New Age Islam Edit Bureau
24 July 2017
Al-Aqsa Crisis Is Tillerson’s First
Real Mideast Test
By Faisal J. Abbas
Trump Kicks the Iranian Can Down the
By Amir Taheri
The End of Lebanon
By Diana Moukalled
Will The GCC Crisis Be Resolved Soon?
By Rami G Khouri
Qatar and the Bribing Of Journalists
By Ahmad Al-Farraj
America Acknowledges: Assad Stayed In
Power Thanks To Russia, Iran
By Huda Al-Husseini
Why Is Qatar Holding On To A
By Mohammed Al Shaikh
Why Is Kuwait Angry With Iran
By Mashari Althaydi
The Al-Aqsa Metal Detectors Aren't A
By Diana Buttu
By Pape Samba Kane
Temporarily Filing Away The Qatari
By Salman Al-Dossary
Compiled By New Age Islam Edit Bureau
Al-Aqsa Crisis Is Tillerson’s First Real
23 July 2017
The stars were perfectly aligned for Rex
Tillerson. As secretary of state under a Republican president whose party
enjoys a majority in both sides of the house, and given the massive damage done
to the US interest and traditional allies by the Obama Doctrine, Tillerson
could not have had a clearer mandate. This is particularly true given that
President Donald Trump seems to have got it right regarding Iran and the
controversial nuclear deal.
Unlike his predecessor who — intentionally
or not — turned a blind eye to Tehran’s support for terror and its damaging
behaviour, Trump sought to rectify the situation and reassure long-term
regional allies in a bid to undo the damage done by the Obama administration’s
“leading from behind” approach (whatever that is).
It is extremely significant that Trump has
made it very clear that he is serious about trying to resolve the
Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Right after his visit to Saudi Arabia in May —
his first foreign trip as president — he made Israel his second stop. He was
warmly greeted by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian
President Mahmoud Abbas, who both seemed willing to work closely with the new
US administration to get the ball rolling again.
Yet there is only so much the US president
can do personally. International affairs should be handled by his secretary of
state, and Tillerson has been doing a good job. But he is now faced with his
first real regional test: The escalating situation at Al-Aqsa Mosque.
Surely Tillerson must realize that this is
not merely an Israeli-Palestinian matter. Given that Al-Aqsa is considered the
third-holiest mosque in Islam, the issue affects more than 2 billion Muslims
worldwide (nearly 30 percent of the world’s population). It also puts moderate
and peace-advocating Arab states, such as Saudi Arabia and Jordan, in a
complicated situation. Both countries are US allies and are directly impacted
by the escalation.
Neighbouring Jordan, whose king is a
Hashemite (a direct descendent of Prophet Muhammad), has long been entrusted to
act as guardian of Al-Aqsa, a temporary solution that has been accepted by all
stakeholders given that Amman has signed a peace treaty with Israel. Jordan
feels betrayed by Israel’s unreasonable handling of the situation.
The Palestinian Authority has halted all
communications with Tel Aviv, the situation is brewing on the ground, and there
is technically nothing that could prevent another Intifada (uprising). Should
that happen, Jordan (whose population is predominately originally Palestinian)
will definitely be impacted.
Saudi Arabia, the cradle of Islam and land
of the Two Holy Mosques in Makkah and Madinah, has a direct stake in seeing the
situation calm down. In the past, Riyadh has used its weight in Washington and
its influence on Arab and Muslim countries to contain the situation in the
occupied Palestinian territories.
As a force for stability that is renowned
for the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative, which until today remains the region’s best
hope for peace, Saudi Arabia deserves global partners to be equally concerned
and offer help when such a crisis happens.
It is odd that Tillerson — who hails from
an oil background — showed much more personal interest in the Qatari crisis (a
standoff that has had no real humanitarian impact and a very limited regional
one, as confirmed even by Qatar’s Sheikh Tamim himself during his recent
speech) than in trying to seriously defuse the ticking time bomb in Jerusalem.
If he is not already on a plane, he should
head back to the Middle East immediately to talk to Palestinians and Israelis.
At the moment the matter is still containable, but as a wise US politician by
the name of Henry Kissinger once said: “An issue ignored is a crisis ensured.”
To the Israelis, I repeat what our Arab
News columnist Yossi Mekelberg said recently: “The metal detectors (around
Al-Aqsa) are not worth insisting on considering the political cost. Israel
would be foolish and irresponsible to allow them to become a test of its
control of the holy sites.”
It would also be wise — especially given
the sensitivity of this particular issue, and with such uncertainty and
unprecedented turbulence in the region — to contain the situation diplomatically
and as quickly as possible.
Over the past six months, in one way or
another, US President Donald Trump has kicked several of the cans inherited
from his predecessor Barack Obama down the road. After several attempts to
abolish it, “Obamacare” has been kicked into legislative oblivion. Obama’s
policy of courting the Castro brothers has been slightly modified but not
scrapped. The Paris climate accord has been verbally dismissed but not
definitely buried, if only because it will not become binding until 2020.
The latest can to be kicked down the road
is the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the curious press release
that enumerates things Iran must do about its controversial nuclear project in
exchange for the temporary suspension of sanctions.
Last week, the US State Department informed
Congress that Trump would extend the waiver for suspending sanctions for a
further three months. The department justified the decision by claiming Iran
had respected the letter of the JCPOA while violating its spirit.
Trump’s extension of Obama’s favour to Iran
comes exactly two years after the JCPOA was unveiled in Vienna and hailed by
President Hassan Rouhani as “the greatest diplomatic victory in Islam.”
