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Middle East Press (08 Feb 2016 NewAgeIslam.Com)



Principles of Geneva ONE or the Concessions of Geneva TWO: New Age Islam's Selection, 08 February 2016




New Age Islam Edit Bureau

08 February 2016

Principles of Geneva ONE or the Concessions of Geneva TWO

By Eyad Abu Shakra

Peace Only on Assad’s Terms

By Andrew Bowen

What Corruption Indexes Don't Tell Us about Afghanistan

By Helena Malikyar

As Syria Talks Fail, Should We Prepare For The Worst?

By Brooklyn Middleton

Iran Chasing a Mirage

By Amir Taheri

Racism against The Lebanese

By Qaiser Mutawea

Compiled By New Age Islam Edit Bureau

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Principles of Geneva ONE or the Concessions of Geneva TWO

By Eyad Abu Shakra

 7 February 2016

I reckon there is no political observer who expected much from the Geneva 3 talks on Syria. In fact, a senior western diplomat was frank when he expressed his doubts about chances of success as the High Negotiations Committee (HNC) took its difficult decision to send its delegation for talks with the U.N.’s Syria envoy, Staffan de Mistura, along with calls to implement international pledges regarding humanitarian issues. The HNC, which was formed by the Riyadh conference and brought together the broadest representation of Syrian opposition groups, was under immense pressure to attend Geneva 3.

This pressure was international as de Mistura threatened the HNC with a fait accompli conference, Washington threatened it would cut off aid if HNC did not attend. Russia’s case was even more curious as it is now at war with the Syrian people. The astonishing thing is that while Russia acts as a full political and military “partner” of the Assad regime, it still insists on being an authority eligible of picking and choosing delegates of Assad’s “opposition”.

If we review the overall efforts made to stop the war in Syria since the summer of 2011, when Bashar Assad decided to crush the popular uprising by force, we find two movements moving simultaneously in opposite directions:

 There has been a gradual decline in the cohesion of the group of countries that stood by the Syrian uprising as the U.S. and Iran were finalizing the JCPOA (i.e. the Iran nuclear deal).

 As it became clear to Assad regime that it would not survive if left to its own devices, all the hidden links kept in reserve for a rainy day, its implicit alliances and subsequently its strategic role in the Middle East were all uncovered.

The countries that initially sided with the Syrian uprising joined hands under what was called the “Friends of Syria” and met in February 2012 in the absence of Russia, China and Iran. The aid provided by the Western powers claiming the “friendship” of the Syrian people, however, fell short of what the Syrian opposition was asking for, namely, safe havens, no-fly zones, and advanced and effective defensive weapons capable of neutralizing and deterring Assad’s air force.

In June 2012 a meeting was held in Geneva, this time attended by Russia and China. This meeting set in motion a “transitional” process leading to a “Syria without Assad”. However, Russia supported by China adopted the regime’s demands that the priority should be “fighting terrorism”, meaning the opposition. At this point there was a clear difference of interpretation of the Geneva (now known as Geneva 1) principles.

Letting down the Syrian uprising by 2015 led to the proliferation of extremist groups against a marked erosion of frustrated and desperate moderates

The Western “Friends of Syria” continued to refuse providing any qualitative military aid to the opposition, especially, the “Free Syrian Army” as ISIS was gaining ground in many parts of Syria, virtually, unopposed and unhindered by the regime’s army. Indeed, the regime intentionally exploited the advances of ISIS against the FSA, making common cause with it as spelt out candidly by a Syrian intelligence Lebanese functionary.

The rapprochement

By 2013 the U.S.–Iran rapprochement was rapidly becoming a reality, more so after reports of secret negotiations in Muscat surfaced, and Hassan Rowhani won Iran’s presidential elections in June 2013. Almost immediately thereafter, Washington described his win as a victory for “moderation” and “rationalism” that deserved a positive response.

