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Books and Documents

Middle East Press (11 May 2018 NewAgeIslam.Com)



The Uprising of Arab Dignity By Sawsan Al Shaer: New Age Islam's Selection, 11 May 2018





New Age Islam Edit Bureau

11 May 2018

The Uprising of Arab Dignity

By Sawsan Al Shaer

Is War An Alternative To The Deal?

By Abdulrahman Al-Rashed

Iran And Israel On The Brink: What Will Stop Them?

By Yossi Mekelberg

Who Are The Winners And Losers From US Oil Sanctions On Iran?

By Wael Mahdi

Trump Decision to Nix Not Fix Iran Deal Ads to Transatlantic Tensions

By Andrew Hammond

Ballots, Bullets And Elections In Lebanon

By Makram Rabah

For Malaysia's Comeback 'Kid' Mahathir, Age Is Only A Number

By Praveen Menon

Compiled By New Age Islam Edit Bureau

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The Uprising of Arab Dignity

By Sawsan Al Shaer

10 May 2018

Just like what happened in Lebanon, the candidates of pro-Iranian parties in Iraq have begun to pay huge prices for keeping their positions of influence in their electoral seats after there haven’t been any rivals for years.

The candidates who presented the constituencies which Hezbollah controlled in Lebanon and current Iraqi candidates in constituencies controlled by parties that are loyal to Iran have complained of the violence facing them, like assaults and threats against them and their families.

Threats have even been publically made against the people of the entire constituency. This intimidation from pro-Iran parties is expected to continue in the upcoming elections in Bahrain as well.

Violence in Elections

In the past, some Bahraini constituencies were controlled by pro-Iran parties and it was unlikely that anyone would dare compete against them. It is likely that voters who oppose them will be terrorized if these parties call for boycotting the entire elections.

Candidates who are running against these parties may also be subject to violence if the latter decides to push its own candidates to participate in the elections. It is clear that violence has become inescapable within the constituencies that were once calm with only pro-Iran candidates presented in the previous legislative season.

Parties loyal to Iran used to boast and flaunt in the Arab world of their Iranian affiliations, raising the image of Khomeini and his entourage in public and in the street, defying the Arab people and authorities. However, they are now facing a reaction from the people even before that of the authorities, and the confrontation with the Shiite public even before the Sunnis, who are striking back twice as hard for their lies, hypocrisy and corruption.

Today, in those constituencies, an Arab popular uprising is occurring for the sake of Arab dignity. The Arab people are taking these treacherous people back to their dens from where they used to openly flaunt their treason.

Iran knows well that enabling its stooges in the Arab world has become an expensive exercise for the state and these parties. The honeymoon period with the United States, which facilitated free expansion, so to say, whether by arming groups to threaten the people of the region or through ideological intimidation, has ended.

The uprising against them and taking them back to their places of origin in is what ended their presence in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia. In Lebanon, Iraq, Syria and Yemen, resistance is in full swing to purge the region of the treason that has violated Arab countries in recent years.

Iran Floundering

Iran, which is drowning into its failing economy and into the general revolt within its territories, is forced to sink even further into the swamp of its expansion in the Arab region.

It must now provide its servants with more financial support and more weapons and assign them more experts to assist them in controlling their areas of influence in Syria, Yemen, Lebanon and Iraq. Now, it must confront the Bahraini, Saudi and Kuwaiti people, where these groups are trying to impose themselves on the political scene.

The Arab uprising against the stooges of Iran and its agents has expanded and now covers the Arab Maghreb. Contempt has started to spread against every agent of this Persian state, whether he be Sunni or Shiite as Iran supports the different facets of terrorism and the rebel militias; it supports al-Qaeda, the Polisario and Hamas.

The most important thing for Iran is to break national unity and weaken the state from within. Iran couldn’t care less about the doctrine, the religion or the belief of its militias as long as it threatens stability. The exposure of the Iranian project to the Arab people has revealed the motive all double agents and exposed the faces they’ve hidden behind for years and perhaps even decades.

