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Indian Press (07 Nov 2017 NewAgeIslam.Com)

Why it will not be easy for Prince Salman to reform Saudi Arabia : New Age Islam’s Selection 07-11-2017

New Age Islam Edit Bureau


Nov 07, 2017

Saudi: Consolidating power

By Asian Age

A talk with Pakistan

By Gurmeet Kanwal

Carnage In Texas Church: 26 Killed, 20 Hurt

By S Rajagopalan

Compiled by New Age Islam Edit Bureau

URL: http://newageislam.com/indian-press/new-age-islam-edit-bureau/why-it-will-not-be-easy-for-prince-salman-to-reform-saudi-arabia---new-age-islam’s-selection-07-11-2017/d/113138



Why it will not be easy for Prince Salman to reform Saudi Arabia

By Hindustan Times

Nov 06, 2017

Saudi Arabia isn’t the first country that comes to mind when there’s talk of radical social and political change. Nor the second or even the tenth. A combination of a monarchy legitimised by an orthodox clergy and funded by the world’s largest reserve of accessible oil and gas has usually mitigated any desire for change. Little wonder then, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s aggressive push to upend the Wahhabi applecart surprised everyone. His plans to list Aramco, the trillion-dollar State-owned oil company, and encourage local entrepreneurship and employment were unremarkable. Then came his announcement that women would be allowed to drive cars, a move that raised eyebrows. Now comes what is effectively a purge of the Saudi ruling establishment -- the arrest of 10 princes of the blood including billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, four ministers, and dozens of former senior officials . To be sure, this could be the heir to the throne consolidating his position, but it could also be a sign that the crown prince wishes to remodel Saudi Arabia into a nation that is more modern and more moderate.

India has benefited to some degree from the crown prince’s reform attempts. Riyadh has diluted its long-standing strategic relationship with Pakistan. It has also become much more helpful in providing intelligence about Islamic terrorists to New Delhi. And it has also expressed its interest in developing a larger economic footprint in India’s energy sector. If Crown Prince Salman takes his reforms to their logical conclusion, it might mean the end of the largest source of funding for the most extreme strands of the religion.

This is all good, but the Narendra Modi government will be rightly wary. A country with weak political institutions such as Saudi Arabia is notoriously difficult to reform. The prince’s strategy seems to be centralise power with himself rather than seek a consensus among the various players. That he replaced the head of the National Guard, a force loyal to the ruling family, was a reminder that some sort of political backlash, potentially violent, cannot be ruled out. His anti-corruption campaign, promise of a more open society and, most dangerously, an aggressive military posture in fighting perceived signs of Iranian influence in Yemen and elsewhere seem to be the base on which he hopes to rally popular support in favour of his agenda. It is almost impossible to tell in a country that remains quite opaque as to whether this will work.



Saudi: Consolidating power

By Asian Age

Nov 7, 2017

An unprecedented and dramatic development occurred in Saudi Arabia last weekend as the government ordered the arrest of 11 princes, including the multi-billionaire Alwaleed bin Talal, besides four serving Cabinet ministers and a large number of former ministers. Ostensibly, the arrests are on the grounds of corruption, although in a kingdom like Saudi Arabia the concept of the use of public funds for personal use by those in power isn’t the same as in a democracy.

Therefore, a plausible explanation is that the sensational move is intended to consolidate the position of 32-year old Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who was made defence minister in 2015 and became Crown Prince earlier this year, elbowing out an uncle. This was signal enough that Prince Mohammed mattered more than anyone else and he soon became the fulcrum of all crucial policy matters — both security and economic affairs.

The “night of the long knives” has caught world attention due to Prince Alwaleed, who is one of the world’s richest men with stakes in major business corporations of the West who has willed his personal wealth of $32 billion to charity after his death. It can only be speculated whether the appropriation of this wealth is an object of the arrests.

Before Donald Trump became US President, Prince Alwaleed, said to be a direct man, had ticked him off and received a rude reply in return. But the US leader appears well-disposed toward the Crown Prince, who also has modernising and moderate credentials. Political and social churning seems evident in the Muslim world’s richest country.



A talk with Pakistan

By Gurmeet Kanwal

November 7, 2017

In December 2016, Dr Ashley J Tellis, a renowned South Asia scholar, made a presentation with a stark title ~ “Are India-Pakistan Peace Talks Worth a Damn?” ~ to a very discerning audience at an event organised by Carnegie India. As always, Tellis marshalled his facts well and was brutally frank and deeply incisive in his analysis.

Though he was in a way preaching to the committed, his presentation was extremely thought-provoking and insightful and was very well received. Those who missed the talk can now read his brilliant monograph: Are India-Pakistan Peace Talks Worth a Damn? (Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Washington, D.C., 20 September 2017). That the unlikely but realistic title has been retained comes as a pleasant surprise.

