Age Islam Edit Bureau
02 May 2017
Is Key to Trump’s Second Presidential Term
By Dr. Majid Rafizadeh
Crisis between Lebanon and GCC
By Diana Moukalled
Has Qatar Turned Its Back On GCC Policies?
By Abdullah Bin Bijad Al-Otaibi
Concept of the State and Developments of the Radical Phenomenon
By Fahad Suleiman Shoqiran
to Overcome Populism?
By Diana Galeeva
By New Age Islam Edit Bureau
Dr. Majid Rafizadeh
2 June 2017
Some may say it is too early to discuss the
next US presidential election, but in politics long-term plans are prudent. Any
incumbent has to carefully conduct and evaluate every policy to see how it will
affect their chances of re-election. Many so-called experts and scholars
already predict that Trump will not have a second term. Some even said he would
not be in office for more than 100 days. Prediction should not be a part of
A major foreign policy achievement has been
a perquisite for getting many US presidents re-elected, because it shows that
they pay attention to safeguarding national interests inside the country and
For example, many people point out that
former President Barack Obama was extremely lucky with the military operation
that killed Osama bin Laden. Obama also sent more troops to Afghanistan and
remained engaged in wars. These got him his second term even though
unemployment was high. Conversely, former President Jimmy Carter’s failure to
deal firmly with Iran and the hostage crisis led to his defeat in his run for
Implementation of a major foreign policy
initiative was more essential for those presidents who were elected to their
first term solely by winning the electoral college, not the popular vote. For
example, in 2001 former President George W. Bush scored 271 to 266 in the
electoral college against Al Gore, but got more than half a million fewer
votes. Many predicted that Bush would not have a chance at getting re-elected.
But what got him more votes in 2004 was
implementation of major foreign policy initiatives before the election, in
Afghanistan and more importantly in Iraq. People wanted a democratic solution
for Iraq or an end to the war there, but were uncertain that Bush’s
presidential contender and a newcomer to the White House would be able to
finish the job.
I am not suggesting that a war with Iran is
required to ensure a good foreign policy achievement and Trump’s re-election.
Non-military options are always better. But a major foreign policy operation is
required to rally votes behind him. Iran is a rogue and authoritarian state
that is determined to control the region, interfere in the domestic affairs of
other nations, export terrorism, kill Americans and damage US interests.
Forcefully countering Tehran is viewed as
an informed policy objective by both Republicans and Democrats. Iran has
managed to hurt everyone except for its proxies, Syrian President Bashar Assad
and terrorist groups. Its ruling clerics publicly say they are determined to
damage the national security interests of the US and its allies. Many American
lives were lost because of Iran and its militia proxies such as those in
Lebanon, Yemen and Iraq.
Iran exports its revolutionary ideals to
the rest of the world. It is ranked the top state sponsor of terrorism by the
US State Department. Iran has repeatedly and covertly tried to pursue its
nuclear program and violated the policies of the International Atomic Energy
Agency (IAEA) and the flimsy nuclear deal. Tehran continues to inflict billions
of dollars’ worth of damage and scuttle US foreign policy objectives in every
Since 1979, Iranian leaders and generals
have clearly said they view the US as their primary enemy. Their slogans of
“The Great Satan” and “Death to America” are more powerful and alive than ever
before. Internally, Iran is ranked among the top human rights violators. It
brutally suppresses any opposition. It subjugates, dehumanizes and tortures
women and children, and cracks down on religious and ethnic minorities.
A foreign policy that fundamentally
counters this rogue state and helps democratize it would be welcomed by many
nations and the Iranian people. This is Trump’s key to ensuring his second
Crisis between Lebanon And GCC
Nothing seems to make us optimistic in
Lebanon; we climb out of a hole only to stumble into another.
There are signs of a new diplomatic crisis
looming on the horizon.
After the return of the Lebanese delegation
from the recent Riyadh Summit, Lebanese President Michel Aoun, through his
Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil, tried to renounce the Riyadh Declaration, which
set the highest ceiling of confrontation with Iran and termed Hezbollah a
Bassil said Lebanon had nothing to do with
the declaration, a statement that was agreed upon and confirmed by Aoun.
