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Middle East Press (18 Apr 2016 NewAgeIslam.Com)

Pre-Empting Nuclear Terrorism: New Age Islam's Selection, 18 April 2016

New Age Islam Edit Bureau

18 April 2016

Pre-Empting Nuclear Terrorism

By Seema Sengupta

Revitalizing the Role of Haia

By Sabria S. Jawhar

Facilitating Saudi Female Engineers

By Talal Al-Harbi

Iran: Bad Guys!

By Hussein Shobokshi

Muslims for Bernie Sanders

By Hamid Dabashi

Iran’s Maniacal Belligerence

By Hassan Barari

Compiled By New Age Islam Edit Bureau


Pre-Empting Nuclear Terrorism

By Seema Sengupta

18 April 2016

When world leaders focused their attention on possible scenarios that might emerge with respect to terror networks vis-à-vis nuclear terrorism at an in-camera briefing during the closing session of the nuclear security summit in Washington, influential sources privy to the deliberations revealed that three potential methods of unleashing nuclear or radiological terrorism were primarily discussed.

And they are, acquiring nuclear bomb for creating catastrophic destruction in populated urban areas, setting off radiological dispersal device or dirty bomb — a lethal weapon of mass destruction made of radioactive material attached to conventional explosives and group of trained extremists sabotaging nuclear facilities with insider assistance to release radioactive material over a wide area of human habitation.

As US President Barack Obama rightly observed, madmen could kill or injure innocent people using only plutonium the size of an apple especially when not all of the 2,000 tons of nuclear materials held at military and civilian facilities world over are secure and may fall in wrong hands.

There are more than 15,000 nuclear weapons in the world presently, with over 90 percent of them being kept at strategic locations in Russia and the United States and Obama himself acknowledged that Washington and Moscow were unlikely to further reduce their stockpiles of nuclear weapons any time soon. However, to be fair to Obama, he remains the best bet for the world to achieve genuine denuclearization.

Obama owned up the moral responsibility for launching a new era of nuclear disarmament aimed at eliminating nuclear stockpiles. Indeed, the US president put flesh on the bones of his praiseworthy vision with significant and specific policy departures aimed at injecting nuclear disarmament with a momentum never seen before.

Obama promised to downgrade the role ascribed to nuclear weapons in America’s national security doctrines, pledged to enforce a global ban on nuclear weapons testing by starting from his backyard in the form of pressing the US Senate to ratify the comprehensive test ban treaty at the earliest, committed himself to the cause of strengthening the nuclear non-proliferation treaty — bedrock of a global effort to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons, preferred a new global ban on the production of weapons-grade fissile materials and most significantly promoted the idea of establishing an international fuel bank that would supply and monitor enriched uranium for civil nuclear power generation thus avoiding the risk of rogue states diverting material from peaceful to weapons programs.

Though it is a hard fact that since the first nuclear summit held six years ago, the world has measurably reduced the risk of nuclear terrorism by taking many concrete and tangible steps, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s absence in Washington may be a setback for the struggle that Obama has initiated for the sake of future generations. Russia, in fact, houses the largest number of nuclear weapons, 7,300 warheads to be precise compared to America’s 6,970. And without Moscow’s active support, the momentum created by the shifting of 2,965 kilograms of civilian highly enriched uranium (HEU) — equivalent to 100 atomic bombs — to safeguarded sites in the last six years will be lost midway.

 Undoubtedly, Obama has at least opened the door for a serious negotiation to reduce global stockpiles of nuclear warheads with 98 percent of bomb-making materials remaining in opaque military installations. As the US president rightly observed, the massive nuclear arsenal maintained since the Cold War days is “poorly suited to today’s threat perceptions” even as anti-nuclear proliferation watchdogs have reported laxity in on-site physical protection and security during transport as well as chinks in the ability to recover lost radioactive materials.

