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Middle East Press (22 Aug 2017 NewAgeIslam.Com)



Is Israel Preparing For A Future Without Netanyahu? By Hussein Shobokshi: New Age Islam's Selection, 22 August 2017





New Age Islam Edit Bureau

22 August 2017

Is Israel Preparing For A Future Without Netanyahu?

By Hussein Shobokshi

Arab Women Exchanging Ideas and Finding Voice for Reforms

By Taylor Luck

Sabotaging This Year’s Hajj: Tehran and ‘A Few’ In Doha

By Mashari Althaydi

Why Do We Attack The World?

By Ghassan Charbel

All Has Become Clear Now In the Qatar Crisis

By Sawsan Al Shaer

Enhancing Rational Position against Sectarian Discourse

By Hassan Al Mustafa

Talk All You like, Assad, but You’re No Putin

By Diana Moukalled

Compiled By New Age Islam Edit Bureau

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Is Israel Preparing For A Future Without Netanyahu?

By Hussein Shobokshi

21 August 2017

The curtain seems to be coming down on the era of the controversial Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Now Israel is actually preparing for a political future soon without Netanyahu.

Netanyahu’s end is approaching after his eight-year rule in which there was no political rival and no effective opposition. The period also witnessed relative security in the border areas as Arab region was occupied dealing with terrorist and extremist organizations such as ISIS, al-Qaeda and Hezbollah.

As the Arab world was reeling from internal fighting, Israel focused on its economy, registering a significant growth exceeding 4 percent. The country also broke the psychological barrier in the development of political and diplomatic relations by forging ties with countries that were outside the scope of its traditional interest. It struck important bilateral agreements with India and some important African countries, which included the security sector, of course, political aspects.

However, Netanyahu did not accomplish anything at the most important level — the Palestinians and the Arabs. He followed an expansionist and provocative settlement policy. Of late, he tried to prevent Muslims to pray in the al-Aqsa mosque by laying down humiliating and provocative rules for the worshipers.

Since the decision to impose new security rules has been rolled back I consider it to be a political and moral victory for the Palestinians and Muslims. Before that, there were huge objections by Diaspora Jews, specifically Jews in the United States of America, to one of the decisions of the Israeli government led by Netanyahu.

The decision here is meant not to allow the mixing of men and women prayer at the Wailing Wall, which the Jewish communities in the Diaspora considered a victory for the ultra-Orthodox extremist movement inside the Israel, which is the prominent voice in the coalition government with Netanyahu, and comes as a blow to the ambitions of the reformist movement in the Jewish community, which consists of liberal ideas and constitutes the most prominent orientation of the basis of thought scholarism.

Religious Extremism

But since the arrival of the Likud Party under the leadership of Menachem Begin, Israel is growing in its “religious” extremism. This anger by the reformist movement of Jews in the Diaspora means that Netanyahu’s financial support and political connection with the United States of America has been cut off through the Jewish lobby.

Now it seems that the last nail is being put in the political coffin of Benjamin Netanyahu with the Israeli investigation opening up into Netanyahu’s corruption in two well-known cases. Investigators are looking into whether Netanyahu has done business in return for gifts from influential friends, including the Hollywood producer Arnon Milchan.

The second case involves his relationship with the publisher of a local newspaper in Israel, Yedioth Ahronoth, to agree with him behind closed doors to stop the publication of the free Israel Hayom newspaper. The investigators obtained a “recording” documenting the interview between Netanyahu and the publisher.

He repeated the seriousness of the investigation that Ari Harrow, who was chief of staff in the Netanyahu administration in 2015, agreed to cooperate with investigators and gave full and profound testimony to the charges against Netanyahu in exchange for any mitigating provisions against him.

The Netanyahu era gave the world the ugly face of an exploitative politician who has no value to promises or conventions in his dictionary. The world will be a better place without Netanyahu. The question remains who will come as a replacement for him and how he will run a different Israel!