The response came quickly and plainly with
the blocking of the website of Aoun’s Free Patriotic Movement in Saudi Arabia
and through a series of criticisms in Saudi newspapers, which were the harshest
since Aoun took power in Lebanon.
I would not say relations between Beirut
and Riyadh returned to the point of crisis, especially since Riyadh maintains
relations with other Lebanese components, notably with Prime Minister Saad
Hariri, but Lebanon is prone to deep divisions and sectarian strife that
threaten a worst-case scenario.
Will the Lebanese authorities be able to
face the challenges dictated by the rapid developments around us?
It is true that some GCC reservations about
Lebanon are sometimes expressed in harsh language, but that does not mean that
Lebanon has reached a major crisis point. It could, however, reach it if the
Lebanese leaders do not deal properly with the current events.
The Riyadh Declaration referred to Iran and
the organizations it supports by name and, automatically, Lebanon finds itself
in the direct line of Arab-American confrontation and, therefore, Iranian
The current situation will not be less
dangerous if Iran exploits the Lebanese arena to respond to those who try to
besiege it and force it not to interfere in Arab affairs.
Will Iran take a risk by meddling in
Lebanon’s affairs in the next stage and taking advantage of Hezbollah’s
position and its influence on the president of the republic?
The nature of the campaign against
Hezbollah and Lebanese president will put a major onus on their shoulder
vis-a-vis the Lebanese people.
Hezbollah has the potential to drag the
country into war, but, at the same time, can take Lebanon’s national interests
and the ramifications of a confrontation into account.
It has to be seen how the Lebanese
government, represented by President Aoun, will deal with the stormy
developments in the region and whether it will be able to stop Lebanon from
being dragged into confrontation, particularly if Iran is no longer an external
element but, rather, remains at the heart of Lebanon in its Arab and regional
It will take some time before we see how
the government will deal with the new situation, but pessimism prevails among
the Lebanese due to the perceived inability of the current authority to deal
with fateful issues.
This inability was clear in past
experiences and it is still expected in the days and weeks to come.
No one should underestimate the dangers
looming over Lebanon and the whole region.
Preparing to face dangers requires not
escapism but unity of rank and severing dependence on foreign elements for
At this stage, the Lebanese have no choice
but to remove the thorn with their own hands.
Abdullah bin Bijad Al-Otaibi
1 June 2017
Qatar is a brotherly country that has
turned its back on more than two decades of brotherly policies with the Gulf
Cooperation Council (GCC). It put almost all the GCC countries in the face of
inciting policies that serve destruction purposes and it did so via its media
outlets and social media networks and through training, supporting and planting
cells to sow chaos in more than one country.
We will not thoroughly engage in the details
of these two decades but we will review what happened following the events of
what was falsely called the Arab Spring. Qatar used all its media outlets to
support chaotic movements in some Arab countries that witnessed revolutions in
2011, such as Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and others. It did that to support the
terrorist organization of the Brotherhood and its branches.
Qatar, like its ally the Brotherhood, was
overwhelmingly happy with these revolutions and thought it would be freed from
the weak political status and become a superpower overnight. Qatar was deluded
like the Brotherhood was deluded when it thought it was capable of toppling
countries and be sovereign over the world. A weak party’s ecstasy usually
exposes plots rather than grants the ability to achieve aims.
The weakness in Qatar’s policy lies in its
great ambition, which is accompanied with weak capabilities. This is not wise.
After the three summits were held in Saudi Arabia, Qatar surprisingly spoke
against the summits’ decisions as Qatari media outlets attacked the brotherly
country of Bahrain and defended Shiite terrorists and Iran’s agents saying they
had a rightful cause. It therefore proved that it still adopts a hostile policy
against Bahrain. It also defended these movements during the disturbances in
Bahrain after 2011. O, why Qatar?
Gulf countries and the United Arab Emirates
will not forget Qatar’s support to shake stability via sabotaging institutions
such as Alkarama Foundation and the Academy of Change which have been active at
using some citizens to serve chaotic purposes and how it supported all of the
Brotherhood branches in the Gulf. Qatar supported them, gave them funds,
supported their news websites, opened study centres for them and granted
citizenships to some of them for the sole purpose of shaking security and
of Brotherhood Rule
This was after the 2011 developments;
however, Qatar was extremely shocked in 2013 when the Egyptian people and army
toppled the Brotherhood rule. Back then, Saudi Arabia and the UAE took a
historical stance in supporting Egypt. The Brotherhood’s dream was shattered
and so were Qatar’s policies.
