New Age Islam Edit Bureau
22 November 2017
Iran, The Battle Of All Arabs
By Mashari Althaydi
Iraq’s Child Brides and the Flaws in Its Democracy
By Abdulrahman Al-Rashed
The Gang Of Nasrallah And An Occupied Lebanon
By Hussein Shobokshi
Rohingya Genocide And Global Indifference
By Aijaz Zaka Syed
What’s Next In Al-Hariri Made-In-Iran Drama?
By Dr. Khaled M. Batarfi
Rouhani Pays the Price for Khamenei’s Machiavellian Game
By Dr. Majid Rafizadeh
Unnecessary Disputes Sour Turkey-US Relations
By Yasar Yakis
Why Can’t The Developing World Recover Faster From Terrorism?
By Mohammed Nosseir
Corruption, The Second Major Challenge For Iraq
By Adnan Hussein
Compiled By New Age Islam Edit Bureau
Iran, the Battle of All Arabs
Is the problem with Iran limited to Saudi Arabia? The question may seem strange to some. However, most Arab media coverage implies this.
What is more strange is that there is no direct and apparent Iranian invasion of Saudi Arabia. This is a suicidal adventure anyway. However, there is an invasion of Yemen, Iraq and Syria and semi-occupation and tutelage over Lebanon through the local proxy, Hezbollah.
There is destructive Iranian activity in Saudi Arabia through terrorist cells in Qatif and Ahsa, east of the country. Iran maliciously supports al-Qaeda networks which consist of Osama bin Laden’s and Zawahiri’s disciples. The fact that Osama’s children stayed in Iran where they were protected by the Revolutionary Guards is an example.
Jordan’s King Abdullah II was the one who warned of the Shiite Crescent few years ago. The countries, which were angered by Shiism projects based on Khomeini’s ideology, were Algeria, Tunisia, Morocco, Sudan and Senegal. Egypt cut ties with the Khomeini regime before anyone else.
The country whose national carrier was hijacked and whose convoy of its head of state was blown up is Kuwait.
Before The Houthi War
The Khomeini republic did not do anything of the sort to Saudi Arabia. However, it committed other crimes there, long before the Houthi war in Yemen erupted. An example is the revolutionary guards’ crime during the 1987 pilgrimage, explosions in the eastern region in the 1980s and the explosion of the Khobar towers in 1996.
The point of narrating this is to voice surprise of this blunted effect, which Saudi Arabia sees in most Arab media outlets – except for Emirati and Bahraini ones as their stances are in harmony – as they limit the Arabs’ problem with Iran to Saudi Arabia.
Let’s put the genius Lebanese minister Gebran Bassil aside as he told us: “What does Lebanon have to do with Saudi Arabia’s problem with Iran?” He is a genius whose statements make you want to cry and laugh at the same time!
The Khomeini project’s threat will not spare anyone. It is an ongoing coup project against everyone. What happened in Black Africa is proof of this globalized Khomeini greed.
In brief, this is not Saudi Arabia’s battle alone. It is the battle of all Arabs and all Muslims, or rather all humans against a regime that incites sedition. He who does not fight the battle today according to his own conditions will be eaten up by villains.
The recent Arab ministerial statement that time has come to rid the region of the Iranian threat must be translated into action.
21 November 2017
Iraq today has an elected Parliament, and 90 years ago it also had an elected Parliament; one of the oldest countries in the world to exercise modern democracy.
In theory, community awareness should develop over time, but this is not always the case.
Iraq’s parliamentarians are considering amending the Personal Status Law to allow for several pieces of legislation, including permitting girls as young as 9 to marry, and allowing tribal customs between clans and others.
It is almost not too far from the thoughts and practices of Daesh, the terrorist group!
The problem of democratization in “simple” societies (less developed and less aware) has been repeated.
The Parliament reflects the state of society and its culture. Parliamentarians deal with democracy in its basic concepts by applying what the people want, by pleasing their constituents and by meeting their demands.
The prevalence of culture and awareness in Iraqi society is similar to that in most Arab societies — simple and limited, dominated by old rural customs and traditions, although Iraq is a country of great ancient civilizations and a country that has been associated with new civilization since the beginning of the last century.
Egypt, too, is a country of ancient civilizations and the first Middle Eastern country to respond to and assimilate modern industrial civilization, but it suffers the same situation as Iraq.