Source: english.alarabiya.net/en/views/news/middle-east/2018/05/10/The-uprising-of-Arab-dignity-.html

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Is War An Alternative To The Deal?

By Abdulrahman Al-Rashed

10 May 2018

Remaining silent over the nuclear deal with Iran was the worst choice that resembled swallowing a blade.

Cancelling it was the least painful option, and it will not mean a rapid breakthrough and peace but it will diminish the Iranian regime that will try to rebel and threaten and intimidate the region’s countries by spreading more chaos and wars. We must realize that what is next will neither pass easily nor quickly.

So what’s to gain from scrapping the deal if it has consequences that will open more of the gates of hell? Withdrawing from the deal and reviving economic sanctions aim to put back the evil genie in the bottle and locking him up. It needs time and effort before we see any change in its behaviour.

Due to the danger which everyone sensed, and before the sanctions were even imposed, the toman lost one third of its value, Total withdrew from developing Iranian oil fields and the European Airbus company is talking about cancelling deals to sell airplanes which the Rouhani government were thrilled about and marketed as victory against its rivals.

Do not underestimate the crisis which Tehran’s government faces and the regime’s fears. The crisis may relapse on the domestic level and lead to domestic conflict among the regime powers and it may encourage the Iranian people to protest more. In the end, the result may be the collapse of the regime somehow!

A policy is required for the region’s countries to confront this wounded regime which will try to export its crisis and ignite more wars. Countries in the region did not seek to transfer war to make it within the regime and they did not fund foreign fronts against it.

Right to Defend

They also have no hand in the popular protests that are happening every week in more than one city. However, they have the right to defend their security and the region’s security by confronting the Iranian regime in Syria and Yemen and thwarting its project in Iraq and Lebanon.

The recent parliamentary elections’ results in Lebanon confirm that Tehran is progressing quickly to confront the region in every possible way. Liberating Lebanon, Syria and Iraq from Iranian domination and getting the Iranian regime out of Yemen are linked to besieging the regime economically and restraining it.

Confronting the Iranian regime revolves around several fronts such as thwarting its activities in war zones, making it pay a high price and standing with the Iranian people, who are fighting a peaceful war, and morally supporting them.

European countries, which want the nuclear deal but do not care about the price the region’s countries are paying must be pressured as they must take a stance to either be with us or with Iran since what the latter is doing targets the region’s regimes and stability.

The aim of confronting Europe is to send a clear message to Tehran and to further pressure the Iranian regime to know it must halt its activities if it wants to survive. Firing missiles on Riyadh, destroying border cities, killing 600,000 Syrians and inciting against the Palestinian Authority are tantamount to war that must be confronted.

Is there hope of peace after this dangerous escalation with Iran? The aim of escalation, pressure and boycott is to amend the regime’s behavior as changing it is up to the Iranian people who are better at judging it and confronting it if they decide to do so. We do not want to criticize the Iranian regime for its practices and follow suit by planting chaos and changing regimes.

Source: english.alarabiya.net/en/views/news/middle-east/2018/05/10/Is-war-an-alternative-to-the-deal-.html

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Iran And Israel On The Brink: What Will Stop Them?

By Yossi Mekelberg

May 10, 2018

In the early hours of Thursday morning, the much-anticipated Iranian missile launch on the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights took place. Ever since Israel increased its frequency of attacks on military bases in Syria — in particular those manned by Iranian forces and their Hezbollah allies — a few weeks ago, the clock counting down to an Iranian retaliation had been ticking.

Israeli security forces braced themselves for an attack, though the place, time and magnitude was unknown. When it eventually happened, 20 rockets were fired by Iran’s Quds Force — a special unit affiliated with the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps — at frontline Israeli posts in the Golan Heights. The rockets were all either intercepted or failed to cross the border between Israel and Syria. This represents a major failure for Iran in its ability to respond to Israel’s military operations against its installations in Syria.

