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Middle East Press (02 Jan 2017 NewAgeIslam.Com)



Dear Mr. Trump, Don’t Desecrate My American Bible: New Age Islam's Selection, 02 January 2017





New Age Islam Edit Bureau

02 January 2017

Dear Mr. Trump, Don’t Desecrate My American Bible

By Hisham Melhem

Why Is NATO Member Turkey Acting With Russia In Syria?

By Murat Yetkin

Turkey Cannot Advance With ‘Obedient Citizens

By Melis Alphan

2016: The Year The Ghost Of Mosaddegh Returned

By Hamid Dabashi

The End Of A ‘Terrible Year’

By Nuray Mert

Compiled By New Age Islam Edit Bureau

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Dear Mr. Trump, Don’t Desecrate My American Bible

By Hisham Melhem

31 December 2016

An open letter to the president-elect from a Middle Eastern immigrant who has become an American patriot.

Mr. Trump,

I would like to share with you the story of my long and thorough Americanization. It does not fit your stereotype of the immigrant as the outsider who does not look like you, or the stranger who, if he is lucky enough to speak English well, does so with a heavy accent, and may have crossed the borders illegally — and to make matters worse, worships a deity with a strange name. As an undergraduate student, I shared apartments in low-income, crime-infested neighborhoods with such immigrants, and worked alongside them on assembly lines.

When people ask me why I decided to become an American, I say that my Americanization began well before my 1972 journey from Lebanon to study at Villanova University. From childhood, I was smitten with America’s soft power: As a poor teenager who had to drop out of school at age 11 following the death of my father, I found refuge in American cinema, from brooding film noir to the glorious westerns and their galloping vistas. American music has sustained me since my childhood, first the blues, the mother of almost all American music, then jazz, then rock and roll, and finally bluegrass. I always felt that life is not possible without American music.

I had even read Mark Twain, Ernest Hemingway, and John Steinbeck in Arabic before I read them in English. (I tried my luck at penetrating William Faulkner’s universe in Arabic but could not.)

First Years

Mr. Trump, my first years in America, as a university student in Philadelphia, were tough. Following a month-long crash course in English, I started working late shifts at a Zenith television factory until midnight, then struggled to remain awake in my regular morning classes. I discovered the possibilities and promises of America, but also the dark side of race tensions. The bitter feelings sparked by the violence of the late 1960s were still raw in the early 1970s.

But this foreign student, who did not intend to remain in the United States after earning a degree, was welcomed by nearly all the people I encountered. They were as curious about me and the world I left behind as I was interested in them and their world. This never-ending mutual discovery and rediscovery has been the hallmark of my American life. At Villanova, on the streets of Philadelphia, and most importantly at the Zenith assembly lines, I soon discovered that America comes with many colors and hues and endless accents. I saw this country as the huge, modern Babel that keeps humming, moving, plowing new territories, and incessantly creating — not in spite of, but because of its diversity.

I’m not saying my voyage was easy. I had my share of troubles and challenges trying to fit in, and I had to deal with homesickness and the inevitable cultural and social alienation. The workplace was at times a violent place, arising from job disputes, racial tensions, ethnic rivalries, or substance abuse issues. I was advised early on at one workstation to keep a steel rod next to me for protection, but only once came close to using it.

All my coworkers at that station were African-Americans, and initially they did not know how to relate to this Lebanese with a blondish moustache whose name tag said Richard Melhem (my given name), and “did not look much like an Arab,” to boot. I knew they had knives on them, and some had guns in their cars. But as always, music and cinema were my tickets to their world. The fact that I was familiar with the names of African-American leaders and had a rudimentary awareness of the civil rights movement eased the transition.

I soon realized that I could make America my home. After all, you are at home where you are free. What attracted me to America early on was the simple fact that you don’t have to be white, of European origin, or Christian to partake in American patriotism. There is no ethnic or religious litmus test. Patriotism supersedes, or should supersede, national and religious identities.

Mr. Trump, years later, after moving to Virginia to complete graduate studies at Georgetown and becoming a citizen, my passion for America only became stronger when I met the great men whose words and deeds created and shaped this country. I was intrigued by the Founding Fathers, particularly my fellow Virginians George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, and also by Abraham Lincoln, the greatest American to ever live. Their texts — the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, the Federalist Papers, and everything that Lincoln wrote — became my secular American Bible.

