New Age Islam Edit Bureau
22 December 2016
A Pinch of Fear in Every Turkish
By Fikret Bila
Assassinating an Envoy; Between Crime
and Propagating Terrorism
By Abdulrahman Al-Rashed
Karak Attack Yet another Test of
By Raed Omari
Something Can Be Done To Help the
People Of Aleppo
By Dr. Méguerditch Tarazian
Donald Trump's Cabinet Bodes Ill for
By Lauren Carasik
America’s Empty ‘Happy Talk’ On
Palestine Coming To An End
By Ray Hanania
Lebanon — The ‘Post-Aleppo’
By Diana Moukalled
Compiled By New Age Islam Edit Bureau
A Pinch of Fear In Every Turkish Citizen
Russian Ambassador to Ankara Andrey Karlov
was the victim of a hateful assassination. May the ambassador who we know was a
very good person rest in peace. My condolences and regrets to his family and
the Russian people.
The assassination against the Russian ambassador
is not just a crude attack; it is a well-calculated, finely tuned professional
So professional that even if the
cold-blooded assassin Mevlüt Mert Altintas may have not considered it, whoever
led him obviously took into consideration the psychology of Turkish society.
We know that the murderer was a policeman.
We know he entered the Çankaya Contemporary Arts Center where the exhibition
was organized by showing his police ID. Apparently, those who planned the
attack calculated the effect of being a police officer on society.
If the assassin were not a police officer –
if his police ID had been fake, he would again have been able to easily enter
and take his place behind the ambassador. As a matter of fact, he would not
even have needed to show a fake ID; he could have verbally said, “I’m a
policeman” and with the help of that attitude, he would have passed the
entrance and gotten in.
If he had been a soldier or showed a fake
military ID, that could also have worked; he could have said “I am an officer”
and gotten in; he could have taken his position behind the ambassador.
The reason is that in our society, you do
not ask for the ID of a member of the military. You can’t, because our citizens
do not question the police or the soldier. This is a psychological state. Our
education system does not raise a person with the “courage” to ask questions to
the police officer, the soldier, actually to the uniformed guard or even
somebody wearing a private security uniform. This is because the civil servant,
especially the uniformed one, is acknowledged as sacred. Our society is
educated to obey the state with a culture of submission to the police, soldier
and civil servant.
Being an individual and using the rights of
a citizen and the right to question the state and the civil servant are not
taught. They represent the state authority and cannot be questioned.
A pinch of fear is planted into our people
when they are very young. Respect, mixed with that fear, blocks us from asking
for the identity of the police or member of the military. It deems it unethical
to suspect them. This education system translates into a social deficiency.
Because this is so, the assassin police
officer, Mevlüt Mert Altintas, I am sure, added a mysterious air as he showed
his ID and easily found his way in. Nobody at the entrance asked him, “Let me
take a look at your ID; are you assigned here and on which duty; are you
guarding the ambassador?”
Those who planned this assassination
calculated using the superiority of being the police and the military in our
There is also the oriental negligence in
this incident. In the oriental person, there is always the belief, “Well,
nothing is going to happen.”
Because of this culture, we applaud and
appreciate the leader or the politician who goes without guards. Because our
leaders and politicians know this, they please people by mingling with the
crowds, risking their lives. They even scold the police trying to protect them,
drawing applause when they tell them to withdraw.
This Is Oriental Business…
A similar negligence is observed in the
Russian ambassador’s assassination. He has reported to have had a modest
personality, going to places without guards. As a matter of fact, this is not
Especially after the Syrian incident, at a
time when protests were being held in front of the Russian consulate, for him
to wander around without protection is serious negligence.
Of course, it is a separate issue of
negligence for the Russian embassy not to have asked for protection from the
Ankara Police Department. Likewise, it is serious negligence that the Turkish
police was not able to provide security at the most critical area where dozens
of uniformed and civilian officers were on duty, where the United States,
Germany and Austrian embassies are located as well as other official
Another serious point of negligence is that
the police department which has fired or suspended thousands of police after
July 15 was not aware of a policeman such as Mevlüt Mert Altintas in the heart
There is a Western saying, “Trust but
This is what we lack. We immediately trust
the person we come across.
