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Middle East Press (11 Mar 2017 NewAgeIslam.Com)

The Gulf States and Anarchy in the Middle East: New Age Islam's Selection, 11 March 2017

New Age Islam Edit Bureau

11 March 2017

The Gulf States and Anarchy in the Middle East

By Dr. Ibrahim Al-Othaimin

What's Holding Arab Women Back From Achieving Equality?

By Lina Abirafeh

Two Islams in the World

By Abdulrahman Al-Rashed

Muting Prayers Is Muting the Palestinian Struggle

By Mariam Barghouti

Wikileaks' CIA Document Dump Will Cause A Ripple Effect

By Sana Saleem

Compiled By New Age Islam Edit Bureau


The Gulf States and Anarchy in the Middle East

By Dr. Ibrahim Al-Othaimin

9 March 2017

Former US Secretary of State and National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger made an interesting remark in World Order: Reflections on the Character of Nations and the Course of History. The book addresses the conflict of survival among nations. He says that the Middle East is going through a conflict similar to the European wars of religion in the nineteenth century. This is a result of a state collapse that turns its territories into a base for terrorism and arms smuggling which leads to the disintegration of the world order.

Kissinger presents a noteworthy portrayal of the regional status quo. Five years of regional events starting in 2011 disintegrated national states, posing massive security and political challenges to the Gulf States. One of the major challenges has been the rise of a number of terrorist organizations with ISIS at the forefront. Such organizations exploited the political instability of some countries, which provided them with fertile ground and ideology to operate and expand in the immediate vicinity of the Gulf states.

It is well known that the Gulf states, led by Saudi Arabia, were subject to a wave of terrorist attacks by Al-Qaeda between 1995 and 2009. The country dealt with those attacks in a wise and decisive manner that left the organization weak and disintegrated. Most of its cells were destroyed, and many of its affiliates moved to Yemen forming a new organization named “Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula”.

While regional events impacted differently on each Gulf state, hardly any of them escaped the consequences. The Global Terrorism Database (GTD) shows an escalating number of terrorist attacks on Saudi territories in recent years. Moreover, in 2012, Bahrain witnessed 26 terrorist attacks, rising to 52 in 2013, but then dropping in 2014 to 41 and then falling to 18 attacks in 2015. As for Kuwait, there were no terrorist attacks on Kuwaiti territories between 2011 and 2014. However, in 2015, there was an attack on a mosque claiming 28 lives.

The UAE witnessed its first terrorist attack in 2013, with two more attacks in 2014, and there were no attacks on the UAE in 2015. Qatar witnessed no terrorist attacks between 2012 and 2014, but in 2015, a single attack took place there. Oman, by contrast, witnessed no terrorist attacks at all from 2012 to 2015. Thus, the regional events had their impact on the security and stability of the Gulf States.

Response to Terror

The GTD is presented by the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START) of the University of Maryland. It has analyzed dozens of indicators in 158 countries during the past decade.

Furthermore, the 2016 GTD presented by the Institute for Economics and Peace in Australia, based on the GTD of START, shows that the Gulf states have seen a relative rise in terrorist attacks. In 2016, Saudi Arabia was ranked 32nd on the global terrorism scale scoring 5.404 out of 10 degrees of terrorism threat on the Global Terrorism Index (GTI).

It was ranked 42nd on the same GTI in 2015 scoring 4.006 out of 10. The number of lives claimed by terrorist attacks in Saudi Arabia rose sixfold in comparison with 2014. In 2016, Saudi Arabia witnessed 48 terrorist attacks that killed 107 people. This was the highest rate of terrorism in Saudi Arabia since 2000.

Kuwait was ranked 37th on the GTI in 2016 scoring 4.449 out of 10. The index shows a 10 percent rise in attacks in comparison with 2015, when it was ranked 122nd scoring 0.019 out of 10. As for Bahrain, the threat of terrorism fell by 0.665 degrees in comparison with the previous year as it was ranked 44th scoring 4.206 out of 10 in 2016 whereas in 2015, it was ranked 30th with 4.871 out of 10. The rest of the Gulf states remained highly stable as Oman scored 0.00 out 10, Qatar scored 0.23, and the UAE scored 0.422.