The truth is that Iran has violated both
the letter and the spirit of the JCPOA. For example, it has reduced the number
of centrifuges enriching uranium, but not overall productive capacity because
new high-powered machines have a higher output than the older ones that are
In any case, since Iran has no nuclear
power stations that might need the enriched uranium as fuel, one must assume
that whatever uranium is enriched will be stockpiled for other purposes,
including nuclear warheads when and if the leadership wants them.
To keep alive the fiction about needing
uranium for fuel, Tehran periodically announces plans to build nuclear power
stations with help from China or Russia. But everyone knows that Iran does not
have the money to spend on such vanity projects, and that neither Russia nor
China is keen to invest in an economically insane project. A report by Iran’s
Ministry of Energy shows that nuclear power would cost at least 40 percent more
to produce than power from natural gas, of which Iran has plenty.
Another example concerns the stockpiles of
“heavy water” that Iran has built over the years. The plutonium plant in Arak
has been decommissioned, temporarily blocking one of the two ways that Iran
might have developed nuclear warheads. But what will Iran do with the reserves
it has already built up? Under the JCPOA, they must be sold on the world
But what happens when you cannot find a
buyer? To defang that question, Obama promised to arrange for the stockpiles to
be bought by US companies in case other buyers were not found. Two years later,
there are no buyers and it is unlikely that Trump can persuade US companies to
buy the Iranian stockpiles, which may or may not be up to their standards.
The JCPOA was never meant to solve the
problem of Iran’s real or imagined nuclear ambitions. Nor was it meant to
reaffirm the authority of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), which
Iran has publicly admitted violating at least until 2003. It was meant as part
of a broader strategy by Obama to “empower the moderate faction” in Tehran and
thus modify the nastier aspects of Iran’s behaviour.
Two years later, everyone knows what some
of us knew from the start: There are no moderates in the regime, and no chance
of it significantly changing behaviour dictated by its ideological DNA.
This does not mean the regime is unable to
change its behaviour. It does so only when it has to. In Syria, for example,
Tehran has lowered its profile not because it has become aware of the cost of
its folly, but because Russia has asserted itself as the master of ceremonies.
The liberation of Mosul has lowered
Tehran’s profile in Iraq, if only because Iraqi security forces, endorsed by
the Shiite leadership in Najaf and backed by Sunni Arab tribal chiefs, achieved
victory. Iran has been reduced to second fiddle in Yemen, if only because the
groups it sponsors, notably the Houthis, have all but failed in their war
Tehran has been forced to eat humble pie on
the thorny issue of Haj. Having advanced 16 demands in order to resume
pilgrimage by Iranians, it had to withdraw all of them.
With such a panoply of diplomatic setbacks
in the background, it is no surprise that the mullahs are clinging to the JCPOA
as their chief achievement. Is Trump right in letting them cling on, at least
for another three months? The answer must be yes, if only because he does not
seem to have fully studied the Iranian problem, let alone devised an
He has spoken of regime change as opposed
to change of behaviour, without any evidence that the new approach is backed by
concrete measures. In such a situation, it would make no sense to denounce the
JCPOA and provoke a dispute with European allies without being able to offer
them an alternative.
In other words, kicking the can down the
road was the least bad option. But the Iranian can will return in three months’
time, forcing Trump to choose between a new version of Obama’s failed strategy,
and a more effective way of dealing with what both he and Obama have described
as the “No. 1 challenge to US national interests.”
The battle of Jaroud Arsal, launched by Hezbollah
on the Lebanese-Syrian border, has multiple goals.
This battle was waged after a primary
Russian-US agreement regarding safe zones in Syria. Iran apparently did not
welcome this agreement, thinking it marginalized Tehran; its discontent was
manifested in efforts to assert its influence in Syria and Lebanon, where the
Arsal battle is taking place.
The Iran-backed Hezbollah paved the way for
this battle through a large political media campaign in Lebanon supported by
political forces, either because they are Hezbollah’s allies or have decided to
surrender to its power. Behind the fabricated speeches about “protecting
Lebanon,” they are in fact working to create a safe zone for future repatriated
Syrian refugees. Iran also wants to strengthen its areas of influence in Syria
and tighten the safety belt around these areas.
Hezbollah knows that no one in Lebanon can
object to this battle because no one wants to keep Jabhat Fateh Al-Sham (JFS),
the militant group formerly known as Al-Nusra Front, controlling the barren
areas on the borders. Hezbollah knows very well how and when to take advantage
of decisive moments.
Hezbollah waged these battles, supported by
shallow patriotic feelings, and undermining the role of the military
institution on the borders. Hezbollah was able to get the needed compassion and
support by launching a campaign of hatred against the Syrian refugees by
spreading racist videos, in which Lebanese were seen beating Syrians, following
the killing of Syrian detainees tortured by the Lebanese army. Hezbollah sowed
misperceptions about Syrian refugees and the terrorists.
Patriotism in Lebanon today is just blind,
ignorant hatred, and allows for the depiction of what is going on in Jaroud
Arsal as a battle against terrorism. It is in fact a battle to confirm regional
Iranian influence and undermine Lebanon even more.
What homeland are they defending, when the
citizens’ feelings are being fueled with hatred against refugees, who are
portrayed as terrorists?
The Lebanese have accepted the army’s
killing of four Syrian detainees because they believed that this will pave the
way for a stronger state fighting terrorism. However, it is really about
preparing the soil for a wider regional sectarian plan.