Despite ushering positivity in nuclear risk reduction, the nuclear security summit, which is Obama’s brainchild, has failed in its strategic goal of developing an effective global nuclear security system. Unfortunately, since the last summit in 2014, some nations have reportedly moved toward augmenting their nuclear stockpiles. While Obama may be basking in the glory of 12 nations having completely eliminated weapons grade HEU or separated plutonium, the steps have been relatively minor in the backdrop of the mammoth risk posed by nuclear weapons to humanity.

 With the realistic threat of non-state actors using deadly weapons looming over the horizon, there is an urgent need for concerted action on two fronts — preventing a dirty bomb from falling in extremists’ possession and securing atomic sites, both overt and clandestine, from subversion. Experts have warned that much of the world’s HEU and plutonium remains vulnerable to theft at thousands of sites, including universities and hospitals.

It is a warning sign especially for a country like India whose nuclear materials have been found to be less than secure, as a recent Harvard University study has exposed the vulnerability of Indian nuclear facilities citing an American inspector assessment. With the whole of South America being free of nuclear weapons presently and central Europe and Southeast Asia expected to achieve the goal soon, hopefully the dream of a nuclear weapons-free planet will remain afloat and guide us through difficult times.

Source: arabnews.com/columns/news/912076


Revitalizing the Role of Haia

By Sabria S. Jawhar

18 April 2016

The Cabinet recently passed regulations clearly defining the role of the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice (Haia).

The new regulations broadly affects how the Haia operates in Saudi Arabia with a focus on outlining its duties and where its responsibilities end and where other agencies, such as security forces and local police, step in. By clearly defining the role of Haia, the authorities want to prevent incidents involving some Haia members who go beyond their limits and create problems for people — Saudis and expatriates.

The regulations effectively put an end to chasing and arresting individuals suspected of committing moral violations. Now the Haia has to rely on local police to conduct investigations and make arrests. New rules also stipulate that commission members are not permitted to demand identification or detain people.

Perhaps most important, the new regulations return the Haia to its original Islamic purpose to “encourage virtue and forbid vice by kindly and gently advising as carried out by Prophet Muhammad, peace upon him, and his rightful successors,” according to the Cabinet.

The Haia is not exactly toothless now. It still has the authority to enforce gender segregation rules, prohibit the sale and consumption of alcohol and keep women from driving cars. Social restrictions still apply and the commission is permitted to enforce these rules.

What the new rules do, however, require that all members display their identification cards with their names clearly legible and their jurisdiction of work. This will help reduce the potential for rogue commission members or vigilantes from enforcing their will on others.

The Haia should introduce strict hiring policy and avoid employing people with criminal convictions. It is however heartening to note that the Haia recruits must possess a Bachelor of Arts degree, which at least provides the commission with educated members who have the critical thinking skills to use better judgment in how to approach individuals suspected of committing a moral crime.

The new development is not really an overhaul of the commission, though this new definition of duties was long overdue. The Haia has for too long been permitted wide latitude in enforcing its own rules virtually independent of the government policy.

The new regulations hit the reset button by bringing back the Haia to the original concept of teaching people in a gentle manner the proper way to conduct our lives and the teachings of Islam through guidance not intimidation. Over the decades, the commission had morphed into an agency unrecognizable to most Saudis who support the concept of a Haia working in their communities.

Most Saudis support the Haia because none of us are perfect Muslims. By reining in the excesses committed by some commission members and weeding out the bad apples, the commission can take the new regulations as a positive step toward creating a new era in helping Saudis and expats understand the role of Islam in their lives. A new hiring process that identifies the extremists and the uneducated will prevent those individuals from being hired and provide the public with a more professional and more respected organization.

Instead of viewing the new regulations as an effort to clip the wings of the commission, the Haia should respond by committing itself to a complete internal overhaul to win the trust of the people it is supposed to protect. And by internal overhaul, I mean going through the current ranks of commission members and assessing their ability to carry out the job with the new regulations in mind.

There should be no grandfather clause that protects existing employees with a reputation for causing trouble and not following the spirit of the Haia’s role in society.