Source: english.alarabiya.net/en/views/news/middle-east/2017/08/21/Is-Israel-preparing-for-a-future-witout-Netanyahu-.html

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Arab Women Exchanging Ideas and Finding Voice for Reforms

By Taylor Luck

August 21, 2017

Popular uprisings in 2011 showed that they could mobilise and reach out to supporters and the public with the most limited resources

The changes were as radical as they were swift. On July 26, Tunisia voted to criminalise sexual harassment and discrimination against women. On August 1, Jordan's Parliament voted to scrap a law that allowed rapists to escape punishment if they married their victims.

Lebanon and Iraq now look to follow suit later this year and end their marry-your-rapist laws and criminalise violence against women.

As sudden as these victories for women's rights may seem, they are not an unanticipated wave of change. Rather, they are the result of a quiet women's revolution taking part in the Arab world that has been decades in the making and has drawn on women's increased participation in politics and a revolution in cross-border communication, especially in social media.

Now, as other Arab countries look to repeal similar repressive laws, lawmakers and community leaders are setting their sights on building on those gains, including equal pay in the workplace.

In Jordan, activists have been working to repeal Article 308 - the marry-the-rapist clause - for two decades; but the most recent attempt in 2013 only gathered two dozen signatures in Parliament. In Tunisia, for years after the 2011 revolution that triggered the Arab spring, women's rights activists saw the proposed law stall time and again.

Yet both Jordan and Tunisia have experienced an important development: an increased number of women elected to parliamentary bodies.

Jordan's 2016 elections saw women grab 20 of Parliament's 130 seats, the highest proportion of women ever, in an election that fielded a record 252 female candidates. In Tunisia's parliamentary elections in 2014, women were elected to 31 percent of the parliament's seats - the highest percentage of any Arab country and more than in France.

Activists and experts say many of these women members of Parliament (MPs) used their positions to lobby their governments, cajole colleagues, and introduce debates over issues that lawmakers previously had been unwilling to address.

"Women and the civil society expect us to take the first steps, to drive these issues forward, and encourage progress in human rights and women's rights," says Wafa Bani Mustafa, a Jordanian MP who led the campaigns to scrap article 308 in 2013 and 2017.

"Not all women MPs are on board," she says, "but those of us that were willing, answered this call." In Iraq, 25 per cent of parliamentarians are women, while in Lebanon a mere 3 per cent are.

Aiding the cause was the establishment of dozens of local, national, and nongovernmental organizations advocating for Arab women throughout the 1990s and early 2000s. These groups gave a channel and lobbying arm for those who supported advancing Arab women's rights, giving them a "voice at the table".

In Jordan, the Jordanian Women's Union, Mizan Law Group for Human Rights, and the Jordanian chapter of Sisterhood is Global Institute (SIGI) - all worked to change perceptions in towns and villages by providing statistics on gender-based violence and the personal cases of women wronged by the law or forced to marry their rapist.

In Tunisia, the revolution allowed for an explosion of women's rights groups, such as the League of Tunisian Women Voters and Aswat Nissan, taking up specific causes, including encouraging women candidates and strategic voting. Some 700 civil society organisations work on gender issues in Tunisia.

These new groups pushed for changes in laws and discriminatory practices that left women vulnerable to violence or at the mercy of their husbands.

"In the mid-90s and early 2000s, we started raising topics, such as topics of rape, honour crimes, violence against women, abortion," says Rana Husseini, a veteran journalist and women's activist who spearheaded campaigns to end so-called honour killings in Jordan.

"Our traditions and culture call for respect for women, and our religions do not call for killing, for people to appoint themselves as judge and executioner. We fought for two decades to make that case to the public," Husseini said.

Regional groups such as the Coalition of Arab Women MPs Combatting Violence Against Women, Karama, and the Arab Women Parliamentarians Forum increased cooperation between Arab women activists and MPs battling to amend or cancel draconian laws in their home countries. For the first time, Arab women activists coordinated strategies and learned from each other's successes and failures.

"A woman from Jordan learns from Morocco, a woman from Iraq learns from Tunisia, and it goes on - the ability for Arab women to exchange ideas and strategies has been important," says Hibaaq Osman, the director of Karama and two other regional Arab women's rights groups.

Women's advancements in Arab countries, the vast majority having inherited similar laws imported by Western colonial powers and upheld by conservative social forces, have had a "domino effect," emboldening each other, activists say.