Within few months, as soon as Assad realized that White House’s threatening “red lines” were non-existent, it used chemical weapons in Greater Damascus while doing nothing about ISIS taking over the city of Raqqah, which became Syria’s first provincial capital to fall to the extremist terrorist organization. Washington, in turn, did nothing about the chemical attack and expressed its satisfaction over Assad handing over his chemical “arsenal”.

In January 2014 Geneva 2 ended without any positive results. Moscow stood firm while Washington, not only retreated from its initial stance, but moved even closer to the Russian interpretation of what was going on in Syria. Then, in early March 2014, President Barack Obama sent a clear message “to whom it may concern” in an interview with Jeffrey Goldberg. He insinuated that he regarded Iran as a trustworthy ally in the Middle East along with Israel.

Subsequently, Washington rhetoric against Assad was getting fainter, concentrating its argument on the fact that “he has lost his legitimacy” as Raqqah became the declared “capital” of ISIS in the heart of Syria. Both in and outside Syria, letting down the Syrian uprising by 2015 led to the proliferation of extremist groups against a marked erosion of frustrated and desperate moderates, some of whom began bit by bit to leave the political and military scene.

Yet, despite this, and the active backing of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards and its militias, the regime failed to gain the upper hand on the ground. Given the above stalemate, against the background of massacres, human suffering, threats to a number of the regime’s heartlands, and the West’s move to consider fighting ISIS as the priority in Syria, Russia joined the war in October 2015 under the pretext of attacking ISIS.

One month after the Russian intervention, which concentrated its bombardment on FSA positions and “moderate” opposition groups, representatives of 17 countries, including Iran, met in Vienna. Representatives of the regime and the opposition were, however, not present.

The meeting ended with agreement on a ceasefire and a “framework for political transition”, but not the future of Assad. Consequently, last December, the U.N. Security Council unanimously agreed to a “road map” that begins with negotiations between the Syrian regime and the opposition to broker a ceasefire, forming a “transitional government” within six months and conducting elections within 18 months, again saying nothing about Assad’s role.

But in the light of developing agreements between Washington and Moscow, and the changes on the ground brought about by the Russian military campaign, some recent reports have suggested that Washington and Tehran have agreed that Assad remains in office until 2022!

What should we expect now? It is obvious that the Syrian opposition has no option but to continue its steadfastness, regardless of how huge the disappointment is. Steadfastness without illusions! The Syrian opposition is aware that its “adversary” is also the “referee”, and thus must not give it new excuses to continue betraying it.

Eyad Abu Shakra (also written as Ayad Abou-Chakra) began his media career in 1973 with Annahar newspaper in Lebanon. He joined Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper in the UK in 1979, occupying several positions including: Senior Editor, Managing Editor, and Head of Research Unit, as well as being a regular columnist. He has several published works, including books, chapters in edited books, and specialized articles, in addition to frequent regular TV and radio appearances.

Source: english.alarabiya.net/en/views/news/middle-east/2016/02/07/Principles-of-Geneva-1-or-the-Concessions-of-Geneva-2-.html

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Peace Only on Assad’s Terms

By Andrew Bowen

7 February 2016

With the suspension of the Geneva talks, the Vienna roadmap forward looks both uncertain and unrealistic. U.N. special envoy Stefan de Mistura’s job has never been enviable or easy with the number of competing internal and external actors at play. However, the suspension of talks in Geneva underscores that no one came to these talks ready to engage in a substantive dialog, in particular, President Assad and his allies, Russia and Iran.

As the parties settled into Geneva without yet starting the formal indirect U.N.-mediated talks, Moscow and Tehran-backed ground and air campaign surged onwards. In a sign of bad faith, the Syrian military, with Russian and Iranian assistance, escalated their efforts to advance on Aleppo and cut off the opposition’s main supply line from Turkey.

They have rejected the High Negotiating Committee (HNC)’s conditions for the talks, which is implementation of two articles in December’s U.N. Security Council Resolution 2254. These two articles call on all parties to stop bombarding civilians and medical facilities, to release detainees, and to allow humanitarian access to besieged areas.