Hezbollah is today the sole decision-making
power in Lebanon. The government has to secure the party’s mission in Syria, in
return for trivial rewards. No one cares about refugee camps being set on fire,
detainees being tortured and killed, a journalist being arrested for commenting
on Facebook or a lawyer being threatened because she dared to defend victims of
torture. All this no longer offends anyone in Lebanon, and we cannot escape the
fact that Lebanon is now a state ruled by Hezbollah.
What is happening in Arsal is that
Hezbollah is expanding its influence, with the Lebanese army remaining mute.
When there is no value to borders, sovereignty and citizens, the end of Lebanon
becomes a crystal clear reality.
A string of rapid-fire developments this
weekend in Qatar, the United States, and the United Arab Emirates will likely
mark this as the turning point that nudged the seven-week-old GCC crisis
towards a resolution. A combination of public statements, practical policy
measures, and a veritable armada of foreign mediators should prompt indirect
negotiations in the coming week, leading to direct talks soon after that.
The bitter conflict that saw Saudi Arabia,
the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt impose a land, sea, and air siege of Qatar on June 5
now appears to be solvable, due to three critical new developments. First, the
US has intervened forcefully, repeatedly, and publicly to end the disputed, and
on Friday called for removing the land blockade of Qatar because Washington is
"satisfied" with Qatar's new counterterrorism actions.
Qatar for its part has responded defiantly,
but with political acumen - launching a strong counterterrorism financing
policy with the US, showing that it has almost totally absorbed the
inconveniences and cost hikes from the failed siege, and repeating its
willingness to negotiate a resolution based on principles that apply to all
parties. The Saudi-Emirati-led siege-masters, for their part, seem to have
recognised that their case against Qatar was gaining no significant supporters
around the world, while Qatar enjoyed deep and widespread backing.
The points of convergence that will allow
Qatar and its erstwhile Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) partners to resolve
their dispute were already evident in early July in the six principles that the
GCC besieging states issued and demanded that Qatar accept - replacing the
original 13 "non-negotiable" and highly exaggerated demands they had
made in mid-June. The six principles all focus on internationally accepted
norms for fighting terrorism and terror financing, respecting the sovereignty
of other states, and abiding by negotiated agreements.
The Friday night speech by the emir of
Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, his first since the crisis erupted, was
forceful, defiant, and steadfast, but not aggressive or insulting. It captured
three critical dimensions of this crisis to date: 1) the vital importance of
strong domestic and regional support that allowed Qatar to resist the siege and
reject the original 13 demands, 2) Qatar's desire to negotiate on the basis of
shared values, mutual respect, non-interference, and without wild pressure
tactics like the siege, that all GCC states should commit to, and, 3) Qatar
will safeguard above all its sovereignty and its promotion of freedom of
The Emirati Minister of State for Foreign
Affairs said on Friday that, "The Qatari decision to revise their law
regarding the financing of terrorism is a step in the right direction towards
addressing the terrorism blacklist of 59 entities [which the besiegers had issued
in mid-June]. The pressure from the crisis has borne fruit."
Whether indeed pressure on Qatar caused it
to respond, or Qatar's resistance to the exaggerated and unrealistic original
13 Saudi-Emirati demands caused them to be discarded quietly in the middle of
the night, will long be debated by partisans of both camps. More importantly,
the US now seems to have pressured all sides to find a speedy and peaceful
solution, and all parties share a set of principles and concrete actions they
can agree on and refine into an agreement.
At the same time, major countries like the
US and Germany are already getting involved logistically to make any new
agreement stick, while half a dozen international mediators are working hard to
find the magic formula to end the siege and resume normal relations among the
fractured GCC states - the latest being the Turkish president and the European
Union foreign relations chief who will visit the Gulf in the coming days.
Thanks to the Saudi-Emirati climb-down from
their slightly hysterical original demands and the Qatari commitment to
universally accepted counterterror and sovereign non-interference principles,
conditions exist today that could allow all concerned to end the crisis while
saying they achieved their objectives and retained their honour and their
Award-winning new mechanisms of national
and political face-saving will have to be created to finalise an agreement to
resolve this dispute, probably drawing on commitments by states beyond the GCC
or even the Arab League, perhaps even using available instruments from
multinational organisations like the United Nations or the Organisation of
When the dust settles on this dispute, many
lessons will be learned by all concerned, including small and big countries,
and Arab and non-Arab states. At least two important ones have already been
First, strong-armed, gangland-like pressure
tactics will not succeed in securing submission from countries whose policies
align with international norms, and whose citizens genuinely express solidarity
across society and state. Second, virtually the entire world respects policies
that promote pluralism, freedom of expression, open exchange of ideas and total
human development, and rejects policies that limit the ability of men and women
to use all their intellectual and cultural faculties in the service of building
more stable societies.
By Ahmad al-Farraj
All indications suggest that Qatar is
counting on buying time and internationalizing the Gulf crisis. To achieve this
end, Doha recruited all its media outlets inside the country and abroad to
forge facts. It went as far as distorting official statements and altering
It goes without saying that Qatar has
always denied that some media outlets are affiliated with it and funded by it –
one of the journalists it hired in Doha for this purpose has recently scandalized
it though. What’s strange about these websites is that they worked on
publishing everything that harms Saudi Arabia, and they’ve done so even before
the decision to boycott was made.
These outlets are managed by suspicious
Israeli Azmi Bishara who is aided by a group of Arab mercenaries who manage the
so-called Qatari propaganda machine and who get promoted and richer the more
they harm the Saudi kingdom.
What’s strange is how Gulf citizens who
support the Brotherhood, particularly in Saudi Arabia, provide Azmi Bishara and
his mercenaries of everything that harms their country to publish it on
websites affiliated with Qatar. Many of the Saudi Brotherhood supporters visit
Qatar regularly and the latter honours them and takes pictures of them while carrying
expensive gifts and cheques.