"We started saying, 'Why can't we end article 308 in Jordan, when Egypt has done it in 1999, Morocco in 2014, Tunisia in 2017, and there are motions happening in Lebanon and Iraq?" says Hala Ahed, a legal consultant at the Jordan Women's Union.

The groundwork laid in the 1990s and early 2000s left women rights activists poised to take advantage of two important revolutions at the beginning of this decade: the Arab Spring and social media. Despite proving unable to throw off the yoke of authoritarianism across the Arab world, the popular uprisings in 2011 - in part organised and driven by women - showed Arab women that they could mobilise and reach out to supporters and the public even with the most limited resources.

Now, social media has broken their monopoly, exposing bastions of support for women's rights in often the most unexpected places.

Bedouin tribesmen, men in rural villages, devout women, and imams have all come out in support of ending discriminatory laws and advancing women's rights during the Jordanian and Tunisian campaigns and even in conservative Gulf states such as Saudi Arabia. The ability of average citizens to have their say has completely changed the debate - and put greater pressure on those arguing to maintain such laws out of respect for "culture and tradition."

"Social media has given a voice to citizens who were previously blocked out of the debate - and it turns out that the majority are for an end to these discriminatory laws," says Ahed, the legal consultant.

"Seeing citizens of all walks of life voice their support, decision-makers are no longer shying away from women's rights."

"Women's rights are human rights, which affect every family," says Mohammed Suleiman, a 22-year resident of Irbid, in northern Jordan.

"If we allow rapists to take away the rights of one woman, they take away the rights of all of us."

In a bright spot in Saudi Arabia, Maryam Otaibi, an activist leading calls for the end to the guardianship system, was released from prisons in July after being held for fleeing her family home without her father's permission. Her release without a male guardian was hailed by activists as a step toward moving away from the system.

Even in conflict-hit Arab states, the seeds of women activism - and future change - are being planted. In Syria, where prior to the revolution there was not a single women's civil society group, there are now hundreds of organisations working across the country on gender-related issues.

In Libya, following the overthrow of strongman Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, women formed the Libyan Women's Platform for Peace and pushed for an election law that allowed fair representation of women in parliament.

In Jordan, activists have their sights set on legal loopholes that allow for reduced charges in honour crimes and on women's inability to pass on citizenship to children born to a foreign father. In Tunisia and Jordan, women activists say they will continue monitoring, campaigning, and pressuring authorities to make sure their hard-fought gains are applied in the courts and on the ground.

"Arab women no longer are going to come to the table where they are expected to act as the table cloth," says Karama's Osman. "They are going to come because they are a force to reckon with."

Source: khaleejtimes.com/editorials-columns/arab-women-exchanging-ideas-and-finding-voice-for-reforms

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Sabotaging This Year’s Hajj: Tehran and ‘A Few’ In Doha

By Mashari Althaydi

21 August 2017

The season of Hajj pilgrimage is about to commence. Upon its approach, attempts are being made to spread disinformation and lies. Earlier, such mischief was done by people associated with Khomeini. The principal method used was by conducting a heretic ceremony they named “The Repudiation of the Polytheists,” which Khomeini and his cohorts had devised to launch propaganda campaigns in support of the Iranian regime.

What is new this time is the introduction of Qatari policies in the mix. Here, I am not suggesting the involvement of the Qatari state or its people. If attempts to politicize Hajj might be perceived to benefit Qatar, it might be equally tempting for Iran which has a far larger population and is more mobilized than before!

The pilgrimage season has been politically targeted ever since Khomeini came to power in Iran in 1979. Khomeini, the Brotherhood and Muammar Qaddafi were all upset that the Two Holy Mosques and the Hajj and Umrah were, as they still continue to be, under the care and custodianship of Saudi Arabia.

This is why those associated with Khomeini and those who currently seek to imitate them from among Qatar’s politicians try to cast doubts about the convening of the Hajj and Umrah in Mecca and Medina. This is nothing new and is part of a carefully orchestrated plan.