After the overthrow of President Hosni Mubarak, an outcome of the “Arab Spring,” there was a debate among the victors about the concepts of democracy and liberalism associated with it.
When the Muslim Brotherhood group came to power, by election, represented in the party of President Mohamed Morsi, they tried to write a new constitution in line with the rest of the Egyptian political forces.
Because they won, the Islamist group thought they had the right to dictate their views in the proposed constitution on the ground that they had won the most votes.
Their vision of the constitution would be written at the expense of minorities such as the Copts and women, and the marginalization of the principle of separation of powers by domination over the judiciary. This is a distorted concept of democracy.
Iraqis are overpowered by conservative, religious and tribal social forces; the constitution allows those forces to practice political action without setting limits on their power to use their influence in elections, and on parliamentary or government action.
Religious forces, in particular, exploit this to attack their rivals or strengthen their influence by raising money in the name of religion to form armed militias, claiming that it is their religious duty.
Because the central authority is weak and cannot confront these militias to avoid internal sedition, all it has done is prevent armed religious political forces from contesting elections. However, these forces can manoeuvre through the appointment of those who won the backing of the armed militias to run in the elections.
But the state cannot deny religious workers, as it prevents the military, from entering politics, because more than half of Iraq’s political leaders today belong to religious organizations as well as tribal groups.
The supreme judicial authority cannot intervene to prevent Parliament from imposing legislation that violates the principles of democracy and the basic rights of Iraqis, whether ethnic or religious minorities, women, or others.
Democracy suffers in backward societies, and the elite’s relative awareness fails to impose itself; although segments of society are well aware and educated, they remain a minority.
Extremists can override democracy by voting for the same ends that the terrorists failed to achieve by force of arms!
The irony is that if Parliament votes to amend the Personal Status Law and allows the marriage of female children, then Iraq will be placed on the list of countries that violate human rights; but at the same time it will remain classed as one of the democratic countries in the world because of its government and its legislation.
20 November 2017
The resignation of Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri is a natural reaction of anyone, who has a sense of dignity and self esteem, is forced to accept his continued presence in a team that threatens his ministers with arms and extortion and supports a sectarian system with no purpose other than to destabilize the region and indulges in money laundering, drug trafficking and militia financing.
Hezbollah is undeniably and unmistakably a terrorist organization that does not deserve to live in a respectful and honorable manner, and therefore it has no place to continue officially in Lebanese political life even if some Lebanese decide to accept this criminal group and “beautify it” by giving it funny titles such as the resistance movement or the opposition axis.
This criminal group is accused of killing former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri and dozens of other political and media figures. It is also accused of financing terrorism and supporting militias in different places around the world.
This gang is led by Hassan Nasrallah, a terrorist par excellence, who in the garb of religion and resistance in fact indulges in criminal activities which have nothing to do with Israel. As a matter of fact the terrorist Hassan Nasrallah was never subjected to any assassination attempt by Israel.
A Stark Reality
This is a stark reality that must be recognized by all. The terrorist organization serves as a link and a great starting point for the Iranian project of exporting the sectarian revolution in the region. Iran has used these Lebanese tools and means for years for its nefarious design.
The Arab world remained quiet until Iran and its tools, led by Hezbollah, the terrorist organization, and its leader Hassan Nasrallah joined hands with sectarian Khamenei, who has been spearheading his vicious and divisive agenda in the region from Qom for a long time.
The nefarious and diabolic design took its toll on of Lebanon, resulting in the rise of sectarian rift, social strife and political upheaval. It also gave rise to the financial corruption, as it is evident that the Lebanese banking system is facing serious because of Hezbollah's terrorism.
There can be no more evidence of Hezbollah’s terrorism than the evidence of its involvement in the “Abdali cell” in Kuwait, which was explicitly seeking to overthrow the regime, just as in Bahrain through its terrorist intervention.
The same is said about what happened in Yemen, Syria and Iraq. Lebanon is kidnapped, occupied and threatened by an organization with no honour, no morals, and no loyalty but to Iran. If Lebanon is led by a group that is absent and chooses to be absent, the Arab world does not have to cope with this nonsense and political hypocrisy.
More than six million Jews are said to have perished in the organized mass slaughter, perhaps history’s first, in Germany and across Europe under Hitler. Millions more were forced from their homes and lands of their ancestors. Their crime? They simply belonged to a different race and faith and did not fit in the crazy scheme of things of Hitler’s Aryan supremacist fantasies. Just as the Rohingya Muslims do not fit in the yellow, Buddhist paradise of Myanmar today.