Source: arabnews.com/columns/news/912091


Facilitating Saudi Female Engineers

By Talal Al-Harbi

18 April 2016

Hundreds of female engineers pass out from our universities and colleges every year to join their male counterparts in the labor market. But did we make any arrangement to enable them and provide them with job opportunities?

Before continuing our discussion, let us have a look at the available data about female engineers. Female engineers have already proved their mettle. Saudi women engineers represent several consultative engineering offices in the Gulf region, Lebanon and other countries. They compete very well in terms of quality, skills and innovation. Many years ago, a Saudi woman engineer was appointed to work in the diplomatic quarter project. She proved to be creative but after completion of the project, she found herself unemployed and nobody was prepared to hire her. In the Riyadh Metro project, there are many female engineers working efficiently with their male counterparts.

This makes me wonder why we let our girls join engineering colleges when we can’t find jobs for them. Engineering is a specialized profession that depends on skill, competence and creativity. Compared to men, women in general are more creative in practical fields. But here they are marginalized and ignored.

I believe that solving this problem is not complicated or impossible. What we need is more organization and a timetable and to accommodate female engineers through a special quota system. Then we should regulate admission to the universities in accordance with the public sector’s requirements. We should also ensure that the private sector recruits these female engineers in a way that safeguards their dignity. To do this, I suggest the formation of an authority to be in charge of following up appointment of the Saudi women engineers and terms of contracts and market fluctuations.

This authority could be composed of Saudi engineers or it could take the form of a special department at the Labour Ministry. This authority could work out rules and regulations for the recruitment mechanism to protect the Saudi women engineers from pressures of the work management in the private sector. I know that there are many educated Saudi girls in other specializations. They too should be given the same protection and care.

Source: arabnews.com/columns/news/912086


Iran’s Maniacal Belligerence

By Hassan Barari

18 April 2016

The overwhelming majority of Muslims around the world considers Iran a revisionist state — a country that seeks to expand its influence in the Muslim world regardless of the available means.

Unfortunately, Iranian leaders don’t mind supporting terrorism to establish its hegemony in the Middle East. As a matter of fact, this Iranian mindset is responsible for most of the regional problems.

At the 13th summit of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) held recently in Istanbul, Iran failed to get away with its policies in the region. Its attempt to focus on unity among Muslims contradicts its actions in Syria, Lebanon, Bahrain, Iran and Yemen. Iranian leader Hassan Rouhani did not have the moral courage to speak the truth. “For everyone it is clear that for Saudi Arabia, Iran is not the problem and for Iran, Saudi Arabia is not the problem,” said Rouhani.

Obviously, he knows better than that. For Saudi Arabia and the rest of the Arabs countries, Iran is the most salient source of threat. Just a few months ago, Riyadh cut its diplomatic relations with Tehran in a protest to Iranians setting fire to the Saudi embassy and consulate in Iran.

Iran-backed militias as well as Iranian forces are fighting the Syrian people for almost five years. And President Rouhani is in denial. It is not as if the rest of the Muslim world is not paying attention to Iran’s destabilizing policies in the Arab world. The OIC harshly criticized Iran as the latter “continued support for terrorism.” The Conference deplored Iran’s interference in the internal affairs of the states of the region and other member states including Bahrain, Yemen, Syria and Somalia, and its continued support for terrorism,” the OIC said in its final communiqué.

The Muslim nations’ condemnation of Iran and the failure of the latter to change the final communiqué show beyond doubt that no amount of diplomacy can change reality.

Iranians can talk nicely as much as they want, but people of our region will only look at their deeds. Seen in this way, anti-Iran feelings in the region have to do with what Iran does. Of course, Iran can change that by changing its policies and stop meddling in the internal affairs of the Arab world.

Iranian leaders mistakenly believe that by issuing harsh statements against Israel it could hoodwink the Arab world. The Arabs will no longer fall prey to this tactic and will not turn a blind eye to Iranian actions in the region.