Khomeini’s Ruse

Nabil Khalife, a Christian Lebanese researcher, has studied these old tricks conceived by Khomeini. In his book Targeting Sunnis, he provides the following insights into Khomeini’s policy: “Since it is a geo-demographic minority in the Islamic world, it (Iran under Khomeini) depended on a cynical strategy and propaganda to consecrate its existence, efficiency and credibility as a radical Islamic movement confronting the traditional Sunni persuasion.” According to Khalife, the policy exploited the Hajj pilgrimage to undermine the Saudi leadership, for instance through the 1987 Mecca incident. It exploited the Palestinian struggle, a purely Islamic cause, to help Shiites rise up with Hezbollah and raised the slogan of Jerusalem against Mecca.

Khalife’s views are significant. He has a PhD from Sorbonne in Arab Islamic civilization, and he has been assistant editor-in-chief of al-Mostaqbal magazine and was in charge of the Arab Center for International Studies. He was a broadcaster in Radio Monte Carlo when Khomeini was exiled to Paris and was living in Neauphle-le-Château. At the time, he wrote an early study about Khomeini when the revolutionary Shiite cleric’s charisma was a “global rage.”

The study was entitled: “Imam Khomeini’s revolution in the light of Iran’s modern history and Islam’s political philosophy.” It was published in the ‘Future Magazine’ on March 17, 1979. The study made Egyptian journalist Mohamed Hassanein Heikal curious and according to Doctor Nabil Khoury, he asked Shokri Nasrallah, a journalist from the ‘Future Magazine’ for copies of the edition. It seems however that the study did not change any of Heikal’s illusions about Khomeini’s republic.

In the end, bidders have come and gone but Mecca and Medina have remained in the care and custodianship of Saudi Arabia.

Source: english.alarabiya.net/en/views/news/middle-east/2017/08/21/Those-politicizing-this-year-s-Hajj-Tehran-and-a-few-in-Doha.html

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Why Do We Attack The World?

By Ghassan Charbel

21 August 2017

Whenever an explosion shakes a city, the same scene is repeated. I see eyes fastened to the breaking news on the screens. I hear the whispers of my colleagues: let’s hope the perpetrator is not an Arab; let’s hope he’s not a Muslim; we don’t need more…

I hear them and share their hopes; but the events quickly contest our wishes. It is no longer a secret that the attack on the world is an appalling specialty that we are unique in.

I know quite well that the man who ran over the tourists here or there does not represent his country or the confession to which he belongs; that he did not obtain official permission to commit his crime; that he was wanted in his country before being included in international lists of wanted individuals; and that the threat he represents to his hometown is more dangerous than his threat to the distant crime scene.

I know that intolerance is not confined to a certain people, a sect or a country; and that frenetic persons are sons of many different springs. But we have to admit unequivocally that we are the record holders of world aggressions. And we have booked ourselves an invincible position in the Guinness Book.

I do not exaggerate dear reader. The sight of tourists bleeding to death as a result of an attack perpetrated by a person coming from our region hits me in great confusion. I don’t know why I feel the duty to apologize to a Chinese family, who happened to be in Barcelona, or a Japanese man who was strolling in Nice, or a German who was on a visit to Luxor. This is awful.

Who gave us the right to violate maps, states and cities? Who gave us the right to assassinate young people celebrating life in Istanbul? Who gave us the right to assassinate the residents of the twin towers in New York?

Invocation of Injustice

The invocation of injustice here or there is just a curtain to hide a deep desire to kill the other; a deep desire to eliminate those whose features and affiliations do not match ours. Let’s suppose that injustice was done; do we respond to it by inflicting even greater injustice on innocent people? Talks about the world’s hatred of us are not true.

One cannot deny limited harming practices that can occur sometimes in the West in response to our rude performances, but they certainly do not rise to the level of death banquets that we organize at different and far-flung theatres.

Those, who know the West, are aware that the law there has sovereignty and priority that benefits even the advocates of hatred. Many know that Arab and Muslim communities enjoy freedom in Europe often lacking in their homeland.

Why do we attack the world? Is it because it chose to sail towards the future, while we are determined to sail back to the past? Is it because it invented the plane in which we travel? The car we ride? And the cancer medicine we use in our hospitals?

