English LCCC Newsbulletin For Lebanese, Lebanese Related, Global News & Editorials
For September 07/2022
Compiled & Prepared by: Elias Bejjani

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Bible Quotations For today
If then you have not been faithful with the dishonest wealth, who will entrust to you the true riches?And if you have not been faithful with what belongs to another, who will give you what is your own
Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Luke 16/01-12/:”The Lord Jesus said to the disciples: ‘There was a rich man who had a manager, and charges were brought to him that this man was squandering his property. So he summoned him and said to him, “What is this that I hear about you? Give me an account of your management, because you cannot be my manager any longer.” Then the manager said to himself, “What will I do, now that my master is taking the position away from me? I am not strong enough to dig, and I am ashamed to beg. I have decided what to do so that, when I am dismissed as manager, people may welcome me into their homes.” So, summoning his master’s debtors one by one, he asked the first, “How much do you owe my master?” He answered, “A hundred jugs of olive oil.” He said to him, “Take your bill, sit down quickly, and make it fifty.” Then he asked another, “And how much do you owe?” He replied, “A hundred containers of wheat.” He said to him, “Take your bill and make it eighty.” And his master commended the dishonest manager because he had acted shrewdly; for the children of this age are more shrewd in dealing with their own generation than are the children of light. And I tell you, make friends for yourselves by means of dishonest wealth so that when it is gone, they may welcome you into the eternal homes. ‘Whoever is faithful in a very little is faithful also in much; and whoever is dishonest in a very little is dishonest also in much. If then you have not been faithful with the dishonest wealth, who will entrust to you the true riches? And if you have not been faithful with what belongs to another, who will give you what is your own?”

Titles For The Latest English LCCC Lebanese & Lebanese Related News & Editorials published on September 06-07/2022
President Aoun tackles border demarcation dossier and local issues with Deputy Speaker Bou Saab, meets MP Michel Daher
Berri discusses state budget issue with Mikati, meets Deputy Speaker Bou Saab over border demarcation dossier, broaches legislative affairs with Ain...
Rahi: Modernization of educational curriculum must be kept away from politics
Reports: Hochstein won't carry final deal to Lebanon, Aoun wants swift agreement
Mikati meets Berri, says parliament may discuss budget next week
Report: Gas deal postponed until after Israeli elections, Aoun's term
Bou Saab meets Aoun, says September decisive for demarcation
Bassil slams Berri and Geagea, says FPM won't recognize resigned govt.'s 'legitimacy'
Verbal clash in meeting between FPM, Abboud
Reports: FPM deputy head held at airport for carrying 'drugs mincer'
Relatives lose contact with Lebanese migrant ship near Malta
Human Rights Groups Condemn Torture in Lebanese Prisons
Lebanon’s Tourism Season Attracts $5 Billion
Aoun: TotalEnergies Could Help Lebanon in Maritime Demarcation With Israel

Titles For The Latest English LCCC Miscellaneous Reports And News published on September 06-07/2022
The Tragic Story of ‘Baby Shenouda’/Raymond Ibrahim/Coptic Solidarity/September 06/2022
Israel targets Aleppo airport, Syrian state media reports
Yair Lapid warns Iran of Israel’s ‘long arm’
Iran Deal May Provide Billions in IRGC-Connected Sanctions Relief Prior To Congressional Review
A New Iran Deal Would Empower Hamas
EU Policy Chief 'Less Optimistic' about Quick Revival of Iran Nuclear Deal
Iran seeks guarantee of sanctions relief in nuclear deal negotiations
Families of Europeans Held in Iran Send Letter Criticizing EU Stance
Russia’s Lavrov Calls Truss Uncompromising, Mocks Her Macron Comment
IAEA Calls for Security Zone at Ukraine Frontline Nuclear Plant
Putin attends joint military drills with China, others
US: Russia to buy rockets, artillery shells from North Korea
Israeli President Gives Broad Speech to Germany’s Parliament
Türkiye’s Erdogan Says ‘Europe Reaping What it Sowed’ on Energy Crisis
Surprise Twist Has Putin’s Top Flack Publicly Praising Biden
Kremlin Says 2022 Is ‘Year of Unity’ as 419,000 Flee From Russia
Ukraine official promises 'great news' from Kharkiv counteroffensive
Liz Truss becomes UK prime minister: new leader announces first Cabinet
New UK Leader Promises to Tackle Energy Crisis, Economy
Taiwan Says Chinese Military Drone Entered Air Defense Zone
Egypt Exits Arab League Meeting, Opposing Libyan Minister
Families of Europeans Held in Iran Send Letter Criticizing EU Stance

Titles For The Latest LCCC English analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on September 06-07/2022
Rare photo surfaces of top Al Qaeda leaders inside Iran/Bill Roggio/FDD Long War Journal/September 06/2022
Waiting for Thermidor: America’s Foreign Policy Towards Iran/Reuel Marc Gerecht Ray Takeyh/The National Interest/September 06/2022
Arabs to Biden: Do Not Sign the Iran Deal, It Will Start a War/Khaled Abu Toameh/ Gatestone Institute/September 06/2022
Inside the Bloody Business of Turkey’s Syrian Mercenaries/John Lechner S. AsherThe National Interest/September 06/2022

The Latest English LCCC Lebanese & Lebanese Related News & Editorials published on September 06-07/2022
President Aoun tackles border demarcation dossier and local issues with Deputy Speaker Bou Saab, meets MP Michel Daher
NNA /Tuesday, 6 September, 2022
President of the Republic, General Michel Aoun, met Deputy Parliament Speaker, MP Elias Bou Saab, today at the Presidential Palace.
Deputy Speaker Bou Saab asserted that the American mediator in demarcating the southern maritime borders, Amos Hochstein, will visit Lebanon at the end of this week, without this meaning that the visit will carry the solution.
“However the visit will be an additional positive step towards a solution, and we must know that this issue is thorny and complex, but it is moving in the right direction” Deputy Speaker Bou Saab said.
Deputy Speaker Bou Saab also briefed President Aoun on the contacts that are taking place with Hochstein on this file, and said that “September will be decisive, and if it turns out that the Israeli side will remain stubborn and not wanting a solution, there are other options for Lebanon, because we are all keen on preserving Lebanese rights by all means and at the appropriate time”.
On the other hand, the Deputy Speaker stressed that the Supreme Judicial Council and its head, Judge Souhail Abboud, should bear the responsibility for not taking a decision on the formation of the Court of Cassation, as it leads to obstruction of many issues, files and solutions.
Deputy Speaker Bou Saab also criticized the attack that was launched on the Presidency of the Republic and President Aoun, inquiring about the timing and whether there was a deal to give innocence to the corrupt and hold the presidential term fully responsible.
After the meeting ended, Deputy Speaker Bou Saab made the following statement:
“Today, I briefed His Excellency the President on the recent contacts that took place with the American mediator, Amos Hochstein, especially that he will visit Lebanon as scheduled, at the end of this week. The contacts did not stop during the past two weeks, despite all the inaccurate and misplaced words that were said in the media. For example, the signing of an agreement during the past week, or the work of one company with the Lebanese and Israeli parties, or a complete rejection by the Israelis of the Lebanese proposal or conception, especially after Hochstein’s meeting with the President, Premier and Speakerat Baabda Palace.
All this talk is inaccurate, contacts are still in place, and Hochstein’s visit to Beirut will be preceded by visits he will make to European capitals and to Israel.
I also briefed His Excellency the President on a subject that may mean a third party, which is the “Total” company, that can help Lebanon in the solution, and His Excellency will make contacts to help in this matter. There are still outstanding points that need solutions. Therefore, the expected visit of Hochstein, does not mean that it will carry the final solution, but it will be an additional positive step towards the solution, and we must know that this issue is thorny and complex, but it is moving in the right direction. Communicationswill increase during the current month, and the level of communication will rise. We hope to reach a result. We do not wish to be overly optimistic, nor do we say that we are pessimistic. Things are going in the right direction, and we have to keep hope that the file will be finished within not too long.
The other issue that I want to talk about is related to the Court of Cassation, as there is no reason not to move this file, specifically with the Supreme Judicial Council, and there is a responsibility on the judges concerned, especially on the first president, as it is not acceptable not to take a decision that must be taken by them. While the file has been in place for about four weeks, people are complaining about the disputes between politicians, and today we have doubts that even those concerned with the judiciary are responsible for procrastinating, delaying and not giving files priority. There are detainees who are prisoners and imprisoned and subjected to injustice, and some of them suffer from accusations as if they are criminals, while most of them are innocent, and it turned out that there were actually prisoners and the judiciary released them as if it was an apology, so what was the testimony for them? It is a mistake for these people, the judiciary can release others after they have spent two years in prison, and this is unacceptable.
During the formation of a panel of the Court of Cassation, which is able to decide on appeals, positively or negatively, and obstructing the formation of this panel is directly borne by the Supreme Judicial Council. We still have hope that the issue will be resolved, and that the council will take its decision, whatever it is, to form the commission in accordance with the decree in force, which stipulates the appointment of 11 chamber presidents in addition to the president of the Supreme Judicial Council. Four weeks after no decision has been made, there is a big question mark as to who benefits from this obstruction.
As for the third issue, I began with His Excellency the President, by denouncing the attack on the Presidency of the Republic, specifically President Michel Aoun, who asked me not to give the issue too much attention and to engage directly in issues of concern to the Lebanese. But I would like to say that the attack took place in the memory of the martyrs, and we respect all the martyrs, but is the occasion really the appropriate place to launch an unjustified attack that blames all the corruption that the Lebanese state has witnessed for this era? Is it like giving innocence for all the corrupt, to be given on this occasion?
Is there a new deal to hold this presidential termfully responsible? There is a suspicious timing. The Lebanese, who do not want to hear such talk, should know that those who make these accusations, whoever they are and to which side they belong, whether they have a political dispute with the President’s team or with the term, or from friendly sides, are creating an internal crisis among the segments of Lebanese society, because those who launch these accusations know that President Aoun has his fans who will defend him. Is this what is required? This talk increases the rift and problems among the Lebanese, while the citizens desire more unity among themselves to find a way out of the existing crises. I was hoping that this had not been said in this circumstance, because it is political talk and to settle scores that may be old, but I do not think that it is in the interest of whoever launched this attack to open the books of the past”.
Questions & Answers:
Question: What about your mediation with Speaker Berri regarding the frozen decrees?
Answer: “This mediation is still in place, and I received an answer from Speaker Berri, and the solution to this basket is complete, and what hinders this solution is what I said about the Supreme Judicial Council, which is one of the matters included in this basket. Therefore, there is no justification for this council and President Souhail Abboud not to take a decision. It is true that their decision is independent, but they cannot refrain from taking a decision that they have for four weeks, and that is why I hold them responsible today”.
Question: There is talk of Hochstein’s demands for guarantees that Hezbollah's threats will not be activated. Are there any financial compensationdemanded by Israel for giving up the Qana field?
Answer: “I mentioned that what is being said in the media is inaccurate and misplaced. Those familiar with the file know this, but citizens are affected by what they read in the media. For example, Hochstein told me that the Israeli enemy suffers from a contradiction in what is being said in the Israeli media. Some of them say that the agreement will be signed within a week, and some of them assert that the Israeli response was negative to the Lebanese demands. This means that there is conflicting news that some deliberately broadcast in the media on both sides, so I hope that no one will take into account these rumours that are being broadcast.
There is an American commitment to give the issue a high priority, and the statement issued by Baabda Palace two days ago was clear. We have received a clear message that the Americans are committed to continuing to work on this difficult file. There are many complications that are being solved one after the other. That is why we say that things are going in the right direction. If we were a day or a week late, nothing happened. Things are progressing at an acceptable pace, and the month of September will be decisive, and if it turns out that the Israeli will remain stubborn and do not want a solution, there are other options for Lebanon and this presidency in particular, because we are all keen to preserve Lebanese rights by various means and at the appropriate time.
As for the demands not to carry out the threats, especially those related to the resistance, no one asked us for anything in this regard, and we did not hear anything about it”.
MP Daher:
President Aoun received the Chairman of the Parliamentary Economy, Industry and Planning Committee, MP Michel Daher.
After the meeting, MP Daher said that he conveyed “The cry of the productive sectors about the situation in the country and the paralysis suffered from”.
The meeting also tackled the customs dollar, the situation of the public finances, and the salaries of workers in the public sector and the military apparatuses, in light of the continuous deterioration of the exchange rate of the Lebanese pound vs. the dollar. -- Presidency Press Office

Berri discusses state budget issue with Mikati, meets Deputy Speaker Bou Saab over border demarcation dossier, broaches legislative affairs with Ain...
NNA/Tuesday, 6 September, 2022 
House Speaker, Nabih Berri, on Tuesday met at the Second Presidency in Ain El-Tineh, with Caretaker Prime Minister, Prime Minister-designate, Najib Mikati.
Discussions reportedly touched on the general situation, especially the issue of the state budget and legislative affairs.
Following the half-an hour meeting, PM-designate Mikati said that discussions tackled the issue of the state budget and the possibility of being on the Parliament table next week. Speaker Berri also received the head of the Parliamentary Media and Communications Committee, MP MP Ibrahim Al-Moussawi.
Separately, Berri met with Deputy House Speaker, Elias Bou Saab, with whom he discussed the general situation and legislative affairs, in addition to the border demarcation dossier and the date of the visit of the US Mediator, Amos Hochstein, to Lebanon.This afternoon, Berri received the Chairman of the Parliamentary Defense, Interior, and Municipal Affairs Committee, MP Jihad Al Samad, over the current general situation, in addition to developmental and legislative matters.

Rahi: Modernization of educational curriculum must be kept away from politics
NNA/Tuesday, 6 September, 2022
Maronite Patriarch Cardinal Beshara Rahi on Tuesday stressed the necessity of keeping the modernization of the educational curriculum away from political and partisan considerations. “The workshop launched by Education Minister Abbas Halabi in August 2021 should be kept away from partisan and political approaches,” Rahi said at the inaiguraion of the 28th conference of the Catholic schools, held at the Antonine Sisters School in Ghazir. “The partisan and political rows have corrupted the state administration, paralyzed the judiciary, and disintegrated the republic,” Rahi deprecated, condemning the political interference seeking to prevent the formation of a government with full powers. “Everybody is contravening the Constitution,” he charged.

Reports: Hochstein won't carry final deal to Lebanon, Aoun wants swift agreement
Naharnet/Tuesday, 6 September, 2022
U.S. mediator Amos Hochstein will visit Lebanon this weekend but his visit will not be decisive, al-Akhbar newspaper reported on Tuesday. “He will brief the three presidents (Michel Aoun, Nabih Berri and Najib Mikati) on the United States’ vision for the solution, in light of the ongoing discussions with the Europeans and Israelis, and he will ask the Lebanese to clarify some points,” the daily said. Quoting informed sources, the newspaper said the U.S. mediator “will not carry a final format or an agreement that is ready for signing.” “He has stressed to Deputy Speaker Elias Bou Saab that reaching a fair agreement is an utmost priority for the U.S., and that he is seeking a fair solution that would satisfy both parties,” the sources said. “Hochstein sent reassuring messages emphasizing that they are serious about reaching an agreement,” the sources added. Al-Akhbar meanwhile said that “the Americans are likely seeking to win more time and they consider that Israel’s announcement that extraction operations from Karish will be delayed is a step that is sufficient for defusing Hezbollah’s threat to carry out a warning strike against the enemy.” “They are also seeking anew to find an exit for an agreement that would satisfy the enemy, although they are saying that the issue will tackle the image and not the essence,” the daily added. Informed sources also told al-Akhbar that Hochstein had two days ago requested to hold a meeting in Qatar with a Lebanese presidential envoy or delegation, a proposal that was reportedly rejected by Lebanon.
Al-Anbaa newspaper meanwhile said that “the draft agreement that will be carried by Hochstein gives the entire Karish field to Israel in return for Lebanon keeping the entire Qana field with some amendments to Line 23, which might turn into a zigzag line in the part overlapping with the Israel border, as an Israeli condition, due to the ruling coalition's disagreement with the Likud over this point and its use in the electoral campaigns bazaar.”Al-Anbaa also quoted unnamed sources as saying that “President Michel Aoun’s camp wants the agreement to be signed before the end of his term on October 31.”

Mikati meets Berri, says parliament may discuss budget next week
Naharnet/Tuesday, 6 September, 2022
Prime Minister-designate Najib Mikati held talks Tuesday in Ain el-Tineh with Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri. The 30-minute meeting tackled the general situations, especially the issue of the state budget and legislative files. “The discussions tackled the issue of the state budget and the possibility that it be debated in parliament next week,” Mikati said after the talks.

