Books and Documents

Middle East Press (03 May 2017 NewAgeIslam.Com)

All Former US Presidents Failed With Iran: New Age Islam's Selection, 03 May 2017

New Age Islam Edit Bureau

03 May 2017

All Former US Presidents Failed With Iran

By Dr. Majid Rafizadeh

Commemorating Allama Iqbal, the Great Poet and Philosopher of Islam

By Dr. Ali Al-Ghamdi

Will Security Become The Sustenance Of Humanity?

By Turki Aldakhil

The Deceitful Promises of Assad’s Allies

By Abdulrahman Al-Rashed

Violence Will Not Silence Patriotic Voices In Saudi Arabia’s Qatif

By Hassan Al Mustafa

Preemptive Hate and the Arab-American Relationship

By Dr. Amal Mudallali

Electing Kingdom to UN Commission Good for Saudi Women

By Maha Akeel

Without School, Iraq's Kids Are Lost To Poverty and Conflict

By Ahmed Aboulenein

Compiled By New Age Islam Edit Bureau


All Former US Presidents Failed With Iran

By Dr. Majid Rafizadeh

2 May 2017

We have heard it for almost four decades. Everyone thought it would work. Six US presidents tried it and failed repeatedly.

What is it?

Addressing Iran by engaging with or appeasing it one way or another.

Iran is a top national security threat to the US. Since the establishment of the Islamic Republic in 1979, many American generals have echoed what US Secretary of Defense James Mattis once remarked: That the three primary threats the US faced were “Iran, Iran, Iran.”

The Iranian government is sworn to incapacitate and damage the US. Many lives of Americans have been lost due to Iran and its proxies.

The Iranian government’s foremost and unchangeable slogan has been “Death to America, the Great Satan.”

Since 1979, Iranians have been told that they can change their leaders. That they can be made not to hate and hurt the people.

Jimmy Carter disregarded the rise of the extremist Islamic party of Iran’s founder Ayatollah Khomeini. He thought that diplomacy, soft power, and smiles would change Khomeini’s anti-America feelings.

What was the result? Iran took 52 American diplomats and citizens hostage and held them for 414 days until Carter left office.

Iran gave birth to Hezbollah, which committed terrorist attacks and killed hundreds of Americans. Additionally, Iran worked forcefully to scuttle US foreign policy objectives in the region.

Former President Ronald Reagan took a tougher stance, but it was not adequate.

His tougher position did help release the hostages, but he thought that engagement might change Iran’s antagonism toward Washington.

The Iran-Contra affair during Reagan’s second term did not make Tehran appreciate Washington’s assistance.

Instead, Tehran expanded its influence in Palestine, Lebanon, Syria and Iraq, and promoted radical Islam.

George H. Bush came to office addressing Iran with “Good will begets good will. Good faith can be a spiral that endlessly moves on.”

Iran betrayed again.

Bill Clinton promoted the idea that aligning with Iran’s “reformist” President Mohammad Khatami would empower the reformists against the hard-liners and fundamentally change the rogue state.

Clinton wanted to initiate an official diplomatic dialogue with Tehran. He eased economic restrictions on Iran.

What was the result? At the end of his term, the hard-liners were more empowered.

Iran escalated tensions with Washington. Tehran was sheltering Al-Qaeda members whose activities culminated in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

George W. Bush thought that engaging with Iran in Iraq and Afghanistan would make Iranian leaders feel that they are being respected, and may make the Iranian government a constructive and rational player in the region.

Instead, Iran took control of Iraq, used proxies to attack US forces, and infiltrated the Iraqi and Afghan political, security and economic establishments.

Former President Barack Obama took possibly the most extreme measures to “change Iran for the better.”

He bombarded the Iranian government with concessions and gifts. He helped lift four rounds of UN Security Council’s economic sanctions against Iran, turned a blind eye to Iran’s military adventurism, ignored Iran’s ballistic missile activities, disregarded Iran’s violation of the nuclear agreement several times, took no notice of criticism about Iran’s meddling in international affairs of many regional countries, ignored Iran’s support for militia groups and Bashar Assad in bombarding and killing people, paid no attention to the fact that Iran was ranked top state sponsor of terrorism and ranked first in executing people per capita, and to its human rights violations.

