English LCCC Newsbulletin For Lebanese, Lebanese Related, Global News & Editorials
For July 06/2023
Compiled & Prepared by: Elias Bejjani
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Bible Quotations For today
An evil and adulterous generation asks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah
Saint Matthew 16/01-04/:The Pharisees and Sadducees came, and to test Jesus they asked him to show them a sign from heaven. He answered them, When it is evening, you say, It will be fair weather, for the sky is red. And in the morning, It will be stormy today, for the sky is red and threatening. You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times. An evil and adulterous generation asks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah. Then he left them and went away.

Titles For The Latest English LCCC Lebanese & Lebanese Related News & Editorials published on July 05-06/2023
Lebanon is sick, and officials do not want to treat its illness, says Maronite patriarch
Rahi meets Caretaker Justice Minister
Al-Rahi calls for international conference on Lebanon
Report: Grillo in contact with 'all parties' ahead of Le Drian's upcoming visit
France transfers seized assets of Central Bank chief to Lebanon
Geagea condemns Mikati's decision to form committee on territorial disputes
Mikati chairs budget meeting at the Grand Serail
FPM says presidential vacuum 'normalization' threatens 'partnership'
Raad says Hezbollah calm, others 'tense' in presidential approach
Lebanon's Energy Minister and UN Coordinator discuss recovery steps and support for refugee camps
General Budget: A Reformation Law Pursued by the International Monetary Fund
MPs express gratitude for support at martyrs' farewell and address concerns regarding property disputes decision
Aoun: The ruling system trying to conceal forensic audit report because it incriminates them
Large numbers of arrivals reflect positively on tourism sectors; hotel reservations ranging between 75% and 100%: Pierre Achkar
Chaos in the beauty world: LBCI unveils the risks of unregulated cosmetic centers
Sami Gemayel directs written question to government on fate of Lebanese detainees, disappeared in Syria
Bou Habib receives Maronite Diaspora Foundation delegation, UK Defense Senior Advisor to the Middle East
Mikati chairs meeting over 2023 state budget, discusses security situation in the south with Army chief, meets Caretaker Interior Minister
Berri broaches security situation with Caretaker Defense Minister, Army Intelligence Chief
Army confronts Israeli enemy near Blue Line
Mufti Qabalan stresses need for dialogue and settlement
Fayyad, Ambassador Hassan discuss means of developing energy cooperation between Lebanon and Algeria

Titles For The Latest English LCCC Miscellaneous Reports And News published on July 05-06/2023
Iranian envoy urges UK to abide by terms of nuclear deal
Iran must stop executions of protesters, says UN fact-finding mission
US Navy Says It Prevented Iran from Seizing Tankers in Gulf of Oman
UK, Canada, Sweden, Ukraine take Iran to top UN court over 2020 downing of a Ukrainian passenger jet
Israel air strikes on Gaza in response to rocket fire
Israel's prime minister says missing citizen in Iraq is being held by Iran-backed militia
As Israel ends 2-day West Bank offensive, Palestinian residents emerge to scenes of vast destruction
Israeli-Russian Academic Being Held by Kataeb Hezbollah in Iraq, Netanyahu Says
Thousands of Israelis cripple Tel Aviv highway to support police chief ousted by Netanyahu ally
Putin is beefing up his security services because he's fearful there could be another armed rebellion, report says
A defiant Putin renewed calls for countries to trade with Russia using local currencies in his first international appearance after the failed Wagner mutiny
Russia is painting dark stripes on its warships to make them look smaller and confuse Ukrainian drones, says expert
Turkey's Erdogan says Sweden's NATO steps undermined by protests
Sisi's decade in power: Egyptians struggle under authoritarian rule
Energy transition summit: Saudi Arabia and Russia unveil oil production plans amidst global challenges
IAEA chief visits Fukushima before radioactive water is released
South Sudan's Kiir pledges nation's first election
One Dead and 41 Injured in Ukrainian Shelling Targeting the Russian-Occupied City of Makiivka

Titles For The Latest English LCCC  analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on July 05-06/2023
Three Analysis focusing Of The Syrian Assad's Criminal Regime & On The cowardice Of UN As well As The Arab Countries/
Syrian regime organised feared ghost militias, war crimes researchers say
Stephanie van den Berg and Maya Gebeily/Reuters/Tue, July 5, 2023
UN and Arabs Whitewash Atrocities of Bashar Assad, Instead Blame Guess Who?/Bassam Tawil/Gatestone Institute/July 05, 2023
Should US Troops Stay in Syria?/Lawrence A. Franklin/Gatestone Institute/July 5, 2023
Should US Troops Stay in Syria?/Lawrence A. Franklin/Gatestone Institute/July 5, 2023
UN and Arabs Whitewash Atrocities of Bashar Assad, Instead Blame Guess Who?/Bassam Tawil/Gatestone Institute/July 05/ 2023
Should US Troops Stay in Syria?/Lawrence A. Franklin/Gatestone Institute/July 5, 2023
Irans ballistic missile capabilities are a growing threat to Europe/Behnam Ben Taleblu/Politico/July 05/2023
British democracy has begun to fight back against populism/Chris Doyle/Arab News/July 05, 2023

Latest English LCCC Lebanese & Lebanese Related News & Editorials published on July 05-06/2023
Lebanon is sick, and officials do not want to treat its illness, says Maronite patriarch
Najia Houssari/Arab News/July 05, 2023
BEIRUT: Maronite Patriarch Bechara Al-Rahi reiterated his call for an international conference for Lebanon after Lebanese politicians fled from dialogue due to being beholden to their own interests on Wednesday. Al-Rahi was speaking at the launch of a new document titled A New Vision for Lebanon Tomorrow: A Secular, Decentralized, and Neutral State.He expressed his doubts about the sincerity of politicians toward the country, saying that there is no salvation for Lebanon if we remain as we are. Lebanon is sick, and officials do not want to treat its illness or know its cause.
Al-Rahi continued: It is not the right of officials to devastate a country and its people by destroying the system and the constitution.The presidential vacuum in Lebanon has entered its ninth month without MPs being able to elect a head of state due to ongoing political divisions.
Meanwhile Al-Rahi was briefed by Lebanons caretaker minister of justice, Henri Khoury, on the progress of army investigations into the murder of two people in the Qurnat as Sawda area last Saturday. Haitham Tawk and Malek Tawk were killed in a dispute over water and real estate near the town of Bsharri, an area frequently riven by disputes over land and resources due to a lack of demarcation of some areas, including the Qurnat as Sawda summit itself, which is the highest peak in Lebanon and the Levant.
Multiple people from Bsharri and the neighboring town of Dennieh were arrested and weapons seized.
Army Intelligence investigators have formed an initial picture of how the crime took place and how the first bullet was fired, which hit Haitham Touk, 36, and led to his death, said a security source.
After meeting with Al-Rahu, the minister said the real estate judge responsible for the north of the country has completed the demarcation of six towns and sent documents and maps for them to the land registry, and has until the end of the summer to send further documents for two more towns. However, he noted that he was facing many obstacles.
Caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati has formed a committee tasked with studying the disputes between real estate borders and over water, headed by the minister of interior.
According to a source close to the prime ministers office, the committee contributes to relieve what it called popular tension and takes steps toward addressing chronic border disputes.
However, Mikatis opponents said that the formation of the committee is an attempt to push the blame for government negligence and delay in resolving border disputes, with one source saying formal steps had led to a terrible crime and two victims, which almost caused sectarian strife (had it) not (been) for the quick action of the regions leaders and the absorption of tension by the Lebanese Army, despite calls for revenge.
Samir Geagea, the leader of the Lebanese Forces party, said that Mikati overstepped his authority by forming a committee to study the issue of property border disputes, as the matter falls within the jurisdiction of the judicial authorities, not the political ones.Geagea pointed out that the file of defining the real estate borders in the Qurnat as Sawda area has been in the hands of the judiciary for three years, and the survey and determination work is in full swing, albeit slowly.
Fares Souaid, president of the National Council to End the Iranian Occupation of Lebanon, called for the committee to include village chiefs and municipalities of the affected areas.

Rahi meets Caretaker Justice Minister
NNA/July 05/2023
Maronite Patriarch Cardinal Mar Bechara Boutros Rahi, is currently meeting in Bkerke with Caretaker Minister of Justice, Henry Khoury

Al-Rahi calls for international conference on Lebanon
Naharnet/July 05/2023 
Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rahi called Wednesday for an international conference on Lebanon after Lebanese officials failed to hold a dialogue. "Officials in Lebanon refuse to sit together at a dialogue table because their private interests are more important than the public interest," al-Rahi said.
"If we cannot hold a dialogue to discuss our disagreements, then what will we discuss?" he asked. Mired in a crippling economic crisis since 2019, Lebanon has been governed by a caretaker cabinet for more than a year and without a president for more than eight months. No group has a clear majority in parliament and lawmakers have failed 12 times to elect a new president, amid bitter divisions.

Report: Grillo in contact with 'all parties' ahead of Le Drian's upcoming visit
Naharnet/July 05/2023 
French Ambassador Anne Grillo is holding talks with all political forces in Lebanon and will prepare next week for French envoy Jean-Yves Le Drian's visit to the crisis-hit country, a local media report said. Ad-Diyar newspaper also claimed Wednesday that the relation between France and Hezbollah has not been severed. "the rumors about a stalemate in talks between France and Hezbollah are not accurate," a source told the daily. Le Drian had arrived last month in Beirut to end the presidential impasse. He met with officials, party heads and other politicians. He is set to return to Beirut this month, and is reportedly preparing for a visit to Riyadh.

France transfers seized assets of Central Bank chief to Lebanon
Reuters/July 05/2023
Once celebrated as a financial wizard, Salameh is spending his final weeks in office a wanted man. The French judiciary has transferred the seized assets of Lebanons central bank governor Riad Salameh, and his associates, to the Lebanese state, the media office of Lebanons caretaker justice minister Henry Khoury said on Tuesday. Salameh, 72, who has been in post for three decades, is the subject of investigations and arrest warrants in France and Germany over allegations of corruption and money-laundering. A judiciary source in Paris said the Court of Appeal on Tuesday had upheld the confiscation of millions of euros worth of assets linked to Salameh and some of his associates, which were being contested by their lawyers. All of the confiscation orders were upheld by the court, the source said. However, the source did not comment on whether the assets had been transferred to the Lebanese state. In 2022, Europes agency for criminal justice cooperation, known as Eurojust, announced the seizure of some 120 million euros ($127.78 million) of Lebanese assets in France, Germany, Luxembourg, Monaco and Belgium. Though the agency did not name any suspects, prosecutors in the German city of Munich confirmed to Reuters that Salameh was a suspect in the case that led to the asset seizure. Once celebrated as a financial wizard, Salameh is spending his final weeks in office a wanted man. His legacy was already in tatters after the collapse of Lebanons financial system in 2019, a catastrophe many blame on him and the ruling elite.

Geagea condemns Mikati's decision to form committee on territorial disputes
Naharnet/July 05/2023 
Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea accused Wednesday caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati of surpassing the judicial authorities, after the latter decided to form a committee to resolve territorial disputes. "Land border disputes are within the judiciary's powers," Geagea said. Mikati's decision came after two young men who hail from the northern region of Bsharri were killed in the Qornet al-Sawda area, which is disputed by residents of Bsharri and Dinniyeh, triggering sectarian tensions and an intervention by the army.After the incident, the army started an investigation and has been interrogating detainees from Dinniyeh and Bsharri.

Mikati chairs budget meeting at the Grand Serail
Naharnet/July 05/2023 
Caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati chaired Wednesday a meeting to discuss the 2023 state budget. Deputy PM Saadeh al-Shami, caretaker Minister of Finance Youssef al-Khalil, Mikati's advisors Nicolas Nahhas and Samir al-Daher, and Director General of the Ministry of Finance George Maarawi attended the meeting at the Grand Serail. Ministerial sources confirmed to al-Joumhouria newspaper, in remarks published Wednesday, that the budget exchange rate has not been resolved yet and that today's session will determine the time needed for finalizing the budget. Thus, the prime minister will not call for any session soon. Once the budget is completed, Mikati will call for successive sessions to discuss and approve it, the sources said.

FPM says presidential vacuum 'normalization' threatens 'partnership'

Naharnet/July 05/2023
The Free Patriotic Movement said Wednesday in a statement that "the behavior of some parliamentary blocs and political forces suggests that they are pushing for normalizing the presidential vacuum that might expand to first-class positions that have traditionally been occupied by Christians."
"This threatens national partnership," the statement went on to say. The FPM held parliament responsible for electing a president, through dialogue and agreement or through voting "and whoever has the majority wins." Mired in a crippling economic crisis since 2019, Lebanon has been governed by a caretaker cabinet for more than a year and without a president for more than eight months. No group has a clear majority in parliament and lawmakers have failed 12 times to elect a new president, amid bitter divisions. The FPM ministers have been boycotting the caretaker cabinet sessions, claiming that cabinet can not convene without a president.

Raad says Hezbollah calm, others 'tense' in presidential approach
Naharnet/July 05/2023
Hezbollah MP Mohammad Raad said Wednesday that his bloc is taking a calm approach to the presidential file in order to agree with others for the interest of the country. "But others have become very tense," the MP added. Raad stressed Hezbollah's commitment to the Taif Accord. "We never back down from our commitments," he added. Hezbollah has been calling for dialogue to end a presidential crisis that has dragged for more than eight months. "The dialogue wanted by the defiance camp is only aimed at torpedoing the Taif Accord and the Lebanese constitution," the Lebanese Forces Strong Republic parliamentary bloc said Tuesday, adding that open-ended electoral sessions would resolve the crisis, and not Hezbollah's dialogue.