Israel’s instant military response, striking from the air dozens of Iranian targets in Syria, leaves both countries on the brink of open hostilities. It remains to be seen whether they are capable of withdrawing from the brink of war, bearing in mind that Wednesday night was the first time that Iran had directly attacked Israel militarily, and that Israel openly admitted it targeted Iranian forces in its northeastern neighbor. This is a patent escalation that, without diplomatic intervention from the outside, might spiral out of control, especially in the extremely volatile Syrian context.

For the more than seven years since the conflict in Syria broke out, Tel Aviv had maintained a restrained approach toward developments there, limiting its intervention in the hostilities to situations only when it felt threatened. It was a conscientious decision, based on intelligence assessment, that Israel had nothing to gain from such an intervention and, even if it wanted to influence the situation there to serve its interests, it had no capacity to do so. It made a clear decision, which was relayed to its enemies across the border, that it would not tolerate the arming of Hezbollah by Iran with weapons that might endanger it, and it would respond militarily to any firing inside Israel from across the Syrian border. For most of the period since March 2011, the border was relatively calm and Israel could adhere to these red lines.

However, as the war in Syria raged on, the presence of Iranian military personnel in the country consistently increased. Toward the end of last year, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu explicitly asserted: “We will not allow (Iran) to entrench itself militarily in Syria, as it seeks to do, for the express purpose of eradicating our state.” The writing was on the wall for months, as Israel has increasingly become unnerved by the Iranian presence in Syria; the growing military capabilities of Hezbollah in Lebanon, enabled by their patrons in Tehran; and by Iranian support for the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas. Israel under Netanyahu is a country with a siege mentality, even without seeing Iran in almost every direction it looks. With it, its sense of strategic claustrophobia multiplied.

It is impossible to separate the confrontation between Iran and Israel in Syria, and potentially in Lebanon, from the broader strategic picture, especially the Iran nuclear deal and US President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from the agreement earlier this week. In the mind of Israeli strategists, and especially the current Israeli government, Iran is an existential threat that has to be contained. From their perspective, the only way to do so was to abolish the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action and, in the longer term, bring regime change to Tehran. Netanyahu has been advocating for this objective for years. For him, Trump’s decision was an exoneration of his long-held position.

Moreover, from the magnitude of the air force attack on Iranian forces and dozens of Iranian installations — including intelligence and logistics sites around Damascus, munitions warehouses, and observation and military posts — it is clear Israel had prepared for this operation for quite some time and was just waiting for the opportunity to present itself. Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman asserted that the Israeli army had hit “nearly all the Iranian infrastructure in Syria” and that “they must remember that if it rains here (in Israel), it will pour there.”

Lieberman further stated: “I hope that we have finished this chapter and that everyone got the message.” Similarly, Netanyahu, who this week visited Moscow for meetings with President Vladimir Putin, insisted on the right of Israel to take any necessary steps to stop Iran from “attacking the state of Israel as part of their strategy to destroy the state of Israel.” One suspects that Putin gave the green light to Israel’s comprehensive attacks; otherwise it would have been a massive diplomatic insult and embarrassment had this happened behind his back, especially in a place where Russia has vital interests, a substantial military presence and involvement in the conflict.

Support for Israel also came from Washington, underlining Iran’s isolation. However, there must be a call for calm and caution.

Iran’s leaders suffered a double blow this week, with the US withdrawal from the nuclear deal and Israel’s military operation in Syria, which exposed its vulnerability. It might be the case that, in recent years, while the focus was on Iran’s pursuit of nuclear capability, the international community neglected to notice its pursuit of regional hegemony through more conventional means.

Events this week injured Iran economically, military and its pride suffered a major blow, but this could spell danger too, as it still has the military capabilities to respond. Moreover, it might embolden those more radical voices in the regime over the pragmatic ones, represented by President Hassan Rouhani and Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif.

