English LCCC Newsbulletin For Lebanese, Lebanese Related, Global News & Editorials
For July 31/2023
Compiled & Prepared by: Elias Bejjani

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Bible Quotations For today
Keep an eye on those who cause dissensions and offences, in opposition to the teaching that you have learned; avoid them. For such people do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites
Letter to the Romans 16/07-20: “I urge you, brothers and sisters, to keep an eye on those who cause dissensions and offences, in opposition to the teaching that you have learned; avoid them. For such people do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the simple-minded. For while your obedience is known to all, so that I rejoice over you, I want you to be wise in what is good, and guileless in what is evil. The God of peace will shortly crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.”

Titles For The Latest English LCCC Lebanese & Lebanese Related News & Editorials published on July 30-31/2023
The Pope prays for the victims of the port explosion: I hope that Lebanon's complex crisis will find a solution worthy of the history and values of that people
Patriarch Al-Rahi: In Lebanon, people lost their humanity and became evil, and instead of building, we see them being demolished, This is the source of the collapse of our political work
Text of Bishop Aoud’s sermon for today, July 30, 202/ We ask about the August 4 crime: Is this the justice that every person aspires to? And how long will the people of Lebanon remain as numerous peoples?
Patriarch Al-Rahi: In Lebanon, people lost their humanity and became evil, and instead of building, we see them being demolished, This is the source of the collapse of our political work
Text of Bishop Aoud's sermon for today, July 30, 202/ We ask about the August 4 crime: Is this the justice that every person aspires to? And how long will the people of Lebanon remain as numerous peoples?
Cardinal al-Rahi highlights tourism's vital role amidst Lebanon's economic instability
Al-Rahi proposes presidential solution, says Syrian refugees 'occupying' country
As tensions mount between Palestinian factions, clashes turn deadly in Lebanon
The latest on tensions in Ain Al-Hilweh refugee camp
Prominent Fatah Leader assassinated in Lebanon; Fatah vows justice for the martyrs
Stray bullets hit shops and homes in Sidon
Bullets, shells hit Sidon as deadly clashes renew in Ain al-Helweh
Bassil says willing to 'sacrifice president's name, not post or powers'
Nasrallah slams gay relations, says Muslims should 'punish' Quran desecrators
Uncertain prospects: Will opposition and Change bloc back down from Legislative stand?
Challenges over the years: Warning signs and Riad Salameh's role
‘Clean up your country’: Lebanon’s Environment Ministry launches 100-day campaign
Lebanon’s central bank governor leaves post with legacy in shreds/Maya Gebeily and Laila Bassam/The Arab Weekly/July 30/2023
Why Is Hezbollah poking Israel?/Hussain Abdul-Hussain/The Arab Weekly/July 30/2023
Spotlight on Terrorism: Hezbollah, Lebanon and Syria (July 21-27, 2023)/The Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center/July 21-27, 2023)

Titles For The Latest English LCCC Miscellaneous Reports And News published on July 30-31/2023
Pope Francis calls on Russia to return to Ukrainian grain export agreement
Israeli deputy says normalisation with Saudis does not appear imminent
Israel plans $27 billion rail expansion, eyes future link to Saudi Arabia
Four killed in attack on police checkpoint in Egypt’s Ismailia
Saudi Arabia plans to host talks on Ukraine war
Ukraine to start talks with US on security guarantees -senior official
Russia foils Ukraine attack on Crimea involving 25 drones as Moscow targeted
Fire, blasts cut off power in much of Iraq in scorching summer heat
Thousands take to streets in Gaza in rare public display of discontent with Hamas
Denmark to look for ‘legal tool’ to prevent Qur’an burnings
Iraq, Kuwait confirm their commitment to address border disputes
Parts of B.C. town under evacuation order as wildfire crosses U.S.-Canada border
Canada's first Filipina federal minister arrives carrying a lot of expectations

Titles For The Latest English LCCC  analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on July 30-31/2023
What Happened to Robert Malley?/Lee Smith/The Tablet/July 30/2023
Team Biden Outmaneuvered by China?/Eric Rozenman/Gatestone Institute./July 30, 2023
The Geopolitics of Seismic Faultlines /Charles Elias Chartouni/July 30/2023
Middle East’s tricky relationship with its ‘demographic dividend’/Ehtesham Shahid/Arab News/July 30, 2023
Gulf states are happy due to their focus on prosperity and well-being/Dr. Majid Rafizadeh/Arab News/July 30, 2023

Latest English LCCC Lebanese & Lebanese Related News & Editorials published on July 30-31/2023
The Pope prays for the victims of the port explosion: I hope that Lebanon's complex crisis will find a solution worthy of the history and values of that people
NNA/LCCC/July 30/2023
Pope Francis, Pope of the Vatican, said that he is praying for a solution to the crisis in Lebanon, as the third anniversary of the Beirut port explosion, which falls on August 4, approaches. And the Pope added, after reciting the angelic prayer for those gathered in St. Peter's Square: "Next August 4 will mark the three-year anniversary of the devastating explosion in the port of Beirut. I renew my prayers for the victims and their families who are searching for truth and justice." And the Vatican News website quoted the Pope as saying about the Lebanese crisis: "I hope that Lebanon's complex crisis will find a solution worthy of the history and values of that people."

Patriarch Al-Rahi: In Lebanon, people lost their humanity and became evil, and instead of building, we see them being demolished, This is the source of the collapse of our political work
NNA /July 30/2023/

Text of Bishop Aoud’s sermon for today, July 30, 202/ We ask about the August 4 crime: Is this the justice that every person aspires to? And how long will the people of Lebanon remain as numerous peoples?
NNA/Google translation / July 30 / 2023

Patriarch Al-Rahi: In Lebanon, people lost their humanity and became evil, and instead of building, we see them being demolished, This is the source of the collapse of our political work
NNA /July 30/2023/Google Translation
The Maronite Patriarch, Cardinal Mar Beshara Boutros Al-Rahi, presided over the Divine Liturgy on the tenth Sunday of Pentecost, in the summer patriarchal church in Diman, assisted by Bishop Joseph Naffa and Father Fadi Tabet, with the participation of Monsignor Victor Keyrouz, Patriarchal Curator in the edifice, Father Tony Al-Agha, and Secretary of the Diwan in the edifice. Father Khalil Arab and the secretary of the Patriarch, Father Hadi Daou, in the presence of a large number of Sisters of the Little Sisters of Jesus, and a crowd of believers. After reciting the Holy Bible, the shepherd delivered a sermon in which he said: The path to unity and communion is based on the truth that liberates and unites, on justice that gives each person his right, and on love that motivates from within as a desire, determination, and yearning to build unity and communion.
Unfortunately, we witness today corruption on every level: political corruption, moral corruption, administrative corruption, judicial corruption, and commercial corruption. So minds lost the truth and turned towards lying. Wills lost power over good, and tended towards evil, injustice, tyranny, and arrogance. Man lost his humanity and the splendor of the image of God in him, and he became evil.
This is the source of the collapse of our political work in Lebanon. Instead of it being built, we see it being demolished, starting with the failure to elect a president for the republic eleven months ago, leading to the disruption of the parliament, which has become an electorate and lacks the right to legislate, and to making the government confined to the conduct of business and thus Losing the right of appointment, leading to the overthrow of the constitutional and administrative institutions one after the other. This is in addition to the spread of the spirit of hatred, hatred, rancor, pride, tyranny, the spirit of demolition, and the taking of the country hostage to its people, land, and institutions in favor of a person, group, or scheme. Above all, and even more dangerously, they put God and His words, drawings, and commandments aside, as if He did not exist, despite the false and false religious manifestations.
 Is there anyone who can explain to us why the parliament does not convene in successive sessions in order to elect a president of the republic according to Article 49 of the constitution, and there are two main qualified candidates, as appeared in the session of last June 14? Either one of them will succeed, or none will succeed, but after three consecutive sessions at most, an agreement will be reached on a third through a responsible dialogue.
Can anyone tell us why the quorum was abolished in that session, which was almost decisive?
Is there anyone who can explain to us the purpose of deporting this basic entitlement for the establishment of state institutions to the month of September? Is it the August holiday for the deputies, for recreation at sea, mountains and travel, while the people are dying of hunger, the state is in a state of chaos, and the displaced Syrians are occupying the country with the support of the international community, and we are fools, forgetting their land, their homeland, their history and their culture.
If the officials of the state take care of collecting its money from electricity and water bills from everyone, and if they seize its revenues from customs at the airport, seaports, administrative institutions and other departments affiliated with it, and if they seize sisters with its employees, and if they stop smuggling, exit and entry through its legal and illegal entrances, And if it put an end to financial theft, it would have provided the necessary and sufficient money to pay the wages and salaries of public sector employees, without affecting the reserves and the funds of depositors in the Central Bank!
 And we say to them: It is not possible to continue hitting the economic sectors, especially the tourism sector, which witnessed a boom this summer with the return of expatriates and tourists after the various crises that we experienced, as destructive rumors are launched about high prices without mentioning the existence of a range of prices and services. Do you know that the tourism sector constituted the salvation of the collapsing economy, and over the years it amounted to about 25 percent of the national income?
Occupancy fees were imposed on public property and sea resorts by the state in bed dollars, while it neglected to make any settlement for the occupants of river property and the state’s commons and private properties, which deprives it of securing huge incomes for the treasury and the stability of investment of all kinds. Is what is permissible on the one hand not permissible on the other hand? Preserving the tourism sector, like other sectors, is the basis of building the country and preserving its children.
Beloved brothers and sisters, In these difficult circumstances, we resort to divine providence, whose invisible hand preserves Lebanon as a holy land. Let us ask God to touch the consciences of those responsible for the degeneration and destruction of our country, so that they return to God, listen to His words, and act according to His decrees and commandments. Glory and thanks be to Him, the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, now and forever, Amen.

Text of Bishop Aoud's sermon for today, July 30, 202/ We ask about the August 4 crime: Is this the justice that every person aspires to? And how long will the people of Lebanon remain as numerous peoples?
National /July 30 /2023
Aoudi said: “Oh beloved, in our country every group puts its trust in a specific place, except in the appropriate place. No clear allegiance to Lebanon, one homeland for one people, protected by one army that unites all under the banner of the The homeland of the one, this army that, on the occasion of its feast, We ask God to protect it, its leadership and individuals. Each group fears the other, who is its partner in the homeland. Because of the absence of love, the lack of acknowledgment of the other who is different and communication with him out of fear of him. And how long will Lebanon remain under the weight of differences, divisions, and discrepancies in Opinions?”
And he continued: “After a few days, the third anniversary of the painful and bloody event that struck the heart of the capital will come. The fourth of August 2020 is a memory that will not be forgotten in the conscience of any Lebanese, wherever it may be. What about the people of Beirut, who paid with their lives, the treasures of their livers, and their possessions for a crime that does not It is committed by someone who has a fleshy heart that beats with humanity in his chest, or someone who has a conscious conscience that points him to good and responds. This memory will remain a thorn that pricks the conscience of those responsible for it, those who abused it. A, and those who were aware of the possibility of its occurrence and did not prevent it, and those who did not move after its occurrence, and those who promised us To complete the investigation as soon as possible. Years have passed and we are still waiting in the ruins. Sahih that the people followed their lives, but that does not mean that it is not the effect of its vicinity and its bodies and their hearts. Our people are strong and sanctify life, but at the same time they do not forget their loved ones whom they lost in Lah. treachery, when they were in the safety of their homes, or in their cars, or in their work centers, such as nurses Those who are missed by St. George's University Hospital, and other heroes who gave their lives I'm brave Members of the Beirut Fire Brigade should be mentioned in particular. This strong people demands that truth be established, that justice take its course, and that immunities be lifted so that he can be held accountable. Every perpetrator or negligent person, whoever he is, may this be a lesson for everyone who tempts himself to commit a crime. A tree, and a step that cools the hearts of all those who have lost their loved ones, their possessions, and the earnings of their lives, or They were wounded in their bodies. All of them are waiting for the investigation to be completed, the truth to be revealed, and punishment for those who inflicted such grave harm on them. But the sad thing is that they are the ones who are punished either by obstructing the investigation, or by concealing the truth, or by silencing them, repressing them, and persecuting them. they count. Is this the justice that every person aspires to? Is this how you deal with a capital-sized crime? How does a citizen feel safe without a fair judiciary and without holding criminals accountable? Is it permissible for a crime that destroyed the capital and injured thousands to pass without accountability? Where there is no accountability, no security, no discipline, and no stability.”Aoudi concluded: “Today we will pray together for the repose of the souls of everyone who fell victim to the sinful bombing, and for the Condolences to all those who have been afflicted physically and psychologically, we pray for our capital, Beirut, which is still picking up its pieces. Yarot, who always pays the price with her children, and it is not her fault. However, it is the beautiful capital, beloved by all who knew it, and persecuted by all who are angry at the state, or w I hate politicians, or I despair of the situation we have reached, Beirut, which is still waiting for special initiatives to light the streets. or to repair its roads or to restore its homes destroyed by the explosion, There are still those waiting for opportunities to buy it and displace its people. Q: Why was it not completed? Beirut, which, while adhering to its right to know the truth and inflict punishment on those who stabbed its heart and oppressed its children, believes that justice Heaven comes no matter how late it is, because “vengeance is mine, I will repay” says the Lord Almighty (Heb 10:30). May God bless your life and keep away from you all treachery, all evil, all sadness and anxiety, and multiply the love in your hearts so that they radiate faith, joy and giving. Amen