Then what is the validity of this hatred towards the West when we wish to see our children and grandchildren graduate from its universities?

Why do we attack the world? Is it because we have failed to build modern states… to achieve development… to provide employment… to guarantee freedoms and consolidate the rule of law?

Progress of the Other

Do we see in the progress of the other a defeat to us and a threat to our existence? Does the solution lie in detonating ourselves or instead coming out of the tunnels in which we have long chosen to reside?

Is it true that we are horrified by the multiplicity of colours, choices and opportunities and we seek to preserve the one-colour world that we perceive as the guarantee of our existence and the continuity of our identity far from any interaction or enrichment?

Is it true that we are alarmed whenever we hear the bells of the new era ringing? The bells of science, technology, medicine, ideas, culture, education and music…

Why do we attack the world? From where did we bring this huge amount of hatred? Why are we tempted to collide with the world instead of living with and within it?

Why do we favour explosions over dialogue? Death over interaction and settlement? Rubble over accommodation in common homes? Ashes over multiplicity? Why do we prefer to retreat instead of extending our hands to peace? Why do we choose the recipe of murder rather than dialogue and recognition?

Destroying Societies

We cannot continue to attack the world. This policy means destroying our societies before destroying a cafe, museum or a tower in other people’s world. Roving killers assassinate their homeland while they have the illusion of attacking other countries.

Those countries, which seem fragile, are able to live with the danger, because they are states and institutions that commit mistakes, correct them, reconsider their calculations and promote their capabilities.

It is time to put the war on extremism as a first priority in our life. It is imperative to eradicate the extremism dictionary from homes, neighbourhoods, schools and the different curricula. The flow of hatred feelings on the screens and social media must be stopped.

We must ask ourselves about the culture that promotes the rise of this tendency to attack the world. In the absence of a daring rational confrontation, we will sink even further in mud and blood and we will produce more roving killers.

Source: english.alarabiya.net/en/views/news/middle-east/2017/08/21/Why-do-we-attack-the-world-.html

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All Has Become Clear Now In the Qatar Crisis

By Sawsan Al Shaer

20 August 2017

It’s interesting how the pace of exposing Qatar’s scandals has accelerated. Pandora’s Box was suddenly opened, revealing all the evils since 1996 and until today. There is “international” synergy to expose Qatar’s role in conspiring against the entire world. If I were in the shoes of Qatar’s officials though I’d be worried of my allies’ leaks more than I’d be worried of my rivals’.

Bahrain recently broadcast a phone call between former Qatari prime minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jabr Al Thani and Ali Salman, the chief of the dissolved Al-Wefaq Party. This revealed Qatar’s role in conspiring against Bahrain during the coup attempt led by Al-Wefaq Party against the constitution. The phone call showed how Hamad bin Jassim provided all forms of support and conveyed an American initiative to make mediation efforts in support of Al-Wefaq – this was during Obama’s presidential term. Qatar, Al-Wefaq and part of the former American administration were thus pressuring against the entrance of Peninsula Shield troops to Bahrain.

Bahrain also published other evidence that shows the financial support which Qatar provided to terrorist groups in Bahrain. Meanwhile the role of Al Jazeera television channel was exposed by the leaked conversation between Attiyah, an advisor of the former Emir of Qatar, and a member of Al-Wefaq Party. The latter provided all forms of support to terrorists so “blood is shed,” and Attiyah voiced Al Jazeera’s willingness to broadcast this!

Qatar Undermining Security

In addition to exposing Qatar’s role in Bahrain, WikiLeaks recently exposed the role which Qatar played in undermining Egypt’s security and which led to the death of dozens of Egyptian soldiers, security forces and civilians. The Guardian and other media outlets published two leaked cables on the matter. The first one is numbered 432 and dated July 1, 2009.

It described a 50-minute meeting between Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim and Al Jazeera channel with the American ambassador. During the meeting, Bin Jassim discussed Qatar’s foreign policy towards some affairs including the Palestinian reconciliation and the peace process. He also launched a fierce attack against Egypt and its policies both directly and indirectly. The American ambassador analyzed the meeting and noted that Al Jazeera is a tool in the Qataris’ hand that they use any way they want to serve their interests.