The way forward should involve a concerted effort by the international community, including the UN Security Council, aimed at preventing further escalation. In the long run, it is imperative to explore peaceful means to reduce tensions between Iran and the region, otherwise what we witnessed on Thursday could be the prologue to another protracted and bloody conflict in the Middle East — and maybe beyond.

Source: arabnews.com/node/1300311

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Who Are The Winners And Losers From US Oil Sanctions On Iran?

By Wael Mahdi

May 10, 2018

It seems clear that all producers will benefit from rising prices following the decision of US President Donald Trump this week to impose sanctions on Iranian oil exports within 180 days. Conversely, it would be reasonable to expect that consuming nations will suffer from high oil prices.

But in reality things could be different depending on the development of events. Not all oil producers will benefit in the same way and not all consumers will be affected in the same way. Similarly, not all international oil companies will benefit or lose in the same way.

So who are the real winners from the renewed sanctions on Iranian oil and who are the losers? And why are the sanctions this time different from the last round of sanctions that were imposed in the summer of 2012?

Starting with the second question, the dynamics in the market differ greatly from the previous situation. In 2012, demand was not very strong and there was no excess supply in the market to replace Iranian crude.

Iran mainly produces medium and heavy-density crude oil with a high sulfur content, otherwise known as sour crude. Not all producers can supply this type of crude, and most of the medium and heavy excess capacity is in the Gulf region, in countries such as Saudi Arabia and Iraq.

The growth in world oil demand in 2012 was about 800,000 barrels per day (bpd), largely unchanged on the previous year, as US oil demand moved from deep contraction to minor growth, according to OPEC estimates at the time.

The supply picture was different, with output from outside the group not growing greatly, despite oil prices trading at above $100 that year. Non-OPEC’s supply growth was projected at 500,000 bpd in 2012 with gains from US and Canada, according to the organization’s estimates. OPEC at that time had a production ceiling of 30 million bpd.

The supply and demand situation in 2012 was reflected in pricing dynamics. Due to the lack of enough medium and heavy spare capacity, the gap in prices between Dubai crude oil, which represents Gulf heavy sour grades, and Brent oil, which represents medium-sweet grades, narrowed to record lows in that year following the embargo on Iranian shipments. This was because the value of medium and heavy grades went up due to scarcity.

The price spread between Brent and WTI widened greatly, as the US was not exporting crude oil and most shipments to Asia came from Brent-linked crude grades or Brent itself. By the end of 2012, the Brent-WTI spread reached $24.

Today, the dynamics of the market are totally different. Fundamentals are healthy and there is abundant crude in the market — mainly sweet and light oil. This time around, it is not hard to replace an Iranian shipment, even from within OPEC, as many countries — including Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the UAE — have invested in adding capacity.

According to OPEC’s latest monthly report, oil demand in 2018 might grow by 1.63 million bpd, twice the amount in 2012. Growth in supply from outside OPEC this year is around 1.71 million bpd, more than three times that in 2012.

Meanwhile the Dubai-Brent spread, which now stands at $4 per barrel, is expected to narrow later in the year and early in 2019, as the value of Dubai might rise. As for the Brent-WTI spread, the former is trading now at a premium of $6 to WTI.

The only significant difference is that OPEC and some non-OPEC producers have an agreement to cut production as oil prices now trade at little more than half their levels in 2012. If the sanctions on Iranian crude result in the end of that agreement, there will be a flood of medium and heavy grades in the market and any sanctions on Iranian crude will not affect the balance of the market.

Saudi Arabia alone can increase production by another 500,000 to 1 million bpd in a short period. But this is unlikely, given the Kingdom’s close coordinations since last year with Russia and others to balance the market; therefore the responsibility for increasing supply is likely to be shared by a wide group of producers.

It is hard to tell whether the new sanctions will spell the end of the OPEC plus agreement. Oil prices are not yet at the level where producers in the agreement want them to be, as they are not yet high enough to bring back lost investments in the industry. So the deal might continue but with a new distribution of the quotas of producers.