My inner wandering has ended, for I have arrived home. On the Fourth of July, I usually have morning coffee with Jefferson, reading the Declaration of Independence. After centuries of great political writings, it took an audacious Virginian to add “and the pursuit of happiness” to “life and liberty” as an integral part of our “unalienable rights.” For Jefferson to string together these words is nothing if not revolutionary. No other culture in history committed itself to the glorious task of ceaselessly working “in order to form a more perfect Union,” and to enshrine the proposition that “government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth.”

I have witnessed and experienced America’s highs and lows of the last few decades. In the process, I became a firm believer in the indispensability of America while remaining ever conscious of the pitfalls of national hubris, from Vietnam to Iraq. To me, American exceptionalism refers to our audacity to create and dream and innovate and act like a benevolent empire — from welcoming anyone willing to partake in the American creed to saving peoples in faraway places when they are subjected to mass killings, even in areas where we had no discernable economic or strategic interest. America’s incredible soft power — our popular culture, the sports we have created, the music and cinema we have pioneered in the last century and which have penetrated the most formidable of real and virtual walls — is an integral part of American exceptionalism.

There are things only the United States is capable of doing, either on her own or while leading others. The list is impressive, and includes saving Europe from fascism in World War II, defeating Soviet communism, launching the Marshall Plan and the Peace Corps, and numerous medical, scientific, and technical innovations which improved the lives of millions of people at home and beyond.

Americanization

Mr. Trump, as my Americanization progressed, I watched from afar as the world I hailed from, and loved, slowly fell apart and disintegrated politically, culturally, and even physically. I observed with a mixture of despair and wrath as the people who were supposed to preserve and nurture the Arab world instead trampled upon it. Autocracy gave way to authoritarianism, and social tension gave way to civil wars.

The Arab house had brittle foundations, and many of its mansions had no roof. The sullen and vengeful hinterland, in the form of angry young army officers, stormed the cities and palaces of the elites in the cosmopolitan centers of the Levant. They promised deliverance, but delivered darkness at noon. The world I was born in was itself born in the crucible of the First World War and its immediate aftermath. A full century later, we are seeing a similarly epic unwinding, and no one knows how and when it will end.

While the Arabs – with a little help from their neighbors — are in the main responsible for the unraveling of their world, my America, driven by colossal arrogance, contributed to the calamity by invading Iraq in search of Jeffersonian democrats on the banks of the Euphrates and the Tigris, and by help toppling the Libyan despot and then refusing to own the messy inheritance.

There were times when I felt total impotence in my attempts as a journalist to explain the Arabs to America, or interpret America to the Arabs. The old world I left in my youth was receding in my memory, and in its place a world of American memories was expanding. The civil wars in Lebanon and elsewhere in the Middle East forced me to examine a question at the center of our lives as social and political beings: What causes communities to turn against each other and slaughter their neighbors with brutal abandon?

Civil wars, I have learned, are the most passionate of wars. And you cannot be a genuine Virginian if you are not steeped in the American Civil War. That was the beginning of one of my American passions, along with love of music and horses. Over the years I have written in Arabic and in English about the ongoing legacy and meaning of the Civil War in contemporary America. I was and continue to be fascinated by how the Civil War — the most enduring and consequential moment in American history — still resonates in our lives today. We are still living in its shadows, and occasionally resume fighting over its still-unresolved, as we have seen recently over the fate of the Confederate flag. Southerners still suffer from the persistence of the collective memory of defeat. Northerners, as victors, could afford ambivalence.

The bucolic and haunting Antietam battlefield, site of the bloodiest day in American history, is my favorite Civil War hallowed ground. I go there on regular pilgrimages, particularly on Sept. 17, the anniversary of the battle where after 12 hours of harrowing fighting at extremely close quarters, more than 22,000 young Americans lay dead or wounded, or were among the missing. When I walk on the beautifully proportioned Burnside Bridge, or on the Sunken Road — later named Bloody Lane because it was covered with the bodies of the fallen soldiers — I tremble and think at times that I could hear the piercing cries of pain and the exhortation to valor of young men looking in each other’s eyes as they engage in hand-to-hand fighting. It is as if I heard through generations the story of the bravery of my distant imaginary relatives who perished on Bloody Lane, as if I was not born in a distant continent thousands of miles away.