Report: Gas deal postponed until after Israeli elections, Aoun's term
Naharnet/Tuesday, 6 September, 2022
U.S. mediator Amos Hochstein, who will return to the region this week, is “deliberately keeping a low profile,” Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth has reported. He has recently talked in Athens with senior Israeli officials to finalize the final details of the operations of Greek-Cypriot oil exploration company Energean, the daily said. He made a similar move with French company TotalEnergies for the operation of the Lebanese offshore gas field, Yedioth Ahronoth added. “But, it turns out, the ‘deal’ of operating the gas fields, which is expected to contribute quite a bit to Lebanon's collapsing economy, was postponed until after the elections in Israel, on November 1, and after the end of the six-year term of Lebanese President Michel Aoun,” the daily said. “Only one day separates the two events. Israel is expected to publish an announcement about the postponement of the decision regarding the Karish field, while the Greek operator of the Energean company will issue an announcement about waiting until the demarcation of the maritime border between the two countries is completed and about a clear and explicit commitment by all parties to maintain security and peace in the area of the gas fields,” the newspaper added.

Bou Saab meets Aoun, says September decisive for demarcation
Naharnet/Tuesday, 6 September, 2022
Deputy Speaker Elias Bou Saab held talks Tuesday in Baabda with President Michel Aoun over a host of issues. Referring to the sea border negotiations with Israel, Bou Saab said the talks are “going in the right direction.” “Communication and contacts will intensify in September and we hope we will be able to reach a result,” he said. “We don’t want to let go of optimism, but we don’t want to say that we’re pessimistic,” Bou Saab added. He also noted that all Israeli and Lebanese media reports tackling the issue are “inaccurate.” “The U.S. mediator has told me that there are conflicting reports in the Israeli media,” Bou Saab told reporters. And noting that “the U.S. side is committed to giving the issue utmost importance,” the Deputy Speaker said Lebanon has “received a message that they will continue the efforts.” “There are major complications but are being resolved one after another,” he added. “The month of September will be decisive. If it turns out that the Israelis are intransigent and do not want a solution, Lebanon will have other choices,” Bou Saab warned.

Bassil slams Berri and Geagea, says FPM won't recognize resigned govt.'s 'legitimacy'
Naharnet/Tuesday, 6 September, 2022
Free Patriotic Movement chief Jebran Bassil on Tuesday hit back at both Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea and Speaker Nabih Berri and said that the FPM “will not recognize the legitimacy of the resigned government” should there be a presidential vacuum. “We stress that the caretaker cabinet cannot convene or practice the president's powers. This would lead to constitutional chaos,” Bassil warned in a press conference that followed a meeting for the FPM’s political council. “We will not recognize the legitimacy of the resigned government following the end of the president’s term and we will consider it to be usurping power and illegitimate at the parliamentary, constitutional, National Pact and popular levels, even if the entire world agrees to support it against us,” the FPM chief cautioned. Criticizing caretaker PM and PM-designate Najib Mikati, Bassil said: “The PM revealed his intention in the past to some ministers and yesterday he openly announced that he can assume the president's powers.” Hitting back at Berri, Bassil said that “in the event of vacuum, every minister in the government would be a ‘president.’”“You will find several ‘Michel Aouns’ in the government,” he added. “The government's formation does not prevent the election of a president and they must both happen,” Bassil went on to say. And snapping back at Geagea, Bassil stressed that “Michel Aoun will not exit history nor people's hearts.”“They are trying to make people forget that they were militia warlords who destroyed Lebanon,” Bassil added. Geagea “still doesn't know how to count his bloc's members and (Berri) has blamed the electricity crisis on the regulatory committee,” he said. “One should be part of history in order to be able to expel others from it and his history should be one other than the killing of children, premiers, leaders, clergymen, relatives and honorable fighters,” Bassil added, referring to Geagea. He also accused Berri of “looting funds inside the country” and Geagea of “receiving political money from abroad.”

Verbal clash in meeting between FPM, Abboud
Naharnet/Tuesday, 6 September, 2022
A meeting Tuesday between a Free Patriotic Movement parliamentary delegation and Higher Judicial Council chief Judge Suheil Abboud witnessed a “verbal clash” between Abboud and MP Charbel Maroun, the FPM said. The meeting was dedicated to discussing the file of detained Customs chief Badri Daher, who has been in custody since August 2020 in connection with the Beirut port blast case. “The meeting with the MPs indicates that things are headed for an escalation,” the FPM said. The FPM delegation also met with caretaker Justice Minister Henri Khoury.

Reports: FPM deputy head held at airport for carrying 'drugs mincer'
Naharnet/Tuesday, 6 September, 2022
A security source at the Rafik Hariri International Airport confirmed Tuesday to MTV that Free Patriotic Movement deputy chief Mansour Fadel was briefly detained at the airport for trying to smuggle a “drugs mincing tool” out of the country. Fadel was carrying the tool as he was heading to France to visit his son, the source said. The FPM official was released after he made some phone calls as the Airport Security Apparatus contacted the state prosecutor, who ordered that he be released, the source added.Fadel then traveled to France after which he published a picture of him and his son.

Relatives lose contact with Lebanese migrant ship near Malta
Associated Press/Tuesday, 6 September, 2022
Activists and relatives of migrants aboard a fishing boat taking on water near the island of Malta in the Mediterranean Sea said Tuesday they lost contact with the vessel overnight. The roughly 60 Lebanese and Syrian migrants on board had told their relatives and volunteer groups by satellite phone earlier that they have been without food, water, and baby formula for several past days. They also reported that a third child died on board due to dehydration, according to the relatives. The vessel left from the northern Lebanese city of Tripoli about 10 days ago. The passengers, headed for Italy, include Syrian refugees and Lebanese from the country's impoverished north. The migrants have been communicating with relatives and activist groups through a satellite phone, and have urged European coast guards to rescue them. Alarm Phone, an activist network that helps bring rescuers to distressed migrants at sea, told The Associated Press that Maltese authorities responded to some of their calls about the distressed boat, but had not confirmed a rescue operation. Malta has also not given permission to a commercial cargo ship to rescue the stranded migrants, the network said. "Instead of coordinating a rescue operation, they have knowingly left these 60 people in distress at sea for days," said Maurice Stierl of the network. "We hope that reports on fatalities will prove to be wrong, but we are extremely concerned about this group." One of the migrants' relatives said his brother told him during their last call on Monday night that more water was leaking into the boat and "that they are drenched." The man spoke on condition of anonymity, fearing for his brother's safety. "The adults are handling the cold and lack of supplies okay, but the children are really struggling," he said. The Maltese authorities did not immediately reply to requests from The Associated Press for comment on the migrant boat. Lebanese MP Ashraf Rifi has asked Italy to send a rescue team, and called on Lebanon's Foreign Ministry and diplomatic mission in Rome to do the same. The Lebanese government has not yet commented on the matter. Once a country that received refugees, Lebanon has become a launching pad for dangerous migration by sea to Europe, as it struggles from an economic crisis over the past three years that has pulled three-quarters of its population into poverty. As the crisis deepened, more Lebanese, as well as Syrian and Palestinian refugees, have set off to sea, with security agencies reporting foiled migration attempts almost weekly.

Human Rights Groups Condemn Torture in Lebanese Prisons
Asharq Al-Awsat/Tuesday, 6 September, 2022
International human rights groups Tuesday condemned acts of torture in Lebanese prisons following the death of a Syrian refugee in detention and urged authorities to transfer the investigation into his death from a military to a civil court. Photos surfaced last week of the battered body of a Syrian who had been held for questioning. The grisly visual made headlines in Lebanon and was followed by a video of a coroner assessing the body, which was covered in gashes and bruises. The body was later identified as that of Bashar Abdel-Saud, 30, a Syrian refugee who fled the war-torn country in 2014. “To ensure transparency and impartiality, Abdel-Saud’s case must urgently be referred to a civilian court,” Amnesty’s Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa Heba Morayef said in the statement. “His family deserves justice and reparations for their tragic loss.”According to Abdel-Saud’s lawyer, officers from Lebanon’s State Security agency arrested the Syrian at his home in a Palestinian refugee camp in Beirut last week, before calling his family four days later asking them to retrieve his body. State Security in a press statement said Abdel-Saud was arrested for the possession of a fake $50 bill and had confessed during the interrogation that he was combatant for the ISIS group. His lawyer denied the charges and State Security first promised an internal investigation, before the case was transferred to Lebanon’s military court. Lebanon’s military court government commissioner ordered the arrest of five State Security personnel from the branch that held Abdel-Saud in southern Lebanon, according to Amnesty. State Security released a second statement on Monday, requesting media outlets to “not broadcast news related to the matter, aiming to stir strife and incite tensions especially in these sensitive circumstances Lebanon is going through.” Senior Lebanese officials have not commented on the recent incident. The only minister under Prime Minister Najib Mikati’s caretaker government to do so was Environment Minister Nasser Yassin, who in a tweet condemned the incident and called for prosecutors to investigate.
Meanwhile, several of Lebanon’s recently elected independent legislators penned critical statements. “What happened completely contradicts our aspirations for Lebanon,” Ibrahim Mneimneh, a member of Parliament, told The Associated Press. “We need human rights to be a key reference point to all the work we do.” He added that the security agency conducting an internal investigation is a “conflict of interest.” Amnesty, Human Rights Watch, and other human rights groups have echoed similar sentiments. Human rights organizations have frequently criticized Lebanon for what they say is an incomplete 2017 anti-torture law, and authorities not putting it into practice five years later. Human Rights Watch’s Middle East and North Africa Director Lama Fakih said torture in the crisis-hit country has been a years-long problem. “Lebanon suffers from a legacy of impunity for torture,” Fakih told the AP. “We have not yet seen steps taken to ensure that robust investigations are undertaken and that responsible individuals are held accountable.”Several cases of alleged torture in Lebanon have surfaced in recent years, including actor and writer Ziad Itani, Syrian refugees arrested in camp raids and checkpoints, and protesters in Beirut, Tripoli, and Sidon during Lebanon's antigovernment uprisings in late 2019.

Lebanon’s Tourism Season Attracts $5 Billion
Beirut - Paula Astih/Asharq Al-Awsat/Tuesday, 6 September, 2022
Lebanon’s summer season constituted a lifeline for the country that has been stricken by an unprecedented economic and financial collapse since 2019. While reliance on the completion of an agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) would extend the state’s finances by about $3 billion, the tourism sector was able during the past few months to secure around $5 billion to the economic cycle. Minister of Tourism in the caretaker government Walid Nassar said that more than 1.5 million tourists visited Lebanon during the summer season, which continues until the end of September. Those brought in around $4.5 billion, while the total amount is likely to reach $5 billion, according to the minister. “The movement of arrivals is still active during the current month, and we are working to maintain it… during the fall season by supporting many autumn tourism activities,” Nassar told Asharq Al-Awsat.
He noted that the private sector benefited the most from the fresh dollars that entered the country, specifically the tourist establishments and all associated sectors. In response to a question, Nassar stressed that the billions that have entered the country “do not at all dispense with the need for an agreement with the IMF.”He explained: “An agreement of this kind is a moral and urgent necessity, as it allows us to deal with the international community.”The minister continued: “This understanding constitutes a factor of confidence to obtain donors’ aid, especially as we need billions to secure electricity and [rehabilitate] the infrastructure and the public sector.”Rafik Hariri International Airport recently announced that a further rise in passenger traffic was registered at the end of August. The number of passengers increased by about 35 percent compared to the same month last year, while the total number of passengers from the beginning of 2022 until the end of August rose by 58 percent compared to the same period in 2021.

Aoun: TotalEnergies Could Help Lebanon in Maritime Demarcation With Israel
Asharq Al-Awsat/Tuesday, 06 September, 2022
Lebanon's President Michel Aoun said on Tuesday that France-based oil and gas company, TotalEnergies (TTEF.PA), could help his country solve maritime demarcation issues with Israel, according to a post from the presidency office on Twitter.
Aoun would make "contacts to help in this regard, will increase communications this month", the office added, Reuters reported. Lebanon and Israel are locked in US-mediated negotiations to delineate a shared maritime border that would help determine which oil and gas resources belong to which country and pave the way for more exploration. Amos Hochstein, the US diplomat mediating the talks, will be in Beirut at the end of the week to follow up on discussions with the Lebanese side.
Deputy parliament speaker Elias Bou Saab said after a meeting with Aoun that Hochstein's visit "does not mean that it carries the final solution, but it is an additional positive step towards the solution", the presidency office said.

The Latest English LCCC Miscellaneous Reports And News published on September 06-07/2022
The Tragic Story of ‘Baby Shenouda’
Raymond Ibrahim/Coptic Solidarity/September 06/2022
Another tragic story surrounding a Christian household has just surfaced from Egypt.
Four years ago, a Coptic priest heard cries emanating from inside his empty church. He located its source, only to discover a newborn baby boy, apparently abandoned by a mother who bore him out of wedlock. The priest entrusted the newborn babe to a childless, pious, couple from his congregation. Considering that they had been praying to God for 29-years to give them a child, they joyously embraced the boy as their own and baptized and named him Shenouda, a popular Coptic name, including of the current pope’s predecessor.
For the next four years everything went well. The boy—known among the congregation as “Baby Shenouda”—was the pride and joy of his adopted parents’ lives. Seeing him as a miracle-child, a “gift from God,” they spared no care or expense on his upbringing. Despite his young age, they even managed to teach him the alphabet as well as several biblical verses that he memorized in connection with every letter.
Then the Egyptian state learned about this otherwise happy development. Because Egyptian law does not allow for adoption, the 4-year-old child was seized from his loving parents’ arms—to cries of “mamma, papa!”—and sent to an orphanage.
The police, the ministry of social affairs, and the family-status court based their decision to seize the child on one thing: because the religious affiliation of Shenouda’s biological parents is unknown, he must be considered Muslim. This is based on Islamic teaching, whereby every human being is born as a sort of prototypical Muslim; they only “lose” their Islam when taught false things or religions (in this case, Christianity).
At the orphanage, the child was forcibly “returned” to Islam: he was issued a birth certificate—marked “Muslim” under religion—and given an acceptable Muslim name, Yusuf.
Above and beyond these coercive measures, it should be noted that Egyptian orphanages are notoriously terrible and overly crowded dungeons where individual children are “swallowed” up into the mass. There, they are at best neglected, and often have little to look forward to other than a becoming “street kids” and possibly turning to a life of crime on release.
From the moment when the state seized the child until now, his adoptive parents have been in tears—or, to quote from a recent interview, “living in hell.” They have pled with the state to have the child returned. After sobbingly explaining in the interview how her heart “leapt with joy” when she first heard Shenouda say “mamma,” his mother even offered to work for free as a servant in the orphanage, just to be near him. The father said he would do “anything”—“shoot me with gunfire even, anything, just so long as I can have my child back!”
All such pleas have fallen on deaf ears. Not even a whisper from the likes of the National Council for Human Rights, or the so-called “National Council for Motherhood and Childhood.”
A closer look at the intricacies behind the state’s decision further explains its “rationale.” First, Egyptian family-status law is based on Islamic law. Family-status laws for Christians are based on Christian “laws,” but on condition that they do not counter sharia. In this case, adoption is lawful in Christianity, but it is not applicable since sharia does not allow for adoption (based on a well-known precedent of the Prophet Muhammad: in order to marry Zaynab, the wife of a young man he had adopted, the very concept and practice of adoption had to be nullified—otherwise Muhammad would have been marrying his daughter-in-law, which would have been illegal.)
In other words, the reason Shenouda and his family were targeted is because of their Christian faith. After all, while adoption is illegal in Egypt, it is possible for an orphan to be taken into “custody” by a family, where he/she gets care, though without carrying the family’s name or inheriting.
But in the present case, the child—whose background is unknown—was being raised as a Christian, and it is this that has caused the state to act, based on the Islamic teaching cited above. If every human is born a Muslim, obviously it becomes a great “crime” to offer up any orphaned child to a Christian, Jew, or any other non-Muslim parent. This is the primary argument being used by the state against Shenouda’s adoptive parents’ legal attempts to reclaim the boy.
Meanwhile, there is every indication that Shenouda was born to a Christian mother—or at least to a mother who thought Christians would best know how to raise her unwanted child. Otherwise, why abandon the babe in a church?
Yet, rather than let this 4-year-old boy be raised and given exclusive attention by a loving mother and father, the Egyptian state prefers to throw him into an overcrowded, underfed, and often times very abusive orphanage—anything, so long as he does not grow up Christian but rather Muslim, which is all that the state apparently cares about.