Another important difference with the situation in 2012 is that the US now has enough capacity to replace Iranian condensates to Asia due to the increased production of shale oil and gas from areas such as the Permian and Eagle Ford. Back in 2012, it was hard to replace Iranian condensates — a form of a very light oil.

With all of this in mind, who will be the winners and losers from the new sanctions on Iran? US oil companies are in a better position to benefit more than OPEC countries, while refiners in Asia and Europe will suffer when they look for new sources of supply. This is for two reasons.

First, such refiners will need to get some oil that is priced based on Brent. Second, some refiners will lose the discounts and the long billing cycles that Iran usually offers to its customers to compete with other Gulf producers.

Another source of concern for refiners is the refining margin. The shift in use of other type of crudes that are not configured by the refineries will change the economics, and may shrink the profits made from refining each barrel. For the US refiners, there is not much to fear. But for EU and Asian refiners the margins will be a big concern next year.

OPEC will no doubt think about these issues in its next ministerial meeting in June but there are many challenges. First, distributing Iranian market share is not going to be easy, and selling crude at reasonable discounts and pricing to Iran’s customers is a delicate marketing issue.

Second, whenever there is a void in the market, everyone will try to sell more crude. This may result in cheating by some members of the agreement.

What is almost certain is that OPEC and non-OPEC allies are interested in keeping the agreement because it results in higher oil prices. And as oil prices are expected to increase next year, although not greatly, producers will need to balance the market and make sure they do not jeopardize the balance of the market.

But will the sanctions work this time? This really depends on the role that the EU plays. Last time it was not the embargo that hurt Iranian oil exports but the withdrawal of EU insurers from insuring Iranian tankers that made customers unwilling to buy Iranian oil.

Source: arabnews.com/node/1300306/business-economy

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Trump Decision to Nix Not Fix Iran Deal Ads to Transatlantic Tensions

By Andrew Hammond

May 10, 2018

In a landmark foreign policy decision, Donald Trump announced on Tuesday that he will not recertify the Iran nuclear deal. However, he was immediately contradicted by Emmanuel Macron, Theresa May and Angela Merkel, who declared their nations would not merely remain signatories to the agreement, but would also work “collectively on a broader framework” with Tehran in 2018 and beyond.

Indeed, it is the clash between the United States and the EU on this issue that is most striking, setting the scene for significant transatlantic tensions in the coming weeks, not least with separate bilateral battles over trade issues also in the offing.

Of course, deep US-European discord over Tehran is not unprecedented as, in the 1990s, significant disagreements surfaced when Washington adopted legislation — including the Iran and Libya Sanctions Act — which punished European firms for doing business in those countries. In response, Brussels agreed reciprocal steps to protect European businesses and adopt counter-measures against the US where restrictions were imposed by Washington.

A similar pattern may now play out following Trump’s decision. It is clear the US president feels strongly about the Iran issue, saying that the agreement is “a great embarrassment” and “a giant fiction,” given that “we cannot prevent an Iranian nuclear bomb under the decaying, rotten structure of the current agreement.”

Aside from Trump’s concern that Tehran could still get an atomic weapon under the deal, he has also repeatedly flagged Tehran’s misbehavior that is not addressed by the 2015 deal, including the ongoing development of ballistic missiles and interventions in Arab countries like Iraq, Syria and Yemen. On all these points, the president has the strong support of several Middle Eastern countries, including Israel and Saudi Arabia, who welcomed Tuesday’s announcement.

Even in the two days since Trump's announcement, the list of grievances the White House has asserted against Iran has been added to by the latter's rocket attacks from Syria on Israeli army bases in the Golan Heights, and Washington has issued a strong statement of support for Israel's right to act in self-defence. The latest Iranian offensive and Israeli retaliation has raised fears of further Middle Eastern destabilization and possible conflict. Syrian President Bashar Assad has said the current situation is "something more than a Cold War" but not yet a "full-blown war."  