Qatar then increased its chaotic practices
and began to broadcast live interviews by Egyptian Brotherhood figures whom it
granted a citizenship as they attacked the UAE and its symbols and leaders. It
also broadcast the Brotherhood’s attacks from Egypt in a manner that is
inappropriate on the level of relations with other countries particularly with
The Brotherhood was deluded that the
Saudi-Emirati alliance will weaken after the death of King Abdullah bin
Abdulaziz, may he rest in peace. The surprise was that this alliance only
became stronger with King Salman and the new Saudi leadership. The Arab
coalition to restore legitimacy in Yemen was established and Saudis and
Emiratis scarified their lives in Yemen.
The coalition reached an unprecedented
historical level so the Brotherhood and Qatar tried to drive a wedge between
the two strong allies in Yemen. Qatar sided by Iran’s agents in Yemen even if
it expressed formal sympathy. In 2014, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain
withdrew their ambassadors from Qatar to protest the latter’s hostile policies
and after Sheikh Sabah mediated, Sheikh Tammim pledged not to adopt these policies
again but he did not commit to that.
Qatar must know that experience is
sometimes deceitful when it makes someone repeat the same mistake in completely
different circumstances. The world today is heading in the direction of
adopting policies and practices that restrain Iran, the Brotherhood, al-Qaeda
and ISIS. The decision maker must know where he stands otherwise the situation
Fahad Suleiman Shoqiran
What radical movements and revolutionary
countries have in common is their absolute hostility to the concept of the
state. It’s dangerous to ally or make friends with these groups and entities
whose major goals are toppling the state. This can be specifically said about
the joint alliance between al-Qaeda, ISIS and the Muslim Brotherhood in the
guardian of the jurist system in Iran.
The supreme guide and his circle have been
talking about the possibilities of the collapse of countries, such as Saudi
Arabia, ever since the Iranian revolution in 1979. To achieve their aims, they
went as far as working with other revolutionary groups such as communist ones
which oppose the Gulf countries. Although these groups are outdated, they are
still present especially in media outlets affiliated with the axis of
“resistance” in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon.
These groups have not comprehended that
ideologies which were famous and common in the 20th century have come to an end
– that’s except for the radical phenomenon which historian Eric Hobsbawm said
continues to flourish in the 21st century, unlike other totalitarian movements
which came to an end.
Radical groups which are guarded and
nurtured by Iran aim to undermine the concept of the state. This turns the
conflict into one between the civil war and the social contract, the state and
the militia and totalitarian despotism and individualism.
In his book The Barren Sacrifice: An Essay
on Political Violence, professor of philosophy Paul Dumouchel spoke about the
state, violence and groups in chapter 2. Dumouchel said “the concept of the
state, as political theorist Carl Schmitt says, presupposes the concept of the
Concept of the State
This means the field of politics is bigger
than what is called the state which has been the focus of political thinking
ever since the days of Hobbes. The political aspect is not only bigger than the
concept of the state but it presupposes it and is more essential than it
because it clarifies the circumstances of its emergence and disappearance.
According to Hobbes, the state as we know
it and as the entity that monopolizes legitimate violence – in reference to Max
Weber – is only a possible expression of the political aspect. According to
Schmitt, the characteristic of every political relation is the friend-enemy
What’s more important for Schmitt is to
specify the standards of friendship and enmity between states. He compared
internal enemies with foreign ones as the former threatens the state’s
existence. This enables Sunni or Shiite radical armed terrorist groups and
ideological parties that delegitimize the state. According to Schmitt, the
ruler specifies who the enemy is, and he will thus “establish and reinforce the
system which can be used to implement legal standards.”
This is similar to devising a strategy to
confront internal enemies where the law sets the rules of discipline among
individuals and protects institutions from individual and isolationist whims
and separatist attempts. At this point, the state will have fully grown. It
will be vibrant and capable of achieving internal peace. This is the summary of
Schmitt’s explanation about the internal enemy, and it is useful here to
further explain Dumouchel’s concepts and implement them on our present.