Lebanon's Energy Minister and UN Coordinator discuss recovery steps and support for refugee camps
LBCI/July 05/2023
During her coordination visit to Lebanon before traveling to New York for the United Nations annual meetings, Special Coordinator for Lebanon, Joanna Wronecka, met on Wednesday with Caretaker Minister of Energy Walid Fayyad at his office in the ministry. They discussed the developments in Lebanon and the steps the ministry took to put all sectors on the path to recovery, particularly in the electricity sector. The ministry continues coordinating with Electricit du Liban to implement the emergency plan and overcome the obstacles hindering its execution. In this context, Fayyad expressed his wish for Wronecka to support Lebanon's request to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to assist in paying the dues of the Syrian refugee camps to Electricit du Liban. He also requested assistance from the UNRWA in the electricity bill collection process in the Palestinian refugee camps according to the mechanisms proposed by the ministry and the institution.Fayyad further explained the progress made in the reform projects prepared by the ministry in the water sector, in line with the implementation of the new Water Law No. 192/2020.
Wronecka promised to convey the reality and significant positive progress achieved in all ministry sectors to the United Nations meetings.

General Budget: A Reformation Law Pursued by the International Monetary Fund

LBCI/July 05/2023
The general budget is one of the reformative laws strongly advocated by the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The Ministry of Finance drafted it initially and underwent a series of discussions during meetings held at the government's Grand Serail, with the latest meeting taking place on Wednesday. During this meeting, final observations were made on the draft, and the Caretaker Minister of Finance was requested to consider them before submitting the final version of the budget to the Cabinet Presidency. The required amendments include specific tax rates, adjustments to high expenditures and loans characterized as substantial by concerned sources, and stricter enforcement of certain revenues, mainly targeting tax evasion and customs revenue. With the increase in customs duties, alongside value-added tax (VAT), they have become a significant lever for treasury revenues, especially after the income tax on bank deposits was waived due to the crisis.

MPs express gratitude for support at martyrs' farewell and address concerns regarding property disputes decision

LBCI/July 05/2023
MPs of the Bcharre District, Strida Tawk Geagea, and Melhem Tawk, express their gratitude to all those who made an effort to attend the final farewell of the martyrs Malik and Haitham Tawk from outside the Bcharre area, including deputies, officials, spiritual and civic figures.
They also thank their families in Bcharri and all the villages and towns in the district for their commitment, refraining from firing shots, and extensive participation in the funeral. In response to the decision issued on 03/07/2023 by Caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati, numbered 86/2023, which forms a committee to study the issue of property boundary disputes and water conflicts in multiple real estate areas, including the deputies of the Bcharri District, Strida Tawk Geagea, and Melhem Tawk, confirm the following:
Firstly, the decision above blatantly violates the principle of separation of powers stipulated in the preamble of the Lebanese Constitution, as the consideration of property disputes falls under the jurisdiction of the judicial authority and not the political authority.
The mentioned decision is also contrary to Article 3 of the Constitution, which does not allow the modification of administrative regions except by law. Thus, deviating from this article and granting the committee administrative jurisdiction, headed by a minister, to decide on property disputes is outside the government's authority, whether it is a legitimate government or a caretaker government. Secondly, regarding the issue of "Qornat al-Shahidayn," we believe that Prime Minister Mikati, with this decision, is reverting the matter back to square one, even though it has gone through many years of legal proceedings and reached the final stage, the decision stage after Bcharri Municipality and the other party presented their arguments, documents, and evidence before the competent judicial authorities. If the intention behind the Prime Minister's decision is to expedite the resolution of the matter under the weight of the heinous crime that occurred on our land and claimed the lives of the martyrs Malik and Haitham Tawk, the repercussions of this decision will lead to opposite results.
Therefore, we urge him to reconsider it immediately and request the Minister of Justice to take the necessary steps to expedite the decision by the judicial authorities. Thirdly, we request Prime Minister Mikati, exercising his powers as the head of the government, to exert strong efforts in accelerating the investigation process into the crime of "Qornat al-Shahidayn" and to ask the military and security authorities to reveal the truth behind the killing of the martyrs Malik and Haitham Tawk, identify the perpetrators, facilitators, and instigators of this crime, and bring them all to justice to receive the harshest penalties.
Later on, the media office of Caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati issued a statement that said: "The Prime Minister, from his responsible position, in light of the serious security developments that have occurred in the Qornat al-Sawda area, as well as the recurring disputes in multiple areas due to property disagreements that sometimes take on sectarian dimensions, has decided to activate the work of the committee formed since 2010 to study how to benefit from the waters of Qornat al-Sawda.
The committee will also address the issue of property boundaries, meaning that its scope of work includes studying water distribution and how to utilize it in disputed areas, as well as developing a plan for environmental protection and identifying protected areas. The formation of the committee in the manner it was done was based on the nature of its tasks, which are not limited to the property aspect only as mentioned above. Furthermore, the presence of a representative from the Ministry of Justice among the committee members serves to preserve the essential role of the judiciary in this context. It should be noted that the slow progress in completing the delineation work can be compensated for by temporary solutions proposed by the committee while awaiting the final decision by the competent judiciary. It is also worth mentioning that the Supreme Judicial Council referred in its statement issued yesterday to a series of judicial decisions that have been made, yet the disputes continue, indicating that the resolution is not solely limited to the judicial aspect. However, in light of the objections and debates that have arisen, Mikati contacted the Chairman of the Committee, Caretaker Minister of Interior and Municipalities Bassem Mawlawi, and requested him to postpone the committee's meeting, thereby suspending its work. Additionally, he contacted Caretaker Minister of Justice Henri Khoury and requested him to follow up on the file with the Supreme Judicial Council to expedite the resolution of relevant judicial cases."

Aoun: The ruling system trying to conceal forensic audit report because it incriminates them
LBCI/July 05/2023
On Wednesday, former President Michel Aoun believed that the non-disclosure of the preliminary report issued by the forensic auditing company indicates that this report condemns those who received it or a party they want to protect. "The ruling system is trying to conceal the report because it incriminates them. Today, the challenge is before the Lebanese people to uncover the contents of this report," he said during a televised interview. Aoun also noted that the government unanimously approved forensic auditing. "But the next day, the then Minister of Finance came back and said that his political party did not agree to proceed with the audit," he continued. During an interview with OTV television, he pointed out that the obstacles have continued with the aim of halting the forensic audit. Today they are attempting to suppress the report produced by Alvarez & Marsal in an attempt to protect the accused.

Large numbers of arrivals reflect positively on tourism sectors; hotel reservations ranging between 75% and 100%: Pierre Achkar

Variety and Tech
LBCI/July 05/2023
Pierre Achkar, President of the Lebanese Hotel Association, the Federation for Tourism Industries in Lebanon, and the National Council of Tourism in Lebanon revealed that the tourism activity during the Eid Al-Adha holiday was good across all regions of Lebanon.
Achkar emphasized that the significant influx of visitors witnessed at the BeirutRafic Hariri International Airport is having a great impact on the tourism sectors throughout Lebanon. Those visitors are engaging in tourism activities in the North, Bekaa, South, Mount Lebanon, and Chouf regions. These areas have been continuously showcasing their breathtaking mountainous nature and historical sites, adapting to the changing global tourism trends following the COVID-19 pandemic," he said. He pointed out that "the hotel reservation rates varied according to the different Lebanese regions. While in Beirut it reached 75 percent, the rates increased in mountainous and inland areas, and in some regions, reservations reached 100 percent." Achkar emphasized that "reservation rates will increase over time, as thousands of people arrive in Lebanon on a daily basis. However, it is still challenging to estimate the exact reservation percentages since Lebanese tend to make their bookings just a few days or hours before heading to any tourist destination within Lebanon." He noted that "information regarding the Airbnb tourism service, especially the number of users utilizing this service, is still unavailable even to the relevant authorities. Therefore, it is impossible to estimate the reservations attributed to it. However, there are undoubtedly thousands of listings in Lebanon that capture a significant portion of hotel bookings, furnished apartments, and guesthouses."

Chaos in the beauty world: LBCI unveils the risks of unregulated cosmetic centers

LBCI/July 05/2023
Welcome to the chaos of the beauty world. You may have heard about random beauty centers offering treatments like Botox and fillers. To truly understand how they operate, join us as we explore one of these centers visited by the LBCI team. The team requested an appointment for Botox while inquiring about safety standards. This information was relayed to the Ministry of Public Health, which took action before this report airing. The ministry's team captured what our cameras could not, documenting the situation. The center was operating and conducting treatments even before obtaining a license. Its owners justified their actions to the ministry by claiming that the specialist doctor, who should have the license obtained in his name, is currently outside Lebanon. No specialized doctor or even a full-time physician is present at the center to oversee all cases. Furthermore, the doctor administering Botox injections is registered with the Lebanese Order of Physicians as a general practitioner and has received training in cosmetic medicine. However, according to the law, the doctor should be a specialist in otolaryngology, dermatology, plastic and reconstructive surgery, or maxillofacial surgery. As a result, the ministry gave the center a one-day deadline to cease operations until the licensing process is completed, warning that failure to comply would result in official closure.
Over two days, the LBCI team visited various areas, documenting the chaos in beauty salons. Estheticians who introduced themselves as cosmetic specialists injected "cheap" Botox and fillers without medical supervision.
Perhaps unbeknownst to women seeking beauty enhancements, counterfeit medications are circulating in the market under the names of licensed drugs and other unreliable products, notably from Korea and China. The consequences of using such counterfeit products can be disfigurement.
Ladies, it is crucial to remember that cosmetic procedures are a medical practice, not a hobby. They require specialized professionals and carefully regulated medications. Beware of imitation, as regret will be useless once a mistake occurs.

Sami Gemayel directs written question to government on fate of Lebanese detainees, disappeared in Syria
Kataeb.org/July 05/2023
Kataeb Leader MP Samy Gemayel directed a written question on behalf of the Kataeb Party to the Lebanese Government concerning the fate of Lebanese detainees and forcibly disappeared in Syria. Gemayels question came after the United Nations General Assembly approved a resolution that would establish an independent body to uncover the fate and whereabouts of the detainees and forcibly disappeared in Syria. The Kataeb Leader condemned Lebanons abstention from voting on United Nations decision, considering that it disguises all of countrys official resolutions previously made concerning the detainees and forcibly disappeared in Syria. He also wondered about the government and concerned ministries practical measures in a bid to make sure of the inclusivity of the ongoing U.N mechanism concerning the Lebanese detainees and forcibly disappeared in Syria after 2011 and those kidnapped by the Syrian Forces and their allies before 2011, before reaching the deadline of eighty days stipulated in the decision of the U.N General Assembly. We urged the government of Lebanon to take all the necessary measures to ensure that the scope of work of the Independent Institution on Missing Persons in Syria, established under the auspices of the UN, includes the Lebanese detainees and forcibly disappeared in Syria, and guarantees the representation of their families throughout the entire process, Gemayel wrote on twitter. -

Bou Habib receives Maronite Diaspora Foundation delegation, UK Defense Senior Advisor to the Middle East

NNA/July 05/2023
Caretaker Minister of Foreign Affairs and Emigrants, Dr. Abdallah Bou Habib, on Wednesday met with a delegation of the Maronite Diaspora Foundation, headed by Engineer Charles Hajj. Discussions reportedly touched on the Foundation's work oversees and cooperation with the Lebanese missions abroad. On the other hand, Caretaker Minister Bou Habib received, UK Defence Senior Advisor to the Middle East, Air Marshal Martin Sampson, where they held a tour dhorizon bearing on an array of local issues, including those related to UNIFIL, Syrian displacement dossier, as well as Middle East affairs, such as the Saudi-Iranian rapprochement.

Mikati chairs meeting over 2023 state budget, discusses security situation in the south with Army chief, meets Caretaker Interior Minister
NNA/July 05/2023
Caretaker Prime Minister, Najib Mikati, on Wednesday met at the Grand Serail with Caretaker Interior and Municipalities Minister, Judge Bassam Mawlawi. Discussions during the meeting reportedly touched on Ministry related affairs. Caretaker Premier Mikati then met with Army Commander, Major General Joseph Aoun, with whom he discussed the current security situation and the military institutions affairs. Discussions also touched on the situation in the south in the light of the Israeli trespasses. On the other hand, Premier Mikati chaired a meeting at the Grand Serail to discuss the 2023 state budget, in the presence of Caretaker Finance Minister Youssef Khalil, Deputy PM Saade Chami, Finance Ministry's Director General George Meerrawi, and Mikati's advisors Nicolas Nahhas and Samir Daher. The meeting continued discussions of the budgets items and proposals, whereby the final draft of the budget will be finalized within a week to be distributed to the ministers in preparation for further study during consecutive cabinet meetings. The final draft of the budget is to be ready within a week. Mikati also received President of the Central Inspection, Judge George Attieh. The PM later received a delegation from the administrative board of the "Children's Welfare Society in Tripoli," headed by Samar Zinni Baraka.

Berri broaches security situation with Caretaker Defense Minister, Army Intelligence Chief
NNA/July 05/2023
House Speaker, Nabih Berri, on Wednesday received at the Second Presidency in Ain El-Tineh, Caretaker Minister of National Defense, Maurice Sleem, with whom he discussed the general situation and the latest developments, especially at the security level.
Speaker Berri also met Army Intelligence Director, Brigadier General Tony Kahwaji, and discussed with him the security situation.

Army confronts Israeli enemy near Blue Line
NNA/July 05/2023
A Lebanese army unit confronted this noon an Israeli enemy bulldozer that was attempting to cross the Blue Line at the border of Mays al-Jabal in the south. The army managed to prevent the vehicle from resuming its operation and forced it to pull back. For their part, locals of Markaba and Hounin gathered in the face of an enemy bulldozer in the area situated between the two towns.

Mufti Qabalan stresses need for dialogue and settlement

NNA/July 05/2023
Grand Jaafari Mufti, Sheikh Ahmad Qabalan, stressed, in a statement on Wednesday, the necessity to hold direct dialogue between the political components and to reach a settlement at both the presidential and governmental levels. "What we need is direct dialogue and a presidential-governmental settlement that puts Lebanon on track of national salvation," said Qabalan. "The fact that the political forces need an international mediator to bring them closer together means that Lebanon is committing suicide," he lamented.