You cannot see a U.S. ambassador or an
Israeli ambassador without protection. Even if they want to, their guards do
not allow them to go free.
The difference lies there.
By Abdulrahman al-Rashed
21 December 2016
Assassination of the Russian ambassador to
Turkey is of major significance and is yet another terrorist operation that
serves the interest of Iran and the Syrian regime. It also harms the cause of
the Syrian people. The crime suggests, all over again, that global security is
threatened more than before.
Unfortunately, some people continue to mix
terrorism and regional affairs as is the case with Syria. The man who
assassinated Russian Ambassador justified his crime by saying it was to avenge
what is happening in Syria.
Around the same time, another terrorist
ploughed into a market in Berlin in Germany which supported the Syrian people
and looked after refugees the most. During the same week, ISIS bragged that one
of its members killed 10 in the Jordanian city of Karak.
Those justifying the murder of the Russian
envoy link it to Aleppo and Syria’s tragedy. They in fact try to exploit
people’s anger toward Russia and use it to support ISIS, the organization which
is responsible for turning the world against the Syrian people and their
Yes, there is anger toward Russia but we
must not mix that with acts of terrorism. Russians had a decent image in the
Middle East, particularly among Arabs, because they raised the slogan of
fighting colonization and supporting liberation movements and supported the
Russians were known for their stances
toward major Arab causes, such as the Palestinian cause, and they did not get
themselves involved in regional military adventures. Even when they invaded
Afghanistan in the 1970s, many here thought it was a chapter of the axes’
struggle in a faraway area.
Intervention in Syria
All this changed after the Russians
strongly and brutally intervened in Syria. Moscow thus ran out of its
historical, moral and humanitarian capital which it had developed over decades.
Reactions toward them became negative as their actions in Syria, particularly
in Aleppo, triggered people’s anger.
Now, extremist groups want to ride this
wave of hatred against Moscow in the region as they realize that the region’s
governments want to negotiate with the Russians and try to persuade them to
reach a reasonable political solution that’s accepted by the majority in order
to end the war in Syria. Some governments in the region do not want to lose a
major country like Russia and do not want to push Russia further towards Iran
and the Syrian regime as there’s no political dispute with it.
If the Russian command wants a role in the
region, then this role can be comprehended, and it is also possible to narrow
the gap as this role is positive. There are no camps which oppose Moscow in the
Middle East, including in countries which are close to Washington and the West
in general, and these countries refuse to divide the region into opposing
camps, like what happened during the Cold War.
Although there’s very little hope right
now, Russians can play a positive and decisive role in Syria in order to
achieve a reconciliation that eliminates extremists and extremism within the
Syrian regime that is responsible for massacres during in recent years.
ISIS and other terrorist organizations want
to sabotage these efforts and they know that by targeting Russian officials, it
would be appealing to an angry popular sentiment and embarrassing regional
governments which seem incapable of providing aid and protection to millions of
Russia is aware that its reputation has hit
a new low. Its propaganda through the Russia Today television channel and other
state media platforms have not succeeded in justifying its stances, actions and
responsibility for supporting the Assad regime and the Iranians in Syria.
Perhaps Russia does not care much about the
opinion of the majority of millions of Arabs and Muslims as they do not elect
and do not influence their governments’ policies. However, we do know for a
fact that terrorism benefits a lot from this difficult situation, i.e. from
people’s anger and government’s inability.
Most of those who approve the murder of the
Russian ambassador are those who sympathize with ISIS and other groups, and
they are not less dangerous than terrorists themselves. It is certain that by
expressing their joy and justifying this crime, they push naive and angry
people toward supporting terrorist groups; therefore, they grant terrorism the
oxygen it needs in the form of propaganda and sympathy. ISIS and al-Nusra Front
are two groups that are not less dangerous than the Syrian regime and the
Iranian militias fighting in Syria.
Glorifying the crime in Ankara should be
categorized as crime itself because it helps terrorists recruit and receive
donations and grants them legitimacy. It also restores the popularity which
terrorists were about to lose during the past phase as a result of the opposing
propaganda against them.