Qatar does not honour them for nothing but
it honours them in exchange of providing services that harm their country.
These figures have not realized the magnitude of the crime they’ve committed
until after the boycott decision was made. They ended up in trouble as they
could not side with their country out of fear they will be blackmailed by
This exposed them and showed their true
colour to the Saudi people. This is one of the boycott’s positive results as
before the boycott, Brotherhood supporters concealed their intentions, claimed
they are patriots and used religion to deceive Saudi youths.
Qatar did not just establish and support
media platforms that are also supported by Iran but it also bribed western
media outlets and writers who were once well-known. Yes, don’t be surprised.
The western media is not all pure as we thought it was or as they wanted us to
think. Human being, irrespective of his nationality or colour, gets weak before
the power of money and Qatar’s rulers are generous when it comes to that.
Who thought Qatar will pay David Hirst and
that he will manage a website for it? In addition to Hirst, there is Fareed
Zakaria, the star who has fallen and who transformed from an intellectual and
unbiased journalist into an Iranian mouthpiece speaking against the Saudi
kingdom and keeping silent when hosting guests affiliated with the fascist
regime of the supreme guide in Tehran.
The funds which Qatar spent on its media
platforms and the bribes it lavishly paid to Arab and western journalists will
not save it from evading the responsibility of supporting terrorism and terror
groups. Is Doha aware of that?
By Huda al-Husseini
22 July 2017
The Mercer Island High School’s magazine
The Islander recently conducted an interview with US Secretary of Defense James
Mattis. Mattis is a retired four-star general. He was a NATO official and a
commander of the joint forces command and has participated in wars in
Afghanistan and Iraq.
When asked why out of the thousand calls,
he responded to theirs, Mattis, who was a teacher at Stanford University for 3
years, said: “I’ve always tried to help students because I think we owe it to
you young folks to pass on what we learned going down the road so that you can
make your own mistakes, not the same ones we made.”
During the interview, Mattis who owns a
library that contains over a 1,000 books and who has a degree in history
focused on the importance of studying history, said: “I wish now looking back
on it, if I’d known what waited for me in life, I would have put a lot more
attention into history.”
“No matter what you’re going to go into,
whether it be business or politics or international relations or domestic
politics, I don’t think you can go wrong if you maintain an avid interest in
history. The reason I say that is you’ll find that really, there’s nothing new
under the sun, other than some of the technology we use,” he added.
When asked about the war on terrorism in
the Middle East in particular where ISIS is suffering military losses by
recruiting foreign fighters, Mattis said the key to establish an atmosphere of
stability in the Middle East is through education. “I think ideologies can be
countered by showing people a better education and hope for the future,” he
The Saudi Example
Mattis gave Saudi Arabia as an example and
cited late Saudi king Abdullah bin Abdulaziz’s scholarships program which was
launched in 2005 to enable academically qualified Saudi students to study
abroad in esteemed in order to contribute to their country’s economic and
Mattis added that Middle Eastern countries
must become more productive on the economic level to guarantee that they can
confront the challenges confronting society and improve education. He then
talked about Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and commended his efforts
to shift the kingdom’s economy from a consumer economy into a productive
economy and described this as “a revolutionary effort.”
Mattis then focused on youths’ energy and
said youths must be part of a positive environment in order to be safe and
protected and avoid being recruited by extremist groups.
He then went back to discussing history
which he said it “will show you not all the answers, but it’ll tell you a lot
of the questions to ask.” Mattis voiced his rejection of ideological people and
said: “It’s like those people just want to stop thinking” as they reject those
who are not like them. He asked why they bother and make so much effort to show
that “the other” is evil or crazy. “None of us are perfect and all-knowing,” he
When asked about war, Mattis voiced his
admiration of Greek historian and leader Thucydides who wrote the first book
about history 2,000 or 3,000 years ago. He said: “The fundamental nature of
war, you go all the way back to Thucydides” who said that the motive for war is
fear, honor and interests and they all still exit to this day”.
“What he wrote over 2,000 years ago, 3,000
years ago still consumes people. That’s what I meant about studying history,”
Mattis said. He added that although technology has become part of war, the
latter is “still full of fear and courage, cowardice and duplicity, treachery,
and clarity, honesty and confusion.”
When President Donald Trump picked him as
Secretary of Defense, he said before the Congress that the military institution
must be lethal. In the interview with The Islander, he explained: “The way that
you get your diplomats listened to in an imperfect world is you make certain
you back them up with hard power. So what you have to do is make certain that
your foreign policy is led by the diplomats, not by the military. I meet for
breakfast once a week with Secretary of State Tillerson and I’ll advise him on
the military factors for his foreign policy. I think that’s where diplomats
lead and the military then reinforces the diplomats.”
On what will happen after ISIS is defeated,
Mattis explained how Tillerson held a conference in Washington 7 weeks ago. As
many as 65 countries and military, financial and humanitarian organizations
participated in it and Mattis spoke during it.
Mattis told The Islander: “You don’t have
to have the Americans do it all. There are many nations that said, if you will
lead, we will contribute. Many nations don’t trust each other as much as they
trust America, no matter what you read in the newspapers right now.”
“We spent 85 percent of the meeting not
talking about the military aspects. I think what you want to do is look at the
Marshall Plan, but instead of the American’s carrying the full burden or even
the heaviest burden.” Mattis acknowledged America’s “defeat” of wars after
military victories. He noted that: “The most important thing is, if you have to
go to war, then do everything you can not to go to war if at all possible.”