Fayyad, Ambassador Hassan discuss means of developing energy cooperation between Lebanon and Algeria

NNA/July 05/2023
Caretaker Minister of Energy and Water, Dr. Walid Fayyad, on Wednesday received in his office at the ministry, the Lebanese Ambassador to Algeria, Dr. Mohammed Hassan. The pair reportedly discussed ways to enhance and develop energy cooperation between Lebanon and sisterly Algeria.

Latest English LCCC Miscellaneous Reports And News published on July 05-06/2023
Iranian envoy urges UK to abide by terms of nuclear deal
Arab News/July 05, 2023
LONDON: The UK, France, and Germany risk the collapse of the joint comprehensive plan of action nuclear deal if they fail to lift sanctions on Iranian missile development as agreed, said Mehdi Hosseini Matin, Tehrans charge daffaires to London.
Speaking on the eve of a UN Security Council debate on Iran, Matin said on Wednesday that such a breach of the terms of the deal would affect the atmosphere around recent bilateral talks in Oman between Iran and the US to secure a separate mini-agreement covering the release of US prisoners, maintaining aspects of the nuclear deal, and the release of Iranian assets frozen abroad. Matin said: The UK and its European partners need to think strategically and it will be a big mistake not to lift sanctions. Europe should think twice. They will just have shot themselves in the foot.
The structure of the JCPOA should be preserved, and if it is not they would be held accountable. We will not act now, but we will respond when we see what is announced.Former US President Donald Trump quit the nuclear deal in 2018 that had been negotiated by his predecessor Barack Obama, saying he was going to apply maximum economic sanctions in an attempt to force Iran to agree a new deal to constrain its nuclear program and its behavior in its region. Trumps successor, Joe Biden, sought to negotiate the terms for the US to rejoin the deal, but the talks in Vienna stalled amid disagreements over the UN inspection regime and Irans explanations for its past activities at specific nuclear sites. The UK, France, and Germany remained signatories to the deal, which has so far prevented Iran producing weapons-grade uranium.
Matin was responding to reports that the UK and the other two European powers were planning to maintain sanctions related to Iranian missile production after Oct. 18, the date they are due to be lifted under the terms of the 2015 deal. The European powers have said repeatedly that Iran is breaching the clauses on missile production in the deal. But Matin said the 2015 deal only called upon Iran not to undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear missiles, including launches using such technology. He said the wording did not represent an obligation on Iran.
Matin, who is the most senior Iranian diplomat in London, said Iran was not producing such weapons and added that any sale of drones by his country to Russia was not covered by the nuclear deal since these unmanned aerial vehicles were neither a weapon nor a missile.
Barbara Woodward, the UKs ambassador to the UN, said this week: Iran is in flagrant breach of UN Resolution 2231 (which enshrines the nuclear deal), not least in the way it is selling UAVs to Russia for the war in Ukraine.
We think Iran has three times the amount of highly enriched uranium needed to manufacture a nuclear device, so the stockpiles are high and Irans ability to enrich uranium is high, so that is a situation that is causing us a lot of concern, so that is why we are working so hard to agree what to do next about that.
Matin insisted Irans increase in the amount of enriched uranium beyond the limits set in the JCPOA did not in itself constitute a breach of the deal since Article 37 of the accord stated: If sanctions are reinstated in full or part, Iran will treat that as grounds to cease performing its commitments under the deal.
All the steps Iran had taken after the US pulled out of the deal in 2018 were reversible, he added. Speaking to France 24, the head of the UN nuclear inspectorate in charge of verifying the nuclear deal admitted the accord was in very bad shape. Rafael Grossi said: It is an empty shell, basically. No one has declared it dead, but there is no diplomatic activity around it. If there is any alternative agreement I hope we will be invited to be the ones to inspect and verify that whatever commitments are made are for real and not just a piece of paper.

Iran must stop executions of protesters, says UN fact-finding mission
GENEVA (Reuters)/Wed, July 5, 2023
A fact-finding mission mandated by the U.N. urged Iranian authorities on Wednesday to stop executing people who were sentenced to death for taking part in anti-government protests that rocked the country last year. The death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in September 2022 while in the custody of the country's morality police unleashed a wave of mass protests across Iran, marking the biggest challenge to its clerical leaders in decades. Since then, several people have been hanged for participating in the unrest, which Iran's leaders have accused the country's Western enemies of fomenting. "We call on the Iranian authorities to stop the executions of individuals convicted and sentenced to death in connection with the protests and reiterate our requests to make available to us the judicial files, evidence, and judgments regarding each of these persons," Sara Hossain, chair of the Iran Fact-Finding Mission, told the Human Rights Council in Geneva. The mission also called for the "release all those detained for exercising their legitimate right to peaceful assembly and for reporting on the protests". Responding to the statement in comments to the Council, Kazem Gharib Abadi, secretary general of Iran's High Council for Human Rights, called the establishment of the fact-finding mission last year "an entirely politically motivated and unacceptable move". In May, Iran executed three men it said were implicated in the deaths of three members of its security forces during the demonstrations.

US Navy Says It Prevented Iran from Seizing Tankers in Gulf of Oman
Reuters /Wed, July 5, 2023
The US Navy said it had intervened to prevent Iran from seizing two commercial tankers in the Gulf of Oman on Wednesday in the latest in a series of seizures or attacks on ships in the area since 2019. Chevron said one incident involved the Richmond Voyager, a very large crude carrier managed by the US oil major, and that crew onboard were safe. An Iranian navy vessel fired shots during the second seizure attempt, Navy Fifth Fleet spokesperson Timothy Hawkins said. Both incidents took place in waters between Iran and Oman. Hawkins did not say how the US Navy prevented the seizure of the ships or provide any further information at this stage. Details regarding the second vessel involved in the incident were not immediately clear. British maritime security company Ambrey said a warship with a multinational navy task group was in the area at the time and had requested the Iranian navy to "cease harassing" one of the merchant ships. Iran's state news agency IRNA said on Wednesday that Iranian authorities have not commented yet on the matter. Since 2019, there has been a series of attacks on shipping in strategic Gulf waters at times of tension between the United States and Iran.
Iran seized two oil tankers in a week just over a month ago, the US Navy said. About a fifth of the world's supply of crude oil and oil products passes through the Strait of Hormuz, a choke point between Iran and Oman, according to data from analytics firm Vortexa. A Chevron spokesperson said: "There is no loss of life, injury, or loss of containment" aboard the Richmond Voyager. "The vessel is operating normally. The safety of our crew is our top priority," the spokesperson said. The Richmond Voyager was sailing away from the Gulf with Singapore listed as its destination, Refinitiv ship tracking showed. Top ship registries including the Marshall Islands and Greece have warned in recent weeks of the threat to commercial shipping in the Gulf including the Strait of Hormuz. In another point of tension, the US confiscated a cargo of Iranian oil aboard a tanker in April in a sanctions enforcement operation, sources told Reuters. That vessel, the Marshall Islands-flagged Suez Rajan, is anchored outside the US Gulf of Mexico terminal of Galveston waiting to discharge its cargo, according to Refinitiv ship tracking.

UK, Canada, Sweden, Ukraine take Iran to top UN court over 2020 downing of a Ukrainian passenger jet
THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) /Wed, July 5, 2023
The United Kingdom, Canada, Sweden and Ukraine launched a case against Iran at the United Nations' highest court Wednesday over the downing in 2020 of a Ukrainian passenger jet and the deaths of all 176 passengers and crew. The four countries want the International Court of Justice to rule that Iran illegally shot down the Ukraine International Airlines plane and to order Tehran to apologize and pay compensation to the families of the victims. Flight PS752 was traveling from Tehran to Kyiv on Jan. 8, 2020 when it was shot down soon after takeoff. The people killed included nationals and residents of Canada, Sweden, Ukraine and the United Kingdom, as well as Afghanistan and Iran. Their ages ranged from 1 year to 74 years old. Todays legal action reflects our unwavering commitment to achieving transparency, justice and accountability for the families of the victims, the countries said in a joint statement Wednesday. They said they filed the case after Iran failed to respond to a December request for arbitration. Following three days of denials in In January 2020, Iran said its paramilitary Revolutionary Guard mistakenly downed the Ukrainian plane with two surface-to-air missiles. Iranian authorities blamed an air defense operator who they said mistook the Boeing 737-800 for an American cruise missile. An Iranian court this year sentenced an air defense commander allegedly responsible for the downing to 13 years imprisonment, according to the countrys official judiciary news outlet. But the countries that filed the case with the world court in The Hague called the prosecution "a sham and opaque trial." According to the court filing published Wednesday, the U.K., Canada, Sweden and Ukraine argue that Iran failed to take all practicable measures to prevent the unlawful and intentional commission of an offense and failed to conduct an impartial, transparent, and fair criminal investigation and prosecution consistent with international law.The filing alleges that Iran withheld or destroyed evidence, blamed other countries and low level Revolutionary Guard personnel, threatened and harassed the families of the victims seeking justice" and failed to report details of the incident to the International Civil Aviation Organization. The downing happened on the same day Iran launched a ballistic missile attack on U.S. troops in Iraq in retaliation for an American drone strike that killed a top Iranian general. Last week, Iran filed a case against Canada linked to the downing, accusing the North American nation of flouting state immunity in allowing relatives of terrorism victims to seek reparations from the Islamic Republic.

Israel air strikes on Gaza in response to rocket fire

Agence France Presse
Israel carried out air strikes on the Gaza Strip on Wednesday in response to rockets fired from the Palestinian coastal enclave, the army said. "In response to the rockets launched earlier tonight (Wednesday), the IDF (Israel Defense Force) is currently striking in the Gaza Strip," the army said, which a Palestinian security source said had hit a Hamas military site in northern Gaza but caused no injuries. The Israeli army said that five rockets were fired from the Gaza Strip but they were "successfully intercepted". "Five rockets were launched from the Gaza Strip towards Israeli territory. The IDF (Israel Defense Force) aerial defense array successfully intercepted all the rocket launches," the army said in a statement. There was no immediate claim of responsibility from any Palestinian factions. Israel's army added that sirens had sounded in the southern city of Sderot. The rocket fire came after Israeli forces launched a large-scale operation in the occupied West Bank in the early hours of Monday. Twelve Palestinians and one Israeli soldier have been killed since the operation on Jenin refugee camp began.

Israel's prime minister says missing citizen in Iraq is being held by Iran-backed militia

JERUSALEM (AP)/Wed, July 5, 2023
A dual Israeli-Russian academic who has been missing in Iraq for months is being held by an Iran-backed militia in Iraq, the office of Israels prime minister said Wednesday. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahus office said Elizabeth Tsurkov, who disappeared in late March, is still alive and we hold Iraq responsible for her safety and well-being.Netanyahu said Tsurkov is being held by the Shiite group Kataeb Hezbollah or Hezbollah Brigades, a powerful Iran-backed group that the U.S. government listed as a terrorist organization in 2009. The group's leader and founder Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis was killed in an American airstrike near Baghdads international airport in January 2020 along with Gen. Qassem Soleimani, the commander of Irans elite Quds Force and the architect of its regional military alliances. Tsurkov, whose work focuses on the Middle East, and specifically war-torn Syria, is an expert on regional affairs and has been widely quoted over the years by international media. Tsurkov last tweeted on March 21. She is a fellow at the Washington-based think tank New Lines Institute. Her colleague Hassan Hassan, editor in chief of New Lines Magazine, said co-workers were notified of her kidnapping in Iraq on March 29. Hassan told The Associated Press that some of her colleagues had been in touch with her just days before she went missing. We could not believe the news, knowing what Iraq is like for any scholar or researcher in recent years, he said. But there is hope that she will be released through negotiations.
Hassan said they they have reached out to American and foreign officials, including at Princeton University where Tsurkov is pursuing her doctorate, for assistance. He added that they called on the United States government to be involved in securing her release, despite her not being a U.S. national.
Netanyahu said Tsurkov is an academic who visited Iraq on her Russian passport, at her own initiative pursuant to work on her doctorate and academic research on behalf of Princeton University." Tsurkov could not have used her Israeli passport to enter Iraq as the two countries do not have diplomatic relations.
A senior official from Kataeb Hezbollah declined to comment on the matter. Iran emerged as a major power broker in Iraq after the U.S.-led invasion in 2003, supporting Shiite groups and militias that have enjoyed wide influence in the country ever since. There has been no official comment from Iraq since Tsurkov went missing. Days after her disappearance, a local website reported that an Iranian citizen who was involved in her kidnapping was detained by Iraqi authorities. It said the woman was kidnapped from Baghdads central neighborhood of Karradah and that Irans embassy in the Iraqi capital was pressing for the mans release and to have him deported to Iran. Some Iraqi activists posted a copy of a passport of an Iranian man at the time, claiming that he was involved in the kidnapping. Netanyahus office said Tsurkovs case is being handled by the relevant parties in the State of Israel out of concern for Elizabeth Tsurkovs security and well-being. Israel considers Iran to be its greatest enemy, citing the countrys hostile rhetoric, support for militant groups such as Lebanons Hezbollah and its suspected nuclear program. Iran denies Western allegations that it is pursuing a nuclear bomb. Days before Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis and Soleimani were killed, U.S. military strikes in Iraq and Syria killed 25 Kataeb Hezbollah members. The U.S. said at the time that the December 2019 strike was a retaliation for a rocket attack days earleir that killed an American contractor at an Iraqi military base that it blamed on the group.