Besides, many in the Arab world consider Iran a bigger threat than Israel for two reasons. First, unlike Israel, Iran is a Muslim country and can infiltrate into the Muslim societies under the banner of religion easily. Israel cannot do that and it is not difficult to rally the public opinion against Israel. Second, while Israel does not have a militia fighting for its interests, Iranian expansionist interests are being served by Hezbollah and by its puppet militias in the Arab countries.

In brief, neither Saudi Arabia nor other Muslim nations seek to provoke Iran. To them, Iran’s polices are the problem. Iran can easily bring about a rapprochement with Saudi Arabia and the rest of the Arab countries by doing two things: By withdrawing its militias from hotspots in the region and by not interfering in the internal affairs of its neighbours. Iran’s failure to improve its image by relying on diplomacy should send a clear message to Iranian leaders that the days of deception are over.

Source: arabnews.com/columns/news/912081


Iran: Bad Guys!

By Hussein Shobokshi

Apr 18, 2016

I was following with great interest the recently concluded Islamic Summit in Turkey.

Some of the scenes at the summit greatly intrigued me and I recalled the old saying, “A picture is worth a thousand words” and also the words of the legendary Iraqi philosopher, Al Nefri, who once said that one cannot totally describe a wide vision in a narrowed phrase.

Well, I am talking about the picture of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani in the group photo of the Islamic Summit participants where he is seen standing in a corner with his head bowed among the “secondary” Islamic countries, a corner place, I am sure, the Turkish protocol must have assigned to him! His picture clearly reflects the current position of Iran among the Islamic countries.

The hostile state Iran does not deserve to be in the lead among the Islamic countries and so the final statement at the Islamic Summit was a resounding slap on Iran’s face. The summit visibly condemned Iran’s open and continual interference in the internal affairs of the Arab countries, which is an explicit threat to Arab security.

Iran, since the sectarian revolution, fuels the region with waves of tireless and unrelenting sectarian strife and has even become the source of an explicit threat for all Arab countries. This has forced the Arab countries to classify Iran’s allies and militias as terrorist groups.

The change in the head of Iran’s leadership after the exit of the “foolish” former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who openly expressed his sectarian views and portrayed himself as an extremist, did not work after the arrival of “smiley face” President Hassan Rouhani, together with his ‘smart’ Foreign Minister Zarif (‘zarif’ in Arabic language means ‘smart’).

There has been no significant change in Iranian politics, the picture of Iran looks renovated but their policy remains unchanged.

Iran’s successive losses at the political and diplomatic level cannot be overlooked. They have completely dropped the resistance mask and are no longer the same. Their consensus and coordination with goals of Russia and Israel to support the regime of Bashar Al Assad in Syria, as well as approval “in cooperation with the United States and “new understanding” with the West reveals they are in need of new tactics to persuade the herd in the region for its role in the new phase.

The sorry picture of President Hassan Rouhani at the summit with the leaders of the Islamic world is a reflection of the image of Iran itself and the dubious and ugly role it plays in the region. That picture is enough to describe Iran in a thousand words.

Iran is an Islamic state but hostile. This is a new classification!

Source: saudigazette.com.sa/opinion/iran-bad-guys/


Muslims for Bernie Sanders

By Hamid Dabashi

By 17 Apr 2016

The dramatic debate between Senator Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton in Brooklyn on April 14, in anticipation of the New York primaries on April 19, notwithstanding, the national conversations about the US presidential campaign has become positively predictable, if not punishingly boring - except for the grassroots mobilisation it has triggered and that may one day change the shape of politics in this country.

Today, I think of the possibility of "democracy" in the US exactly the way Gandhi is reported to have thought of "Western Civilization": It would be a great idea.

On the Republican front, Ted Cruz and Donald Trump are clean-shaven prehistoric cave dwellers in business suits, while Hillary Clinton on the Democratic front is the dictionary definition of a chameleon - like a corrupt politician changing colour depending on which way the political wind blows but consistently representing mega-donors, big banks, and Super PACs without any moral scruples, while feigning she cares about the poor and the disenfranchised.