Israel targets Aleppo airport, Syrian state media reports
Daniel Salami|/Ynetnews/September 06, 2022
Syria says Israel struck Aleppo airfield for second time in less than a week and shortly after it became operational again; opposition war monitor claims attack hit military targets. Israel struck Aleppo International Airport, Syrian state media claimed on Tuesday, in the second such attack on the airfield in as many weeksز According to UK-based opposition war monitor The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, the attack hit military targets. State-owned news agency SANA quoted a military source as saying that the Israeli missile attack was launched from the Mediterranean Sea, west of the coastal city of Latakia, at 8:16pm local time (1716 GMT). The strike has damaged the runway and taken it out of service shortly after it became operational again following last week's strike. Syria's Civil Aviation Authority announced on Thursday in a notice to pilots and airlines that Aleppo Airport was closed for maintenance work. It did not mention the attack on the airfield. About an hour and a half after Thursday's attack, Syrian state TV reported that Syrian Air defenses intercepted an Israeli attack over Damascus and its countryside, with blasts shaking the Syrian capital, in an unusual succession of strikes hitting Israel's northern neighbor. A day later, Syrian Foreign Minister Faisal al-Meqdad warned that Israel was "playing with fire" with its recurring attacks on the country's civil airport. According to sources linked with Syria's opposition, the Syrian regime is allowing Iran to use its civil airport to smuggle arms and technology for its proxies that will later be aimed at Israel. Satellite images released earlier this week showed the extend of the damage to Aleppo International Airport's runway. Footage shows that a fire had broken out after the strike and opened a gaping hole in the landing strip.

Yair Lapid warns Iran of Israel’s ‘long arm’
AFP/September 06, 2022
Israeli PM Yair Lapid: ‘If Iran continues to test us, it will discover Israel’s long arm and capabilities’.Lapid’s remarks were made during a visit to a southern Israeli air base, in a video his office issued of him speaking with a US-made F-35 in the background
JERUSALEM: Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid warned arch-foe Iran not to test his country’s “long arm” in a video on Tuesday as he stood next to an F-35 stealth bomber. Iran has been engaged in talks with major powers to restore a 2015 agreement that gave it sanctions relief in return for guarantees it would not obtain nuclear weapons, a goal it has always denied pursuing. Israel, which views the deal as flawed, has vowed to do whatever it takes to stop its arch foe from obtaining a nuclear arsenal. “It is still too early to know if we have indeed succeeded in stopping the nuclear agreement, but Israel is prepared for every threat and every scenario,” Lapid said. “If Iran continues to test us, it will discover Israel’s long arm and capabilities,” he said, vowing to “continue to act on all fronts against terrorism and against those who seek to harm us.” “As (US) President (Joe) Biden and I agreed, Israel has full freedom to act as we see fit to prevent the possibility of Iran becoming a nuclear threat. Lapid’s remarks were made during a visit to a southern Israeli air base, in a video his office issued of him speaking with a US-made F-35 in the background. The F-35 is a supersonic plane whose advanced stealth characteristic allow pilots to avoid detection by radars, according to Lockheed Martin. Last week, Boeing announced a deal to supply Israel with four KC-46A refueling planes in the coming years which would be used in the case of a long-distance attack. Lapid’s remarks came as the head of Israel’s Mossad spy agency, David Barnea, was visiting the US as part of a “diplomatic campaign against Iran,” the premier’s office said in a statement. Barnea had departed for the United States on Monday for meetings with officials in American security agencies. The United States unilaterally withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal in 2018 under then president Donald Trump. The Biden administration has been seeking to return to the accord, known formally as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

Iran Deal May Provide Billions in IRGC-Connected Sanctions Relief Prior To Congressional Review
FDD/Flash Brief/September 06/2022
On day one of a new Iran nuclear deal, the United States would reportedly repeal three executive orders that imposed sanctions on major sectors of Iran’s economy connected to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). Washington would also release $7 billion of frozen funds tied to IRGC financing, all before submitting the agreement to Congress for review. President Joe Biden recently reaffirmed that the IRGC is a foreign terrorist organization; it is responsible for plots to assassinate former U.S. officials and kidnap Iranian-American dissidents.
Expert Analysis
“The administration is poised to lift major terrorism sanctions in violation of Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s commitment to Congress. And, in a legal sleight of hand, the administration appears ready to greenlight foreign companies to do business with Iranian entities that do business with the IRGC. The Guard will use front companies and cutouts to ensure that billions of international dollars flow into its coffers.” – Mark Dubowitz, FDD Chief Executive
“Congress should object to any sanctions relief that benefits the IRGC while Iran continues to plot terrorist attacks against the United States and our allies. Providing sanctions relief prior to any congressional review diminishes the legitimacy of the coming deal, making it easier for Congress or a future administration to reimpose sanctions.” – Richard Goldberg, FDD Senior Advisor
Upfront Sanctions Relief for IRGC-Connected Sectors
The Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act (INARA) prohibits the president from providing statutory sanctions relief to Iran prior to congressional review of any nuclear agreement with Tehran.
However, there are three executive orders currently in effect that imposed economic sanctions on the Islamic Republic and are not codified in statute: Executive Order 13846, which imposed sanctions on Iran’s petrochemical and automotive sectors; Executive Order 13871, which imposed sanctions on Iran’s iron, steel, aluminum, and copper sectors; and Executive Order 13902, which imposed sanctions on Iran’s construction, mining, manufacturing, and textiles sectors, and under which Iran’s financial sector, along with 17 Iranian banks, is subject to secondary sanctions. While not confirmed, these may be the three executive orders repealed on day one of the new deal.
The sectors in line for relief generate 20 to 25 percent of the Islamic Republic’s GDP and 62 to 73 percent of its non-oil exports. Rescinding these executive orders may provide Iran with sanctions-free access to least $30 billion in annual export revenue, or more than $13.5 billion over the reported 165-day interim deal period — with that number growing after sanctions are lifted.
Brazen Circumvention of INARA
$7 billion held in foreign accounts belonging to the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) and/or the Central Bank of Iran (CBI) will reportedly be unfrozen prior to congressional review pursuant to INARA.
Both NIOC and the CBI are subject to terrorism sanctions for their financing of the IRGC’s Quds Force, the Guard’s expeditionary arm. Since release of these funds would likely require a statutory national security waiver, it is possible the release will occur prior to day one of a new deal. Since this release is clearly tied to the nuclear deal negotiations, issuing a waiver before submitting the deal to Congress would be an even more brazen circumvention of INARA.
Notably, the deal’s third step would reportedly greenlight billions of dollars in oil sales benefitting top IRGC financiers, while its final step would see terrorism sanctions relieved for the CBI, NIOC, the National Development Fund, and many other Iranian banks and companies even if they do not halt the illicit conduct that prompted the sanctions in the first place.

A New Iran Deal Would Empower Hamas

FDD/Flash Brief/September 06/2022
Latest Developments
Iran would receive approximately $275 billion in sanctions relief during the first year of a new nuclear deal and more than $1 trillion by 2030, according to an FDD analysis. If past is prologue, a significant portion of these funds would likely flow to Iranian-supported terror organizations in the region, including Hamas. In the year after the implementation of the original 2015 nuclear accord, Tehran’s military budget increased by 90 percent, enabling the regime to shower Iran-aligned terror organizations, including Hamas, with additional resources.
Expert Analysis
“Hamas has demonstrated the ability to obtain and produce high-quality weapons such as drones and long-range rockets that can target all of Israel. A new Iran deal will provide additional funds to the group, giving it the ability to advance its weapons program and finance further terror activity in the West Bank.” – Joe Truzman, Research Analyst, FDD’s Long War Journal
Iran Provides Hamas With Weapons and Know-How to Strike Israel
Hamas — a U.S.-designated Foreign Terror Organization — has ruled Gaza since it seized control in a violent coup in 2007. Hamas is financially supported by Iran and Lebanese Hezbollah and was estimated in 2021 to have an army of 30,000. Hamas produces arms locally, leveraging Iranian technology and logistical support. What Hamas does not produce it smuggles into the Mediterranean enclave from tunnels under its border with Egypt. “Iran provided us with rockets,” Gaza-based Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar boasted in 2019, shorting after the group fired a barrage at a city in southern Israel. “Had it not been for Iran, the resistance in Palestine would not have possessed its current capabilities.”
Hamas’ Arsenal
In May 2021, Hamas initiated a war against the Jewish state, indiscriminately firing more than 4,000 rockets, including newly developed long-range projectiles, at Israeli population centers. These rockets constitute a key part of Hamas’ robust military arsenal.
Hamas possesses a large arsenal of munitions, including short-range Qassam rockets, which have a range of 10 km, as well as medium- to long-range rockets, with ranges between 85 and 250 km. Most of the rockets are locally produced in the Gaza Strip using Iranian know-how and technical support, although Iran has also transferred arms directly to Hamas using smuggling routes through Sudan. Like Hezbollah, Hamas is also making efforts to smuggle precision-guided munitions into the Gaza Strip.
Hamas maintains military tunnels to facilitate cross-border incursions into Israel, rocket-launching, defense, communication, logistics, and secure movement. Hamas tasks a specially trained group of militants known as the Nukhbah unit with offensive missions, including kidnapping operations, such as the capturing of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit in 2006. Hamas also uses commercial tunnels under the Gaza-Egypt border to move in-demand commodities ranging from cigarettes to livestock.
In 2021, Hamas boasted a force of 400 naval commandos trained to conduct raids from the sea, armed with advanced diving capabilities and jet skis for raiding or swarming surface attacks. The Israeli military stated during the 2021 Gaza war that it destroyed an unmanned underwater drone attempting to target Israeli naval assets.
During the 2021 Gaza war, Hamas’ advances in the field of drone technology becae evident when it unveiled a locally made Shahab suicide unmanned aerial vehicle. Hamas also boasts other drones, such as the Iranian-made Ababil. In recent months, Hamas published further evidence of its extensive drone program in a memorial video of one of its engineers who was killed during the May 2021 Gaza conflict.

EU Policy Chief 'Less Optimistic' about Quick Revival of Iran Nuclear Deal
London, Tehran - Asharq Al-Awsat/Tuesday, 6 September, 2022
EU Foreign Policy Chief Josep Borrell said that he was less optimistic about reaching an agreement on a revival of the Iran nuclear deal than he was only a short while ago.
“I am sorry to say that I am less confident today than 28 hours before...about the prospects of closing the deal right now,” Borrell told reporters in Brussels on Monday.
Meanwhile, Tehran repeated its request to end the International Atomic Energy Agency’s investigation to continue the diplomatic “marathon” aimed at reviving the nuclear agreement. It also ruled out allowing US companies to work in Iran if Washington lifted economic sanctions under the potential agreement.
Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Kanani said in a press conference on Monday that an agreement was “subject to closing the nuclear allegations matter.”
He added that the nuclear agreement - officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action - and the indirect negotiations with Washington by the European Coordinator “revolve around closing the nuclear allegations against Iran, and the matter has nothing to do with the bilateral relations between Iran and the United States.”
The White House said on Friday, that there should be no link between the re-implementation of the Iranian nuclear agreement, and the verification of whether Tehran has fulfilled its obligations under the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, in reference to investigations by the Atomic Energy Agency into the effects of uranium found in three unannounced Iranian sites. On Thursday, Tehran sent its last response to the European Union’s proposal on the means to revive the agreement. Iran’s Mehr news agency quoted Kanani as saying that Iran’s response could “create the grounds for a conclusion of the talks and for an agreement in a short amount of time if there is also mutual political will.”
America Companies
In response to a question on whether Iran would allow American companies to operate in Iran if the nuclear agreement is revived, Kanani told the reporters: “The nuclear agreement and the possible agreement in the future do not regulate Iranian-American bilateral relations; rather, it is to resolve unnecessary crises related to Iranian activities…”Iranian Leader Ali Khamenei had closed the door on US companies, in his first speech after the nuclear agreement was reached in July 2015, and issued warnings against “Western penetration” in Iranian decision-making centers.
On Energy
Kanani pointed to the possibility of the return of Iranian oil and gas exports after the lifting of sanctions, in light of the energy crisis that is hitting the European continent.
“Despite the sanctions, Iran has maintained its presence in international markets,” the Iranian foreign ministry spokesman said, adding: “Given Europe’s energy supply problems triggered by the Ukraine crisis, Iran could provide Europe’s energy needs if sanctions against it are lifted.”
- Thorny Issue
The IAEA investigations constitute a stumbling block to reviving the 2015 agreement, under which Iran curbed its nuclear program in return for the easing of US, UN and European Union sanctions. Since February 2021, Iran has frozen some inspection and monitoring measures under the nuclear deal. Those included ending the temporary implementation of the Additional Protocol concluded between the IAEA and some member states that enables the Agency to carry out rapid inspections based on short notices of undeclared sites. Tehran signed the Additional Protocol in 2003 but never ratified it. Iran has abandoned the transparency measures contained in the 2015 agreement that allow monitoring of some sectors of its nuclear program.
Last June, the IAEA Board of Governors, by an overwhelming majority, passed a resolution drafted by the United States, France, Britain and Germany criticizing Iran for its failure to explain the presence of uranium traces at the mentioned sites.
Later this month, 35 countries will meet in the IAEA Council of Governors to discuss differences with Iran, ahead of the United Nations General Assembly in New York.

Iran seeks guarantee of sanctions relief in nuclear deal negotiations
Mina Aldroubi/The National/September 06/2022
Iran wants a guarantee that sanctions will be lifted as part of negotiations on the revival of the 2015 nuclear deal, a senior official has said. Tehran said on Monday that failing to secure a guarantee could lead to "unfortunate events related to the agreement", with the EU suggesting the accord was under threat.
For more than a year, the EU and other world powers have been in talks with Iran aimed at restoring the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, which eased sanctions on Iran in return for it curbs on its nuclear programme. The US, which has been involved in indirect talks with Iran, withdrew from the deal while Donald Trump was president. "The most important issue for us is the guarantees. If the guarantee framework is not strong, we may see unfortunate events related to the agreement at any time," the Iranian news agency Fars quoted Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Kanaani as saying.
"The issue of guarantee has two sides. One is the guarantee of lifting sanctions in a way that Iran can economically benefit from the JCPOA." Mr Kanaani said the government was also pushing for the UN nuclear watchdog to end its investigation into Iran's nuclear activities. Tehran has been accused of failing to disclose all of its activities after nuclear material was discovered at previously undeclared research sites. "We witnessed this incident in the previous stage. Iran unilaterally implemented the agreement, the American administration left and did not act, and the European parties did not fulfil their obligations and could not compensate the losses of the US withdrawal," Mr Kanaani said. A deal could still be reached if "opposite parties have the political will and can act constructively", he said. But the EU's senior diplomat Josep Borrell said on Monday that he was increasingly pessimistic about salvaging the deal.
“I am sorry to say that I am less confident today than 28 hours before about the convergence of the negotiation process, about the prospect of closing the deal right now,” Mr Borrell said in Brussels. US and Israel pledge to deny Iran nuclear weapons. “If the process doesn’t converge, the whole process is in danger.” The EU has drafted a proposal to rescue the agreement and energy traders have been closely following the talks to see whether there will be a breakthrough. When the US withdrew from the deal it reimposed sanctions on Iran, which breached the terms of the agreement. That has increased concerns in the West that Tehran could develop a nuclear weapon. Iran denies it has ambitions to do so.

Families of Europeans Held in Iran Send Letter Criticizing EU Stance
Asharq Al-Awsat/Tuesday, 6 September, 2022
Families of European nationals held in Iran have sent a letter to European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell demanding answers over the fate of their loved ones, which they feel are being neglected as the bloc tries to revive a nuclear deal. In recent years, Iran's Revolutionary Guards have arrested dozens of dual nationals and foreigners, mostly on charges related to espionage and security. "Negotiations with Iran on the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) have been taking place for months. Meanwhile, several European citizens are being held hostage by Iran," said a letter addressed to Borrell seen by Reuters, dated Sept. 6. It was signed by family members of Benjamin Brière, Kamran Ghaderi, Ahmadreza Djalali and Jamshid Sharmahd. "We, the families of French, Swedish, German, and Austrian citizens, who have been illegally detained by the Iranian regime, are outraged that the European Union seems to be ignoring these crimes." Borrell's office was not immediately available for comment. Talks to revive a 2015 accord to curb Iran's nuclear program in return for the easing of sanctions have stalled since March despite hopes in August of a breakthrough. The EU is the coordinator of the indirect talks between Iran, the United States and world powers and on Monday Borrell said he was less confident of reaching a deal after receiving Tehran's latest proposal. Rights groups have accused Iran of trying to extract concessions from other countries through such arrests. Iran, which does not recognize dual nationality, denies taking prisoners to gain diplomatic leverage. "All of them wonder, whether EU officials have forgotten them and how much longer they will have to endure this ordeal," the letter said, calling on Borrell to focus on their release. "Will their release be prioritized? Will the European Union prioritize the defense of its values, the defense of human rights, over economic and other interests?" the letter added.