Thus, the so-called Arab Spring turned the region into a launch pad of terrorism in Iraq, Syria, Libya and Yemen that has infiltrated the rest of the Arab world. If the countries that witnessed the Arab Spring protests do not restore political stability and secure their borders, this will pose a real threat to the Gulf states and it will require collective efforts to face this danger.

Source: english.alarabiya.net/en/views/2017/03/09/The-Gulf-states-and-anarchy-in-the-Middle-East.html


What's Holding Arab Women Back From Achieving Equality?

By Lina Abirafeh

March 9, 2017

The UAE serves as a guiding light in the region. Women here are economically empowered and have more representation in government

No country in the world has achieved full gender equality, but the Arab region - a diverse grouping of 22 countries in the Middle East and North Africa - ranks the lowest in the world, according to the 2016 Global Gender Gap Report. Despite some advances in women's economic equality in Qatar, Algeria and the United Arab Emirates, at the present rate the region's 39 per cent gender gap (compared to 33 per cent in South Asia and 32 per cent in Sub-Saharan Africa) will take another 356 years to close. Worse still, between the patriarchal societies, increased conservative movements and lack of political will to move towards gender equity, the Arab world today is seeing a backlash against women's rights and freedoms.

As the Executive Secretary for UN Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA), Rima Khalaf, said to commemorate International Women's Day in 2016, "We are celebrating the many achievements of Arab women in sciences, literature and arts, but primarily in the art of survival."

Here are the top five barriers facing women in the Arab world this year, along with some bright spots on the horizon. Women of the region are, of course, not all the same, but many face these profound challenges.

Ongoing Conflict

For many Arab countries, instability is becoming a norm. The region's multiple protracted humanitarian crises, including those in Syria, Palestine and Iraq, have destroyed systems of social protection, reduced access to safe services and support, displaced communities, and increased vulnerabilities.

Emergencies are more dangerous for women. Women are deliberately targeted. Moreover, conflicts also bring insecurities that compel women to resort to risky sources of income such as trafficking in order to survive.

The threat of violence is particularly high for young women and women of ethnic minorities, according to the 2016 Arab Human Development Report. For all women, but these in particular, even escaping conflict does not necessarily bring safety.

Research shows that the biggest predictor of peace in a country is not economics or politics, but how the country treats its women in times of conflict. Yet gender equality goals quickly disappear from the agenda. And, in a situation all too common around the world, Arab women generally do not have a seat at the table or a voice in negotiating their nations' peace.

Gender-Based Violence

One in three women worldwide has experienced some form of gender-based violence in her lifetime. In the Arab world, violence against women takes many forms, with intimate partner violence being the most common (affecting approximately 30 per cent of women in the region) and the least reported. Here, intimate partner violence is often not labelled as such. When it is, social stigma and family and community pressures keep women from reporting it.

Honour killings are also prevalent in many Arab countries, which have largely failed to amend relevant laws. Jordan has the highest percentage in the region: each year it registers between 15 and 20 reports of such crimes. Finally, in countries that host Syrian refugees, child marriage is increasing as a response to the ongoing crisis.

But we are seeing progress.

One way to counter violence against women in the Arab world is increasing its visibility among youth - as a student video competition for the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence - has done.

Another promising initiative is a robust study led by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) to estimate the regional cost of violence against women. The aim is to use economic arguments to raise awareness and influence policy.

Other organisations such as the regional civil association ABAAD's Al Dar (emergency shelters) are providing a safe environment for survivors of gender-based violence, and those at risk, to access services and support. These are promising emerging practices, although uncommon in the region.

Economic (Dis)Empowerment

Women in Arab countries are an underutilised economic force with only 24 per cent working outside the home - that's among the lowest female employment rates in the world.

