/September 05/2022

Titles For The Latest English LCCC Miscellaneous Reports And News published on September 05-06/2022
Tel Aviv Maintains Intensive Campaign to Block Nuclear Deal
US B-52 Bombers Fly over Middle East amid Tensions with Iran
Magnitude 5.5 Earthquake Strikes Southern Iran Region
Iran demands closure of IAEA probes for 'sustainable' nuclear deal
Israel, US hold large-scale missile defense drill amid Iran nuclear standoff
Ukraine claims 40% of Russian military equipment is not combat-ready
Ukraine nuclear plant last working reactor switched off from the grid
Tensions Remain at War-Threatened Ukrainian Nuclear Plant
Euro Plunges to 20-Year Low after Russian Gas Halt
Russian Embassy staff among at least 6 killed in Kabul bomb attack
Liz Truss named as UK's third woman prime minister
EU chief urges new UK PM to respect 'our agreements'
No end to crisis as Iraq's PM ends second round of talks
Germany, Israel mark 50th anniversary of 1972 Olympic attack
Suicide attack at Russia embassy in Kabul kills 2 diplomats

Titles For The Latest LCCC English analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on September 05-06/2022
Turkey: What Is the Real Terrorist Threat?/Burak Bekdil/Gatestone Institute./September 05/2022
Turkish-Greek Flare Up in the Midst of War in Ukraine/Omer Onhon/Asharq Al Awsat/September 05/2022
Iran wins a battle but must lose the war for Iraq’s independence/Baria Alamuddin/Arab News/September 05/2022
Al-Sadr’s dilemma as cleric urges his followers to turn to Iran/Dr. Mohammed Al-Sulami/Arab News/September 05/2022
Ukraine aid requirements leave other crisis zones starved of funds/Ephrem Kossaify and Robert Edwards/Arab News/September 05/2022

The Latest English LCCC Lebanese & Lebanese Related News & Editorials published on September 05-06/2022
Report: Hoschtein to visit Paris, Israel, before arriving in Lebanon later next week
Naharnet/September 05/2022
U.S. mediator Amos Hochstein has notified adviser and deputy parliament speaker Elias Bou Saab that he will visit Beirut later this coming week, Lebanese President Michel Aoun’s office said. Lebanese media have speculated that both countries could soon reach an agreement in a maritime border dispute between the two countries, while Bou Saab said that most of the recent media reports are based on "speculation" and "are not accurate." Al-Akhbar newspaper reported Monday that Hochstein will head to Paris, then Israel, before visiting Lebanon with an official Israeli response to the Lebanese demands. It added that the visit will not be the last one and that more time will be needed before the deal is reached, although reaching an agreement soon is among Washington's top priorities. The daily said that France and Qatar will play a role in the demarcation negotiations, and that Qatar will replace Russia's Novatek after the latter had ended its partnership with France's Total Energies. Lebanese protesters had on Sunday sailed down the country’s coast in dozens of fishing boats and yachts toward the southern marine border town of Naqoura, carrying Lebanese flags and banners, with slogans in Arabic, French, and Hebrew expressing what they say is Lebanon’s right to its maritime oil and gas fields.

Mikati says govt. to assume president powers in event of presidential 'vacancy'
Naharnet/September 05/2022
Caretaker PM and PM-designate Najib Mikati stressed Monday that the constitution allows the caretaker cabinet to assume presidential powers in the event of a presidential void. "There is nothing called presidential vacuum but rather vacancy, and the constitution is clear in this regard. This government would assume the president's powers in the event of any presidential vacancy," Mikati added, following talks at his Beirut residence with Progressive Socialist Party leader Walid Jumblat. He added thay "all the constitutional opinions and consultations that have so far been issued have emphasized that the constitution stipulates that the powers would be transferred to the government, without specifying if it's a caretaker government or not.""The constitution is truly against vacuum and all initiatives in the presidential file are good," Mikati said. He accordingly called on parliamentary blocs to go to parliament to elect a president, stressing that the presidential vote must take place on time.

Berri says govt. formation talks hit 'dead end'
Naharnet/September 05/2022
The last meeting between President Michel Aoun and Prime Minister-designate Najib Mikati was "one of their worst meetings" and has sent the discussions "back to square one," said Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri. Berri told Asharq al-Awsat newspaper, in remarks published Monday, that based on the outcome of the last meeting between Aoun and Mikati, he has decided not to interfere in the government formation. "The consultations have hit a dead end," Berri said, as he opposed anew adding six state ministers to the new government. "In case of a presidential vacuum, every minister will act as if he were the president," Berri added.

Bukhari says Taif Agreement not a 'mysterious riddle'
Naharnet/September 05/2022
Saudi Ambassador to Lebanon Walid Bukhari on Monday tweeted about Lebanon’s 1989 Taif Agreement, which ended the country’s 15-year civil war. “The National Reconciliation Accord (Taif Agreement), which was endorsed by the Lebanese under Arab and international sponsorship, is neither an illusion nor a mysterious riddle,” Bukhari tweeted. “It is written in an articulate Arabic language,” the ambassador added. Negotiated by Lebanese lawmakers in the Saudi city of Taif, the Taif Agreement was reached to provide "the basis for the ending of the civil war and the return to political normalcy in Lebanon." Though the agreement set a timeframe for withdrawal of Syrian military forces from Lebanon, stipulating that the Syrian occupation end within two years, Syria did not withdraw its forces from the country until 2005. It was signed on 22 October 1989 and ratified by the Lebanese parliament on 5 November 1989.
The agreement came into effect with the active mediation of Saudi Arabia, discreet participation by the United States, and behind-the-scenes influence from Syria.

Dozens of Lebanese and Syrian migrants trapped at sea
Associated Press/September 05/2022
Dozens of Lebanese and Syrian migrants stranded for days on a sinking fishing boat in the Mediterranean Sea are urging European coast guards to save them, saying that two children have died. The roughly 60 migrants told relatives and volunteer groups with a satellite phone that two young children have died, and that the group has been without food, water, and baby formula for the past three days. On board are Syrian refugees and Lebanese from its severely impoverished northern provinces trying to reach Italy for job opportunities. They left Lebanon off the coast of the northern city of Tripoli about 10 days ago."They're trying to remove water leaking into the boat with buckets, that's all they have," the brother of one of the Syrian passengers told The Associated Press. He asked to not disclose their names for security reasons and because some of the migrants did not want to disclose the news to their families back home. "This fishing boat is meant for five people, not 60."Lebanon has a population of 6 million, including 1 million Syrian refugees, and has been in the grip of a severe economic meltdown since late 2019 that has pulled over three-quarters of the population into poverty. The migrants are reportedly stranded near the coasts of Malta and Italy. The authorities have not dispatched rescuers, according to families and activists in touch with the migrants. Lebanese MP Ashraf Rifi urged the Italian government, as well as the Lebanese Foreign Ministry and the Lebanese Embassy in Rome to take action. According to families and Alarm Phone, an activist network that helps bring in rescuers to distressed migrants at sea, Malta has not yet authorized a rescue operation and has not given permission to a commercial cargo ship to rescue the stranded migrants. Meanwhile, families fear the leaking boat could sink at any time.
"Whenever I call, you can hear the children screaming and crying in the background," the relative said. "I don't know why no governments have taken action to rescue them, is it because they're poor people trying to make ends meet for their families?"
Once a country that received refugees, Lebanon has become a launching pad for dangerous migration by sea to Europe. As the crisis deepened, more Lebanese, as well as Syrian and Palestinian refugees, set off to sea, with security agencies reporting foiled migration attempts almost weekly. In April, a boat carrying dozens of Lebanese, Syrians and Palestinians trying to migrate by sea to Italy went down more than five kilometers (three miles) from the port of Tripoli, following a confrontation with the Lebanese navy. Dozens were killed in the incident. The circumstances of the vessel's sinking are disputed. Survivors say their boat was rammed by the Lebanese navy, while the military claims the migrants' boat collided with a navy vessel while trying to get away. The April sinking was the greatest migrant tragedy for Lebanon in recent years and put the government further on the defensive at a time when the country is in economic free fall and public trust in the state and its institutions is rapidly crumbling.

Aoun Saliba says she’s not nominated for presidency
Naharnet/September 05/2022
MP Najat Aoun Saliba of the so-called change bloc has stressed that she is not running for president, because she respects “the will of the people” who elected her as MP. “I will perform my role to the fullest,” she added, in an interview with Radio All of Lebanon. Aoun Saliba also noted that “the change MPs bloc will communicate with all political forces in order to reach the phase of the names who enjoy the specified characteristics as part of the initiative” that has been launched by the bloc to secure the election of a reformist president. “The practical steps will begin this week,” the MP added.

Qaouq: Hezbollah encouraging efforts to expedite govt. formation
Naharnet/September 05/2022
Hezbollah is working on encouraging the efforts aimed at expediting the formation of the new government, the party’s senior official Sheikh Nabil Qaouq said on Monday. “The social and living cost crisis in Lebanon is aggravating and one of the reasons behind its worsening is the absence of a government enjoying full powers and characteristics,” Qaouq said. Hezbollah “will continue to stand by the citizens in their suffering,” the Hezbollah official added. He also noted that “as Lebanon enters the constitutional timeframe for the election of a president, it has become before a real chance to exit its crises.” “The resistance will continue despite all challenges,” Qaouq went on to say.

Abi Ramia slams Geagea as 'Israeli agent' over anti-Aoun remarks
Naharnet/September 05/2022
MP Simon Abi Ramia of the Free Patriotic Movement on Monday lashed out at Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea over the latter’s speech on Sunday in which he launched a vehement attack on President Michel Aoun’s term. “President Aoun does not need a certificate from a collaborator (or agent) with Israel in the 1980s, nor from a conspirator with the Syrian forces against the free areas in the early 1990s, nor from a subordinate to foreign dictates at all times,” Abi Ramia tweeted, referring to Geagea.Reminiscing Geagea’s courtesy towards Aoun in the wake of the Maarab Agreement, Abi Ramia charged that the LF leader “was sharpening his dagger against the General (Aoun), the same as he sharpened it against his comrades, especially the Christian ones.”

