Islam Edit Bureau
Has a New Chance for Peace
Abdrabbu Mansour Hadi
By Dr. Khaled
That Changed the Face of the Region
Middle East Needs Saudi-Iranian Rapprochement
Spring: Unreformed Policing Hampers Transitions
Lives Do Matter
By New Age Islam Edit Bureau
a New Chance for Peace
their truce is honoured in the breach, the fact that two sides in any conflict
have agreed, generally through a third party, to cease fighting for just a
temporary period, has to be a cause for hope.
between the Yemeni government of Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi and the Iranian-backed
Houthi insurgents is therefore to be welcomed, however fragile. The United
Nations has brokered the ceasefire and tentative peace talks are to be held in
Kuwait later this month.
Saudi-led coalition of Gulf States, which saved the legitimate government of
Yemen from imminent defeat and has thrown back the rebels from Aden, is of
course backing this search for peace. President Hadi has made it clear that his
forces and their allies reserve the right to respond to any breaches in the
ceasefire by the Houthi. Past agreements for the guns to fall silent have
tragically failed because of the bad faith of the insurgents.
is a sense that this truce may be more enduring. The reason is not hard to see.
The rebels are split and dejected. While it is true that they still hold the
capital Sanaa, there is no disguising the truth that their uprising has failed.
They believed the assurances of their Iranian sponsors and have paid a terrible
price for their gullibility.
within the Houthi leadership, which emerged almost immediately that the Kingdom
launched Operation Decisive Storm last year, have become increasingly apparent.
Some Houthi notables continue to insist that theirs is a rebellion that can
still succeed. But it is now apparent that more and more ordinary insurgents
understand that they face only more defeat, death and destruction. There is a
sense that they were conned by the Iranians into a rebellion over issues, which
could have been resolved peaceably through negotiation. There is also growing
anger against those leaders who insist that the fight must go on.
understandably ordinary Houthis are increasingly asking themselves why they
should continue to try and defy the Hadi government and the might of its
Saudi-led Gulf allies. There seems to be an ever-greater appreciation that this
is not really their war but Iran’s war, except that they, the Houthis, are the
ones doing the fighting and dying, not the Iranians. It can be expected that
hard-line Houthis, rather than face the inevitable outcome of the Kuwait
negotiations, will do what they can to undermine the truce. Indeed, they
probably will not even dare wait until the UN-staged peace talks begin. It is
one of the tragedies of so many Houthis, that their leaders rely on duping them
into taking up arms, while they themselves seize whatever they can of the many
opportunities to prosper financially from the conflict., while staying well
clear of the dangerous fighting.
in Kuwait will clearly be that only by accepting the UN Security Council demand
to give up the territory they have seized, can the Houthi expect peace. Their
rebellion has brought massive destruction to one of the world’s poorest
countries. What Yemen needs now is the security and stability that will enable
it to rebuild and recover. Saudi Arabia and its Gulf allies have already
committed to playing a crucial role in that reconstruction program. But it is
absolutely clear that for that to happen, today’s truce must be converted
rapidly into tomorrow’s lasting peace.
Khaled M. Batarfi
what you’d say! So let me start by saying: Egypt is the biggest Arab country in
term of population (90m). So is Indonesia (200m), but we are not as interested.
Ok, I see it coming … you’d say Egypt is an Arab neighbor, sister and all. I
can count other Arab countries and good neighbors in need of our attention,
too. So why Egypt?” asked my vocal student.
have taught our young more about Egypt. They have missed a lot about the
historical journey we had with her. So, I had to explain what schools had not
start 14 centuries ago, when our Prophet, peace be upon him, sent a letter to
the King of Egypt telling him about his prophecy and inviting him to Islam. The
King honoured the messenger of the Prophet and his message. He sent valuable
gifts, including a doctor and an Egyptian woman, Maria. The Prophet (pbuh)
married her and she gave him a son, Ibrahim. Since then, the land of the Two
Holy Mosques and the land of the Great Nile, were eternally joined.
bond became stronger when Caliph Omar ruled Egypt, and the Pharaoh Land became
a minaret of Islamic enlightenment. Al-Azhar University (972 AD) has trained
millions of scientist and scholars, for over 1,000 years.
teachers were the first to support our education drive, and Egyptian talents
helped our development in every phase, area and direction.
assisted in managing hospitals, factories, construction companies and civil
institutions. Our media, art and cultural organizations were built and
maintained with their aid. Till today, over a million Egyptian guest workers
are playing a pivotal role in our growth.
economy might be down in recent years, but it still is the reservoir of human
resources. Where, if not in Egypt, would we find Arab talents in every
specialty and profession?