Russia’s Lavrov Calls Truss Uncompromising, Mocks Her Macron Comment
Asharq Al-Awsat/Tuesday, 6 September, 2022
Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Tuesday criticized Britain's new Prime Minister Liz Truss for not being willing to compromise and mocked her for saying she did not know if the French president was a friend or an enemy. Speaking at a news conference in Moscow, Lavrov said Truss' approach would not help Britain on the international stage. Lavrov said Truss tried to "defend Britain's interests without taking into account the positions of others in any way and without any attempt to compromise."He added: "I do not think that this will help Britain to maintain or strengthen its position in the international arena, which has clearly been shaken after it left the European Union." Lavrov also taunted the incoming British leader over recent tension with French President Emmanuel Macron, a key NATO ally for Britain. During a campaign event last month, Truss said the "jury is out" on whether Macron was a friend or foe. "For Liz Truss ... it should be more of a priority to deal with her closest neighbors, including finally deciding whether President Macron is her friend or enemy. This question is still hanging in the air," Lavrov said. Russian politicians and media have greeted Truss' victory in the contest to replace Boris Johnson with scorn, lambasting what they see as her anti-Russian position. Lavrov said Britain had in recent years taken to trying to "compensate" for Brexit by taking "drastic steps on the world stage" and was acting "aggressively over the situation in Ukraine."Britain has been one of the most vocal backers of Kyiv and Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskiy since Russia invaded in late February. Truss, Britain's foreign minister who is replacing Johnson as prime minister from Tuesday, has said she will not abandon London's support, which has included significant military and financial aid.

IAEA Calls for Security Zone at Ukraine Frontline Nuclear Plant
Asharq Al-Awsat/Tuesday, 6 September, 2022
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) called on Tuesday for fighting to be halted in a security zone around Europe's biggest nuclear power station, saying its experts had found extensive damage at the plant on the front in the Ukraine war. A long-awaited report did not ascribe blame for damage to the Zaporozhzhia nuclear power plant, which Russia and Ukraine each accuse each other of shelling. But it called the situation unsustainable and said unless the shooting stops there would be a risk of disaster. The plant, seized by Russia shortly after its invasion of Ukraine, is controlled by Russian forces but run by Ukrainian technicians. It sits at the frontline on a Russian-held bank of a huge reservoir with Ukrainian positions across the water. "While the ongoing shelling has not yet triggered a nuclear emergency, it continues to represent a constant threat to nuclear safety and security with potential impact on critical safety functions that may lead to radiological consequences with great safety significance," the IAEA wrote. "The IAEA recommends that shelling on site and in its vicinity should be stopped immediately to avoid any further damage to the plant and associated facilities," it said. "This requires agreement by all relevant parties to the establishment of a nuclear safety and security protection zone."
Inspectors said they had found Russian troops and equipment at the plant, including military vehicles parked in turbine halls. Moscow has denied accusations that it used the plant as a shield for its forces, but says it has troops guarding it. "Ukrainian staff operating the plant under Russian military occupation are under constant high stress and pressure, especially with the limited staff available," the IAEA report said. "This is not sustainable and could lead to increased human error with implications for nuclear safety."IAEA inspectors led by the agency's chief, Rafael Grossi, braved shelling to cross the front line and reach the power station last week. Two experts have stayed on to maintain a long-term presence. Earlier on Tuesday, blasts rang out and power was cut in the city surrounding the plant, Enerhodar, according to Dmytro Orlov, the Ukrainian mayor who operates from outside Russian-held territory. Moscow repeated its longstanding accusations that Ukrainian forces had been shelling the plant. Kyiv says it is Russia that has been staging such incidents, to undermine international support for Ukraine and as a possible pretext to cut the plant from the Ukrainian power grid and steal its output. Russia has so far spurned international pleas to pull its forces back from the site and demilitarize the area. The IAEA report listed areas of the plant that had been damaged, including a building housing nuclear fuel, a facility for storing radioactive waste, and a building housing an alarm system. It said the power station had been cut off several times from offsite power supplies critical to its safe operation. Grossi is expected to brief the UN Security Council in New York on his findings later on Tuesday.
Ukraine hints at success in east
Thousands of people have died and millions have fled Ukraine since Russia launched what it calls a special military operation in February saying it aimed to demilitarize its neighbor. Kyiv and the West call it a brazen war of conquest. The past week has seen the focus of fighting shift mainly to the south, where Ukraine has started a long-awaited counter-attack to recapture territory seized early in the war. Kyiv has also used the opportunity to launch advances elsewhere along the front, and officials hinted on Tuesday at a battlefield success in the east. "Tonight there is going to be great news from President Zelenskiy on (the) counteroffensive operation in Kharkiv region," Zelenskiy advisor Serhiy Leshchenko said on Twitter, referring to the northeastern province around Ukraine's second biggest city. Several posts in social media from military bloggers and witnesses reported fighting around Balakliia, a town of 27,000 people that lies between Kharkiv and Izyum, a major railway hub city long held by Russia and used to supply its eastern forces. Reuters was not able to independently verify the reports. Control of Balakliia could facilitate a Ukrainian attempt to encircle or partially encircle Izyum, said Kyiv-based military analyst Oleh Zhdanov. Little information has emerged about the progress of the main Ukrainian offensive in the southern Kherson region, with Kyiv barring journalists from the frontline and releasing only limited reports, to preserve the element of surprise. Russia says it has repelled the Kherson assault. Western military experts say Ukraine's aim appears to be to trap thousands of Russian troops on the west bank of the wide Dnipro River and cut them off by destroying their rear supply lines. Meanwhile, Russia has continued to bombard Ukrainian cities. Rescue workers found the body of a woman beneath the rubble of an apartment building in Kharkiv after overnight shelling, mayor Ihor Terekhov said. The governor said two others were also killed in the province. Ukrainian officials said Russia had also struck an oil depot in Kryvy Rih, President's Zelenskiy's hometown. "There's a big fire at the oil depot. Fire services are working at the site. We're working to establish the scale of destruction and information about casualties," Valentyn Reznychenko, a local regional official, said.

Putin attends joint military drills with China, others
Associated Press/Tuesday, 6 September, 2022
Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday attended sweeping war games in his country's far east involving troops from China and other nations, in a show of military muscle amid the tensions with the West over Moscow's action in Ukraine.
The weeklong exercise that began Thursday is intended to showcase growing defense ties between Russia and China and also demonstrate that Moscow has enough troops and equipment for the massive drills even while its forces are engaged in fighting in Ukraine. The Russian Defense Ministry said that the Vostok 2022 (East 2022) exercise that runs until Wednesday at seven firing ranges in Russia's Far East and the Sea of Japan involves more than 50,000 troops and over 5,000 weapons units, including 140 aircraft and 60 warships. It engages troops from several ex-Soviet nations, China, India, Laos, Mongolia, Nicaragua and Syria. Beijing sent more than 2,000 troops along with more than 300 military vehicles, 21 combat aircraft and three warships to take part in the drills, according to Chinese news reports. As part of the maneuvers, the Russian and Chinese navies in the Sea of Japan practiced joint action to protect sea communications and support for ground forces in coastal areas. Neil Melvin, the head of international security studies at the Royal United Services Institute in London, observed that the drills are intended "to indicate to the West, to its partners in Asia that this is an emerging security and military relationship that needs to be taken account of." The drills continue a series of joint war games by Russia and China in recent years, including naval drills and patrols by long-range bombers over the Sea of Japan and the East China Sea. Last year, Russian troops for the first time deployed to Chinese territory for joint maneuvers.
The exercise marked the first time that China has sent forces from three branches of its military to take part in a single Russian drill, a sign of increasing close ties between Moscow and Beijing, which have grown stronger since Putin sent his troops into Ukraine on Feb. 24. China has pointedly refused to criticize Russia's actions, blaming the U.S. and NATO for provoking Moscow, and has blasted the punishing Western sanctions against Russia. The Kremlin, in turn, has strongly backed Beijing amid the latest tensions with the U.S. that followed a recent visit to Taiwan by U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping have developed strong personal ties to bolster a "strategic partnership" between the former Communist rivals as they both are locked in rivalry with the U.S. Even though Moscow and Beijing in the past ruled out a military alliance, Putin has said that such a prospect can't be excluded.
Analyst Melvin said that, while Beijing wants to showcase its growing defense ties with Russia, China is not in a situation where it can support Russia economically without damaging its own core interests because of its focus on the North American and European markets. Mindful of sweeping Western sanctions against Russia, "Chinese business has had to look very carefully at its economic relationship with Russia, and in many cases, the Chinese businesses have concluded that it'd be too risky to carry on doing business," he said. Melvin said Moscow's campaign in Ukraine and the Western sanctions has made Russia increasingly reliant on China. "China is clearly going to be setting the agenda more and more," Melvin said. "It may be actually demanding more of Russia."

US: Russia to buy rockets, artillery shells from North Korea
Associated Press/Tuesday, 6 September, 2022
The Russian Ministry of Defense is in the process of purchasing millions of rockets and artillery shells from North Korea for its ongoing fight in Ukraine, according to a newly downgraded U.S. intelligence finding.
A U.S. official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the intelligence determination, said Monday that the fact Russia is turning to the isolated state of North Korea demonstrates that "the Russian military continues to suffer from severe supply shortages in Ukraine, due in part to export controls and sanctions." U.S. intelligence officials believe that the Russians could look to purchase additional North Korean military equipment in the future. The intelligence finding was first reported by The New York Times. The U.S. official did not detail how much weaponry Russia intends to purchase from North Korea.
The finding comes after the Biden administration recently confirmed that the Russian military in August took delivery of Iranian-manufactured drones for use on the battlefield in Ukraine. The White House said last week that Russia has faced technical problems with Iranian-made drones acquired from Tehran in August for use in its war with Ukraine. Russia picked up Mohajer-6 and Shahed-series unmanned aerial vehicles over several days last month as part what the Biden administration says is likely part of a Russian plan to acquire hundreds of Iranian UAVs for use in Ukraine.
North Korea has sought to tighten relations with Russia as much of Europe and the West has pulled away, blaming the United States for the Ukraine crisis and decrying the West's "hegemonic policy" as justifying military action by Russia in Ukraine to protect itself. The North Koreans have hinted interest in sending construction workers to help rebuild Russian-occupied territories in the country's east.
North Korea's ambassador to Moscow recently met with envoys from two Russia-backed separatist territories in the Donbas region of Ukraine and expressed optimism about cooperation in the "field of labor migration," citing his country's easing pandemic border controls. In July, North Korea became the only nation aside from Russia and Syria to recognize the independence of the territories, Donetsk and Luhansk, further aligning with Russia over the conflict in Ukraine.
The North's arms export to Russia would be a violation of U.N. resolutions that ban the country from exporting to or importing weapons from other countries. Its possible dispatch of laborers to the Russian-held territories in Ukraine would also breach a U.N. resolution that required all member states to repatriate all North Korean workers from their soil by 2019. There have been suspicions that China and Russia haven't fully enforced U.N. sanctions on North Korea, complicating a U.S.-led attempt to deprive North Korea of its nuclear weapons. The provocative move by North Korea comes as the Biden administration has become increasingly concerned about stepped-up activity by North Korea in pursuit of nuclear weapons. North Korea has test-fired more than 30 ballistic missiles this year, including its first flights of intercontinental ballistic missiles since 2017, as leader Kim Jong Un pushes to advance his nuclear arsenal despite U.S.-led pressure and sanctions. The U.S. has frequently downgraded and unveiled intelligence findings over the course of the grinding war in Ukraine to highlight plans for Russian misinformation operations or to throw attention on Moscow's difficulties in prosecuting the war. Ukraine's smaller military has put up a stiff resistance against the militarily superior Russian forces.
Russian President Vladimir Putin and Kim have recently exchanged letters in which they both called for "comprehensive" and "strategic and tactical" cooperation between the countries. Moscow, for its part, has issued statements condemning the revival of large-scale military exercises between the United States and South Korea this year, which North Korea views as an invasion rehearsal. Russia, along with China, has called for the easing of U.N. sanctions imposed on North Korea over its nuclear and missile tests. Both countries are members of the U.N. Security Council, which has approved a total of 11 rounds of sanctions on the North since 2006. In May, Russia and China vetoed a U.S.-led bid to impose new economic sanctions on North Korea over its high-profile missile tests this year. Some experts say that Kim could likely bolster his resolve to retain his nuclear weapons because he may think the Russian attack happened because Ukraine had signed away its nuclear arsenal. Relations between Moscow and Pyongyang go back to the 1948 foundation of North Korea, as Soviet officials installed young, ambitious nationalist Kim Il Sung, the late grandfather of Kim Jong Un, as the country's first ruler. Since then, Soviet aid shipment had been crucial in keeping North Korea's economy afloat for decades before the disintegration of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s. Moscow had since established formal diplomatic relations with Seoul as part of its hopes to draw South Korean investment and allowed its Soviet-era military alliance with North Korea to expire. But after his election in 2000, Putin actively sought to restore his country's ties with North Korea in what was seen as an effort to regain its traditional domains of influence and secure more allies to better deal with the United States.

Israeli President Gives Broad Speech to Germany’s Parliament
Asharq Al-Awsat/Tuesday, 6 September, 2022
Israel’s president addressed Germany’s parliament on Tuesday about atrocities committed during the Third Reich, while at the same time praising the close and friendly relations that have emerged between the two countries since the end of the Holocaust.
Six million European Jews were murdered by Germany’s Nazis and their henchmen during World War II. “Never in human history was there a campaign like the one the Nazis and their accomplices conducted to annihilate the Jewish people,” Israeli President Isaac Herzog told lawmakers at the Bundestag. “Never in history was a state responsible, as Nazi Germany was responsible, for the loss of all semblance of humanity, for the erasure of all mercy, for the pursuit of the worldwide obliteration, with such awful cruelty, of an entire people.” Herzog also spoke about his father, former Israeli President Chaim Herzog, who was among the liberators of the concentration camp of Bergen-Belsen in northern Germany in April 1945, as an officer of the British forces, The Associated Press reported. “I shall never forget how he described to me the horrors he witnessed. The stench. The human skeletons in striped pajamas, the piles of corpses, the destruction, the hell on earth,” the Israeli president told German lawmakers. On Tuesday afternoon, Herzog and German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier are set to visit the site of the former concentration camp. After a tour of the memorial site, the two presidents are expected to meet with survivors and German high school students. The Israeli president arrived for a state visit to Germany earlier this week that also included a trip to Munich on Monday where he participated in the 50-year anniversary ceremony for the 11 Israeli athletes murdered by Palestinian militants at the 1972 Olympic Games. Looking forward, Herzog praised close relations between the two countries and their joint commitment to fight antisemitism. “The partnership between Israel and Germany has achieved global renown, and we must continue deepening and cultivating it, for the benefit of a brilliant future not only for our countries but for the whole of humanity,” he said in parliament.

Türkiye’s Erdogan Says ‘Europe Reaping What it Sowed’ on Energy Crisis
Asharq Al-Awsat/Tuesday, 6 September, 2022
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Tuesday that Russia is cutting natural gas flows to Europe in retaliation for sanctions, adding that Europe is "reaping what it sowed". Fears in Europe have increased over a potentially bleak winter after Russia announced it was keeping its main gas pipeline to Germany shut. Russia indefinitely halted the flows through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline and has cut or shut down supplies on three of its biggest westward gas pipelines since its invasion of Ukraine began on Feb. 24. Oil supplies have also been redirected eastwards. "Europe is actually reaping what it sowed," Erdogan told reporters in Ankara on Tuesday, adding that sanctions drove Putin to retaliate using energy supplies. "Putin is using all his means and weapons, and the most important of these is natural gas. Unfortunately - we wouldn't want this but - such a situation is developing in Europe," Erdogan said. "I think Europe will experience serious problems this winter. We do not have such a problem," he added. NATO-member Türkiye has sought to strike a balance between Moscow and Kyiv by criticizing Russia's invasion and sending arms to Ukraine, while opposing the Western sanctions and continuing trade, tourism and investment with Russia. Türkiye, which has Black Sea borders with both Russia and Ukraine, has said joining sanctions against Russia would have hurt its already strained economy and argued that it is focused on mediation efforts. Moscow blames disruption to equipment maintenance caused by Western sanctions for its halt to the flow of gas through the Nord Stream 1 pipe. European countries call that nonsense, accusing Russia of weaponizing energy supplies in retaliation for Western sanctions imposed on Moscow over its invasion of Ukraine.