Schedule of panels for Middle East Clean Energy 2022
Naharnet/September 05/2022
Yes in Beirut this September, MIDDLE EAST CLEAN ENERGY 2022
The First Clean & Renewable Energy Trade Fair & Conference in Lebanon will be held on Sep 7 till 9 from 3 till 9 pm.
- 30 Speakers | 20 Companies | 80 Brands -
It’s really a great opportunity to meet hundreds of decision makers, Specialists and Suppliers face-to-face.
And here you are finding the schedule of panels:
On Wednesday, September 7, 2022 there are two panels:
- Panel 1: Clean Energy & Innovation
Brief: Countries can build their way to energy security by investing in the industrial capacity needed to manufacture sources of clean & renewable energy at scale.
Panelists are:
• Mr. Bahaa HARB - President of the Order of Engineers in Tripoli and the North.
• Dr. Fawaz EL OMAR - Dean of Doctoral School of Sciences and Technology, Lebanese University.
• Mr. Ibrahim MALLAH - Head of the Energy and Sustainable Development Committee at the Association of Lebanese Industrialists.
Moderator: Mr. Yasser ACCAOUI – Managing Director and Editor in Chief of Executive Magazine.
- Panel 2: Clean Energy Efficiency
Brief: Energy efficiency is one of the easiest and most cost-effective ways to combat climate change, clean the air, and save consumers and businesses money.
• Dr. Nesreen GHADDAR - Professor of Mechanical Engineering, American University of Beirut
• Dr. Ali GHANDOUR - Associate Researcher at the Lebanese National Center for Remote Sensing – CNRS
• Dr. Bassam TAKI – Energy Expert and G.M. of TAKOM Energy
Moderator: Dr. Abed Ellatif SAMHAT – Professor at the Faculty of Engineering, Lebanese University
Thursday September 8, 2022
- Panel 3: Energy Transition and Sustainability
Brief: A transformation of the global energy sector from fossil-based systems of energy production and consumption to renewable energy sources.
• Mr. Youssef GHANTOUS, Board member of the Order of Engineers Beirut
• Dr. Roger ACHKAR – General Manager Operations at Clean Energy Solution
Moderator: Dr. Joseph AL ASSAD – Dean of the School of Engineering, USEK
- Panel 4: Lebanese Clean Energy Market, Challenges & Opportunities
Brief: How Government and stakeholders action can drive private investment
• Ms. Lena DARGHAM - Director General at The Lebanese Standards Institution - LIBNOR
• Mr. Walid EL BABA - President at Lebanese Solar Energy Society
• Mr. Maroun CHARABATI – Chairman at Liban Energie (MANALCO Group)
Moderator: Mr. Philippe HAGE BOUTROS - Journalist and Manager of the Economy Page at L' Orient-Le Jour
On Friday September 9, 2022
- Panel 5: Clean Energy & Marketing Challenges
Brief: How to increase customer demand during crisis!?
• Mr. Karim EL SOUFI – Middle East and Africa Sales Manager at CW ENERJI
• Mr. Elio AZAR – Sales Manager at Ets. Georges Azar Pour Le Commerce
• Mr. Charles AL RAHI – Sales Director & BDM at Energy Experts by SAAB RDS
Moderator: Dr. Eng. Riad ASSAF – Sustainability Expert
- Panel 6: Clean Energy & Professional Development
Brief: Employee Growth & Professional Development During Crisis!
• Mr. Samir ZEHIL – founder of Wydner Coaches & Associates
• Mr. Wael MOUKAHAL – CEO at Partners & Beyond
• Mr. Nabil HASSAN – Partner and Consultant at Beyond Reform and Development
Moderator: Dr. Naji BEJJANI – MBA Professor in USJ & International Leadership Coach
Free entrance for all visitors
We look forward to seeing you in Beirut!

Lebanese MP issues urgent Italian sea-rescue plea
Arab News/September 05/2022
LONDON: A Lebanese MP has appealed to Rome to rescue 70 Lebanese migrants who were on board a boat that broke down off the coasts of Malta and Italy. Deputy Maj. Gen. Ashraf Rifi, former director of the Internal Security Forces, tweeted: “We appeal to Italy, the friendly country of Lebanon, to take the initiative to rescue 70 Lebanese migrants stuck in their primitive and disabled boat off the Maltese and Italian coasts, after they threw themselves into the sea fleeing Lebanon.” Two children have reportedly died in the waters that fall within the Maltese search-and-rescue area, according to a group of migrants who left Lebanon 10 days ago and informed the local emergency hotline. Alarm Phone, the NGO running the hotline, could not confirm the situation, but said it was “worried” about the reports, the Times of Malta reported. The migrants have been drifting in distress since the boat fell into trouble. The NGO said the migrants had no food or water left on the ship, which it added was sinking, with some migrants going overboard amid the declining situation. Alarm Phone said Malta’s government had refused to authorize a rescue operation, putting the migrants’ lives in danger. Rifi said the Lebanese government must now rely on Italy’s support to ensure the migrants are saved. “We call on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Lebanese Embassy in Rome to make quick contacts to avoid a new tragedy,” he tweeted.

Mikati chairs meeting for ministerial committee following up on financial crisis impact on the public sector, receives invitation to attend...
NNA/September 05/2022
Caretaker Prime Minister, Najib Mikati, on Monday chaired a meeting at the Grand Serail for the ministerial committee tasked with following up on the repercussion of the financial crisis on the public sector.
The meeting was attended by Caretaker Ministers of Education and Higher Education Judge Abbas Al-Halabi, Justice Judge Henry Khoury, Finance Youssef Khalil, Administrative Development Najla Riachi, Social Affairs Hector Hajjar, Industry George Boujikian, Telecommunications Minister Johnny Corm a, Interior and Municipalities Judge Bassam Mawlawi, Labor Mustafa Bayram, and Public Works and Public Works and Transportation, Ali Hamieh.
Also attending the meeting had been Director General of the Presidency of the Republic, Dr. Antoine Choucair, Secretary-General of the Council of Ministers Judge Mahmoud Makiya, Head of the Civil Service Council, Nisreen Machmouchi, Director-General of the Ministry of Finance, Georges Maarawi i, and Premier Mikati's Bureau Chief Jamal Karim
On the other hand, Caretaker PM Mikati met at the Grand Serail with Grand Jaafari Mufti Sheikh Ahmad Qabalan, who invited his host to attend the memorial ceremony to be held on Wednesday, September 7, commemorating Sheikh Abdel Amir Qabalan's death anniversary.
Moreover, Mikati received, in the presence of former Mufti of Akkar, Sheikh Zaid Bakkar Zakaria, a delegation of the Muslim Scholars Gathering, headed by Sheikh Salem Al-Rafi'i.
The PM also met with Caretaker Minister of Agriculture, Abbas Al-Hajj Hassan, over an array of agricultural matters.
Mikati later received former Minister Zeina Akar.

Berri tackles economic, financial conditions with Deputy PM Chami, meets Talal Abu-Ghazaleh and Economy Ministry Director General
NNA/September 05/2022
House Speaker, Nabih Berri, on Monday received at the Second Presidency in Ain El-Tineh, Caretaker Deputy Prime Minister, Dr. Saade Chami, with whom he discussed the current general situation, especially the economic and financial conditions.
Speaker Berri also received Chairman of Talal Abu-Ghazaleh Global, Dr. Talal Abu-Ghazaleh. This afternoon, Berri received the Director General of the Ministry of Economy and Trade, Dr. Mohammad Abou Haidar.

Lebanon, is bigger then to be swallowed
General Fayez Karam/From May 12/1999 Archive
Free translation by: Elias Bejjani

At the bottom of every Lebanese heart there are deep feelings of bitterness, disappointment, and disgust. We all dream of an independent, free, sovereign and liberated country. We know that dreaming is a healthy practice for it expresses hope, activity and righteousness. We offered precious sacrifices to save our country, and thousands gave their own lives. Sacrifice, faith and hard work are important components of the needed formula for resurrection of Lebanon.
In our disappointment, bitterness and disgust we exhibit a sincere quest for liberation and independence. Each of us expresses his feelings his own way, but all of us are striving for liberation. We endeavor to find reasons for the current occupational status imposed on us, and to explain the circumstances that led to it. We try hard to rescue the country from its stagnation, subservience and look thoroughly into our hidden dreams hoping to find the ideal means that enables us to perform our patriotic role.
We have heard a great deal of analytical, theoretical rescuing proposals from numerous politicians and ordinary citizens, suggesting different solutions. Others are practically struggling to put in place a fair, strict, democratic, patriotic and neutral regime.
One that adopts justice among the people.
One that implements laws fairly,
One that is committed to its oaths
One that is willing to abide by the constitution,
One that honors Charter of Human Rights and International Declaration of Rights.
A regime with patriotic commitment, neutrality, justice, devotion, integrity and genuine readiness to honor laws might be able to bring Lebanon back to its senses and reality. Such a regime will bring back self-peace and self-order to the Lebanese. It will restore national principles, and codes of conduct into Lebanon’s multi-cultural society.
People in general are accustomed to complain of the bitter reality and to blame others for not doing anything about it. They make others accountable for every wrongdoing and constantly wait for Godly solutions to come from heaven. Once these imaginary solutions are forced by foreigners people accept them blindly and deal with them haphazardly, no matter how they come. Our people constantly become happy with criticism, sarcasm and feel comfortable with waiting and watching attitudes.
Currently, we are at the bottom, we do not fear falling any more, we have already fell. All our current problems are an outcome of what the “Taef Accord” has imposed on us. The same country that orchestrates, financed instigated and launched the war against our people since 1975, is the same one that is occupying our country at the present time and controlling its puppet regime. The same country (Syria) is orchestrating a faked and camouflaged peace that is more dangerous then war.
The wars of others against Lebanon and its people have inflicted devastating damages on the country and took thousands of lives. Meanwhile the current fake tranquility status imposed by Syria has led to fatal damages to our people’s principles and patriotic convictions. It made them question their citizenship and its privileges. It made them wonder where do small countries like Lebanon fit in a merciless world that has proved its worst failure in face of Pragmatism, dictatorship, and evil powers at the expense of human rights, principles, justice, democracy and freedom.
Lebanon’s mercenary politicians and officials praise the Syrian dictator who appointed them, and welcome another puppet installed by the dictator to run the country as a custodian. With no shame they brag happily about their slavery acts and consider subservience and collaboration great achievements.
In the same context, journalists hail the Syrian dictators’ wisdom and shrewdness and lobby for his occupation and annexation schemes focusing on their own country, Lebanon. Meanwhile the Lebanese who are fighting for their rights, revolting against injustice, refusing ignorance, slavery, infringements and thievery are persecuted, murdered, imprisoned, sent into exile, impoverished and their voices muffled.
If evolution and progress will force people to abandon their rights and give up their dignity, we oppose strongly such a mockery equation. If fate of nations will be fantasized and decided by dictators, we will fight such fantasies and struggle strongly to erect a nation of principles, freedom and justice.
Acts of imperialism, military invasion, occupation, slavery and oppression have become history. Countries are not mere land and borders, but people with dignity, feelings, rights, self-resistance, self-respect and quest for freedom. Lebanon has been erected 6000 years ago on freedom, while neighboring countries have been always dominated by dictatorship regimes. Regimes forced on its people and foster in them spirit of submissiveness, ignorance and oppression.
Tyrants, dictators, politicians and ordinary people who deluded themselves that Lebanon can be swallowed will be disappointed. It is time for them to wake up from their sickening false believes…. Lebanon is bigger than to be swallowed.
Lebanon’s borders and horizons are those of global freedom through which the Lebanese have created their worldwide reputation and network. All though 6000 years of, Lebanese have been masters and pioneers in international trade and foreign relations. They enriched humanity with their diversified products, civilization, arts, education, courage openness, intelligence and gave the world its first Alphabet, but always remained loyal to their Lebanese roots, identity and heritage.
Our beloved people of Lebanon, friends and comrades in occupied Lebanon and Diaspora:
You have experienced pain and humiliation of invasion and occupation, do not allow suspicion to enter your hearts or the mercenary media to control your minds. Meet with each other, maintain your faith, work together, share hope and be persistent and stubborn in your quest for liberation. We want Lebanon’s legitimate representatives, MPs, Ministers, Presidents, politicians and officials, to be elected freely from you. We want representatives who are devoted, educated, honest, patriotic, believers in Lebanon’s great history, known by integrity and ready to die for our holy cause.
It is time for puppet officials and politicians, who forged our representation, forced themselves on us and committed all kinds of treason and murder to be sent to jail and charged with treason. It is time to see our country free again from occupation, oppression and puppet mercenary regimes.
It is time for the Syrian occupier who alleges to be our brother to leave our country and establish with us an authentic brotherhood relationship based on mutual respect, justice, freedom, equality and respect of human rights.
Long Live Free Lebanon