Given Trump’s rhetoric, it appears unlikely he will row back from his decision, although Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on Tuesday that Washington “will continue to work with our allies to build an agreement that is truly in the best interest of our long-term national security.” The practical import of Trump’s announcement is that he will no longer renew the waiver on sanctions, which will now be re-imposed on key sectors, including energy and petrochemicals. This will not immediately lead to the imposition of sanctions. Instead, those companies doing business in Iran have a period of time to, potentially, wind down operations there.

Following Trump’s decision, the ball is now in Europe’s court and the indications are that the continent’s leaders want to try and preserve the deal. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani also said on Tuesday that Tehran might not pull out of the agreement if the other signatories (not just France, the UK and Germany but also China and Russia) remain committed to its terms. At the same time, however, he warned that he has instructed the country’s atomic energy agency to prepare to restart the enrichment of uranium in a few weeks’ time should the deal collapse entirely.

Not only does Europe want to make the deal work, but Macron again indicated that France, Germany and the UK “will work collectively on a broader framework, covering nuclear activity, the post-2025 period, ballistic activity, and stability in the Middle-East, notably Syria, Yemen, and Iraq” to try to address what many European leaders regard as Trump’s legitimate concerns in these areas — but by building on the 2015 accord, rather than ditching it.

Yet there is no doubting that European leaders are disheartened over Trump’s decision, which comes after high-level lobbying in Washington from Macron, Merkel and UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson in recent weeks. While Merkel and Johnson made no apparent headway, there were signs when Macron met Trump of potential compromise.

While EU decision-makers have been reluctant to be too explicit in public on this issue, many have been scenario planning for weeks. Former UK Foreign Secretary Jack Straw has argued that it will be possible for the continent to continue to trade with Iran by blocking any US sanctions on European firms that do business with Tehran.

Despite this precedent, the re-imposed US sanctions could yet critically undermine European attempts to preserve the Iran agreement. For instance, it may only be European firms with little or no economic interest in the US that prove likely to want to trade with Iran given the potential risks of doing so, including fines from the US Treasury.

Taken overall, transatlantic tensions will now jump again following Trump’s decision over Tehran and this could make for a tricky G7 summit next month. While Europe will seek to preserve the agreement with Tehran, its future is precarious.

Source: arabnews.com/node/1300301

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Ballots, Bullets and Elections in Lebanon

By Makram Rabah

10 May 2018

The spring season is commonly celebrated by most people as a time for prosperity and glee. However, for the people of Lebanon, particularly the natives of the capital Beirut, the month of May has often been calamitous.

On May 7 2008, Hezbollah and its allies launched a full-scale military attack to topple the government of PM Fouad Siniora and occupy Beirut, a failed coup that paved the way for the Doha Accord and the political settlement that ensued.

Ironically, Ten years after their failed military venture, Hezbollah and their allies were able to subjugate the Lebanese state by sweeping the parliamentary elections that took place over the weekend.

Yet to many heedless observers these recent election, which came after nine years of hiatus, is merely a reaffirmation of Hezbollah’s natural standing within its Shiite setting as well a natural progression of his Christian allies, President Michel Aoun and the Free Patriotic Movement- FPM.

However, followers of this school deliberately elect to disregard that this supposed democratic showing of Hezbollah and its allies at the polls was mainly due to two essential factors.

First the proportional electoral law and the gerrymandering of districts which Hezbollah itself sanctioned was crafted to specifically undercut their opponents and to ultimately weaken and enclose PM Saad Hariri their main Sunni opponent.

Second, despite Hezbollah’s claims that the electoral process within their areas was democratic and exemplary, their highhanded and bullish dealings with their electoral opponents and accusations of electoral fraud were key for their landslide victory.