I often wonder how the world could have just stood around and allowed the Jewish holocaust on its watch. The world, or rather the West, did eventually act to stop Hitler, largely when the German juggernaut threatened its own existence. The influential Jewish lobby also played its role in forcing the US to intervene in Europe, effectively turning the strategic equation on the side of allies.
By then though it was too late for millions of Jews. The mindless tragedy of the World War II in general, which claimed more than 60 million lives, and the Jewish tragedy in particular, gave birth to institutions like the United Nations. (The West’s failure to protect its Jews also played a decisive role in carving ‘Israel’ out of Palestinian-Arab land, of course.)
The world community committed itself to protect peace at any price, vowing to never again remain silent in the face of genocide. ‘Never Again’ remained the motto in years and decades after the Great War. That promise has of course been repeatedly broken even though today we have formidable institutions like the UN, International Court of Justice and International Criminal Court etc.
The Rohingya genocide, holocaust rather, has been unfolding on the world’s watch for years now. The latest phase in this long, deliberate war is the most decisive yet, having nearly wiped out the tiny Muslim community.
Thousands have been butchered, raped and burned alive. Even those fleeing the hell that Myanmar has become for its Muslims in one last desperate dash aren’t spared. It is a clear, textbook example of ethnic cleansing, as the UN explains.
The clinical definition doesn’t quite capture the magnitude of the tragedy though. It’s nothing but an open, full-scale war on humanity as the Burmese state and bigoted Buddhist mobs unleash their lethal force on a defenceless, helpless minority, in bid to wipe it out from the face of earth.
Nearly a million Rohingya Muslims have taken shelter in the neighbouring Bangladesh where they face another hopeless battle for survival, fighting disease, hunger and gangs of human traffickers. Young girls and children are being sold for as little as 5 pounds in Bangladesh as touts prey on a helpless people.
UK’s Sky News reports of witnessing harrowing scenes on the Myanmar-Bangladesh border including of babies being dumped and left to die on beaches as the desperate Rohingya run for their lives. This week, Human Rights Watch released testimonies of hundreds of young Rohingya women who were gang-raped by Myanmar soldiers. The Myanmar army has deployed rape as a weapon of choice, not sparing even young children.
Many of these atrocities and cruelties inflicted on a traumatized people are so graphic and spine-chilling in their detail that you can barely watch or read them.
And all this has happened and been happening on the world community’s watch. In the case of European Jews, the West at least had the excuse of waking up to the tragedy a little late in the day. We did not have the blessings of 24/7 media and Internet then. Besides, Germany had been a mighty, unstoppable force and it wasn’t easy confronting it.
None of those pretexts apply in the case of Myanmar. The Rohingya tragedy has been unfolding in full view of the world with every major atrocity and attack being reported and documented by the world media and rights groups.
Besides, the Buddhist Myanmar is no Nazi Germany. It could have easily been reined in and disciplined, using the enormous military and economic resources at their disposal if the world powers really had the will to do so. One strong rebuke and firm ultimatum from Washington could have saved thousands of lives. But who cares for Muslim lives? They mattered little even to President Barack Obama, the Nobel Peace laureate. It would be naïve to expect any better from his successor.
Hardly surprising then that the world powers attending the high-profile APEC summit in Vietnam this week did not even acknowledge the gravest humanitarian tragedy that has been unfolding in the region, let alone talk of ending it.
Leave alone taking steps to confront Myanmar on its genocidal war, the world has not even mustered the courage to call this a ‘genocide’ so far. For doing so would require the world powers, including Myanmar’s Asian neighbours, to initiate economic and military sanctions against the junta. And given the enormous business and investment opportunities that the largely underdeveloped and mineral-rich Myanmar represents to the West, that is clearly unthinkable. As for the UN, for all its noble intentions, this ineffectual angel can do little to help controlled as it is by the so-called Big Five.
But why cry about the global powers when the Rohingya tragedy has attracted so little attention from the fellow believers around the world. With their more than 1.7 billion population and enormous resources, the faithful have been able to do little so far to rescue the Rohingya.
Even pundits and commentators in the Muslim world no longer talk about the tragedy. After all, how long can you go on venting your outrage and anger over a distant crisis? No one likes to be greeted by bad news and have their reveries disrupted by a never-ending tragedy.