Abdulrahman al-Rashed is the former General Manager of Al Arabiya News
Channel. A veteran and internationally acclaimed journalist, he is a former
editor-in-chief of the London-based leading Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat, where
he still regularly writes a political column. He has also served as the editor of
Asharq al-Awsat’s sister publication, al-Majalla. Throughout his career, Rashed
has interviewed several world leaders, with his articles garnering worldwide
recognition, and he has successfully led Al Arabiya to the highly regarded,
thriving and influential position it is in today.
At the time this piece is being written,
Jordanian security forces continue to sweep Karak governorate to make sure the
southern city’s Crusader-era castle is completely free of more “terrorist
outlaws” after four of them were killed.
The late-night security operation ended
with the killing of four assailants, the Public Security Department announced,
saying that the so far unidentified “terrorists” were holed up in the castle
and were shooting randomly at police personnel, citizens and tourists, killing
10 and injuring 34.
Seven security personnel, two civilians and
a Canadian tourist, were killed by the gunmen, who shot at police targets in
the southern town earlier Sunday before heading to the castle. The hostage
situation ended following a five-hour rescue operation, minister and spokesman Mohammad
Although no details about the identity of
the gunmen; their affiliation and their motives have been given so far,
authorities and citizens have termed them as “terrorists” – a word referring to
ISIS and al-Qaeda members and supporters or those carrying the two radical
groups’ deviant ideology.
Circumstances leading to the Karak incident
include manufacturing of explosives, shooting of civilians and security
personnel and holding hostages all of which make it a terrorist act more than a
criminal one from an academic more than political perspective. That is not the
Jordan being the target of terror attacks
is not a big surprise. It has been so for a number of reasons. The kingdom is
an active member of the US-led anti-ISIS coalition and was among the first
countries to declare war against terror. Countries such as France, Germany and
Bangladesh, far away from terror-hit Iraq and Syria, had been the target of
terrorist attacks, which gives an indication of Jordan’s predicament.
Although a security penetration of some
kind has always been Jordan’s major concern, the kingdom still sees ISIS,
al-Qaeda and other radical organizations as posing no strategic threat to its
national security. Despite the growing concern of sleeper cells inside the
refugee-plagued kingdom and its long border line with Syria and Iraq, extending
to nearly 400 kilometres, Jordan has been showing resilience and firmness in
the face of countless terrorist attempts to undermine its valuable asset in
this turbulent region.
However, 2016 has been really a tough year
for Jordan. The country witnessed four unprecedented attacks with the Karak one
being the latest. Besides the ISIS-claimed attack on a forward military post at
the borders with Syria in June, the Irbid attack in March, the “lone wolf”
attack on the intelligence personnel in Amman’s Baqaa office in June and,
seemingly, the Karak attack have all been the result of home-grown radical
It is not easy to address this phenomenon
in Jordan, and elsewhere, considering the widespread use of social media, and
prevalence of poverty and unemployment.
Although Jordanians have always been proud
of the professionalism of their country’s security bodies, some angry voices
have emerged from the streets. Even the parliament expressed dismay at the
increasing attacks on army and police posts.
Let’s not forget here that the Lower House
was the first Jordanian entity to call on the government to reconsider its
long-held open-border policy with Syria.
But with counterterrorism efforts becoming
really complicated in Jordan and in other countries surpassing the conventional
military methods to a more sophisticated ideological, educational, cultural and
technological endeavour, another attack is just round the corner, especially
with ISIS and al-Qaeda becoming more of a “mind set” than terror organizations.
Raed Omari is a Jordanian journalist, political analyst, parliamentary
affairs expert, and commentator on local and regional political affairs. His writing focuses on
the Arab Spring, press freedoms, Islamist groups, emerging economies, climate
change, natural disasters, agriculture, the environment and social media. He is
a writer for The Jordan Times, and contributes to Al Arabiya English.
Something Can Be Done To Help the People
The last time Médecins Sans Frontières
(MSF) managed to get a medical aid convoy through to hospitals it supports in
eastern Aleppo was back in August. Since then, the town has endured a
never-ending siege and the only information MSF teams have had regarding the
reality of the lives of Syrian medical personnel has been by Skype or
Doctors have been telling us for months
about shortages and the challenges of treating casualties against a backdrop of
intensive bombings. The past few days, they have been describing how terrified
they are about the fate that awaits them, their fear of reprisals for providing
medical care in the rebel-held zone and how they want to be evacuated.