Mattis explained that in Desert Storm, the
US achieved victories on all levels. He said that in that war, President Bush,
the first President Bush, said ‘we’re not going to tolerate a nation being
taken over,’ and went to war.
“And we went in, kicked them out of Kuwait,
freed Kuwait, and then he would not go any further. Some people said ‘oh we’re
winning let’s charge into Baghdad.’ He said ‘nope. all we’re going to do is
free Kuwait.’ We went in with more troops than we needed and we ended it
quickly, because he had the political end state right. Even the Russians helped
us in that war by the way. They told us exactly what their radars they’d given
Saddam Hussein could do so we knew where we could fly through the radar
Trust with Arabs
Asked how the US can create an atmosphere
of trust with the Arab people, especially in Iran, he said: “That’ll be a
little tough, since it’s not really an election. It is the Supreme Leader who
decides who gets to run. It would be like having the current American president
decide who gets to run in the next campaign, and by the way, when they come in
he stays in the White House and the others just kind of rotate through. So the
point is that this is a country that is acting more like a revolutionary cause,
not to best interests of their own people so it’s very, very hard. What you
have to do eventually is what then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton did,
which was to move sanctions, economic sanctions, against them and force them to
the negotiating table because they want to stay in power.”
He added: “They tried to murder an Arab
ambassador in downtown Washington D.C. for example. Right now, they have moved
ballistic missiles down to Yemen that were shot into Saudi Arabia from Yemen.
It is going to be very hard to deal with them. So somehow, you don’t want to
unite the Iranian people with that unpopular regime because if you pressure
them both then they will grow together. We’ve got to make certain that the
Iranian people know that we don’t have any conflict with them. Iran is
certainly the most destabilizing influence in the Middle East.”
Mattis then discussed Syria and said Bashar
al-Assad’s regime has stayed in power thanks to Iran and Russia. “Russia right
now has chosen to be a strategic competitor with NATO and with the United
States, so this is an area they can compete in although frankly between US
military and the Russian military, we maintain very open communications with
each other. We’re not engaged in the fight to get rid of Assad, we’re just
there fighting ISIS. The Russians are trying to figure out how to get out of it
Why Is Qatar Holding On To a Newspaper
The Washington Post published a report
claiming that the Emiratis were the ones who hacked the Qatari news agency and
published news pieces – as the Qataris allege – which sparked the crisis with
the four countries.
No official sources confirmed this report
but the Qatari authorities rushed to circulate it. Its satellite channels and
dailies republished it and reported it like it was conclusive evidence that
will get Qatar out of the trouble or rather the dilemma for which the Hamads,
i.e. Emir Tamim and his father Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, are responsible.
The Qataris’ celebration of a newspaper
report that was not confirmed by any official sources is proof of weakness and
it clearly indicates that they sense they are in real trouble which they don’t
know how to overcome.
This is why they viewed the news report as
a “victory” and used it as conclusive evidence although it’s nothing more than
a report that could be right or wrong.
By the way, the daily itself noted that the
report was not confirmed by any official or intelligence sources.
The joy that the Qatari authorities found
in this report confirms that they feel their stance is weak, especially as wise
citizens began to ask: “What will we, as Qatari citizens, benefit from Hamad’s
conspiracies and adventures that are as clear as day in Saudi Arabia, the UAE,
Bahrain and Egypt? Can a small country like Qatar bear the price of these
absurd practices and support terrorism when the entire world is determined to
pursue it, fight it and seek to dry up its funding?”
Resorting to a news report in a daily and
using it as conclusive evidence rather than as a piece that is probably right
or wrong – as a Qatari who complained to me said – was not meant for people
abroad or to other Gulf countries, but rather directed to the Qatari people who
began to complain of the Hamad’s irrational and childish political acts and of
squandering money to accomplish ambitions that are closer to madness. There are
reports which confirm that Emir Tamim, to whom his father handed over but who’s
actually an emir with no real powers, is very upset with what’s happening and
is completely against these mad practices which no sane man approves of.
The reports added that Tamim and his mother
despise Hamad bin Jassem bin Jaber and hold him directly responsible for the
dilemma, the repercussions of which worsen with time.
The Hamad’s confusion while confronting the
alliance of four countries comprising Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain
and their insistence not to be responsive are allegedly matched by desperate
and secret attempts in which they (Tamim and his father) are willing to accept
the demands of the four boycotting countries. They are willing to do so in
secret but not publicly.
The Gulf countries and Egypt began to lose
faith in Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, who is Qatar’s real ruler. Their previous
work with him confirmed to them that he is untruthful and an evasive man who
does not keep his word.
This time the four countries will not agree
to restore normalcy unless the demands, particularly the list of 13 demands
which they submitted to Qatar last month, are publicly approved before the
He who feels lonely and isolated without
any friends or relatives in a barren desert deals with a mirage like it is
water. This is the Qataris’ reality these days.
Kuwait’s decision to expel Iranian
diplomats and close down some of the Iranian embassy’s offices suggests that
the situation has become intolerable and that Kuwait, the Gulf state, which has
been friendly to its Iranian neighbour, has run out of patience.
Kuwait has been very patient with regard to
its neighbour’s intransigence and acts that hurts with Kuwait’s national
security. Iran’s behaviour has been the same since the sectarian regime came to
power in 1979 and the Khomeini era began.