Cardinal al-Rahi highlights tourism's vital role amidst Lebanon's economic instability
LBCI/July 30, 2023
The Maronite Patriarch, Cardinal Mar Bechara Boutros al-Rahi, expressed his sorrow over the rampant corruption in Lebanon, covering all aspects: political, ethical, administrative, and judicial, as well as in commercial activities.
He lamented the loss of truthfulness, the prevalence of lies, and the loss of positive will towards goodness, replaced by injustice, oppression, and arrogance. He also observed the loss of human dignity and the reflection of God's image in people, leading them toward evil.
During a Sunday Mass sermon at the Summer Patriarchal Residence in Diman, he pointed out that Lebanon's political action is collapsing, as instead of building, it is destructively tearing down. He cited the failure to elect a president for eleven months and the paralysis of the parliament, which has lost its legislative power. The government is reduced to caretaking, lacking the authority to appoint. Constitutional and administrative institutions are being undermined while the spirit of hatred, grudges, and arrogance prevails. The country is held hostage by some individuals, groups, or plans, and, even more dangerously, they set aside God, His word, commandments, and teachings despite their fake religious appearances. He questioned why the parliament could not convene and elect a president after three consecutive sessions, especially when two qualified candidates were present during the June 14 session, according to Article 49 of the Constitution. He also questioned why the quorum was invalidated during a session that could have been decisive. He criticized the delay of this crucial event, which led to the paralysis of state institutions until September. Meanwhile, officials are on vacation, while the people suffer hunger, the country faces chaos, and Syrian refugees occupy the land, all while the authorities ignore the nation's heritage, culture, and history. The Patriarch emphasized that the state must collect revenues from electricity and water bills customs at airports, ports, and government institutions while preventing financial theft, providing sufficient funds to pay public sector employees without depleting reserves or using depositors' money in the central bank. He warned against damaging the economic sectors, mainly tourism, which had shown signs of recovery this summer with the return of expatriates and tourists. He criticized the harmful rumors about price hikes without acknowledging the existence of price controls and services. Moreover, al-Rahi stressed the vital role of the tourism sector in reviving the collapsing economy, contributing around 25 percent of the national income over the years. He pointed out the double standards in imposing occupancy fees on public and coastal properties in foreign currency while overlooking settlements for occupants of river properties and state lands, depriving the treasury of substantial revenues and investment stability. He called for preserving the tourism sector like other sectors, which is fundamental for nation-building and safeguarding its people.

Al-Rahi proposes presidential solution, says Syrian refugees 'occupying' country
Naharnet/July 30/2023
Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rahi on Sunday wondered why parliament does not "convene in successive sessions to elect a president in line with Article 49 of the constitution.""There are two main candidates who are competent as shown in the June 14 session. If one of them does not get elected after three successive rounds, an agreement would be reached on a third candidate through responsible dialogue," al-Rahi suggested in his Sunday Mass sermon. "Can someone tell us why quorum was ended in that session that could have been decisive? Can someone explain to us the goal of postponing this essential juncture to September?" al-Rahi asked. "Is it an August vacation for MPs so that they enjoy the sea, the mountains or traveling while the people are dying of hunger and the state is in a situation of chaos?" the patriarch added. "The Syrian refugees are occupying the country with support from the international community while we are standing idly by," al-Rahi warned, noting that the refugees "have forgotten their land, country, history and culture."

As tensions mount between Palestinian factions, clashes turn deadly in Lebanon
The Arab Weekly/July 30/2023
At least two people were killed in two days of clashes in a Palestinian refugee camp in Lebanon, where the mainstream faction Fatah fought against rival groups that support Islamists, security sources said on Sunday.
A Fatah commander was killed on Sunday in an ambush that also injured several of his aides in the crowded, impoverished Ain el-Hilweh camp near the southern Lebanese coastal city of Sidon. Clashes began the previous day with a failed assassination attempt on a leader of a group sympathetic to hardline Islamists in which one person was killed. That was followed by gunfire and attacks by armed militants at the headquarters of Fatah. On Sunday, shops closed their doors and some people fled the camp as tensions between the rival groups mounted, a witness said. The Lebanese army said a mortar fell inside a military headquarters with one soldier wounded. The camp has regularly seen factional disputes spiral into deadly violence. Some 400,000 refugees live in Lebanon’s 12 Palestinian camps, which date back to the 1948 war between Israel and its Arab neighbours.
The camps mainly lie outside the jurisdiction of Lebanese security services.

The latest on tensions in Ain Al-Hilweh refugee camp

LBCI/July 30, 2023
The Palestinian National Security Forces official in Lebanon, Major General Sobhi Abou Al-Arab, revealed to LBCI the killing of the National Security official in Sidon, Commander Abu Ashraf Al-Armooshi, who is a member of the Fatah movement, along with four of his companions. Several others were injured after being ambushed while at a school's parking, preparing to move to Al-Bustan Street. However, tension prevailed in the Ain Al-Hilweh refugee camp.

Prominent Fatah Leader assassinated in Lebanon; Fatah vows justice for the martyrs
LBCI/July 30, 2023
A prominent leader of the Palestinian Fatah movement, General Abu Ashraf Al-Armoushi, along with several of his comrades, was assassinated in a targeted act of terrorism in Lebanon's Ein El-Hilweh camp on Sunday, July 30, 2023, Fatah announced in a statement. "While carrying out their national duty to ensure the safety of their people within the camp, General Al-Armoushi and his colleagues, identified as Mouhanad Kassem, Tarek Khalaf, Mousa Fandi, and Bilal Obeid, fell victim to this horrific act." In the statement released by Fatah, they expressed profound grief over the event, noting that it is a "part of an ongoing series of violent schemes targeting the security and stability of our camps." Fatah pointed fingers at "suspicious parties" that they claim were undeterred by ethical or national obligations. The group called this tragedy an extension of a broader bloody campaign against the stability of the camps and a direct assault on the leaders and the members of the Palestinian national security forces. Fatah firmly declared in the statement, "This heinous crime will not pass without holding the perpetrators accountable." They affirmed their role as a strong barrier against what they perceive as malicious plans aimed at undermining their cause and national project. The movement also honored the lives lost in this incident, acknowledging their sacrifices made to protect the people and their commitment to Palestinian national independence. Fatah stated that their "blood will not be shed in vain" and they would continue their mission to protect the people and camps, labeling it a "sacred duty."They ended the statement by offering their condolences to the families of the deceased and promising a swift recovery for the wounded. They reiterated their commitment to the struggle for their cause, declaring, "The struggle continues until victory."

Stray bullets hit shops and homes in Sidon
LBCI/July 30, 2023
In the city of Sidon, particularly in the neighborhoods of Al Sabbagh and Al Barad, stray bullets hit shops and homes. Additionally, a shell fell in Martyrs' Square in Sidon, as the National News Agency reported. Residents were urged to exercise caution and avoid wandering in areas near the camp due to the danger of stray bullets. Echoes of rocket shell explosions reverberate throughout the city due to the ongoing clashes within the camp.

Bullets, shells hit Sidon as deadly clashes renew in Ain al-Helweh

Naharnet/July 30/2023
Clashes renewed Sunday in the Ain al-Helweh Palestinian refugee camp near Sidon between the secular Fatah Movement and hardline Islamist groups. TV networks said the fighting resumed after a senior Fatah commander was killed in an ambush. An Islamist had been killed and six people including children had been injured in overnight clashes in the camp. Key Sidon highways were closed to traffic on Sunday as stray bullets and shells landed in various areas of the major southern Lebanese city. Clashes between rival groups are common in Ain al-Helweh, which is home to more than 54,000 registered Palestinian refugees who have been joined in recent years by thousands of Palestinians fleeing the conflict in Syria. The incidents come about two months after similar clashes killed a Fatah member in the same camp. Lebanon's official news agency NNA said "an assassination attempt targeting an Islamist activist" rocked the camp on Saturday. By long-standing convention, the Lebanese Army does not enter Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon, leaving the factions themselves to handle security. That has created lawless areas in many camps, and Ain al-Helweh has gained notoriety as a refuge for extremists and fugitives. In March, one person was killed and several others wounded in overnight clashes in the camp, that pitted members of Abbas' Fatah Movement against Islamist groups. More than 450,000 Palestinians are registered with UNRWA in Lebanon. Most live in one of 12 official refugee camps, often in squalid conditions, and face a variety of legal restrictions, including on their employment.

Bassil says willing to 'sacrifice president's name, not post or powers'

Naharnet/July 30/2023
Free Patriotic Movement chief Jebran Bassil said overnight that he is "willing to sacrifice" regarding the next president's identity, clarifying that he will not "sacrifice the presidential post or powers." At an FPM event, Bassil added that the "sacrifice" would be in return for "two gains for Lebanon: broad administrative and financial decentralization and the trust fund." "This is not a bargain nor a concession but is rather aimed at recovering the rights and money of the Lebanese," Bassil said. He explained that the trust fund had been proposed by then-President Michel Aoun in an economic paper after the October 17 uprising.
"It would preserve the state's assets and ownership while they would be managed by the private sector, which would allow for improving the state's revenues, covering some of the financial gap and returning funds to depositors," Bassil clarified. His remarks confirm media reports about the FPM's ongoing talks with Hezbollah. "The two sides exchanged proposals for agreeing on the program and identity of the upcoming president,” al-Akhbar newspaper reported on Friday. Bassil submitted a “detailed work paper that involves an agenda for the coming period and addresses two main issues,” the daily said.
“The first point is aimed at agreeing on consolidating and activating partnership in governance among all Lebanese components, with the next president enjoying the approval and support of the FPM seeing as it is the main Christian representative,” al-Akhbar added. “The second point is agreeing on key headlines for the program of the upcoming president in connection with the priorities paper that the FPM had previously proposed, while agreeing on the topics that represent main concerns for Hezbollah,” the newspaper said. Accordingly, Bassil asked Hezbollah for its approval and for “working with the rest of the allies to make practical steps aimed at paving the way for declaring a major agreement that involves the presidency,” al-Akhbar added. Informed sources meanwhile told the newspaper that Bassil’s new paper focuses on two main elements: passing the broad administrative decentralization law in parliament and the law related to the trust fund. “Bassil requested that the comprehensive agreement be linked to the approval of the two laws and other matters prior to declaring support for a specific candidate,” the daily said.

Nasrallah slams gay relations, says Muslims should 'punish' Quran desecrators

Agence France Presse/Associated Press
Hezbollah chief Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah has stepped up his attacks against the LGBTQ communities in Lebanon and the region.
"We are not making up battles, nor are we making up dangers. This is a real danger that is imminent and has begun," Nasrallah said in a televised speech for the annual Ashura commemoration. Last week, Nasrallah had said gay people, "even if they do it once... are to be killed," in line with Islamic teachings.
In his latest comments Nasrallah said that, "In Lebanon, this danger started with some educational institutions, and NGOs," which he accused of "promoting" same-sex relations to children. He called on the ministry of education to intervene. The ministry later denied the presence of such books or classes in Lebanon. Religiously diverse Lebanon is one of the Middle East's more liberal countries, and the LGBTQ community has long been visible and outspoken, defying crackdowns on its bars, nightclubs and community centers. But it has continued to face systematic social, economic and legal discrimination -- which an expert has warned could only be worsened by Nasrallah's rhetoric. "Hate speech functions as a tool of diversion, wielded by Nasrallah and political elites to divert public attention from profound economic disparities and governance failures," Hussein Cheaito, an economist who focuses on queer political economy, wrote on Twitter, which is being rebranded as "X". "This calculated tactic perpetuates their grip on power," he said, while adding to "a vicious cycle of discrimination, fear, and exclusion, entwined with Lebanon's socio-economic fabric."Lebanon's LGBTQ community in 2018 scored a success when a court ruled that same-sex conduct is not unlawful, but since then it has seen more setbacks than victories. Last summer, the community was targeted by a crackdown that saw activists harassed and Pride gatherings canceled after the interior ministry instructed security forces to clamp down on events "promoting sexual perversion." The ministry argued that LGBTQ events violate customs, traditions and "principles of religion" in Lebanon, where political power is split along faith lines between Shiite and Sunni Muslim, Christian, Druze and other groups. Separately, Nasrallah said that if governments of Muslim-majority nations do not act against countries that allow the desecration of the Quran, Muslims should "punish" those who facilitate attacks on Islam's holy book. Nasrallah slammed recent incidents in which the Quran was burned or otherwise desecrated at authorized demonstrations in Sweden and Denmark.
He said Muslims should watch for the outcome of an emergency meeting of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, scheduled to take place in Baghdad on Monday to discuss the organization's response to the Quran burnings.
The organization and its member states should "send a firm, decisive and unequivocal message to these governments that any repeat of the attacks will be met with a boycott," Nasrallah said. If they do not, he said, Muslim youth should "punish the desecrators." He did not elaborate what such a boycott and punishment should entail. Members of the crowd, who carried banners with religious slogans alongside the flags of Hezbollah, Lebanon and Palestine, chanted, "Oh, Quran, we are at your service; Oh, Hussein, we are at your service."