Egypt, as much as they need us. Together we are the wings of the Arab nation,
without which we cannot fly. United, we could unite our Ummah and face our
enemies. We cannot afford to let Egypt go the way of Syria, Iraq, Libya and
world is in chaos. Iran is spreading hate, war and destruction.
US-supported Arab Spring had finished what is left and brought us insecurity
and disunity. We cannot afford to lose what is left standing.
finally getting out of its maze. The new leadership is bringing the country
back to economic viability and Arab solidarity. Now, more than any time before,
we need to stand shoulder to shoulder and hand in hand with our Egyptian
brethren to bring order, peace and security to our firestorm-stricken region.”
was mulling over my long and crowded answer to his question. I appreciated his
consideration and went on with my class. A week later, he came back with more
questions and comments. This time, he did his homework and researched his
subject. Most questions were now about the agreements Saudi and Egyptian
governments have signed during King Salman’s current visit to Egypt. My
answers, it seems, changed his perception.
summer holidays, he proudly announced, would be in Egypt.
article “Saudi soft power vs. Zion-Iran media,” has generated a heated
discussion, like the following comments. Your participation, dear readers, is
— As an
Algerian, I would like to thank you for your appreciation of us during the
Saudi Cultural Week in Algeria, 1984. What you saw then is the true good
feelings we have towards our Saudi brethren. I can assure you that all of us
are standing hand in hand with you in defence of our holy lands. We are with
you through good and bad times. We encourage you to conduct more exhibitions
about Saudi Arabia in Arab and Muslim countries and the rest of the world. —
Dr. Ali Faghmous
— Being a
Pakistani, I have an objection. You wrote: When the Imam of Haram Sharif leads
the prayer in Bangladesh, India and Indonesia, millions follow him. True, but
you failed to mention Pakistan – the No. 1 ally of Saudi Arabia. Pakistanis are
ready to go to any extent to serve and defend the holy land. You should never
give priority to India over Pakistan. — Mohammad S. Khattak
— You wrote
“…Iran, Israel and Islam’s enemies are using all their propaganda tools to win
the argument…” I felt you had an obvious hate towards Iran I am an Iranian
drama student and your article raised a serious question for me: Why you think
Iranian people are your enemy? Because as an Iranian, I love Arabian culture
and civilization. — Davoud Zarif
announcement to build the King Salman Bridge between Saudi Arabia and Egypt is
the most important Arab decision since World War II.” This was the message I
received from an Algerian colleague on Saudi Arabia’s King Salman’s visit to
This is not
just an important visit but the most important meeting between two Arab leaders
as several significant decisions have been made.
delegation accompanying King Salman on his five-day visit to Egypt included
Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, 14 ministers, six high-ranking
officials and more than 20 princes.
decisions taken included demarcating the maritime borders. More than 20
agreements have been reached apart from the projects which will involve both the
government and the private sector.
Arabia and Egypt are the Arab nation’s two poles. They unify and bring Arab
countries together thus pleasing friends and displeasing enemies
visit, the Saudi king also addressed the Egyptian parliament, visited al-Azhar
University and met with Egyptian Coptic Orthodox Pope Tawadros II.
these Saudi-Egyptian agreements were reached in the presence of Sheikh Tahnoun
bin Zayed, the United Arab Emirates’ national security advisor, and Marzouq
al-Ghanim, the speaker of the Kuwaiti National Assembly. This demonstrates that
Gulf countries stand with Riyadh in support of Egypt.
made by the Saudi-Egyptian coordination council have yielded results in this
longest visit of a Saudi king to a country. This visit has also been the most
important in the region’s history.