But there are questions craving for
attention. Who blew up the convoy of Kuwait’s former and late Emir Sheikh Jaber
al-Ahmad? Who blew up Kuwait’s popular cafes? Who hijacked a passenger
aircraft? Who recruited the Kuwaiti cell in Mecca? Who established the Khomeini
terrorist cell in Kuwait, known as the Abdali cell?
In August 2015, Kuwaiti interior ministry
said that a number of suspects who possessed weapons were arrested. The seized
weapons were found in a farm in Abdali near the Iraqi borders and in houses
owned by the suspects and included 19 tons of ammunition, 144 kilograms of
explosives, 68 different types of arms, 204 grenades and electric detonators.
At the time, the Iranian embassy issued a
statement condemning the Kuwaiti interior ministry. This upset many Kuwaitis
and they have every right to be angry. The Iranian foreign ministry has today
condemned Kuwait and threatened it following its recent “sovereign” measure,
which it took after the Kuwaiti judiciary made a decision regarding the
terrorists of the Abdali cell.
The cell’s members are being pursued and
monitored. Following reports that they escaped on board Iranian boats and
headed to the Khomeini republic.
Let us also recall the attack on the
Bahraini Jaw Prison last January, which was meant to break out members of a
terrorist cell after killing a Bahraini policeman. The plan failed after
Bahrain’s security forces captured the wrongdoers before they reached the
Kuwait has for decades been lenient with its
neighbor. Partisan political figures supporting the Khomeini republic – such as
famous MP Abdul-Hamid Dashti – have enjoyed decent margin of activity in
Kuwait. A while ago, Minister of Foreign Affairs Sheikh Sabah al-Khaled went to
Tehran to mediate between Iran and the Gulf countries. But at the end of it
all, this is how Iran has rewarded Kuwait.
Kuwait’s official statement voiced “regret
over the negative developments in relations between the two countries.” This is
not the first crisis to erupt between Kuwait and Tehran as there have been
other developments, one of which happened five years ago.
The moot point is that Iranian
intransigence will not end until it destroys everything. According to their
fatal illusion, they think they are God’s representatives. This is the
Iran is not a country that one can reach an
understanding with. The best solution is a “truce” as for peace, yet there
The Al-Aqsa Metal Detectors Aren't a
Yesterday, thousands of Palestinians came
to Jerusalem to perform the most simple, most peaceful act: prayer.
Palestinians - Muslims and Christians, women and men, young and old - prayed in
the streets after refusing to enter through the new metal detectors and
barricades erected by Israel in front of the al-Aqsa compound. Israeli forces,
armed with live ammunition, stun grenades, sound bombs, water cannon and tear
gas, came prepared to kill.
And they did: by the day's end Israeli
forces and armed settlers had killed three young Palestinian men and injured
more than 450 others, some of them very seriously. Israeli forces even raided a
Palestinian hospital in an attempt to arrest those injured by their weaponry.
Israel claims that the metal detectors are
necessary for Israel's "security" following an incident last week in
which two armed Israeli officers were killed. These metal detectors are not
about security, but rather about deliberately attempting to bar Palestinians
from their places of worship. Contrast, for example, Israel's recent stance
towards the Temple Mount Faithful - a group of Jewish extremists who have
openly announced that they seek the destruction of the al-Aqsa compound in
order to build a Jewish temple in its place.
Yet, while openly advocating for the ethnic
cleansing of Palestinians and the destruction of Muslim holy sites, the Israeli
government continues to allow this group to enter the al-Aqsa compound
(including with arms) under the guise of "freedom of religion".
In 1990, this group attempted to lay a
cornerstone for a Jewish temple at the compound triggering protests in which
some 20 Palestinians died.
The demand for freedom of religion for
Palestinians - the ability to worship without the interference of Israel's
armed forces - is conveniently ignored. The metal detectors must be viewed in
their proper context: as another of Israel's settler-colonial acts of erasing
us, the indigenous population, erasing our homes, our culture and our religious
sites and replacing us with settlers.
For his part, Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu
is happy to see Jerusalem erupt in violence. Facing a corruption investigation
for a submarine scandal, Netanyahu is refusing to remove the metal detectors so
as to ensure that attention is deflected from this deal and instead focused on
violence. You see, in Israel, "security" sells - it ensures votes and
ensures that corruption charges are deflected.
To be clear, no Palestinian wants to see
their holy sites turned into places of armed conflict. But using the guise of
"security", Israel has ensured that we, Palestinians, live as
prisoners in our homeland.
In the name of "security," Israel
expropriates Palestinian land. In the name of "security", Israel
builds Israeli-only settlements on stolen Palestinian land. In the name of
"security" Israel demolishes Palestinian homes and schools and in the
name of "security" Palestinians are besieged in Gaza, forced to live
without electricity, adequate medical supplies or water and even barred from
accessing the sea.
And, when Palestinians are gunned down by
mass murderers, as they were in the 1990s in Hebron by Baruch Goldstein, in the
name of "security", Palestinians - and not Israelis - are subject to
increased security restrictions. In short, Israel seeks to turn Jerusalem into
Hebron: blocked off from Palestinians, with convenience for Israeli Jews taking
precedence over Palestinian rights. So as Israel continues to gun down
Palestinians, who will provide security to Palestinians?
This security will not come from the
current unelected Palestinian leader, Mahmoud Abbas, who spent four days in
China as Palestinians were barred from accessing al-Aqsa compound and as Gazans
suffered under a siege that he has openly supported. Nor, of course, will it
come from a silent international community that only knows how to wring its
hands and meekly condemn Israel.
Rather, Palestinians will continue to
bravely stand and defend themselves, bowing down only to the God they worship
and never to Israeli diktats.