The author’s major conclusions reflect a deep understanding of the state of play in South Asia and are unexceptionable: “The international community’s routine call for continuous India-Pakistan dialogue is not only misguided but also counterproductive.

This entreaty… fails to recognize that the security competition between the two nations is not actually driven by discrete, negotiable differences… Pakistan’s revisionist behaviour is… intensified by its army’s ambition to preserve its dominance in domestic politics… Possession of nuclear weapons has permitted its military and intelligence services to underwrite a campaign of jihadi terrorism intended to coerce India… This manifestation of hostility toward India makes any kind of diplomatic solution satisfactory to both Islamabad and New Delhi highly elusive.”

The glaring asymmetries between the strategies of India and Pakistan have been highlighted by the author. India is a status quo power that perceives China to be its foremost strategic challenge, while Pakistan is a revisionist state that seeks to make territorial gains through the use of military force. Tellis writes, “… the path to peace depends largely on Pakistan’s willingness to accept its current strategic circumstances. Since the full subordination of the Pakistani military to its civilian leadership is unlikely for the foreseeable future, a shift in Pakistan’s orientation and behaviour will depend fundamentally on the military itself.” The implication is clear: the army calls the shots and is not inclined to change course.

According to the author, mediation by the international community will not help to usher in peace, “…Since the United States lacks the means to alter Pakistan’s strategic calculus and China lacks the desire… China would likely utilise Pakistan to slow down the rise of its emerging Asian competitor, India.” India is firm in its conviction that all disputes between the two countries should be resolved through bilateral negotiations in terms of the Shimla Agreement of 1972 and the Lahore Declaration of 1999. Hence, India is unlikely to accept international mediation.

Tellis recommends that the US and the international community should prevail on the Pakistan army to stop sponsoring jihadi terrorism in India and persuade it to, “acquiesce to the current territorial and strategic realities involving India and, as a consequence, end its relentless revisionism, which threatens to destabilise the Indian subcontinent and the security of Pakistan itself. Such a change in orientation may be difficult to bring about, but the international community, “… should certainly avoid reinforcing troublesome Pakistani behaviour through a premature and futile call for dialogue.”

The author recounts the history of the security competition between India and Pakistan since the independence of both in 1947 after a partition that was “violent and cataclysmic” and “bred intense emotional hostility” between the two states. He states that, “… p ermanent hostility to India, nurtured through the continuous promotion of a parochial Islam, animates what is widely referred to as the ‘ideology of Pakistan’.” He describes Pakistan’s inability to acquire the state of Jammu and Kashmir, even though it was both contiguous to Pakistan and a Muslimmajority state, as the root cause of Pakistani resentment.

The use of military power by India to force other Muslim-majority principalities like Hyderabad and Junagadh to join India added to the bitterness. Tellis dwells at length on Pakistan’s nuclear coercion that “serves to shackle India and prevent it from fully focussing on consolidating its economic achievements and enlarging its geopolitical reach beyond South Asia…” He aptly deduces, “…nuclear weapons in Pakistani hands, far from being just deterrents against Indian adventurism, in fact, provided Rawalpindi with a licence to support insurgencies within, or terrorism against, India… Pakistan’s… ever-expanding nuclear arsenal… serves to prevent any significant Indian retaliation against Pakistan’s persistent low-intensity war for fear of sparking a nuclear holocaust.”

Tellis analyses the prospects of transition to genuine civilian rule in Pakistan in detail and concludes that there is a greater probability of Pakistan remaining a “Praetorian Democracy” as long as the army continues its policy of “persistent revisionism” and finds it difficult to “change its stripes”. He points out the enormous damage sustained by Pakistan for nurturing, sponsoring and supporting various terrorist organisations and the army’s commitment to “jihad as a grand strategy”.

He writes, “The more precarious Pakistan’s security situation has become as a result of the army’s successive strategic failures, the tighter the military’s lock on political power, financial resources, and policy direction.”

The author examines the usefulness of compellence as a strategy to coerce the Pakistan army to stop its sponsorship of cross-border terrorism. He is of the view that the international community lacks the leverages necessary to do so.

He feels that between the US and China, the latter is better placed to prevail on the Pakistan army to stop using jihad as a strategy because of their much closer relationship, but China is unlikely to do so. He discounts the possibility of a maverick General coming to power in Pakistan, who has the gumption to undertake a transformative reorientation of the country’s policies.

Finally, Tellis recommends that the US should stop calling for a sustained “India-Pakistan dialogue on the full range of economic and political issues;” it should, instead, make “a determined effort to compel the ‘deep state’ in Rawalpindi to sunder its links with jihadi terrorism;” and, should “not become an accessory to Rawalpindi’s strategy of extortionary engagement” with India. He suggests that the US should “stay out of the India-Pakistan contention altogether, leaving it up to both states to reach any agreements that can based on their relative power.”

It emerges clearly from the author’s analysis that peace between India and Pakistan is unlikely until Pakistan’s deep state ~ the army and the ISI ~ gives up what it perceives to be a low-cost, high payoff quest to continue to bleed India through a thousand cuts.