Transcending The Obvious

Be that as it may, this simple election transcend the obvious, as it not only gave Hezbollah a firm hold over the Lebanese state, but also brought many of Syria’s allies back to parliament. Accordingly this will allow Hezbollah to step back and allow their their Syrian cronies to advance the forefront to bully a politically feeble Saad Hariri as well as any factions who wishes to opposes their supposed axis of resistance.

Rather than admit to this bleak reality, Saad Hariri instead opted to spin his electoral blunder as a victory for his faction, whose seats went down from 35 to 21 seats. Yet Hariri declared that his adversaries had failed to dethrone him as head of the Sunni community, a fact reflected through the polls.

While this deduction might be essentially true, Hezbollah’s main objective was indeed to check Hariri’s cross national representation to the Sunni’s or more accurately to a portion of them, forcing him to concede a seat or two in his next cabinet to his Sunni opponents, most of whom are within Iran and Syria’s sphere of influence.

This aforementioned scenario is highly likely given that Hariri seems adamant on continuing to honour the Faustian deal he had concluded with President Aoun and his son-in-law the over-ambitious Gibran Basil, the current; leader of the FPM.

Antagonizing International Community

Consequently, by agreeing to form a national unity government, which will house Hezbollah and its Syrian allies, Hariri would further antagonize the international community as well as the Arab world, who are already weary of Lebanon’s inability to honour its disassociation pledge and prevent Hezbollah from using the country to pursue Iran’s regional goals.

Over the last three months, Hariri and his government have approached the international community, both at the Rome and the Paris conference, to demand financial and security assistance, a request that many of Lebanon’s friends happily obliged.

Yet many of these pledges rested on a firm commitment from both Hariri and Aoun to see through a number of structural economic reform and more importantly reach a clear national defence strategy, which will ultimately seal the controversial issue of Hezbollah’s weapons.

While Hezbollah at the time refrained from responding to Hariri’s wishful pledges, Nasrallah victory speech soon nipped them in the bud as he arrogantly declared that this is a major political, parliamentarian and moral victory for the choice of the resistance," thus placing both Hezbollah and its arsenal outside the realm of discussion, now and in the future.

Trump’s withdrawal from the Iranian nuclear deal, and the possible backlash it will create with Israel, can only plunge Lebanon further into chaos, especially if Nasrallah chooses to use his weapons recklessly.

The Lebanese parliamentary elections and its subsequent result must not be taken lightly, not merely because of Hezbollah victory but rather because it offers a perfect model of how Iran and its agents across the region, continue to use both bullets and ballots to expand and secure the Tehran-Beirut corridor.

A corridor that Saad Hariri, if he does chose to form the next cabinet would be only guarding Iran’s access to the Mediterranean , placing Lebanon’s political and economic future in peril.

Source: english.alarabiya.net/en/views/news/middle-east/2018/05/10/Ballots-bullets-and-elections-in-Lebanon.html

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For Malaysia's Comeback 'Kid' Mahathir, Age Is Only A Number

By Praveen Menon

May 10, 2018

The right timing and the right alliance against a corrupt government helped pull off a surprise victory

Malaysia's Mahathir Mohamad has neverlost an election campaign. He maintained that record and created another one on Thursday when, at 92, he was sworn in as the world's oldest elected leader.

"Yes, yes, I am still alive," a sprightly looking Mahathir said at a 3am news conference in which he claimed victory over the Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition that has ruled the Southeast Asian nation since independence six decades ago.

Mahathir led the coalition as Malaysia's prime minister for 22 years, starting in 1981. As one of the country's most eminent leaders, he was pugnacious, uncompromising and intolerant of dissent, but turned

Malaysia from a sleepy backwater into one of the world's modern industrialised nations.

He was never far from the headlines in retirement, and two years ago he came back to active politics, this time in the ranks of the opposition, vowing to oust his protege Najib Razak from the prime minister's chair over a financial scandal at the state investment fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).

In his crusade, Mahathir eventually quit the ruling United Malay National Organisation (UMNO) party, which he had helped build, and ceded all his government advisory roles.