Mr. Trump, my own children grew up listening to Muddy Waters, Howling Wolf, Duke Ellington, and Johnny Cash. They know that the blues and jazz are like America, that they come in many different colors, tempos and keys. They still remember their long hours of captivity as teenagers as I drove them on the country roads of Virginia listening to Delta and Chicago blues, with short breaks of Arabic music. (You should have seen the look on their faces when they were nine and 11 years old, when their mother pointed to a Muddy Waters poster and said matter-of-factly: “This is your grandfather.” I cannot claim African heritage, but when I am deeply immersed in the blues of Charley Patton or Mississippi Fred McDowell, I fall under their spell.)

I would gladly introduce you, Mr. President-elect, to some immigrants and descendants of non-European immigrants who like me became thoroughly and irretrievably Americanized, and who much more than me enriched and improved America. Until his retirement a few months ago, Charles Elachi, a scientist born in Lebanon, ran NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory for NASA for 15 years. Akhil Reed Amar, one of America’s most accomplished constitutional law scholars, is the son of immigrants from India — given your apparent fondness for the Second Amendment, you might benefit from reading his book, America’s Constitution: A Biography. Perhaps I can convince you to read just one short story by Junot Díaz, in hopes of stemming your demonization of Latino immigrants. Díaz was born in poverty in the Dominican Republic before his family moved to the United States when he was a child, and his stunning literary works chronicle the failures and hopes of marginalized Latino immigrants in the bleak urban sprawls of New Jersey. His sparse, austere prose and staccato sentences reflect a decaying world inhabited by characters still unwilling to give up on the American Dream.

I could go on and on. Mr. Trump, I am part of a relatively large network of friends, scholars, and journalists who immigrated to the United States from Arab states, Iran, and Turkey. All of us have been writing and lecturing about America’s complex relations with the cultures and the societies of the Middle East; their problems and yearnings; the good, the bad and the perplexing. We come from different backgrounds culturally, and as you can imagine we are Muslims (Shiites and Sunnis), Christians (Maronite Catholics and Greek Orthodox), Jews, and atheists; we don’t necessarily see eye to eye on every issue, but we all share an abiding love of America.

Some of us have names that might strike you as strange or even exotic — Firas, Hassan, Afshin, Karim, Faisal, and Omar — and some of us have names that would surprise you: Richard, Paul, and Henri. This mélange of names reflects the bygone days of diversity and cosmopolitanism that was once the pride of the great ancient cities of the Levant and Persia. We came to America in part to escape the suffocating identity politics and intolerance of our former homelands, where nationalism is one step away from chauvinism. We wanted to live in a country where one can partake in American patriotism by embracing the American creed and ethos, regardless of ethnicity and religion.

When we get together, we often marvel at our American experiences and say: only in America. And yes, only in America can a group like us prosper and celebrate our Americanness while trying to help America succeed in a region we still care very much about. Some of us have been deeply disillusioned with the politics of repression in the Middle East; others cannot go back to do research or even to make short visits to see kin and friends for fear of intimidation and imprisonment, because we may have expressed honest criticism of the bitter realities of the region. Our appreciation of our freedom here is not based on some theoretical understanding but on precious lived experience.

I Voted Against You

Mr. Trump, for almost two years you and your close supporters have engaged in the politics of fear and smear, speaking ill of nonwhite immigrants and Muslims and publicly praising authoritarians like Presidents Vladimir Putin, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.

Mr. Trump, your hostile views about “Muslims entering the United States” shocked the American Muslim community, and antagonized and alienated Muslim states, the very people you need in the struggle against Islamist extremism at home and abroad. Your opposition to accepting even a small number of refugees from the horrors of Syria betrays our values, and condemns more Syrian children to death at the hands of their government while we watch the proceedings streamlined live.

Your ambivalence about human rights at home and abroad is very disturbing. For the first time in my 44-year American life, I am genuinely concerned about my civil rights. For you to suggest depriving Americans of their citizenship for exercising their First Amendment rights — indeed to even think that it would be legal to do so — is beyond chilling. In a world where autocracy is on the march, you have seriously damaged America’s unique place as a successful, inspiring democratic model.