What Was The Result?

The Iranian government became more aggressive than ever before, espousing more anti-America sentiment, harassing US Navy ships and arresting American sailors.

Iran became more militarily engaged in Syria and Iraq.

Tehran began a more aggressive interference in domestic affairs of many countries, including Bahrain, Yemen and Lebanon.

As a result of Iran’s sectarian agenda in Iraq and Syria, the situation became more radicalized and militarized; Daesh and other radical groups gained more power in the region and around the world. The Middle East became a more dangerous place.

President Donald Trump should look at this historical evidence that speaks for itself.

Engagement with Iran and appeasement policy with Iranian leaders has not worked for almost four decades, and will not work as long as the revolutionary, religious, theocratic, authoritarian and anti-American political establishment of the Islamic Republic is in power.

Source: arabnews.com/node/1093701/columns


Commemorating Allama Iqbal, the Great Poet and Philosopher of Islam

By Dr. Ali Al-Ghamdi

May 3, 2017

The Pakistan Repatriation Council (PRC) recently organized a symposium to mark the 79th death anniversary of Allama Muhammad Iqbal, the great Muslim poet, philosopher, thinker and lawyer. Allama Iqbal is widely known as the Poet of Islam or the Poet of the East. Several prominent figures from the Pakistani community in Jeddah attended the symposium, which began with the recitation of a few verses from the Holy Qur’an. Some poems glorifying Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) were recited on the occasion.

A host of speeches were delivered and poems recited to commemorate the extraordinary talent and genius of Allama Iqbal in a wide range of poetry, philosophy, law, economics and politics. When I was invited to deliver a speech about this versatile genius and icon, I started by thanking the PRC for holding such an event. I pointed out that it was impossible for me to do justice to Allama Iqbal when speaking about him either as a poet or philosopher or expert in law and economics or politician or social reformer. In each one of these categories, his contributions were immense and magnificent, and, therefore, it was difficult to describe them all in a speech.

Hence, I told the audience that I would focus on a few highlights of the multifaceted personality of this great Muslim genius. Allama Iqbal was born on 9 November 1877 in Sialkot city in the western part of Punjab Province of British India, which is now part of Pakistan. Iqbal received his early education from his father Sheikh Noor Muhammad. While a child, Iqbal was once reading the Holy Qur’an, and his father asked him what he was doing? His reply was that he was reading the Holy Qur’an. His father asked the same question on several similar occasions. Then, Iqbal asked his father what prompted him to ask that question? The father replied, “I wanted to explain that you should read the Holy Qur’an as if you were listening to it from Almighty Allah.” From that time, Iqbal started reading the holy book with deep understanding and reflections of its meaning and implications.

Sheikh Noor Muhammad wanted to see his son specialize in religious studies. However, his friend, Syed Mir Hassan, advised him not to restrict his son to studying at an Islamic seminary but instead enrol him in a regular school. His father listened to this advice and subsequently Mir Hassan became Allama Iqbal’s teacher and guide. He learned Persian, Arabic and Urdu and was admitted to Scotch Mission College in Sialkot where Mir Hassan was a professor of Arabic language. He received a diploma from Murray College Sialkot and later obtained his Bachelor of Arts in philosophy, English literature and Arabic from the Government College Lahore. He received his Masters of Arts degree from the same college. By that time, he was well versed in composing poetry. Allama Iqbal was influenced by the teachings of Thomas Arnold, his philosophy teacher at Government College Lahore. Arnold was also a professor of Arabic literature at the School of Oriental Studies in London.