Uncertain prospects: Will opposition and Change bloc back down from Legislative stand?
LBCI/July 30, 2023
Will the opposition deputies and Change MPs back down from rejecting any legislation, no matter how necessary, as long as the Parliament is solely responsible for electing the President? On Monday, the caretaker cabinet is supposed to prepare a draft law to borrow from the Central Bank of Lebanon an amount equivalent to two hundred million dollars per month to cover urgent expenses, as demanded by the four deputies of Banque du Liban (BDL) as one of the conditions for assuming the task. If this draft goes to the Parliament, what will its fate be?
Some parliamentary blocs have previously participated in sessions referred to as the legislation of necessity. So, will they participate in approving this project, considering that the required quorum is 65 deputies?
The confirmed participants are:
- Development and Liberation Bloc: 15 deputies
- Loyalty to the Resistance Bloc: 15 deputies
- Faisal Karami's National Accord Bloc and allies: five deputies
- National Gathering Blo: Four Marada Movement MPs and their allies
The National Moderation Bloc, with six deputies, is more inclined to participate in the session as long as the goal is to secure the interests of the people and the salaries of public sector employees.
The Democratic Gathering bloc will discuss the issue by studying its social, health, educational, and livelihood implications to make a decision accordingly.
Furthermore, the Strong Lebanon Bloc will not participate in the legislative session, according to its sources speaking to LBCI, unless the proposed project is linked to enacting reform laws. The Lebanese Forces considered that the legislation is not permissible by a parliament that has become an elected body. They believed that those who emphasize legislation and prioritize the country's interests must first open the Parliament for the election of a President. This election would pave the way for the state's affairs to return to normal. Anyone obstructing this election bears the responsibility for the ongoing institutional vacancy. However, Kataeb deputies stressed that "they are still on their principled stance of rejecting any legislation before electing a President," considering all these measures as temporary fixes. However, the Change MPs are mostly aligned with the opposition in rejecting legislation in the absence of electing a President until now, and the same position applies to the Tajadod Bloc, which includes four deputies. It won't be easy to secure the quorum for the session unless the conditions of the Strong Lebanon Bloc are met or if all independent and individual deputies participate, which is not guaranteed.

Challenges over the years: Warning signs and Riad Salameh's role
LBCI/July 30, 2023
The Syrian revolution erupted in 2011, leading to an influx of Syrian refugees into Lebanon. As a result of the political turmoil in the region, investments significantly declined, and the country's dollar reserves were no longer sufficient to cover excessive consumption.
However, in addition to the Syrian crisis and its aftermath, Lebanon faced several internal challenges:
- Resignation of Prime Minister Saad Hariri in 2011
- Events in Abra in 2013
- Bombings of Taqwa and Al-Salam Mosques in Tripoli in 2013
- Events in Arsal in 2014
In 2014, Lebanon entered a new and prolonged presidential vacancy after President Michel Sleiman's term ended. Political stagnation persisted, accompanied by wastage and corruption. The balance of payments remained negative (over 3.4 billion dollars by the end of 2015). The Central Bank of Lebanon faced a breakdown, and for the first time, it tapped into its reserves and began using the dollars deposited by customers in banks to meet its financial obligations. This compelled the central bank to employ financial engineering to attract dollars, enticing banks with high interest rates for their deposits. Accordingly, the governor was able to buy time before a looming collapse, a move that some saw as a step towards increasing his chances of reaching the presidency. Consequently, over 10 billion dollars (10.6) flowed into the banking sector in 2016, resulting in a surplus in the balance of payments (registering a plus of 1.5 billion dollars in 2016). An additional contributing factor at that time was the political stability achieved through the election of a president and the formation of a unity government. However, Salameh provided the political class with an opportunity to enact reforms, but this chance went to waste.

‘Clean up your country’: Lebanon’s Environment Ministry launches 100-day campaign

Arab News/July 30, 2023
BEIRUT: The Lebanese Ministry of Environment launched a campaign on Sunday bearing the slogan “Clean up Your Country.” Municipalities, dozens of nongovernmental organizations and volunteers took part in the campaign that started from the Beirut waterfront. Environment Minister Nasser Yassin said: “It’s a message to prohibit throwing waste randomly. “It is also a way to affirm that the role of municipalities is crucial in cleaning up their cities, towns and forests, and to support them, in order to spread environmental awareness.” Dozens of young men, women and children gathered at the Beirut waterfront at 8 a.m., carrying bags and picking up the remains of glass bottles, papers, plastic bottles and tin cans, with their hands covered in protective gloves. They also collected what had been left by passersby who had spent the night on the promenade, as well as trash thrown by people from their cars into the street and the sea. Yassin added: “Environmental awareness has decreased due to the ongoing chaos and the absence of deterrent measures. "Those who disregard the cleanliness of the recreational places they go to should be ashamed of themselves when they see young women and kids picking up their trash.”Yassin, who was encouraging the volunteers, said: “The goal of launching this campaign, which will last for 100 days, is to ask people to clean up their country. “This is a symbolic day and it’s a message to support municipalities, and an awareness message to the citizens.” Lebanon is dealing with a waste crisis that has worsened during the country’s economic collapse. The state did not put in place any clear, long-term strategies to address the issue, and has only resorted to temporary solutions. The streets of Lebanese cities turn into dumpsters occasionally, with protests by employees of waste companies demanding improvements to their low salaries impacting on collections. Sites where trash is collected for treatment and landfilling have turned into garbage mountains, causing environmental and health concerns. The problem worsens with the higher summer temperatures, as garbage starts to gradually decompose. According to the World of Statistics — a global network that includes nearly 2,360 organizations worldwide — Lebanon was recently ranked among the 10 most polluted countries in the world.
Successive governments have not found a sustainable solution for the waste problem and only resort to temporary measures. According to a study conducted by Human Rights Watch: “Residents of areas where waste is dumped, landfilled or burned in the open air suffer from health problems including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, coughing, throat infections, skin conditions, and asthma.”The study also showed that “there is a link between air pollution from open-air waste burning and heart disease, emphysema and people’s potential exposure to carcinogenic compounds.”
All governmental and civil attempts to make people sort their garbage at home have failed as the concept is still not common in Lebanon. Moreover, a lot of people rummage through trash bins scattered on the streets in search of recyclable items that can be sold at junk shops. Yassin said: “There isn’t any waste crisis now resulting from the interruption of waste collection and street sweeping and cleaning. “However, the work frequency is lower, and contractors are collecting waste once instead of twice per day, due to problems in financing this sector. “The decline in resources and the difficulty of securing revenue by municipalities (is) in the light of the monetary collapse and the economic crisis affecting municipalities and the central administration. “We need amendments to the laws to enable municipalities to collect direct fees on waste produced from homes, restaurants and factories, as well as investment and development of all waste-related installations, sorting plants and landfills, within the framework of cooperation between municipalities.”Household waste is collected without being sorted and is sent to landfills instead of being sorted, recycled or composted. According to a report compiled by the Waste Management Coalition in 2020: “Lebanon spends $154.5 to manage 1 ton of solid waste, while Algeria, Jordan and Syria spend $7.22, $22.8 and $21.55 respectively.”According to a report prepared by HRW and the WMC, researchers at the American University of Beirut said that “only about 10 to 12 percent of Lebanon’s waste cannot be composted or recycled.” The report added: “Improved practices in waste management, such as recycling and composting, can generate $74 million annually. However, 85 percent of solid waste ends up in landfills and open-air dumpsters.”

Lebanon’s central bank governor leaves post with legacy in shreds

Maya Gebeily and Laila Bassam/The Arab Weekly/July 30/2023
Once feted as a financial wizard, Lebanese central bank governor Riad Salameh leaves the post he has held for 30 years on Monday, his legacy stained by the devastating collapse of Lebanon’s banking sector and corruption charges at home and abroad. Widely viewed as the linchpin of the financial system until it imploded in 2019, Salameh saw his standing crumble as the meltdown impoverished many Lebanese and froze most savers out of their deposits in the once sprawling banking sector. His image was further tarnished as one European country after another began investigating whether he abused his powers to embezzle a fortune of Lebanese public money. Salameh has denied wrongdoing, and said days before his departure that he had “worked according to the law and respected the legal rights of others” during his tenure. In May, French and German authorities issued warrants for his arrest. Interpol Red Notices declared him wanted by both countries. The one issued at the request of France cites charges including organised money laundering. The one issued at Germany’s request also cites a charge of money laundering. The meltdown in Lebanon followed decades of corruption and profligate state spending by the factions that control the government. Many Lebanese hold Salameh and those factions responsible for the collapse that has sunk the currency’s value by 98%. Defending his tenure in an interview on Wednesday, Salameh said he had been made a scapegoat for the meltdown, saying that the government, not the central bank, was responsible for spending public funds. “I am going to turn a page of my life,” Salameh, 73, told broadcaster LBCI. His final months in office have seen some officials call on him to quit, while others kept silent.Asked whether Lebanon’s politicians had washed their hands of him, Salameh told LBCI: “a long time ago.”
Central bank ‘shattered’
It has marked a dramatic reversal for a man once seen as a possible president. After taking the helm of the central bank, Salameh built a reputation as a competent steward of the financial system. This image set him apart from the ruling politicians, many of them militia leaders from Lebanon’s 1975-1990 civil war, although he enjoyed high-level backing from them. He was a regular at glitzy financial conferences and showered with banking awards, and exercised broad powers as governor. The financial system he oversaw afforded many Lebanese a standard of living incongruous with their unproductive economy. Savers enjoyed high interest rates, able to convert their pounds into dollars at a fixed exchange rate which Salameh maintained from 1997 until the collapse. Their confidence was underpinned by his calm demeanour and mantra that their currency was in good shape, as well as Lebanon sailing through the global financial crisis in 2008. But the national finances began to creak as dollar remittances slowed, putting growing pressure on a system that required constant inflows of hard currency to keep it going. Salameh kept the system afloat in 2016 by siphoning off dollars from local banks at high interest rates. Critics described this as a “Ponzi scheme” as it depended on fresh borrowing to pay back existing debt. The central bank, known as Banque du Liban (BDL), has always said the operations were legal. In Wednesday’s interview, Salameh rejected the notion BDL operated a Ponzi scheme. As dollars dried up, most savers were frozen out of their foreign currency deposits, or forced to make local currency withdrawals at exchange rates that wiped out most of the value. “He leaves behind a shattered institution that will have to be restructured given losses of some $76 billion at the BDL,” said Nasser Saidi, a former economy minister and central bank vice governor. Defending his record on Wednesday, Salameh said the central bank had contributed to “establishing economic stability and development” during 27 years of his tenure.
Graffiti sprayed on walls protecting the BDL headquarters reflect the anger many harbour towards Salameh. The corruption investigations centre on commissions which the central bank charged banks for the purchase of government securities, the proceeds from which went to Forry Associates, a company controlled by Salameh’s brother, Raja. The Salameh brothers deny diverting or laundering any public funds and deny any wrongdoing. “Neither directly nor indirectly did any money from the Central Bank go to Forry,” Salameh said in Wednesday’s interview. As part of its investigation, France’s judiciary has summoned Salameh’s brother Raja and one of Salameh’s assistants, Marianne Howayek. A lawyer for Howayek did not respond to a request for comment. Salameh told Reuters his lawyers had submitted legal challenges to the warrants in France and Germany. Salameh, his brother Raja and Howayek were charged in Lebanon with money laundering, embezzlement and illicit enrichment in February. But critics have long doubted how seriously the case would be pursued in Lebanon, where politicians can have sway over the judiciary. The judiciary’s independence is enshrined in the constitution, yet even Lebanon’s top judge complained of meddling last year.