One Last Chance for Lebanon: Between Nuclear Dust and Lessons from Iraq
Sam Menassa/Asharq Al Awsat/September 05/2022
This September has brought major developments to the fore, with more pivotal events yet looming. The most significant and dangerous of them may be the outcomes of bloody turmoil and violence in the streets of Baghdad between supporters of Shiite leader Moqtada al-Sadr and his opponents in the Iran-backed Coordination Framework.
This followed a decision by the Sadrist Movement leader last Monday to "retire permanently from political life." His retirement came after a fatwa from a religious authority (Marjaa) in Iran, Kadhim al-Haeri, in which he called on Sadr's supporters to "follow" the authority of the Iranian Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei. The second major development was a Houthi attack west of the Yemeni city of Taiz, the most violent since the humanitarian truce took effect on April 2, 2022 and which has since been extended twice.
In Lebanon, however, a race is underway between two pursuits: Hezbollah's decision - as the date approaches for Israel to begin production in the Karish oil field early this month - to carry out military action if the effort to demarcate the border is unsuccessful. Karish is a cross-border field extending from Israeli waters to the disputed area between Lebanon and Israel.
The second development in Lebanon is the approaching deadline to elect a new president on October 31, amid the total collapse of constitutional institutions and confusion, chaos and loss striking all political and religious leaders in Lebanon, without exception.
What can be inferred from these developments in Iraq, Yemen and Lebanon is that a return to the nuclear agreement between Washington and Tehran, if it will take place, does not at all mean reaching understandings on non-nuclear issues; nor does it imply that Iran would desist from its usual approach to negotiations – intimidation and pressure.
Today, Iran is once again attempting to control Iraq while it is in chaos. The Houthis have undermined the truce. Hezbollah threatens war.
Meanwhile, Washington has opted to remain a mere spectator so as not to anger Iran, effectively repeating Barack Obama's policy with Bashar al-Assad when the latter used chemical weapons against his people. At the time, Washington did not lift a finger out of concern for the prospects of a nuclear agreement with Iran.As for Lebanon, it is today at a crossroads. If efforts to demarcate maritime borders with Israel succeed, there can be a period of calm for a decade (or more) between Israel and Hezbollah and its allies, consolidating Hezbollah's upper hand over the "sovereign" Christian and Muslim forces opposed to it.
The second possibility is that border demarcation fails, and this very frightening prospect would drag Lebanon into a devastating war that spares no one and in which all efforts and initiatives would crumble under the weight of tragedies, calamities and grave consequences.
In the first scenario, which is the most likely, the upcoming elections will be a reflection of the US-mediated agreements between Israel and Hezbollah. It may lead to a "forced stability" that allows for holding presidential elections in Lebanon, naming a prime minister that keeps pace with developments, and signing and following up on drilling agreements, bringing Lebanon and the Lebanese into an "Iranian Peace."
Is this scenario merely an act, or is it our irreversible fate? Is it the unfortunate outcome of the mediocrity of the entire Lebanese political class and the bizarre inaction of the Lebanese people, which contrasts sharply with the uprising of the Iraqi people and what has happened in Baghdad since October 2021?
In this comparison, a paradox emerges that needs no elaboration or commentary. The difference between the reaction of the movement of the Iraqi people, or at least the majority of its members, immediately after Sadr announced his retirement from politics could hardly be more different from the cold reaction by the Lebanese in general and the Sunnis of Lebanon in particular, to Prime Minister Saad Hariri's suspension of his political career in Lebanon and his departure from the country in what resembles voluntary exile.
The Lebanese know well that Hariri's decision does not affect the Sunnis alone and that it has repercussions for other parties and sects, as well as the capacity of the forces that describe themselves as "sovereign" to maintain a balance with the axis of Iran.
It is true that the two cases are different in many respects, that the circumstance in the two countries are not the same, and that Sadr is no Saad Hariri. Rather, the difference in the reaction between the Lebanese and the Iraqis clearly indicates a state of despair and surrender, besides the excessive and unjustified adjustment to the crisis by the Lebanese in general.
The results of the Lebanese parliamentary elections last May, which did not change the internal balance of political power, favored the opinion that change will only be meaningful if it is done from top to bottom, meaning beginning from the presidency.
The president of the republic ought to be a patriotic figure, unifying all forces and serving as the top regulator of commitments to the constitution and laws, and must stand outside of alignments in order to win the trust of all Lebanese, the Arabs, and the world.
However, appointing a president with these criteria is impossible in Lebanon today, in light of the hegemony of Iran's axis and its allies and proxies, and it does not fulfill the objective of bringing Lebanon to safer shores.
The executive authority, like the choice of its Sunni head of government, will remain in the hands of Hezbollah. It also goes without saying that the speaker of parliament, second in terms of the hierarchy of government power, is an undisputed monopoly for Hezbollah and the Amal Movement.
The issue of presidential elections has become an obsession of would-be presidents from all Lebanese political forces. Meanwhile, many remain convinced that if such elections are held in accordance with the same standards and methods, then the will of the Supreme Leader would ultimately prevail in Lebanon.
Then, and for the thousandth time, we ask: Is there any hope or space left to think outside the box and produce a patriotic reform movement supported across Lebanon?
Such a movement would have to be based on a broad Christian base that is not enthralled by the obsession and allure of Baabda Palace and a solid Sunni identity that requires a lot of work to crystallize.
At this stage, there is no harm in Shiites being absent from this consensus for reasons known to all. However, we must always remain in the knowledge that it will undoubtedly find tacit acceptance from Shiites in Lebanon, even if it requires time and patience to be expressed.
Let us assume that this step succeeds after more than 14 years of failure since Hezbollah's invasion of Beirut in 2008. Do we actually have patriotic forces that believe in what was just said? Can they impose themselves politically and obtain significant cabinet positions, serve as an example of good governance, and create a comprehensive national political dynamic beyond theorizing?
Can it work to confront corruption and the confiscation of decision-making, reverse Lebanon’s isolation from the Arab world, and adopt openness to the Gulf as a political and economic strategy, not merely as means to ensure their personal interests? Lebanon will not rise without the presence, will and support of Arabs, who are, in this sense, the main artery of Lebanon and its bridge to the world.
This rosy and optimistic scenario is perhaps the most plausible outcome we can hope for, and an expression of "living with the reality" rather than coexistence among the Lebanese, which almost succeeded once but then left and never returned.
The lesson from developments in Iraq, whatever their outcomes, relates to the consequences of Iran's policy in the region: the penetration of institutions, communities and sects, and finally, dividing adherents of the same sect, an experience that Lebanon has suffered and continues to suffer from.
On the other hand, "nuclear dust" obscures America's view of the real dangers, which threaten to extend and renew crises and conflicts.

The Latest English LCCC Miscellaneous Reports And News published on September 05-06/2022
Tel Aviv Maintains Intensive Campaign to Block Nuclear Deal
London - Asharq Al-Awsat/Monday, 5 September, 2022
Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid announced that his country was conducting an intensive campaign to prevent the signing of a “dangerous nuclear agreement” between Iran and major powers. Addressing a cabinet meeting on Sunday, Lapid announced that the director of the Mossad, David Barnea, would head to Washington on Monday to hold a series of meetings aimed at presenting Israel’s position to the US administration about the risks that lie within a nuclear agreement with Iran. Barnea will be the third Israeli official to visit the US capital in two weeks, after Defense Minister Benny Gantz and National Security Adviser Eyal Holata. Lapid had a telephone conversation with US President Joe Biden, on Wednesday, about negotiations on the Iranian nuclear program. In a statement, the premier’s office said that the two officials spoke at length about negotiations on a nuclear agreement, and shared commitment to preventing Iran’s progress toward acquiring a nuclear weapon. Israel is particularly concerned that lifting economic sanctions on Iran, as part of an agreement on its nuclear program, will allow it to increase its support for regional proxies such as Hezbollah in Lebanon, Hamas in Gaza and pro-Iranian armed factions in Syria or Yemen. In remarks last month, the Israeli premier said that the new version of the nuclear deal would give Iran $100 billion annually, which would be used by Iranian-backed armed groups. Israel has repeatedly declared its opposition to efforts to revive the nuclear deal. It reserved the right to take military action to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. Tehran, which has continually denied its desire to develop nuclear arms, has warned of a “crushing” response to any Israeli attack. US Boeing said on Friday, that the Israeli army would receive in the next few years four advanced Boeing KC-46A air refueling aircraft in a contract worth $927 million, which would be financed through US aid to Israel. The military aircraft is designed to transport equipment and to refuel by air, and is described by the manufacturer as the most advanced in the world. Israeli media reported that the army requested delivery of the planes in a shorter period, and that it might use them in case of an attack against Iran. Meanwhile, Israeli Haaretz reported that Israeli officials continue to use many tactics in an attempt to disrupt the nuclear agreement, adding that they were not sure whether Tehran’s request to end the International Atomic Energy Agency’s probes “could lead to the collapse of negotiations.”An official told the newspaper that although the agreement appeared to be dying, the announcement of its death was still a long way off. “There are many parties interested in this agreement, and they will try to revive it in the coming period,” Haaretz quoted the official as saying. Another official said that the negotiations “may be postponed until after the midterm elections of the US Congress in November.” Israeli sources said that postponing the agreement until the midterm elections “is in Israel’s interest,” noting that the Republicans’ victory with a large majority in Congress would complicate the US president’s task to obtain the needed support to pass and ratify the agreement.

US B-52 Bombers Fly over Middle East amid Tensions with Iran
Asharq Al-Awsat/Monday, 5 September, 2022
The United States military said Monday it flew a pair of nuclear-capable B-52 long-distance bombers over the Middle East in a show of force, the latest such mission in the region as tensions remain high between Washington and Tehran.
The bombers took off from the Royal Air Force base at Fairford, England, and flew over the eastern Mediterranean, the Arabian Peninsula and the Red Sea on Sunday in training missions together with Kuwaiti and Saudi warplanes, before departing the region. “Threats to the US and our partners will not go unanswered,” Lt. Gen. Alexus Grynkewich, the top US Air Force officer in the Middle East said in a statement. “Missions like this ... showcase our ability to combine forces to deter and, if necessary, defeat our adversaries.” Although the US military’s Central Command did not mention Iran, Washington has frequently dispatched B-52 bombers to the region as hostilities simmered between the US and Iran. The last such flyover was in June. Iran's regional foe, Israel, also joined in the multinational mission. Though unacknowledged by the US, three Israeli F-16 fighter jets accompanied the American bombers “through Israel’s skies on their way to the Gulf,” the Israeli military said, describing the country's cooperation with the US military as key to “maintaining aerial security in Israel and the Middle East.” Central Command was expanded last year to include Israel, a move seen to encourage regional cooperation against Iran under former President Donald Trump. Trump's decision four years ago to withdraw the US from Tehran's landmark nuclear deal with world powers sparked a series of escalating incidents in the region. Even as diplomats now wrangle over a possible revival of the nuclear accord, Iran’s navy seized two American sea drones in the Red Sea last week. That capture came just days after the country's paramilitary Revolutionary Guard towed another sea drone before releasing it as an American warship trailed it. The US Navy has been deploying ultra-endurance aerial surveillance drones to monitor threats in the crucial waterways, which have witnessed repeated maritime attacks. Tensions also remain high after recent confrontations between US forces and Iranian-backed militias in the region. Washington last month carried out airstrikes in eastern Syria that targeted areas used by militias backed by Iran's Revolutionary Guard, prompting a response from Iranian-backed fighters. US and Iranian negotiators in Vienna have been attempting to revive the 2015 nuclear deal, which imposed sharp limits on Iran's atomic program in exchange for international sanctions relief. Last week, the State Department described Iran's latest negotiating position as “not constructive.”Meanwhile, Iran now enriches uranium up to 60% purity — a level it never reached before that is a short, technical step away from 90%. While Iran long has maintained its program is peaceful, nonproliferation experts warn Tehran has enough 60%-enriched uranium to reprocess into fuel for at least one nuclear bomb.