It’s not surprising then that Russia and Iran have shown no deep interest in sticking to the Vienna road map

Assad has only paid lip service to this demand so far, allowing the Red Crescent to provide aid to the city of Al-Tal, north of Damascus. Under the watchful gaze of its international backers, Damascus has consciously pursued medieval-era tactics to go so far as to literally try to starve his opponents to surrender.

Equally, Russia, Iran, and Damascus are continuing to contest the composition of the Syrian opposition negotiating teams and the Syrian government team has rejected beginning talks until the list of opposition participants is provided to them. For example, Jaish al-Islam and Ahrar al-Sham, two designated terrorist groups by Russia, arrived Monday to participate in the peace talks. Moscow noted they can participate in the talks but this does not legitimize them.

Chaos at Geneva

The time now for a settlement on any terms other than President Assad and his patrons isn’t right. Assad, with clear backing from President Putin and Ayatollah Khomeini, is doggedly drawing out these negotiations as long as possible to ensure that his and his allies forces can consolidate control over the critical regime-held areas of the state and suitably create a sizeable buffer between regime areas and opposition-held areas.

It’s not surprising then that Russia and Iran have shown no deep interest in sticking to the Vienna road map. For Moscow, it buys more time for President Putin to both advance his regional and global interests and at the same time, give the appearance that Moscow is actually interested in playing a constructive role. For Tehran, with the advances in Syria, the only concessions to be made in these talks are the ones that advance their interests not limit them. While President Rowhani wants a settlement, peace in Syria will not be at the expense of Tehran’s strategic interests.

As the regime further gains on the battlefield, the HNC and the broader opposition arrived in Geneva in a disadvantaged position. Deeply fractured by differences, these groups have never effectively coalesced around a common negotiating position, beyond Assad must leave office. Equally, concerning, the Democratic Union Party (PYD) has indicated no deep commitment to a territorially integrated Syrian state. Beyond these groups, ISIS continues to seek to carve out a hold over Syrian and Iraqi territory, despite recent setbacks.

The HNC’s refusal to begin talks until the regime makes the humanitarian concessions is a substantial roadblock to overcome. Understandably, as the opposition loses further ground, the HNC has very little to show to its constituents on the ground that such negotiations are credible.

It was irresponsible for De Mistura to try to hold these talks with those conditions not credibly met. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, in an effort to push forward on these talks, misjudged that the opposition could be pushed to the table to talk with no conditions. Moscow and Tehran’s latest offensive on Aleppo underscores that despite Kerry’s close rapport with Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov and Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif, they don’t negotiate with him in good faith.

Fractured Syria

The road to peace through Vienna and Geneva looks long and dim. A national ceasefire, which was supposed to occur as these talks began, is a fantasy. With the opposition reasonably never likely to agree on the terms that Iran, Russia, and President Assad would like, these talks, if they don’t collapse, will outlast President Obama. They also will likely outlast the viability of a territorially and politically integrated Syrian state.

Moscow and Tehran’s ultimate prize is Assad remaining President of Syria. Their consolation and guarantee is political influence and control for the foreseeable future in regime held areas with or without Assad. For the Syrian opposition, a united Syrian polity is gone. The PYD will unlikely ever cede any of their political gains. More broadly, for the U.S. and its allies, the fracturing of Syria will be a long-term challenge well past a political settlement.

Andrew J. Bowen, Ph.D. is a Senior Fellow and the Director of Middle East Studies at the Center for the National Interest in Washington, DC.

Source: english.alarabiya.net/en/views/2016/02/06/Chaos-at-Geneva-and-the-fracturing-of-Syria.html

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What Corruption Indexes Don't Tell Us about Afghanistan

By Helena Malikyar

06 Feb 2016

Three global watchdog reports came out last week highlighting Afghanistan's scornful predicament in 2015. Their findings reveal a rise in corruption and human rights violations and a consistent failure in political freedom and civil liberties.  