Why Is Hezbollah poking Israel?
Hussain Abdul-Hussain/The Arab Weekly/July 30/2023
Nearly 20 years after its war with Israel, Hezbollah, with its persistent harassment of the Jewish state across Lebanon’s southern border, seems to be itching for a rematch. Why the militia is dragging a failing country to war is anyone’s guess.
In recent weeks, Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah has renewed discussion of the 2006 war’s unfinished business. That conflict ended with the status of 13 border points unsettled, along with the fate of Shebaa Farms, a small strip of disputed land near the Golan Heights. In the latter’s case, ownership should have been negotiated a month after the war, as per UN Security Council Resolution 1701. But that never happened. Nasrallah has justified his new-found urgency by saying that a year ago, Israel began constructing a fortified border wall to replace the flimsy barbed wire. He added that Hezbollah is not seeking the demarcation of the land border between Israel and Lebanon, a process he rejected in October when the two sides set their maritime borders. Rather, he wants Israel to withdraw from every territory that Lebanon claims, without negotiations.
Why is Nasrallah trying to shake up the border now? One theory is that he is trying to renegotiate the rules of engagement with Israel, currently set at near-zero tolerance toward any cross-border attacks. Another suggests that Nasrallah wants to deflect Lebanese attention away from domestic misery in a country where the economy has been in free fall for years. To spite Israel, Hezbollah erected tents on Shebaa Farms. Israel then lobbied world capitals to convince the militia to remove them. If Hezbollah refuses, it is not clear how far the Israeli government is willing to go to force the issue. If border clashes escalate, Nasrallah said he is confident of yet another victory, like the one he imagined in 2006 and the one that Hamas claimed in 2021. Nasrallah insists that not only is his militia better armed and stronger than before, it would also be supported by pro-Iran militias like Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad and Iraqi Popular Mobilisation Units that would “unify the fronts” and wage war on Israel simultaneously. But even then, it is not clear how Nasrallah can overpower Israel and force it to concede on any issue.
In the event of full-scale war, Hezbollah and Hamas would likely fire an unprecedented number of rockets in a bid to overwhelm Israel’s Iron Dome, hoping that some rockets sneak through. Iran has supplied Hezbollah with explosive drones and precision-guided missiles (PGM). As Iron Dome gets jammed, Hezbollah would then use its bigger rockets to strike strategic Israeli assets, such as Ben Gurion Airport, oil installations, chemical plants and densely-populated areas. The Israeli Air Force (IAF) would be busy pre-empting or retaliating against the militias’ launchpads.
It is possible that both Hezbollah and Hamas have dug tunnels that can transport their fighters behind Israeli lines. Such tunnels are not as dangerous as they sound because they are bottlenecks that force fighters to trickle into Israel, and only with light arms. Tunnels would not enable the massing of Hezbollah or Hamas fighters or the shuttling of heavy arms needed to battle effectively with Israeli Defence Forces (IDF). Still, militants behind Israeli lines could take hostages or briefly control a town, either of which would be an enormous publicity victory.
If Hezbollah or Hamas decided to walk into Israeli territory, Israel’s undisputed control of airspace would decimate the invading fighters. That was the main reason Israel reversed its fortunes against Egypt and Syria in 1973. When Egyptian ground troops exited their surface-to-air missile umbrella, the IAF took them out, clearing the way for a counterattack.
Nasrallah’s continuous bragging of how the days of humiliation are gone gives the impression that Iran and its militias have attained unprecedented power. But Israeli firepower dwarfs that of Iran and its militias combined. Israel enjoys a qualitative military edge over Iran that is bigger today than it was between Israel, on one hand and Egypt and Syria, on the other, in 1967 and 1973. Consider that in the 1967 war, when Arab armies suffered their worst defeat, they still managed to kill close to 800 Israeli troops, down 32 fighter jets, and destroy 400 tanks. Today, Iran and its militias do not have the capacity to inflict a fraction of such losses on Israel. This means that while Hezbollah and Hamas can disrupt Israeli life and give the Jewish state a bloody nose, they cannot cause enough Israeli alarm to call for general mobilisation. As long as that is the case, wars that Iranian militias launch on the Jewish state will remain border skirmishes, with militias inflicting minor damage on Israel and Israel responding with devastating force. In 2006, Israel razed large swathes of Lebanon and its infrastructure. Had it not been for Gulf largesse that funded reconstruction, parts of Lebanon would still be under rubble. This time, if Nasrallah drags Lebanon into another war with Israel, wealthy Gulf countries will be loath to bail it out. Lebanon will just die, and maybe Gaza, too. *Hussain Abdul-Hussain is a research fellow at the Foundation for Defence of Democracies (FDD), a Washington, DC-based, non-partisan research institute focusing on national security and foreign policy.

Spotlight on Terrorism: Hezbollah, Lebanon and Syria (July 21-27, 2023)
The Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center/July 21-27, 2023)
Tension along the Israel-Lebanon border: This past week Hezbollah and its affiliates continued provocations near the border; the most blatant was a patrol of armed Hezbollah operatives very close to Dovev, an Israeli moshav. Road construction works continued in Kafr Shuba. Lebanese politicians back Hezbollah’s demands for Israel’s complete withdrawal from the area of the Shebaa Farms and Kafr Ghajar.
Hassan Nasrallah, Hezbollah’s secretary general, delivered a speech in which he referred to the passing of Israel’s Standard of Reasonableness Law and its influence on Israel’s internal affairs.
UNIFIL said in a statement that every day its forces carried out more than 450 [sic] operational activities in south Lebanon, stressing that the force acted independently.
The presidential crisis in Lebanon continues, with Hezbollah officials continuing to support the candidacy of Suleiman Frangieh. The international attempts to resolve the crisis have led to increasing tensions between Hezbollah and Saudi Arabia. Iran might also join the countries assisting the process of electing a president.
Riyad Salameh, governor of the Lebanese Central Bank, is scheduled to end his term of office at the end of July 2023, after having held the position for thirty years. Salameh, who is suspected of embezzlement, is regarded as responsible for Lebanon’s dire financial straits. So far his replacement has not yet been chosen.
Hezbollah is constructing a training camp for recruits in the Deir ez-Zor region of northeastern Syria.
Artillery was fired at Hezbollah observation posts near the border fence in the Golan Heights; the attack was attributed to Israel.
The American magazine Newsweek published an article about the Imam Hossein Brigade, which operates in Syria and was established by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) Qods Force.
Tension along the Israel-Lebanon border
This past week tension continued on the Israel-Lebanon border. Hezbollah and its affiliates continued provoking IDF forces and monitoring their activities:
On July 26, 2023, a video was issued of an IDF quadcopter hovering in the skies above Metulla while anchored to a rope. According to Ali Shoeib, a correspondent for al-Manar, it was anchored to prevent Hezbollah operatives from taking control of and stealing it (al-Manar, July 26, 2023). The report was also quoted in the London-based newspaper al-Quds al-Arabi, which reported the Lebanese had ridiculed the event (al-Quds al-Arabi, July 26, 2023).
On July 25, 2023, a video was issued showing several armed Hezbollah operatives patrolling close to the border near Dovev, an Israeli moshav in the Upper Galilee. The IDF spokesperson reported they had documented the activity, adding that the operatives had remained on the Lebanese side of the border. The IDF monitored the activity and was prepared to respond if they crossed the border (Israeli media, July 25, 2023). The Lebanese media, mainly those affiliated with Hezbollah, quoted the Israeli reports. Amin Hatit, an al-Mayadeen political commentator, noted that Hezbollah had been able to carry out the operation without an Israeli response (al-Mayadeen, July 25, 2023). Journalist Hussein Murtada published a poster combining motifs of Israel’s political-social crisis with documentation of the border incident entitled “The hour is nigh” (Hussein Murtada’s Twitter account, July 25, 2023).
On July 25, 2023, according to Lebanese media reports, a group of Lebanese civilians approached the border fence near Metulla. Hezbollah flew a quadcopter over the area during their presence at the site (Hezbollah-affiliated Maymun5 Telegram channel, July 25, 2023).
Al-Manar TV correspondent Ali Shoeib reported that on the night of July 22, 2023, an IDF force approached the border near the village of Houla (west of Margaliot, an Israeli moshav), having detected suspicious movement on the Lebanese side. He claimed the soldiers fired their weapons and threw two stun grenades (alishoeib1970@, July 23, 2023).
In the meantime, road construction work continued in the Kafr Shuba area. According to al-Akhbar, the Kafr Shuba municipality is paving the road along the Blue Line not only in response to the fence erected by Israel, but as a new measure in a long, continuous series of steps to change the situation along south Lebanon’s eastern border (al-Akhbar, July 20, 2023).Qassem al-Qadri, head of the Kafr Shuba local council, said they benefitted from the decline of Israel’s deterrence following its preoccupation with its internal affairs, and the activities of the Palestinian “resistance” [anti-Israel terrorism], which prevented Israel from “opening another front with Lebanon” (al-Akhbar, July 22, 2023).
On July 23, 2023, Elias Jarade, a member of the Lebanese parliament, paid a media-covered visit to Kafr Shuba and met with the heads of the village council. He toured the area and was interviewed near the border. He said Lebanon did not recognize the border line delineated by Israel, and local residents would not be satisfied until all their territorial rights had been realized (@alishoeib1970, July 23, 2023).
The Lebanese government continued its demands for Israel’s complete withdrawal from the Shebaa Farms and Kafr Ghajar. Various Lebanese media also related to the issue, especially those affiliated with Hezbollah. Muhammad Ra’ed, chairman of the Hezbollah faction in the Lebanese parliament, claimed “recently weakened” Israel should withdraw from Kafr Ghajar and all other Lebanese lands. He also claimed the borders did not need delineation as they were already recognized by the UN (al-Nashra, July 22, 2023). On another occasion he said that given Israel’s situation, which was “as bad as it could be,” the “resistance” had to find “equations” that would deter it and preserve “the people’s sovereignty” (NAA, July 25, 2023).
Bouthaina Shaaban, senior advisor Syrian president, related to the tensions on the Israel-Lebanon border, claiming the regional activity of Hezbollah and other international actors had easily revealed Israel’s methods of operation on the border, giving the “resistance” in Lebanon an exact understanding of Israel’s strategy. She claimed Hezbollah had its own strategy, which included erecting tents, ensuring a presence first of civilians and then of soldiers, paving roads, having members of parliament visit and remaining on the ground by whatever means necessary. According to Shaaban, the “resistance” [terrorist organizations] in south Lebanon, like that in “Palestine” and the Golan, warmed their hearts and brought the defeat of the “attackers” closer (al-Watan online, July 24, 2023).
Hezbollah reaction to Israel’s passing the Standard of Reasonableness law
On July 24, 2023, for the seventh day of the month of Muharram,[1] Hassan Nasrallah, Hezbollah secretary general, delivered a speech of mostly religious content. However, he also referred to Israel’s internal affairs, claiming security was worsening day by day and the overall situation, which was the worst it had ever been, would lead to Israel’s disintegration and disappearance. He also claimed that thanks to Hezbollah, the concept of the IDF as an invincible force had been dispelled (Hezbollah’s combat information channel on Telegram, July 26, 2023).
UNIFIL’s mandate
In response to the deliberations regarding the renewal of UNIFIL’s mandate and the Lebanese demands to limit the force’s freedom of action in south Lebanon, UNIFIL noted its forces conducted more than 450 [sic] operational activities in south Lebanon daily and that most of their patrols were conducted independently. UNIFIL claimed that was the key to its success and the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1701[2] [sic] (UNIFIL Twitter account, July 26, 2023).
Najib Mikati, prime minister of the interim government in Lebanon, met with Joanna Wronecka, UN coordinator for Lebanon, who briefed him on the Security Council’s deliberations regarding Resolution 1701 (Wronecka Twitter account, July 25, 2023)
Reactions to the Qur’an burning in Sweden
In Lebanon as well, the burning of the Qur’an in front of the Iraqi embassy in Sweden provoked rage and demands for the expulsion of the Swedish ambassador to Lebanon. Israel was also accused of responsibility. Hassan Nasrallah hinted the Israeli Mossad was behind the incident (Dunia al-Watan, July 23, 2023). Even the daily Ra’i al-Youm, which is affiliated with the so-called “resistance axis” [Hezbollah, Iran and the Palestinian terrorist organizations] and published in London, hinted at a connection between Salwan Momika, who burned the Qur’an in Sweden, and the Israeli Mossad (Ra’i al-Youm, July 23, 2023). The narrative linking Israel to the burning of the Qur’an was also circulated in Iran. Nasser Kanaani, spokesman for the Iranian foreign ministry, claimed that “the Zionists had a hand behind the scenes in the desecration of the Qur’an” (al-Alam in Persian, July 25, 2023). Ali Mohammadi-Sirat, Khamenei’s representative in the Qods Force, interviewed by the Persian newspaper Hamshahri, claimed the person who burned the Qur’an was an “Israeli spy” and his objective had been to deflect public attention from the crisis in Israel (Hamshahri, July 27, 2023).
Lebanese’s presidential crisis
The presidential crisis in Lebanon remains unresolved. Hezbollah continues to support the candidacy of Suleiman Frangieh (a Maronite Christian allied with Assad, Iran and Hezbollah). France’s activity continues, and, Jean-Yves Le Drian, the French president’s envoy, arrived once again in Lebanon to hold another round of meetings (Radio al-Nur, July 26, 2023). In the meantime, the LBCI network reported that Le Drian said the five-nation consultations about the presidency, which are supposed to be held in September 2023, would be the last opportunity to choose a president, and if unsuccessful, all five countries would withdraw from with the issue and sanctions would be imposed on those who obstructed efforts to resolve the presidential crisis (LBCI , July 27, 2023).
A “source” close to the Shi’ite leadership stated that future meetings of the representatives of the five countries (who recently met in Qatar) might expand to include Iran (al-Diyar, July 23, 2023). It was also reported that the statement threatening measures against obstructions to resolve the presidential crisis had caused tension between Hezbollah and Saudi Arabia (al-Akhbar, July 26, 2023).
Governor of the Bank of Lebanon ends his term in office
Riyad Salameh, governor of the Lebanese Central Bank, is scheduled to end his term in office at the end of July 2023, after thirty years in office. Serious accusations of corruption were made against him and his assets were frozen by court order. He was also accused of responsibility for Lebanon’s current financial distress. Lebanon’s interim government does not have the authority to appoint a new governor, so the position is supposed to automatically pass to his four deputies. They announced they would resign if no solution to the situation were found because they did not want future responsibility for the country’s financial collapse (al-Hurra, July 26, 2023). The absence of a bank governor could cause Lebanon’s financial situation to deteriorate further. The current situation, which is terrible in any case, could cause the Lebanese currency to depreciate even more and worsen the economic crisis.
Shots fired at Hezbollah observation posts in the Syrian Golan Heights
On July 25, 2023, artillery was reportedly fired at observation posts in the town of al-Qahtaniah, about a kilometer southeast of al-Qunaitra, a few hundred meters east of the Syrian-Israeli border; the artillery fire was attributed to Israel. According to reports, operatives of Hezbollah and its affiliated militias are concentrated in the town and use the facilities of the Syrian internal security forces, army and auxiliary forces to conduct surveillance of Israeli territory (Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, July 25, 2023).
Hezbollah constructs a training camp
Orient News, a Syrian opposition newspaper, reported that Hezbollah intended to construct a training camp during August 2023 in the Deir ez-Zor area in northeastern Syria. According to reports, the training camp will be used for the induction of new recruits from among tribesmen of the al-Hasaka district. Hezbollah has already recruited about forty volunteers and established a training camp in the town of Hussainiya in the Deir ez-Zor region (Orient News, July 24, 2023). The reports are consistent with a report published by the American Institute of War, according to which the IRGC Qods Force and Hezbollah established a headquarters in al-Mayadeen in eastern Syria, and Hezbollah, through its construction unit Jihad al-Binaa’, had begun constructing a military base in Deir ez-Zor (Institute of War, June 30, 2023).
The Imam Hossein Brigade
Newsweek published an article about the Imam Hossein Brigade, considered the most powerful pro-Iranian militia in Syria.[3] The article was based on information received from a member of an intelligence agency of a nation allied with the United States. The investigation was cited in Lebanese media, and the Lebanese daily al-Nahar reported the main findings (al-Nahar, July 21, 2023).
Below are the main points published in Newsweek, July 21, 2023:
The Imam Hossein Brigade was established in 2016 by the late Qassem Soleimani, commander of the IRGC Quds Force, and was under his control. Hezbollah played a vital role in establishing the militia, and it is defined as an updated version of Hezbollah (Hezbollah 2.0). The militia is composed of thousands of operatives, most of them are Syrian, although some come from Lebanon, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Sudan, and other countries.
The operatives are armed with a variety of weapons, including drones and precision-guided munitions.
The militia coordinates closely with the Syrian army 4th Division, commanded by Maher al-Assad, the Syrian president’s brother, and is assisted by its infrastructure and logistics.
During 2019 the Imam Hossein Brigade carried out several attacks against American and IDF forces.
[1] Husayn Ibn Ali, Muhammad's grandson, was denied water during the Battle of Karbala in 680 CE. He died three days later. The seventh day of Muharram is a day of mourning. ↑
[2] The resolution for the ceasefire between Israel and Hezbollah in the Second Lebanon War (2006) and the deployment of UNIFIL and the Lebanese army in south Lebanon to prevent Hezbollah from operating in the area. The resolution also included Hezbollah's disarmament. ↑
[3] For further information see the April 16, 2023 ITIC report, "The Pro-Iranian Militias in Syria." ↑