Magnitude 5.5 Earthquake Strikes Southern Iran Region

Asharq Al-Awsat/Monday, 5 September, 2022
A magnitude 5.5 earthquake struck southern Iran on Monday, the European-Mediterranean Seismological Center (EMSC) said. The quake was at a depth of 10 km (6.21 miles), EMSC said. Iranian state TV said rescue teams had been sent to the area but there were no immediate reports of fatalities or damage. Major geological fault lines crisscross Iran, which has suffered several devastating earthquakes in recent years.

Iran demands closure of IAEA probes for 'sustainable' nuclear deal
Reuters/September 05/2022
Iran's demand risks hurting the chances of saving the deal because Washington has rejected linking it to the agency's investigation. Iran is seeking the closure of the UN nuclear agency's investigation of its nuclear activities among other guarantees, in order to revive the country's 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, a senior Iranian official said on Monday. "An end to the agency's probes is part of the guarantees that we are seeking to have a sustainable and durable nuclear agreement," Iranian foreign ministry spokesperson Nasser Kanaani told a televised news conference.
"An end to the agency's probes is part of the guarantees that we are seeking to have a sustainable and durable nuclear agreement."Iranian foreign ministry spokesperson Nasser Kanaani. Last week, Iran sent its latest response to an EU-drafted text aimed at overcoming an impasse to revive the nuclear pact, under which it had restrained its nuclear program in exchange for relief from US, EU and UN economic sanctions. Iran's demand risks hurting the chances of saving the deal because Washington has rejected linking it to the agency's investigation. After months of indirect talks between Tehran and Washington, the nuclear deal appeared near revival in March. But negotiations broke down over several issues, including Tehran's insistence that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) close its probes into uranium traces found at three undeclared sites before the nuclear pact is revived.

Israel, US hold large-scale missile defense drill amid Iran nuclear standoff
Jerusalem Post/September 05/2022
US and Israel have signed agreement that would see US come to assist Israel with missile defense in times of war.
As Iran continues its race toward nuclear power, the Israel Missile Defense Organization (IMDO) held a joint simulation training exercise focused on protecting the State of Israel from ballistic threats along with the US Missile Defense Agency (MDA), the Israeli Air Defense Command, and the US Air and Missile Defense Task Force. The drill took place in late July at the Israeli Test-Bed (ITB) battle lab, developed by Elisra (a subsidiary of Elbit Systems). The ITB can simulate both Israeli and American air defense systems and can display and record real-time data to assist in debriefings.
During the simulation training exercise, the Israeli forces operated the Arrow, David’s Sling, and Iron Dome air defense systems. The American forces operated the Patriot, Aegis, and THAAD systems.
“The joint simulation training exercise continues the tradition of excellent cooperation between the countries' armed forces in order to improve the soldiers’ competency level for tactics, techniques, and procedures and strengthen coordination between the forces.”
Washington and Israel have signed an agreement that would see the US come to assist Israel with missile defense in times of war and the two militaries have held numerous joint air defense in recent years.
“This exercise represents another step in our extensive cooperation with the American air and missile defense forces,” said Moshe Patel, Head of the IMDO. “The combination of the different systems significantly improves our forces’ readiness to face evolving threats on several fronts simultaneously. The battle lab, which was developed at Elbit Systems by the IMDO and the MDA over the past thirty years, is constantly adapting to meet the challenges posed by our dynamic arena."
While the defense establishment contends that the drills are part of scheduled exercises and are not related to the high tensions with Iran, the threat posed by Iran including its nuclear and ballistic missile program is the number one priority for the IDF.
Why is Iran the number one priority for the IDF? Iran, which possesses over 1,000 short- and medium-range ballistic missiles, continues to smuggle weapons to countries and non-state actors such as Hezbollah which is assessed to have an arsenal of between some 50,000 missiles on Israel’s northern border. Defense Minister Benny Gantz applauded the successful drill and ongoing progress in Israel’s air defense capabilities. Gantz, who recently returned from a trip to Washington and CENTCOM headquarters in Florida, said that "the relationship between Israel and the US continues to grow stronger in the face of the region’s increasing threats and challenges, in order to maintain our security and regional stability.”Israel moved from US European Command (EUCOM) to CENTCOM in September of last year, a move that not only simplifies the cooperation with American troops in the region but can also create the potential for a regional coalition with Arab countries that have normalized ties with Israel against shared threats posed by Iran. “I welcome the new cooperation between CENTCOM and IDF forces,” Gantz said, adding that by “combining forces, sharing knowledge, and strengthening the air defense of the Middle East is a message to our enemies and to our partners - we are strong together, and we are ready to stand together against any challenge - from the air, land, sea, and the cyber arena."“The exercise was deemed very successful and constitutes an important tool to improve our readiness processes and the IDF Central Command’s transition to joint activity with CENTCOM on both strategic and operational levels,” he said, adding that “the strategic cooperation between forces is a significant component for maintaining and improving defense capabilities in the face of shared threats.”

Ukraine claims 40% of Russian military equipment is not combat-ready

Jerusalem Post/September 05/2022
A representative of Ukraine's Defense Ministry claimed that it would take until November for Russia to replace war-weary troops with freshly-trained specialists. 40% of the equipment used by Russian forces in Ukraine is not combat-ready, requiring extensive repairs, Vadym Skibitskyi, a representative of Ukraine's Defense Ministry claimed on Saturday. "All the latest equipment was in the arsenal of those battalion-tactical groups that entered our territory in February-March," Skibitskyi said. "Now we see that all units being formed are equipped with Soviet-style weapons, which are removed from storage bases and arsenals and given to the troops."Skibitskyi said that it would take until November for Russia to replace war-weary troops with freshly-trained specialists. Ukraine has claimed that Russia's armed forces are scrambling to produce new military equipment as the country faces heavy losses in its ongoing invasion of Ukraine. The Jerusalem Post reported in March that attempts by Russia to replenish troops and material have been hampered by corruption and international sanctions against the country. Ukraine's Main Intelligence Directorate (GUR) said that based on its assessments, components and electronics had been stolen from Russian vehicles, claiming that many tanks from Russia's 4th Tank Division had been "completely dismantled."Furthermore, the GUR claimed, Russia has depended upon imported modern military equipment and electronics and sanctions have limited its supply of these items while driving up costs.
*Michael Starr contributed to this report.

Ukraine nuclear plant last working reactor switched off from the grid
Agence France Presse/Monday, 5 September, 2022
Ukraine's embattled Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant's last working reactor has been switched off from the grid after the facility was disconnected from its last remaining power line due to shelling, Ukraine's power plants operator said Monday.
"Power unit (reactor) No. 6 was shut down and disconnected from the grid" because of a fire that was "triggered because of shelling" according to an Energoatom statement.

Tensions Remain at War-Threatened Ukrainian Nuclear Plant
Asharq Al-Awsat/Monday, 5 September, 2022
Tension still gripped Europe’s largest nuclear plant Monday, a day before UN inspectors were due to report on their efforts to avert a potential disaster at the Ukrainian site that has been engulfed by Russia’s war on its neighbor. The Russian military accused Ukrainian forces of staging “provocations” at the Zaporizhzhia plant, which lies within a Russian-installed administrative area. Russia’s Defense Ministry claimed that Kyiv’s forces on Sunday targeted the territory of the plant with a drone, which it said Russian troops were able to shoot down. The ministry said Ukrainian troops also shelled the adjacent city of Enerhodar twice overnight. The two sides have traded accusations about endangering the plant, which the Kremlin’s forces have held since early March. The plant’s Ukrainian staff continue to operate it. In a perilous mission, experts with the International Atomic Energy Agency traveled through the war zone to reach the plant last week. Four of six UN nuclear agency inspectors have completed their work and left the site, Energoatom, Ukraine’s state nuclear power plant operator, said Monday. Two of the experts are expected to stay at the plant on a permanent basis, Energoatom said. The UN inspectors are scheduled to brief the Security Council on Tuesday about what they found out on their visit. The plant is largely crippled, amid a grinding war that has clobbered energy markets. A prominent Ukrainian nuclear expert said Monday that only a demilitarized zone of at least 10 kilometers (6 miles) around the plant could ensure its safety. Hryhoriy Plachkov, Ukraine’s former head of nuclear inspections, said he also feared for the morale and mental state of his countrymen working there. Elsewhere, the fighting raged on for a seventh month, with Ukraine’s presidential office saying Monday at least four civilians were killed and seven others were wounded by Russian shelling in the previous 24 hours across several regions of Ukraine. Most of the casualties were in the eastern Donetsk region, where three people were killed and four were wounded. A large chunk of Donetsk is held by Russian-allied separatists. In the Kharkiv region, further north, three people were wounded when a rocket hit a residential building, the president’s office said. Russian shells struck more than a dozen residential buildings along with a school, cafes and stores, Ukraine said. Meanwhile, a counteroffensive by Ukrainian forces “is making verifiable progress in the south and the east” of the country, the Washington-based Institute for the Study of War said. “The pace of the counteroffensive will likely change dramatically from day to day as Ukrainian forces work to starve the Russians of necessary supplies, disrupt their command and control, and weaken their morale even as counteroffensive ground assaults continue,” the institute said late Sunday. It predicted that Russian forces will launch “fierce artillery and air attacks” against the advancing Ukrainian troops and on any areas they liberate. Amid increased Ukrainian strikes on the occupied Kherson region, Russian-installed authorities there said that for security reasons they were putting on hold their plans for a local referendum on whether the region should formally become part of Russia.

Euro Plunges to 20-Year Low after Russian Gas Halt
Asharq Al-Awsat/Monday, 5 September, 2022
The euro sank to a new 20-year low on Monday and below $0.99 after Russia's halt to gas supplies down its main pipeline to Europe heightened fears about a deepening energy crisis across the region. The euro has been increasingly correlated with natural gas prices in recent months, with the former falling when prices of the energy source rise. Europe is scrambling to wean itself off Russian supplies and build up reserves before the cold winter months, but investors reckon the hit to its economy will be huge. Russia scrapped a Saturday deadline for flows down the Nord Stream pipeline to resume, citing an oil leak in a turbine. It coincided with the Group of Seven finance ministers announcing a price cap on Russian oil. The euro slid to $0.9876 in early European trade, the lowest level since 2002, while sterling -- with the British economy also vulnerable to rising gas prices -- dropped half a percent to a new 2-1/2 year low of $1.1444. "Gas flows have been curtailed even more than expected and we have already seen evidence of demand destruction weighing on activity," said Michael Cahill, a strategist at Goldman Sachs. "We now expect the Euro to fall further below parity ($0.97) and remain around that level for the next six months," he added. In what is a huge week for the euro, investors are also preparing for the European Central Bank meeting on Thursday and markets have priced a near 80% chance of a supersized 75 basis point (bp) interest rate hike.
ECB officials will be keen to see the euro, which has lost around 8% of its value in the past three months, stabilize. That will feed into the desire to try and tame inflation through tightening policy. Other currencies that tend to perform badly when market confidence is shaken also fell on Monday. The risk-sensitive Australian dollar slid 0.5% and was near a seven-week low at $0.6774. The dollar's appeal as the go-to currency this year helped it to rise even against safe-haven currencies. The Japanese yen, down at 140.35 per dollar, was under pressure near a 24-year low. "The first order effect seems to be that the heightened geopolitical risk and consequent adverse global demand shocks will probably be the effects dominating," said Vishnu Varathan, head of economics and strategy at Mizuho Bank in Singapore. "The adverse demand shocks in a very unsavory geopolitical environment are probably going to trigger, and reflect, safe demand for the US dollar ... the European currencies are perhaps going to be the worst hit and on the back foot. The offshore yuan fell to a new two-year low, with the dollar gaining 0.4% to 6.9543 per dollar, as worries linger over COVID-19 lockdown measures in the country. China's southern tech hub of Shenzhen said it would adopt tiered anti-virus restriction measures beginning on Monday, while Chengdu announced an extension of lockdown curbs, as the country grapples with fresh outbreaks.