These days in Dakar, Bamako and elsewhere
in Francophone Africa, everyone is talking about French President Emmanuel
President Macron, born long after French
colonies became independent, displays an ostensible modernism, and - at least
on the surface - attacks the obsolete political apparatuses, which, according
to him, harm the vitality of the French society. As a result, perhaps too
naively, many Africans expected him to change the old "Francafrique"
- France's relations with its former colonies in Africa - for the better.
But the reality is more than disappointing.
So far, Macron not only insisted on the continuity of France's economic
dominance in the region as a former colonial power, but he also signalled his
support for French military presence in the continent. Within the first weeks
of his presidency, he has also clearly demonstrated that his assumptions about
Africa and Africans are just as racist and colonialist as his predecessors'.
The Colonial Money
Earlier this month at the G5 summit in
Mali, Macron responded to the leaders of several countries of the African franc
zone who see this currency as a cause of economic misfortunes.
"If you feel unhappy in the franc
zone, you leave it and create your own currency as Mauritania and Madagascar
did," the 39-year-old president said. "If you stay there [in the
franc zone], you must stop demagogic statements, making the CFA franc the
scapegoat of your political and economic failures and France the source of your
This statement, as one might expect,
triggered a flood of protests in Africa, and revived the debate on the
viability and the colonial legacy of the CFA franc.
The CFA franc, the franc of the French
colonies of Africa, was created on December 26, 1945, in the wake of the
Bretton Woods conference, in which allied countries decided on what the
international financial order should be like after World War II. According to
French authorities at the time, the main purpose of this new currency system
was to cushion the colonies from a strong devaluation of the franc.
In 1958, to settle the independence
movements that were gaining ground all over colonial Africa, a new constitution
was passed in Paris, transforming the French Union into the French Community -
a federation of states with their own self-government. Under this new
governance system, the CFA franc became the currency of the French Community of
Africa. But this status quo did not last long, as almost all states in the
newly formed "African French Community" declared independence from
France in the two years that followed the constitutional change.
The CFA franc, however, managed to survive
the declarations of independence.
After independence, several countries did
choose to leave the franc zone: Tunisia in 1958, Morocco in 1960, Guinea in
1959, Algeria in 1964, Madagascar and Mauritania in 1973. But a total of 14
countries, 12 of which are former French colonies, decided to continue using
CFA franc as their official currency.
At the moment, the CFA franc is the
official currency of the African Financial Community comprising eight countries
within the Economic and Monetary Union of West Africa (UEMOA), as well as the
Financial Cooperation in Central Africa, with six countries in this region.
The CFA franc is guaranteed by the French
Treasury. It had a fixed exchange rate to French franc until 1999, and now - to
the euro under agreements that force the countries of the franc zone to deposit
50 percent of their reserves in foreign currency to the French Treasury.
This currency, which is manufactured in
France, follows the fluctuations of the euro, thus depriving the countries that
use it from monetary sovereignty. That the CFA franc is bad for the economies
of the 14 countries using it is clear. A country cannot have an independent
economic path to development without control over its monetary policies.
The complaints of African leaders are
justifiable and by far not "demagogic". Macron made this statement
knowing full well that the colonial set-up of the CFA franc makes it quite
difficult for countries to launch a unilateral withdrawal, given the high costs
France's Continuing Military Presence In
Macron made his first official visit in
Africa to Mali - a country that is considered to be a brilliant symbol of
French military's triumphant return to the continent.
France launched an intervention in Mali in
2013 to push out fighters linked to al-Qaeda who had overtaken key northern
cities. That mission evolved into the current Barkhane deployment launched in
2014 with an expanded mandate for "counterterror" operations across
the Sahel. Currently, more than 4,000 French soldiers are participating in the
operation in five Sahel nations alongside UN and Malian troops.
From Serval to Barkhane, French military
operations in Africa are allegedly aiming "to fight terrorism" and
more specifically to "return to Mali its sovereignty over Timbuktu and
Kidal". But, of course, another objective of these military operations -
if not the primary one - is to protect French economic and geostrategic
interests in the region, such as exploitation of Nigerien uranium and Malian
gold. Also, it is well known that France is behind the creation of the G5 Sahel
(an institutional framework for regional cooperation in development and
security policies, incorporating Mauritania, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger and
Chad). The G5 helps France seal its military's influence in the region and President
Macron seems to be committed to maintaining the current unfair status quo.
During his visit to Mali, the new French
president reaffirmed France's commitment in the fight against terrorism in
Africa and assigned a quasi-subordinate role to G5 Sahel countries, indicating
that they can form indigenous armies, "to combat drug and human
trafficking" at the border areas.
During the same visit, Macron also managed
to offend Algeria, the mediator in the Malian crisis. At a joint press
conference with the Malian President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, Macron said:
"I will have a stronger demand from the states of the Sahel and
Algeria," he said, before stressing that "we cannot show any weakness
whatsoever with regard to terrorist groupings, regardless of domestic political
Macron's comments were meant to suggest
that Algeria is supposedly allowing al-Qaeda-linked individuals to freely move
in its territory.
Africa's 'Civilisational Problems'
But the harsh words on the CFA franc and
the subtle accusations against Algeria were nothing compared to his comments at
the G20 summit in Hamburg regarding Africa's so-called "civilisational
The young French president managed to make
several stigmatising declarations about Africa in the short time period that he
has been in office, reducing Africans to something sub-human. His declarations
were akin to the ones that have been used, since slavery, to justify the
extractions of African resources.
During a press conference at the G20 summit
in Hamburg, as he was responding to a question about the necessity of a
"Marshall Plan for Africa", Macron made his most offensive
declaration about Africa to date.