Of course, some Muslim countries have come forward to share Bangladesh’s burden of hosting more than a million refugees. Noble and much needed as the gesture is, it is hardly enough to save the Rohingya. They do not merely need our pity and money.
Muhammad Bin Qasim, the first Arab conqueror of Sindh, was dispatched to the subcontinent some 14 centuries ago when a desperate woman on the edge of the Islamic empire under the Umayyad rule cried for help. His commander Hajjaj Bin Yousaf was legendary for his ruthlessness. But even he couldn’t help being moved by the pleas of a distant helpless woman, forcing him to send his 17-year old nephew to India. Thousands of such Muslim women in Myanmar have been waiting for their Muhammad Bin Qasim.
Truth be told, we have all failed in doing our bit for our brothers and sisters in Myanmar, both as believers and as fellow humans. This is a burden on our collective conscience. When the time comes to account for everyone’s actions, as it soon must, we may all find ourselves in the dock for our collective failure.
A TRAVELER visited a village for the first time and was shocked to witness a weird scene. The villagers were carrying a dead person to his grave, while he was shouting I am alive... I am alive! All he heard before they buried him was: Shut up and go to sleep! The village court has decided that you are dead!
I remembered this story as I followed the insistence of some Lebanese that Prime Minister Saad Al-Hariri was being held in Saudi Arabia against his will, even though he met with heads of state, foreign ministers, ambassadors of the United States, Britain, France, China, Russia and the European Union, the head of Lebanese church, and many others. He also made a trip during his short stay to the United Arab Emirates, had a live interview with a Lebanese channel, made several calls to Lebanese leaders, including President Michel Aoun, Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri and party leaders to tell them all of his decision, his reasoning and why he chose to stay here.
Still, pro-Iran media and politicians kept casting doubts about why he announced his resignation from Saudi Arabia, and stayed there. The president called for his immediate release, threatening to go to the Security Council if he wasn’t returned to Lebanon within a week. While his son-in-law, Foreign Minister, Gebran Bassil, went on a tour to European capitals and found an ally in German Foreign Minister, Sigmar Gabriel, who called for the Lebanese leader’s freedom!
In a sudden turn of events, the prime minister accepted an official invitation to Paris. You would expect the pro-Iran camp to apologize, or at least accept defeat quietly. Instead they came up with another episode.
They wouldn’t dare to accuse France, the country that gave refuge to Ayatollah Khomeini, in 1970s and, ironically, Aoun himself in 1980, as he run for his life from non other than his new master Hezbollah. So, they had this narrative: France rescued the Saudis by taking him. The Kingdom kept his family hostage. He is a French citizen. As the premier appeared with his family and as the French citizenship was denied, they started looking for something else — who knows what — to implicate Saudi Arabia.
Why are they doing this? The main goal is to change the subject. The prime minister has accused Iran and its agent, Hezbollah, of dominating his country, hijacking his people, and destroying the economy. By using Lebanon as a launching pad for terrorist activities, drug trade and money laundering, they complicated his government relations with the world and its Arab neighbours and allies. Under Hezbollah’s guns and Iran’s threats to assassinate him, like they did with his father, he was unable to fulfil his duties as prime minister, or to protect himself and family. Therefore, Al-Hariri decided to leave with wife and children soon after meeting with top adviser to Iran’s supreme leader, Ali Akbar Velayati, who reportedly threatened Al-Hariri with elimination if he doesn’t accept Hezbollah as the de-facto ruler.
As these issues were raised by the prime minister, in his resignation speech, what better than inventing some dramatic stories to redirect the blame toward Saudi Arabia, and erase the real talking points from the media shows and public discourse?
Another goal is getting Al-Hariri back to Beirut, under Hezbollah iron fist, probably to take him hostage, in case Saudi Arabia and its allies decided to strike them.
After an official visit to Egypt, today, Al-Hariri is retuning, tonight, to Beirut, as its prime minister — since his resignation was not accepted — to attend Lebanon’s Independence Day, tomorrow (Wednesday). He would submit his resignation, in person, to the president and parliament, according to the Constitution.
I hope and expect that he would receive international protection, probably with the US and French escort. During his visit, which I reckon to be short, he would explain his reasons and may discuss with concerned officials, in the government and parliament, the formation of a new Cabinet. Then, he would return back to Saudi Arabia, which he holds its citizenship — or France, a favourite home of his family — where he would feel safe and welcome.