Latest English LCCC Miscellaneous Reports And News published on July 30-31/2023
Pope Francis calls on Russia to return to Ukrainian grain export agreement
LBCI/July 30 /2023
Pope Francis called on the Russian authorities on Sunday to return to the agreement that allows the export of Ukrainian grain through the Black Sea despite the conflict, pointing to the millions of people suffering from hunger.
The Supreme Pontiff, after the Angelus prayer in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, said, "Let us not cease praying for Ukraine, the martyr, where the war is destroying everything, including wheat. This represents a serious insult to God because wheat is His gift to feed humanity, and the cries of millions of brothers and sisters suffering from hunger reach to heaven."

Israeli deputy says normalisation with Saudis does not appear imminent
JERUSALEM (Reuters)/July 30, 2023
A top Israeli lawmaker said on Sunday that any forging of relations with Saudi Arabia did not appear imminent, citing what he described as sticking points in negotiations currently being held between Riyadh and U.S. mediators. U.S. President Joe Biden, having dispatched his national security adviser to Saudi Arabia to discuss a possible normalisation deal with Israel that he deems a policy priority, said on Friday that "there's a rapprochement maybe under way". The idea has been under discussion since the Saudis gave their quiet assent to Gulf neighbours United Arab Emirates and Bahrain establishing ties with Israel in 2020. But Riyadh has not followed suit, saying Palestinian demands must first be met. "I think it's too early to talk about a deal being in the works," Yuli Edelstein, head of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defence Committee and a senior member of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud party, told Israel's Army Radio. He brushed off the possibility that the impasse between Netanyahu's hard-right government and the statehood goals of the politically divided Palestinians was the main obstacle. "How shall I put this delicately? There are clauses that are far more important or problematic than such-and-such declarations in the Palestinian realm," he said. "Most of the Saudi discourse is with the Americans, and not with us," he added, saying that when it came to Riyadh's demands of Washington, "there are some things we can live with better, and some things we can live with less well". Israeli National Security Adviser Tzachi Hanegbi, asked by reporters as he entered the weekly cabinet meeting whether there would be progress in the Saudi talks, said: "I hope so."Saudi Arabia seeks U.S. cooperation in establishing a civilian nuclear programme on its soil. U.S. and Israeli media have also reported Saudi efforts to upgrade U.S. defence imports. Netanyahu said on Sunday that Israel will build a 100 billion shekel ($27 billion) rail expansion that will connect its outlying areas to metropolitan Tel Aviv and, in the future, could provide overland links to Saudi Arabia.

Israel plans $27 billion rail expansion, eyes future link to Saudi Arabia
Reuters/July 30/2023
Israel will build a 100 billion shekel ($27 billion) rail expansion that will connect its outlying areas to metropolitan Tel Aviv and, in the future, could provide overland links to Saudi Arabia, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said on Sunday. The announcement followed a trip by top US officials to Saudi Arabia last week to advance a possible forging of formal relations between the Muslim powerhouse and Israel. Opening the weekly Israeli cabinet meeting, Netanyahu appeared to sidestep the constitutional crisis that has roiled the country for seven months, denting its economy and shaking Western allies’ confidence in its democratic health. Instead, he promoted infrastructure initiatives including the “One Israel Project,” which he described as designed to reduce travel time by train to the country’s business and government centres to two hours or less. The plan is basically a revival of an idea promoted for years, though little progress has been made. The government in 2010 approved a similar multi-billion shekel initiative for a nationwide network that did not gain traction. “I would like to add that in the future we will also be able to transport cargo by rail from Eilat to our Mediterranean, and will also be able to link Israel by train to Saudi Arabia and the Arabian Peninsula,” he said in televised remarks. “On this, too, we are working.”Israel’s finance minister said the idea was to have the high-speed, north-south rail link ready in the next 10 years.

Four killed in attack on police checkpoint in Egypt’s Ismailia
News Agencies/July 31/2023
ISIL claims responsibility for the attack in Ismailia city on the western side of the Suez Canal. At least four people have been killed and 12 others wounded in an attack on a police checkpoint in the Egyptian Suez Canal city of Ismailia, according to officials. The ISIL or ISIS group claimed responsibility for the attack in a statement on Saturday. The assault, which took place on Friday afternoon, left three police officers and a still unidentified person dead, according to a hospital document obtained by The Associated Press news agency. Most of the wounded are conscripts and have been taken to hospital, according to the document. The attack took place on the western side of the Suez Canal, according to security officials, who spoke to AP on condition of anonymity because they were not authorised to brief the media. The media office of Ismailia province described the attack as a “terrorist” strike. State-run Al-Qahera News reported that security forces killed one of the attackers. It broadcast graphic footage purportedly showing a body, saying it was the dead assailant.
ISIL attacks
Egypt has been battling ISIL (ISIS) fighters in the northern part of the Sinai Peninsula for years.In February 2018, security forces launched a wide-reaching campaign seeking to root out members of armed groups in the Sinai, parts of the Nile Delta, and deserts along the country’s western border with Libya.
More than 1,000 fighters were reported killed by the military during the campaign, though figures are difficult to verify amid a media blackout in the peninsula. ISIL has carried out numerous attacks in Sinai and elsewhere in the country, mainly targeting security forces, minority Christians and those whom they accuse of collaborating with the military and police. In May, at least 11 Egyptian soldiers, including an officer, were killed in an attack on a water pumping station east of the Suez Canal. In May 2019, an attack near Egypt’s Giza pyramids wounded 17 people, many of them foreign tourists. And in August of that year, 20 people were killed when a car laden with explosives crashed into two other vehicles in Cairo. Ismailia is one of the key cities overlooking Egypt’s Suez Canal, a vital waterway between Asia and Europe that sees about 10 percent of the world’s maritime trade.The canal is a major source of foreign currency for Egypt, which is struggling with a declining currency and rising inflation.

Saudi Arabia plans to host talks on Ukraine war
Agence France Presse/July 30 /2023
Saudi Arabia plans to host talks next weekend to discuss a path towards peace in Ukraine, convening representatives from Kyiv, Western powers and developing countries, officials told AFP. Russia will not attend the meeting in the Red Sea coastal city of Jeddah, just as it did not participate in a similar gathering last month in Copenhagen, said three officials based in the Gulf who have been briefed on the plans. A full list of participants was not available, although countries including Britain and Japan were expected to attend, the officials said. The Wall Street Journal first reported the Saudi-hosted talks and said developing countries such as Brazil that attended the Copenhagen meeting were also expected to be in Jeddah. The move represents the latest effort by Saudi Arabia to assert itself in diplomacy related to the Ukraine war. In May, the kingdom hosted Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky at an Arab League summit in Jeddah, where he accused some Arab leaders of turning "a blind eye" to the horrors of Russia's invasion. Riyadh has backed U.N. Security Council resolutions denouncing Russia's invasion as well as Russia's declared annexation of territory in eastern Ukraine.
At the same time, it has continued to coordinate closely with Russia on energy policy, including oil production cuts approved last October that Washington said at the time amounted to "aligning with Russia" in the war. Last September, Riyadh played an unexpected role in brokering the release of foreign fighters detained in Ukraine, including two from the United States and five from Britain. Earlier this year, a Saudi official told journalists that Riyadh remained open to contributing to mediation to end the conflict, especially "on important minor issues that may help cumulatively in the end to have a political solution of the whole issue". As of February, Saudi Arabia had pledged $400 million in relief to Ukraine, about two-thirds in oil products and one-third in other humanitarian aid, including allocations for Ukrainian refugees who fled to neighboring countries. Saudi officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Saturday about the upcoming talks in Jeddah.

Ukraine to start talks with US on security guarantees -senior official

(Reuters)/Sun, July 30, 2023
Ukraine is to start consultations with the United States this week on providing security guarantees for Kyiv pending the completion of the process of joining NATO, a senior Ukrainian official said on Sunday. The talks, announced by President Volodymyr Zelenskiy's chief of staff, are a follow-up on pledges issued by the G7 group of advanced countries after this month's NATO summit in Lithuania to draw up and honour security guarantees. "We are starting talks with the United States (this) week," Andriy Yermak wrote on the Telegram messaging app. "Security guarantees for Ukraine will be concrete, long-term obligations ensuring Ukraine's capacity to defeat and restrain Russian aggression in the future. These will be clearly drafted formats and mechanisms of support."Yermak said the guarantees "will be in effect until Ukraine secures NATO membership."The Western Alliance's Vilnius summit offered support to Ukraine in countering Russia's 17-month-old invasion and individual countries pledged new weapons, but no date for Ukrainian membership was set as long as the war continues. Members of the G7 agreed for each nation to negotiate agreements to provide security guarantees and help Ukraine bolster its military. In his comments, Yermak said more than 10 other countries had joined the G7 declaration and Ukraine was negotiating terms of future guarantees with each of them.

Russia foils Ukraine attack on Crimea involving 25 drones as Moscow targeted

Agence France Presse/July 30 /2023
Moscow said on Sunday its forces had thwarted a Ukrainian attempt to attack Russia-annexed Crimea with 25 drones overnight. "Sixteen Ukrainian UAVs were destroyed by air defence fire," the Russian defence ministry said, referring to unmanned aerial vehicles. "Another nine Ukrainian drones were suppressed by means of electronic warfare and, without reaching the target, crashed into the Black Sea," the ministry said, adding that there were no victims. Crimea, annexed by Russia in 2014, has been targeted by Kyiv throughout Moscow's Ukraine offensive but has come under more intense, increased attacks in recent weeks. Kyiv has repeatedly said it plans to take Crimea back. Separately, three Ukrainian drones were downed over Moscow early on Sunday, the Russian defence ministry said. The attack damaged two office towers and briefly shut an international airport.

Fire, blasts cut off power in much of Iraq in scorching summer heat
Associated Press/July 30 /2023
Power was cut off in large swaths of southern and central Iraq for much of Saturday during scorching summer heat and observances of the Shiite holy day of Ashoura after a fire broke out at a power station in the southern city of Basra. The fire at the Al-Bkir substation in Basra resulted in the separation of transmission lines linking the southern and central regions, leading to a complete shutdown of the electrical system in the area, Iraq's Ministry of Electricity said in a statement. It said the fire was accidental. The power outage came as the electrical system faces other challenges, including fuel shortages and surging demands for electricity during a major heat wave. On Saturday, temperatures reached 47 degrees Celsius (116.6 degrees Farenheit). Also on Saturday, the company that handles electricity transmission in the north reported that the northern transmission line in a remote area outside the city of Haditha in western Iraq had been sabotaged. Three towers were hit by improvised explosive devices, putting the line out of service, the statement said. It did not say who was responsible for the attack. Staff were not initially able to repair the damage on Friday due to security issues, the statement said. Islamic State cells and other armed groups are active in the remote desert area. On Saturday, workers were able to access the site with the help of security forces and begin repair work. The Ministry of Electricity ordered the formation of committees to investigate both incidents. The power blackout had a domino effect on other services, with Baghdad Municipality attributing a disruption in tap water supply to the outage caused by the fire in Basra. The municipality said it was trying to run water pumps using generators to limit the impact on citizens. Earlier this month, Iraq signed a $27 billion deal with TotalEnergies that many hope will help resolve Iraq's longstanding electricity crisis, attract international investors and reduce its reliance on gas imports from neighboring Iran.