Transparency International's annual Corruption Perception Index placed Afghanistan at 166th among 168 nations. World Report 2015, published by Human Rights Watch, criticised the war-ravaged country for failure to effectively tackle abuses in key areas. Freedom House’s annual Freedom in the World 2016 Report ranked Afghanistan among countries that are "Not Free".

While it is true that the Afghan government and its international supporters must be alarmed by these findings, rankings and scores in such global annual reports must be contextualised if they are to inform policy.

In the case of Afghanistan, these scorecards only describe symptoms of more fundamental problems.

The ongoing conflict that expanded and became more brutal in 2015 has contributed greatly to the bleak human rights situation as well as to the shrinking of civil liberties and political freedoms in restive areas.

International Community

Another factor, which is often omitted from such reports, is the heavy hand of the international community, especially the United States, in shaping events in Afghanistan from 2001 onwards.

But above all, endemic corruption, continued rights violations and restricted civil liberties are symptoms of weakness in the implementation of the rule of law.

From denying information to journalists to beating of traffic police to the impossibility of winning a contract in a tender process sans association with influential people, liberties, rights and transparency are impeded because rule of law has hitherto been ignored.

Afghanistan's political and social culture was deeply rooted in the concept of justice. In fact, the concept of 'just ruler' is a cornerstone of Islamic theories of governance...

Rule of law is generally defined as the system that renders governments, institutions and individuals accountable to and governed by laws and regulations and prevents arbitrary action. It has to be applied equally and without favouritism to any individual, group or power holder.

Afghanistan's political and social culture was deeply rooted in the concept of justice. In fact, the concept of "just ruler" is a cornerstone of Islamic theories of governance and arguably the most important legitimising factor of the state.

In the new political culture, living above the law has become one of the distinguishing privileges of the influential elite.

One must not underestimate the depth and breadth of the damage that three decades of conflict and lawlessness have inflicted on Afghanistan.

Added to that was the irresponsible behaviour of the international community and the Afghan political leadership since 2001, which squandered the opportunity to establish good governance and rule of law in the country.

Stability At All Cost

The US and its coalition partners went into Afghanistan in 2001, hand-picking some of the most unsavoury characters from the former mujahideen leaders and commanders as their allies.

The international community's Afghan policy was founded on maintenance of stability at all cost. Good governance, rule of law and justice were peripheral topics that only decorated official documents and speeches.

As foreign aid began to pour in, most contracts for infrastructure construction, military supplies, fuel, logistics and security were awarded to the same dubious personalities who, thanks to US patronage, had become the new political elite.

The US largesse to its Afghan allies also entailed turning a blind eye to illegal trade, monopoly of markets, land grabbing, million-dollar commissions on large contracts and even percentages from the lucrative narcotics business.

Political influence, along with millions of dollars into their bank accounts, empowered the new Afghan elite to command placement of their kin and cronies in key positions in all state institutions, including the parliament and the judiciary.

In other words, foreign assistance gave Afghanistan all the right structures and legal instruments required in a democratic system, but establishing and monitoring processes were mostly ignored.

The absence of political will, both on the part of former president Hamid Karzai's government and donor countries to curb corruption, not only prevented the establishment of lawful conduct in the public sector, but also impaired the flourishing of a genuine domestic economy.

US Taxpayer Money

Lack of oversight and accountability in the Afghan security sector, intentional or otherwise, has caused an utter waste of US taxpayer money. The US has been contributing billions of dollars to build and maintain Afghan National Security and Defense Forces (ANSDF).

Similar to the lucrative contracts of the earlier stages of war, allocation of funding for militia forces ... went to the same influential people...

Yet, the staggering scale of ghost personnel, fuel cost and disappearing ammunitions have gone entirely unchecked.