It is a matter of days, before this episode reaches its finale, then we are on to the real issue of Iran’s misbehaviour and destructive policies. No matter how long the rogue nation may distract the world from the subject, we will always turn around to put it under the searching light. It is just can’t be hidden or avoided, and the world is much smarter and determined than Iran wishes it to be.
The Iranian regime’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei is ratcheting up his criticism of President Hassan Rouhani, echoed by Iran’s state-owned media.
Some scholars and policy analysts are interpreting Khamenei’s opposition to Rouhani as a manifestation of Iran’s dynamic, democratic and inclusive political system. However, looking closely at the history of the Iranian regime and Khamenei’s nearly three-decade rule, it becomes evident that this argument is simplistic and fails to demonstrate the complexity of the regime’s apparatuses.
Since Khamenei became supreme leader in June 1989, he has distanced himself from his presidents, especially in their second presidential term; he has done this with Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjnai, Mohammad Khatami, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and now Rouhani. For example, Khamenei’s criticism of Ahmadinejad in his second term was evident, although the regime’s leader strongly endorsed Ahmadinejad at the beginning of his term and promoted him later.
So why would Khamenei criticize his presidents in public? First of all, he knows that they cannot fulfill people’s economic demands because the nation’s revenues are directed to the treasury of the Office of the Supreme Leader and spent on Khamenei’s gilded circle of cronies, proxies and military advisers. Khamenei has made it clear in his speeches that Rouhani has failed to improve the Iranian people’s economic life or fulfill any of his economic promises.
Khamenei is distancing himself from the president’s failures. He is evading responsibility and accountability. He is attempting to manipulate the disaffected population, who are suffering from unemployment and poverty, by telling them simply that Rouhani is the one to blame, and your supreme leader sympathizes with you. Khamenei is deluding the people into believing that, like the overwhelming majority of the Iranian people, he too is opposed to the government in the shape of the presidential office.
Khamenei’s tactic is pure hypocrisy, because he has the final say on where Iran’s major revenues are spent. He instructed the “moderate” Rouhani to increase the military’s budget, which was raised by nearly $500 million this year. He instructed Rouhani to spend more money on Iran’s ballistic program.
The second reason behind Khamenei’s strategy is to justify further empowering of his hard-line core. By criticizing Rouhani, Khamenei is pointing out that the “moderates” have failed to make economic, social, religious, cultural or political progress. Therefore, the alternative is to give more power to the hardliners. That is why Khamenei has recently appointed the hardliner Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi chairman of the regime’s Expediency Council, members of which are chosen by the Supreme Leader every five years. Khamenei even appointed the notorious former presidential candidate Ebrahim Raisi and several other hardcore mullahs to the council as well.
This manipulative skill and modus operandi of Khamenei is one of the major reasons that the theocrat has been capable of ruling for nearly three decades. He has always been successful at choosing a president who can forcefully accomplish the regime’s objectives on the international stage, and at the same time bow to the Supreme Leader when criticized in the public.
In a nutshell, Khamenei’s criticism of Rouhani is a Machiavellian tactic. He has used Rouhani to obtain economic and political concessions from the West because of Rouhani’s diplomatic skills. He used the president as an excuse to strengthen the regime’s hard core. He has also used the president as a pawn to avoid responsibility and accountability for failures in delivering the people’s economic demands. Rouhani is into this game with Khamenei. The supreme leader is masterful at grooming presidents who are powerless when it comes to making major decisions, but are willing to accept blame and responsibility for failures.
By Yasar Yakis
Two major NATO allies, Turkey and the US, are embroiled in several disputes that will not bring any advantage to either side.
One of them is the cooperation between the US and the People’s Protections Units (YPG), which Turkey sees as the Syrian branch of the PKK terrorist organization that it has been fighting for decades. Washington prefers to cooperate with the YPG, because it is a traditional supporter of the Kurdish cause. The Kurds may also be used as leverage to force the Syrian regime to negotiate a deal favourable to US interests. Furthermore, a strong Kurdish presence in Syria or an independent Kurdistan in the north of Syria is an asset for the security of Israel.
Using the anti-Daesh fight as a pretext, Washington supplied an enormous quantity of weapons and ammunition to the YPG. Kurds are important for the US not only to fight Daesh but also to fight the Syrian regime if and when the time comes. The YPG also helped the US to capture almost all the oil rich areas of Syria. Col. Ryan Dillon, spokesman for the US-led task force to fight Daesh, said in June that the US would defend the YPG if Turkey attacked it in Afrin, hinting that the two NATO allies may be clashing over the YPG.