After obtaining a Masters degree, Allama Iqbal worked as a teacher at the Government College for some time. Then, he travelled to Europe to pursue his higher education and earned a Doctor of Philosophy degree from a German university. He became well known as a philosopher and was often compared with the great philosophers of Germany such as Goethe and Nietzsche. He spent some time travelling in different parts of Europe. In response to an invitation from Benito Mussolini, he visited Italy where he delivered a lecture on the “Difference between European culture, Communism and Islamic culture.” He also visited Spain and the Mosque of Cordova. Allama Iqbal wrote some poems that dealt with the lost glory of the Muslims in that country. On his way back to the Indian subcontinent, he passed through Egypt and visited Jerusalem. He composed some poems at Al-Aqsa Mosque, the third holiest mosque in Islam and the first qibla of Muslims.

Allama Iqbal was one of those who called for a separate nation for the Muslims of the subcontinent. It was said that he chose the name of Pakistan, but whether he chose the name or not, he worked hard to achieve that goal through his prose and poetry. In the beginning, Quid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah stood for keeping India united. But eventually, Jinnah came to realize that the position of Allama Iqbal was right as far as the new nation of Pakistan was concerned. He then worked hard to realize the dream of the majority of Muslims in the subcontinent that ended up in the creation of Pakistan.

Unfortunately, Allama Iqbal did not live to see his dream come true. He died before the partition of the subcontinent into India and Pakistan. But he had no doubt that Pakistan would one day come into being and that it would include all of the Muslims of the subcontinent.

He also did not live to see that some of those who made sacrifices for Pakistan and chose to live in the new nation would have the misery, which has been experienced by the stranded Pakistanis in Bangladesh ever since the secession of East Pakistan and the creation of the new state of Bangladesh. It is the responsibility of the Pakistan government to repatriate and rehabilitate these hapless people in the country of their choice. I appeal to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to complete the work that he started in the past by reviving the Rabita Endowment, which was created to resolve the problem of the stranded Pakistanis.

Source: saudigazette.com.sa/opinion/commemorating-allama-iqbal-great-poet-philosopher-islam/


Will Security Become The Sustenance Of Humanity?

By Turki Aldakhil

2 May 2017

If you told a foreign journalist, between the years 2003 and 2006, that Saudi Arabia will defeat terrorism, he would have cynically smiled hinting that this is impossible.

Riyadh’s streets were witness to shocking scenes as vehicles with flashing light and heavy weapons roamed neighbourhoods following fierce raids. Men were decapitated and their heads were placed in fridges at homes right near drinking bottles. Terror cells had woken up from their slumber like monsters across Saudi Arabia.

As this was a common sight, this or that journalist would not have believed you. Another reason they will not believe you is their lack of faith in the local forces’ capability to fight terrorists and renewing their planning and tactical methods when cracking down on terrorism.

In 2006, all al-Qaeda leaders, from Yusef al-Ayeri to Abdulaziz al-Muqrin, Turki al-Dandani, Faisal al-Dakhil, Nimr al-Baqmi and others, were eliminated and hundreds of others were arrested. Al-Qaeda plots were thus nipped in the bud and the group’s remnants sought places to hide in Yemen.

Unique Experience

It was a unique experience for Saudi Arabia and the world has not forgotten about it. This was the most significant experience in terms of combating terrorism in the region and perhaps in the entire world.

During the joint meeting of Gulf foreign and defense ministers in Riyadh, in the presence of Prince Mohammed bin Nayef and Prince Mohammed bin Salman, ministers confirmed that security-related matters are the most difficult for countries in the region and that it is impossible to achieve welfare and stability without it.

A relentless campaign has been going on against terrorism. The interior ministry carries out combing operations in the kingdom and disciplines terrorist infiltrators at the borders while the defence ministry leads the alliance that consists of 40 countries and participates in the international coalition that is fighting ISIS in Iraq and Syria.

Saudi Arabia believes that pre-emptive action is essential in fight against terrorism. It started to believe in it particularly after it suffered at the hands of those who returned from Afghanistan, Chechnya, Bosnia, Kosovo, Iraq and Syria. Most al-Qaeda leaders carried Out their experiments there. The basic solution thus lies in eliminating cells where they are before they turn into a fatal disease.

Trump Administration

Few days ago, a CNN report urged Donald Trump’s administration to follow Saudi Arabia’s suit in terms of its fierce battle against terrorism and to adopt its approach in combating terrorist groups that Washington is fighting in Afghanistan, Syria and Iraq.