In the final throes of the battle to retake
Aleppo — no matter what the cost — we must continue to demand that the
different parties to the conflict allow civilians to flee without risking their
lives, something they have consistently refused to agree to.
Since September, the rebels have rejected
this option several times, with some armed groups going so far as to prohibit
civilians from using corridors opened by the government of Syria and its
They finally consented on Tuesday, and so
did the Syrian government after some hesitation. As the evacuation of civilians
finally got underway, MSF teams are positioned in Atimah, in Idlib governorate,
35 kilometers away from Al Atareb in Aleppo governorate and are ready to help
the displaced with 45 tons of medical supplies — mainly drugs, consumables and
medical equipment — and non-food items.
We must continue to demand that the people
of eastern Aleppo be allowed to evacuate while hoping that the emotion stirred
up by the media in reaction to the deluge of bombs prevails on the Syrian and
its allies to be less intransigent regarding the plight of civilians.
But we must not forget that the extreme
violence of the retaking of the town is a sad reflection of what is happening
in neighbouring Idlib province where hundreds of thousands of displaced people
are now trapped.
The inhabitants of Idlib are also subjected
to a sustained aerial bombing campaign and doctors in the hospital network that
MSF supports in the region have reported 54 attacks on health workers and
medical facilities since June 2016. Health services in the opposition-held zone
have been the target of loyalist troops since the conflict began in 2011 and,
under Syrian counterterrorist laws passed in 2012, providing medical care to a
casualty in opposition-held zones such as Idlib can be penalized as material
support to terrorism.
Given the enormous challenges clandestine
health services have faced in attempting to respond to the needs of countless
war-wounded and people suffering from chronic illness (the main cause of death
before the war), MSF was itself forced to go underground in order to provide
assistance to the people of Syria. The Damascus government has never authorized
our organization to operate in Syria.
Added to these limits is the conflict
situation in fragmented Idlib province that is controlled by various armed
groups, some of whom target relief organisations with abductions, arbitrary
arrests and restrictions. It is therefore very hard for MSF or any humanitarian
actors to provide the inhabitants of Idlib with the level of assistance they
It is to Idlib province that the last
remaining civilians Aleppo are supposed to be evacuated, but it is not a safe
haven for the displaced, many of whom who would like to be able to flee via
But with the border sealed to Syrians
seeking to flee, they are condemned to all-out war. The rights of an individual
to flee a war zone — in Aleppo, Idlib, or anywhere else — must be recognized
and safe passage provided to those who want to leave.
Before the carnage in Idlib reaches the
level of Aleppo, Turkey must open its borders. And to encourage the country do
so, western nations must send out a strong signal by declaring they are ready
to show more generosity than in the past in giving refuge to Syrians whose fate
in Aleppo they are now lamenting.
This is quite simply the same story, and
the same people, all over again.
Dr. Méguerditch Tarazian is the President of Médecins Sans Frontières
(MSF) in France. While still in medical school, he worked as a translator for MSF in
Nagorno-Karabakh, and from 1999-2002, he worked as an MSF field doctor in
Sierra Leone, Afghanistan, Iran, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. In 2003,
he became an emergency coordinator for MSF projects in Liberia, Côte d’Ivoire,
Niger, Pakistan, Central African Republic, Jordan, as well as other countries.
From 2007 until being elected President, he served first as Deputy and then as
Director of MSF’s Emergency Programming at MSF in France.
Donald Trump's Cabinet Bodes Ill For The
President-elect Donald Trump's cabinet is
shaping up as a nightmare for environmentalists and others committed to bold
action on climate change. Trump tapped Rex Tillerson, CEO of ExxonMobil, the
biggest publicly trading oil company in the world, as secretary of state, where
he would head the agency in charge of negotiating international climate
His selection rounds out a cabinet filled
with climate sceptics, and signals a resurgence of oil and gas power inside the
Beltway that is poised to dictate foreign policy while ignoring the staggering
social costs of carbon.
Trump recently reaffirmed his hostility to
climate protections, vowing again to "cancel the restrictions on the
production of American energy including shale, oil, natural gas and clean,
Kathy Mulvey, the climate accountability
campaign manager at the Union of Concerned Scientists, denounced the choice.