Russian Embassy staff among at least 6 killed in Kabul bomb attack
Modaser Islami/Reuterrs/September 05, 2022
KABUL: An explosion outside the Russian Embassy in Kabul killed at least six people, including two staff from the diplomatic mission, and injured several others, police in the Afghan capital said on Monday. The blast went off at around 11 a.m. as the attacker was shot dead by security forces approaching the entrance of the embassy’s consular section, in one of the first such attacks since the Taliban took power last year. “A suicide bomber wanted to detonate himself in the crowd near the Russian Embassy,” Khalid Zadran, the Taliban’s Kabul police spokesperson, said in a statement.
“But before reaching his goal, the security forces targeted him, which caused the explosion.”Police have since cleared the area and launched a “comprehensive investigation,” into the attack. At least four civilians and two embassy staff were killed in the blast, Zadran has confirmed. The explosion occurred as dozens of people were lining up in front of the embassy, according to eyewitnesses’ accounts. “I just reached the area when I heard a very powerful sound of explosion,” Abdul Ghafar, a high school student in Kabul, told Arab News. “I saw several bodies on the street,” he said, adding that he had seen at least 20 killed and injured at the scene. Mohammad Javed, who was working at a shop located near the embassy when the blast happened, said there had been around 60 people queuing near the mission. “For a few moments there was just smoke, and then we saw several bodies on the ground,” Javed told Arab News. The Russian Foreign Ministry, which confirmed the killing of at least two of their employees in Kabul, said officials from Moscow are “in close contact with Afghanistan’s security services” following Monday’s attacks. Russia is one of the few countries which have maintained an embassy in Kabul after the Taliban returned to power over a year ago. During the US-led occupation of Afghanistan, bombings targeting foreign missions had occurred several times in Kabul, leading to embassies and hotels fortifying their properties with razor wire and blast walls. But the incidents have decreased dramatically since last year, as Afghanistan has seen improved security across the country, although several attacks — some claimed by the Daesh — have taken place targeting the Taliban and public places, including mosques. No group has claimed responsibility for Monday’s blast as of publication time. The Afghan Foreign Ministry in a statement said it “strongly condemns” the incident, as it expressed condolences to the Russian government and people, as well as families of the victims. “Our security agencies have started a comprehensive investigation regarding the incident and will take serious steps for the security of the embassy so that such potential threats do not hinder the work of the embassy,” Abdul Qahar Balkhi, spokesperson of the Afghan foreign ministry, said.

Liz Truss named as UK's third woman prime minister
Associated Press
/September 05, 2022
Britain's Conservative party Monday announced Liz Truss as its new leader to succeed Prime Minister Boris Johnson and confront Britain's deepest economic crisis in decades. The foreign secretary comfortably beat her rival, former finance minister Rishi Sunak, by about 57 to 43 percent after a grueling summer-long contest decided by just over 170,000 Conservative members -- a tiny sliver of Britain's electorate. In a short victory speech at the announcement in a central London convention hall, Truss said it was an "honor" to be elected after undergoing "one of the longest job interviews in history". "I campaigned as a Conservative, and I will govern as a Conservative," she said, touting Tory values of low taxes and personal responsibility. Truss vowed a "bold plan" to address tax cuts and the energy crisis. Details are expected in the coming days. Truss, 47, will be only the UK's third female prime minister following Theresa May and Margaret Thatcher. She will formally take office on Tuesday, after Johnson tenders his resignation to Queen Elizabeth II. The leadership contest began in July after Johnson announced his departure following a slew of scandals and resignations from his government, including Sunak's. Truss reserved a portion of her short speech to praising Johnson's record, including on Brexit and the Covid pandemic, and said he was "admired from Kyiv to Carlisle". That won warm applause from the Tory faithful present. However, the right-wing ideologue faces a tough task in winning over public opinion. A YouGov poll in late August found 52 percent thought Truss would make a "poor" or "terrible" prime minister. Forty-three percent said they did not trust her "at all" to deal with the burning issue of the rise in the cost of living, as energy prices and inflation generally rocket amid Russia's war in Ukraine.
'Worst in-tray'
The Tory winner faces "the worst in-tray for a new prime minister since Thatcher", The Sunday Times wrote. Millions say that with energy bills set to rise by 80 percent from October -- and even higher from January -- they face a painful choice between eating and heating this winter, according to surveys. The Times and Daily Telegraph newspapers reported Monday that Truss was considering freezing energy bills for consumers, with the government reimbursing suppliers. But polls show public support for an early general election, and the Conservatives face a growing challenge to retain their 12-year grip on power with the opposition Labor party riding high. Truss became foreign minister a year ago after holding a series of ministerial posts in departments including education, international trade and justice. She began her political journey as a teenage member of the centrist Liberal Democrats before switching to the Conservatives. In 2016, she campaigned for the UK to remain in the European Union but switched allegiance when Britons backed Brexit. Her love of photo opportunities and style of dress -- posing in a tank in Estonia and wearing a fur hat in Moscow -- have earned her comparisons to Tory icon Thatcher.
Her sometimes stiff style has become visibly more relaxed and allies have sought to soften her image, revealing her love of karaoke and socializing.
Storm clouds
The announcement Monday by Conservative officials set in motion a chain of events. For the first time in her 70-year reign, the 96-year-old monarch will appoint the prime minister at her Scottish retreat, Balmoral, rather than at Buckingham Palace in London. The queen has been suffering mobility problems, and has cancelled a number of public engagements. On Tuesday morning, Johnson will deliver a farewell speech at Downing Street before flying to Scotland -- where heavy rain is forecast -- to hand his resignation to the queen. Truss is expected to fly separately to accept the queen's invitation to form a new government, to ensure continuity of government in case of any mishaps. On her return to Downing Street, the new prime minister will then give a short address to the nation. By tradition, that happens on the steps of Number 10. But it may have to be moved indoors with forecasts for thundery downpours, matching Britain's dismal outlook as the Truss government starts life.

EU chief urges new UK PM to respect 'our agreements'
Agence France Presse/September 05, 2022
EU chief Ursula von der Leyen congratulated Liz Truss on being named Britain's next prime minister Monday, but said London and Brussels must work "in full respect of our agreements." Truss, the outgoing British foreign minister, has warned that she will push ahead to pass proposed UK legislation to tear up part of Britain's Brexit deal with the European Union. "The EU and the UK are partners. We face many challenges together, from climate change to Russia's invasion of Ukraine," von der Leyen said, in a congratulatory tweet. "I look forward to a constructive relationship, in full respect of our agreements," she added, in what will be seen as a reference to the Northern Ireland Protocol.This clause, part of the agreement under which Britain left the European Union, retains the British province of Northern Ireland inside the EU customs zone and single market. This was intended to prevent the return of a trade border between the north and Ireland, which remains an EU member, and was signed and approved by Truss's outgoing predecessor Boris Johnson. But some in Northern Ireland argue that the protocol weakens their link to the UK, and Truss supports legislation progressing through the London parliament to unilaterally dump it. Brussels has already begun legal action attacking Britain for failure to respect parts of the withdrawal deal, and warned that ditching the protocol could torpedo the whole agreement. Undaunted by talk of a trade war with the EU, Truss said in mid-August she was "absolutely determined" to ram the bill through in the weeks ahead. She is due to take office on Tuesday.

No end to crisis as Iraq's PM ends second round of talks
Associated Press/September 05, 2022
Iraq's caretaker prime minister convened a second round of talks Monday with Iraqi leaders aimed at resolving the ongoing political crisis between rival Shiite blocs, but the representatives of an influential cleric failed once again to attend the gathering. The seat reserved for Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr's party was empty as Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi met with al-Sadr's chief political rivals in the Iran-backed camp, as well as President Barham Salih and U.N. representative Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert. Al-Sadr's continued absence from the talks will likely render futile al-Kadhimi's efforts to broker a solution to Iraq's 11-month crisis. The participants "renewed the invitation" to al-Sadr's camp "to participate" in the meetings, according to a statement from al-Kadhimi's office. The participants agreed to form a technical committee to develop a road map to find common ground and hold early elections. Al-Sadr and his political rivals, the Iran-backed Shiite groups, have been at odds since after last year's parliamentary elections. Al-Sadr won the largest share of seats in the October vote but failed to form a majority government. He has demanded early elections and the dissolution of parliament. His Iran-backed rivals in the Coordination Framework, an alliance of mostly Shiite parties, agree in principle to holding early polls but disagree on the mechanism. Al-Sadr is demanding that the judiciary dissolve the legislature but his rivals are insisting the parliament should convene to do this. They are also at odds over the current electoral law that would govern the polls and which the Coordination Framework wants amended. Al-Kadhimi, who held a first round of talks on Aug. 17, has threatened to resign if political blocs fail to find a resolution, which would deepen the crisis. Iraq's caretaker finance minister resigned last month. Al-Sadr's loyalists clashed with Iraqi security forces last week after earlier protests by his supporters turned deadly in Iraq's heavily fortified Green Zone, the seat of the government. At least 30 Iraqis died and over 400 were wounded in the fighting which brought Iraq to the brink of street warfare. The hostilities came to an abrupt halt when al-Sadr commanded his loyalists to withdraw. Al-Sadr's supporters stormed the parliament building on July 30 to prevent his rivals from forming a government. The government formation process has been stalled ever since.

Germany, Israel mark 50th anniversary of 1972 Olympic attack
Associated Press/September 05, 2022
The German and Israeli presidents are to join relatives of the 11 Israeli athletes killed in the attack by Palestinian militants on the 1972 Munich Olympics to mark the 50th anniversary on Monday, days after an agreement that ended a long dispute over compensation. Monday's ceremony takes place at the Fuerstenfeldbruck airfield outside Munich, the scene of a botched rescue attempt in which nine of the Israeli athletes, a West German police officer and five of the assailants were killed. Last week's agreement headed off a threatened boycott of the anniversary event by relatives of the slain athletes. They will receive a total of 28 million euros (dollars) in compensation, a significant increase from the initial 10 million-euro offer. As part of the agreement, Germany has agreed to acknowledge failures by authorities at the time and to allow German and Israeli historians to review the events surrounding the attack. Relatives have accused Germany of failing to secure the Olympic Village, refusing Israeli help and then botching the rescue operation. The day-long drama started unfolding before dawn on Sept. 5, 1972, when eight members of a Palestinian group called Black September clambered over the unguarded fence of the Olympic village. They burst into the building where the Israeli team was staying, killing wrestling coach Moshe Weinberg and weightlifter Yossi Romano. Some Israeli athletes managed to escape but nine were seized. The captors demanded the release of more than 200 Palestinians held by Israel and two German left-wing extremists in West German prisons. The attackers demanded a plane and safe passage to Cairo. After a day of tense negotiations, the assailants and their hostages were allowed to leave aboard two helicopters for Fuerstenfeldbruck.
Sharpshooters at the airfield opened fire. The attackers threw a grenade into one of the helicopters carrying hostages, which exploded, and shot the hostages in the other helicopter. The compensation settlement includes payments already made. Immediately after the attack, Germany made payments to relatives of the victims amounting to about 4.19 million marks (about 2 million euros or dollars), according to the country's interior ministry. In 2002, the surviving relatives received an additional 3 million euros, Germany's dpa news agency reported.