Surprise Twist Has Putin’s Top Flack Publicly Praising Biden
Shannon Vavra/The Daily Beast/September 6, 2022
In a twisted turn of events, the Kremlin and President Joe Biden are now on the same page about something over six months into Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine. Biden said this weekend he doesn’t think that Russia should be designated as a state sponsor of terrorism, and now the Kremlin is lavishing praise on the president, announcing Tuesday that Moscow is grateful for Biden’s stance that the United States should avoid designating Russia. The Kremlin “appreciates” that Biden is not recognizing Russia as a state sponsor of terror, according to TASS. “It is good that the U.S. president responded in this way,” Kremlin spokesperson, Dmitry Peskov, said on RBC TV, according to TASS. “The very formulation of the issue is monstrous.”If the United States were to designate Russia, Moscow would join the ranks of North Korea, Syria, Iran, and Cuba. Russia’s Panicked Confession: This Is What Scares Us Most. The news of Biden’s interest in avoiding designating Russia a state sponsor of terrorism comes as Russia appears desperate for any wins. Ukrainian forces have begun a counteroffensive in southern Ukraine targeting Kherson, which Russian forces seized in the first several days of the war. Russia's defense minister has announced Russia is slowing down in the war. Putin is working to form a new army fighting group, but has had to lean on recruiting prisoners and eliminating an age ceiling. A key Russian general, the director of Russia’s national guard, told Putin just last week that Ukrainians support Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in an apparent attempt to reassure a visibly shaken Putin. And over six months into the war, Putin’s military industrial complex is struggling to keep up with manufacturing to support Russian forces in Ukraine. In a sign of how desperate Russia has become, it is turning to fellow pariah state North Korea for millions of artillery shells and rockets, two U.S. officials told The Daily Beast Tuesday. The White House did not immediately return a request for comment about the Kremlin’s “appreciation” for Biden’s stance.
Biden’s commentary comes weeks after Russia warned the United States against designating Russia as a state sponsor of terrorism. Designating Russia, a step which would bring about new sanctions and defense export restrictions, would tank diplomatic relations between Moscow and Washington to an all time low, according to Russia’s Foreign Ministry North American Department director, Alexander Darchiev. “Washington would have to cross the point of no return, with the most serious collateral damage to bilateral diplomatic relations, up to their lowering or even breaking them off,” Darchiev said in a TASS interview last month. “The U.S. side has been warned.” While Biden might be heeding the warning, the legislative branch is not on board. Pressure from Capitol Hill has, in recent months, pushed the Biden administration to help Ukraine better respond to Russia’s invasion, including by sending advanced rocket launch systems, or High Mobility Artillery Rocket System
Rep. Tom Malinowski (D-NJ), one of several lawmakers behind a proposal in the House of Representatives to designate Russia as a state sponsor of terrorism, told The Daily Beast he doesn’t think Biden’s stance here is the correct one. “The tangible support we’re providing Ukraine and sanctions against Russia are far more important than any symbolic designation,” Malinowski told The Daily Beast. “But Russia does merit it, given its support for violent extremists and proxies like the Wagner Group, so I continue to think we should put them on the list and then move on.”Texas Rep. Michael McCaul, the Republican Leader on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, lambasted Biden’s stance. "President Biden’s flippant and outright dismissal of a state sponsor of terrorism designation for Russia is unacceptable,” McCaul told The Daily Beast. “The mounting evidence of widespread Russian war crimes in Ukraine and Putin’s willingness to threaten nuclear catastrophe at the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant require the U.S. and its allies to do everything in their power to isolate and hold the Putin regime accountable for its unprovoked war of aggression against Ukraine.”Momentum has been slowly building in Congress to move on designating Russia as a state sponsor of terrorism—and to push Biden further than he wants his administration to go. Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), and Rob Portman (R-OH) pushed through a non-binding resolution in the Senate that urges the State Department to designate Russia as a state sponsor of terrorism. All 100 senators have stood behind the resolution. U.S. Secretary of State Tony Blinken has previously said that Russia is “terrorizing” the Ukrainian people, but has indicated he doesn’t consider the move relevant right now. “The costs that have been imposed on Russia by us and by other countries are absolutely in line with the consequences that would follow from designation as a state sponsor of terrorism. So the practical effects of what we’re doing are the same,” Blinken told reporters in late July.

Kremlin Says 2022 Is ‘Year of Unity’ as 419,000 Flee From Russia
Allison Quinn/SPUTNIK/September 6, 2022
The Kremlin on Tuesday offered perhaps its most delusional take yet on the state of Russia more than six months into its war against Ukraine, claiming the country is more united than ever, even as nearly half a million people have fled. “Different points of view always live and collide in society. To say that there has been some kind of special polarization [is not true]. On the contrary, I would say that 2022 is the year of unity in our society,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said in an interview with RBK. He went on to say “tectonic shifts” and “unprecedented events” are taking place that have led to “the absolute consolidation of our society around President [Vladimir] Putin.”“It’s impossible to dispute that, that’s for sure,” Peskov claimed, adding that those who oppose the war against Ukraine are in the “minority” and “discussions are being carried out with them.”His comments seemed to be all the more jarring in light of a new report by Russia’s Federal State Statistics Service that warned of a massive “outflow” of Russians since the beginning of the year. In the first half of 2022, a total of 419,000 Russians left the country—more than double the exodus seen a year earlier in the same period, according to Rosstat data.
Meanwhile, a “confidential” report prepared for the Russian government to assess the projected damage of sanctions “paints a far more dire picture” than Moscow has publicly acknowledged, according to Bloomberg News, which obtained a copy of the document. The Russian officials and experts who authored the report say the fallout from sanctions will only intensify, and the country may be stuck in a recession until at least 2030. The Kremlin, however, still seems to be convinced the country is well on its way to “victory” on all fronts—so much so that Peskov said Putin intends to visit stolen Ukrainian territory. In comments to Izvestia published Tuesday, Putin’s spokesman said he has “no doubt” the Russian leader will pay a visit to the Donbas, the eastern Ukrainian region that Moscow said was its “priority” after a full takeover of the country failed miserably in the spring. “When the time comes, such a trip will take place,” Peskov said.

Ukraine official promises 'great news' from Kharkiv counteroffensive
KYIV /Reuters/September 6, 2022
-An adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy's chief of staff said he expected Kyiv to announce "great news" about its counteroffensive in the eastern Kharkiv region on Tuesday evening, without giving further details. Kharkiv region, in northeast Ukraine, is on the far end of the front line from the southern Kherson region, which Ukraine last week announced as the focus of a push to retake territory. "Tonight there is going to be great news from President Zelenskiy on (the) counteroffensive operation in Kharkiv region," Serhiy Leshchenko said on Twitter. Several posts in social media from military bloggers and witnesses reported fighting around Balakliia, a town of 27,000 people that lies between the cities of Kharkiv and Izyum. Reuters was not able to independently verify the reports. Control of Balakliia could facilitate a Ukrainian attempt to encircle or partially encircle the Russian-held city of Izyum, said Kyiv-based military analyst Oleh Zhdanov. (Reporting by Max Hunder and Pavel Polityuk and Conor Humphries; Editing by Alex Richardson and Edmund Blair) Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect.

Liz Truss becomes UK prime minister: new leader announces first Cabinet
Tim Stickings/The National/September 06/2022
It was hoped a 'unity Cabinet' might have ended bitter infighting witnessed during Boris Johnson years. British Prime Minister Liz Truss has named her new Cabinet in a reshuffle that instantly put pressure on calls for Conservative unity. Several of leadership rival Rishi Sunak's supporters were sacked, including Dominic Raab, Grant Shapps, George Eustice and Steve Barclay. The prime minister’s closest supporters got the greatest rewards, with Kwasi Kwarteng, James Cleverly and Suella Braverman becoming chancellor, foreign secretary and home secretary, respectively.
Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey — regarded as Ms Truss’s closest confidante at Westminster — is the new health secretary and deputy prime minister.
Other Cabinet appointments
Brandon Lewis has been appointed Lord Chancellor and justice secretary.
Ben Wallace has been re-appointed as defence secretary, Downing Street said.
Jacob Rees-Mogg has been appointed secretary of state for business, energy and industrial strategy.
Simon Clarke becomes secretary of state for levelling up, housing and communities.
Kemi Badenoch has been appointed as international trade secretary and president of the Board of Trade.
Chloe Smith has been appointed work and pensions secretary.
Anne-Marie Trevelyan becomes transport secretary.
Kit Malthouse becomes education secretary.
Alok Sharma has also been re-appointed as Cop26 president.
Nadhim Zahawi has been appointed Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, minister for intergovernmental relations and minister for equalities.
Michelle Donelan becomes secretary of state for digital, culture, media and sport.
Chris Heaton-Harris has been appointed as Northern Ireland secretary.
Alister Jack has been re-appointed as Scottish secretary.
Robert Buckland has been re-appointed as Welsh secretary.
Penny Mordaunt has been appointed leader of the House of Commons.
Ranil Jayawardena becomes secretary of state for environment, food and rural affairs.
Ms Truss also appointed Wendy Morton as chief whip, Downing Street said.
Lord True has been appointed leader of the House of Lords.
Chris Philp will attend Cabinet as chief secretary to the Treasury.
Political observers suggested it was not the potential “unity Cabinet” that might have ended the bitter infighting witnessed during the Boris Johnson years.
Johnny Mercer, the sacked veterans minister, appeared to sum up the mood in suggesting that he had been ousted to make way for a Truss favourite.
Two senior Johnson ministers, Nadine Dorries and Priti Patel, pre-empted Ms Truss’s announcements by saying they would step away from the front benches.
Ms Patel said she would resign as home secretary once a successor was in place, while Ms Dorries, the culture secretary, said she was leaving the Cabinet and was widely tipped to move to the House of Lords. Those who had backed Mr Sunak urged Ms Truss to appoint an “inclusive” Cabinet and not simply surround herself with loyalists in the way that Mr Johnson was accused of doing.
New UK prime minister Liz Truss' first cabinet: Whose in?
Mr Raab, who was justice secretary as well as second-in-command to Mr Johnson, had not expected to continue his run in government, having described Ms Truss’s tax plans as an “electoral suicide note”.The MP for Esher and Walton announced he would be supporting the government from the backbenches.
“Thanks to the brilliant MoJ [Ministry of Justice] team for all their hard work over the last year,” Mr Raab tweeted.
“Good luck to the new PM and her team.
“I look forward to supporting the government from the backbenches.”
Mr Shapps also tweeted his own exit as transport secretary but did not make the same remarks of support for the new Tory leader.
“It has been a privilege to serve as Transport Secretary; a job I loved,” he said.
“Now I look forward to being a strong, independent voice on the backbenches, developing policies that will further the Conservative cause and the interests of my constituents in Welwyn Hatfield.”
Mr Barclay, the MP for North East Cambridgeshire who had been health secretary for Mr Johnson’s final months in office, tweeted: “Thanks to all colleagues, both political and civil service, for their fantastic support. Wishing @trussliz and her ministerial team every success for the future.”
Earlier on Tuesday, Ms Truss accepted Queen Elizabeth II’s invitation to form a government after Mr Johnson formally resigned at the monarch’s Balmoral estate in Scotland, completing the transfer of power after a two-month leadership contest.
Ms Truss is taking charge during an energy and inflation crisis she is expected to tackle within days with a sweeping plan to freeze fuel bills.
Plans briefed to journalists suggest Ms Truss could freeze household energy bills around their current level of £1,971 ($2,283) per year until at least January, and possibly until the next election expected in 2024.
Halting the looming 80 per cent rise in bills could cost as much as £100 billion ($116bn), and would mark a swift change of tack from Ms Truss after she spent the Tory leadership contest arguing for tax cuts instead of government handouts.
Simon Clarke, a Treasury minister and supporter of Ms Truss, said the new prime minister would make a “decisive intervention” to help people through the crisis unfolding in the shadow of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
But there were doubts about how such a freeze would be paid for, with the opposition Labour Party alarmed by suggestions that the money would be recouped through higher bills over a period of 10 to 20 years. Labour MPs called for a windfall tax on energy companies to fund the freeze, while Paul Massara, the former boss of energy company npower, told LBC radio: “This isn’t a freebie.”
Mr Johnson, forced out by Tory MPs who lost patience after a series of scandals, tendered his resignation at Balmoral after his farewell speech in Downing Street early on Tuesday. In a speech full of typical rhetorical flourishes, he urged the Conservatives to unite but expressed resentment over his midterm departure, complaining that MPs had “changed the rules halfway through”. Amid speculation that he will one day attempt a comeback, he left people guessing with an enigmatic reference to the Roman statesman Lucius Quinctius Cincinnatus, said to have come out of retirement for a second stint in power. Mr Johnson flew to Scotland to offer his resignation after the queen, 96, who has suffered mobility problems and cancelled a number of public appearances in recent months, decided not to return to London for the handover.
Ms Truss travelled separately to Balmoral to be invited to form a government, making her the 15th prime minister of the queen’s 70-year reign in a line stretching back to Winston Churchill. She is the third woman to become prime minister after fellow Conservative leaders Margaret Thatcher and Theresa May. Ms Truss was congratulated by world leaders but was urged by some to show cooperation towards the European Union after often stormy UK-EU relations under Mr Johnson's tenure.
“The British people are our friends, the British nation is our ally,” said French President Emmanuel Macron, who was visibly irked by Ms Truss's statement last month that the jury was still out on whether he was a friend or foe.

New UK Leader Promises to Tackle Energy Crisis, Economy
Asharq Al-Awsat/Tuesday, 6 September, 2022
Liz Truss took over as British prime minister on Tuesday, vowing immediate action to tackle one of the most daunting set of challenges for an incoming leader in post-War history led by soaring energy bills, a looming recession and industrial strife.
Truss, the fourth Conservative prime minister in six years, flew to the royal family's Scottish home to be asked by Queen Elizabeth to form a government. She replaces Boris Johnson who was forced out after three tumultuous years in power.
"We now face severe global headwinds caused by Russia's appalling war in Ukraine and the aftermath of COVID," the 47-year-old former foreign secretary said outside her Downing Street office. "I am confident that together we can ride out the storm. We can rebuild our economy, and we can become the modern brilliant Britain that I know we can be." Truss, who will later announce her government appointments, said she had three priorities: growing the economy through tax cuts, dealing with rising energy costs from this week, and ensuring people got the care they needed from the state-run National Health Service. However, she inherits an economy in crisis, with inflation at double digits, the cost of energy soaring and the Bank of England warning of a lengthy recession by the end of this year. Already, workers across the economy have gone on strike. Her plan to revive growth through tax cuts, while also potentially providing around 100 billion pounds ($116 billion) for energy, has rattled financial markets, prompting investors to dump the pound and government bonds in recent weeks.
Truss has also promised to scrap plans to increase corporation tax on big firms, and to reverse an increase in a payroll tax on workers and employers, designed to raise additional funding for health and social care, with the extra spending coming from general taxation. British 30-year government bonds suffered their sharpest one-day fall since March 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic caused turmoil in financial markets, as investors honed in on the extra borrowing Truss's plans are likely to require.
Ten-year borrowing costs rose to their highest since 2011, but two-year yields fell, with economists noting that an energy price cap would stop inflation rising in the near term.
"I know that we have what it takes to tackle those challenges. Of course, it won't be easy, but we can do it," Truss said.
"I will take action this day and action every day to make it happen. United with our allies, we will stand up for freedom and democracy around the world of recognizing that we can't have security at home without having security abroad."US President Joe Biden was one of the first to congratulate Truss. "I look forward to deepening the special relationship between our countries and working in close cooperation on global challenges, including continued support for Ukraine as it defends itself against Russian aggression," he said on Twitter.
Weak hand
The new prime minister will address the latest crises buffeting Britain with a weaker political hand than many of her predecessors. Having held a place in the cabinet of senior ministers for eight years, she defeated rival Rishi Sunak in a vote of Conservative Party members by a tighter margin than expected, and more of the party's lawmakers initially backed her rival. Johnson, who tried to cling on to power in July despite ministers resigning en masse over a series of scandals, told reporters and politicians gathered in Downing Street early on Tuesday that the country must unite. "It's time for politics to be over, folks," he said in his farewell speech. "It's time for us all to get behind Liz Truss and her team and her program."After speaking outside the famous black door, he left London to travel to northeast Scotland and tender his resignation to 96-year-old Queen Elizabeth before Truss followed him into Balmoral Castle to be appointed his successor. Johnson used his departure speech to boast of his successes, including an early vaccine program during COVID-19 and his staunch support for Ukraine in its battle against Russia. He also listed "delivering Brexit" as one of his main achievements, although polls now show that a majority of people think leaving the European Union was a mistake. Britain, under Conservative rule since 2010, has stumbled from crisis to crisis in recent years and there is now the prospect of a long energy emergency that could drain the savings of households and threaten the futures of businesses still weighed down by COVID-era loans. Household energy bills are due to jump by 80% in October, but a source familiar with the situation has told Reuters that Truss may freeze bills in a plan that could cost towards 100 billion pounds ($115.33 billion), surpassing the COVID-19 furlough scheme.
The scale of the package, plus the fact the energy crisis could run for a couple of years, has spooked investors. The pound has fared worse against the U.S. dollar than most other major currencies recently. In August alone sterling shed 4% against the greenback and it marked the worst month for 20-year British government bonds since around 1978, according to records from Refinitiv and the Bank of England. Britain's public finances also remain weighed down by the government's huge coronavirus spending spree. Public debt as a share of economic output is not far off 100%, up from about 80% before the pandemic.