"[T]here's a real concern that President-elect Trump is creating a
government of, by, and for the oil and gas industry," Mulvey said. "The
analogy of the nomination of Rex Tillerson for secretary of state would be akin
to nominating a tobacco CEO as surgeon general," she added.
Scott Pruitt and Rick Perry, selected to
head the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of Energy
(DOE) respectively, are avowed climate sceptics.
Pruitt, the Oklahoma attorney general and
loyal friend to the oil and gas industries, is set to take the helm of an
agency whose legacy he appears determined to dismantle. Touting himself as a
leading opponent of the EPA's "activist agenda", Pruitt helped
spearhead state-led opposition to the Obama administration's Clean Power Plan,
which is key to meeting the country's commitments under the Paris climate
Pruitt wrote in the National Review that
"scientists continue to disagree about the degree and extent of global
warming and its connection to the actions of mankind".
Moreover, former Texas governor Rick Perry
will head the DOE, an agency he once vowed to abolish, after committing the
memorable faux pas of forgetting its name in a presidential debate.
Perry, who hails from a state with a
powerful energy sector, sits on the board of Energy Transfer Partners,
developer of the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline. Both are expected to
advance Trump's anti-regulatory, pro-extraction agenda.
Fox Guarding The Henhouse?
Tillerson is cast as a pragmatic,
experienced businessman who possesses a skillset seamlessly transferrable to
statecraft. Yet, the oil magnate's globetrotting has been in service of corporate
profit, not advancing the public good.
The elevation of an oil baron as the
nation's top diplomat lays bare Trump's priorities. As Steve Coll observes in
The New Yorker, "American power is best understood as a raw, neo-colonial
exercise in securing resources." Tillerson's ties with Vladimir Putin, and
by extension with Russia's energy industry, have caused consternation, and he
has promoted the company's interests abroad despite the significant human costs
of doing so. Activists are alarmed by Tillerson's presumed loyalties and his
company's conduct on climate change.
ExxonMobil has come under fire for covering
up what its scientists have long known about the dangers posed by carbon
emissions. Separate reports by the Los Angeles Times and InsideClimate News
last year prompted the attorneys general of Massachusetts and New York to
investigate whether ExxonMobil committed consumer or securities fraud by
failing to disclose to its shareholders what it knew about climate change.
The company claims it has not suppressed
evidence of climate change, and Tillerson conceded it was real shortly after he
ascended to the company's top position in 2006.
But the oil giant is aggressively fighting
the investigation into its conduct, calling the effort politically motivated
and even suing the attorney generals for violating the company's free speech
and other constitutional rights.
Others have joined the effort to hold the
oil giant to account. On December 14, the Pace Environmental Law Clinic filed a
petition on behalf of the Waterkeeper Alliance to suspend ExxonMobil from
contracts with the government, citing its "pervasive pattern of deceptive
and damaging conduct related to environmental issues generally and climate
change issues in particular".
INFOGRAPHIC: Who's who in Donald Trump's
Dispirited activists derive some small
satisfaction from the fact that Tillerson may have to testify in confirmation
hearings about what Exxon knew and when, potentially circumventing the
Tillerson espouses faith in technological
advances and adaptation to remediate deleterious climate effects, and promotes
the continued use of fossil fuels as a bridge to more sustainable resources. In
so doing, he avoids the urgency of immediate action to curb emissions by
deferring to the forces of the free market to fix the problem.
The company also justifies cheap energy as
the key to alleviating poverty. Yet some anti-poverty institutions have a
different view, including the World Bank, which concluded that "avoiding
climate risks is the route to sustainable development".
ExxonMobil endorses the Paris climate
agreement, along with a carbon tax, yet it continues to support institutions
and politicians that oppose both.
It Already Begun
The chasm between words and deeds
highlights the fact that it derives much of its income from the continued
extraction of fossil fuels despite the imperative of keeping most of those
resources in the ground.
Trump's transition team raised yet more
alarm bells when it sent a questionnaire to the DOE asking for the names of
people who had worked on initiatives to curb greenhouse emissions. An unbowed
DOE refused to comply. After ensuing outrage, the Trump team claimed the
questionnaire was unauthorised, but the chilling effect is clear.