According to Schmitt, resorting to force as
a means to resolve foreign conflicts is only an option and it’s not a
continuous policy. Schmitt does not differentiate between the threat of foreign
and internal enemies on the people and he rather compares these enemies and
their ability to undermine state institutions.
Sometimes, foreign enemies partner with
internal enemies to stir chaos, topple the state and spread terror and
brutality. This is specifically happening in our experience in Saudi Arabia as
a “brotherly” country and another “regional” one work to create new phenomena
to harm Saudis Arabia. A hostile theocratic regime like Iran has been doing so
since the 1970’s. This has been happening with the brotherly country Qatar
since the 1990’s as it made the historical alliance between it and the Muslim
Brotherhood and al-Qaeda.
The alliance with the Brotherhood is
well-known. To serve its aims of harming state institutions, it established the
Academy of Change and dozens of dailies, magazines, centres and awards to gain
the support of young generations and appeal to their sentiment.
During the peak of Saudi Arabia’s battle
with al-Qaeda, Abdullah Al-Nafisi appeared with Al-Jazeera’s host Ahmed Mansour
several times and defended arrested terrorists and al-Qaeda organization on the
basis that it’s an organization that – according to its whims – implements the
prophet’s Hadiths regarding expelling polytheists from the Arabian Peninsula.
Fortunately, these episodes from defending
Bin Laden and al-Qaeda’s ideology to the ones tackling Saudi Arabia’s war on
al-Qaeda are all available on the internet. They were cheerful as they claimed
it will be difficult for the state to eliminate terrorism. It was therefore an
alliance between two enemies, a foreign sponsor and an internal enemy. This
aggression, however, was harshly defeated.
The conflict is now between the state and
the militia. Saudi Arabia and moderate countries are protecting and defending
the concept of the state amid the suspicious attraction of some parties to
terrorist militias. This behaviour has serious consequences. “And you will
surely know [the truth of] its information after a time.”
In the last few months we’ve seen a series
of events which indicate that populism is widespread in Europe. Populism has
deep historical roots in Western society, but it is only recently that we have
witnessed such strong support of the phenomenon.
Nigel Farage and Marine Le Pen are
well-known politicians, who are associated with the move from unification to
the withdrawal from the EU. This article argues that the rising popularity of
populism is related to charismatic leadership, and could be defeated by the
emergence of new pro-EU politicians who are equally charismatic.
In order to support my argument, this
article will, firstly, define and differentiate populism and ‘new’ populism. I
will then draw on the historical development of these ideas to demonstrate
their attraction as it has increased and decreased over time. Despite Macron’s
victory in the recent French elections, we cannot conclude that populism will
not resurface in other states or in the future.
In order to overcome it a ‘remedy’ must be
identified for use by future generations of politicians, who will learn from
the experience of Brexit/Frexit-era politicians. Examination of two
contemporary politicians, Mr. Farage and Ms. Le Pen, will demonstrate which
tools have been used by populists to attract voters, and finally, the paper
will try to suggest a mechanism for how to overcome populism in the European
Is Populism/New Populism?
It is important to consider the nature of
Populism because it is not a new issue for Western politics, this phenomenon
has long roots in the Western societies (agrarian radicalism, narodnichestvo,
Peronism and the ideas of Social Credit) and the ideas of populists are still
alive and supported by people. Scholars have described the differences between
populism and new populism, as follows.
Shils (1956) concludes that populism
‘exists wherever there is an ideology of popular resentment against the order
imposed on society by a long-established, differentiated ruling class which is
believed to have a monopoly of power, property, breeding and culture’ (Shils,
1956: 100-1). Shils believed that populism is about relations between masses
and elites. Di Tella (1965, 1997) considers populism a variation of the
perception of the state by those who are poor and elites.
Canovan (1981) differentiated agrarian
populism and political populism. Previously populism was considered to be the
difference between elites and the masses (Shils, 1956), poor and elites (Di
Tella, 1965), the mobilization of agrarian population against elites (Canovan,
1981) and political populism – the conflict between intolerant (reactionary,
racist) masses against tolerant (progressive, liberal) elites.
Recently, populism has been understood as
opposed to liberalism. In the US journal Telos another interpretation of
populism appeared as an alternative to the hegemony of liberalism. These ideas
emerged with ‘new’ populism. New populism rejects the harmony of the post-war
environment, and tries to rebuild politics between ideas of immigration,
taxation and regionalism/nationalism. For this reason ‘new’ populism is
associated with ethical nationalism.