Arabia and Egypt are the Arab nation’s two poles. They unify and bring Arab
countries together thus pleasing friends and displeasing enemies. To show how
valuable Egypt is to the Saudis, it is enough to recall King Salman’s tweet
upon his arrival to Cairo.
a special place in my heart. We, in the Saudi Kingdom, are proud of it and of
our strategic relationship which is significant to the Arab and Muslim worlds.
May God protect Egypt and its people,” he said.
Why The Middle
East Needs Saudi-Iranian Rapprochement
Iranian clergyman living in the West recently told me US Secretary of State
John Kerry told him he was willing to visit Tehran.
that I would be happier to hear that the Saudi foreign minister wanted to visit
Tehran - that would be more helpful given the regional situation. While a visit
by Kerry is possible, it certainly would not happen in the near future.
implementation of the nuclear deal is the biggest challenge for the government
of President Hassan Rowhani, and most Iranians blame Washington for the
rapprochement following the deal has been dashed by the supreme leader and his
supporters, who believe the United Sates poses the biggest threat to them.
mentality, and confrontational behaviour toward Iran’s neighbours, achieving
meaningful diplomatic progress over Yemen and Syria looks difficult. Last week,
Kerry called on Tehran to help bring peace to both countries, but what help can
Rowhani give when he is under pressure from hardliners? His priorities are
implementing the nuclear deal and improving the economy.
everyone wants an end to the bloodshed in Syria and Yemen, there are no direct
contacts between Iran and Saudi Arabia - both major regional players - to
discuss these issues
and its Western allies can help Iran play a productive regional and
international role by boosting its economy. However, they cannot influence its
relations with countries in the region amid mutual animosity and accusations of
meddling in each other’s internal affairs.
on buying Iranian oil have been lifted, but there is little room in the market
if Saudi Arabia will not decrease production. Iran’s oil minister has vowed to
increase production, but this will drive prices down, to the detriment of both
everyone wants an end to the bloodshed in Syria and Yemen, there are no direct
contacts between Iran and Saudi Arabia - both major regional players - to
discuss these issues, since Riyadh severed ties in January following attacks
against its diplomatic missions in Iran.
peace is unlikely without both countries resolving their differences. They have
never had excellent relations, not even during the shah’s reign, but at least
there was mutual understanding and respect at the time.
11 Apr 2016
anniversary of the uprisings that challenged autocratic rulers in six Arab
states in 2011 has generated many retrospective reflections.
commentators insist that analysis of ongoing social and political processes
cannot be reduced to simple "success or failure", as these terms
understate the transformation of every dimension of the region's politics.
conclude that the uprisings and their aftermath should be re-labelled an Arab
Winter, rather than Spring. Instead of delivering on hopes for political reform
and social justice, most governments have responded with "more war and
violence", as Amnesty International summarised it, "and a crackdown
on people who dare to speak out for a fairer, more open society".
repression of dissent stands in stark contrast to the eruption of pent-up anger
in 2011, which focused on abusive police forces and internal security services.
most thoughtful commentators agree that authoritarian rule has intensified in
all cases except Tunisia, they also note the severely degraded institutional
cohesion and capacity that is bringing into question the resilience and very
survival of several Arab Spring states - and of others that underwent earlier
forms of transition following armed conflict and occupation.
political structures are more closed to dialogue and their coercive agencies
harsher than ever, blocking any meaningful reforms, but the states they run are
also more brittle.
legitimacy is determined by its ability to repress political or social actors
that are seen as threatening ... resulting in a restoration of authoritarian
the connection between intensified authoritarianism and state brittleness more
evident than in what we loosely label policing: law enforcement and the
maintenance of public order.
along with the related formal criminal justice system, was already in serious
disrepair even before 2011, but has degenerated far further amid tumultuous
challenge now is to rebuild and reform security sectors - police, security, and
paramilitary agencies and others such as customs departments - that have
retreated into sullen passivity or else retrenched in aggressive hostility
towards citizens and activists.