The report said: “Central to the program is the philosophy that raw firepower is not enough; the government must win the public theological battle against the misguided interpretations of Sunni Islam by ISIS and al-Qaeda. Such strategic thinking has led to various “soft” anti-terror initiatives by various Saudi government agencies. For instance, a new border security program is being launched that will cover 900 kilometers of the northern frontier of the kingdom with Iraq to prevent infiltration by ISIS-affiliated fighters. Further, the Saudi government has made it a crime for anyone to support ISIS and al- Qaeda and has blocked all support – including funding – from inside the kingdom. These strict controls have forced ISIS and al Qaeda operatives to self-fund from Iranian, Syrian, Iraqi and other Persian Gulf sources. Hence, targeting these funding sources has become a central objective of the Saudi counterterrorism program.”

The report is supported by statements made by top officials in the US and European countries, which believe that Saudi Arabia is the most prominent ally in the war against terrorism considering its experience and capabilities. Saudi Arabia has, through the Arab coalition, contributed to targeting al-Qaeda leaders and members in Yemen.

Some are bidding on Saudi Arabia in this war on terrorism and these bids fall within the context of “political propaganda” which is adopted by the terrorist resistance axis that is killing children using chemical weapons.

Saudi Arabia’s experience in confronting and combating terrorism may be incomplete but considering how seriously the country is targeted and all the pressure on it, it is so far the most successful and most comprehensive experience. Security is the sustenance of humanity in the years to follow. I hope we don’t reach a phase when security is “rarer than red sulphur!”

Source: english.alarabiya.net/en/views/news/middle-east/2017/05/02/Will-security-become-the-sustenance-of-humanity-.html


The Deceitful Promises of Assad’s Allies

By Abdulrahman al-Rashed

2 May 2017

During the years of war and negotiations, the allies of the Syrian worked on decreasing political pressures on them by selling promises. They’d say: “Don’t worry. We are seriously thinking about letting go of Bashar al-Assad as president and ending the fighting.”

Then few weeks later, they’d publish a clarification saying: “We don’t care about Assad and we accept assigning another president, but we’ll do that after Assad’s presidential term ends so we don’t violate the constitution.” Let’s note though that the Syrian constitution was never respected. Everyone eventually waited and elections were held in 2014. As per the usual charade, Assad won.

Days passed by, battles escalated and Assad’s forces regressed. Pressures surfaced again so they went back to making promises. They’d say: “Be patient. We are searching for alternatives for the regime or at least for an alternative to the president.”

Then after waiting and stalling, Assad’s allies announced they agree to a political solution that’s based on forming a joint government with the opposition. Following months of talks, they’d clarify their promises and say that what was meant by opposition is the opposition affiliated with the regime and not the “real opposition.”

The war then got worse than before and pressures increased whenever the Assad regime felt defeated or whenever it committed a crime. The Syrian regime allies then said they were discussing new ideas for a peaceful solution and hinted at changing the president.

They later submitted a new political project and said: “We agree that the Syrian people must choose the president they want through elections.” This is all reasonable and beautiful but then we got stuck into the details. Which people do they mean?

Those in regime-controlled areas or the 16 million Syrians who are not under the authority of the Syrian regime and which the latter views as terrorists? The entire situation eventually relapsed and wars escalated again while more promises were made.

Nobody’s Winning

The opposition cannot seem to win while the regime is not winning either as it only has a little percentage of its army and security forces left since many defected or died. Most regime forces are currently made up of a cocktail of foreign militias that are organized and managed by Iran.

We’ve learnt not to believe any of the Russian and Iranian political projects as they’re merely a negotiating tactic that aims to calm down international protests, neglect demands and drain enthusiasm. And as time passes by, no one gets anything.

I think this is what is happening now at the Astana negotiations. Leaked information about the talks makes one very optimistic to the point where we feel this is only for media consumption! Sources claim that Russians agreed to replace Assad and even proposed alternatives.