Another disagreement is Turkey’s $2.5 billion deal to purchase S-400 surface-to-air missiles from Russia. When Turkey decided to improve its air defence in view of the growing instability in the Middle East, it turned to its NATO allies, but they attached conditions to the use of the missiles and would not agree to the transfer of technology to Turkey. Therefore, Turkey decided to buy Russian-manufactured S-400 system. This purchase unleashed an avalanche of criticism against Turkey in almost all NATO countries and raised the question of whether Turkey is distancing itself from the Atlantic community. Heidi Grant, the US deputy under-secretary of the Air Force, said that if Turkey bought S-400 missiles its access to NATO technologies would be limited. This will make Turkey the first NATO country to be subjected to such a measure.
Another thorny issue is the demand by Turkey that the US extradite the Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen, who lives in Pennsylvania. Turkey is confident that Gulen is behind two serious attempts aimed at shaking the Justice and Development Party government. One is the corruption scandal that broke out on Dec. 17 and 25, 2013. The second is the military coup attempt out in Turkey in July 2016. Ankara sent 84 voluminous files to Washington to justify the extradition. So far there is no sign that the US is persuaded to link Gulen to the coup. Turkey regards this attitude as a lack of willingness rather than insufficiency of evidence.
Two weeks ago, the Wall Street Journal claimed that Mike Flynn, a retired general and former head of the Defence Intelligence Agency, was involved in a plot to kidnap Gulen and deliver him to the Turkish authorities in return for $15 million, but this was immediately denied by the Turkish authorities.
Another conflict is related to Reza Zarrab, a gold trader of Azeri origin with triple Turkish, Iranian and Azerbaijani citizenship. He is accused in US federal court of trading Turkish gold to Iran in exchange for oil and natural gas, in violation of US sanctions. The US authorities allege that Zarrab bribed high-level Turkish government officials to secure their cooperation. Zarrab’s case is more complicated than the others. More time was allocated to Zarrab’s case in official talks during recent visits to the US by senior Turkish political figures. His trial will start on Nov. 27.
Zarrab did not appear at a pre-trial conference last Thursday, nor on previous occasions. His absence led to speculation that he may be negotiating with the US authorities to plead guilty in exchange for a reduced sentence. If Zarrab cooperates with US officials and supplies details of his deals with Turkish Cabinet ministers, he may cause considerable embarrassment in Turkey’s domestic politics and further damage Turkey-US relations.
Another conflict is the refusal by both American and Turkish consular services to issue visas, which began with the arrest of a local employee of the US Consulate in Istanbul. Fortunately, a smooth thaw is under way regarding this harsh measure, which was punishing innocent citizens who have nothing to do with the state of affairs between the two countries.
A further deterioration in relations with the US was the last thing Ankara needed when it is so isolated in the international arena.
By Mohammed Nosseir
Terrorism is the most horrifying ordeal in human history. Witnessing the murder of innocent civilians, either at the hands of a mentally sick person or for political reasons that they have nothing to do with, permanently traumatizes people. However, why is it that advanced nations overcome and recover from terrorist attacks more quickly than developing countries, whose economies continue to be adversely affected for years?
Terrorist attacks over the past few years in major cities such as London, Paris and New York certainly exceed (in number and magnitude) those that have occurred in Cairo. Nevertheless, tourists and business people are quick to turn the page on these tragic incidents and to resume their tourism activities or business trips to Western destinations. In Egypt, however, the entire nation suffers for years in the wake of a terrorist incident, as the number of visitors drops substantially and tourists desert many Egyptian cities completely.
The rapid recovery from terrorist incidents in Western nations can probably be associated with a single word — trust. Most people believe that, as a rule, Western governments do their utmost to secure their citizens and visitors to their countries. Conversely, they perceive the governments of developing nations as having a laid-back attitude that does little to inspire their confidence. Moreover, people nowadays associate terrorism with developing nations, convinced that the deformed environments in these countries give rise to the emergence of terrorism (although the fact that many terrorists come from Western nations contradicts this).
When a terrorist attack occurs in Egypt, the government’s initial reaction is to deny any responsibility — a typically Egyptian “it wasn’t me” bureaucratic attitude. The government then tends to release information (often a mix of facts and fiction) bit by bit. The denial factor, combined with the refusal to admit responsibility for the emergence of terrorists on Egyptian soil or to acknowledge the shortcomings of its security measures, gives a negative impression to developed nations and their citizens, who refrain from visiting the country.