Mr. Trump, I voted against you, precisely because of these reasons. And if you desecrate my American secular bible, you will see me and my compatriots manning the proverbial ramparts to defend the very idea of America — the America we deserve and cherish, the America that comes with many colors and accents. For we are not American nationalists, but we are definitely fierce American patriots.

Hisham Melhem is a columnist and analyst for Al Arabiya News Channel in Washington, DC. Melhem has interviewed many American and international public figures, including Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush, Secretaries of State Hillary Clinton and John Kerry, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen, among others. He is also the correspondent for Annahar, the leading Lebanese daily. For four years he hosted "Across the Ocean," a weekly current affairs program on U.S.-Arab relations for Al Arabiya. Follow him on Twitter : @hisham_melhem

Source: english.alarabiya.net/en/views/news/middle-east/2016/12/31/Dear-Mr-Trump-don-t-desecrate-my-American-bible.html

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Why Is NATO Member Turkey Acting With Russia In Syria?

By Murat Yetkin

January/02/2017

The Turkish military announced on Dec. 30 that Russian jets hit positions of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) near the Syrian town of al-Bab.

Official sources say the ISIL targets were marked by Turkish Special Forces carrying out an operation to take the town from ISIL hands. Military sources also said they hit an ISIL convoy and an ISIL chief named Abu Husen Tunusi was in the destroyed convoy in air raids on Dec. 29. They added that Tunusi and his team were sent by ISIL to al-Bab from Raqqa as reinforcements.

It seems that the operation or operations took place right after statements on Dec. 29 in Ankara, Moscow and Damascus about the declaration of a ceasefire between forces loyal to the Bashar al-Assad regime in Syria and against it from midnight on Dec. 29. Turkey and Russia are acting as guarantors of the cease-fire, which excludes the forces of ISIL and al-Nusra.

The announcement on Dec. 30 raises the bar of the military cooperation between Russia and Turkey, a member of NATO and also a member of the U.S.-led coalition against ISIL. It also comes at a time when tension between the U.S. and Russia is rising on security and intelligence matters.

On the day when the ceasefire in the nearly six-year-old Syrian civil war was announced, the outgoing Barack Obama administration in the U.S. declared 35 Russian diplomats “persona non grata” over cyber-security and intelligence crimes and asked them to leave the country within three days. The next day, on Dec. 30, Russia moved to expel 35 American diplomats from Russia in retaliation. These were typical Cold War moves, rarely seen since the disintegration of the Soviet Union in 1992. When combined with Obama’s recent move against Israel at the U.N., despite the $38 billion donation before the presidential elections, the Russia move shows clearly that Obama wants to make life more difficult for his successor Donald Trump by shaking the pillars of U.S. foreign policy.

The Turkish-Russian joint military operation in Syria against ISIL in al-Bab is interesting because President Tayyip Erdogan claimed earlier in the week that the U.S. refused to give air support for Turkish attacks on ISIL to take al-Bab, thus indirectly helping ISIL. Erdogan also said the U.S. aid to the Central Command’s (CENTCOM) ground partner the Democratic Union Party (PYD) - the Syria extension of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), currently engaged in a fight with Turkey – was continuing. When the U.S. Embassy in Ankara issued a statement to refute the allegations, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavusoglu retorted that the government held “evidence” of the continued aid.

One of the ironies is that one of the main operating bases of the U.S.-led operation against ISIL is the strategic Turkish air base Incirlik. “Whenever we need air support, we ask the joint command center for coalition support,” a Turkish military source recently told the Hürriyet Daily News. “They in turn ask Incirlik, but every time the reply is that it is either ‘not a priority’ or ‘there are bad weather conditions.’ It is a big disappointment for us.”

The reason why the U.S. is not giving air support to Turkey for al-Bab is its conflict of interest with the PYD. Turkey’s Euphrates Shield Operation in Syria, together with the Free Syria Army (FSA), has two current targets: One being to take al-Bab from ISIL and the other being to not let the town fall into the hands of the PYD. Ankara doesn’t want the PKK to take advantage of the power vacuum in Syria and its cooperation with the U.S. in order to form a corridor along its border, for which it could claim autonomy or independence in the future.

Now it seems that Turkey has gotten the air support it wants - indeed the political support it wants – for the al-Bab operation from Russia, its adversary in NATO.