Whether they truly said so or not, the past years taught us that these promises are lies! The aim is to make people forget their demands. This is usually followed by shelling people using barrel bombs. More people are thus displaced while chaos expands in neighbouring countries.

Let’s contemplate and ask: Can the Syrian regime’s allies feel they need a reasonable political solution and stop selling fake political solutions? There’s at least one case that can make them engage in a serious conversation and end the war.

Arming The Opposition

The solution lies in lifting the ban on arming the Syrian opposition with advanced weapons. Positions will change if Syria transforms into a huge swamp for the Iranians and their militias. Tehran – in this case – will have to hold serious negotiations.

For the Iranians, the war is still relatively cheap. If 1,000 Iraqis or Pakistanis or Lebanese die, they just replace them with another 1,000 from these countries. They’re not losing jets or armoured vehicles because the opposition’s weapons are simple, like rifles, AK-47, RPGs and locally developed equipment like the hell cannon.

So long as the Iranians’ losses in Syria are related to personnel who are not Iranians and as long as the political cost is low, they will continue to work on their regional project and the war will thus go on for years. Belligerents usually reconcile under the pressure of defeat but losses in Syria are mainly limited to foreign fighters who are imported to the Assad regime or civilians in areas which the regime does not control.

The latter are killed by barrel bombs and missiles and they have no means to defend themselves. This is why many Syrians are displaced. There are more than 12 million displaced Syrians because their only way to defend themselves is to simply flee. If the aim is to reach a reasonable political solution, then this will require reconsidering how to deal with the opposition and how to arm it in order to make everyone sit at the table of negotiations.

Source: english.alarabiya.net/en/views/news/middle-east/2017/05/02/The-deceitful-promises-of-Assad-s-allies.html


Violence Will Not Silence Patriotic Voices In Saudi Arabia’s Qatif

By Hassan Al Mustafa

2 May 2017

On April 16, unidentified gunmen opened fire on the house of Nabih al-Barahim, a former member of the municipality in Qatif in Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province. On March 9, Barahim was the victim of an assassination attempt and he was hospitalized after he was shot in his back and thigh.

This incident in April is the fourth in the series of attacks that targeted Barahim, an engineer, and his business and family. Barahim’s father and mother were at home when the shooting happened. Luckily, they were not injured and the perpetrators were caught on tape. The footage was submitted to the relevant security authorities.

Barahim was targeted because of his opinions that reject armed violence and reject targeting security men and citizens. He and his family have paid a high price for these stances.

During the past 30 years when the Gulf region went through several wars, Qatif, and particularly the town of Al-Awamiyah, never witnessed violence or chaos like the case is today.

The seriousness of what’s currently happening lies in the fact that those carrying out these violent operations are young men who lack political awareness and morals. They do not abide by any religious values that can deter them from committing crimes against civilians and security men.

Expansion Of Armed Groups

The absence of a political vision and the loss of values have led to the expansion of armed groups in Al-Awamiyah. These groups now attract individuals from outside the town. Some of these individuals are wanted for criminal charges that have nothing to do with politics or demands for reform and they think that slogans which oppose the authority may restore some of their reputation that has been tarnished due to acts that made the society reject them, such as theft.

Responsibility calls on scholars and the notables in Qatif to intensify their efforts – which have been launched for years now – to combat the terrorism of criminal groups. These efforts help lift the religious and social cover which these armed groups enjoy.

The sovereignty of law and limiting “violence” to the state are the basic principles of the modern national state. Fundamentalist groups like ISIS and al-Qaeda do not accept this logic. Criminal armed groups also reject this logic and they voice their rejection in the Eastern Province by working with terrorist groups to end the state’s “monopoly of arms.”

They seek to deprive this state of this privilege by taking up arms. They think that creating an atmosphere of intimidation and fear may increase their control over the people’s orientations in that area; however, the facts have proven that they’re wrong to think that.