In Western nations, on the other hand, governments tend to recognize the deficiencies related to their security measures and, to some extent, to the emergence of native terrorists. After each tragic incident, a government team is assigned with various tasks that address the crisis from different angles. This kind of openness and transparency strengthens the trust that binds developed nations and their citizens.
Furthermore, in advanced nations, where the international media are allowed to provide full coverage of terrorist events, people are able to learn exactly what has happened. In developing nations, journalists are kept away from terrorist crime scenes and pressurized into publishing accounts that the government believes won’t hurt its position. Not surprisingly, this type of policy prompts many to speculate about the true story.
Sadly, many developed Western nations, such as the US and the UK, are overusing their travel alert policies to discourage their citizens from visiting countries viewed as terrorism targets. This is a political tool rather than a genuine effort to protect citizens. Politics should not play any role in combating terrorism, a threat that the entire world is confronting.
In my view, neither advanced nations nor developing ones are tackling the core of the terrorism challenge. Most of the targeted countries are not working on reducing potential terrorists’ motivation to kill innocent civilians and engage in more terrorist activity. Nevertheless, the openness of the developed countries in dealing with this tragedy helps to strengthen the trust factor that they already have and that is lacking in developing nations.
Terrorism is a universal threat; it has the capacity to strike any nation, irrespective of its political position. Its proponents claim success when they expand their attacks and kill greater numbers of innocent civilians, no matter where their victims happen to live. Terrorists tend to target our political shortcomings; we therefore need to unite to address this challenge in a professional manner, independently of politics. Developing nations such as Egypt must adopt an attitude of openness and transparency in tackling this threat, thereby generating and developing the trust factor that we currently lack.
Corruption, the Second Major Challenge for Iraq
Driving ISIS out of the Iraqi town of Rawa – the group’s last stronghold in the country – was inevitable as a terrorist gang cannot defeat a state regardless of its size and brutality.
The terror outfits “victory” three and a half years ago was achieved because Iraq did not have a proper government at the time. There was an entity that resembled a government spearheaded by a gang of “politicians” competing over money, power and authority.
They were preoccupied with their disagreements. Therefore, there was no state to confront gangs, which came from beyond our borders with direct or indirect support from regimes in Syria, Turkey, Qatar and other countries.
Administrative and financial corruption before June 14, 2014 has deeply infiltrated the state. Armed forces equipped by better ammunition and gear were thus defeated against few hundred due to their commanders’ corruption.
Geographically speaking, liberating Rawa marked Iraq’s liberation from ISIS. However, terrorist threats continue to exist as long as there is corruption.
This is what Jane’s Terrorism & Insurgency Centre, headquartered in Munich, said in its recent report as it warned that ISIS’ defeat in its strongholds in Iraq and Syria will not end the continuous threat the group poses both locally and internationally.
The report said this defeat may actually push the group to adopt a new strategy to establish a “shadow state” in the areas it lost. Matthew Henman, the centre’s head, said that the terrorist group has pictured its losses on the ground as part of a long-term battle against crusading forces and it will work to maintain its capabilities so it can regroup via a bigger campaign to restore the lands it lost and expand.
Henman also warned that regionally defeating ISIS will expedite the emergence of conflicts between powers that worked on deterring ISIS, whether in Syria or Iraq. According to Henman, this will result in further insecurity and instability and will thus alter circumstances, which ISIS will exploit to facilitate its return.
Earlier this year, Transparency International noted that ISIS can never be defeated if the corruption conditions which help the organization grow and expand are not addressed. A report published by the NGO in February said the organization exploited corruption to spread extremism and recruit and presented itself as a cure to corruption while it worked to cover up its dishonest activities.
Katherine Dixon, Director of Transparency International Defence and Security Program, said: “The failure to grasp this undermines efforts to tackle the rise of violent extremism,” adding that “corruption is a real security threat, more than just a means for elites to line their pockets. In the end, corrupt governments, by fuelling public anger and undermining institutions, are the architects of their own security crises.”
All forces should have been recruited and all capabilities should have been mobilized to drive ISIS out of Rawa. However, Rawa, Fallujah, Mosul and even Baghdad will still be threatened by ISIS and other groups if they do not immediately launch a massive nationwide campaign against corruption.
This campaign must recruit all forces and mobilize all capabilities, just like they’ve done on the military front.