As Israel ends 2-day West Bank offensive, Palestinian residents emerge to scenes of vast destruction

JENIN REFUGEE CAMP, West Bank (AP)/Wed, July 5, 2023
Palestinian residents of the Jenin refugee camp encountered scenes of widespread destruction Wednesday as they emerged from their homes and returned from nearby shelters following the most intense Israeli military operation in the occupied West Bank in nearly two decades.
The two-day offensive, meant to crack down on Palestinian militants after a series of recent attacks, destroyed the camps narrow roads and alleyways, sent thousands of people fleeing their homes and killed 12 Palestinians. One Israeli soldier also was killed. While Israel claimed the operation had inflicted a tough blow on the militants, it remained unclear whether there would be any lasting effect on reducing more than a year of Israeli-Palestinian violence. The offensive also further weakened the Palestinian Authority, Israels erstwhile partner in battling militants, which already had little control in the camp to begin with. Israel launched the invasion in the camp, long known as a bastion of Palestinian militants, on Monday, saying its goal was to destroy and confiscate weapons. It carried out airstrikes and sent in hundreds of troops in an operation that was reminiscent of the bloody period two decades ago known as the second intifada, or Palestinian uprising against Israel's open-ended occupation. Faraj al-Jundi, an ambulance worker, said he and his family fled their home and stayed with a relative after it was hit in an airstrike on Tuesday. They targeted the house, the windows, the doors, he said as he returned home on Wednesday. We have a destroyed house. We have broken windows. Its all gone, he said. This aggression is really awful.
Palestinians slowly filled the streets of the camp, a densely populated area of some 24,000 people that was turned into a ghost town during the offensive. Roads were destroyed, with piles of broken asphalt, stones and rocks lying on the sides. Cars were smashed and scorched, and shops were closed as people gathered in the streets and offered food to one another. Workers fixed broken power lines, slowly restoring electricity for residents, while running water remained disrupted. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu boasted that Israel had wrapped up a comprehensive action against the terrorist enclave and that similar missions would take place in the future. Jenin was to be a safe haven. It no longer is a safe haven, he said. This is just the first step. Its by no means the last action that we will take. Some of the scenes from Jenin, including massive army bulldozers tearing through camp alleys, were eerily similar to those from a major Israeli incursion in 2002, which lasted for eight days and became known as the battle of Jenin. Both operations, two decades apart, were meant to crush militant groups in the camp and deter and prevent attacks on Israelis emanating from the camp. In each case, the army claimed success, only to be dragged into new cycles of military raids and Palestinian attacks. This weeks raid had wide support across Israels political spectrum, but some critics argued the impact would be short-lived, with slain gunmen quickly replaced by others. As usual, these things are best taken in proportion. To the security establishment, this is a successful operation thus far, but it holds no real chance of effecting a fundamental change in the state of affairs in the West Bank, wrote Amos Harel, military affairs commentator for the Haaretz daily. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, whose autonomy government administers parts of the West Bank, has rejected violence against Israelis, but has effectively lost control over several strongholds of gunmen, including Jenin. Amateur videos posted on social media showed angry residents of Jenin hurling stones at the Palestinian Authority police headquarters after the Israeli militarys withdrawal. Mass funerals for the Palestinians killed in the raid drew thousands of mourners. At one stage, participants booed representatives of Abbass Palestinian Authority, chanted their support for a local militant group and ran them out of the cemetery.
We are angry at them, said Mohammed Abu Ali, another camp resident. They didnt intervene or stand by our side. Not one person from the Palestinian Authority stood by us.Such sentiments could make it difficult for either Israel or the Palestinian Authority to restore control over the camp and other militant strongholds. Many Palestinians see the actions of the gunmen as an inevitable result of 56 years of occupation and the absence of any political process with Israel. They also point to increased West Bank settlement construction and violence by extremist settlers. Although the Palestinian Authority has condemned the Israeli crackdown, it is deeply unpopular because of corruption and its security coordination with the Israelis. The two sides, which have almost no political dialogue, maintain security ties in a shared effort to control Islamic militant groups.
Summing up the raid, the military said it had confiscated thousands of weapons, bomb-making materials and caches of money. Weapons were found in militant hideouts and civilian areas alike, in one case beneath a mosque, the military said.The Israeli military has claimed it killed only militants, but it has not provided details. The large-scale raid comes amid a more than yearlong spike in violence that has created a challenge for Netanyahus far-right government, which is dominated by ultranationalists who have called for tougher action against Palestinian militants only to see the fighting worsen.
Over 140 Palestinians have been killed this year in the West Bank, and Palestinian attacks targeting Israelis have killed at least 25 people, including a shooting last month that killed four settlers. Israel captured the West Bank, east Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip in the 1967 Mideast war. The Palestinians seek those territories for their hoped-for independent state.

Israeli-Russian Academic Being Held by Kataeb Hezbollah in Iraq, Netanyahu Says
Agencies/July 05/2023
An Israeli-Russian academic who went missing in Iraq a few months ago is alive and being held there by Shiite group Kataeb Hezbollah, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office said on Wednesday. A statement from Netanyhahu's office named the woman as Elisabeth Tsurkov. It said she had gone to Iraq for research purposes on behalf of Princeton University in the United States. There were no immediate details on her condition. Tsurkov entered Iraq on her Russian passport, the statement said. "Elisabeth Tsurkov is still alive and we see Iraq as responsible for her fate and well-being," the statement said, adding that the situation is being handled by the relevant bodies in Israel.

Thousands of Israelis cripple Tel Aviv highway to support police chief ousted by Netanyahu ally
TEL AVIV, Israel (AP)/Wed, July 5, 2023
Thousands of protesters on Wednesday blocked Tel Aviv's main highway and major roads and intersections across Israel in a spontaneous outburst of anger following the forced resignation of the city's popular police chief. Ami Eshed announced late Wednesday that he was leaving the Israeli police force under what he said was political pressure. Eshed has regularly clashed with the country's hard-line national security minister, Itamar Ben-Gvir, who has demanded that police take a tougher stance against months of anti-government protests. I am paying an intolerably heavy personal price for my choice to avert a civil war, Eshed said. Thousands of people blocked the Ayalon Highway, halting traffic on the normally bustling thruway. The protesters, many holding blue and white Israeli flags, blew horns, danced in the street and lit multiple bonfires. Police, some mounted on horseback, attempted to push back the crowds, at times using a water cannon. During a live news broadcast, a motorist drove his car through a crowd of protesters, striking one man and send him crumpling to the ground. The driver was reportedly arrested. Tens of thousands of Israelis have taken to the streets since Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's new government announced plans in January to overhaul the country's judicial system. The protests have blocked roads, disrupted the country's main airport and thronged major cities. Netanyahu and his allies came to power after Novembers election, Israels fifth in under four years, all of which were largely referendums on the longtime leaders fitness to serve while facing corruption charges. Netanyahu, whose corruption trial has dragged on for nearly three years, and his allies in his nationalist religious government say the overhaul is needed to rein in an overly interventionist judiciary and restore power to elected officials. Critics say the plan would upend Israels delicate system of checks and balances and push the country toward dictatorship by concentrating power in the hands of Netanyahu and his allies.Netanyahu suspended the overhaul in March after mass protests erupted when he tried to fire his defense minister for challenging the plan. But talks with the political opposition fizzled last month, and Netanyahu's allies have begun moving ahead with the plan again. Ben-Gvir responded to the resignation, saying politics had infiltrated the most senior ranks of the police force and that Eshed had made a complete surrender to leftist politicians.

Putin is beefing up his security services because he's fearful there could be another armed rebellion, report says

Tom Porter/Business Insider/Wed, July 5, 2023
Russia has moved to strengthen its national guard after the Wagner rebellion.
The move suggests that the Kremlin doesn't believe the threat of mutiny has passed, the ISW said. Wagner mercenaries launched a mutiny against Russian military leaders in June. The Kremlin is seeking to strengthen national guard units in a sign that Russian President Vladimir Putin fears the threat of another armed mutiny, according to The Institute for the Study of War (ISW).  The think-tank cited a report in Russian daily Vedemosti which stated that police chiefs are considering reassigning special units of the Russian Federal Drug Control Service to Rosgvardiya, the Russian national guard.
The Rosgvardiya answers directly to Putin, and was created in 2016 to combat internal security threats. Analysts say one of the core purposes of the force is to protect against challenges to Putin's power. "Russia watchers largely agree that Rosgvardiya was created to give Putin more direct authority to control protests and possibly to protect him from a coup,"said a report by the Center for Strategicand International Studies. The planned reassignment, the report said, came after Putin met with police and security chiefs in the wake of the armed uprising by the Wagner mercenary group on June 23.
The rebellion was the most serious challenge to Putin's power in more than two decades, with rebels demanding the ouster of military chiefs meeting little resistance as they seized control of the city of Rostov-on-Don then advanced on Moscow. The rebellion was called off after Wagner leader Yevgeny Prigozhin brokered a deal with the Kremlin. In the wake of the rebellion Putin has sought to re-establish his authority, and is believed to have launched a search for potential traitors in the military who may've backed the uprising, with Russian general Sergei Surovikin reportedly placed under arrest.
"The alleged restructuring of Russia's internal security forces suggests that the Kremlin is working to build an effective anti-rebellion force following Wagner's armed rebellion," the ISW said. "The fact that these purported changes are happening following the rebellion indicates that the Kremlin was correctly dissatisfied with the performance of security forces, which failed to stop or even contest Wagner's march on Moscow, and suggests that the Kremlin has not ruled out the risk of future such rebellions."According to Vedemosti, the planned reassignment of the units has drawn criticism, with opponents saying the Rosgvardiya isn't as well trained or as effective as the special drugs units. Putin's invasion of Ukraine has exposed rifts among military leaders, with Prigozhin in a series of videos before the rebellion accusing military leaders of botching the invasion. In exile in Belarus, he has claimed he did not seek to challenge Putin's authority in the uprising.

A defiant Putin renewed calls for countries to trade with Russia using local currencies in his first international appearance after the failed Wagner mutiny

Huileng Tan/Business Insider/July 5, 2023
Vladimir Putin has touted the use of local currencies instead of the dollar for trade. At a trade summit, Putin said 80% of the Russia-China trade is now transacted in the yuan and the ruble. It was Putin's first international appearance since a failed mutiny in Russia two weeks ago. Russia has again touted the use of local currencies for trade instead of the US dollar as the country continues to face sweeping sanctions over the Ukraine war. On Tuesday, while speaking at a summit, President Vladimir Putin highlighted Russia's trade with China, which he said is now primarily settled in the Chinese yuan and ruble. This was Putin's first appearance at an international event after a failed mutiny by the Wagner mercenary group two weeks ago. "Over 80 percent of commercial transactions between Russia and the People's Republic of China are made in rubles and yuan," Putin said, according to an official English transcript of his speech at the annual meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, or SCO an intergovernmental organization seen as an alternative to Western-led groupings. India hosted the virtual summit. The yuan surpassed the dollar as the most used currency for Chinese cross-border transactions in March this year, per a Reuters calculation of official Chinese data. The Russian currency was used in 40% of all export transactions with SCO countries, Putin added. Founded in 2001, SCO member countries include China, Russia, India, Pakistan, Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and Iran. "I would like to stress that Russia is confidently resisting and will continue to resist external pressure, sanctions, and provocations," Putin said at the summit. Putin's push to move away from the greenback follows sweeping sanctions against Russia that have expelled the country from the US dollar-dominated global financial system. The dollar has been the world's reserve currency since the Second World War, playing a crucial role in the world's trade. The tough restrictions against Russia spooked other countries so much that they are now lining up backup currencies for trade. This de-dollarization play suits China, which has been trying to increase the global circulation of the yuan. Sanctioned countries like Russia and emerging nations like Argentina have recently started using the yuan for trade, primarily with China. Chinese President Xi Jinping also proposed to expand the use of local currencies for trade among countries in the SCO, according to an official transcript of his speech at the summit. Xi said China stands ready to work with all sides, moving toward "the right direction of economic globalization, oppose protectionism, unilateral sanctions and the overstretching of national security, and reject the moves of setting up barriers, decoupling and severing supply chains," according to an English translation of his speech carried by state broadcaster CGTN.

Russia is painting dark stripes on its warships to make them look smaller and confuse Ukrainian drones, says expert

Mia Jankowicz/Business Insider/July 5, 2023
Russia is painting some of its warships with camouflage stripes, an open-source analyst said. Satellite images appear to show warships, which carry Kalibr cruise missiles, sporting the paint job. It would be "entirely consistent" with trying to fend off Ukraine's maritime drones, an expert said. Russian warships are being painted with dark stripes at either end in an apparent attempt to confuse Ukrainian attacks, a naval analyst said. Open-source naval researcher HI Sutton spotted what appeared to be the paint job on the Russian frigate Admiral Essen via satellite imagery at the Crimean port of Sevastopol on June 22, as well as on three further warships in the following days. According to Sutton, the four ships carry Kalibr cruise missiles, which have been used in devastating strikes across Ukraine. On June 29, KCHF.ru a website dedicated to sharing news about Russia's Black Sea fleet also shared an image of the Ivan Golubets, a Soviet-era minesweeper, which appeared to have been painted with thick dark bands at either end. It said the image, which Insider was unable to independently verify, was taken around a month earlier. Sidharth Kaushal, a research fellow in sea power at London's Royal United Services Institute, told Insider that the reported attempt at camouflage would be "entirely consistent with the sort of things the state would do to mitigate an uncrewed surface vessel threat." And he described how the operator of an uncrewed surface vessel (USV, or maritime drone) could be deceived by it.
Ukraine's USVs are guided through video feed by a remote human operator. They travel at high speeds, giving the operator only a short time to pick out a target. "It would appear that in this case, the camouflage is primarily geared towards ensuring that at very long distances, a low quality electro-optical sensor might not distinguish the vessel from background clutter," Kaushal said. The ship might also appear smaller thanks to the dark paint against the water. In this way the paint would be a "relatively cheap mitigation" against the drones, he said. The tactic might be even more effective against airborne drones and in the case of commercial satellite imagery, he added. In his own analysis, Sutton noted how dark the water often appears in such imagery, making it an effective camouflage for dark paint. Ukraine has long used USVs as a "cheap and cheerful" way to harass the Russian fleet, particularly around Sevastopol, Kaushal said. Russian vessels have sustained damage, and the country has had to erect new barriers around the port and keep its fleet closer to the coast, he said. "It's certainly been an additional headache for them."In early June, the Russian Ministry of Defense said that its Priazovye warship had repelled six drones. The Russian Ministry of Defense did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment on this latest apparent move. The use of naval camouflage would be an interesting return for a tactic more associated with World War 1 and World War 2. The British navy pioneered the use of "dazzle" stripes and patterns in World War 1, as seen below on the USS Minneapolis, which were intended to confuse onlookers as to the speed and direction of vessels. A historical black-and-white photo of the USS Minneapolis with curved, black-and-white dazzle paint, in Hampton Roads, Virginia, USA, 1917
USS Minneapolis Painted in Dazzle Camouflage, Hampton Roads, Virginia, USA, 1917GHI/Universal History Archive via Getty Images Later, deceptive camouflage was used instead most famously by the German battleship the Bismarck, whose bow and stern were painted darker to confuse the naked eye. It's unclear exactly how successful these tactics were, and they largely died out with the advent of radar, sonar, and, later, infra-red detection systems.