So the question is: Why on earth has a NATO country gotten into military cooperation with Russia in Syria?

The answer is: Because it believes another NATO country, the U.S., fails to give its ally the support it needs to defeat a terrorist force (ISIL) as soon as possible. It fails to give that support because of the disadvantage it could give its partner (the PYD), which is an extension of an outlawed organization (the PKK), which is considered to be a terrorist group by both the ally and itself.

Complicated, isn’t it?

A bit. Perhaps that is why Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim told daily Hürriyet on Dec. 30 that Ankara expected U.S. President-elect Trump to take a more active stance in the fight against terrorism, and for peace and stability in the Middle East.

Source: hurriyetdailynews.com/why-is-nato-member-turkey-acting-with-russia-in-syria.aspx?pageID=449&nID=107967&NewsCatID=409

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Turkey Cannot Advance With ‘Obedient Citizens

By Melis Alphan

January/02/2017

When I was in junior high, every year they would take us to the ancient city of Ephesus, split us into two groups and make us debate on a given subject. We were not allowed to select our group, thus, the view we defended could actually be opposing our personal view.

At first, I remember having a very difficult time defending the opposite of my personal view. In order to be able to do this, I had to view my own idea critically. As a result, this exercise had taught us children to think critically, to defend each idea and to practice self-criticism.

In our school, a student would be able to ask a teacher, “What good is this information for me?” A student was able to say his or her idea freely, would have opposing ideas to the teacher and discuss them.

In school, maybe more important than classes, there would be committees and councils formed. It was encouraged that students should take part in the school’s administration.

I attended the American Collegiate Institute in Izmir. But this shouldn’t make you think that this kind of education was limited to private schools only. At that time, even if the curriculum may not have been as liberal, students in state schools were also given similar opportunities. The education offered in state schools in the 90s was much better compared to today’s education. If a child scored well enough to enter both a private school and an Anatolian High School, the family, even if they were financially able to afford the private school, would think many times before they choose the school.

Today, the state of our education is evident. PISA results are getting worse every passing year, we go even lower than the already bottom spots. The state of educators and administrators is pathetic. They are fixated on the length of skirts of schoolgirls and co-ed classes. Administrators worry about New Year celebrations in schools. Their biggest priorities are imam schools and vocational religious high schools. Do you think critical thinking would find its place in such an environment?

Those who do not know how to think critically cannot go pursue in science. Similarly, they would not be able to solve problems. They would not be able to question.

Those who do not know how to think critically cannot make social peace.

Those individuals who know how to think critically, test prejudgments, assumptions and knowledge; they discuss results; they do not fall into traps.

Those individuals who know how to think critically are flexible, patient and open to changes.

Critical thinking is a must for becoming an individual, a citizen, a literate, politically and legally, for ethical understanding, for analyzing and using the language, for reconciliation, for the culture of peace, to be able to decide and abide by the decisions made.

At a place where religious classes are compulsory, where the content of education is nationalistic and designed by a religious mentality, we cannot talk about critical thinking.

The current education system is raising a generation of “approved citizens” based on duties and not on rights, not as active citizens but as passive ones.

It is one thing to urge a child to love his or her country and its people, but it is another thing to make them believe that they live as an individual in a homogenous nation in a country surrounded by threats and dangers. In the latter, there is no space for critical thinking, there is a design for an obedient society.

The Education Reform Initiative (ERG) which offers critical education and provides critical thinking training for teachers in cooperation with the education ministry has angered the education ministry. The deputy undersecretary has accused the ERG for eroding the nation’s confidence on and the reputation of the state, by criticizing the PISA results and for adopting an intention to create pessimism in students and parents.

It is a huge injustice to blame an institution that has devoted itself to explain the importance of critical thinking and to developing the education system in Turkey of being evil-minded because it has criticized them. 

An institute that teaches criticizing is criticized for criticizing. Even the sentence sounds funny.

It is a problem, as a matter of fact, if an institution operating in the field of education does not criticize this failed system.

Administrators who bear responsibility, instead of being angry at these criticisms and call their staff not to return invitations from the ERG, if they actually lend an ear to the ERG critics, then everything would be better.

If the level of our average university graduate is lower than that of a Japanese drop-out, then the confidence eroding factor here is not these criticisms, it is the state itself.