"The problems Africa face today are
completely different … and are civilisational," Macron told a reporter
from former French colony Ivory Coast.
"What are the problems? Failed states,
complex democratic transitions and extremely difficult demographic
transitions." He said that although France accepted to help with
infrastructure, education and healthcare, a "simple money transfer"
was not the answer.
"It's by a more rigorous governance, a
fight against corruption, a fight for good governance, a successful demographic
transition when countries today have seven or eight children per woman,"
Mr Macron added.
Macron's words bordered on deliberate
provocation, especially since the memory of the outrage caused by Nicholas
Sarkozy's Dakar speech is still fresh a decade later.
"The tragedy of Africa is that the
African has not fully entered into history ... They have never really launched
themselves into the future," Sarkozy had said in that speech delivered in
"The African peasant only knew the
eternal renewal of time, marked by the endless repetition of the same gestures
and the same words," he said. "In this realm of fancy ... there is
neither room for human endeavour nor the idea of progress."
Like Sarkozy and the countless other French
leaders before him, Macron sees Africa only through the prism of colonialism
and white supremacy. He carries, like a disease, the profound collective
European feeling of civilisational superiority and parallel fear of the
demographic strength of Africa.
Colonialists have long sought to control
African women's fertility, as colonial masters dreaded being outnumbered and
overpowered by the people they were enslaving and oppressing. Perhaps it was
Africa's demographic strength that helped it survive centuries of abuse and
What Mr Macron and the rest of France's
political elite need to understand is that our problem is neither demographic,
nor "civilisational". Our problem is colonialism and the entrenched
system of corruption and exploitation that Europe has set up and maintained in
Europe and North America continue to
approach the continent with this extractive behaviour and demand to deal with
African leaders not as equals. Historically, those who have resisted have
either been corrupted or killed.
What Mr Macron et al need to understand is
that times have changed and as much as the old system is entrenched, Africans
are now more than ever aware and ready to resist it. And they would not take
any more insults in silence.
By Salman al-Dossary
Forty-five days have passed since Saudi
Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt took their measures against
Qatar. A Kuwaiti mediation tried and strove to resolve the crisis, but the
isolated party ensured its failure from the very beginning when it leaked the
demands of the four Arab countries. It then went beyond that and did not even
comply with any of them.
The foreign ministers of the United States,
France, Britain and Germany toured the region and their luck was not any better
than Kuwait’s. The four countries are firm in their stance and say that Doha
signed the 2014 Riyadh agreement and has not committed to it, but it is time
that it does. Any mediation less than that is unacceptable.
Qatar in return is insisting against
respecting and committing to what it signed. It has announced that officially
and boasts about it. It believes that playing the waiting game will be enough
for the four countries to change their stance. It also believes that its
reserve of $300 billion will be enough to save it from the boycott of its
As long as Doha believes that it can wage a
long-term confrontation and insists on reneging on its pledges and as long as
the four countries believe that they have shut the doorway of evil that has
been open for too long, then there is no problem in filing away the Qatar
crisis after the emirate has become isolated and unwanted.
The crisis should be filed away until Doha
regains its memory and seriously and rationally deals with the problem. As long
as it does not change its political ideology, then its neighbours will be
better off continuing on a path that does not include it.
The Saudi cabinet stressed its firm stance
in continuing the measures adopted by the four countries until the Qatari
authorities completely comply with the fair demands, which include confronting
terrorism and achieving security and stability in the region. This is a stance,
that since day one of the crisis, the countries have not wavered on.
UAE State Minister for Foreign Affairs
Anwar Gargash said from London’s Chatham House on Monday: “We want a permanent
solution and not one that will prolong the crisis. Diplomacy will remain our
main course and we have said in the past that we will not escalate the situation
beyond what is permitted by international law.”
Indeed, the permanent solution of
rehabilitating the Qatari regime will require the four countries to continue
their decision to clip Doha’s political nails that have scratched so much that
blood has been shed everywhere. Any temporary solution will only exacerbate the
crisis and the region will once again return to square one. Without a permanent
and radical solution the crisis will continue and with greater intensity.
The difference this time is that the Qatari
policy will operate in dark rooms and it will be alone and isolated on its
path. It will not regain the ties that it exploited terribly in order to target
the national security of its neighbours.
The four countries have succeeded in
cutting the road halfway for Qatar. It will cross the remaining road when Doha
expresses its desire to return to their fold and implement the commitments that
are required of it.
It is certain that Qatar, which Gargash
described as far back as 1995 as a “rebel looking for a cause” and which has
found its way with extremist movements, will not be able to again play this
revolutionary role. After today, it will no longer be able to spark fires
throughout the region and be the only side with a fire truck.
One after the other, western foreign
ministers left the region without being able to give Doha what it is bargaining
on. The stances of Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain and the UAE are firm, their
vision is clear and the commitments are known.
Gradually, Qatar will run out of options
and the world, except for Iran and Turkey, is no longer even that concerned
with its crisis. The days have gone by and it has found itself isolated after
everyone washed their hands clean of it. If it was capable, as it claims, to
confront the measures taken against it, then this is its decision and choice.
The upcoming months will be a tough test of its claims.
The Kuwaiti mediation still stands and is
ready to search for a solution and not waste time in international tours. As
for the four countries, it is enough that they kept on giving Doha chance after
chance. They have placed its crisis above all others because they are eager for
their “sister” to return to them.
It is time however for them to walk without
her as they have several crises and files to deal with in the next phase and
away from Qatar, which ultimately chose to isolate itself.