Source: english.alarabiya.net/en/views/news/middle-east/2017/05/02/Violence-will-not-silence-patriotic-voices-in-Saudi-Arabia-s-Qatif.html


Pre-Emptive Hate and the Arab-American Relationship

By Dr. Amal Mudallali

3 May 2017

Upon reviewing the results of the Arab News/YouGov poll “The Arab Image in the US” in which 2,057 US citizens were surveyed, I recalled something that happened to me when I was a student taking a public transportation bus to my university in Washington.

A young man got on the bus and sat next to me. He quickly started a conversation by asking me where I was from. I paused before I answered, wondering if he would know the small country from which I am from. I decided instead to make it easier for him and told him I was an Arab.

His response? “I hate Arabs!” I was offended and horrified and shot back by asking: “Why? Have they hurt you in any way?” He answered: “No. But you never know.”

It was an example of pre-emptive hate, I thought, and this story stayed with me. I remember it every time the American attitude toward the Arab world is discussed.

After reading about the findings of the Arab News/YouGov poll, which found “massive gaps in the US public knowledge about the region,” I wondered whether that bus rider even knew where the Arab region was. The poll found that 65 percent of the Americans said they do not know much about the Arab world and 81 percent could not identify it on a map.

Media coverage of the region was found to be lacking. Half of the Americans who were polled wanted more news about the Arab world than they are getting. The American public wants more coverage on Arab societal issues and more arts, science and culture coverage. A lack of knowledge regarding the region is at the core of the problem as 35 percent said they do not know much about the Arab world and are keen to find out more. However, 30 percent do not know much and said they are not interested in finding out more.

Interestingly, 52 percent of the respondents consider the media to be effective in depicting the true image of the region.

What is unbelievable is that after more than six decades of American involvement in the region politically, and over a decade of military involvement, most Americans could not identify the Arab world on a map. However, they were able to identify specific countries as being part of the Arab world.

The most astonishing finding, in my view, was that 21 percent of the Americans polled identified the “Sultanate of Agrabah” as part of the Arab world even though it is a fictional place from the movie “Aladdin.” A previous poll conducted by Public Policy Polling during the American election campaign in 2016 found that 30 percent of Republican voters supported bombing Agrabah, but thankfully 57 percent said they were not sure!

Negative Attitudes

American attitudes toward Arabs have been negative for a long time, even before the 9/11 attacks, according to polling data from the past decade.

To be fair to Americans, Arab attitudes toward the US are not much better. A poll by the Pew Research Centre conducted between 2002-2003, for example, found that the US was less popular in the Middle East than in any other part of the world.

Why do the Arabs and the Americans seem as though they are ships passing in the night? It is a historic and very complex relationship that does not lend itself to the over-simplified question that was asked during the Bush era: “Why do they hate us?” The reason is a combination of politics, culture and economics as well as an ingrained habit and a lack of knowledge about each other.

Jim Zogby, one of the best authorities on America and the Arabs, told me: “America’s understanding of the Arab world is derivative. The Arabs have not projected an image of their own so the Americans get it from the media, politics and from popular culture.”

He also talked about the role of education, saying that in American schools there are more students who study ancient Greek than Arabic. He added that there is little knowledge of Islamic civilization and no appreciation of Arab science or literature. What they know comes from the media and political culture and that is skewed around Israel, he said.

David Pollock of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP) — another polling expert who has studied attitudes in the region and US-Arab relations for a long time — agrees that it is a negative and grim picture and believes it is due to a combination of factors. For some people in the US “it is a general sense of isolationism” and “a trend where people are like this with all foreign countries and not only the Arabs,” he said. Others are “prejudiced” but most importantly, “there is a kind of tendency to associate the whole region with terrorism, refugees and civil war. The region does not have a positive image and a lot of it is based on ignorance and narrow- mindedness.”

However, he also believes that it works both ways. He has studied Arab views of the US and found similar trends but in both cases attitudes fluctuate, he said. He also found a major difference between the views of the elites and the street.

Zogby put his finger on the problem, saying the media plays an important role in forming attitudes and these media organizations “found their experts and they are people who have hostile attitudes toward the Arabs. They have in-house commentators from previous administrations who have an ax to grind and they … view the Arab world within the prism of Israel.”