Suicide attack at Russia embassy in Kabul kills 2 diplomats
Associated Press/September 05, 2022
A suicide bombing outside the Russian Embassy in the Afghan capital Kabul on Monday killed two members of the embassy staff and at least one Afghan civilian in a rare attack on a foreign diplomatic mission in Afghanistan.
The blast went off at the entrance to the embassy's consular section, where Afghans were waiting for news about their visas, according to the Russian Foreign Ministry and the state news agency RIA Novosti. A Russian diplomat had emerged from the building to call out the names of candidates for visas when the explosion occurred, the agency said. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the blast, the latest in a series of bombings and other attacks since the Taliban seized power a year ago, deposing a Western-backed government and capping their 20-year insurgency.
Monday's bombing, however, appeared to the first to target a foreign diplomatic mission in Kabul since the Taliban takeover. The campaign of attacks has largely targeted Taliban positions or mosques of minority groups, particularly Shiites. They have largely been blamed on the Islamic State group's affiliate in Afghanistan, which opposes the Taliban and harbors a virulent hatred of Shiites, considering them heretics. It was not immediately clear why militants targeted the Russian Embassy in particular.
The Russian mission is one of only a couple of international missions still operating and performing consular services in Kabul — and the only European one. Most nations closed their embassies when the Taliban captured Kabul in August 2021 as the U.S. and NATO withdrew their troops. No country has recognized the Taliban government. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov called the explosion "a terrorist act, absolutely unacceptable."Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said the embassy enhanced its security after the attack and additional Taliban authorities, including intelligence agents, were brought in. "Let's hope that the organizers of this terrorist act and its perpetrators will be punished," Lavrov said. The Russian Foreign Ministry said an unknown militant set off an explosive device right outside the consular section's entrance. It said two members of the diplomatic mission were killed, "and there are also casualties among Afghan citizens." Kabul police spokesman Khalid Zadran said at least one Afghan civilian was killed and 10 others wounded. Zadran said security forces saw and shot the suicide bomber before he could get closer to the crowd outside the embassy. It was not immediately clear if the attacker was able to set off the blast before being shot, or if the gunfire detonated the explosives. Attacks on embassies were rare even during the two-decade war between the Taliban and the Western-backed government. In 2017, the Taliban set off a massive truck bomb in a district where many government buildings and embassies were located, killing more than 90 Afghans and heavily damaging the nearby German Embassy. In 2015, a Taliban car bomb went off by the Spanish Embassy, killing a security guard. Russian President Vladimir Putin said in late June that Russia is trying to build relations with the Taliban and that Russia wants to see all the ethnic groups in Afghanistan take part in running the country. Although Moscow has designated the Taliban as a terrorist group, the Taliban have representation in Russia and a delegation attended the recent St. Petersburg International Economic Forum.

The Latest LCCC English analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on September 05-06/2022
Turkey: What Is the Real Terrorist Threat?
Burak Bekdil/Gatestone Institute./September 05/2022
Erdoğan said that Turkey would freeze Finland and Sweden's NATO membership bids if the Nordic countries do not come into line with Turkey's "fight against terrorist organizations."
That might be a tough task for Finland and Sweden. In 2019, Erdoğan notoriously called half of Turks (those who do not vote for him) terrorists. The same year, Erdoğan declared the pro-Kurdish People's Democracy Party a terrorist entity. In parliamentary elections in June 2015, that party won 13% of the national vote and 80 seats in the Turkish parliament. Nevertheless, in 2021, Erdoğan stated that the students who peacefully protested his appointment of a rector to Boğaziçi University were "terrorists."
If Sweden and Finland do not fight wholeheartedly everyone Erdoğan deems a terrorist, does that mean he will veto their membership?
Kavala was acquitted on all charges but, as Erdoğan publicly insists that he is a "traitor," he was not released from prison. Upon his acquittal, a prosecutor instantly produced a new indictment against him.
The West should tell Erdoğan it is ISIS, not men like Kavala, that is the terror threat to civilization.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said that Turkey would freeze Finland and Sweden's NATO membership bids if the Nordic countries do not come into line with Turkey's "fight against terrorist organizations." That might be a tough task for Finland and Sweden. In 2019, Erdoğan notoriously called half of Turks (those who do not vote for him) terrorists. (Photo by Gabriel Bouys/AFP via Getty Images)
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's ideological family tree is inherently anti-Western-- hence, anti-US and anti-NATO. This author's most recent article, "NATO Family Picture in Madrid: This Will Not Be Erdoğan's Last Blackmail," was posted on July 7. Only 11 days later, on July 18, Erdoğan said that Turkey would freeze Finland and Sweden's NATO membership bids if the Nordic countries do not come into line with Turkey's "fight against terrorist organizations."
That might be a tough task for Finland and Sweden. In 2019, Erdoğan notoriously called half of Turks (those who do not vote for him) terrorists. The same year, Erdoğan declared the pro-Kurdish People's Democracy Party a terrorist entity. In parliamentary elections in June 2015, that party won 13% of the national vote and 80 seats in the Turkish parliament. Nevertheless, in 2021, Erdoğan stated that the students who peacefully protested his appointment of a rector to Boğaziçi University were "terrorists." The Nordics may find it somewhat difficult to cooperate with Erdoğan and chase 40 million-plus Turkish terrorists in addition to tens of millions of Kurds living in Turkey, Iraq, Syria -- and Europe.
On May 17, Erdoğan announced that Turkey would veto Sweden and Finland's bids for NATO membership, and accused them of hosting Kurdish (and other) terrorists. Under pressure from NATO allies, he conditionally removed his veto at the June 29 NATO Summit in Madrid . If Sweden and Finland do not wholeheartedly fight everyone Erdoğan deems a terrorists, does that mean he will veto their membership?
Take, for instance, the notorious case of Osman Kavala, a millionaire philanthropist and human rights activist who has been in prison for the past five years on flimsy charges of sponsoring terrorism and riots against Erdoğan's government, espionage, and a rich fictional catalogue of other crimes.
On July 11, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) published its decision regarding Turkey's rigid failure to release Kavala, sentenced to life in prison in May. The court ruled that Turkey had violated a previous judgment from the ECHR in the case of Kavala vs Turkey from December 2019 that called for Kavala's release. It is rare for the court to explicitly reprimand a state for failing to abide by a decision. As it was ministers from the Council of Europe (CoE) who referred the case back to the court in February, the ECHR's decision is seen as moving the CoE a step closer to suspending Turkey as a member, or expelling it as they did Russia after it invaded Ukraine.
Kavala was acquitted on all charges but, as Erdoğan publicly insists that he is a "traitor," he was not released from prison. Upon his acquittal, a prosecutor instantly produced a new indictment against him.
If, in this case, Kavala would have escaped the Turkish dungeons and appeared in Sweden or Finland, Erdoğan would probably insist on his extradition before he gives the green light to the Nordics joining NATO. This can be what will happen to anyone Erdoğan might view as a terrorist who, in fact, is just someone who opposes the Sultan's Islamist rule.
Erdoğan's calculus has no limits. He refers to the PKK when he is talking about "Kurdish terrorists." He is right that the PKK's violent separatist campaign since 1984 has claimed more than 40,000 lives in Turkey; the victims were both Turks and Kurds. Turkey, the U.S. and European Union -- including Finland and Sweden -- have officially banned the PKK for being a terrorist entity. Where is the PKK is legal? In Erdoğan's "strategic ally," Russia. Any objections to Putin? Not on your life.
Kavala is not a terrorist. If Erdoğan wants to fight terrorism, he should not torture a liberal philanthropist by keeping him in solitary confinement despite his acquittal. Instead, Erdoğan should rethink, specifically drop, his plans for a new military incursion into Syria -- and not add to Turkey's military build-up in Syria– just to win a handful more of nationalistic votes in elections next year, on the assumption that a new military campaign in Syria would earn him critical votes from nationalist Turks.
There are reports that Pentagon officials are increasingly concerned about a new Turkish military invasion in northern Syria and have begun planning for how it could impact the U.S. fight against the Islamic State (ISIS) terrorist group. The main concern, is that any Turkish military movement into Syria would draw the U.S. partner, the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), away from the battle against ISIS, the officials said.
"We strongly oppose any Turkish operation into northern Syria and have made clear our objections to Turkey," said Dana Stroul, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for the Middle East. "Such an operation puts at risk U.S. forces' coalition campaign against ISIS and will introduce more violence into Syria."
The West should tell Erdoğan it is ISIS, not men like Kavala, that is the terror threat to civilization.
*Burak Bekdil, one of Turkey's leading journalists, was recently fired from the country's most noted newspaper after 29 years, for writing in Gatestone what is taking place in Turkey. He is a Fellow at the Middle East Forum.
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Turkish-Greek Flare Up in the Midst of War in Ukraine
Omer Onhon/Asharq Al Awsat/September 05/2022
As problematic as the West Balkans may be, the East Balkans is also marred by problems. On August 30, Türkiye celebrated the 100 anniversary of the crushing victory of the Turkish army against the invading Greek army. The Greeks regard this episode of their history as “the Asia Minor disaster”.Today, the two neighboring countries, which joined NATO in 1952, form the eastern flank of the Alliance. Even though they are allies, tension has never been absent in their relations.
The two countries face each other along their border line, extending from their land border in the north down to the Aegean Sea and on to the Mediterranean.
Claims and counterclaims, skirmishes, push backs (of refugees by Greece) are frequent.
The most recent incident was during a NATO exercise at the end of August when Greek jets (once again) locked on to Turkish jets multiple times.
And on 24 August, Greece’s S-300 air defense systems located on the island of Crete locked on to Turkish fighter jets. “Lock on” is the last step before pressing the fire button. Back in the 1990s, Cyprus (Greek Cypriots) had bought an S-300 battery from Russia. Under pressure from Türkiye, the US and the UK at the time, Cyprus gave up the system and transferred it to Greece. Part of the deal was that the system would be kept in the base on the Greek island of Crete and in its box (inactive).
As the latest incident revealed, the system is active and even used in a NATO exercise. It is also worth noting that Crete hosts a major NATO base and also an American base.
Türkiye has filed an official complaint with NATO, informing the Secretary General and relevant bodies of the Organization, about the incident at the NATO exercise.
The Aegean Sea where the incident took place is a peculiar geographic formation. There are hundreds of islands and islets. The islands on the eastern part of the sea, majority of which belong to Greece, are located just in front of Türkiye and are much closer in distance to the Turkish mainland than they are to the Greek mainland. They are a source of tension between Türkiye and Greece for a number of reasons.
For example, if Greece’s position on the territorial waters and airspace of these islands were to be accepted, the Aegean Sea would turn into an internal Greek Sea. Türkiye would not be able to move any of its sea vessels along its Aegean coastline from one Turkish city to another without permission from Greece.
The issue of air space in the Aegean is as peculiar. Greece claims 10 miles of national airspace over its territorial waters of 6 miles. That approach is unique and out of normal, as the normal implementation is whatever miles a country has in the sea, it has the same in the airspace above. It is this peculiarity which forms the basis of Greek claims to violations of its airspace by Turkish jets. Türkiye does not recognize the extra 4 miles as Greek national airspace and Greeks claim violation every time Turkish jets fly in this space. Greece argues that the only problematic issue in the Aegean is the delimitation of the continental shelf and it could be solved in the International Court of Justice.
Türkiye on the other hand, does not rule out any peaceful settlement method including going to the International Court of Justice. But it points out that there are multiple problems in the Aegean and not only one problem as Greece claims.
During the first quarter of this year, there was hope for better relations between the two countries. Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis visited Istanbul on March 13, 2022. This was not an official state visit on the invitation of Türkiye but he came to İstanbul to attend the religious service at Fener Orthodox Patriarchate.
In Istanbul, Mitsotakis also had a working lunch with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Various after-the-meeting statements from both sides led to an impression that the two leaders had agreed to work to solve their differences in good neighborly spirits as should be the case for two NATO allies.
This optimism lasted only until the official visit of Mitsotakis to Washington in May. The Greek Prime Minister delivered a speech at the US Congress and asked the US lawmakers not to give their approval to the F-16 fighter jet sales to Türkiye. He cited “Turkish threats and airspace violations.”
One NATO ally asking another NATO ally not to approve weapons sales to another NATO ally is very strange. This is especially so when it becomes a routine or rather a mission as it has become for Greece. On a similar move, Greece also asked Germany not to sell submarines to Türkiye.
The Turkish President said that what Greek Prime Minister Mitsotakis did was contrary to what they had agreed (reconciliation and cooperation) at their meeting in Istanbul. He went on saying that his trust was betrayed and he was no longer going to deal with Mitsotakis. In recent years, Türkiye’s various problems in its international relations inspired Greece to try to make the best of this situation.
Within this vein, Greece developed its bilateral relations with various countries in and around the region. It went on enriching its military inventory by buying Rafale fighter jets from France and seeking to buy F-35 jets. Greece is also said to be processing a deal with Israel to build its version of Iron Dome air protection system. Welcoming new or expanded American bases on Greek soil are also part of this policy.
All these moves are to a large extent aimed to gain a strategic edge over Türkiye. Greece is working hard to position itself as a strategically and militarily important, even indispensable country. The other aspect of its policy is to push Türkiye to react so that it can make its case as the victim of aggression. By this way, it thinks that it will be in a stronger position to pursue its national policies in the Aegean and the Eastern Mediterranean.
Relations with Türkiye have traditionally and routinely been part of domestic policy in Greece, it is hereditary. In Türkiye, this has been the case only in recent years and still to a much lesser extent than in Greece.
Both countries will have elections next year and I think neither side will be in the mood for any move which could be considered as “weakness and giving in” by the domestic audience. One could expect NATO to allocate some of its time and energy to try to make sure that there is not an internal crisis in its eastern flank in the midst of a war in Ukraine.