The Washington Post reported that concerned
scientists "have begun a feverish attempt to copy reams of government data
onto independent servers in hopes of safeguarding it from any political
Tillerson's relative moderation cannot mask
the irony that one of the cabinet nominees with the least extreme position on
climate made his fortune by extracting carbon fuels.
Trump's appointments make it clear that we
cannot rely on the government to protect the planet: that stewardship will be
up to civil society.
Lauren Carasik is a clinical professor of law and the Director of the
International Human Rights Clinic at Western New England University School of
Law. She has provided legal support for the water protectors.
US President-elect Donald Trump is doing
exactly what Palestinians and the Arab world need. He is throwing out all the
useless, do-nothing “happy talk” about saving Palestine and Jerusalem that has
put the Arab and Muslim worlds in a coma. Arabs and Muslims do not see it
because their minds are numbed by nearly 24 years of American “happy talk”
about Middle East peace, which has failed to deliver on any of its promises.
The days of relying on American largesse to
make peace happen is over. Trump’s recent Middle East pronouncements have
yanked away the blanket of hypocrisy that has covered and enabled Israel’s
steady destruction of Palestine. Instead of reacting with justified indignation
to Trump, as we have seen from Arabs and Muslims in all quarters, we should
recognize that the Arab world has been romanced into an atrophy of false
promises and hope.
We have been duped. It is hard to see
through this fog, but Arabs and Muslims need to open their eyes to what has
taken place since Palestinians accepted Israel’s right to exist in a handshake
on the White House lawn on Sept. 13, 1993, in exchange for a promise of
statehood that has never come. Two years later, Israeli extremists destroyed
peace by murdering the one Israeli leader who was willing to make it, Yitzhak
Israel has since continued its deliberate
and systematic destruction of Palestine under a blanket of “happy talk” about
peace, compromise and unfulfilled promises. Many Arabs and Muslims are angrily
blaming Trump for destroying this system, as if the US ever really embraced the
“two-state solution” or a peace that gives Palestinians statehood.
Look at the reality. Trump has named David
Friedman as US ambassador to Israel. Friedman is a well-known Israeli-American
settler who has openly denounced the two-state solution, called the Palestinian
Authority corrupt, vowed to crack down on “Palestinian extremism,” and urged
that economic support be provided to the Palestinian “middle class” to address
We have always believed their needs would
be solved by the two-state solution, which has been propped up as a corpse for
the past 24 years. Ironically, the loudest screamers against Trump are Arab
activists who have for years rejected the two-state solution, denouncing both
Rabin and co-signer Shimon Peres, just the way Friedman has done.
Arab and Muslim extremists have worked hard
to destroy the two-state solution, so why are they complaining about Trump? The
emotions of these predictable activist extremists have mis-focused the Arab and
Muslim world’s dysfunction into a false anger against Trump. He is the wrong
As for “moderates” like myself, we have
clung futilely to an illusory hope. Two states is the best solution, but the
truth is Israel does not accept it. It continues to expand settlements, steal
more land and make the occupation of Jerusalem and the West Bank more brutal.
Worse is that the most powerful nation on Earth, the US, has been incapable of
President Barack Obama, who more than any
past president strongly advocated the two-state solution as the face of his
Middle East policies, has been thwarted not just by the American right and
Trump’s conservative circles, but by the hypocritical, double-talking American
and Israeli left too.
Palestinians have lost more land, seen
illegal Israeli settler numbers increase at a record pace, and witnessed the
second-largest civilian death toll during Obama’s presidency than under any of
his predecessors. Why did we sit back and accept that reality? Because we
preferred smiles, handshakes, false promises and “happy talk” over the truth.
Without getting one significant concession
from Israel, Palestinians, Arabs and Muslims have blindly opened their arms and
embraced Israel on nearly every level while all this oppression continues
unabated. Though Palestinians are far worse off today than they have ever been,
Israel is enjoying new partnerships in the Arab world. Israel has received the
largest grant of US taxpayer funding in history, more than $38 billion.
It is taking pictures with Arab leaders and
sharing in multimillion-dollar business investments. Meanwhile, Arabs sit in
cafes smoking hookahs and sipping coffee, pretending that Trump is the problem.
Had Hillary Clinton won the presidency,
Arabs and Palestinians would be catatonic on a political gurney being fed lies
intravenously to keep us in our coma. Trump has thrown cold water in our faces.