Turkey's Erdogan says Sweden's NATO steps undermined by protests

ISTANBUL (Reuters)/Wed, July 5, 2023
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said Sweden has taken steps in the right direction for its NATO bid with anti-terrorism legislation but continued protests there by Kurdish militant sympathisers undermined its moves, Erdogan's office said.
The Turkish presidency said Erdogan made the comments in a telephone call with Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, amid doubts that Ankara will lift its opposition to Sweden joining NATO in time for the bloc's summit in Lithuania on July 11-12. Sweden and Finland applied to join NATO last year, ditching policies of military non-alignment after Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Applications must be approved by all NATO members, but Turkey and Hungary have yet to clear Sweden's bid. Turkey has repeatedly said Sweden must take more steps against supporters of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) and members of a network Ankara holds responsible for a 2016 coup attempt. Turkey designates both as terrorist organisations. "President Erdogan said Sweden has taken steps in the right direction by making changes in anti-terrorism legislation," the statement said. "But supporters of the PKK...terrorist organisation continue to freely organise demonstrations praising terrorism, which nullifies the steps taken," it quoted him as saying. In recent months, demonstrators in Stockholm waved flags showing support for the PKK, which is also deemed a terrorist group by Turkey's Western allies, including Sweden. Sweden says it has upheld its part of a deal struck with Turkey in Madrid last year aimed at addressing Ankara's security concerns, including a new anti-terrorism law.

Sisi's decade in power: Egyptians struggle under authoritarian rule

France 24 Videos/Wed, July 5, 2023
Ten years ago this week, Egypt's first democratically elected president was ousted in a coup d'tat. Mohamed Morsi, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, was propelled to power by the Arab Spring. His dramatic fall was orchestrated by Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, a military general who promised to bring stability to Egypt. A decade later, the country's economy is in dire straits and Sisi rules with an iron fist. We bring you a report from our Cairo correspondents and speak to Koert Debeuf, professor of Middle East politics at Brussels University. Meanwhile, thousands of Palestinians have fled Jenin refugee camp amid the largest Israeli military operation in years in the occupied West Bank. Medics have struggled to reach those injured.

Energy transition summit: Saudi Arabia and Russia unveil oil production plans amidst global challenges
LBCI/July 05/2023
Here in the historic Hofburg Palace in the heart of the Austrian capital, Vienna, an international seminar is taking place for the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC). The seminar's theme is "Towards a Sustainable and Comprehensive Energy Transition," it brings together oil and energy ministers from member countries of the organization and leaders of global energy companies, experts, and stakeholders in the crude oil industry. While the seminar addresses various issues related to global energy security, government energy transition plans, environmental concerns, and sustainable development, the focus revolves around the announcement made by Saudi Arabia and Russia, the world's largest oil producers. Their announcement centers on increasing oil production cuts to stabilize markets that are affected by several factors, including the repercussions of Russia's war in Ukraine and the sluggish recovery of the Chinese economy. During the opening session, Saudi Arabia declined to discuss any dispute with its oil ally Russia and praised the decision to extend production cuts, which were coordinated to bolster prices. In the opening session, the Saudi Energy Minister emphasized that the joint reductions by Saudi Arabia and Russia have once again proven the skeptics wrong. The United States, the largest oil producer outside of OPEC+, has repeatedly urged the organization to increase production to help the global economy. The US has criticized Saudi Arabia's cooperation with Russia after the war in Ukraine. Furthermore, Moscow and Riyadh have only sometimes been in permanent agreement regarding production quotas. Russia has been less enthusiastic about reducing production due to its need for oil revenues amidst the war and Western sanctions. The Saudi Minister reassured that OPEC is working towards addressing the oil market situation by adopting a transparent approach and stated that they will do whatever is necessary to stabilize prices.

IAEA chief visits Fukushima before radioactive water is released
Associated Press/July 5, 2023
The United Nations nuclear chief was to visit Japan's tsunami-wrecked nuclear power plant Wednesday after the agency affirmed the safety of a contentious plan to release treated radioactive water into the sea. On his way to the Fukushima Daiichi plant, a highlight of his four-day Japan visit, International Atomic Energy Agency chief Rafael Mariano Grossi joined a meeting of government and utility officials, as well as local mayors and fishing association leaders, and stressed the continuous presence of this agency throughout the water discharge to ensure safety and address the residents' concerns. "What is happening is not something exceptional, some strange plan that has been devised only to be applied here, and sold to you," Grossi said in his opening remarks in Iwaki, about 40 kilometers (25 miles) south of the plant. "This is, as certified by the IAEA, the general practice that is agreed by and observed in many, many places all over the world." For people's doubts and concerns, "I must admit I don't have a magic wand but we do have one thing," Grossi said. "We are going to stay here with you for decades to come until the last drop of the water which is accumulated around the reactor has been safely discharged."
That means IAEA will be reviewing, inspecting, checking the validity of the plan in the decades to come, he said. The IAEA, in its final report released Tuesday, concluded the plan to release the wastewater which would be significantly diluted but still have some radioactivity meets international standards, and its environmental and health impact would be negligible. But local fishing organizations have rejected the plan because they worry that their reputation will be damaged even if their catch isn't contaminated. It is also opposed by groups in South Korea, China and some Pacific Island nations due to safety concerns and political reasons. Fukushima's fisheries association adopted a resolution on June 30 to reaffirm their rejection to the treated water discharge plan. During Wednesday's meeting, Fukushima fishery association chief Tetsu Nozaki urged government officials "to remember that the treated water plan is pushed forward despite our opposition." Iwaki Mayor Hiroyuki Uchida asked the government to prioritize a thorough explanation rather than their release timeline. Grossi told a news conference Tuesday, "I believe in transparency, I believe in open dialogue and I believe in the validity of the exercise we are carrying out." The report is a "comprehensive, neutral, objective, scientifically sound evaluation," Grossi said. "We are very confident about it." During a briefing Wednesday, South Korean officials said it's highly unlikely that water with risky contamination levels would be pumped out into the ocean. Officials also stressed that South Korea plans to maintain tight screening across seafood imported from Japan and that there were no immediate plans to lift the country's import ban on seafood from the Fukushima region. Park Ku-yeon, first vice minister of South Korea's Office for Government Policy Coordination, said Seoul plans to comment on the IAEA findings when it issues the results of the country's own investigation on the potential effect of the water release, which he said will come soon. A massive earthquake and tsunami on March 11, 2011, destroyed the Fukushima Daiichi plant's cooling systems, causing three reactors to melt and contaminating their cooling water, which has leaked continuously. The water is collected, treated and stored in about 1,000 tanks, which will reach their capacity in early 2024. The government and the plant operator, Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings, say the water must be removed to prevent any accidental leaks and make room for the plant's decommissioning. Japanese regulators finished their final safety inspection last week, and TEPCO is expected to get the permit for the release in coming days. It could then begin gradually discharging the water any time through an undersea tunnel from the plant to a Pacific Ocean location 1 kilometer (1,000 yards) offshore. But the start date is undecided due to protests at home and abroad. China doubled down on its objections to the release in a statement late Tuesday, saying the IAEA report failed to reflect all views and its conclusions were "largely limited and incomplete." It accused Japan of treating the Pacific Ocean as a sewer. "We once again urge the Japanese side to stop its ocean discharge plan, and earnestly dispose of the nuclear-contaminated water in a science-based, safe and transparent manner. If Japan insists on going ahead with the plan, it will have to bear all the consequences arising from this," the Chinese Foreign Ministry said in the statement.
Japan should work with the IAEA to establish a "long-term international monitoring mechanism that would involve stakeholders including Japan's neighboring countries," the ministry said. Grossi said treating, diluting and gradually releasing the wastewater is a proven method widely used in other countries including China, South Korea, the United States and France to dispose of water containing certain radionuclides from nuclear plants. Much of the Fukushima wastewater contains cesium and other radionuclides, but it will be filtered further to bring it below international standards for all but tritium, which is inseparable from water. It then will be diluted by 100 times with seawater before it is released. Some scientists say the impact of long-term, low-dose exposure to radionuclides remains unknown and urge a delay in the release. Others say the discharge plan is safe but call for more transparency in sampling and monitoring. Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, after meeting with Grossi, said Japan will continue to provide "detailed explanations based on scientific evidence with a high degree of transparency both domestically and internationally." Grossi is also expected to visit South Korea, New Zealand and the Cook Islands after his visit to Japan to ease concerns there.

South Sudan's Kiir pledges nation's first election
AFP/July 5, 2023
South Sudan's leader, Salva Kiir, on Tuesday pledged that delayed elections set for next year would go ahead as planned and that he would run for president. Kiir, a towering guerrilla commander, has been the nation's only president since he led it to independence from Sudan in 2011.
The world's youngest nation has lurched from crisis to crisis during Kiir's tenure and is held together by a fragile unity government of Kiir and Vice President Riek Machar. A transition period was meant to conclude with elections in February 2023, but the government has so far failed to meet key provisions of the agreement, including drafting a constitution. "I welcome the endorsement to run for presidency in 2024," Kiir told supporters of his governing Sudan People's Liberation Movement party, describing it as a "historic event.""We are committed to implement the chapters in the revitalized peace agreement as stated, and the election will take place in 2024."No other candidate has declared their candidacy, but historical foe Machar is expected to run.

One Dead and 41 Injured in Ukrainian Shelling Targeting the Russian-Occupied City of Makiivka
AFP/July 5, 2023
At least one person was killed and 41 others were injured in a Ukrainian bombing on Tuesday night targeting the Moscow-controlled city of Makiivka in eastern Ukraine, according to the pro-Russian local authorities. The Mayor of the city, Vladislav Kleutcharov, told Russia's "Russia 24" channel, "Currently, 41 people, including two children, were injured in the shelling...and one person was killed." He explained that the Ukrainian bombing began on Tuesday evening and was followed a few hours later by a wave of "very violent strikes that caused a lot of damage."He pointed out that around 40 residential buildings, schools, and medical facilities were damaged. For its part, the Ukrainian army announced the destruction of a Russian military formation in Makiivka, which has been controlled since 2014 by Russia-backed separatists. The Ukrainian Armed Forces stated on Telegram, "As a result of the effective firepower of the Defense Forces units, another formation of Russian terrorists has ceased to exist in temporarily occupied Makiivka," without revealing further details about this operation.
Latest LCCC English analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on July 05-06/2023
Three Analysis focusing Of The Syrian Assad's Criminal Regime & On The cowardice Of UN As well As The Arab Countries/

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Syrian regime organised feared ghost militias, war crimes researchers say/Stephanie van den Berg and Maya Gebeily/Reuters/Tue, July 5, 2023
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UN and Arabs Whitewash Atrocities of Bashar Assad, Instead Blame Guess Who?/Bassam Tawil/Gatestone Institute/July 05, 2023
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Should US Troops Stay in Syria?/Lawrence A. Franklin/Gatestone Institute/July 5, 2023
https://eliasbejjaninews.com/archives/119823/three-analysis-focusing-of-the-syrian-assads-criminal-regime-on-the-cawrdice-of-un-as-well-as-the-arab-countries-%d8%aa%d8%b9%d9%84%d9%8a%d9%82%d8%a7%d8%aa-%d8%ab%d9%84%d8%a7%d8%ab%d8%a9-%d8%a8/