Iran wins a battle but must lose the war for Iraq’s independence
Baria Alamuddin/Arab News/September 05/2022
With at least 30 dead and hundreds injured in clashes in Baghdad last week, Iraq is on the threshold of civil war. With the country’s survival as an independent nation in the balance, civil society protesters took to the streets pledging renewed mass demonstrations and chanting that “Iran will not rule Iraq.”
Iraqi intelligence warns of further assassinations by Iran-backed paramilitaries as factional strife escalates and rival militias attack each other’s offices. In Basra, meanwhile, there are bloody clashes between the same combination of rival militia forces. The largely Tehran-aligned Al-Hashd Al-Shaabi paramilitary coalition alone comprises about 160,000 men at arms, illustrating the volatile ramifications of this crisis.
Tehran and its acolytes believe they won the latest round of this high-stakes political grudge match when their principal rival, Muqtada Al-Sadr, shocked everybody by withdrawing from politics. Such developments take Iraq a step closer to Iranian preeminence and weaken hopes for preserving Iraq as an independent and sovereign nation.
When Al-Sadr withdrew his MPs from parliament this summer, Tehran’s proxies saw the perfect chance to stage a coup against the choices of Iraqi voters by flooding parliament with their allies and asserting their right to choose a government. Al-Sadr thwarted that move by filling Baghdad’s Green Zone with his supporters and staging a mass sit-in. Iran responded by advancing to the next phase of its coup machinations.
In its efforts to liquidate Al-Sadr as a rival, Tehran believed it held an ace card in the form of Ayatollah Kadhim Al-Haeri, the Qom cleric originally designated by Sadr’s own father as the religious authority for the Sadrist movement.
Al-Haeri named Al-Sadr as his deputy on the eve of the 2003 US invasion, allowing the latter to acquire notoriety as the foremost challenger to American occupation. However, a year later, when Tehran was struggling to control Al-Sadr in the aftermath of bloody Sadrist uprisings, Al-Haeri was coerced into issuing a fatwa repudiating Al-Sadr and instructing followers not to pay their taxes to him — a precise precursor to what happened in recent days.
All Iraqis should be out demonstrating their refusal to allow their country to be governed by paramilitary mafiosi, acting at the behest of a hostile neighbor.
That 2004 split was also the point at which Tehran began sponsoring splinter militia forces within the Sadrist movement, which mutated into entities such as Asa’ib Ahl Al-Haq and Kata’ib Hezbollah — forces that today are engaged in armed skirmishes with Sadrist supporters.
Al-Sadr later retreated to Qom and mended his relationship with Al-Haeri, but because of Al-Sadr’s own shaky religious credentials he continued to rely on Al-Haeri as his source of legitimacy. This is what the Iranian regime exploited last week by compelling Al-Haeri to retire, and to order Sadrist supporters to cease paying religious taxes. Worse, Al-Haeri instructed them to transfer their loyalties to the Sadrists’ principal enemy — Ayatollah Khamenei. Sadrist officials are certain that the ailing Al-Haeri’s life was threatened.
The billions of dollars that devout Shiites pay in khums taxes mean that these questions of allegiance have profound import in enriching institutions under premier religious authorities. This blows a major hole in Al-Sadr’s theological legitimacy and the prestige of institutions under his control, just when he was seeking to position himself as the foremost Shiite powerbroker.
Al-Sadr’s seventh “retirement from politics” since 2013 is merely the latest gambit in a career littered with U-turns. He will lick his wounds and come back fighting as soon as he feels himself on stronger ground. In a statement that hardly sounds like a vanquished force that has withdrawn from politics, Al-Sadr’s spokesman accused the pro-Iran Coordination Framework bloc of rushing to form a government “when the blood of peaceful protesters who were killed treacherously by its militias has not yet dried.”
The demand of fealty to Khamenei is a continuation of efforts by Iran’s agents to brainwash Shiite citizens into believing that they are primarily neither Arab nor even Iraqi. Such propaganda has repeatedly failed in Iraq, fueling Shiite anger toward symbols of Iranian hegemonic ambitions.
Protesters last week defaced images of Khamenei, Qassim Soleimani, Abu Mahdi Al-Muhandis and other pro-Iran heavyweights, and burned Iranian flags, so they clearly have no illusions about who is responsible for their predicament. Sadrist protesters are among the most impoverished demographics in Iraq, but they weren’t demanding electricity and jobs — they were chanting “Iran get out!”
Tehran canceled flights and instructed its citizens to avoid travel to Iraq, knowing the nationwide anger its actions would arouse. Militia commander Qais Khazali ordered the closure of the offices of his hated Asa’ib Ahl Al-Haq and its Tehran-beholden allies, knowing that Iraqis would once again blame them for the chaos and attack them accordingly. These groups were also targeted during mass protests in 2019, and retaliated by massacring hundreds of demonstrators and assassinating leading democratic activists.
Khazali began as a junior aide to Sadr before rising to prominence as a gangster, murderer, terrorist, and sectarian loudmouth — only later seeking to reinvent himself as a legitimate politician. These are the kind of criminals who aspire to rule Iraq if protesters fail to stop them.
Instead, politicians must be compelled to hold fresh elections, while Iraqis organize themselves across sectarian lines to prevent foreign ayatollahs and corrupt special interests from again deciding the composition of the next government in a manner that flagrantly contradicts the choices of the electorate.
This is not a struggle about religious authority, but a war for the survival of Iraq as an independent and sovereign nation in which Sunnis, Kurds, liberals and various minorities all have an equal stake. All Iraqis should be out demonstrating their refusal to allow their country to be governed by paramilitary mafiosi, acting at the behest of a hostile neighbor. This is not and must not be an intra-Shiite battle, or a trivial stand-off between rival Shiite militias, but rather a battle between those who desire to protect their nation’s identity and independence and those content to see their country becoming an appendage of the Islamic Republic of Iran. The real revolution starts now.
• 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.