Most women who work outside the home are relegated to traditionally feminised sectors. In cases where women are accessing male-dominated fields, traditional gender dynamics remain firmly entrenched. So women are promoted less and have little access to decision-making positions.

While men's employment is a prerequisite to marriage, women's employment often ends with marriage; being married is viewed as a disadvantage in the workplace as well.

There are strong economic incentives to change these practices. Globally, gender equality results in higher GDP - more workers means more productivity. But the strongest argument of all is principle. This is a woman's right - and it is the right thing to do.

Vocational training, micro-lending, business planning, access to markets, and other supportive measures would help bring women into the labour market. As would addressing factors, such as lack of access to (safe) transport, safety in public spaces and daycare, all of which place limits on women's employment prospects.

Lack of Political Participation

Arab women still lag significantly behind in terms of women's participation and representation in politics. According to the WEF, only 9 per cent of the political gender gap is closed. Four of the world's five lowest-ranking countries are in this region, including Oman, Lebanon, Kuwait and Qatar. They have closed less than 3 per cent of their political gender gap.

Only the United Arab Emirates has seen improvement in terms of increased women parliamentarians.

In Lebanon, women currently occupy just four parliamentary seats, 3 per cent of ministerial positions, and around 5 per cent of seats in municipal councils. But information on women's political positions is often incomplete, as these statistics are counted manually from municipality to municipality.

This lack of political participation is largely due to cultural barriers, a lack of access to economic and financial resources, and the absence of successful active role models in politics.

Restrictive Family Laws

Despite critiques of women's legal status in the Arab region, changing family patterns, and a booming young female adult population, aspiring to professional lives, family laws in Arab countries still endorse inequality between spouses and discriminate against women in all aspects of their lives.

This is a key obstacle to sustainable development, preventing women's self-determination and contribution to public and productive life and reforms have been slow and uneven across the Arab region.

Since 2000, Egypt has introduced a series of legal changes, but to little effect. This includes no-fault divorce, where women can initiate divorce. However, the consequence is that they lose any right to financial support and must repay the dowry they received upon marriage. Family courts were established in 2004, but a holistic approach to family law reform is still lacking as these courts continue to perpetrate the same archaic and discriminatory laws.

In 2004, a reform of Morocco's Moudawana (family code) similarly increased women's right to divorce and child custody and also restricted polygamy. But the Moroccan government remains hesitant to actually implement these reforms.

In Lebanon, reform efforts face unique challenges due to the diversity of its 15 separate personal status laws for the country's various officially recognised religious communities, of which there are 18 in total. But the ongoing refugee crisis, in which at least 1.4 million Syrian refugees have come to Lebanon, is an urgent reminder that conflict, war, and forced migration continue to reinforce the need for legal protection for women.

Still, there is potential for reform within challenging Arab contexts - whether during conflict, post-conflict, or when stable. Future policies for women must build on Arab activism and academic scholarship to reform family laws using a human rights framework and aligning with global goals (such as the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women) to build a foundation for full equality.

These issues are overlapping, meaning progress - or regress - in any of these areas has an impact on many other aspects of women's lives. The underlying message is this: unless we're addressing inequalities everywhere, we will achieve equality nowhere.

Lina Abirafeh is Director, Institute for Women's Studies in the Arab World, Lebanese American University.

Source: khaleejtimes.com/editorials-columns/whats-holding-arab-women-back-from-achieving-equality


Two Islams in the World

By Abdulrahman al-Rashed

10 March 2017

It is not possible to disregard Muslims or ignore the importance of Islam as a widespread and influential religion. There are 1.5 billion Muslims spread around the world, and there are 57 countries with a Muslim majority.

Islam, like other major religions i.e. Christianity and Judaism, is divided into sects and schools and differs from the other religions. Despite these differences, Muslims in the modern history have not faced crises like the ones they are facing today. The most dangerous problem is that their reputation has been tarnished.