The second cable is numbered 677 and dated November 19, 2009. It included a comprehensive evaluation prepared by different departments at the American embassy. The evaluation addressed the role of Al Jazeera channel in Qatar’s policy and analyzed the network’s orientation since Obama became president. The document said that Al Jazeera’s coverage became more positive towards the US. At the same time, the evaluation confirmed that Al Jazeera was still used as a tool in Qatar’s foreign policy.

What must worry Hamad bin Jassim and Hamad bin Khalifa is not exposing their role in conspiring to topple Arab regimes. What must worry them is exposing the secrets of Israeli-Qatari relations. Both men must be haunted by the idea! At some point someone wanted to end these close relations by exposing them!

Secret Relations

Israel began to expose these secrets through Sammy Revel, the first chief of Israel’s trade bureau in Doha. According to his book “Qatar – Israel – A file of secret relations,” relations between Qatar and Israel began after Hamad bin Khalifa assumed power after the coup he staged against his father. The coup happened in June 1995. Qatar and Israel signed the gas agreement in October the same year. Few months later, in 1996, Israel opened its trade bureau in Doha while Al Jazeera channel was launched in November 1996. The role which Hamad bin Khalifa offered to play to serve Israel thus became clear.

The Daily Telegraph revealed information that is as dangerous as the information revealed by The Guardian. It reported that Qatar is involved in helping three terrorists, wanted by the US, escape. WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange said he has seven cables about Qatar and only five were published while the other two were not after Qatar negotiated with the website’s administration that requested huge sums of money in order to publish them as they contained dangerous information about meetings with Israeli and American officials and incited against Egypt and their people.

Even Pakistan published documents that convict Hamad bin Jassim in the trial of Nawaz Sharif. Another document exposed Qatar’s role in funding Sarkozy’s campaign during the French presidential elections. Who else did not expose Qatar’s roles?

The scandals are being revealed, one after the other. This drives Qatar’s media crazy as it’s incapable of holding them off. Everything has become clear now.

Source: english.alarabiya.net/en/views/news/middle-east/2017/08/20/All-has-become-clear-now-in-the-Qatar-crisis.html

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Enhancing Rational Position against Sectarian Discourse

By Hassan Al Mustafa

21 August 2017

Saudi diplomatic activity in Lebanon, based on dialogue and building bridges with various symbols and sections of society, continued through the visits of the Charge d’ Affaires of the Saudi Embassy in Beirut, Walid Bin Abdullah Al-Bukhari, who met with the President of the Supreme Shiite Islamic Council Sheikh Abdul Amir Qablan.

Bukhari supported the stand of Qablan on “Arab and Islamic unity, and to strive for all what is good for the people.” After his visit, Bukhari visited the home of late Hani Fahs, praising his role as “one of the pillars of moderation, religious tolerance and enlightened thought in Lebanon and the region, and that his death was a great loss for this approach which we are in real need of today.”

These activities, based on the promotion of cultural interrelationship, did not start today, but are part of the diplomacy of the Saudi Embassy in Beirut through a series of visits and seminars in a country that represents an important source of thought and writing in the Arab world.

On April 13, 1975, the Saudi Embassy held a cultural symposium entitled ‘Imam al-Sadr’s approach and moderation’. The event highlighted the thoughts and personal positions that believed in equality between human beings, and that the country should embrace all its people.

Opposition to Civil War

Sadr was opposed to ‘civil war’ and sought openness for all religions in Lebanon and the Arab world, to establish political and cultural understandings that would serve as a safety net against crises and wars, thus creating an environment in which people would live in dignity and pride.

In 1974, Imam Musa al-Sadr visited Saudi Arabia and met with the late King Faisal bin Abdul Aziz. Moreover, Sadr has had personal relations since the early 1970s with the late King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz, when he was Emir, where they were brought together on many special occasions and meetings.

Recalling the memory of the relationship between Sadr and Saudi Arabia at this time, following the visit of Moqtada al-Sadr to Saudi Arabia and the UAE, is of special importance, as it strengthens the rational position against the sectarian discourse.