But the Arab world also has a role in the persistence of the negative image that the region and its people suffer in the US.

“The Arabs did nothing,” Zogby said. They “think the president comes and gives a speech and that is enough. They have done nothing to craft their image.”

If “you do nothing to define yourself, others do it for you,” he added.

Pollock agrees that the Arabs “are not working on it lately. It is more lobbying, public relations and media efforts of different countries.”

The problem with this approach is that it is too concentrated on individual countries and their bilateral relationships with the US government rather than the general public and grassroots sentiment.

According to Pollock, working to change the general public’s attitude is an “uphill battle and it takes big effort but it is worth doing.”

Source: arabnews.com/node/1093791/columns


Electing Kingdom to UN Commission Good for Saudi Women

By Maha Akeel

3 May 2017

Western human rights groups have harshly criticized the election of Saudi Arabia to the UN Commission on the Status of Women. They point to the male guardian system that controls women’s lives, gender segregation in public places, and the fact that it is the only country that does not allow women to drive. There is no denying these issues are unjust, insulting and an obstacle to women’s progress. But let us look at the bigger picture.

Saudi Arabia, a relatively young country, has transformed within a few decades from a tribal society to a modern state. Illiteracy among women has been reduced tremendously, women account for more than half of university graduates, and more are entering the workforce in various fields.

Education and economic empowerment will lead to more change in previously held convictions regarding women’s roles and status in society, including the right to drive and be their own guardian. Women work as teachers, professors, doctors, nurses, journalists, artists and businesswomen. They hold leadership positions as CEOs, university presidents and deans, heads of hospitals and departments and editors in chief.

This means they are mixing with men in the workplace and in most public places. Other laws and procedures in favor of women regarding marriage, divorce, child custody and domestic abuse have been adopted, and there is constant discussion about further development, especially now that a Family Council has been established.

Critics point to the low Saudi ranking in the Global Gender Gap Report of the World Economic Forum (WEF). Looking at the report’s four areas, the Kingdom scores high on educational attainment and health and survival, but very low on economic participation and opportunity and political empowerment. One of the goals of Vision 2030 is to increase the percentage of women in the workforce and appoint more women to leadership positions.

This is happening, with decisions supporting female employment and appointing them to top management. Politically, as well as being appointed to the Shoura Council (Parliament) since 2013, women have gained the right to vote and run as candidates in municipal elections, winning 21 seats in 2015. I expect that next year’s report will show a better Saudi ranking.

More must be done to advance Saudi women’s rights, particularly regarding guardianship and driving, which must be revised. It is absurd that a female surgeon, university president or CEO needs permission from her male guardian to travel, or is forbidden to drive her own car.

These demands do not contradict Islam and Shariah; Islam guarantees equal rights for women. The problem is in interpretation of the text and its implementation. Changing people’s beliefs, persuading them to come out of their comfort zone, and challenging them to adapt to a new reality takes time, but it will happen.

As Helen Clark, former administrator of the UN Development Program (UNDP) and prime minister of New Zealand, wisely said in response to news of the election of Saudi Arabia to the UN commission: “It’s important to support those in the country who are working for change for women. Things are changing, but slowly.”

The UN says the Commission on the Status of Women works to “promoting women’s rights, documenting the reality of women’s lives throughout the world, and shaping global standards on gender equality and the empowerment of women.” What better place to continue empowering Saudi women and advocating for their rights?

Rather than looking at the matter from a narrow, judgmental and biased perspective, it would serve Saudi women much better to have an inclusive, encouraging and tolerant approach that accommodates diversity while providing advice and support.

Source: arabnews.com/node/1093716/columns


Without School, Iraq's Kids Are Lost To Poverty and Conflict

By Ahmed Aboulenein

May 2, 2017

Fear of indoctrination keeps the children away from school, and many of them are now breadwinners for their families

Ahmed Abdelsattar was 14 when Daesh swept into Mosul and declared a caliphate in 2014. Fearing he would be indoctrinated and sent to fight by the militants, his parents took him out of school.