Along with the decision to end the US war in Afghanistan, Washington opted to create local militia forces to fill the gaps in the developing ANSDF.

Similar to the lucrative contracts of the earlier stages of war, allocation of funding for militia forces (under the sobriquet of Afghan Local Police) went to the same influential people, giving them further impetus to behave above the law.

President Ashraf Ghani and CEO Abdullah Abdullah took the reins of power over a year ago, assuring Afghans and international donors that they had the will to establish rule of law and good governance. Ghani further asserted that he has specific plans for accomplishing these colossal goals.

Among Ghani's first efforts are the creation of the National Procurements Commission to review big government contracts, the reopening of the messy Kabul Bank case, the firing of a number of central as well as provincial high officials suspected of corruption or incompetence, and improved communications with provincial officials.

Recently, the Afghan president elevated the role of governors in decision-making and monitoring of provincial affairs and started a process of budgetary devolution. In turn, he has placed more responsibility on his governors to curb local corruption.

In the past year, some progress has been made towards establishing effective processes, but earnest action against major instigators of corruption remains to be taken. To establish rule of law requires tackling the political elite and their well-entrenched patronage networks. This task, in turn, requires a full, honest and sustained partnership between the Afghan government and its international supporters.

Helena Malikyar is an Afghan political analyst and historian.

Source: aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2016/02/corruption-indexes-don-afghanistan-ashraf-ghani-160204132917875.html

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As Syria Talks Fail, Should We Prepare For The Worst?

By Brooklyn Middleton

7 February 2016

The latest round of peace talks on Syria fell apart after only two days with the opposition High Negotiations Committee (HNC) rightly refusing to meet with representatives of Bashar al-Assad’s disgraced regime without any prior guarantee of basic humanitarian relief on the ground. Meanwhile, Assad regime forces – backed by Russian airstrikes – staged a major offensive to retake Aleppo, forcing tens of thousands to flee to Turkey’s border.

Any hope that the most recent opportunity for progress would be made in Geneva – if only just on the humanitarian front – has been shattered. In the immediate term, the international community needs to recommit to financially supporting U.N. efforts, as they continue to deal with influx of fleeing Syrians. In the longer term, the reality that the war cannot end without confronting Assad’s crimes must be accepted.

Assad regime’s failure to respond to a single one of these demands underscores its total lack of interest in alleviating the suffering

In the lead up to talks in Geneva, the HNC had made several basic demands, with humanitarian needs being prioritized over all other issues. Yet, talks remained on the brink of failure even before they began, with Russia attempting to dictate which parties were even allowed to be present. Meanwhile, brutal attacks targeting civilians continued unabated on the ground. The Assad regime’s failure to respond to a single one of these demands underscores its total lack of interest in alleviating the suffering in any serious manner.

In an interview with Reuters, HNC chief coordinator Riad Hijab said that the whole world sees who is responsible for the failure of negotiations. “Who is bombing civilians and starving people to death.” The world does see this, yet, Assad’s killing of civilians with impunity for years has only emboldened his regime. With Russia’s full backing allowing for gains on the ground, Assad may now be less inclined than ever before to make even the most modest of concessions.

Biggest Threat

That said, with as many as 70,000 Syrians fleeing an imminent siege of opposition-held areas in Aleppo, the inconvenient truth that the Assad regime and its backers remain the number one threat to the majority of Syrians has once again been made evident. Continually failing to address this fact will ensure indefinite bloodshed. In a potentially significant development, Saudi Arabia reportedly vowed it would deploy ground troops to Syria if requested to do so by the U.S.-led coalition.

While ground troops may ultimately be needed to deal a definitive blow to ISIS, without comprehensive plans in place for urgent medical evacuations and safe zones, Riyadh’s involvement will also not alleviate Syria’s suffering. The HNC’s approach to talks with the regime – with immediate focus on dire humanitarian concerns – should be emulated by all parties concerned.