Source: hurriyetdailynews.com/turkey-cannot-advance-with-obedient-citizens-.aspx?pageID=449&nID=108006&NewsCatID=507

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2016: The Year The Ghost Of Mosaddegh Returned

By Hamid Dabashi

31-12-16

In August 1953, when I was a two-year-old toddler growing up in my hometown of Ahvaz in oil-rich southern Iran, the British and the Americans conspired against the newly elected Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddegh, toppled his democratically elected government, reinstalled a runaway tyrant, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, to rule over us, and robbed an entire nation of the possibility of living in a democracy.

As fate would have it, some 63 years later, now in the homeland of the very same plotters who toppled Mosaddegh, a vast segment of Americans are legitimately concerned that Donald Trump, their newly elected president, may usher in a dictatorial abrogation of their democratic institutions, particularly their cherished freedom of press which he seems to be able to torpedo with a few words in his noxious nocturnal tweets.

The British liberals are equally incensed about how the Brexit vote may be the sign of a nasty xenophobic turn in the history of European liberal democracy. Brexit and the election of Trump are therefore seen as cataclysmic events marking 2016 as a turning point in the history of "Western democracy".

Today I of course deeply empathise when I read a piece in the New York Times such as The End of the Anglo-American Order, in which Ian Buruma argues quite eloquently how "for decades the United States and Britain's vision of democracy and freedom defined the post-war world" - and then asks quite anxiously: "What will happen in an age of Donald Trump and Nigel Farage?"

But still I cannot help whispering to myself ever so politely: Excuse me, sir, but are you sure that the US and Britain had a vision of democracy and freedom that defined the post-war "world"? Was Iran part of this "world"? Was 1953 within that "post-war" era? What about Chile in 1973, or any number of other nasty covert operations the British or Americans conducted around the globe?

What about us? Are we not people, do we not deserve democracy? "If you prick us, do we not bleed? If you tickle us, do we not laugh? If you poison us, do we not die? And if you wrong us …"

Persian Poetic Justice

More than half a century after the CIA plot against Mosaddegh I have lived to see the same CIA accusing the Russians of interfering in the presidential election of 2016, manipulating the electorate to get a charlatan businessman into the White House. If Bernie Sanders were the American Mosaddegh, Trump is their Mohammad Reza Shah, as it were.

Is the US being administered a bit of its own medicine, perhaps? According to a report by The New York Times back in 1984, the CIA "contributed more than $1.4m to two political parties in El Salvador's presidential campaign".

This, however, was no isolated incident. Since the 1940s, the CIA "has played a covert role in elections and in the affairs of political parties in other countries".

We also know that between 1953 and 1961, under Allen Dulles, the CIA overthrew the governments of Guatemala, "invaded Cuba, and was tied to the killing of Patrice Lumumba, Congo's first democratically elected leader".

More recently, The Washington Post has also allowed into its pages the fact that "the United States does have a well-documented history of interfering and sometimes interrupting the workings of democracies elsewhere."

In his report, Ishaan Tharoor further adds: "In the late 1940s, the newly established CIA cut its teeth in Western Europe, pushing back against some of the continent's most influential leftist parties and labour unions."

Today you may think the US has repented from such unsavoury behaviour, except it has not. Again, as Tharoor reports: "After the end of the Cold War, the United States has largely brought its covert actions into the open with organisations like the more benign National Endowment for Democracy, which seeks to bolster civil society and democratic institutions around the world through grants and other assistance."

I know of quite a number of discredited expat Iranian "opposition" who are the beneficiary of such largesse, being cooked up for a potential "regime change" back in their homeland.

Recently a particular group among them wrote a letter to Trump asking him to dismantle the Iran nuclear deal, impose more crippling sanctions on their own people, and help them to bring "democracy" to their homeland.

Once Jesus Upon A Path

The moral of the story is not a vindictive reading of history. Iranians today live in the throes of a repressive theocracy brought upon themselves by their own domestic tyrants.

But the troubled soul of Anglo-American liberal democracy today in both the US and UK will have to be read as the historic closure to the false distinction it has made between domestic prosperity and foreign warfare.

The task today is for Trump not to be allowed to do to the US - or nativist xenophobia in UK and elsewhere to Europe - what the US and UK conspired and did to Iran and elsewhere. In that task we, the survivors of those atrocities, have much to share with our former tormentors and present hosts.