/July 05, 2023
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Syrian regime organised feared ghost militias, war crimes researchers say
Stephanie van den Berg and Maya Gebeily/Reuters/ July 5, 2023
https://eliasbejjaninews.com/archives/119823/three-analysis-focusing-of-the-syrian-assads-criminal-regime-on-the-cawrdice-of-un-as-well-as-the-arab-countries-%d8%aa%d8%b9%d9%84%d9%8a%d9%82%d8%a7%d8%aa-%d8%ab%d9%84%d8%a7%d8%ab%d8%a9-%d8%a8/
In the early years of Syria's brutal conflict, top government officials established and directed paramilitary groups known as shabbiha to help the state crack down on opponents, war crimes investigators have documented.
In a report shared with Reuters, the Commission for International Justice and Accountability (CIJA) published seven documents its investigators said showed that the highest levels of Syria's government "planned, organised, instigated and deployed" the shabbiha from the start of the war in 2011.
U.N. investigators in 2012 concluded there were reasonable grounds to believe shabbiha militias committed crimes against humanity, including murder and torture, and war crimes such as arbitrary arrest and detention, sexual violence and pillaging.
CIJA's cache does not contain direct written orders to commit atrocities. The Syrian government did not respond to a request for comment from Reuters. It has previously blamed opposition fighters for several mass killings studied by CIJA in the report. The government has not publicly commented on the shabbiha, which means ghosts in Arabic, or whether it had any role in organising the groups.Dating from as early as January 2011 - the first days of the protests against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's rule - the documents detail the creation of so-called Popular Committees, groups that incorporated regime supporters already known as shabbiha into the security apparatus, and trained, instructed and armed them, the report said. The documents include instructions on March 2, 2011 from military intelligence to local authorities via Security Committees run by Assad's Baath party leaders to "mobilise" informers, grassroots organisations and so-called friends of the Assad government. In further documents in April they are ordered to form them into Popular Committees.
They also contain instructions in April, May and August, 2011 to Popular Committees from the newly-established Central Crisis Management Committee (CCMC), a mix of security forces, intelligence agencies and top officials that reported directly to Assad, the report said. One of the CCMC's first directives, dated April 18, 2011, and included in full in the report, ordered the Popular Committees to be trained on how to use weapons against demonstrators, as well as how to arrest them and hand them over to government forces. A German regional court in 2021, in a case against a Syrian intelligence services official, said in its judgment the CCMC was established in March 2011, reporting to Assad as an ad hoc body composed of senior leaders of the security forces. A U.S. district court found in 2019 in a civil case that Assad himself established the CCMC, which the court called "the highest national security body in the Syrian government" and "comprised of senior members of the government". Reuters reviewed seven documents made available in full in the CIJA report, which was due to be published later on Tuesday. The report also draws on dozens of other papers, which were collected from government or military facilities after territory fell to the rebels. CIJA has not released all the documents it quotes from, saying some are being used in ongoing investigations in European countries. The documents showed the government created the militias "from day one", rather than latching onto pre-existing grassroot groups, as scholars of the Syrian war previously thought, said Ugur Ungor, an expert on Syrian paramilitaries and a professor of Holocaust and Genocide studies at the Dutch NIOD Institute for War, Holocaust and Genocide Studies, who has reviewed the documents in CIJA's new report.
PAPER TRAIL
Some human rights scholars who have studied the role of the shabbiha in the Syrian war say the Assad regime initially used the groups to distance itself from violence on the ground. "The regime did not want the security forces and army to be pictured doing these things," said Fadel Abdul Ghany, chair of the Syrian Network for Human Rights, a UK-based advocacy group. No shabbiha members have been brought to trial in international courts. Ghany, who reviewed the documents, said they could help build such cases. "Here you have the paper trail that shows how these units were mobilized", one of CIJA's directors, Nerma Jelacic, told Reuters. CIJA is a nonprofit founded by a veteran war crimes investigator and staffed by international criminal lawyers who have worked in Bosnia, Rwanda and Cambodia. Its evidence on Syria has previously been used in court cases against regime officials conducted in Germany, France, Sweden and the Netherlands.
NINE MASSACRES
CIJA named nine massacres in Syria the reports said involved pro-government militias, including in the neighbourhood of Karm al-Zeytoun in the city of Homs in March 2012. One Syrian man, who asked not to be named as he feared reprisals against relatives still living in government-held zones in Syria, told Reuters his wife and five children were among those killed there. "The shabbiha put them up against the wall, tried to violate them, then shot them," he said. At the time, he had joined a rebel group and was in a nearby district, al-Adawiya - where another massacre had just taken place, also cited by CIJA.
"The moment I heard that my kids were dead, I was holding a six-month-old baby that had just been killed in Adawiya. So, I was imagining what had happened to my kids," he said, speaking by telephone from within a rebel-held enclave in northern Syria.
Reuters was not able to independently confirm his account. The CIJA documents showed tensions between some branches of the security forces and some Popular Committees as reports of abuses spread - but rather than rein-in the militias, the security forces issued instructions to not oppose them.
CIJA's Syria team of 45 people studied the documents to detail the growth of the shabbiha groups from neigbourhood-level loyalist groups to a well-organised militia and later a parallel wing of the army called the National Defence Force (NDF). Reuters earlier reported on the 2012 creation of the NDF.
While there is no international war crimes court with jurisdiction over Syria's conflict, there are a number of so-called universal jurisdiction cases in countries like the Netherlands, Sweden, France and Germany which have laws allowing them to prosecute war crimes even if they are committed elsewhere.
Ghany said the documents were "necessary" pieces of evidence linking the shabbiha to the state in international justice cases. "These documents make it possible to pursue people legally - if there are individuals in European countries, then a case can be brought against them," he told Reuters.
(Reporting by Stephanie Van Den Berg and Maya Gebeily; Editing by Frank Jack Daniel)

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UN and Arabs Whitewash Atrocities of Bashar Assad, Instead Blame Guess Who?
Bassam Tawil/Gatestone Institute/July 05/ 2023
https://eliasbejjaninews.com/archives/119823/three-analysis-focusing-of-the-syrian-assads-criminal-regime-on-the-cawrdice-of-un-as-well-as-the-arab-countries-%d8%aa%d8%b9%d9%84%d9%8a%d9%82%d8%a7%d8%aa-%d8%ab%d9%84%d8%a7%d8%ab%d8%a9-%d8%a8/

The League of Arab States (LAS), which represents 22 member countries, has spent several decades issuing statements of condemnation against Israel. Each time Israel launches a counterterrorism operation in response to Palestinian terrorism, including rockets fired from the Gaza Strip towards Israel and shooting, stabbing and car-ramming attacks, it is denounced.
The same League of Arab States, however, has no problem embracing an Arab president whose regime has killed hundreds of thousands of Arabs, including Palestinians and Syrians, since the beginning of the civil war in Syria in 2011.
The LAS... has effectively whitewashed Syrian President Bashar Assad's atrocities against his own people and Palestinians.
Assad, in his speech before the Arab heads of state, ironically expressed hope that the summit would mark "the beginning of a new phase of Arab action for solidarity among us, for peace in our region, development and prosperity instead of war and destruction."
Here is an Arab leader, responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Arabs and the displacement of millions more, preaching about "peace, development and prosperity."
Saudi Arabia played a significant role in welcoming the Assad regime back to the League of Arab States. The Saudis have shown that they prefer to make peace with Assad than normalize their relations with Israel. Drastically cooling years of diplomatic efforts, the Saudis insist that until a Palestinian state has been established, the kingdom will not normalize ties with Israel. If the Saudis are so concerned about the Palestinians, why are they rushing to embrace an Arab dictator whose regime has killed thousands of Palestinians?
With no apparent preconditions for Assad, the League of Arab States is turning its back on more than 500,000 dead Syrians, nearly seven million Syrian refugees, and 13 million displaced Syrians.
According to UN Special Rapporteur, Alena Douhan, the sanctioning countries, including the US, would be interfering in Syria's right to murder its own people en masse. That would, indeed, be attempting to secure a very specific change in its policy. Wouldn't not chemically burning entire villages of civilians to death be a better human rights policy?
According to the UN's Douhan, in yet another report, it is not Assad who should be held accountable and punished with sanctions. It is not Assad who has destroyed Syria's infrastructure with bombing, murder, and overall devastation, but rather: "Israeli settlements... in the occupied Syrian Golan.... [have] limited the Syrian population's access to land and water, in violation of their rights to adequate housing, food and health.... The report also contained recommendations [that]... The international community should put in place punitive measures to put an end to these crimes. All dealings with settlers, settlements and the incumbent Prime Minister [Netanyahu] should cease."
The UN's concern over the Syrian people's rights to land and housing is commendable, but where was its outcry when Assad gave a quiet 30 days' notice to the seven million refugees scattered across the Middle East and beyond to prove ownership of their homes and property or to forfeit ownership? Assad's"Law 10" land grab... was met with not a whisper of protest by the UN.
According to Amnesty International: "In 2019, more than two-thirds of all refugees came from just five countries: Syria, Venezuela, Afghanistan, South Sudan and Myanmar...." The Palestinians were not even mentioned.
The UN freely admits that: "The League of Arab States (LAS) shares a common mission with the United Nations (UN): promoting peace, security and stability by preventing conflict, resolving disputes and acting in a spirit of solidarity and unity.... building their engagement through capacity-building exercises and staff exchanges. The Security Council also has sought to strengthen interaction with the LAS...."
With such chummy comradery between these two organizations, including interchangeable staff, it is not a wonder that the UN has strategically placed despotic regimes in its councils and as demonstrated in resolution after resolution -- taken such an aggressively biased stance against Israel.
After 12 years of what then US Secretary of State John Kerry in 2013 called the"moral obscenity" of Assad's "indiscriminate slaughter of civilians, the killing of women and children and innocent bystanders by chemical weapons," the UN decries sanctions against the Assad regime, and the Arab League embraces Assad with great honor and not a word of censure.
The outrageous hypocrisy and double-standards of the Arab countries and the UN is astonishing -- and unacceptable. The League of Arab States pretends to care about its fellow Arabs, while its good friend, the UN, purports to care about human rights.
"Why has this [UN] Council chosen silence?" UN Watch's Hillel Neuer asked."Because Israel could not be blamed. Because, in truth, the despots who run this Council couldn't care less about Palestinians, or about any human rights. They seek to demonize Israeli democracy, to delegitimize the Jewish state, to scapegoat the Jewish people. They also seek something else: To distort and pervert the very language and idea of human rights."
The League of Arab States has no problem embracing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, whose regime has killed hundreds of thousands of Arabs, including Palestinians and Syrians, since the beginning of the civil war in Syria in 2011.
The League of Arab States (LAS), which represents 22 member countries, has spent several decades issuing statements of condemnation against Israel. Each time Israel launches a counterterrorism operation in response to Palestinian terrorism, including rockets fired from the Gaza Strip towards Israel and shooting, stabbing and car-ramming attacks, it is denounced. The Israeli government is also condemned by the LAS each time it approves the construction of housing units for Jewish families in Jerusalem and the West Bank.
The same League of Arab States, however, has no problem embracing an Arab president whose regime has killed hundreds of thousands of Arabs, including Palestinians and Syrians, since the beginning of the civil war in Syria in 2011.
Since the beginning of the civil war in Syria, 4,214 Palestinians have been killed; another 3,076 Palestinians are being held in prisons belonging to the Syrian regime, while another 333 others have gone missing, according to the Action Group For Palestinians Of Syria, a London-based human rights watchdog group that monitors the situation of Palestinian refugees in Syria.
About 400,000 Palestinian refugees from Syria have been displaced as a result of the war, The United Nations Relief and Work Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) revealed.
"The majority of the 438,000 Palestinian refugees remaining in Syria have been displaced at least once within Syria with some having been displaced multiple times and over 95 percent of them remain in continuous need of humanitarian aid to meet their basis needs.... Up to 280,000 Palestinian refugees from Syria are currently displaced inside Syria, with a further 120,000 displaced to neighboring countries, including Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, Egypt and increasingly, to Europe. There are 31,000 Palestinian refugees in Lebanon. Many of them have been pushed into a precarious and marginalized existence due to their uncertain legal status and face limited social protection."
Last year, the United Nations Human Rights Council estimated that 306,887 civilians were killed during the civil war in Syria. Syrian opposition groups estimate that a total of 613,407 people were killed in Syria. The most violent year of the conflict was 2015, when about 110,000 people were killed. Half of the war's victims died between 2013 and 2015, according to the Council.
The League of Arab States, remembered for its rejectionist 1967 "Three No's" resolution (no to peace with Israel, no recognition of Israel, and no negotiations with Israel), has effectively whitewashed Syrian President Bashar Assad's atrocities against his own people and Palestinians. In May, Arab foreign ministers agreed to reinstate Syria's membership in the LAS after its suspension more than 10 years ago. Later, Assad was invited to attend the LAS Summit in Saudi Arabia's port city of Jeddah.
Assad, in his speech before the Arab heads of state, ironically expressed hope that the summit would mark "the beginning of a new phase of Arab action for solidarity among us, for peace in our region, development and prosperity instead of war and destruction."
Here is an Arab leader, responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Arabs and the displacement of millions more, preaching about "peace, development and prosperity."
Saudi Arabia played a significant role in welcoming the Assad regime back to the League of Arab States. The Saudis have shown that they prefer to make peace with Assad than normalize their relations with Israel. Drastically cooling years of diplomatic efforts, the Saudis insist that until a Palestinian state has been established, the kingdom will not normalize ties with Israel. If the Saudis are so concerned about the Palestinians, why are they rushing to embrace an Arab dictator whose regime has killed thousands of Palestinians?
Days after Syria was welcomed to rejoin the LAS, the very same organization called on the international community to "intervene to end Israel's violations against Palestinian children and ensure the protection of their rights."
Before Syria was officially welcomed back to the LAS, Assad was invited to the United Arab Emirates where he was received by Emirati royalty with full honors as "a group of honor guards lined up to salute his excellency."
It is not as though Assad has expressed any contrition whatsoever or admitted an iota of responsibility whether currently or throughout his rampage of atrocities against his own people. "I did my best to protect the people. I cannot feel guilty when you do your best. You feel sorry for the lives that have been lost. But you don't feel guilty when you don't kill people. So it's not about guilty," he claimed, astonishingly, in an Barbara Walters interview in 2011.
With no apparent preconditions for Assad, the League of Arab States is turning its back on more than 500,000 dead Syrians, nearly seven million Syrian refugees, and 13 million displaced Syrians.
There had not been any significant repercussions for Assad until then US President Donald Trump authorized the bombing of Syrian chemical weapons facilities in 2018 and signed the Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act legislating international sanctions against Syria's murderous regime in 2019.
The UN adopted "special procedures" resolutions decrying "unilateral coercive measures" in September 2014 (about three months after Assad's farcical reelection and attempted image rehabilitation), and again in October 2020 (almost immediately following the US's institution of the Caesar Act sanctions). It seems odd that a human rights body such as the UN would need to take "special procedures" to countermand a "civilian protection act."
Along with these procedures, the UN appointed Alena Douhan as Special Rapporteur for assessing the humanitarian situation in Syria.
Douhan, in her reports to the UN, rails against the negative impact of sanctions on Syria, but seems less specific about humanitarian issues and more concerned with defining legal terminology:
"Unilateral coercive measures have been defined by the Human Rights Council in its resolutions 27/21 and 45/5. These encompass economic and political measures imposed by one or a group of States to coerce another State into subordination of the exercise of its sovereign rights, with a view to securing some specific change in its policy."
This would be the very definition of sanctions. According to Douhan, the sanctioning countries, including the US, would be interfering in Syria's right to murder its own people en masse. That would, indeed, be attempting to secure a very specific change in its policy. Wouldn't not chemically burning entire villages of civilians to death be a better human rights policy?
Unsurprisingly, the UN seized upon Douhan's policy-making prowess to tack the subject of "Unilateral Coercive Measures" (UCMs) onto Israel. Douhan requested reports from Palestinian NGOs such as "Palestinian Centre for Human Rights," which warmed to the newly minted legal terminology and promptly submitted reports such as, "Impact of Israeli Unilateral Coercive Measures on the Right to Health of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip."
According to the UN's Douhan, in yet another report, it is not Assad who should be held accountable and punished with sanctions. It is not Assad who has destroyed Syria's infrastructure with bombing, murder, and overall devastation, but rather:
"Israeli settlements... in the occupied Syrian Golan.... [have] limited the Syrian population's access to land and water, in violation of their rights to adequate housing, food and health.... The report also contained recommendations [that]... The international community should put in place punitive measures to put an end to these crimes. All dealings with settlers, settlements and the incumbent Prime Minister [Netanyahu] should cease."
The UN's concern over the Syrian people's rights to land and housing is commendable, but where was its outcry when Assad gave a quiet 30 days' notice to the seven million refugees scattered across the Middle East and beyond to prove ownership of their homes and property or to forfeit ownership? Assad's"Law 10" land grab, where, Salon Syria reports, his government "...liquidate[d] their titles and seize[d] their holdings.... using the law to seize the homes of opposition supporters and give them to its own support base [including selling them to foreign investors]," was met with not a whisper of protest by the UN.
Diametrically opposed to its tacit approval of Assad's land-seizures is the UN's obsession with the Palestinian refugees and their "right of return." Although UN resolution 194 would ostensibly pertain to the right of all refugees to return to their land of birth, if they will "live at peace with their neighbors," there seems to be little effort in pursuing this in practice for Syrian refugees.
The UN's prioritizing the Palestinian refugees over the seven million Syrian refugees is incomprehensible, stinks of hypocrisy and seems yet another symptom of how corruptly the UN betrays its own sanctimonious determinations.
Why doesn't the UN open an entirely new agency solely for Syrian refugees as it did for the Palestinians through UNRWA?
That move, though, seems highly unlikely in light of this year's UN World Refugee Day report. Four of its six paragraphs railed about, "the Nakba - the event that shattered Palestinian lives... for generations, tracing back to 1947... As the largest and most protracted displaced population since World War II" thereby completely negating the Syrian refugees, as well as many others.
According to Amnesty International:
"In 2019, more than two-thirds of all refugees came from just five countries: Syria, Venezuela, Afghanistan, South Sudan and Myanmar. Syria has been the main country of origin for refugees since 2014 and at the end of 2019, there were 6.6 million Syrian refugees...."
The Palestinians were not even mentioned.
The Syrians are one of many peoples taking a backseat to Palestinians. An Arab News headline from last month reads: "Sudan war uproots 2.5 million, UN says, as bodies line Darfur streets." The ensuing article says: "The UN has spoken of possible 'crimes against humanity' in Darfur, where the conflict has 'taken an ethnic dimension.'"
The Sudanese regime responsible for the ongoing massacre, for instance, sits, along with a majority of non-democratic states, on the UN Human Rights Council.
The UN freely admits that:
"The League of Arab States (LAS) shares a common mission with the United Nations (UN): promoting peace, security and stability by preventing conflict, resolving disputes and acting in a spirit of solidarity and unity.... building their engagement through capacity-building exercises and staff exchanges. The Security Council also has sought to strengthen interaction with the LAS...."
With such chummy comradery between these two organizations, including interchangeable staff, it is not a wonder that the UN has strategically placed despotic regimes in its councils and as demonstrated in resolution after resolution -- taken such an aggressively biased stance against Israel.
Mirroring the UN's bizarre version of events and culpability, only three months before embracing the murderous Assad, the Assistant Secretary General of the LAS denounced "the international community's silence and apathy toward... the occupied Palestinian territories.... [holding] prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu fully responsible for...an Israeli siege for more than a week.... the international community [must]... utilize all means to put an immediate end to the Israeli regime's blatant aggression," Iran's Tasnim News reported.
After 12 years of what then US Secretary of State John Kerry in 2013 called the"moral obscenity" of Assad's "indiscriminate slaughter of civilians, the killing of women and children and innocent bystanders by chemical weapons," the UN decries sanctions against the Assad regime, and the Arab League embraces Assad with great honor and not a word of censure.
The outrageous hypocrisy and double-standards of the Arab countries and the UN is astonishing -- and unacceptable. The League of Arab States pretends to care about its fellow Arabs, while its good friend, the UN, purports to care about human rights.
"Why has this [UN] Council chosen silence?" UN Watch's Hillel Neuer asked.
"Because Israel could not be blamed. Because, in truth, the despots who run this Council couldn't care less about Palestinians, or about any human rights. They seek to demonize Israeli democracy, to delegitimize the Jewish state, to scapegoat the Jewish people. They also seek something else: To distort and pervert the very language and idea of human rights."
*Bassam Tawil is a Muslim Arab based in the Middle East.
2023 Gatestone Institute. All rights reserved. The articles printed here do not necessarily reflect the views of the Editors or of Gatestone Institute. No part of the Gatestone website or any of its contents may be reproduced, copied or modified, without the prior written consent of Gatestone Institute.
*Enclosed Picture: Yarmouk refugee camp, near Damascus, on May 22, 2018, days after Syrian government forces regained control over the camp. (Photo by Louai Beshara/AFP via Getty Images)
https://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/19777/un-arabs-syria-atrocities