While Aleppo braces for what will be yet another brutal chapter in Syria’s all too long war, the international community must escalate efforts to financially support the U.N.’s operations in Syria and neighbouring countries. The BBC reported that only 43 percent of the $2.9 billion pledged to the U.N. for Syria was actually funded. The report also indicated that the U.S. was the number one donor while one of the eight largest contributors was Kuwait.

In the most recent donor meeting, parties have vowed to contribute $10 billion in aid. They must deliver and states that have thus far failed to directly fund U.N. efforts must finally contribute. The bloodshed in Syria is likely to significantly worsen in the coming weeks and the international community must prepare for this eventuality.

Brooklyn Middleton is an American Political and Security Risk Analyst currently based in New York City. She has previously written about U.S. President Obama's policy in Syria as well as Bashar al-Assad's continued crimes against his own people. She recently finished her MA thesis on Ayatollah Khomeini’s influence on the Palestinian Islamic Jihad militant group, completing her Master’s degree in Middle Eastern Studies.

Source: english.alarabiya.net/en/views/news/middle-east/2016/02/07/As-Syria-talks-fail-should-we-prepare-for-the-worst-.html

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Iran Chasing A Mirage

By Amir Taheri

8 February 2016

Foreign officials dealing with Iran since the mullahs seized power have often wondered who is really in charge in Tehran. Chris Patten, a British politician who served as the European Union’s foreign policy point man, once observed that Iranian officials he dealt with always turned out to be “actors playing the role of ministers.”

The impression is that Iran has two governments: One that is presented to the outside world, and another that wields the real power. Last week that impression was reinforced when Ali Akbar Velayati, whose title is special foreign policy adviser to the “supreme guide,” flew to Moscow on what he said was a “mission to start the Islamic Republic’s new strategy,” which was labelled as “Looking to the East.”

Velayati’s trip to Moscow was interesting for a number of reasons. To start with, it was timed to immediately follow President Hassan Rouhani’s visits to Rome and Paris with the message that Tehran was seeking close ties with western democracies. Rouhani is also scheduled to visit Austria and Belgium later this month. In addition to this, Rouhani has missed no opportunity to send friendly signals to the Obama administration in Washington. He has praised the US president as “intelligent and perceptive” and claims to be in an epistolary relationship with him. Rouhani has noted that the world today is like a village in which America is the “headman.” Thus it is important for Iran to foster good relations with the “headman.”

In fact, political circles in Tehran have nicknamed Rouhani and his entourage as the “New York Boys,” a faction of the Khomeinist regime that hopes to imitate Communist China under Deng Xiaoping by forging close ties with the US while maintaining the repressive one-party system at home. Their godfather has been and remains former President Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, a wheeler-dealer who first established secret contacts with Washington in 1984, triggering the “Irangate” scandal under President Reagan.

Since then, successive US administrations have pursued what has so far turned out to be a chimera: Helping the “moderates” led by Rafsanjani to eliminate “hard-liners” led by Khamenei, closing the chapter of the revolution.

During the past 150 years, how to balance hostile foreign powers against one another has been a key preoccupation of Iranian leaders. In the heyday of European Imperialism, Iranian elites were divided between Anglophiles and Russophiles: A choice between “pest” and “cholera.”

In the 1950s, as Britain faded and Russia re-emerged as the USSR, Iranian elites were divided between pro-Americans and pro-Soviets. Muhammad Mussadeq, who briefly served as prime minister, started as pro-American but ended up dreaming of what he called a “negative balance;” that is to say keeping both East and the West at an arm’s length. To deceive the Mussadeqists, with whom he had a tactical alliance against the Shah, the late Khomeini launched his slogan of “Neither East nor West.”

In practice, however, Khomeini regarded the US as the most dangerous enemy of his ideology and the Soviet Union as a far lesser threat. The reason was that, for many Iranians, America was attractive for cultural, scientific, economic and even political reasons while the USSR was unable to attract even Iranian Communists most of whom were Maoists, Trotskyites or Castrists.