Till the Pakistan army realises the colossal amount of harm that it has caused to its own country and changes course, “ugly stability” will continue to prevail in South Asia. This excellent monograph is a profoundly analytical account of the history, the present state and the future prospects of the complex India-Pakistan relationship, especially the role played by Pakistan’s deep state in perpetuating conflict.

It must be read by policymakers, armed forces leaders and the members of the strategic community in both India and Pakistan. In fact, it should be prescribed reading in the training establishments of the armed forces and foreign service training institutions.



Carnage In Texas Church: 26 Killed, 20 Hurt

By S Rajagopalan

Tuesday, 07 November 2017 | Washington

In yet another mass shooting, this time in a Texas church, a lone gunman shot dead 26 people and injured 20 others during the Sunday morning service before fleeing in a car in which he was subsequently found dead following a high speed chase by an armed civilian.

The gunman, armed with a military-style rifle and dressed in an all-black tactical gear with a ballistic vest, was identified as 26-year-old Devin Patrick Kelley, a former member of US Air Force who was discharged in 2014 for bad conduct, following a court-martial for assaulting his spouse and child.

The motive behind the carnage at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, a small community 30 miles off San Antonio, was not immediately known. The victims of the rampage ranged in age from 5 to 72, and included eight members of one family. There were several children among them, including the pastor’s 14-year-old daughter, police said.

If last month’s massacre at a Las Vegas open air concert, killing 58 people and injuring over 400, was the deadliest mass shooting in modern US history, Sunday’s carnage was the biggest mass shooting in the history of Texas.

President Donald Trump, away in Tokyo on the first leg of his five-nation Asia visit, condemned the shooting, calling it an “act of evil”. At a subsequent news conference, he suggested it was a “mental health problem”, remarking: “Based on preliminary reports, a very deranged individual, a lot of problems for a long period of time….This isn’t a guns situation.”

Democrats quickly joined issue with Trump and other Republicans, slamming them for refusing to acknowledge America’s gun crisis and doing nothing to strengthen the country’s lax gun control laws. Grieving with the bereaved families, former President Barack Obama commented in a Twitter post: “May God also grant all of us the wisdom to ask what concrete steps we can take to reduce the violence and weaponry in our midst.”

Police said the gunman first stopped at a gas station across a highway near the church. He drove across the street, got out of his car and began firing from the outside before entering the church premises. “My dad saw the gunman run into the church building and then he heard shots and saw people running. People covered in blood and screaming. It was pandemonium everywhere,” said a person interviewed by CNN.

Media reports said that after the shooting spree, the gunman dropped his weapon, ran to his Ford Explorer and fled — only to be pursued by an armed local resident and another person in a truck in what turned out to be a high speed chase at 95 miles per hour. The shooter “eventually lost control on his own and went off into the ditch”.

Police later found the suspect dead of a gunshot wound inside his vehicle. “At this time, we don’t know if it was a self-inflicted gunshot wound or if he was shot by our local resident who engaged him in a gunfight,” Freeman Martin of the Texas Department of Public Safety said.

“We are dealing with the largest mass shooting in our state’s history,” Texas Governor Greg Abbott told a news conference. “The tragedy of course is worsened by the fact that it occurred in a church, a place of worship where these people were innocently gunned down.”

The worst victim of the tragedy was the Joe and Claryce Holcombe family, which last eight people -- children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. The aged couple told The Washington Post that the victims included their son Bryan Holcombe, 60, and his wife, Carla Holcombe, 58, their grandson and his infant daughter, as also their granddaughter-in-law, Crystal, and three of her children.

In a statement from Tokyo, President Trump said: “This horrible act of evil occurred as the victims and their families were in their place of sacred worship.  We cannot put into words the pain and grief we all feel, and we cannot begin to imagine the suffering of those who lost the ones they loved. Our hearts are broken. But in dark times such as these, Americans do what we do best: we pull together. We join hands. We lock arms. And through the tears and the sadness, we stand strong.”

As the debate on gun control was brought to the front and centre all over again, Democratic Senator Chris Murphy led the charge, asking his Republican colleagues to consider “whether the political support of the gun industry is worth the blood that flows endlessly onto the floors of American churches, elementary schools, movie theaters, and city streets”.

Kamala Harris, the Indian-American Senator from California, tweeted: “Senseless gun violence has torn apart another community – this time in a house of worship.” An indignant Senator Elizabeth Warren from Massachusetts asked in her own Twitter post: “How many more  people must die at churches or concerts or schools before we stop letting the @NRA (National Rifle Association) control this country’s gun policies?”


URL: http://newageislam.com/indian-press/new-age-islam-edit-bureau/why-it-will-not-be-easy-for-prince-salman-to-reform-saudi-arabia---new-age-islam’s-selection-07-11-2017/d/113138


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