Al-Sadr’s dilemma as cleric urges his followers to turn to Iran
Dr. Mohammed Al-Sulami/Arab News/September 05/2022
In Iraq, the Sadrist movement led by Muqtada Al-Sadr has long followed the religious edicts of cleric Kazem Al-Haeri, doing so upon the instructions of the leader’s late father, Mohammed Sadiq Al-Sadr, who before his death told his loyalists to follow Al-Haeri or another cleric named Mohammed Al-Fayadh.
Al-Haeri was the first cleric to designate Muqtada Al-Sadr as a Hujjat Al-Islam, a title given to mid-ranking Shiite clerics who have not reached the level of performing ijtihad, an Islamic legal term referring to the independent issuing of rulings. He was also one of the clerics who blessed Al-Sadr’s formation of the Mahdi Army following the US invasion of Iraq.
He is of Iraqi descent but holds Iranian citizenship. He lives in Qom and is a staunch supporter of the Iranian regime’s fundamentalist Velayat-e Faqih (Guardianship of the Islamic Jurist) doctrine. He has a track record of issuing fatwas that have stoked extremism and violence. His book “Dalil Al-Mujahid” is widely viewed as being among the most dangerous and incendiary works of recent years, given its support for violence, terrorism, robbing banks and killing civilians.
Al-Haeri last week announced he would be stepping down as a marja (religious authority), citing poor health. His resignation statement contained several highly significant points. Primary among these was his point that he had studied at the feet of Mohammed Baqir Al-Sadr, a cousin of Mohammed Sadiq Al-Sadr and father-in-law of Muqtada. This was a reference designed to underline his unique qualifications and was a clear move to delegitimize any efforts by others to claim the right to speak in the name of the Al-Sadr family.
In the same statement, Al-Haeri urged his followers to transfer their loyalties to Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and submit completely to his absolute religious authority. This call implied that the Sadrist movement, led by Muqtada Al-Sadr, should fall under the religious authority of Iran’s supreme leader.
As if this was not enough, Al-Haeri also took careful aim at the Hawza Najaf religious seminary and at Al-Sadr himself. He argued that Al-Sadr simply being related to his father and father-in-law was not enough to confer leadership, especially as he lacked the qualification to perform ijtihad. This was an obvious jab at Al-Sadr, who quickly addressed the accusation and announced his own retirement from politics. “I have never claimed to be infallible, a mujtahid, or a leader,” he said. Al-Sadr even suggested that Al-Haeri was not stepping down as a marja voluntarily, implying that Iran had exerted pressure on him.
Al-Sadr then went on to try to downplay Al-Haeri’s abandonment of his role as a marja, saying: “Najaf is the largest center of marjaia.” This suggested that Al-Haeri’s resignation would not be particularly significant for Shiite or Sadrist communities. Through this comment, Al-Sadr was trying to fortify his own position by turning to Najaf for legitimacy and protection from what he views as an attempt to religiously delegitimize him. It was also a message to the Sadrists that Khamenei should not be accepted as the alternative to Al-Haeri and that Najaf is the only genuine, legitimate alternative.
Al-Haeri’s statement was an expression of the Iranian regime’s willingness to put pressure on Al-Sadr to help its allies in the Coordination Framework. This is an umbrella bloc of Tehran-affiliated Iraqi Shiite parties in the Iraqi Parliament, which are united mostly by their opposition to the Sadrist movement. They are attempting to cut him out of the political equation, particularly after a recent meeting — reportedly “cool and unfriendly” — with Esmail Ghaani, chief of the Iranian Quds Force, in Najaf.
The Iranian regime seems to have decided to escalate its disagreement with Al-Sadr, giving it a more religious and sectarian dimension, through calling into question his legitimacy and stripping him of one of the most important religious tools on which he depends. Having decided on this course of action, Iran has, therefore, forced Al-Haeri to distance himself from Al-Sadr and to disavow his actions.
Some observers have argued that Al-Haeri’s statement serves as a fatwa sanctioning the assassination of Al-Sadr. It could be that Al-Sadr obliquely alluded to this possibility in his statement about his political retirement, when he said: “If I die or get killed, I call upon you to recite The Opening and pray for me.”
While Al-Haeri’s resignation has implications other than the dilemma it has caused for the Sadrist movement, it will ultimately trigger a crisis regarding the marjaia leadership succession arrangements in Najaf, explaining why a reference to the Iraqi city was included in the statement.
Al-Haeri’s hibernation is expected to continue, unlike Al-Sadr’s. The latter appears to have absorbed the shock of this latest upheaval and is now reshuffling his cards, reconsidering his calculations and seeking a new foundation of religious legitimacy on which to base his political project. Perhaps Najaf itself is this marjaia, represented by Grand Ayatollah Ali Al-Sistani or Al-Fayadh, especially since Al-Sadr stated that Najaf is the mother and largest marjaia in the Shiite world. Any such scenario would result in a Sadrist-Najaf alliance opposite an alliance of Iranian militias, with Al-Sadr eventually abandoning his loyalty to a pro-Tehran marja. Al-Sadr’s spokesman has already hinted at this possibility, indicating that he had remained committed to his father’s will until Al-Haeri’s resignation.
A question remains, however, about whether Najaf will be able to bear the consequences of the Sadrist movement uniting under its religious legitimacy, especially given the long-standing disagreements between the Sadrists and Al-Sistani’s Najaf. Perhaps they could seek mutual support to resist Iran’s influence. It is possible that the issue might require the intervention of mediators with a similar wariness toward Tehran to bring the two sides’ viewpoints closer together and strengthen their alliance.
In a nutshell, there are several potential scenarios. One of these could see Al-Sadr turning to Najaf to follow the cleric Al-Fayadh, thereby ridding himself of the Iranian burden, as well as his commitment to his father’s will. He could also take a hiatus and return to political life after reshuffling his cards. Al-Sadr could return quickly as he did before, or possibly even announce plans to perform ijtihad and become a religious authority in the future, hence ridding himself of the need for affiliation with a religious authority, given the possible consequences of such affiliations.
Al-Haeri’s statement was an expression of the Iranian regime’s willingness to put pressure on Al-Sadr to help its Iraqi allies.
There is another possibility that sees Iran getting rid of Al-Sadr, thereby depriving the Sadrist movement of its firebrand and charismatic leader. There is no genuine alternative within the Sadrist movement due to the long-held tradition of Shiite leaderships being mainly established on the grounds of familial, communal and religious credentials.
Finally, Najaf could reinstate the Friday sermon in order to salvage the small remaining amount of Iraqi unity or, at the very least, embarrass the violent pro-Velayat-e Faqih factions. However, influential Hawza figures are wary of becoming embroiled in this dispute. Abdul Mahdi Al-Karbalai stated weeks ago that the suspension of Friday sermons was due to “no-one obeying the marjaia’s orders.”
Dr. Mohammed Al-Sulami is president of the International Institute for Iranian Studies (Rasanah). Twitter: @mohalsulami

Ukraine aid requirements leave other crisis zones starved of funds

Ephrem Kossaify and Robert Edwards/Arab News/September 05/2022
of the sheer scale of human need across the globe at the present time
NEW YORK CITY/BOGOTA, Colombia: Growing humanitarian needs and a focus on Ukraine have left aid agencies with too little money to address the world’s other pressing crises, particularly the deteriorating situations in countries including Syria, Afghanistan and Ethiopia.
Humanitarian aid agencies working in the world’s conflict and disaster zones need $48.7 billion in 2022 to assist more than 200 million people, according to the UN. But eight months into the year, they have raised barely a third of that figure.
In part, this funding shortfall is the result of the sheer scale of human need across the globe at the present time, from simultaneous wars, climate catastrophes, financial crises, and the residual effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
However, another major factor that is draining humanitarian coffers is the war in Ukraine, which has dominated the foreign aid agenda among Western governments since Russia launched its invasion in February.
The UN appealed for more than $6 billion from its donors this year to assist Ukrainians displaced or impacted by the fighting. Its first Ukraine appeal raised more than the amount requested, and its second is on its way to being fully funded.
By contrast, aid programs in the world’s other disaster hotspots, from Iraq, Syria and Yemen in the Middle East; DRC, Ethiopia and South Sudan in Africa; Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Myanmar in South Asia; and Colombia, Haiti and Venezuela in Latin America, have raised just a fraction of what is required, setting back their relief efforts.
“I am very concerned about the irreversible damage caused by chronic under-funding,” Joyce Msuya, assistant secretary-general for humanitarian affairs and deputy emergency relief coordinator at the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, or OCHA, told a UN Security Council briefing on the situation in Syria on Aug. 29.
“It could compromise life-saving assistance and curtail investments in livelihood and essential services. Lack of funding comes with severe consequences, including more drop-outs from school, higher malnutrition rates, and less protection interventions.”
In relation to her remit in Syria, she added: “If we do not act now, a generation of Syrian children might be lost.”
Indeed aid budgets have been slashed for projects in Syria and to assist refugees hosted by neighboring countries. This is despite the recent increase in violence in northern Syria, including in the northern Aleppo countryside and the Kurdish-held northeast, the ongoing displacement crisis, and mounting humanitarian needs, all amid a stalemate in the political process and the regime’s near economic ruin.
Some observers have accused donor countries in the West, who provide the bulk of humanitarian aid funding, of “double standards” or even outright racism for lavishing money on projects assisting predominantly white and Christian fellow Europeans caught up in the Ukraine crisis, while starving projects in the Middle East, Africa, South Asia, and Latin America of much-needed support.
“From Bangladesh to Colombia, we have a dozen operations where I am very worried about the underfunding,” Filippo Grandi, the UN high commissioner for refugees, told a press conference in July. “It is important to hammer and hammer the message (home) that Ukraine cannot be the only humanitarian response.”
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, head of the WHO, caused a diplomatic stir in April when he accused the international community of double standards in response to crises affecting different races.
Ghebreyesus, who is Ethiopian, said the world was treating humanitarian crises affecting black and white lives unequally, with only a “fraction” of the attention on Ukraine given elsewhere.
He said more focus has been on the war in Ukraine while need elsewhere, including in Ethiopia’s northern Tigray region, were not being taken as seriously. The conflict in Tigray, which began in November 2020, has left thousands dead and millions displaced.
“I don’t know if the world really gives equal attention to black and white lives,” Tedros told reporters at a press conference. “The whole attention to Ukraine is very important of course, because it impacts the whole world.
“But even a fraction of it is not being given to Tigray, Yemen, Afghanistan and Syria and the rest. I need to be blunt and honest that the world is not treating the human race the same way. Some are more equal than others. And when I say this, it pains me. Because I see it. Very difficult to accept but it’s happening.”
While the war in Ukraine has a clear geopolitical urgency for Western donors, directly affecting their national interests, not to mention the 6 million Ukrainians hosted by neighboring European countries, it has raised concerns about the politicization of aid.
Martin Griffiths, the UN’s under-secretary-general for humanitarian affairs and emergency relief coordinator, rejects the idea of an institutional double standard in favor of Ukrainians over other races or national contexts, but admits he is concerned about the limited funding now being made available to the world’s other disaster zones.
“This is not new, the idea that there is a limited bandwidth of attention internationally. Ukraine didn’t write the book on this, although it’s certainly been an extraordinarily driven crisis for us,” Griffiths told Arab News.
“The attention cycle of the international community is really, really limited to the topic du jour, and Ukraine has occupied that position understandably. I don’t think that’s a double standard — that’s understandable.
“We worry about funding because we were worrying throughout whether the member states who provide humanitarian funding would have less money to give to Yemen and Syria and Afghanistan and places. And the evidence on that is still a little bit at odds.
“Certainly in the first weeks of the Ukraine war, most donors protected the funding that they already had available for non-Ukraine conflicts. As time went on, we began to see that eroding.
“I never refer to it as a double standard, but I do worry whether the attention is sufficient and the priority is sufficient for people elsewhere.”
Stephane Dujarric, spokesperson for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, insists the aid response elsewhere in the world has not been deliberately neglected in favor of Ukraine.
“The secretary-general has to be a multitasker. Just because he’s focused on Ukraine, it doesn’t mean he’s not dealing with other crises,” Dujarric told Arab News.
“I think every day, almost every day, I talk about other humanitarian crises, and I always try to flag the lack of funding, which is tragic for all these people, not only people in camps in Iraq or Syria, but we know that rations had to be cut at some point in Yemen or in the Horn of Africa because the money is not coming in.
“And it’s not that the money’s not there globally. We know there’s money … Everyone is trying to shake the tree. We need the money for these humanitarian crises.
“When humanitarian appeals are 10 percent funded, 20 percent funded, 30 percent funded, it means that we do not have enough money to feed people, to house people, to provide health services.”
Asked by Arab News whether donor countries could be accused of double standards in their aid funding priorities, Dujarric said: “I can’t speak to the motivation or the processes of donors.
“There are some member states that are extremely generous. Others we feel could be more generous. That’s just a fact. We also know that there’s a lot of money in the private sector. There’s a lot of money in foundations. There isn’t a lack of money in the world.
“What there is, is a lack of money going to people who are literally facing starvation. We understand that donors have competing needs, and we understand that some donors may feel it’s more important to focus on crises that have a direct impact on them. And we thank them for the donations for the people of Ukraine. Everyone who needs help is deserving. We just want everyone to be helped.”
Thousands of people, forced out of their homes since the Turkish offensive in October 2019 in Syria's border with Turkey, are living in informal settlements in Kurdish-controlled regions. (AFP)
In 2019, when the UN asked donors to provide $27.8 billion to fund all of its humanitarian programs, it fell more than $10 billion short of its target. In 2020, the target rose to $38.6 billion and the shortfall to $19.4 billion.
Although aid funding improved slightly in 2021, the target rose again in 2022 to $48.7 billion — about $8 billion more than the UN had projected before the year began. With barely half that amount likely to be met, it is the world’s most vulnerable who are likely to pay the price.