"During his time, I was a strong opponent of Mahathir," said Joseph Paul, 70, a retired social worker who joined thousands of people in the capital Kuala Lumpur to celebrate Mahathir's win.

"Well, politics they say is the art of the possible, so if he comes in to get rid of another evil, why not?"

Official results early on Thursday showed that Mahathir's Pakatan Harapan (Alliance of Hope) had won 113 of parliament's 222 seats, clinching the simple majority required to rule in the country's most stunning election result.

In his earlier stint as prime minister, Mahathir's aggressive diplomacy needled countries like Britain and the United States, with comments such as one, on the eve of his retirement, that Jews ruled the world by proxy.

He was once described as a "menace to his country" by financier George

Soros, whom Mahathir famously derided as a "moron" in an attack on foreign currency traders during the Asian financial crisis of 1998.

He also spent years squabbling with his old rival and another towering figure in Asian politics, the late Singapore leader Lee Kuan Yew. Mahathir grew up in the rural heartland of Malaysia, then a British colony, witnessing severe food shortages during the 1930s Great Depression.

Mahathir was a medical doctor before becoming Malaysia's fourth prime minister in 1981 and kicking off a mission of modernisation.

Bridges and six-lane highways crisscrossed Malaysia in his development blitz, capped off with a lavish new administrative capital, and the world's tallest structure when it was built, the 88-storey Petronas twin towers in the capital, Kuala Lumpur.

The activity helped win Mahathir the title "Father of Modern Malaysia," but he was known for his strong-arm rule, although he fell short of some southeast Asian peers in ruthlessness.

Mahathir used security laws to put his political opponents behind bars. His critics say he restricted free speech and persecuted political opponents - none more so than his former deputy, Anwar

Ibrahim, who remains in jail on charges of sodomy and corruption.

Mahathir has joined hands with Anwar in this campaign and has promised to seek a royal pardon for him. He has vowed to then step aside and let Anwar be prime minister.

Mahathir was masterly in playing to the feelings of the mainly Muslim ethnic Malay majority. His 1970 book, "The Malay Dilemma", argued that ethnic Malays, whom he called the nation's rightful owners, were being eclipsed economically by ethnic Chinese.

Faced with a leadership challenge after just five years in office, Mahathir detained more than 100 opposition politicians, academics and social activists without trial, under internal security laws.

During the 1998 Asian financial crisis, he took a huge gamble in tackling twin economic and political crises by sacking Anwar and then going against the advice of the International Monetary Fund to impose capital and currency controls that saved the economy.

Anwar took on Mahathir, turning overnight into an opposition politician, bringing tens of thousands of people onto the streets, shouting "Reformasi".

Anwar was later charged with sodomy and corruption, but Mahathir denied orchestrating the charges. After his release, he was jailed again during Najib's rule on the same charges.

Mahathir continued to wield power in UMNO even after he handed over in 2003. He backed Najib, the son of Malaysia's second prime minister, as the premier in 2009.

But in 2015 he urged Najib to step down over the corruption scandal at state fund 1MDB.

In an interview in March, he said he would keep up the battle against Najib even if he lost this election.

"I will be in my late 90s and physically not as strong," he said. "But if I am well enough, I will continue the struggle." He also seems to have accepted he made mistakes in rule, writing in a blog post in January that people and the media never failed to point out he presided over an authoritarian government for 22 years.

"Looking back now, I realise why, as Prime Minister of Malaysia I was described as a dictator," Mahathir wrote. "There were many things I did which were typically dictatorial."

Source: khaleejtimes.com/editorials-columns/for-malaysias-comeback-kid-mahathir-age-is-only-a-number

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URL: http://www.newageislam.com/middle-east-press/new-age-islam-edit-bureau/the-uprising-of-arab-dignity-by-sawsan-al-shaer--new-age-islam-s-selection,-11-may-2018/d/115212




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