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Should US Troops Stay in Syria?
Lawrence A. Franklin/Gatestone Institute/July 5, 2023
https://eliasbejjaninews.com/archives/119823/three-analysis-focusing-of-the-syrian-assads-criminal-regime-on-the-cawrdice-of-un-as-well-as-the-arab-countries-%d8%aa%d8%b9%d9%84%d9%8a%d9%82%d8%a7%d8%aa-%d8%ab%d9%84%d8%a7%d8%ab%d8%a9-%d8%a8/

The primary agenda of the Russian-Iranian meeting was reportedly "to discuss expelling the United States from Syria, which may indicate Russia's intent to facilitate Iranian-backed attacks on US forces."
Above all, the US presence is important as a blocking force to deny Iran an uninterrupted land bridge to Lebanon and the eastern Mediterranean, and to check the Iranian regime's long-term expansionist dream of "exporting the revolution."
Iran already effectively controls three countries in addition to its own Iraq, Lebanon and Yemen and has been broadening its influence throughout Latin America.
Any drawdown of the US troop presence at al-Tanf will also tempt adversarial "great powers" in Syria -- such as Iran, Russia and especially Turkey -- to attack US allies in the region, starting with the Kurdish-majority Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).
The US presence, in addition, greatly helps safeguard the liberty of countless Syrians from the tyrannical Syrian regime of President Bashar al-Assad...
The pro-democratic forces in Syria and border regions in Iraq also help to prevent the remnants of the Islamic State (ISIS) from reconstituting itself into a robust terrorist entity, as they have already started to do.
US Assistant Secretary of Defense Celeste Wallander, during her September 2022 visit to the region, characterized the mission of these forces as "to ensure the enduring defeat of ISIS."
Departure also would likely further decrease confidence in US pledges to defend vulnerable democracies throughout the world. Both Taiwan and archipelago countries in Southeast Asia would probably be the most affected by any US plan that abandoned the Kurds to Turkey, Iran and ISIS.
A withdrawal of US forces from their current Syrian redoubts will almost certainly imperil the sovereignty of Iraq, Syria as well as the mission of Kurdish troops. These missions include: guarding prisons that hold hundreds of incarcerated ISIS jihadists as well as monitoring the expansive displaced persons camp at al-Hol, which hosts tens of thousands of the wives and children of ISIS jihadists.
If the Kurds are not able to execute their mission of suppressing ISIS, the failure would quickly lead to a rapid expansion of the terrorist group.
[C]losure of the US mission in Syria would cause alarm among allies and risk accelerating an already precipitous decline in US influence throughout the Middle East.... There is little doubt that the image of US primacy on the world stage, as after the catastrophic withdrawal from Afghanistan, will deteriorate even further. Ally and adversary alike will seek non-American alternatives to protect their national interests.
Although continued US troop presence in Syria is not without risk, withdrawal from the region would no doubt trigger an even greater risk to America's interests -- while remaining in Syria accomplishes much at minimal cost.
Above all, the US military presence in Syria is important as a blocking force to deny Iran an uninterrupted land bridge to Lebanon and the eastern Mediterranean, and to check the Iranian regime's long-term expansionist dream of "exporting the revolution." Pictured: US soldiers take position as they patrol in al-Qahtaniyah in Syria's northeastern Hasakah province, on June 14, 2023. (Photo by Delil Souleiman/AFP via Getty Images)
A Syrian website run by opponents of the Assad regime recently reported that in early June that Russian military officials in Syria's Deir ez-Zor Province met with Iranian operatives. The primary agenda of the Russian-Iranian meeting was reportedly "to discuss expelling the United States from Syria, which may indicate Russia's intent to facilitate Iranian-backed attacks on US forces."
After a series of Iran-directed attacks on U.S. military outposts in Syria and the kinetic responses from American forces, leaked documents indicate that Iran is planning to target US armored vehicles in Syria by with remotely-detonated roadside bombs.
Iranian trainers and Lebanese Hezbollah operatives continue to prepare pro-Iranian jihadists in Syria, such as the Kata'ib Hezbollah, to wage an extended and more lethal campaign against Syria-based US forces. One media report claims that additional trainers from Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) have arrived in Deir ez-Zor Province to train the local jihadists in the use of advanced drones and explosive devices to inflict more casualties on US troops.
The US, presumably in anticipation of heightened hostilities, on June 10 reinforced its military posts in al-Hasakah with a convoy of armored vehicles, fuel trucks and ammunition.
Some commentators claim that the US has no vital interest in maintaining a troop presence in Syria, and that Syria is no longer sovereign, just a failed and fragmented state. Others fear that America could get drawn into another war in the Middle East. Still others claim that that "the US has already lost in Syria."
While many of these apprehensions may be justifiable -- surrender, of course, is always an option, if not always a good one -- there are persuasive political and military reasons for the US to maintain a military presence in Syria. Above all, the US presence is important as a blocking force to deny Iran an uninterrupted land bridge to Lebanon and the eastern Mediterranean, and to check the Iranian regime's long-term expansionist dream of "exporting the revolution."
Iran already effectively controls three countries in addition to its own Iraq, Lebanon and Yemen and has been broadening its influence throughout Latin America.
The major US troop presence in Syria is at a base at al-Tanf, in at a strategic point on the tri-border point of Syria, Iraq, and Jordan. Absent this base, Tehran could deliver weapons from Iranian-dominated Syria across the border to Hezbollah-controlled territory in Lebanon. Such a thoroughfare would also increase Iran's capacity to threaten Israel with extinction as it has been threatening to do since the 1979 Islamic Revolution. Iran has already attacked Israel from Syria through one of its many proxy forces, Lebanese Hezbollah, as well regularly smuggling missiles and other arms through Syria into Lebanon, for Hezbollah to use in attacking Israel.
Any drawdown of the US troop presence at al-Tanf will also tempt adversarial "great powers" in Syria -- such as Iran, Russia and especially Turkey -- to attack US allies in the region, starting with the Kurdish-majority Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). Additionally, any decision to gradually reduce the American troop presence simply increases the vulnerability of remaining US personnel to drone attacks or other assaults.
The US presence, in addition, greatly helps safeguard the liberty of countless Syrians from the tyrannical Syrian regime of President Bashar al-Assad, and helps to keep alive the idea of a democratic Syria, free of regional powers such as, again, Russia, Turkey and Iran.
The pro-democratic forces in Syria and border regions in Iraq also help to prevent the remnants of the Islamic State (ISIS) from reconstituting itself into a robust terrorist entity, as they have already started to do.
The mostly Kurdish US-allied local forces have already lost more than 11,000 fighters in their long campaign against ISIS. The US depends upon these Kurdish troops to keep remaining ISIS fighters in the region confined to low level of operational activity. US Assistant Secretary of Defense Celeste Wallander, during her September 2022 visit to the region, characterized the mission of these forces as "to ensure the enduring defeat of ISIS."
US Special Forces advisors, trainers, and soldiers, deployed in several outposts in northeast Syria, by organizing joint security patrols and checkpoints, also serve as a "bridge of trust" between the Iraqi Army and the Kurdish fighters. The continued presence of US military personnel in Syria helps monitor cooperation between the Iraqi Army and Kurdish forces who share the responsibility to patrol the Internal Disputed Boundary (IDB) between Iraq and the autonomous Iraqi Provinces of Kurdistan, where ISIS terrorists remain active and which requires constant surveillance.
Additional reasons for US forces to remain in Syria include the ability to check the power of dozens of pro-Iranian militias ("Popular Mobilization Forces") which threaten Iraqi sovereignty. The US has attacked hostile pro-Iranian groups in Syria, and US contractors have been extracting oil from Iraqi fields, thereby enabling Baghdad to maintain a solvent regime, with funds to pay Iraqi soldiers and government officials.
A withdrawal of US forces from their current Syrian redoubts will almost certainly imperil the sovereignty of Iraq, Syria as well as the mission of Kurdish troops. These missions include: guarding prisons that hold hundreds of incarcerated ISIS jihadists as well as monitoring the expansive displaced persons camp at al-Hol, which hosts tens of thousands of the wives and children of ISIS jihadists.
If the Kurds are not able to execute their mission of suppressing ISIS, the failure would quickly lead to a rapid expansion of the terrorist group.
Moreover, if US troops no longer served as a blocking force, Turkey would doubtless be sorely tempted to invade Kurdish areas of Syria now controlled by local Kurds. The Turkish government has long claimed dominance over the Kurds in Syria and Iraq. And the terrorist Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) has targeted Turkey for decades.
Most gravely, closure of the US mission in Syria would cause alarm among allies and risk accelerating an already precipitous decline in US influence throughout the Middle East.
Departure also would likely further decrease confidence in US pledges to defend vulnerable democracies throughout the world. Both Taiwan and archipelago countries in Southeast Asia would probably be the most affected by any US plan that abandoned the Kurds to Turkey, Iran and ISIS. There is little doubt that the image of US primacy on the world stage, as after the catastrophic withdrawal from Afghanistan, will deteriorate even further. Ally and adversary alike will seek non-American alternatives to protect their national interests.
Although a continued US troop presence in Syria is not without risk, withdrawal from the country would no doubt trigger an even greater risk to America's interests -- while remaining in Syria accomplishes much, at minimal cost.
*Dr. Lawrence A. Franklin was the Iran Desk Officer for Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld. He also served on active duty with the U.S. Army and as a Colonel in the Air Force Reserve.
2023 Gatestone Institute. All rights reserved. The articles printed here do not necessarily reflect the views of the Editors or of Gatestone Institute. No part of the Gatestone website or any of its contents may be reproduced, copied or modified, without the prior written consent of Gatestone Institute.
https://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/19775/us-troops-syria