generic frameworks through which Western governments and international
organisations conventionally approach the task are inadequate.
heavily on providing security sectors with technical training, management
skills, codes of conduct, and procedural rules to ensure "democratic governance"
and "civilian oversight" through financial transparency and legal and
outcomes are indisputably desirable, but remain highly nebulous in practice.
overwhelming emphasis on technical approaches risks improving the security
sector's ability to deploy coercive tactics and equipment more efficiently,
while reducing still further any incentives to comply with the rule of law and
respect human and citizens' rights.
context in which the social contract, national identity, and the state itself
are broken or being renegotiated - often amid intervention by regional and
international powers - the very nature and purpose of policing, which is a
defining function of modern states, are in doubt.
of dilemmas stand in the way of security sector reform.
is "hyperpoliticisation": Every aspect of transition becomes a
zero-sum contest between rival political camps, paralysing governance.
numbers of citizens, government legitimacy is determined by its ability to
repress political or social actors that are seen as threatening - rather than
on its readiness to deliver democracy, rule of law, and human rights -
resulting in a restoration of authoritarian practices.
result, violence becomes the "currency" through which both governance
and opposition are exercised.
financial cost of modernising and professionalising security sectors poses a
second, "political economy" dilemma.
grossly inflated security sectors affects unemployment negatively, adding to
social strains. But ending the extensive involvement of security sectors in
corruption and criminal economic activities poses a greater challenge.
trends evolved from more than two decades of crony economic liberalisation and
predatory privatisation, but have intensified sharply as transitions in Arab
states weakened regulatory frameworks and oversight mechanisms,
finally, Arab transitions have revealed the divergence of views and
expectations within society regarding the purpose of policing.
We think of
the police mainly as crime fighters and guardians of public peace in the
streets; but more important is their role in maintaining the dominant social
and economic order and curbing dissent.
breakdown of social contracts and manipulation of constitutional order has
deepened divergences within society over the values and moral economy to be
upheld by the police, and prompted growing resort to informal providers of
security and customary law, including so-called Islamic and tribal forms.
effective policing is crucial in order to rebuild social peace, resume economic
development and growth, and reintegrate deeply divided political systems and
broken state institutions - anchoring them in credible constitutional
these dilemmas show, divergences over what constitutes an acceptable social
order, moral economy, and shared national identity have become fundamental.
are bridged and enable genuinely reformed policing, Arab states in transition
are condemned to descend into ever deepening civil strife.
Jewish man, who joined large protests throughout Israel in support of a soldier
who calmly, and with precision killed a wounded Palestinian man in Al-Khalil
(Hebron), said, “Whether he made a mistake or not, is a trivial question.”
protesting Jewish man described Palestinians as “barbaric,” “bestial,” who
should not be perceived as people.
hardly a fringe view in Israel. The vast majority of Israelis, 68 percent,
support the killing of Abdel Fatah Yusri Al-Sharif, 21, by the soldier who had
reportedly announced before firing at the wounded Palestinian that the
“terrorist had to die.”
scene would have been relegated to the annals of the many “contested” killings
by Israeli soldiers, were it not for a Palestinian field worker with Israel’s
human rights group, B’Tselem, who filmed the bloody event.
incident, once more, highlights a culture of impunity that exists in the
Israeli Army, which is not a new phenomenon. Not only is Israeli society
supportive of the soldier behind this particular bloody incident, almost a vast
majority is in support of field executions as well.
the culture of impunity in Israel is linked both to political leanings and
religious beliefs. According to the latest Peace Index released by Tel Aviv
University’s Israel Democracy Institute, nearly 67 percent of the country’s
Jewish population believes that “it is a commandment to kill a terrorist who
comes at you with a knife”.
Palestinians as a form of religious duty goes back to the early days of the
Jewish state, and such beliefs are constantly corroborated by the country’s
high spiritual institutions, similar to the recent decree issued by the country’s
Chief Sephardic Rabbi, Yitzhak Yosef. While 94 percent of ultra-Orthodox agree
with the murder edict of Yosef, 52 percent of the country’s secularists do,
dehumanizing Palestinians — describing them as “beasts,” “cockroaches,” or
treating them as dispensable inferiors — has historically been a common
denominator in Israeli society, uniting Jews from various political,
ideological and religious backgrounds.