One of the distinctive characteristics of
new populism is charismatic leadership. From William Aberhart in Alberta to
Juan Peron in Argentina (Taggart, 2000), populists have relied not only on
personalized leadership but also on charisma. According to Weber (1968:241-5),
who differentiated charismatic authority from legal-rational and traditional
forms, modern society viewed the increase of legal-rational authority as the
form where we can trace the justice of leaders via institutions and law and, in
democracy, via the agreement of the governance.
Charismatic authority, by contrast, is
based on neither history nor structures, but the specific personal
characteristics of leaders and assets ascribed to them by their supporters
(Weber, 1968:244). Taggart (2000) believes that there are similarities between
the concept of populism and charismatic authority.
The nature of charismatic leadership is to
swap rules and institutions with the desires of a charismatic leader. Moreover,
charismatic leadership might happen at times of hardship or distress. Populists
occur while there are believers, often when there is moral collapse or a sense
Populists: What Can We Learn From Them?
Nigel Farage and Marine Le Pen have become
some of the most discussed populists within the European Union. Nigel’s
enthusiasm about leaving the EU, which is based on his 20-years slogan campaign
‘I want my country back’, made him one of the most discussed politicians in the
European Union. His personality raised different emotions from politicians and
the public, from the very critical to very positive, but not neutral.
While opposing his comments about migrants’
use of the NHS for expensive HIV treatment, Plaid Cymru Leanne Wood told to Mr.
Farage: ‘You ought to be ashamed of yourself’; Russell Brand on Question Time
in 2014 said: ‘This man is not a cartoon character, he isn’t Del Boy or Arthur
Daley, he’s a pound shop Enoch Powell and we’re watching him’; Boris Johnson
mentioned in 2013: ‘We Tories look at him, with his pint and cigar and sense of
humour, and instinctively recognise someone fundamentally indistinguishable
Similarly, as the comments from Yougov 2017
show us, the general public’s attitude towards Mr. Farage is divided, ranging
from the intensely critical; ‘bigoted’, ‘xenophobic’, ‘dangerous’, ‘racist’, to
the positive; ‘in touch with ordinary people’, ‘good speaker’, ‘stands up for
ordinary people’, ‘patriotic’ (Yougov, 2017). On June 28, 2016 after the Brexit
vote at the plenary session at the EU headquarters in Brussels, Mr. Farage
said: ‘Isn’t it funny – you know, when I came here 17 years ago and I said that
I wanted to lead a campaign to get Britain to leave the European Union, you all
laughed at me. Well I have to say, you’re not laughing now’ (POLITICO, 2016).
By broadcasting controversial ideas of immigration
during the Leave campaign (for example, suggesting a Romanian crime wave in
London and claiming that shortage of healthcare, school places and housing,
jobs for young people because of migrants), invoking a negative attitude
towards migrants with his huge poster ‘Breaking point: the EU has failed us
all’, and by combining these ideas with his familiar ‘man in pub’ image, he
attracted a lot of attention from the media and the public.
Marine Le Pen is the leader of Front
National (FN) party, which was founded by her father - Jean-Marie Le Pen in
1972. However, under Marine’s leadership and her reformation of the party, FN
made clear breakthroughs. By 1984 the party had created a status for armed
right-wing populism and an electorate of voters, which brought 11 per cent of
the votes in the elections to the European Parliament. By 1997 the party had
built itself as an essential part of the French party system and extended 15
per cent of the vote in parliamentary and presidential elections (Taggart, 2000).
When Jean-Marie was a leader of the party,
they wanted to deport three million immigrants, but during Marine’s leadership,
which started since 2011, the party started to distance itself from such
controversial ideas (BBC, 2017). As a result, the party became more popular in
France, gaining, in 2010, 18 percent of the vote, and about 24% today. Despite
the loss at the Presidential elections, the first round’s results spread
concerns about the future of France and the EU, Ms. Le Pen got 21.53 percent, which
is very close to 23.75 percent Mr. Macron had (the Guardian, 2017).