Thousands take to streets in Gaza in rare public display of discontent with Hamas
AP/July 30, 2023
GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip: Several thousand people briefly took to the streets across the Gaza Strip on Sunday to protest chronic power outages and difficult living conditions, providing a rare public show of discontent with the territory’s Hamas government. Hamas security forces quickly dispersed the gatherings.
Marches took place in Gaza City, the southern town of Khan Younis and other locations, chanting “what a shame” and in one place burning Hamas flags, before police moved in and broke up the protests. Police destroyed mobile phones of people who were filming in Khan Younis, and witnesses said there were several arrests. Dozens of young supporters and opponents of Hamas briefly faced off, throwing stones at one another. The demonstrations were organized by a grassroots online movement called “alvirus alsakher,” or “the mocking virus.” It was not immediately known who is behind the movement.
Hamas rules Gaza with an iron fist, barring most demonstrations and quickly stamping out public displays of dissent. The Islamic militant group seized control of Gaza in 2007 from the forces of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, prompting Israel and Egypt to impose a crippling blockade on the territory. Israel says the closure is needed to prevent Hamas, which does not recognize Israel’s right to exist, from building up its military capabilities. The closure has devastated Gaza’s economy, sent unemployment skyrocketing and led to frequent power outages. During the current heat wave, people have been receiving four to six hours of power a day due to heavy demand. “Where is the electricity and where is the gas?” the crowds shouted in Khan Younis. “What a shame. What a shame.” Protesters also criticized Hamas for deducting a roughly $15 fee from monthly $100 stipends given to Gaza’s poorest families by the wealthy Gulf state of Qatar. There was no immediate comment from the Hamas authorities.

Denmark to look for ‘legal tool’ to prevent Qur’an burnings

Reuters/July 30, 2023
COPENHAGEN: Denmark’s government said Sunday it would explore legal means of stopping protests involving the burning of holy texts in certain circumstances, citing security concerns following backlash over protests involving burnings and desecrations of the Qur’an in Denmark and Sweden.
Noting that such protests played into the hands of extremists, the government wants to “explore” intervening in situations where “other countries, cultures, and religions are being insulted, and where this could have significant negative consequences for Denmark, not least with regard to security,” it said in a statement from the foreign ministry. Meanwhile, Turkiye’s Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan on Sunday urged Sweden to take concrete steps to prevent burnings of the Qur’an, a Turkish foreign ministry source said. Billstrom that continuation of such “vile actions” under the guise of freedom of expression was unacceptable, the source said. Fidan and Billstrom also discussed Sweden’s NATO military alliance membership application, the source added.

Iraq, Kuwait confirm their commitment to address border disputes
LBCI/July 30/2023
Iraqi Foreign Minister Fuad Hussein said during a joint press conference with his Kuwaiti counterpart, Sheikh Salem Abdullah Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, "We discussed the issue of border demarcation, and there was an extensive discussion on this matter." He also pointed out that there was a confirmation to "continue the discussions on this issue through various technical committees," and revealed that there will be a high committee to conduct dialogues with the Kuwaiti side, which will oversee all the other committees.

Parts of B.C. town under evacuation order as wildfire crosses U.S.-Canada border
The Canadian Press/July 30, 2023
An evacuation order for more than 700 properties has been issued for the Town of Osoyoos after an out-of-control wildfire crossed into British Columbia from Washington. The Eagle Bluff wildfire is about four kilometres from the town in the southern Okanagan Valley adjacent to the U.S. border and has so far scorched 8.85 square kilometres of land. In addition to the evacuation order, the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen says an alert is in effect for more than 2,000 properties to be ready to leave on short notice, covering the entire west side of Osoyoos as well as a stretch of land on the west side of Osoyoos Lake extending northwards along Highway 97. A local state of emergency has also been declared in the area until Aug. 5 unless the situation changes. The BC Wildfire Service says the blaze started in the United States before crossing into Canada Saturday evening. It says initial attack crews, structure protection personnel, heavy equipment and a helicopter are fighting the wildfire and were on site overnight and this morning.

Canada's first Filipina federal minister arrives carrying a lot of expectations

CBC/July 30, 2023
The tears Rechie Valdez shed as she took the oath as minister of small business in this week's federal cabinet shuffle marked a breakthrough for her — and for the Filipino community she represents. "It was a profound moment for me to know that I was representing the close to one million Filipinos now here in Canada," she told CBC News on Friday. Filipinos are arguably the most politically underrepresented group in Canadian federal politics. A community that, according to the latest census, has 960,000 members has not had a single Filipino-Canadian representative in Parliament since 2004 other than Valdez, who was elected in 2021. Rey Pagtakhan became the first Filipino-born Canadian to be elected to the House of Commons in 1988 and served in the Liberal government's cabinet.
By comparison, Canada's 770,000 Sikhs were represented by four out of 40 ministers in Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's first cabinet. Prominent Sikhs outside the government include NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh and Conservative finance critic Jasraj Singh Hallan. Rechie Valdez has experience in small business, having run her own bakery. She said she takes seriously her opportunity to serve as a voice for a community that is underrepresented. "I can tell the community across Canada I'll definitely be advocating on your behalf and I will continue to listen to your needs and bring it up to cabinet," she said. Census data shows Filipino-Canadians have a unique demographic profile, said analyst André Bernard of Statistics Canada. "The Filipino population have lower unemployment rates and lower poverty rates than the general population," he said. Fewer than five per cent of Filipino-Canadians fell below the poverty line in 2020, compared to over eight per cent of the general population. "But they also have lower wages," said Bernard. "They have lower employment income."
Filipino wage-earners average $26.59 per hour, as opposed to a national average of $33.22 per hour and $31.23 per hour for all racialized groups. Filipinos "tend to be over-represented in certain industries and occupations," Bernard said. "For example, over a quarter of women are working in health occupations. That's much more than for the general population. "As well, men are more likely to work in manufacturing and utilities than the general population." Filipino immigrants have historically shown a willingness to move to where the jobs are, creating communities such as those that serve the meatpacking industry on the Prairies. The way that Filipinos have entered Canada also has shaped the community, said Bernard. "Over a third of Filipino immigrants who arrived since 1980 were admitted under the caregiving program in Canada … compared to three or four per cent for all immigrants," he said.
Low representation in the business world
The 2016 and 2021 census revealed that Filipinos ranked lower than any other Canadian ethnic group in rates of self-employment in both the male and female rankings. In June of this year, just 4.9 per cent of Filipino workers were self-employed, compared to 13 per cent of the general population.
(Self-employment does not map precisely onto business ownership — but it does overlap fairly closely. Entrepreneurs are by definition self-employed, and any self-employed person making revenue over about $30,000 a year typically has to register a business.) Jackie Wild owns Tito Boy restaurant in Winnipeg's south end. She said Filipinos don't lack the entrepreneurial bug.
"Back home, entrepreneurism, being a business owner, is very, very commonplace," she said. "Whether you're a small business owner, maybe you're a farmer, maybe you are like a side hustler doing things on top of your day job.
"Being a business owner myself, and having witnessed a lot of the obstacles that folks from our community face, it's not easy to start up a business coming from an immigrant community, whether you're a newcomer or even a subsequent generation. Because a lot of our family members ... my family included, when they come to a country like Canada, they are in survival mode. They are simply trying to just make ends meet and to be able to pave the right path and future for their children and for their grandchildren.
"There is a growing number of Philippine business owners in our community. However, a lot of them are just humbly doing the work. They have their heads down. They're just trying to again survive day-to-day and pay the bills and feed their families. So we don't often hear from them." Wild said it's hard to break into the business world without intergenerational wealth or contacts.
"If they don't know the communities that they can reach out to, they don't know the resources that exist for them," she said. "It really does discourage them from even taking that first step." The Trudeau government hasn't hesitated to implement ethnicity-specific programs to help members of other communities overcome such barriers and break into the business world. Black Canadians can apply for special loans of up to $250,000 under the Black Entrepreneurship Loan Fund. A Black Entrepreneur Startup Program offered by the Business Development Bank of Canada provides up to $60,000. The government of Canada also offers special opportunities for Black-owned businesses to bid for public contracts.
Indigenous-owned businesses also have access to startup loans of up to $500,000 and special access when bidding for government business.
No such programs or preferences exist for Filipino-Canadians trying to make it as entrepreneurs.
Greater needs, fewer benefits
"I think in terms of priorities, it was really important for us to ensure that we were starting off with marginalized communities like the Black entrepreneurs, Black women, [the] LGBTQ plus community," said Valdez. It's far from clear from the statistics why the Filipino community would be denied access to the kinds of programs that were extended to communities with higher rates of business ownership. It was the Trudeau government that insisted on restoring the long-form census when it came to power after the 2015 election, arguing that an "evidence-based" government needed good data to make good policy.
The very next census produced detailed data on the ethnic breakdown of self-employment in Canada. The census results showed that both Black Canadians and members of First Nations were more than twice as likely to report self-employment as Filipino-Canadians. Some segments of the Black population were well above the national average. Ethiopian-Canadian men had a self-employment rate of 14.9 per cent — higher than men who reported their ethnic backgrounds as English, French, Scottish, Irish or German.
No scholarships
Help in starting businesses is not the only area where Filipinos have been overlooked compared to other groups. Student Karla Atanacio chairs Pinoys of Parliament, the largest Filipino-Canadian youth leadership conference. It brings some 250 Filipino youth to Ottawa every year. She said access to higher education is also an issue. "Tuition is getting a lot more difficult to fund, and students like me often have to find part-time jobs in order to sustain our education," she said. "And that results in staying in school for longer and not being able to afford it, and sometimes running out of tuition money to actually help us to go through university. "And if we're talking about economic stability, if we're talking about lifting a lot of people out of poverty, I think that should be a priority for the government as well."While there are numerous scholarship funds reserved for Indigenous Canadians and Black Canadians, neither government nor the private sector has shown much interest in creating such funds for Filipino-Canadians. "We're welcoming a lot more immigrants and refugees, but is there really room for a lot of us?" said Atanacio. "There's a rental crisis going on. And so if we really want Canada to be as welcoming as we say it is, then we have to work together with our small businesses, with our housing people who are knowledgeable in housing in order to solve this problem." While the government has set aside $40 million to help Black Canadians find housing, there has been no such program for Filipinos.
A community closing the gap
Despite the lack of political representation, the lack of government assistance and the relative lack of private-sector philanthropy, the Filipino-Canadian community is closing the income gap with the rest of the population and raising its profile in the business world. Atanacio said the Filipino-Canadian community is undergoing "reinvigoration" and welcomes having a minister in cabinet."We're the fastest growing ethnic group now in Canada," she said. "But in terms of mobilization, I think it was only in the last few years that we looked around and were like, wait, we are just as capable and … our stories are worth telling, that we really came together and decided that this is the time for us to step up."
She said the community has high hopes for its first cabinet insider. "It's different when you actually have your own person representing yourself up there," she said. Valdez said she knows there are many expectations focused on her new role. "My hope is that now that I am here," she said, "I'll be able to put forward my ideas and recommendations that can better further support the Filipino community."