Yosef’s decree, for example, is not much different from statements made by Israeli
Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon and other army and government official, who made
similar calls, albeit without utilizing a strongly worded religious discourse.
same logic, the quote above describing Palestinians as beasts is not divergent from
a recent statement made by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. “At the
end, in the State of Israel, as I see it, there will be a fence that spans it
all,” Netanyahu said in February. “In the area that we live, we must defend
ourselves against the wild beasts,” he added.
pro-Israeli Pundits labour to explain the widespread Israeli perception of
Palestinians — and Arabs, in general — on rational grounds, logic and
commonsense continues to evade them. For instance, Netanyahu’s last war on Gaza
in the summer of 2014 killed a total of 2,251 Palestinians — including 1,462
civilians, among them 551 children, according to a report prepared by the UN
Human Rights Council. During that war, only six Israeli civilians were killed
and 60 soldiers. Who, then, is truly the “wild beast”?
Palestinians are not made into beasts because of their supposedly murderous
intent for, not once, statistically, in the history of the Palestinian-Israeli
conflict did Palestinians ever kill more Israelis, as opposed to the other way
round. The ailment is not the number, but a common Israeli cultural perception
that is utterly racist and dehumanizing.
Nor is the
Israeli perception of Palestinians ever linked to a specific period of time,
for example, a popular uprising or a war. Consider this eyewitness account from
August 2012, cited in the Israeli newspaper, Haaretz, years before the current
uprising in the West Bank and Jerusalem:
saw a lynch with my own eyes, in Zion Square, the center of the city of
Jerusalem … and shouts of ‘A Jew is a soul and Arab is a son of a —,’ were
shouted loudly and dozens of youths ran and gathered and started to really beat
to death three Arab youths who were walking quietly in the Ben Yehuda street,”
the witness wrote.
of the Palestinian youths fell to the ground, the youths continued to hit him
in the head; he lost consciousness, his eyes rolled, his angled head twitched,
and then those who were kicking him fled while the rest gathered around in a
circle, with some still shouting with hate in their eyes.”
this graphic account repeated, in different manifestations, every day in
Occupied Palestine, and consider this: Rarely does anyone pay a price for it.
Indeed, this is how Israel’s culture of impunity has evolved over the years.
to Israeli human rights group, Yesh Din, “approximately 94 percent of criminal
investigations launched by the IDF against soldiers suspected of criminal
violent activity against Palestinians and their property are closed without any
indictments. In the rare cases that indictments are served, conviction leads to
very light sentencing.”
And no one
is immune. Israel’s 972Mag wrote in December 2015 about the hundreds of violent
incidents of Israeli forces targeting Palestinian medical staff. Palestinian
rights group, Al-Haq, documented 56 cases in which “ambulances were attacked,”
and 116 assaults against medical staff while on duty.
violence meted out by illegal settlers whose population in the Occupied
Territories is constantly on the increase?
In case one
is still fooled by the “rational” argument used to justify the murder of
militarily occupied, oppressed and besieged Palestinians, Batzalel Smotrich,
from the Jewish Home Party, which is part of Netanyhu's ruling coalition,
protested via twitter that his wife was expected to give birth in the same
hospital room where Arab babies are born.
of Smotrich, and the majority of Israelis are morally blind to their own
wrongdoing. They have long been sold on the idea that Israel, despite its
brutality is a “villa in the jungle.” According to a recent Pew survey, nearly
half of Israelis want to expel Palestinians Arabs — Muslims and Christians,
from their ancestral homeland.
of impunity is not merely the lack of legal accountability, but the fact that
it is the very foundation of most violent crimes against humanity, including
genocide. This impunity began seven decades ago and it will not end without
international intervention, with concerted efforts to hold Israel accountable
in order to bring the agony of Palestinians to a halt.