Taiwan Says Chinese Military Drone Entered Air Defense Zone
Asharq Al-Awsat/Tuesday, 6 September, 2022
Taiwan said a Chinese military reconnaissance drone entered its air defense zone on Monday, the latest incursion as relations between the two neighbors remain tense. The drone, identified by Taipei's defense ministry as a BZK-007 vehicle, crossed into the southwest corner of the island's air defense identification zone (ADIZ) along with eight Chinese warplanes, AFP said. Taiwan's ADIZ is much larger than its airspace and overlaps with part of China's ADIZ and even includes some of the mainland. China has dramatically increased incursions into Taiwan's southwestern ADIZ over the last two years, but the use of military drones is rare. The last time Taiwan's military reported one was October 2020, one month after it started making data on the frequency of Chinese sorties public. Monday's incursion came after Taiwanese soldiers on a tiny islet just off China's mainland shot down an unidentified commercial drone last week. That was the first time Taiwanese forces have downed a drone, following a sudden spate of incursions by small, commercially available drones in recent weeks. In contrast, the BZK-007 is a much larger, military drone built by the Guizhou Aircraft Industry Corporation that can carry out long-distance flights and boasts much more sophisticated reconnaissance devices. Taiwan's 23 million people live under constant threat of invasion by China, which claims the self-ruled, democratic island as part of its territory to be taken one day -- by force if necessary. Beijing's saber-rattling has grown more pronounced under President Xi Jinping, China's most authoritarian and internationally assertive leader in a generation. Last month China sent warships, missiles and fighter jets into the waters and skies around Taiwan, its largest and most aggressive exercises since mid-1990s. Those exercises were a protest against a visit to Taipei by US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Taiwan also saw a record 446 air incursions by Chinese warplanes in August. Crossings by Chinese warplanes of the median line, an unofficial barrier between the two sides running down the Taiwan Strait, have also become near-daily since Pelosi's visit. In 2020, China flew a total of 380 sorties, according to an AFP database using Taiwanese military reports.By last year that jumped to 969. So far this year Chinese planes have made at least 1,100 individual incursions into the ADIZ.

Egypt Exits Arab League Meeting, Opposing Libyan Minister

Asharq Al-Awsat/Tuesday, 6 September, 2022
Egypt’s foreign minister withdrew Tuesday from an Arab League session chaired by the chief diplomat of one of Libya’s two rival governments. The move was an apparent protest against her representing Libya at the pan-Arab summit. Egypt supports her administration’s rival. The seats of the Egyptian delegation were seen empty as Najla Mangoush, the foreign minister of the Tripoli-based Government of National Unity (GNU), was addressing a meeting for the Arab foreign ministers in Cairo. Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry left the meeting room in the Arab League headquarters when Mangoush took her seat to chair the meeting. Egypt sees the chaos in neighboring Libya as a threat to its stability, with militants using the Libyan desert as a safe haven from which to launch deadly attacks on Egyptian security forces and Christians. Egypt’s government has argued the mandate of the GNU of Prime Minister Abdelhamid al-Dbeibah has ended after Libya’s east-based parliament appointed a rival premier earlier this year. In a news conference following the meeting, Mangoush attempted to downplay Shoukry's withdrawal, saying that it was “not a crisis but a divergence of views" regarding the legitimacy of Dbeibah's government. Libya’s current political stalemate grew out of the failure to hold elections in December and Dbeibah’s refusal to step down. In response, the country’s east-based parliament appointed a rival prime minister, Fathi Bashagha, who has for months sought to install his government in Tripoli. The parliament cancelled its session Monday in the eastern city of Benghazi after it said lawmakers were prevented from leaving the capital, Tripoli, which is controlled by Dbeibah-allied militias. The divisions have contributed to fresh fighting in the war-torn country. Deadly clashes between militias backed by its two rival administrations killed 23 people last month in Libya’s capital, portending a return to violence amid a long political stalemate. The escalation threatens to shatter the relative calm Libya has enjoyed for most of the past two years. The oil-rich nation plunged into chaos following a NATO-backed uprising that toppled and killed longtime ruler Moammar al-Gaddafi in 2011.

Families of Europeans Held in Iran Send Letter Criticizing EU Stance

Asharq Al-Awsat/Tuesday, 6 September, 2022
Families of European nationals held in Iran have sent a letter to European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell demanding answers over the fate of their loved ones, which they feel are being neglected as the bloc tries to revive a nuclear deal.
In recent years, Iran's Revolutionary Guards have arrested dozens of dual nationals and foreigners, mostly on charges related to espionage and security. "Negotiations with Iran on the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) have been taking place for months. Meanwhile, several European citizens are being held hostage by Iran," said a letter addressed to Borrell seen by Reuters, dated Sept. 6. It was signed by family members of Benjamin Brière, Kamran Ghaderi, Ahmadreza Djalali and Jamshid Sharmahd. "We, the families of French, Swedish, German, and Austrian citizens, who have been illegally detained by the Iranian regime, are outraged that the European Union seems to be ignoring these crimes." Borrell's office was not immediately available for comment. Talks to revive a 2015 accord to curb Iran's nuclear program in return for the easing of sanctions have stalled since March despite hopes in August of a breakthrough. The EU is the coordinator of the indirect talks between Iran, the United States and world powers and on Monday Borrell said he was less confident of reaching a deal after receiving Tehran's latest proposal. Rights groups have accused Iran of trying to extract concessions from other countries through such arrests. Iran, which does not recognize dual nationality, denies taking prisoners to gain diplomatic leverage. "All of them wonder, whether EU officials have forgotten them and how much longer they will have to endure this ordeal," the letter said, calling on Borrell to focus on their release. "Will their release be prioritized? Will the European Union prioritize the defense of its values, the defense of human rights, over economic and other interests?" the letter added.

The Latest LCCC English analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on September 06-07/2022
Rare photo surfaces of top Al Qaeda leaders inside Iran
Bill Roggio/FDD Long War Journal/September 06/2022
A recently surfaced photograph of three of Al Qaeda’s top leaders, including Saif al Adel – the man many believe to be the successor to emir Ayman al Zawahiri – shows that they were present in the Iranian capital of Tehran. Numerous U.S. government designations have previously outlined the presence of senior Al Qaeda leaders in Iran, but this photo offered rare visual proof.
The photo was originally published by @Sw0rdOfAnon (Anonymous) on Twitter. Two U.S. intelligence officials independently confirmed to FDD’s Long War Journal the authenticity of the photograph, as well as the identities of the three men. The intelligence officials said the photograph was taken in Tehran in 2015.
The photograph shows, from left to right, Saif al Adel, Abu Muhammad al Masri, and Abu Abu al Khayr al Masri. The photograph casts significant doubt on the assertions that Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corp and Ministry of Intelligence kept these and other Al Qaeda leaders under strict house arrest.
Al Adel, originally a member of Egyptian Islamic Jihad, a jihadist group that formally merged with Al Qaeda prior to 9/11, has long been a top leader in Al Qaeda. Al Adel is known to have sheltered in Iran along with other key terrorist leaders. Al Adel has served as Al Qaeda’s overall military commander and a member of its central decision making council. He is now believed to be inside Afghanistan.
Al Adel’s ties to Iran and its chief terrorist proxy, Hezbollah, date to the early 1990s. During the U.S. embassy bombings trial in early 2001, an Al Qaeda defector named Jamal al-Fadl Identified al Adel as one of the Al Qaeda members who received Iran’s and Hezbollah’s explosives training. The 9/11 Commission later found that Al Qaeda used this training to develop the “tactical expertise” necessary to conduct the 1998 Kenya and Tanzania embassy bombings, which were modeled after Hezbollah’s attacks on American and Western forces in Lebanon in the early 1980s. [For more information on Saif al Adel, see FDD’s Long War Journal report, Analysis: 2 wanted al Qaeda leaders operate in Iran]
Abu Muhammad al Masri, who was also known as Abdullah Ahmed Abdullah, was also an original member of Egyptian Islamic Jihad and was complicit in the 1998 Kenya and Tanzania embassy bombings. He served as a key Al Qaeda leader and was a member of its central council. He was in the line of succession to lead Al Qaeda before he was gunned down in Tehran on Aug. 7, 2020, the 22 year anniversary of the Africa embassy bombings. [For more information Abu Muhammad al Masri, see FDD’s Long War Journal reports, Analysis: 2 wanted al Qaeda leaders operate in Iran and Analysis: Al Qaeda’s deputy emir killed in Iran]
Abu Khayr al Masri, whose real name was Abdullah Muhammad Rajab Abd al Rahman, also was a original member of Egyptian Islamic Jihad before rising to the top ranks of Al Qaeda. U.S. intelligence identified Abu Khayr as the chairman of Al Qaeda’s management council, according to the Washington Post. Abu Khayr also previously served as Al Qaeda’s “chief of foreign relations” and in that capacity he was a “liaison to the Taliban” in Afghanistan.
Abu Khayr, along with a number of senior Al Qaeda leaders, relocated to Syria in 2016 to reorganize Al Qaeda’s network in the country and unite sparring jihadist factions. At the time, Al Qaeda identified Ab Khayr as Zawahiri’s “general deputy.” Abu Khayr’s time in Syria was short lived, as he was killed in a U.S. drone strike in Idlib on Feb. 26, 2017. [For more information Abu Khayr al Masri, see FDD’s Long War Journal report, Zawahiri’s deputy sought to ‘unify’ Syrian rebels.]
The presence of top Al Qaeda leaders inside Iran has been documented by the U.S government in numerous designations over the years. Other senior leaders known to have been operating inside Iran include ‘Abd al Rahman al Maghrebi, Yasin al Suri, Sa’ad bin Laden (now deceased), and Mustafa Hamid. [For a list of Al Qaeda leaders, operatives and facilitators operating in Iran, see FDD’s Long War Journal report, U.S. identifies additional al Qaeda leaders in Iran.]
In addition to keeping tabs on senior Al Qaeda figures inside Iran, the U.S. Treasury and State Departments have repeatedly exposed Iran’s “secret deal” with the Sunni jihadists. Under an agreement with the Iranian regime, Al Qaeda has maintained its “core facilitation pipeline” inside Iran. The Iranians have allowed this facilitation network to operate even though Iran and Al Qaeda are on opposite sides of the conflicts in Syria and Yemen.
*Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD’s Long War Journal. Follow him on Twitter @billroggio. FDD is a Washington, DC-based, nonpartisan research institute focusing on national security and foreign policy.