‘Charismatic Le Pen, boring Macron […]’ was
the title of one article about the French elections (Financial, Review, 2017),
which basically characterises the candidates (from the author’s point of you)
and clearly proves the idea that populist leaders have charisma (Taggart,
2000). Le Pen’s key issues of the Presidential campaign were the following: she
promised to crush ‘Islamic fundamentalism’ and hard-line against immigration.
Ms. Le Pen said to the supporters that ‘the
EU will die’ and she wanted to exit the Schengen agreement, close French
borders and leave the euro and return to the franc, promising Frexit within six
months of taking power (The Guardian, 2017a). The key idea of Marine Le Pen’s
campaign was the same as the main idea of the Front National since 1972:
keeping France for the French.
During her campaign, similarly to Mr.
Farage in the UK case, she made global media and international community speak
about her, for example, she refused to wear headscarf while meeting with
Lebanon’s Grand Sunni Muslim Mufti Sheikh Adbel –Latif Derian, meaning the
encounter had to be cancelled in February 2017.
From these examples, we could conclude
that, during their campaigns, the two leaders mostly discussed immigration
within the EU, drawing differences between Eastern Europeans and Western
Europeans. Secondly, Farage and Le Pen’s ‘images’, behaviour, and strategies
helped them to attract their audiences.
The main themes of their speeches were
directed at, and designed to appeal to, particular demographics. Thirdly,
during their campaigns they tried to attract as much media-attention, domestic
and international, as possible and they tried to be controversial (above
mentioned: Farage’s poster ‘Breaking point’, Le Pen’s behaviour in Lebanon).
Resolving populism could be achieved with
the same strategy, but in the opposite direction. If populism mainly relies on
charismatic leadership, overcoming populism should also be related to
charismatic leadership, but with ideas of having a strong European Union with a
prosperous future. Responding to the first lesson from populists, the European
Union needs new charismatic leaders within the EU who will work together with
other EU members, who will be interested in keeping institutions and rules
within the institution, and who will work hard to enthusiastically promote
ideas of institution, and implement them.
In order to overcome populism, and prevent
its development in other states, strong/charismatic leadership should present a
clear plan for the reformation of the European Union, and should demonstrate
that the strength of the Union depends on a mutual respect for the diversity of
its members. However, it seems that current EU politicians are behaving
according to a populist scenario: demonstrating that there are only certain
states in the EU, which are important.
For example, the inauguration of Emmanuel
Macron was held on May, 14 2017 and he met with Angela Merkel the day after to
discuss changes to the EU treaties and the reformation of the European Union.
By excluding all the states for which an issue such as this would have
consequences, these two leaders gave the impression that the future of the EU
depends only on the future of their countries.
This attitude contradicts the main
principles of the EU and the pillars of liberalism in general, which should
preserve the equality and importance of all states. In addition, it is probably
easy to deal with negative discourses, pointing out only the negative outcomes
of current policies (as populists do), but it is perhaps more difficult to
suggest peaceful ideas which will bring prosperity to the institution. It is,
however, also extremely important for politicians to convince people of their
beliefs and of the advantages of their political strategies.
New populists mainly focus on immigration,
taxation and issues related to regionalism/nationalism, the examples of
discourses suggested by Mr. Farage and Mrs. Le Pen demonstrate this as well.
In this regard, pro-EU charismatic leaders
should simply find counter-arguments and deliver them with the same enthusiasm
and strength of belief as populists do. Populists’ ideas are historically
mainly the same, if they found the subjects that have divided societies, why
cannot pro-EU politicians express strong clear statements about the advantages
of particular issues, or by drawing attention to other problems.
For example, in response to the accusation
against Romanians of criminality (as mentioned in the Brexit case), why not
show the proportion of law-breaking Romanians as a percentage of the total
number of Romanian immigrants, to highlight the vast majority of law-abiding
citizens that this demographic comprises?
Finally, the two mentioned leaders
concentrated on one class of society, for this reason it is essential for
charismatic pro-EU leadership to learn to speak with all groups of society.
They should know the discourses and interests of all people, taking into
account their gender, class, age, and, while meeting with them, should
Simply, they should learn to promote the
same policies with all people. It is hard work to find new political mechanisms
which attract everyone, but if Farage could create the poster ‘Breaking Point’,
I strongly believe that other pro-EU politicians will be able enthusiastically
promote EU principles and ideas which bring prosperity for their organization.