Three years later, he sells ice cream at a refugee camp for internally displaced Iraqis. His family has lost its home and his father is too old for the manual labour positions at the camp, which means he is his family's sole breadwinner.

Coupled with a shortage of teachers, books and supplies, the 17-year-old sees no reason to go to the makeshift schools set up in the Khazar camp near Erbil.

"Going to school is now useless. I am helping my family," he said. He adds that it is too late for him anyway. Had his education not been interrupted, Abdelsattar would be graduating in a few weeks.

Abdelsattar is one of tens of thousands of children orphaned or left homeless and forced to work to support their families in Mosul, the militant's last major city stronghold in Iraq.

Returning these children to school is a priority for Iraq to end the cycle of sectarian violence fuelled in part by poverty and ignorance, the United Nations says.

"Investment in education is urgently needed, without which Iraq could lose an entire generation," said Laila Ali, a spokeswoman for the UN's children agency Unicef.

"Children from different ethnicities and religions, in the same classroom, will promote a cohesive society and will get children to think differently."

Even in the half of Mosul east of the Tigris River that has been retaken by Iraqi forces, where 320 of the 400 schools have reopened, Reuters interviewed dozens of children working as rubbish collectors, vegetable vendors or mechanics.

"I did not go to school because Daesh came and they would teach children about fighting and send them to fight," says 12-year-old Falah by his vegetable cart in Mosul.

Within earshot, fighting was still raging. Just across the river, government troops, artillery and aircraft were attacking Daesh's last stronghold in western Mosul.

Falah has four younger brothers. None of them have ever been to school.

Huzayfa studied up to the fifth grade but stopped when Daesh came. The militants taught math using bullets, rifles and bombs, said the 12-year-old, who sells scrap metal.

"They taught us 'one bullet plus one bullet' and how to fire weapons," he said.

The local education department in Nineveh province, of which Mosul is the capital, estimates 10 per cent of children in east Mosul are still out of school. There has been no official count for almost four years, it said.

There are also no official statistics on the dropout rate, a spokesman for Iraq's Education Ministry said, especially as many families have fled Mosul or Iraq altogether.

"We are counting on parent-teacher conferences and local officials to convince parents to send their kids back to school," said Ibrahim Al Sabti.

Government funds normally allocated to education have been depleted by corruption and mismanagement, lawmakers and non-governmental organisations say, citing the results of investigations in 2014 and 2016.

Oil-rich Iraq historically had very high literacy rates and primary school enrolment was 100 per cent in the 1980s.

Illiteracy became rampant after international sanctions were imposed due to the August 1990-1991 occupation of Kuwait. Economic hardship was made worse by the civil war that broke out after the 2003 US-led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein.

Schools in east Mosul started reopening in January and so far around 350,000 students are back in class, compared to 183,229 in 2013, with much of the increase due to displaced people from west Mosul and surrounding villages.

Unicef estimates around 1.2 million Iraqi children are not in school nationwide.

The Iraqi military expects to dislodge Daesh from the rest of Mosul in May, but the militants are mounting a strong resistance in the densely populated Old City.

Iraqi troops began their offensive in October backed by a US-led international coalition providing air and ground support. The militants are fighting back using booby traps, suicide motorcycle attacks, sniper and mortar fire and sometimes shells filled with toxic gas.

For children like Ahmed Abdelsattar, whether or not the group is finally ousted from Mosul has little bearing on their fate.

If he is lucky, he will return to where his home used to be in western Mosul's Al Jadida district, an area where local officials and eyewitnesses have said as many as 240 people may have died in March when a building collapsed after a blast, burying families inside. "The future is lost," he said with an air of resignation.

Source: .khaleejtimes.com/region/mena/without-school-iraqs-kids-are-lost-to-poverty-and-conflict


URL: http://www.newageislam.com/middle-east-press/new-age-islam-edit-bureau/all-former-us-presidents-failed-with-iran--new-age-islam-s-selection,-03-may-2017/d/111000


Compose Your Comments here:
Email (Not to be published)
Fill the text
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in the articles and comments are the opinions of the authors and do not necessarily reflect that of NewAgeIslam.com.