رويل مارك وجيريشت راي تاكيه/ ذي ناشيونال إنترست: دراسة مفصلة ومطولة تتناول السياسة الخارجية الأمريكية تجاه إيران
Waiting for Thermidor: America’s Foreign Policy Towards Iran
Reuel Marc Gerecht Ray Takeyh/The National Interest/September 06/2022
The Islamic Republic of Iran may be on an accelerated schedule for revolutionary decay, at least if compared to the USSR.
(Thermidor: Eleventh month of the French Republican Calendar, from mid-July to mid-August)
THE BIDEN administration is stumped by Iran. Upon inauguration, President Joe Biden and the best and the brightest of the Democratic Party assumed that reviving the Iran nuclear deal would be simple. In one of the ironic twists of history, they are bedeviled by their predecessor Donald Trump. It was the Trump administration that designated the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), the muscle behind the theocracy, as a foreign terrorist organization.
The State Department has designated the Islamic Republic a state sponsor of terrorism since 1984; no one serious in Washington doubts that the 2019 designation is factually correct. It is, however, politically inconvenient. Iran’s supreme leader, Ali Khamenei, apparently doesn’t care for the diplomatic legerdemain reportedly suggested by U.S. officials and European participants that would allow the White House and Khamenei to ignore this designation. The most embarrassing, if true, proposal would be for the United States to lift sanctions in exchange for a public promise by Tehran not to target Americans in the future. The Iranian foreign minister, Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, hardly a moderate, has suggested that the IRGC take one for the team since, in the end, it won’t really matter if the big sanctions on oil exports are lifted. So far, Khamenei has held firm, as has President Joe Biden.
Will either Biden or Khamenei blink over the Revolutionary Guards’ long embrace of subversive violence? Does it even really matter given the supreme leader’s fatigue with the West and larger aspirations? The difficulties and unseemliness of the Vienna talks ought to, again, oblige us to reflect on U.S.-Iranian relations, on why Republicans and Democrats have so often sought greater “normalcy” with the clerical regime—especially when it was dangerous and morally challenging to do so. Anyone who has examined the classified communications between Washington and Tehran can’t but be struck by the recurring pattern: the Americans are always trying to say “Hi!” (part of the unending search for “moderates”) while the Iranians answer “gom sho” (“get lost,” though often it’s much worse). The historically curious observer might also see a disconnect between Iran’s internal weaknesses and the determination of numerous administrations not to exploit them.
This actually is a truism in Iranian–American relations since 1979: ground is given to a theocracy that has killed, kidnapped, and wounded numerous Americans. This indulgence springs in part from the way Westerners see radicalism and revolution evolving. With the Islamic Republic, this has prompted many observers to ignore what the supreme leader and his men say and do in favor of a historical model that offers a smidgen of hope. Consider the French Revolution: first came revolution and overreach, as the Jacobins sought to transform society and expand frontiers; then came pragmatic temptations, as the burdens of governance led idealists to adjust expectations. The administrative state, in this rendering, eventually suffocates radicalism. The task of running a country, the thousands of interlocking processes that give a state identity and power—national and local budgets, urban planning, agriculture, industry, trade, building police forces and armies, the whole hierarchy of authority that obliges the young to bow before the middle-aged—militates against constant upheaval. Vladimir Lenin and his successors sought to tame the forces of history only to create a bloated bureaucratic state that lumbered toward its ultimate condition of labefaction. Mao Zedong was willing to sacrifice millions to perpetuate his version of communism, but his successors opted for a more workable economic model and cooled the internal tumult. Vietnamese “communists” are eager for Americans to invest in their country and reoccupy military bases. The imperatives of survival may not turn radicals into statesmen, but it does oblige them to be more careful with lethal creeds that can tear countries apart.
Most Iran-watchers in the West, especially in the academe, have been seeing the cusp of Thermidor since Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini died in 1989. Yet more than three decades later, Khomeini remains central to Iran’s politics. He is not just commemorated: his thoughts continue to guide the ruling elite. The Islamic Republic remains an unrepentant revolutionary state. The imposition of religious strictures on an unwilling society remains its core mission. Amr bimaruf, nahy az munkar—command good, forbid wrong—a central tenet of Islamic jurisprudence, remains radicalized and injected into every facet of Iranian society. Anti-Americanism and anti-Semitism define the theocracy’s internationalism, and Khomeini’s disciples have rebuffed reformers seeking to harmonize faith and freedom.
THE ISLAMIC Republic may be on an accelerated schedule for revolutionary decay, at least if compared to the USSR. Forty-three years in, the decay of militant Shiism is widespread and deep; within a similar span inside the Soviet Union, Nikita Khrushchev was gearing up to belittle John F. Kennedy in Vienna. Soviet Russia—the communist spirit amongst the people—seemed then, and also in retrospect, much more solid than the Islamist esprit does today within the Persian core of the Iranian state (among ethnic minorities, which account for around 50 percent of the population, it’s degraded further).
There is an operative assumption among Western foreign policy circles that the atrophying of militant faith in the Islamic Republic must have had a numbing, if not moderating, effect upon the ruling mullahs and Revolutionary Guards. To gain greater popular support, the supreme leader surely has brought in those who know that change is both inevitable and desirable. Nearly the opposite impulse in the theocracy has been true, however, in large part because the Shiite story is about a charismatic vanguard surviving in a hostile environment. Shiism makes no historical sense without an elite—first the imams, later the clergy—resisting more powerful forces trying to oblige believers to forsake their faith.
The Soviets had Karl Marx, Lenin, and Russian pride; the theocracy has nearly 1,400 years of history to summon (selectively) to its side. For the revolution’s dedicated cadre, the purpose of the state is to realize God’s will on earth. Khamenei and his followers see themselves as a vanguard whose authority cannot be infringed upon by popular will and elections. They are often explicitly contemptuous of democratic accountability, which they see as an occidental idea that denies divine agency. The theocracy isn’t, Khamenei has warned, “prepared to allow flawed and non-divine perspectives and ideas that are aimed at enhancing the power of the individuals to dictate its social and political lives.” Assured of their ideological verities, these men are morally indifferent to the loss of popularity—they are Allah’s servants reifying the imams’ teachings.
This nexus between God and man is extremely difficult for contemporary Westerners, in whom secularism now runs far deeper than Christianity, to understand. The Enlightenment, the World Wars, and Ludwig Wittgenstein have effectively severed Western certitude that God and man have a common language. When confronted with such ardent religion in an elite, the Western inclination is to assume that such religious men are somehow lying, deceiving others (if not themselves) about their capacity to see the Almighty’s intentions.
Additionally, Islamists emphasize praxis: Khamenei and his allies have ensured their political hegemony by dominating non-elected institutions. The Guardian Council, which is responsible for vetting candidates for public office, purges all unreliable elements. The judiciary shutters newspapers and imprisons activists on trumped-up charges. The 125,000-man Revolutionary Guards and their more numerous minions, the well-paid street thugs in the Basij, quell demonstrations. And where torture and imprisonment aren’t enough, Iran’s security organs routinely assassinate domestic and expatriate dissidents.
Despots falter when they fail to appreciate the ebbs and flows of their own society, when they cannot see the breaking points. For the past four decades, the theocratic regime has steadily shed constituents. The first to abandon the regime were liberals and secularists, who were part of the coalition that displaced the monarchy. In the 1990s, the universities became the hotbed of anti-regime agitation. The middle class turned decisively against the government in 2009 with the birth of the pro-democracy Green Movement. The proximate cause was the fraudulent reelection of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, but the shrinking economy had helped this critical segment of society to turn its back on the theocracy.
The mullahs gleefully dismissed them all. The students, perhaps the most crucial force in the Islamic Revolution, became scions of wealth infatuated with Western culture. In fact, most university students today are from the downside of the middle class. The ruling elite thus now sees the middle class as hopelessly unsteady if not Janus-faced—they too have forgotten that God’s cause requires sacrifice. The regime put its remaining faith where it has always invested most of its rhetoric: the lower classes, the mostazafan, the oppressed, in whose name the revolution had been waged. Tied to the regime by patronage and piety, they became the indispensable pillar—until it, too, cracked in 2017.
That year was the beginning of the poor people’s protest movement. Corruption and American sanctions caused the government to trim the welfare state. At a time when the mullahs no longer hide their affluence and privileges, preaching austerity was galling to those subsisting in Iran’s shanty towns. “They make a man into a God and a nation into beggars,” cried out a protester in 2017. “Death to Khamenei!” was a common chant then in nationwide protests, and again in 2019, when an even larger wave of demonstrations—those in the ethnic minority provinces moving toward insurrection—struck the country. The theocracy unleashed its enforcers with exceptional severity in 2019. Thus far, the regime’s security forces have held.
THE CLERICAL oligarchs are not unaware of their problems—they simply have no way of ameliorating them. Today, inflation hovers around 40 percent, while 30 percent of Iranians are living below the poverty line. The government cannot create the necessary jobs or provide needed housing. A mismanaged pandemic response has further angered a hard-pressed populace. Ayatollah Muhammad Mousavi-Khoeiniha, one of the elders of the revolution, took the unprecedented step of issuing a public letter to Khamenei, warning, “The people believe the highest authority in the country’s management should have prevented the cultural, economic and social chaos the country is facing today … the current situation cannot continue.” A likely authentic, leaked Revolutionary Guards’ document in 2022 puts the regime’s dilemma in even starker terms: “Society is in a state of explosion … social discontent has risen by 300 percent in the past year.”
In the presidential election of 2021, the Islamic Republic laid bare its survival strategy. The regime abandoned the pretense of competitive elections. Former favorite sons of the revolution, like the very bright, reformist-loathing, conservative stalwart Ali Larijani, were disqualified from running. Khamenei selected Ebrahim Raisi, who has spent his entire career overseeing the regime’s dungeons, to become the next president. Raisi first made a name for himself in the 1980s as a member of the so-called “death commission,” which executed thousands of political prisoners. Since then, he’s grown ever closer to Khamenei, gaining contacts throughout the security institutions and among those who depend on the supreme leader’s largesse. His ascendance surely means that the regime intends to deal with dissent even more viciously than it has in the past.
Iran is thus at an impasse. The remaining revolutionaries in charge of the government are unwilling to concede their patrimony even though their sullen constituents are ready to move on. The system cannot reform even though it recognizes the urgency of reform. Leaked videos of Revolutionary Guard commanders and commentary among the ruling clergy clearly show men who know that the fundamentals of the Islamic Republic, especially the all-critical need to regenerate revolutionary loyalty, aren’t working. They see this internal collapse as evidence of baleful Western intrusion. Evil may have—may always have—the upper hand. This gloomy perspective isn’t uncommon in Islamic history, in both the Shiite and Sunni traditions. It isn’t that dissimilar to the Christian views of the enduring ethical frailty of man. This distrust of human aspirations is a significant factor in why the regime is so resistant to democracy—even on a provincial or city level—having any force within the society. And as the moral collapse spreads, this sense of righteousness intensifies.
Former president Hassan Rouhani, a favorite “moderate” of many Westerners, was probably the last gasp of the “technocratic” class who believed the revolution could be fortified through importing an Islamized Chinese model: greater trade with Europe would make the regime and the faith richer and more powerful. Khamenei has been willing to indulge this gamble, at least half-heartedly, but his tolerance for the bet may be declining as popular disgust with the theocracy becomes blatant. His fondness for a “resistance economy” springs directly from his trepidation that contact with the West, even through limited commercial relations that are obviously in Iran’s economic interests, carries considerable risk.
Self-awareness about the theocracy’s weaknesses has actually been one of the clerical regime’s strengths: Tehran’s internal assessments are often quite honest—once one gets beyond the anti-American and anti-Zionist conspiracies. The Islamic Republic is certainly cognizant of its own corruption. Official conversations about malversation, and other forms of graft, that leak out can be damning, if surreal (most of those who are dissecting corruption are likely thoroughly corrupt themselves).
The security services are also aware that ever-increasing slices of the population are willing to take to the streets to express their anger. And the persistence of these protests reflects that the public’s fear of the regime ebbs and flows; since 2009, when the massive Green Movement demonstrations broke out in Tehran, it’s been more ebb despite increasingly brutal tactics used on demonstrators.
The regime hasn’t by any means lost control of internal security—the savagery displayed in quelling the fuel-price protests of 2019 worked. However, neither the regime nor average Iranians would be surprised if some unforeseen catalyst led to new convulsions. The regime seems to understand that the situation may have become permanently unstable.
YET WESTERN official commentary and policies on Iran rarely dwell on the instability and the theocracy’s weaknesses. Democrats, and a lot of Republicans, are more or less frozen in amber: they get to the bomb and arms control and stop. They, understandably, approach with trepidation advocacy of democracy and human rights for fear that some form of American intervention might follow—scars left over from the past two decades feel fresh. Western liberals and leftists, anxious about being tough with anti-American third-world regimes, have an especially difficult time with Iran, where America’s sins have supposedly been so pivotal and egregious. It’s near gospel that the CIA-supported 1953 coup against Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddeq created the conditions for the Islamic revolution twenty-six years later. Ben Affleck’s fine film, Argo, nicely captures this guilt in its animated introduction, which puts the blame for the revolution on America and Langley (before good CIA officers rescue the hostages). Helping black South Africans against white South Africans, Eastern Europeans against Soviet tyrants, and Ukrainians against Vladimir Putin are all much easier to contemplate and affect than imagining Washington aiding Iranians against a virulently anti-American Shiite theocracy. With Iran, in the eyes of most on the Left—and many on the Right, too—America can’t help but cock things up.
This fear of American escalation leads to consistent tolerance of bad Iranian behavior. The worst Iranian terrorist attacks against the United States have all gone unanswered. The defining blast—the Beirut barrack bombing in 1983—killed 241 Americans. Intercepts at the time and later writings by Iran’s ambassador in Syria, Ali Akbar Mohtashemi-pur, and the theocracy’s majordomo, Akbar Hashemi-Rafsanjani, showed the clerical regime to be proudly culpable. Although Secretary of State George Shultz strongly advocated for a military response, Ronald Reagan declined. A few years later, Reagan was trading arms for hostages. Iranian “moderates” were, somehow, being reinforced by this exchange.
Likewise, nothing followed the Khobar Towers bombing in 1996, which killed nineteen Air Force servicemen and injured 495 people. In 1997, the reformist president Mohammad Khatami unexpectedly won the presidential election. Any serious interest in holding Iran accountable—and there was zero doubt about Iran’s culpability by the time George W. Bush came into office—petered out, replaced by a desire to engage the Islamic Republic. For many, Thermidor had arrived with Khatami—forceful American actions might have derailed him. Such was not to be: Khamenei, with Rafsanjani’s and Rouhani’s support, effectively gutted Khatami’s presidency in 1999.
Remembering 1953 and the shah, Bill Clinton and Madeleine Albright started a foreign policy rhetorically built on American apologia. This hopefulness about Iranian possibilities probably became most surreal in early 2006, when Bush’s secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice, and her primary Iran advisor, Nicholas Burns, now ambassador to China, were dreaming of reestablishing some sort of official presence inside the country—six months after Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the Islamic Republic’s first populist president, had won election. Ahmadinejad, who loved to torment wealthy clerics and express his fondness for a distinctly anti-clerical strain of mystical Shiism, signaled many things about the evolution of the Islamic revolution—growing affection for the normalization of relations with the United States, however, was not one of them.
Speculation about a new, more pragmatic Iran, the one that supposedly helped us in Afghanistan against the Taliban, was finally dashed in Iraq when Tehran went gunning for U.S. soldiers. The Bush administration had detailed information about where the Quds Force overlord, Qasem Soleimani, was training militant Shiite Iraqis to kill Americans. These preparations even included the construction of mock U.S. facilities. Hundreds of Americans died in Iraq as a result of nefarious Iranian actions. Yet Bush, the “axis of evil” president, never retaliated. It appears the White House and the Joint Chiefs feared escalation.
WITH THE Biden administration’s sporadic nuclear talks in Vienna, we don’t know yet whether the idealism-cum-left-wing realism of the Obama administration towards Tehran has played any part in a diplomacy of increasing American concessions. In 2009, Barack Obama thought that he just might be able to diminish, if not halt, the antagonism between America and Iran. A retrenching United States, led by a “post-Western” president who sometimes liked to emphasize his Muslim middle name, wouldn’t be a threat to the Islamic Republic; lots of trade after a nuclear deal would help reward Tehran’s “moderates,” inshallah bringing on Thermidor before the sunset clauses in Obama’s accord gave the theocracy an industrial-scale, weapons-grade, nuclear infrastructure.
Biden and his advisors, who once bought into Obama’s promise, may now be the first administration to not hold out hope that Iran might change. Khamenei and Raisi may have ended the four-decade search for “moderates” that started with Jimmy Carter. Befitting an administration whose senior officials recoil when their European counterparts liken them to their earlier versions in the Obama years, an agreement in Vienna will be much more mundane: a way—a bit more time—for the United States to accommodate itself to the nuclearization of the theocracy.
*Reuel Marc Gerect, a former Iranian-targets officer in the CIA, is a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.
*Ray Takeyh is a senior fellow at the Council for Foreign Relations and the author of The Last Shah: America, Iran, and the Fall of the Pahlavi Dynasty.

خالد أبو طعمة/معهد كايتستون/العرب يقولون لبايدن لا توقّع الإتفاق النووي مع إيران إذا كان سيشعل الحرب
Arabs to Biden: Do Not Sign the Iran Deal, It Will Start a War
Khaled Abu Toameh/ Gatestone Institute/September 06/2022