Irans ballistic missile capabilities are a growing threat to Europe
B
ehnam Ben Taleblu/Politico/July 05/2023
https://www.politico.eu/article/iran-ballistic-missile-capabilities-growing-threat-europe/
However unsatisfying diplomatic and economic options against Tehran may seem, the failure to course-correct will signal the West is genuinely afraid to take any action.
Behnam Ben Taleblu is a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. He is the author of Arsenal: Assessing the Islamic Republic of Irans Ballistic Missile Program.
As Europe struggles to combat Irans drone proliferation to Russia for use against Ukraine, it can ill afford to ignore improvements to an even greater unmanned aerial threat that may soon land on its doorstep: the countrys ballistic missile arsenal the largest in the Middle East.
While Irans much reported potential transfer of short-range ballistic missiles to Russia is yet to materialize, the causal force behind this is likely not Tehrans fear of transgressing some unwritten agreement thats being secretly negotiated with Washington. Instead, the Islamic Republic may well be waiting for the termination of U.N. prohibitions on ballistic missile testing and transfers this October, before further arming Moscow with precision-strike systems.
In fact, Iran may even want the move to be deemed licit to prevent any predicate for renewed pressure but in the interim, it has not been idle.
In late May, Iran launched a new ballistic missile simultaneously dubbed the Khorramshahr-4 and the Khaybar. While the former name commemorates an Iranian city liberated during the Iran-Iraq War a conflict that birthed the revolutionary regimes interest in missiles as a supplement for airpower the latter name comes from a Jewish stronghold in Arabia that was overrun by the Prophet Muhammads armies 14 centuries ago, a salient event for Irans current revolutionary leaders who seek Israels destruction.
The missile itself is based on an Iranian variant of a North Korean nuclear-capable platform known as the Musudan a useful reminder of the long-standing military and missile cooperation between the two rogue regimes. Since receiving the Musudan in the mid-2000s, Iran has refined the weapon, developing a variant with a lighter warhead that could travel up to 3,000 kilometers a move that, in effect, took it from being able to target parts of Southern Europe to potentially being able to strike nearly all of Central Europe. Naturally, the development prompted the United Kingdom, France and Germany to raise concerns at the U.N. in 2019.
And while the newest Khorramshahr does adhere to Tehrans self-imposed 2,000-kilometer range cap, Iranian officials traditionally caveat this with veiled threats against Europe, stressing that this limit isnt a technical constraint or permanent.
Meanwhile, theres also the concern of the Khorramshahrs 1,500-kilogram high-explosive warhead which can allegedly carry submunition payloads as well as the fact that the missile can allegedly maneuver in its midcourse phase of flight, thereby creating challenges for missile defenses in Europe built by the United States and supported by NATO.
Then theres the issue of Khorramshahrs new liquid-propellant engine, which reportedly employs self-igniting or hypergolic fuel. Created despite Irans revolution in the production of solid-propellant motors, this is proof that Tehrans missile industry can now walk and chew gum at the same time. Likely following in North Koreas footsteps through a process called ampulization, the new Khorramshahr allows Tehran a way to fuel and store liquid-propellant platforms prior to their deployment, thereby cutting down on the time needed to prepare a projectile prior to launch, while making pre-launch detection and destruction harder for enemy air forces.
This refinement of the Khorramshahr builds on an already record-setting year for Irans ballistic program. In 2022, Tehran engaged in several cross-border missile attacks on Iraq, killed a U.S. citizen with a ballistic missile and developed its largest ever solid-propellant motor for use in a space-launch vehicle a motor that could potentially be used as part of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM).
Late last year, Iran even boldly claimed to have developed a hypersonic missile, then followed through on the allegation last month, revealing and testing the Fattah a new medium-range ballistic missile. Able to travel 1,400 kilometers at reported speeds between Mach 13 and 15, the Fattah is yet another variant from Irans Fateh family of solid-propellant precision-strike missiles, which the country has featured in regional military operations since 2017.
And though Tehran is likely engaging in sleight of hand by repackaging a maneuverable reentry vehicle as a hypersonic weapon, prudence dictates that the Fattah shouldnt be dismissed as pure bravado. Iran has proven it has the capability and intent to develop more precise, lethal and survivable projectiles and that it has no plans to stop. The fact that Pyongyang claimed to have tested a hypersonic ballistic missile in 2021 also necessitates further concern and caution.
A giant billboard bearing a picture of the Fattah hypersonic missile, covers the side of a building in Tehran | Atta Kenare/AFP via Getty Images
In tandem with these developments, the Islamic Republic hasnt given up on its tried-and-true methods either, such as illicit procurement to support its missile program.
In April, POLITICO reported Tehran was seeking large quantities of ammonium perchlorate used as an oxidizer in solid-rocket fuel from Russia and China. In May, the U.S. Department of Justice charged a Chinese national with violating U.S. sanctions for allegedly participating in a procurement ring that would provide isotonic graphite used to develop ICBM nosecones and rocket nozzles. And in early June, the U.S. Department of the Treasury sanctioned a network of persons and companies in Hong Kong, China and Iran for supporting Irans ballistic missile program through the illicit procurement of dual-use goods, accelerometers and gyroscopes destined for its defense-industrial base.
Fortunately, these developments appear to be eliciting a response from Europe. A recent report citing unnamed European sources alleged, for the first time, that the bloc would seek to maintain a host of missile and nonproliferation sanctions on Iran that it was slated to delist this October per the implementation timeline of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal. To date, the European Union hasnt publicly confirmed the story.
The entities that were slated for relief included the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, Irans Ministry of Defense and one of its subsidiaries called the Aerospace Industries Organization, which produced the latest Khorramshahr missile.
But while stopping these penalties from lapsing would mean blocking Irans most prized missile procurers, producers and proliferators from being rendered sanctions-free across Europe, the move is more akin to stopping an own goal than actually scoring one. A closer look at EU sanctions on Iran reveals that despite levying more penalties against Iranian targets for human rights violations, terrorism and the use of drones, the bloc hasnt issued a new missile or nonproliferation sanction against the country since late 2012.
Rather than let this opportunity go to waste, EU policymakers need to be engaging in conversations and sharing intelligence with their American and British counterparts to better align transatlantic Iran sanctions and prevent the collapse of U.N. restrictions on Iran this October. This can be done by invoking the Snapback mechanism at the U.N. Security Council, which would allow restrictions to be reimposed, and is only available for another two years.
However unsatisfying diplomatic and economic options against Irans ballistic missile program may seem, the failure to course-correct by restoring multilateral prohibitions and building on the existing sanctions architecture will signal that the West is genuinely afraid of taking any action even non-kinetic action. And that, in turn, will serve as an accelerant for more breakthroughs in Iranian ballistic missile development as well as transfers abroad.
*Behnam Ben Taleblu is a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. He is the author of Arsenal: Assessing the Islamic Republic of Irans Ballistic Missile Program.

British democracy has begun to fight back against populism
Chris Doyle/Arab News/July 05, 2023
Outrage. Scandal. The president of the Cambridge Union resigned last month having been accused of stuffing ballots to get his mate elected as his successor. If standards at this world-leading, historic academic institution are collapsing, what does it say about the rest of Britain?
The question facing those who care for the countrys political system is whether it can stand up to the onslaught against standards in public life and prevent a slide into illiberalism and reactionary populism. How resilient are British institutions? It was the Victorians who introduced ideals such as accountability and integrity into government, and so changed the way that the country was governed. They would not be impressed by the Britain of 2023.
When standards at the heart of Westminster have all but evaporated, why should we imagine that other establishment bulwarks would also not be infected? Nothing is sacred anymore in politics, so stuffing ballot boxes for political gain seems just the next logical step in the race to the bottom.
For any political system to function, a set of shared assumptions and accepted truths are vital. This is why standards at the heart of political systems matter. It is why the investigation into the mob attack in Washington on Jan. 6, 2021, matters. It is why public service matters. It is why accountability matters. It is why the rule of law matters.
In the UK, the Boris Johnson era appears to be coming to an end. The former prime minister never seemed to be shackled by any necessity to veer toward the truth. He was not the first PM to have dabbled in falsehoods, but he took it to a new, all-consuming level. In doing so, he compromised all the politicians around him and made them complicit in the lies. The Supreme Court determined that Johnson unlawfully advised the late Queen Elizabeth to prorogue Parliament, all to overcome yet another Brexit-related crisis. He stands accused of lying to the monarch.
The populist brigades have also targeted the judiciary, crudely portraying it as an obstacle to the popular will
Partygate drags on. This is the scandal that bedeviled his last months as prime minister, although it was not the ultimate reason he was ejected from Downing Street. That was another scandal. The House of Commons Privileges Committee last month found that Johnson deliberately misled Parliament or, as most would see it, lied about the lockdown parties in Downing Street. It stated: Our democracy depends on MPs being able to trust that what ministers say in the House of Commons is the truth. Its report into Johnsons conduct forced him into a preemptive resignation as an MP. He did not go silently into the night.
But what about the other politicians who savaged the Privileges Committee? They were accused of intimidating committee members in a coordinated campaign. Many of the eight likened the committee to a kangaroo court. One MP accused it of being a parliamentary witch hunt which would put a banana republic to shame.
Cronyism is another hallmark of Johnsons world. Having given a peerage to the son of a KGB officer, defying the warnings of the security services, he was then reported to be considering including his father Stanley in his resignation honors list. The final list included some of those found culpable for the rule-breaking parties, who were rewarded for their outright failure. In fairness, Johnson is not alone in doing this, as friends of prime ministers and party donors have been rewarded in the past. The whole honors system has been shamefully devalued.
Freedom of speech is also under relentless attack. The government has just introduced a bill that aims to ban public bodies from disinvesting from countries on moral and ethical grounds.
The populist brigades have also targeted the judiciary, crudely portraying it as an obstacle to the popular will as opposed to a vital guardian of the rules-based system. Once again, this is not unique to Britain. Populist regimes always go after judges and the courts, as we have seen in the US, Poland, Hungary and, right now, Israel. After one judicial review, Britains best-selling newspaper labeled a panel of High Court judges as enemies of the people.
The cross-party Privileges Committee struck a huge blow for democracy, casting aside party disputes for the higher goal
Then there are the never-ending culture wars, deliberately designed to antagonize and polarize rather than unite and progress. Home Secretary Suella Braverman is an exemplar of this, not least when she proclaimed that many of those crossing the English Channel in small boats behaved in ways that were at odds with British values.
Racism and prejudice, including Islamophobia, have been weaponized. The whole debate on controlling immigration has descended into the coarse language of demonizing them as hordes of invaders, a threat to the economy and the British way of life. The extreme right has stoked this up. Bashing Muslims remains in vogue, especially when it comes to immigrants and refugees, with blond Ukrainians welcome but Afghans and Syrians less so.
The nadir of the British immigration saga is the Rwanda proposal a plan to deport asylum seekers 4,000 miles away to East Africa. Last week, the governments proposals were deemed to be unlawful at the Court of Appeal. Rwanda was adjudged to not be a safe destination, which came as no shock to those aware of its record of disappearing opponents and limiting free speech. Morality aside, the governments own estimates say the scheme will cost taxpayers a painful 169,000 ($214,000) per person.
However, a fightback is being mounted. The cross-party Privileges Committee struck a huge blow for democracy, casting aside party disputes for the higher goal. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has pledged to bring back standards into public life. Voters are beginning to make it known how fed up they are with the epidemic of scandal and corruption. It may be a long and difficult road to reestablish the norms and conventions that are the glue of any functioning democracy, but it is one that needs traveling.
Much more needs to be done to cauterize the wounds of the Johnson era, not least the complete and utter repudiation of racist politics. Yet Britain is stronger than some of its critics suggest. It is not a senescent system fit only for the scrapheap.
Much of what has happened in Britain is an echo of the political journey that is taking place across the Atlantic. Populism and the degrading of public standards are spreading. Democracy and the rule of law require permanent attention and care. They are fragile. So, when one sees the parliamentary authorities in Westminster hitting back with aplomb, it also ricochets across the European continent and seeds new possibilities for upholding democratic norms.
*Chris Doyle is director of the London-based Council for Arab-British Understanding. He has worked with the council since 1993 after graduating with a first-class honors degree in Arabic and Islamic Studies at Exeter