Aspirations of Decent Americans

In this presidential campaign, Bernie Sanders is the closest candidate to the aspirations of millions of decent Americans dreaming of a better future for their children while refusing to lend their name to an imperial republic that systematically arms the rich tyrants around the world, supports Israel stealing Palestine and murdering Palestinians one settlement at a time, and helps to create monstrosities like ISIL.

Come April 19 New York primary, like millions of other New Yorkers, I intend to exercise my very fragile rights as a US citizen and go and vote for Bernie Sanders, doing my share and hoping he will beat Clinton and win the Democratic nomination.

Many Muslims would have sided with and voted for Bernie Sanders even if he were not Jewish.

I do so without any illusion that Bernie Sanders can alter the imperial DNA of this country, or that I am particularly enamoured by this liberal Zionist beating on the dead horse of a "two-state" delusion.

I intend to vote for Bernie Sanders conscious of a crucial development in the US Muslim community. This year is the first time that I will vote in a presidential election conscious of being a Muslim and that consciousness is a significant event in the make-up of the US Muslim community at a time of intense Islamophobia.  

I will not be the first nor the only Muslim voting for Sanders in the US. The fact that US Muslims are significantly siding with Senator Sanders has already made major headlines in the US.

There is, in fact, an entire Facebook page dedicated to "Muslims for Bernie Sanders 2016". Leading Muslim scholars and intellectuals like Zareena Grewal and Donna Auston have also written eloquently as to "Why Muslim Americans should vote for Bernie Sanders".

Reports indicate that "in less than three weeks, Bernie Sanders being a friend of the Arab and Muslim American communities, has become legendary, and the support from this community of Sanders voters has been growing online since his March 8 victory in Michigan".

The significance of US Muslims rallying behind Sanders as "the only Jewish candidate" should neither be exaggerated nor misinterpreted. This is a crucial development, but we need to know why.

Above all, this vote signifies the rise of Muslims as a self-conscious, engaged, and assertive community with pronounced political views. To be sure, this does not mean all Muslims are for Sanders. There are plenty of rich and powerful Muslims of all sorts, no doubt, rooting for Hillary Clinton or even voting Republican. The very idea of a "Muslim vote" is as flawed and misleading as that of "the Jewish vote", or "Christian vote".

The Making of A Muslim Community

Many Muslims would have sided with and voted for Bernie Sanders even if he were not Jewish. That he is a proud and progressive Jew from a poor immigrant background links him to the deepest layers of Jewish prophetic voices throughout the ages as well as to the Jewish intellectuals and activists vastly involved with the Civil Rights Movement in the US as he, in fact, exemplifies - a particularly proud moment for Jewish Americans that Muslims must learn and update.

The formation of this crucial political consciousness signals a historic formation that could and should bring Muslims into the forefront of a national awakening in active alliance with such crucial segments of US society as the budding Jewish liberation theology of a post-Zionist era, the Occupy Wall Street uprising, the Black Lives Matter movement, and even the nascent Democracy Spring rallies.

Sanders is a significant catalyst in this historic moment, bringing significant layers of political consciousness in the US to the forefront of the US presidential election. His supporters are putting up a heroic effort to promote their preferred presidential candidate. These forces, however, must begin to think of the day after a dreadful Clinton nomination, and what would happen to the significant momentum that Sanders' campaign has generated.

In the formation of that momentum, I believe, Muslims have a significant role to play, not just as Muslims, but more importantly as a momentous gathering integral to progressive fronts joining ranks with equally committed segments of society determined to change the landscape of US politics with wide-ranging global consequences.

Source: aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2016/04/muslims-bernie-sanders-160417053002807.html

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/middle-east-press/new-age-islam-edit-bureau/pre-empting-nuclear-terrorism--new-age-islam-s-selection,-18-april-2016/d/107016


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