4"A few days ago, US officials announced that it was Iran, not America, that had given up core demands. They lie. Iran has not given up on anything essential. On the contrary, Iran has obtained the essential demands it wants." — Sayed Zahra, deputy editor of Bahrain's Akhbar Al-Khaleej, August 31, 2022.
"[T]he most dangerous concession made by the US was to waive the inclusion of Iran's expansionist terrorist role in the region, its threats to the security and stability of Arab countries, the terrorist subversive role that Iran's proxy militias play in the Arab countries, and the issue of the Iranian missile program." — Sayed Zahra, Akhbar Al-Khaleej, August 31, 2022.
"He [Obama] did not hide his hatred of Arabs and his admiration for Iran. What Biden is doing today is following the same path, with full conviction on his part." — Sayed Zahra, Akhbar Al-Khaleej, August 31, 2022.
"Syria has been taken hostage by a regime that is affiliated with the Iranians and Russians.... The Iranian regime...does not differ from the Taliban regime or from Islamic State (ISIS). Terrorism, destabilization, and domination of people are almost the only goals of such regimes." — Ibrahim Allush, Syrian author, Enabbaladi, August 28, 2022.
"Washington has been very late in holding Iran accountable, or at least trying to hold it accountable for the systematic sabotage that it has practiced and is practicing in Yemen, Syria, Iraq, Lebanon and Gaza. This is the largest international sabotage operation that the Security Council has not been able to consider. None of the Security Council resolutions related to the region's crises mentions Iran, even though its role is essential in tampering with the four countries and destroying their institutions." — Abdul Wahab Badrakhan, Lebanese journalist, Al-Watan, August 28, 2022.
"President Biden's administration is trying to create an image in the eyes of the Americans that Iran's return to the nuclear agreement will bring it under control. Washington appears to be in a weak and precarious position, especially in light of the absence of an armed option." — Emil Amin, Egyptian author, Asharq Al-Awsat, August 27, 2022.
"[I]f these billions flow into the coffers of the Revolutionary Guard Corps and the Quds Force, how will Washington guarantee the security of these countries [Gulf states, Iraq, Lebanon, Syria and Yemen] ?" — Mashar Al-Thaydi, Saudi commentator, Asharq Al-Awsat, August 26, 2022.
The Arabs... appear convinced that that pouring billions of dollars on the mullahs will eventually bring terrorism and violence to the US and the other Western powers involved in the new deal, if not a major war.
The Arabs appear convinced that that pouring billions of dollars on Iran's mullahs will eventually bring terrorism and violence to the US and the other Western powers involved in the new nuclear deal, if not a major war. Pictured: Iran's chief nuclear negotiator, Ali Bagheri Kani (left), leaves after talks at the Coburg Palais in Vienna on August 4, 2022.
The talk about an imminent revival of the nuclear deal between Iran and the Biden administration and other Western countries has raised serious concerns among many Arabs. They state that they are especially worried about the billions of dollars that Iran's mullahs will receive once the deal is done. The Arabs say they have no doubt that the money would be used by the mullahs to promote more terrorism and violence and expand Tehran's terrorist proxies in the Middle East, including Hezbollah, the Houthis, Hamas and Islamic Jihad, and various militias in Iraq.
"The Arabs will be shocked when the details of the new nuclear deal are published," wrote Sayed Zahra, deputy editor of Bahrain's Akhbar Al-Khaleej.
He noted that before the state of shock engulfs the Arabs, they need to take in mind a number of facts that are related to the impending nuclear deal.
"First, the agreement was made primarily at the insistence of the Biden administration, which has been desperate to reach it," Zahra wrote.
"The Biden administration thinks that it is in dire need of the agreement today to present it as one of its great accomplishments. Second, it was the US, not Iran, that initiated the concessions to facilitate reaching the agreement. A few days ago, US officials announced that it was Iran, not America, that had given up core demands. They lie. Iran has not given up on anything essential. On the contrary, Iran has obtained the essential demands it wants. Third, the most dangerous concession made by the US was to waive the inclusion of Iran's expansionist terrorist role in the region, its threats to the security and stability of Arab countries, the terrorist subversive role that Iran's proxy militias play in the Arab countries, and the issue of the Iranian missile program. Fourth, the agreement will provide huge financial resources to the Iranian regime as a result of the lifting of sanctions and the rush of Western countries to deal with it."
Zahra said that the Arabs also need to take into consideration that, with a green light from the Biden administration, the agreement would give a very big impetus for the Iranian regime to escalate its terrorist aggression against the Arab countries and to redouble its funding to the militias affiliated with it to advance its agenda of undermining the security and stability of these countries.
He also warned that the agreement would mark the beginning of a new era of complete American disregard for the interests of the Arab countries.
"These are the basic facts that we must be aware of before we are shocked," Zahra added. "Based on these facts, the Arab countries are supposed to decide what they will do and how they will deal with the coming danger."
Earlier, echoing the sentiments of many other Arab political analysts and columnists, he wrote that Biden has decided "to bow" to Iran.
"Why did he do this even though he is fully aware of Arab fears and demands, which he heard directly, firmly and clearly during his recent visit to Saudi Arabia from all Arab leaders?"
"It is understood that Biden wants to get the nuclear deal signed in light of his and his administration's declining popularity and the upcoming mid-term elections to Congress that the Democrats fear losing. In other words, he wants to present the new nuclear deal as a diplomatic victory achieved by his administration."
Zahra pointed out that Biden was basically following in the footsteps of former President Barack Obama, who struck the 2015 deal with the mullahs.
"The truth is that this is an American strategic choice, and it was not born today,' Zahra argued. "Rather, it was decided years ago, specifically since former US President Obama was in power. Biden is following his path and is fully convinced of this option. Obama is the one who decided that America's strategic interest is to be in collusion with Iran and in total disregard of the Arabs' fears and demands. He [Obama] did not hide his hatred of Arabs and his admiration for Iran. What Biden is doing today is following the same path, with full conviction on his part."
Syrian author Ibrahim Allush commented on the news about an imminent deal by expressing fear that his country would pay a heavy price.
Allush pointed out that the Syrians have been hit harder by the Iranians than anyone else. Referring to the presence of Iranian security officials and Iranian-backed militiamen in his country, Allush wrote:
"The Syrians are today hungry and displaced. Syria has been taken hostage by a regime that is affiliated with the Iranians and Russians. The Iranians and their allies are spreading the illusion of liberation and resistance, while in fact they spread terrorism. The Iranian regime, with its practices, does not differ from the Taliban regime or from Islamic State (ISIS). Terrorism, destabilization, and domination of people are almost the only goals of such regimes."
Allush warned that a return to the nuclear deal would mean "refinancing the mullahs' regime and its militias with billions of dollars annually."
"The signing of the Iranian nuclear agreement may be a partial solution to the oil and gas crises caused by Russian President Vladimir Putin's war against the Ukrainian people. But it will not be a solution that brings peace to Syria. Iran, which incites terrorism in the region, will be happy with the return of its generous funding, and we Syrians will suffer. We oppose this agreement, despite all our difficult circumstances, because it will bring more money to the Assad regime and its intelligence system, as well as to the Iranian militias that participate with it in committing crimes against the Syrians."
Lebanese journalist Abdul Wahab Badrakhan suggested that instead of paying attention to the mullahs' policies and actions in the region, the Biden administration chose to appease Iran so that it could bargain with it on the nuclear issue.
"America aspired to some partnership with Tehran in confronting China, knowing that it would not happen... It bet on Tehran's 'neutrality' in the Ukraine war, only to be surprised by the drone deals with Russia. The US ignored the concerns of the Gulf states and other Arab countries. Washington has been very late in holding Iran accountable, or at least trying to hold it accountable for the systematic sabotage that it has practiced and is practicing in Yemen, Syria, Iraq, Lebanon and Gaza. This is the largest international sabotage operation that the Security Council has not been able to consider. None of the Security Council resolutions related to the region's crises mentions Iran, even though its role is essential in tampering with the four countries and destroying their institutions."
Saudi political analyst Abdullah Bin Bijad Al-Otaibi wrote that the fears of the Arab countries regarding the nuclear agreement are completely valid.
These fears, Al-Otaibi noted, are not limited to Iran's nuclear weapon, but also to interference in the internal affairs of Arab countries and the spread of fundamentalist and terrorist militias and organizations. The Arabs also worried about the mullahs' efforts to export their terrorism to other countries.
"Once the bad nuclear agreement is signed, Iran will get billions of dollars and the region will witness renewed chaos, instability and terrorism... The Iranian threat will not only be directed towards the countries of the region, but will move to all countries of the world, including Western ones. Many peoples will suffer the consequences of this. Including the Western peoples, without a doubt."
Egyptian author Emil Amin also expressed concern that the mullahs would use the billions of dollars they are about to receive under the new deal to support their terrorist militias and proxies. "Iran will not give up its dream of acquiring nuclear weapons," Amin wrote.
"It has come a long way and is close to the finish line. President Biden's administration is trying to create an image in the eyes of the Americans that Iran's return to the nuclear agreement will bring it under control. Washington appears to be in a weak and precarious position, especially in light of the absence of an armed option. In any event, Iranian intentions remain unchanged with or without an agreement, and the countries of the region must evaluate the situation in a way that suits their combined national security capabilities."
Saudi commentator Mashar Al-Thaydi wrote that the Gulf states and other Arab countries, including Iraq, Lebanon, Syria and Yemen, are directly concerned about the future once a deal is reached with Iran. Noting that the mullahs have long been playing a "negative role" in the internal affairs of these Arab countries, Al-Thaydi asked:
"For how long will we be watching this absurd play between the West and Iran, while we, Iran's neighbors, are concerned with what will happen with this [Iranian] regime? Obama gave this regime money and legitimacy in exchange for so-called guarantees to slow down, but not prevent, the non-peaceful nuclear program. Today, Biden, and more correctly, the former Obama team, are trying to reassure those who are supposed to be Washington's allies in the region. But if these billions flow into the coffers of the Revolutionary Guard Corps and the Quds Force, how will Washington guarantee the security of these countries?"
Lebanese columnist Rafik Khoury warned that the Biden administration is "repeating non-stop self-deception" as the mullahs themselves continue to practice deception.
"The administration of President Joe Biden is repeating the failed experiment that was also already tested by the administration of Barack Obama... It is acting on the basis that returning to the nuclear agreement achieves three goals: [supposedly] to prevent Iran from becoming a military nuclear power, to transform the [Iranian] regime to moderation by engaging with it, and the perception that the improvement of the economic situation in Iran strengthens the reformists."
According to Khoury, as long as the return to the agreement is confined to the nuclear file and nothing else, "the scenario as drawn by the mullahs and their agents in the region is worrying.... Tehran gets everything it wants, and completes everything it does."
"There will be no restriction on Iran's ballistic missile program, no limit to Iranian influence in the region, no halt to its destabilizing behavior, no exit from Syria, Iraq and Lebanon, and no retreat from arming the Houthis in Yemen and providing them with more missiles and drones that are being launched at civilian targets in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Will Washington abandon the vital American interests as well as the interests of its allies and friends? The difficult test for America and its commitments to its allies and friends in the Middle East begins immediately after the signing of the nuclear agreement. The Arab countries, whose confidence in the Americans has declined, will face another test: confronting Iranian expansion, regardless of what America does."
The closer that the Biden administration moves towards the mullahs in Tehran, the more the US loses credibility in the Arab world. The Arabs seem to have lost confidence in the Biden administration, which is why they are now talking about the need to take matters into their own hands and try to stop Iran from endangering their security and stability. The Arabs also appear convinced that that pouring billions of dollars on the mullahs will eventually bring terrorism and violence to the US and the other Western powers involved in the new deal, if not a major war.
*Khaled Abu Toameh is an award-winning journalist based in Jerusalem.
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Inside the Bloody Business of Turkey’s Syrian Mercenaries
John Lechner S. AsherThe National Interest/September 06/2022
Corruption is endemic to the process, and the high levels of graft—touching recruitment, basing, and the return—empower armed actors in Syria’s northwest, evidence of how foreign interventions can sustain war economies.
In April 2019, Gen. Khalifa Haftar, the ruler of east Libya and head of the Libyan National Army (LNA), launched a surprise offensive on the Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli. Haftar’s forces presented a significant threat and, in response, the GNA requested Turkish military support. But instead of sending Turkish troops to Libya, Turkish intelligence officials began recruiting from the ranks of Syrian opposition fighter
Ahmed previously fought in Syria with the rebel al-Hamzat militia, and in early 2020 he was on a flight to Libya’s besieged capital. Ahmed’s al-Hamzat was one of eight Turkish-backed armed groups contracted to send mercenaries to Libya. In Syria, he recalled, fighters were rarely forced into battle. In the Syrian context, if conditions in a skirmish became unfavorable, many would simply fall back and fight later. Upon his arrival in Libya, however, Ahmed discovered this was no longer the case. Seeing the frontline in south Tripoli, he asked to go home. But his commanding officer responded: “Coming to Libya was your choice, going back is not.”
Together with his fellow recruits, Ahmed reluctantly moved into an empty villa close to the frontline. The first disbursement of his salary would be in three months, upon return to Syria. Desperation set in. It didn't take long, however, for Ahmed to understand how things worked. “A shopkeeper introduced us to the black market,” he said, “where we could sell our bullets and weapons to pay for groceries.” Two months later, Ahmed went home with a shattered pelvis and received a quarter of the $10,000 owed. “When I complained, they said this is what we have for you. If you don’t like it, file a complaint,” Ahmed reported. Ahmed’s experience wasn’t unique. Rather, callous profit-seeking has defined Turkey’s mercenary program. Corruption is endemic to the process, and the high levels of graft—touching recruitment, basing, and the return—empower armed actors in Syria’s northwest, evidence of how foreign interventions can sustain war economies.
Seif Abu Bakr is the leader of al-Hamzat, which formed in 2013 as a division of the Free Syrian Army. Abu Bakr is well-known for his tenacity and ruthlessness, and his al-Hamzat has received training and equipment directly from the United States and the United Kingdom. This support was given first to counter Bashar al-Assad’s regime, then to fight the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). In 2016, Turkey used al-Hamzat in its military operations against Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces. Years of close work with Ankara paid off when Turkish intelligence (MIT) selected Abu Bakr’s militia to recruit mercenaries for Libya. Now, with Syria rapidly becoming a frozen conflict, Turkey’s mercenary program has helped Abu Bakr and other commanders maintain the revenue streams and power they have grown accustomed to from the bloody civil war.
In November 2019, the GNA and Turkey signed a generous memorandum of understanding on maritime boundaries, which prompted immediate protests from Cyprus, Greece, and Egypt. Within months, Ankara ramped up its support for the GNA; the Turkish military effectively took control of operations, shipping in air defense systems, drones, and thousands of Syrian mercenaries.
Back in Syria, Turkish officers put no restrictions on the number of recruits for the Libyan front—an influx of Syrians would provide more time to train Libyan fighters and free up GNA personnel for offensive operations—and Syrian commanders quickly took advantage. The more men commanders sent to Libya, the more they could skim off the top. Abo Saied, a recruiter for one of the Turkish-backed militias, said he was not surprised to hear Ahmed’s woes about his salary. “Commanders to this day confiscate salaries,” he confirmed. But when the fighting in Libya was at its peak, Saied had his own problems. “We had to send as many fighters as we could recruit. The Turks were asking for 2,000 men; our battalion is only 500 strong. So, we started sending kids with zero military experience.”
Recruitment spreadsheets provided by Saied showed that at least three fighters sent to Libya were under eighteen years old. Shipping anyone available became the norm. Militias swept prisons and gave detained Kurdish men the option to fight or stay locked up. “Many Kurds,” Saied noted, “reluctantly took the offer.”In March 2020, GNA forces, with Turkish backing, began pushing Haftar’s LNA out of Tripoli’s southern suburbs. Eight months later, the United Nations brokered a ceasefire. By then, another front began heating up for a key Turkish ally. On September 27, 2020, Azerbaijan launched air and ground attacks across Nagorno-Karabakh, reigniting conflict between Azerbaijani, Armenian, and local Karabakh forces.
Saied was again recruiting for the war in the Caucasus, but he had to change tactics. As in Libya, Turkish intelligence outsourced recruitment to Syrian commanders. But those freewheeling days with no restrictions and little oversight were over. Now, according to Saied, the Turks “paid more attention, and they insisted we send experienced fighters.” The vetting process improved. As recruiters understood it, the Turks viewed the Azeris as “brothers,” and their support for Azerbaijan was ideological, unlike their support for the GNA in Libya, which was “contractual and based on geopolitical interests.”
Recruiters we spoke to maintain that their primary contact was with Turkish intelligence, while logistics were outsourced to “unknown companies.” It is likely that those companies are affiliated with SADAT, the Turkish private military company (PMC) founded by Adnan Tanrıverdi, a former brigadier general and close confidant of Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. In a 2020 report, the U.S. Department of Defense stated that SADAT “maintains supervision and payment of the estimated 5,000 pro-GNA Syrian fighters in Libya.” Yet compared to Turkish military and intelligence, SADAT’s importance in mercenary recruitment is difficult to ascertain. Still, the company likely coordinates, at least to some degree, with Turkish intelligence services.
Corruption was endemic to Turkey’s mercenary program in Azerbaijan as well. Hasan, a twenty-five-year-old from Aleppo, fought in Nagorno-Karabakh for fifty-five days. “I was told that my salary was going to be $2,500 per month and that I would be a border guard,” he told us. Paradoxically, despite Turkish intelligence’s demands for experience, the Syrians sent to Azerbaijan were simply cannon fodder. Hasan, who was only given an AK-47, understood right away he was under-equipped. “High precision targeting was a very scary thing for me. I never felt scared the same way in Syria.” After being shot by a sniper, Hasan returned home, where he received just $1,500. Again, only a fraction of what he was owed.
Syrians also found themselves under-equipped in Libya, but for different reasons. “We were given old machine guns from home,” one fighter recalled, “not due to lack of higher quality weapons, but because those weapons had been sold off on the black market.” As in Azerbaijan, the Syrians sent to Libya found themselves in a very different war. Haftar’s LNA—backed by the UAE, Egypt, and Russia—employed sophisticated surveillance drones to map out targets. Back in Syria, “neither the regime nor rebels had the ability to target precisely.”
The mercenaries Saied recruits are overwhelmingly young men with no income and few prospects for employment. Those interviewed saw the trips to Libya or Azerbaijan as a chance to save cash over a few months, build a little capital, and start a small business back home. Many Syrians who signed up to fight in Libya and Azerbaijan were promised, in the event of their death, that their family members would receive a path to Turkish citizenship.
It was not long before Syrian commanders profited off those citizenship schemes as well. According to fighters, commanders began offering Turkish citizenship to the highest bidder. Instead of providing a deceased fighter’s family with citizenship, anyone who could afford the bribe acquired forged documents. As the scam grew, Turkish intelligence had to shut down the program entirely.
Given the cynicism and naked profit-seeking that pervaded the program, few mercenaries were interested in why they were fighting. To motivate them, Turkish officials tried to paint the Syrian civil war as a global conflict, or appeal to religion or ethnicity. Just hours after arriving in Azerbaijan, officials showed Hasan and others a video, purportedly of an Armenian soldier cutting open the belly of a pregnant Muslim Azeri woman. The Syrian fighters were upset. “They shouted they would be happy to fight for justice.” Others were told, falsely, that Yerevan had recruited Kurds from Syria to fight in Nagorno-Karabakh. Still, according to another Syrian fighter, most couldn’t care less.
In Libya, Turkish officers told recruits that they were fighting Assad’s regime. Russian PMCs, including those collectively referred to as “Wagner Group,” had in fact recruited Syrians from Damascus-controlled territory to fight for the LNA. Unlike their Turkish counterparts, however, Syrians fighting for the LNA reported non-stop training and payment in full. While Syrian fighters have now left Azerbaijan, they continue to be based in Libya, where they are often bored and subjected to exploitation. Mohammed has been on a base in Libya for a year. “Hashish,” according to him, “is more popular than crystal meth because it's cheaper. “We have too much free time,” he says. Mercenaries rarely leave their bases. At first, during the fighting, this was because they feared kidnapping. Now, they know their isolation is a product of Libyans’ hatred. Mohammed says that the Libyans see them as vandals. Nor are Syrian mercenaries popular among Libya’s militias. For instance, in early August, two Syrian mercenaries stationed around Tripoli’s Mitiga Airport were killed in an anonymous attack.