Khomeini approved the attack on the US Embassy and the seizing of American hostages but vetoed similar moves against the Soviets.

Khamenei is aware of all that. This is why he decided to clip the wings of the “New York Boys” before it was too late. Last November, as the “New York Boys” were making a song and dance about their “nuke deal” with Obama, Russian President Vladimir Putin flew to Tehran, went straight to Khamenei’s palace and pointedly ignored Rouhani and Rafsanjani. It was after that meeting, described by Velayati as “epoch making,” that Khamenei coined the phrase “Looking to the East.”

Will Khamenei be able to contain the “New York Boys” in the context of a new anti-American axis with Russia? Tehran and Moscow share a number of objectives.

Both want to capitalize on the American retreat under Obama and make sure that the US doesn’t return to the regional scene as the decisive power. In that context they want to keep Bashar Assad in place in Syria, albeit in a pocket of territory, for as long as possible. They also want to consolidate the influence that Iran, and to a lesser extent Russia, have gained in Iraq and Lebanon.

In Moscow on Monday, Velayati spoke of Russia and Iran as “guarantors of peace and stability” in a vaguely defined region stretching from Central Asia to North Africa and the Atlantic Ocean. The trouble is that Russia is deeply unpopular in Iran while there are few Russians who have lost any love for Tehran.

Finally, mere anti-Americanism is not enough for building a new global strategy for either Russia or Iran. Khamenei’s “Looking East” is a failure even before it is translated into concrete policies.

Source: arabnews.com/columns/news/877056

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Racism against the Lebanese

By Qaiser Mutawea

Feb 8, 2016

Political tension between countries may leave its negative impact on their citizens, encouraging some to make unbecoming or racist statements against the other country and its people.

Intellectuals in every country should know that people in a country as a whole should not be blamed for the decision of its government or a group of politicians, especially when they are Arabs.

During the recent extraordinary meeting of the Arab League foreign ministers, Lebanon abstained from voting while expressing its solidarity with Saudi Arabia and condemning the Iranian aggression against the Kingdom’s embassy in Tehran and its consulate in Mashhad.

Activists on social media then called for the deportation of all Lebanese nationals from Saudi Arabia and other GCC countries. They highlighted the generosity shown by Saudi Arabia toward the Lebanese by opening its doors for them to work and make money but they did not reciprocate by expressing solidarity with the Kingdom. It was followed by several racist statements against the Lebanese people.

Even though the Lebanese government was not right in taking this unexpected decision, I am sure that many Lebanese would not support that. So it is not fair to make such racist remarks against the Lebanese who live and work among us for the wrong decision of their government.

We will not be surprised if such unbecoming statements had come from ordinary people, even though it should not happen. But the most shameful thing is that such woeful statements also come from our intellectuals, who should have set a good example for others.

This is not the first time such statements come from intellectuals against some foreign nationals who live among us because of the political stand of their governments. As a result of this attitude, some people and countries accuse us of racism. It is a fact that when racist statements are made in the West against Saudis and other Muslims we will be the first to condemn them and we accuse the individuals behind them as racists and rightist extremists who hate Islam and Muslims. But when our own people make such racist comments against other nationals nobody seems to be bothered.

When American presidential hopeful Donald Trump called for barring Muslims from the US, everyone of us including our intellectuals made a big hue and cry about it and we described it as one of the worst racist statements.

Those who condemned Donald Trump for his remarks branding all Muslims as terrorists do not see any problem with those calling for the deportation of all Lebanese from the Kingdom for the wrong stand of their government.

Saudi people are well known for their generosity and hospitality. Saudi Arabia has been playing a leading role to strengthen Arab unity and solidarity. But these strange statements and demands would definitely weaken Arab unity and cause cracks in their ranks. This is what our enemies want.

Source: saudigazette.com.sa/opinion/local-viewpoint/racism-against-the-lebanese/

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