There are large numbers of people everywhere, who now consider that Muslims represent a big problem on the security, political and cultural level; based on this new conviction, there are public calls now to clamp down on Muslims and consider them as an undesirable community.

This restlessness is the hallmark of some politicians and racist people. If they succeed in what they are doing to Muslims, we will embark on a new journey tormented by a crisis that is bigger than what we are witnessing now.

In my opinion, it is wrong to disregard the image that has emerged of Islam and Muslims, as well as the anger against them. It is also wrong to label it as racism; instead, we should try to understand its origins and deal with it. Before that, it is necessary to stop denying the problem within the Muslim communities and we should stop considering that the reactions to Islam and Muslim are just racist. Of course, this does not negate the role of racist and opportunist people in fuelling the bad image and hatred against Islam.

The Iranian Revolution

The problem of Muslims in the world begun with the Iranian revolution that claimed that its project is to defend Islam and Muslims around the world, using violence, mobilization, plots and movements. Prior to all that, Muslims were only minding their own affairs and were dealing with other communities in peace; they were only following their doctrines and practicing their religion.

However, the Tehran regime wanted to exploit Islam and Muslims in the world. They started to chant “Allahu Akbar” with their bands on their heads, on which religious and political slogans like “I am at your service Khomeini” were written.

This is an ugly exposure that reflects a new Islam that has nothing to do with Muslims. These horrible stained faces have taken diplomats as hostages, defying all norms, ethics and religions of course. This scene was the new title for a different Islam and new Muslims. They started to come up with problems that would serve their political conflicts, such as converting an unknown story that was published in Britain to fuel the hatred of Muslims toward Britain, despite the fact that Iran has printed books and novels that are more blaspheming against the beliefs of Muslims and other religions.

The incitement and putting a financial reward to kill author Salman Rushdie was a political act plotted by the Iranian regime. Hence, prosecutions against intellectuals, cartoonists and leaders of other religions have started and for many years now; Tehran has been compulsorily leading Muslims like sheep, claiming that it is defending their religion, causes, communities and cultures. Later one, al-Qaeda has risen and followed Tehran’s approach. This is how they distorted Islam and generated a bad image about Islam that is now hated by the whole world.

Dragged To Extremism

We have been dragged into a big hole dug by a group of extremists in Iran and elsewhere. This is not our Islam and we should not be defending their Islam, their ideas and their cases. There are two Islams in the world: the Islam of Iran and other extremists, and moderate Islam and Muslims. The two have nothing to do with each other. We should stand with those who are against the tarnished Islam and extremist Muslims because we (moderate Muslims) are the first to be affected by this Islam and Islamic regimes and groups.

This is a perfect time to denounce the Islam of Iran, al-Qaeda, ISIS and the organizations that are forcibly involving religion in politics. Denouncing them is for the sake of Islam, individual faith and all the Muslims in different countries.

The conflicts of the world and its governments are mostly political and have nothing to do with religion; governments that want to intellectually exploit Muslims should not be supported, because they do not care about the relations between nations or about what is happening to the majority and minority of peaceful Muslims in their countries.

They only want to emerge victorious from the ashes of chaos. They know that they will lose once peace and moderation prevails.

Abdulrahman al-Rashed is the former General Manager of Al Arabiya News Channel. A veteran and internationally acclaimed journalist, he is a former editor-in-chief of the London-based leading Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat, where he still regularly writes a political column. He has also served as the editor of Asharq al-Awsat’s sister publication, al-Majalla. Throughout his career, Rashed has interviewed several world leaders, with his articles garnering worldwide recognition, and he has successfully led Al Arabiya to the highly regarded, thriving and influential position it is in today. He tweets @aalrashed

Source: english.alarabiya.net/en/views/2017/03/10/Two-Islams-in-the-world.html


Muting Prayers Is Muting the Palestinian Struggle

By Mariam Barghouti

10 March 2017

Mariam Barghouti is a Palestinian American writer based in Ramallah.