If we look, we can see the ugly truth and ignore the worthless “happy talk.” He
is waking the Arab and Muslim sleeping giant, but will we be awakened?
Israel’s refusal to accept the right of
Palestinians to exist is the main obstacle to peace. Its refusal to implement
the basics of the peace accords has fueled growing extremism in the region.
Israel is the obstacle to peace.
However, this is not just about the future
of the Palestinians. It is also about the integrity of the Arab and Muslim
worlds. Israel’s rejection of Palestinian rights is a slap in the face of every
Arab and Muslim. Do we just stand there and take it? It is shameful that Arabs
and Muslims have done nothing, propped up in our hopes by empty “happy talk”
and the false promises of a brighter future that Obama fed us in Cairo in 2009.
Peace does not come from preteens, but from
clearly defined and well thought out strategies that Arabs and Muslims must
develop to force Israel to recognize Palestinian, Arab and Muslim rights.
Either the Arab and Muslim worlds develop
new strategies to restore their honour and force Israel to recognize
Palestinian statehood, or we just accept the reality that Jerusalem is
irrelevant and “saving Palestine” is a pipe-dream. If that is the case, who
cares where Trump puts the US Embassy?
Ray Hanania is an award-winning Palestinian-American columnist. He can be
reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lebanon — The ‘Post-Aleppo’ Government
Preventing civil war was the pretext to
justify a political settlement that brought Gen. Michel Aoun to the presidency.
Now the same excuse is used to justify the contradictory formation of the
government, which was announced by Prime Minister Saad Hariri.
We can debate endlessly how accurate this
pretext was, especially in terms of the many concessions made, and the deep
differences and contradictory visions of the new Cabinet’s members. There is no
guarantee that they will not fall out even before the new government begins
How will it draft its ministerial
statement? What policy will it adopt toward the international tribunal
investigating the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, and
toward Hezbollah’s weapons and its fighting in Syria? These issues represent
the first month’s challenges for the government.
Regional circumstances have not given
Hariri enough time to form a better government, as he realizes that he is
entering a new phase that is critical for him and his movement. In addition,
consensus will likely remain a requirement for the formation of any government
in Lebanon. Opposition will be only allowed under the confines of loyalty to
the ruling party. Therefore, the country’s weakness and impasse will continue.
Since the end of Lebanon’s civil war, the
country has failed to establish an authority and institutions that are
independent of power-sharing among different sects and beliefs, in a way that
paralyzed the state. This has been driven by a regional Syrian-Iranian push.
The mission of this interim government,
which will only stay for a few months, is to prepare for a new election law and
hold parliamentary elections in spring. However, several names in the Cabinet
do not suggest that elections will be its mission. This raises the possibility
of a new political vacuum.
It is very hard to overlook all these
clear-cut facts surrounding the new government. Hariri, the most prominent
opposition leader against Hezbollah and its Syrian ally, and head of the
largest bloc in Parliament, has made major concessions. This includes his
acceptance that Hezbollah has veto power and a set of names in government that
are a major provocation to him and the legacy of his father.
Hariri’s government comprises many of his
opponents: Hezbollah, Amal and Aoun’s party. It also includes a bloc loyal to
former President Emile Lahoud, a very close ally of Hezbollah and of Syrian
President Bashar Assad.
The March 8 alliance, consisting mainly of
Hezbollah and Aoun’s party, welcomed the new government, considering it a
“post-Aleppo” government. This comes in light of the major concessions made by
Hariri to appoint some figures in the government.
The status quo will not improve in Lebanon
without regional change, which seems unlikely. The regional situation is
getting more complicated, especially after the fall of Aleppo and the military
progress achieved by the Syrian-Russian-Iranian alliance.
This means the government is making
dysfunctional political balances, especially when tested by the most crucial
task. This government was invited by Assad to contribute to the “post-Aleppo
liberation” phase, in a blatant challenge to Hariri, and to pressure him to
submit to Syrian-Iranian influence in Lebanon. The ministerial statement is the
first test of the government’s — specifically Hariri’s — ability to counter the
Syrian-Iranian alliance. It will not be the last test.
Diana Moukalled is a veteran journalist with extensive experience in both
traditional and new media. She is also a columnist and freelance documentary