Latest LCCC English analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on July 30-31/2023
What Happened to Robert Malley?
Lee Smith/The Tablet/July 30/2023
The downfall of the White House’s favorite Iran whisperer is a mystery wrapped inside a cover-up
In late June, reports started circulating that White House heavy Robert Malley had been suspended from his job in the Joe Biden administration. That was surprising. Before he was pushed out, Malley had been seen as the visionary architect of the Democratic Party’s Middle East policy. He’d been Barack Obama’s conduit to Iran before Biden named him to do the same thing for his White House. For someone in his position to lose that job amid renewed talks with Iran was notable, but the most intriguing detail, hidden by the Biden team for months, was the reason why he was sidelined: He had reportedly mishandled classified documents.
So what was Malley doing that compelled the Bureau of Diplomatic Security to open an investigation on him before passing it to the FBI? Security clearances are a kind of currency in Washington and it’s unusual for a senior official to lose access to his colleagues’ secrets, especially a policymaker of Malley’s status. Had he been amassing boxes of documents in his home like former President Donald Trump? Had he taken classified documents from secure facilities and moved them to private work and residential spaces like Biden?
A large part of Malley’s work was to circulate information throughout the U.S.-based Iranian diaspora that eventually found its way to Tehran. According to Iran press reports that have foreign policy circles talking, those contacts are what got him in trouble. And the fact that the details about Malley’s suspension are coming from Iranian rather than U.S. media is a big clue that something big is missing from the White House’s highly minimized account.
At the beginning of July the Tehran Times, an Iranian regime English-language media outlet, published an article with insider details but no definite answer to the central mystery. According to the article, Malley’s clearance was suspended on April 21, two months before the news went public. Since then he’s met with CIA Director William Burns and National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan to try to resolve his situation but, according to the article, has not yet been granted an audience with Secretary of State (and high school classmate) Antony Blinken.
The story hints at a bureaucratic turf war. “The collection of opinions and news published about Robert Malley’s removal indicates extensive and coordinated subterfuge at the highest levels of the U.S. government.” The Tehran Times doesn’t identify any sources by name, but the details suggest that the account comes from Malley’s associates. Curiously, the reporter concludes that the same group likely responsible for leaking the details that appear in the article is the one that got Malley in trouble: “Malley’s overly close proximity to his non-official Iranian assistants and advisers created the ground for the fall of this experienced diplomat.”
A follow-up story identifies those around Malley who play the role of “broker and middleman between Iran and the Democratic administration of the U.S.”: Vali Nasr, a former Obama policymaker and Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies professor; Trita Parsi, founder of the National Iranian American Council and currently the executive vice president of the Quincy Institute; and Ali Vaez, Iran project director at the International Crisis Group, which Malley headed before joining the Biden administration. Also, according to the Tehran Times, Malley held “secret talks” with Iran’s U.N. ambassador, Saeid Iravani.
Except these are exactly the people he was hired to engage to revive the JCPOA. Vaez, for instance, has relayed his former boss’s insights and information to the media. Malley must have shared something really bad with his Iranian associates because otherwise the Tehran Times account makes no sense.
Perhaps more to the point, the White House that hired Malley doesn’t care about keeping American secrets unless the failure to do so can be used as an instrument to hurt political opponents. Biden hoarded classified documents for decades and kept them in his garage. Unlike Trump, he never had the executive authority to declassify the documents he collected as senator and then vice president, but it was Trump who was indicted on charges related to holding classified materials. The Justice Department handled Biden’s classified documents case the same way it managed evidence of his son Hunter’s alleged crimes—by burying it under a phony investigation.
The Biden administration’s open contempt for the rule of law is just a security regime acting like a security regime. In this context, using law enforcement authorities to prosecute enemies and exculpate allies is normal. The ruling party fights to control all levers of power inside and outside the government to reward loyalists—for instance, the party’s top donor, George Soros, supports Malley’s work at ICG with more than $75 million. What’s not normal is sidelining the party’s leading Middle East strategist with the same premise used to target Trump.
Biden appointed Malley shortly after his inauguration and made him responsible for restoring the Iran nuclear deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). It was Barack Obama’s signature foreign policy initiative but then Donald Trump withdrew from the agreement in 2018. Trump implemented a maximum pressure campaign that included hard-biting sanctions and the assassination of Qassem Soleimani, commander of the Quds Force, the terror unit attached to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). To get back into the deal, the Biden team brought back many of the officials who pushed it through the first time but none as important as Malley.
Malley has served in three Democratic administrations over the last four decades, handling high-profile, sensitive diplomacy such as the Arab-Israeli peace process and the Syrian war. After leaving the Clinton administration, he joined the International Crisis Group where, as he told me for a 2010 Tablet profile, his “mandate” was “to come up with ideas about how to prevent or resolve deadly conflict.” This brought him into contact with organizations like Hamas, a relationship that forced candidate Obama to remove him from his advisory role with the 2008 presidential campaign.
But it’s precisely Malley’s willingness to deal with the hard men of the Middle East that sets him apart from other U.S. diplomats. Where others who work in the region prefer to engage moderates, cultivate them with cash incentives, or invent them out of whole cloth, Malley makes no apologies for dealing with the men who really run the show. Accordingly, Obama named him lead negotiator in 2014 to bring the JCPOA home.
The fundamental untruth about the deal is that it was designed to stop Iran from getting the bomb. The agreement’s so-called “sunset” clauses tell the real story. These are the provisions restricting Iran’s nuclear activities that are scheduled to expire after only a few years, at which point Iran’s nuclear weapons program becomes entirely legal. From the beginning, the purpose of the JCPOA was to get the world to accept a terror state’s nuclear weapons program.
With Malley at the helm, the U.S. foreign policy establishment assumed he’d revive the JCPOA in short order. But his appointment signaled something else to the Iranians.
For the 2015 agreement, the U.S. side negotiated with Javad Zarif, the slick-talking diplomat lionized by the D.C.-based Iran lobby, including the Malley associates identified in the Tehran Times stories. It’s unclear whether Zarif’s U.S.-based friends project any power inside Tehran’s political circles, but by tying their influence inside the Beltway to Zarif, Malley’s Iranian associates earned the contempt of rival factions.
One of those factions came to power when Ebrahim Raisi was made president of Iran in June 2021. Almost immediately the new leadership started messaging against Zarif, whom they accused of giving away too much to the Americans. The Raisi crew also began attacking Zarif’s U.S.-based interlocutors, in particular the International Crisis Group. The English-language vehicle of choice for those attacks was the Tehran Times.
In an opinion article days after Iran’s presidential election, the Tehran Times wrote: “The Crisis Group began spreading rumors that Iran’s elections will be rigged, presenting Raisi as a pre-announced winner, estimating that the participation would be very low. The high voter turnout and competitive election changed the direction of the Crisis Group. Now they have focused on obstructing the process of reviving the JCPOA, implying that the president-elect will throw immovable obstacles on the way of reviving the nuclear deal.”
This broadside served two purposes. First, it was meant to inculpate Zarif, whose D.C. allies, according to the Tehran Times, had brought talks to a standstill. Ali Vaez mocked the paper’s assessment on social media, prompting the Tehran Times to ask him directly if the ICG was responsible for trying to “strengthen” the JCPOA—that is, deny Iran its rightful place as a nuclear power. Because Vaez didn’t validate his interpretation of reality, the reporter assessed that he “dodged our question about the role of the Crisis Group in the negotiations.”
But the article was also a warning to Malley, without naming the U.S. negotiator, that if he expected to revive the JCPOA, he’d have to agree to all of Iran’s demands. Malley hardly needed the hint: He came to the job prepared to give the Iranians everything in his power to give.
The problem, I believe, is that the Iranians wanted what was beyond Malley’s ability to grant: a guarantee that Biden’s successors wouldn’t withdraw from the deal and reimpose sanctions as Trump had. Tehran also wanted the IRGC taken off the foreign terrorist blacklist and the U.S. agreed, provided Tehran called off the hit squads detailed to kill Trump administration officials it blamed for assassinating Soleimani: Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, the State Department’s Special Representative for Iran Brian Hook, and National Security Adviser John Bolton.
According to Vaez, Tehran wouldn’t budge. “It is politically impossible for the Iranians to publicly close the file on taking revenge for Soleimani.”
The Iranians would have been pleased to see accounts of how much money the Americans spent on security details to protect the three Trump aides, with Diplomatic Security watching out for Pompeo and Hook and the Secret Service guarding Bolton. Reports of Hook’s wife crying in fear for her husband’s life amused at least one former Iranian official. If Malley couldn’t guarantee the next administration would stay in the deal, the Iranians could incentivize a future White House by threatening American diplomats who’d dared to reimpose sanctions on Tehran. On hearing that their foreign interlocutors were planning to murder Americans, other U.S. diplomats would have walked away from negotiations. But Malley didn’t flinch.
Naturally Iran’s ruling faction would be happy to advance the theory that Malley’s relationship with Zarif’s vain and careless Beltway crew led to the fall of America’s Iran whisperer. And thus the Tehran Times account of the Malley affair appears to be a feint to shape it as a nonstory: Malley was talking to his friends—what’s the big deal? It seems the real story, whatever it is, is bad enough that Malley’s Iranian associates had no choice but to use a rival Iranian faction that despises them to put Malley in the clear.
*Lee Smith is the author of The Permanent Coup: How Enemies Foreign and Domestic Targeted the American President (2020).

Team Biden Outmaneuvered by China?
Eric Rozenman/Gatestone Institute./July 30, 2023
U.S. policy toward China appears to be suffering from a belief in magic – that, for instance, withdrawing from Afghanistan would be a great idea; that Putin would be happy with a "minor incursion" into Ukraine; that the Chinese spy balloon was "silly;" that the mission of education and the military should be to ensure "equity," leading one veteran to say that the US is "trying to out-pronoun our enemies;" and that America's southern border, with agents trying to process reportedly 8,000 illegal migrants each day, thereby leaving vast swaths of land open to traffickers, smugglers and terrorists, is "secure."
Regrettably, the Biden Administration seems to be letting itself be outmaneuvered in countering the imminent threat of war posed by China's leader Xi Jinping and his ruling Communist Party.
Blinken swallowed the airport insult and met anyway with, among others, his Chinese counterpart and Xi himself. They held what the State Department called "a productive conversation, a real exchange." Chinese officials likewise said the talks were "candid, in-depth and constructive." Oh good! Then we have nothing to worry about!
At home, Xi has continued to tighten party control over the economy even as economic growth has faltered and unemployment climbed. Why pursue antagonistic policies abroad and counter-productive ones at home?
Xi's objectives are not economic growth or good relations but rather to insulate China from outside sanctions and other pressure like that, orchestrated by the United States and NATO against Russia for its invasion of Ukraine. — J. Kyle Bass, founder of Texas-based Hayman Capital Management, July 12, 2023.
"The day Yellen landed in China, Xi told the Eastern Military Command to prepare for war. I think it's highly likely he invades Taiwan." Not by 2027, as estimated by U.S. intelligence, but "in 12 to 18 months." — J. Kyle Bass, July 12, 2023.
Regrettably, the Biden Administration seems to be letting itself be outmaneuvered in countering the imminent threat of war posed by China's leader Xi Jinping and his ruling Communist Party. Pictured: US President Joe Biden meets with China's President Xi Jinping at the G20 Summit in Bali, Indonesia on November 14, 2022. (Photo by Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images)
U.S. policy toward China appears to be suffering from a belief in magic – that, for instance, withdrawing from Afghanistan would be a great idea; that Putin would be happy with a "minor incursion" into Ukraine; that the Chinese spy balloon was "silly;" that the mission of education and the military should be to ensure "equity," leading one veteran to say that the US is "trying to out-pronoun our enemies;" and that America's southern border, with agents trying to process reportedly 8,000 illegal migrants each day, thereby leaving vast swaths of land open to traffickers, smugglers and terrorists, is "secure."
Regrettably, the Biden Administration seems to be letting itself be outmaneuvered in countering the imminent threat of war posed by China's leader Xi Jinping and his ruling Communist Party.
Three cases in point:
John Kerry, Biden's climate envoy, landing in China in mid-July, declared that the country was doing an "incredible job" developing renewable energy sources. He also asked it to reduce its world-leading coal-fired electricity production.
Not exactly likely. On January 24 2022, the Chinese ruler told party leaders that carbon goals should not undermine energy or food supplies. China opens two new coal-fired generating plants a week, according to multiple reports.
Then there was Secretary of State Antony Blinken's visit to China in June. Even before Blinken could deplane, Xi let Washington know who he thought was boss. When the secretary of state arrived -- for the first trip to China by a top U.S. diplomat since 2018 -- no senior Chinese official went to the airport to greet him: no red carpet, no ceremony. This non-encounter took place after Blinken's journey had been postponed following the February shoot-down of a Chinese spy balloon that had snooped its way over many of the most sensitive military installations across the United States. Blinken swallowed the airport insult and met anyway with, among others, his Chinese counterpart and Xi himself. They held what the State Department called "a productive conversation, a real exchange." Chinese officials likewise said the talks were "candid, in-depth and constructive." Good, so we have nothing to worry about!
Secretary of the Treasury Janet Yellen apparently thought so too. When she arrived on her pilgrimage ahead of Kerry in July, she actually bowed repeatedly, as Fox News showed—in the Chinese fashion of an inferior kowtowing to a superior—three times, "optics the Chinese love," before Chinese Vice Premier He Lifeng.
Doing business
"Criticism of Yellen's apparent obsequiousness, was 'just noise'", Mary Lovely of the Washington, D.C.-based Petersen Institute for International Economics told Bloomberg News. The treasury secretary went to Beijing "to do business" and put guardrails up to decrease tensions and "manage" U.S.-China relations.
What have Xi and his hand-picked team atop the party-government pyramid been doing to install guardrails and manage the critical relationship? Here are a few recent illustrations:
The Wall Street Journal revealed that China uses Cuba for extensive surveillance of the United States and military training. Miles Yu, who was China policy advisor to then Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, wrote in a June 29 Wall Street Journal op-ed that "China's spying installations and military training in Cuba reflect the Communist Party's plans for global dominance";
China maintains "police stations" in at least 53 countries around the world — as well as in Manhattan — from which, according to reports, to intimidate expatriate dissidents and others, and threatening them with "arrest" -- meaning kidnapping and imprisonment in a Chinese gulag;
Former Canadian Conservative Party leader Erin O'Toole, in a speech to Parliament, said he had been told that Beijing used proxy agents to spread disinformation about his party via the Chinese-operated WeChat instant messaging service. This followed similar charges by parliamentarian Michael Chong;
The Chinese Communist Party hacked the e-mails of senior U.S. officials, including Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo before her planned trip to China.
Beijing decided early in July to restrict exports of germanium and gallium, key elements in semi-conductors and missile systems. China retaliated against U.S. trade restrictions, citing "national security" .
Xi's real purpose
At home, Xi has continued to tighten party control over the economy even as economic growth has faltered and unemployment climbed. Why pursue antagonistic policies abroad and counter-productive ones at home?
J. Kyle Bass, founder of the Texas-based hedge fund Hayman Capital Management, thinks it is due to China's vulnerability to petroleum and liquid national gas sanctions. Bass said on July 12 that Xi's objectives are not economic growth or good relations but rather to insulate China from outside sanctions and other pressure like that, orchestrated by the United States and NATO against Russia for its invasion of Ukraine.
According to Bass, in 2020, China possessed 100 intercontinental ballistic missile launchers, and last year, the tally reached 450. This year, he said, Fujian province, opposite Taiwan, opened 18 new air raid shelters, a major military hospital and conducted a large-scale blood drive.
Holding U.S. dollars, China "should be buying short-term Treasury notes," Bass stressed. Instead, "the curve is going in the opposite direction." Beijing is building its gold reserves.
"The day Yellen landed in China, Xi told the Eastern Military Command to prepare for war. I think it is highly likely he invades Taiwan," Bass said. Not by 2027, as estimated by U.S. intelligence, but "in 12 to 18 months."
Bass said he believes the United States and its allies can prevail against China in a conflict over Taiwan and its democratically-governed 24 million people, but only if everything needed for defense "is on the island on day one."
Also, it must be added, only after American leaders drop their belief in magic and speak realistically to the public.
*Eric Rozenman is communications consultant for the Jewish Policy Center. Any opinions expressed above are solely his own.
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The Geopolitics of Seismic Faultlines
Charles Elias Chartouni/July 30/2023
The lingering war in Ukraine, the unresolved dilemmas in the Middle East, the creeping voids in Sub-Saharan Africa and the extending terror zones, the revanchism of a discredited Putin are setting the tone for political epilogues that have been long waiting. The enduring stalemates of the Ukrainian conflict mandate major military breakthroughs on the Ukrainian side, to enable a balanced negotiation between the two parties of the conflict reminiscent of the Korean Peninsula denouement. The Ukrainians are not able to engage any negotiation process without redressing the military imbalances as a prelude to a sustainable political solution. They are, now, in a position to challenge the Russian claim over their national legitimacy and territorial statehood, and find the required platform for mutual territorial concessions and strategic security beyond the conventional constraints of Russian imperialism: frozen conflicts, limited sovereignty, moral harassment, and political blackmailing. Western democracies have already engaged both tracks and are bound to oversee their completion in the months to come.
The enduring crises of Statehood in the Middle East far from being addressed by the Chinese Saudi-Iranian mediation all along the conflict fraught zones, extending between the Afghan marshes, the Yemeni hinterland, the Arabian backwaters, the everlasting dilemmas of the Middle East and its sub-regions: conflictual ethno-politics (Sunnite-Shiite, Kurdish, Yezidi, Assyrian-Chaldean, Israeli-Palestinian, Alevi, Alawite, Christian minorities, invested political discords in Lebanon, pending wars and conflicts, and their instrumentalization by interlocking power politics, Israeli aporias and their incidences…), controversial national legitimacy, fragile statehood and surrogate conflicts, developmental backlogs, residual conflicts and Islamic radicalism. Military Containment, geopolitical stabilization, political reforms, developmental strategies and conflict mediation, are ultimately requested to stem the systemic disarray prevailing in this region and its deleterious consequences on European security and societal equilibriums. The new Cold War regime reigning over the region is unlikely to address the strategic issues, preempt the instrumentalization politics, and put an end to the widening entropies.
The Russian-African summit failed to uphold its stated objectives, and unveiled the ugly realities of Russian imperialism: exploitation of conflicts and resources, unequal trade relationships, safeguarding and manipulating autocratic power turfs …,. Otherwise, State failures and systemic fragility are undermining their legitimacy and viability and transforming them into political wastelands, cesspools for islamist terrorism, organized criminality, and bloody disintegration. Russian intervention in Africa locates on a continuum with its Soviet precedent, be it geopolitically or operationally, with no other objective but checkmate Western leverage. The flimsiness of the late African-Russian summit, has already unraveled and sent a dire message to Western democracies, on how critical is the need for alternative strategies to overcome the security voids, make up for the developmental gaps and curtail the Russian and Chinese inroads capitalizing on past failures and skewed politics.
A proactive policy process is quite dissuasive and sufficient to contain strategic inroads, debunk the fallacies of developmental cooperation and strategic parity. There is no need to await the presumptive failures to start acting on various issues, and draw the line between false promises and the ability to promote reconciliation, reconstruction and political reforms and elicit their corollary dynamics.