Driving the streets of the West Bank, you see Israeli-issued street signs reading, in Arabic, "Urshalaym", the Hebrew word for Jerusalem instead of the Arabic namesake "Al-Quds".

Like most Palestinians with West Bank IDs, I am rarely presented with the opportunity to visit Jerusalem owing to Israel's discriminatory regulations requiring a permit issued by the District Coordination Office.

On the rare occasions that I have been able to visit Jerusalem, it has appeared foreign and has clashed with the accounts of my grandfather who would often visit it before the creation of the state of Israel.

The solace testifying that I am not a stranger was the Arabic call for prayer rebounding off the walls of the old city. It was, in a way, contesting the Israeli procedures aiming to eradicate any Palestinian linkage to the land.

Another Step to Colonise Further

Earlier this week, the Israeli Knesset approved a preliminary reading of two versions of a bill aimed at muffling mosque calls to prayer in Jerusalem and Israel.

While its critics deem it racist and a contravention of the right of worship, the ramifications are far more intricate. They, however, will align with Israel's ironclad efforts to belie the Palestinian register.

Israel has constantly fought the Palestinian narrative of its colonisation. They have divided us into bantustans, forced us into exile and fought our de facto existence as this bill does through muffling a traditional sound associated with the Arabic-speaking Palestinian population.

The call to prayer has been a part of Muslim culture since the rise of Islam and a part of Jerusalem since Arab presence was established in the region.

In Islam, prayer call is to designed to be a reminder, to both Muslims and non-Muslims, of the spiritual element of the religion while concurrently acting as a collective call for mobilising the congregation of Muslims.

While Israel continues to monopolise on the myth of being the "only democracy in the Middle East" its practices parallel institutions built on supremacy. Sixty-nine years ago, Israel's first Prime Minister, Ben Gurion, noted in his diary "we must do everything to ensure [the Palestinians] never do return" and the strategy to prove this true has been the guardianship of a dual justice system.

The treatment of the indigenous Palestinian population as second and third-class citizens through discriminatory laws is the reification of what Gurion meant when he gestured that the Palestinians must be driven out.

Source: aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2017/03/muting-prayers-muting-palestinian-struggle-170310111554945.html


WikiLeaks' CIA Document Dump Will Cause A Ripple Effect

By Sana Saleem

10 March 2017

In 2015, soon after the San Bernardino attack, the FBI demanded that Apple help them access the attacker Syed Farook's iPhone. FBI officers claimed the phone could have vital information and that Apple's compliance was necessary in the interest of national security and sought a court order to compel the company.

At that time Apple's CEO, Tim Cook, called the order chilling and said that helping to access Farook's phone would require writing a special code that would be "a master key, capable of opening hundreds of millions of locks".

The FBI argued that it doesn't need the key to access phones but that Apple needed to create a way for security agencies to gain access in criminal cases. The argument that such a "master key" would never be leaked sounded dubious then and it's blatantly implausible after the events of this week.

No Device Is 'Secure'

The alleged trove of CIA documents revealed earlier this week by Wikileaks appears to be the largest leak of the agency's documents in history.

The documents published online reveal a set of sophisticated tools and techniques from the CIA's arsenal detailing how the agency can break into smartphones, computers and smart televisions.

The tools also include information on how the agency can compromise PDF documents, WiFi routers and even anti-virus softwares that are meant to protect individuals from intrusion.

One program codenamed Weeping Angel turns Samsung Smart TVs into covert listening devices even when they are switched off.

This means that the Smart TV can collect sound data from the room and transmit it over the internet to an agency server.

This is not all. The documents also contain a detailed library of cyberattack techniques borrowed from other countries such as Russia. One file titled Marble Framework reveals how the agency allegedly wrote a malware code to obscure its origin and confuse forensic experts.

Source: aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2017/03/wikileaks-cia-document-dump-ripple-effect-170309101620104.html


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