Building on this memory, and the Sadr family’s religious and philosophical presence in the Gulf, will provide the momentum for positive relations, with moderate approaches that support the stability and security of the region.

Diplomacy Based On ‘Soft Power’

Culture, dialogue and communication are effective and constructive Saudi diplomacy tools. These tools are capable of building bridges and establishing dialogue as a true solution for the crisis that prevails in the region today.

Diplomacy has its “soft” tools, which some may underestimate, despise or consider insignificant, forgetting that the concept of international relations is basically based on communication, negotiation, reaching compromises and understandings, and creating common grounds.

It is not easy to make a political action plan that relies on “soft” power as this force needs great skill and deep cultural and social understanding. It also needs expert implementers, who can understand the contradictions that prevail in society, and who can face and overcome the difficult situations with ease.

Source: english.alarabiya.net/en/views/news/middle-east/2017/08/21/Boosting-rational-position-against-sectarian-discourse.html

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Talk All You like, Assad, but You’re No Putin

By Diana Moukalled

22 August 2017

It was impossible to avoid a sarcastic smile while observing how the official Syrian media approached Bashar Assad’s recent speech in front of the Syrian parliament.

The speech was labeled as a strategy and plan of action for the new Syria. It was called “Assad’s Doctrine” in an attempt to imitate the famous speech by the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, to the Russian parliament in 1999. That speech, of course, was called “Putin’s Doctrine.”

It was an obvious attempt to place the catastrophe that is Bashar Assad in the context of Vladimir Putin’s strategy and the current regional polarization. Obviously there is no comparison between the weak and insubstantial Assad and the dangerous and frightening figure of Putin, the man who saved Assad from the fall and kept him in power despite all the massacres he committed.

Disregarding the speech itself and the Syrian media propaganda that accompanied it, the dilemma lies in one crucial fact. Despite the deaths of up to 500,000 people, thousands injured and millions displaced, none of these crimes could trigger a global consensus to topple this regime.

In his speech, Assad said that the Syrian society today was more “homogeneous,” a description that he has used repeatedly in the past few months. That clearly shows that he has decided to permanently exclude refugees and all those who have been forced to flee Syria during this sectarian war that he himself created. According to Assad, Syrian society today is more harmonious, pointing unmistakably to the obvious sectarian demographic change. He appears to be saying that now a few million people have gone, it will be much easier for him to seize control over Syria.

When delivering his speech, Assad took into consideration that the American Nazis see him as a role model, Israel does not want his departure and the European and American right wings are relying on him to defend the Christians of the East. He also enjoys the support of the European and American left wings, who believe that he is standing resolute against imperialism. Before all this, he took advantage of his opponents’ weakness, and the inability of the international community to draft a single resolution putting an end to his crimes.

The unanimous agreement of world governments to give Assad a free pass, when they agree on little or nothing else, is a paradox: such a dispensation has been granted to no other tyrant. In a cruel and unfair world, where international trials are failing, we will keep on witnessing the killings of more Syrians, without being able to take any serious action.

We have all followed the Syrian revolution since its outbreak six years ago. We have seen those who promised to remove Assad from power, whether through political or military means, and listen to their silence now. American ambiguity has prevailed after all. The Americans said Assad “cannot be part of Syria’s future,” but then went back on everything they said. Moreover, some Arab countries abandoned the Syrians, and not for the first time. The world agreed on Assad, but disagreed on mercy and justice.

While the Assad regime is “democratic,” “secular” and “open-minded,” according to its own propaganda and the claims of the regimes that support it, its media wages lame attacks against the opposition abroad. The paradox is that Assad has no problem with foreign countries that are “respectful and have values, like Russia for instance and not the US, the coal mining country,” as his slavish media put it.

Populism mixed with hostility against the West have become the trademarks of the new phase of Assad’s propaganda and diplomacy, in which he appears to be looking east. He points to the victims of terrorism in Barcelona and Finland, part of what he believes is the vanishing Western world, and says: “They are paying the price of their stupid Western policies.”

Let the international community accept the fact that they have abandoned the Syrian people and turned a blind eye to Syria’s biggest crime of all: Bashar Assad.

Source: arabnews.com/node/1148711

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