Middle East’s tricky relationship with its ‘demographic dividend’
Ehtesham Shahid/Arab News/July 30, 2023
In demographic analyses, data speaks louder than words. Such studies on the Middle East are often taken with a pinch of salt due to inadequate data. Sometimes, data is too shallow or too close to call; sometimes, it even deludes us into believing in an alternate reality. Yet, when these studies surface, they tell multifarious stories, sometimes complementary, often contradictory.
The region’s rapid population growth in the last 50 years has coincided with improving living standards and growing urbanization, industrialization and consumption. However, this demographic change, characterized by the growing youth population, is also described as an economic burden rather than an asset. The population pressure presents challenges, such as water shortages, and sometimes limits growth.
Most studies narrate advantages related to the Middle East’s so-called demographic dividend, which is defined as a “favorable age structure” where working-age people proportionately exceed the dependent population. The projection range is primarily promising. However, the operational part boils down to one essential argument — what matters for a region is what you make of the demographic dividend and what you turn it into.
For instance, what is known as the “youth bulge” projects a growing working population and is good news, but it could also be a disaster if adequate opportunities are not built around it. Let us consider some public data on the Middle East’s demography. Almost a fifth of the population of the Middle East and North Africa is aged between 15 and 24 (55 percent is under 30), growing by about 2 percent a year, which is higher than the world average.
Anyone drawing inferences from such projections cannot afford to look at just one side of the story. According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the demographic transition will present an opportunity as the region’s youth regiment grows older. It also indicates the need for renewed efforts and investments into “their transition to an autonomous life and participation in economic, social, and public life.” Almost all studies, including the OECD’s, recommend using the demographic dividend appropriately rather than just hailing it. The criticality of this observation becomes evident in a UN Refugee Agency report, which posits that “high youth unemployment and informality rates, alongside 15 million displaced people, many of them young, do not make ideal circumstances.” Another study suggests that the Middle East is now entering a phase where working-age people make up a disproportionately large population segment, while the young and elderly are relatively small in number.
For all intents and purposes, the condition indicates a demographic dividend, as taxpaying wage earners outnumber the retired and those outside the labor market. But this is still not the complete picture. Moreover, even if that is the case, it will change if not adequately responded to.
Other determinants present a slightly different reality. A World Bank study says land is now scarce and a valuable resource across the MENA region. It emphasizes that the projected rise in land demand due to demographic trends and decreasing supply due to climatic and governance factors indicate “a looming crisis” as the region grapples with “dramatic social and political transformation.”
The ingredients must be handled carefully to make sure the end product is palatable, if not delicious.
While analyzing a diverse and often turbulent region, such alarmist projections cannot be swept under the carpet. The World Bank report also suggests that land cultivation reserves in the region are almost exhausted. At the same time, the total built-up area will need to expand to accommodate the high demographic growth. Other studies conclude that demographic transformations influence power relationships, which will shift considerably in many regions, including the Middle East.
Sometimes, inferences from statistics transcend a demographic analysis. For instance, the UN forecasts that Turkiye and Iran’s populations will decline by 2100. Iraq’s population, currently 75 percent of the Gulf Cooperation Council countries combined, will be 33 percent larger than the GCC’s by the end of this century. Population explosions in Yemen and Iraq will “presumably increase their geostrategic importance.” Yemen’s population is projected to increase from 34 million to 74 million, i.e., from being less populated than Saudi Arabia to having 50 percent more people than the Kingdom, making its populace 90 percent as large as the GCC’s combined and close to Iran’s or Turkiye’s.
Such demographic shifts might create what Jon B. Alterman of the Center for Strategic and International Studies calls “a labor transition.” It may reorder the economics, politics and society of “the entire Middle East, from Casablanca to Tehran.” Alterman cites data on startlingly high youth unemployment throughout the Middle East and the often-long wait between people ending their education and starting their first job.
“To an unusual degree, the Middle East is entering a period when people of working age are a disproportionately large part of the population, with relatively small numbers of young and elderly,” says Alterman. While those are the hallmarks of a demographic dividend, Alterman’s analysis points toward a more extensive picture where such an advantage does not bring much when organizations do not become more productive.
The demographic dividend promises to be a sumptuous dish for the Middle East; but the recipe and ingredients must be handled carefully to make sure the end product is palatable, if not delicious. In other words, the region will need to adapt its economic, social and political institutions to the changes brought about by the unprecedented numbers of young people as they move into adulthood.
• Ehtesham Shahid is an Indian editor and researcher based in the UAE.
Twitter: @e2sham

Gulf states are happy due to their focus on prosperity and well-being
Dr. Majid Rafizadeh/Arab News/July 30, 2023
One of the critical factors that demonstrates whether or not the policies of a government are heading in the right direction is linked to the quality of life that its population enjoys or lacks.
The UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network recently published a report based on survey data that uses several factors to evaluate people’s rating of their quality of life in more than 150 countries. According to the network, the main analysis related to quality of life and happiness was measured by “life evaluations and emotions, how they have evolved in crisis situations, and how lives have been better where trust, benevolence, and supportive social connections have continued to thrive.”
The Gulf nations rank the highest when it comes to the happiest nations in the Middle East and North Africa region. According to the network’s 2023 World Happiness Report, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain emerged as the happiest Arab countries between 2020 and 2022. Meanwhile, countries such as Lebanon and Afghanistan ranked among the unhappiest.
There are several factors that can help explain why countries such as the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain are listed among the happiest nations in the region. The first reason is related to the status of their economies.
A healthy economy, gross domestic product per capita in terms of purchasing power parity, combined with people’s perception that a brighter future is ahead for the country, play a key role in this regard. For instance, in Lebanon, people feel the pressure as the ongoing cash crisis and economic meltdown continue to grow, with the currency regularly hitting new lows.
Another factor is the rate of inflation. The problem is that skyrocketing inflation drastically affects the ordinary people’s purchasing power, making life extremely difficult for them. Similar to Syria, Lebanon’s inflation rate is much higher than the average in the Arab Gulf states. Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, the UAE, Qatar and Oman are among the countries with the lowest inflation rates in the world. It is worth noting that a healthy standard rate of inflation is about 2 percent to 3 percent per year.
When it comes to Saudi Arabia, the Kingdom’s effective policies and its Vision 2030 are playing an important role in enhancing people’s quality of life and making it one of the happiest nations in the Middle East and North Africa. Vision 2030 is one of the most ambitious and comprehensive plans introduced in the modern Middle East.
This is due to the fact that it encompasses not only economic but also environmental, social and religious landscapes, along with political reforms. As Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman pointed out in his 2016 foreword: “We intend to provide better opportunities for partnerships with the private sector through the three pillars: Our position as the heart of the Arab and Islamic worlds, our leading investment capabilities, and our strategic geographical position. We will improve the business environment, so that our economy grows and flourishes, driving healthier employment opportunities for citizens and long-term prosperity for all. This promise is built on cooperation and on mutual responsibility.”
Vision 2030 is one of the most ambitious and comprehensive plans introduced in the modern Middle East.
The Kingdom has taken several steps in its implementation of Vision 2030 that have already proven to be effective and successful. For example, due to the impact of its economic reforms — including enhancing the business environment, attracting foreign investments, privatization, creating private sector jobs, and increasing digitalization — a report by the International Monetary Fund stated last year that Saudi Arabia is likely to be “one of the world’s fastest-growing economies this year.”
The UAE has similarly been placing significant emphasis on people’s well-being. In 2022, the unemployment rate was quite low at 2.75 percent. The Gulf nations have among the lowest unemployment rates in the world. According to Dr. Mugheer Khamis Al-Khaili, chairman of the Department of Community Development, the UAE is “striving to nurture a nation of confident, well-rounded and socially responsible Emiratis, while Abu Dhabi’s Department of Community Development is hard at work engaging and collaborating with all parties to ensure decent standard of living for all citizens, as well as a responsible, proactive and inclusive society founded on cohesive family values.”
Other factors include the level of social support, women’s participation in the workforce, the quality of the healthcare system and a healthy life expectancy. In Saudi Arabia, concerning the healthcare system and women, the accomplishments achieved so far include Saudi Arabia’s healthcare system benefiting “from substantive investment and increased digitization … 90-plus percent of patients received emergency or urgent care within four hours of arrival … Saudi Arabia scored 80/100 in the 2022 World Bank Women, Business and Law Report, up 10 points from 2020 … Saudi female labor participation increased from 19.4 percent to 35.6 percent between 2016 and 2021 … Saudi Arabia has organized over 3,800 entertainment events attended by 80-plus million people … Launched in 2020, the SEHA virtual hospital is the largest in the world, utilizing the latest technologies to support vital health facilities linked to 130 hospitals and provide three specialized services.”
In a nutshell, the Gulf nations, particularly Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain, are ranked among the happiest nations in the Middle East and North Africa thanks to their healthy and improving economies, strong social support and services, advanced healthcare systems, excellent job opportunities and low levels of unemployment and inflation.
• Dr. Majid Rafizadeh is a Harvard-educated Iranian-American political scientist.
Twitter: @Dr_Rafizadeh