It's the festive season associated with the name of Jesus Christ - so let me conclude with a magnificent poem by the towering moral authority of Persian poet Nasir Khusraw in which the figure of Christ appears prominently:

Should you have a sword in hand don't rush to slaughter people,

For in God's eyes evil will never be forgotten.

Jesus once saw a dead body wasting upon a path,

He wondered and paused for a moment of reflection:

"Whom did you kill," he whispered quietly, "so you were killed in return?"

"And where would the man who killed you be in return killed by someone else!"

"Don't harass people knocking at their door with your fingertip!

So no one would bother you banging at your door with a tightened fist!"

Hamid Dabashi is Hagop Kevorkian Professor of Iranian Studies and Comparative Literature at Columbia University in New York.

Source: aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2016/12/2016-year-ghost-mosaddegh-returned-161229115500277.html

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The End Of A ‘Terrible Year’

By Nuray Mert

January/02/2017

Global opinion leaders and observers of politics all agree that 2016 was a “terrible year.” All have good reasons to complain: American liberals suffered from their grave presidential election defeat, British liberals suffered from the Brexit vote, and European liberals worry about the rise of the far right. They are also concerned about the turmoil in the Middle East and the rise of terrorism.

So far, so bad, but there was nothing particularly terrible in 2016 for many who live in non-Western countries, and especially for those who live in the Greater Middle East. So many years have been terrible for war-torn countries like Afghanistan and Iraq following the occupation in 2003; Syria, Libya and Yemen have all shared the same fate after the end of the so-called Arab Spring.

Some thinkers and political observers may still think that the crises of democracy in the Western world is the most terrible thing among all sufferings on earth - after all, the West represented the last hope for humanity. Nevertheless, the idea of Western civilization as the savior of humanity has long been dead, even if it “could be a good idea” as Gandhi stated in the middle of the last century. In fact, it was this idea that led to many wars and much despair in both the past and the present. Most recently, the U.S. interventions in Afghanistan and Iraq were justified in the name of democracy and “nation-building,” and even in the name of “women’s emancipation.”

I am not one of those Occidentalists who believe that the cause of all evil in the world is Western modernity and imperialism. On the contrary, I think it was the misled patronage of change and the idea of “bon pour l’Orient democracy and modernity” that led to disastrous shortcomings. After all, during the Cold War the Western world supported “reactions against modernity” (Islamist in the case of Muslim countries) in the name of the war against communism. A recent case was the support of the idea of “Islamic democracy,” which ended up very badly indeed after the collapse of the happy idea of the “Arab Spring” and the so-called “model country” Turkey’s slide to authoritarianism.

As for Turkey, 2016 justifies being defined as the “most terrible year” in recent decades. Starting from 2015, the shortcomings of the end of the Kurdish peace process culminated in the sweeping arrest of Kurdish politicians, and the escalation of the “war on terror” has been used to legitimize curbing democratic freedoms. The defeat of the July 15 coup attempt did not pave the way for national reconciliation and democratization as hoped; on the contrary, it was used by the ruling party to justify emergency rule and led to an even more authoritarian new constitution and a new system proposed in the name of Turkish-style “presidential system,” which was recently dubbed the “President of the Republic System.” Already, the suppression of dissent has reached unprecedented levels and this process seems to be promising harsher measures against the opposition. Leaving aside the grim prospects for the economy and foreign policy, we have plenty to worry about in the coming year.

PS. I wrote this article on Saturday, intending to spend a couple of days off after New Year’s Eve. Right after the start of the New Year, which I celebrated with our extended family at home wishing for a better year, Turkey witnessed yet another terror attack. The final sentence of the article was sadly proven right so quickly, and I could not stomach writing a new article on the subject. We now console ourselves that we were cautious enough to advise the younger members of our families not to go out on New Year’s Eve. Sad and hopeless, isn’t it?

Source: hurriyetdailynews.com/the-end-of-a-terrible-year.aspx?pageID=449&nID=108004&NewsCatID=406

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/middle-east-press/new-age-islam-edit-bureau/dear-mr-trump,-don’t-desecrate-my-american-bible--new-age-islam-s-selection,-02-january-2017/d/109564




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