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Middle East Press (09 May 2017 NewAgeIslam.Com)

On Iranian Religious Democracy: New Age Islam's Selection, 09 May 2017

New Age Islam Edit Bureau

09 May 2017

On Iranian Religious Democracy

By Mohammed Al Shaikh

France Has Decided, but It Is Far From Over

By Cornelia Meyer

Trump’s Visit to Saudi Arabia and Gulf Unity!

By Dr. Khaled M. Batarfi

It Is Not Just Americans Who Know So Little Of The Arab World

By Chris Doyle

The Significance for Syria of Erdogan-Putin Meeting

By Yasar Yakis

Tales of Differences between Egypt and Saudi Arabia

By Turki Aldakhil

Agreement to Establish Safe Zones in Syria Comes Into Effect

By Maria Dubovikova

France’s Clash within Civilizations

By Hussein Shobokshi

Is Tony Blair Back?

By Dr. Azeem Ibrahim

The West's Obsession with Itself

By Donald Collins

Compiled By New Age Islam Edit Bureau


On Iranian Religious Democracy

By Mohammed Al Shaikh

8 May 2017

Iran’s agents (mercenaries) in Arab countries, particularly the Lebanese ones, say that Iran is a model of a real democratic country since candidates compete freely and fairly for the presidency every four years. I don’t need to say that these are lies as the Iranians’ elections have nothing to do with the well-known rules of democracy and they’re rather a funny and fabricated charade that hides pure dictatorship behind it.

Iran is a religious state that’s controlled by the guardian of the jurist. This cleric rules absolutely with no one monitoring him or holding him accountable. He controls the executive, legislative and judicial authorities. Anyone who thinks – just thinks – about opposing him will be eliminated under the pretext that’s he’s one of God’s enemies.

The so-called president is chosen via a fabricated charade that’s called “the presidential elections” and this is merely a formality as the president’s jurisdictions are limited and he’s more like the secretary of the guardian of the jurist, Iran’s real ruler.

The relation between the president and the guardian of the jurist resembles the relation between a minor and a headmaster as he does not dare discuss anything with him and he does not ask him about anything he does or says because according to the Iranian constitution, the guardian of the jurist’s status is like God’s representative on earth so who dares object against God?

Therefore, anyone who discusses his decisions – let alone object to them – whether it’s the president or anyone else, would be objecting to God almighty. This is exactly how Catholic popes governed Europe during the Dark Middle Ages.

The Illusion of Democracy

Iranian elites, who are not clerics, know that Iran’s democracy is just empty talk as there’s no democracy as long as there is a sacred cleric who solely governs all authorities. Therefore, the tale of democratic competition over the presidency aims to throw dust in the eyes.

He who reads the history of religious countries can assert that their future is demise as this is inevitable no matter how long it takes.

The Revolutionary Guards in Iran is tantamount to the church’s guards in Europe during the time when the church ruled. Has the suppression and might of the church guards at the time succeeded at confronting people when they realized that priests’ governance was the worst forms of dictatorships?

The Shiite ‘Pope’

Back then the pope governed on the basis that he was God’s representative on earth. I don’t think there’s any difference between the pope of the Catholic Church back then and the Islamized “pope” of the Shiite church in Tehran. There’s no difference no matter how much Iran’s agents try to market this fake democratic Islamic republic.

What will also lead to Iran’s demise is its strong ties to terrorism whether directly or indirectly. Its relations with many terrorists, particularly from al-Qaeda, have been exposed and there is evidence that proves these ties.

Sunni Islamic terrorism would not have emerged and solidified if it hadn’t been for the sahwa (awakening) phenomenon which emerged after the success of the Khomeini revolution in Tehran. This phenomenon imitated the latter revolution and politicized Islam on Sunni bases.

Terrorism was born out of the womb of sahwa and it grew in incubators to politicize Islam. Therefore, the world will sooner or later realize that eliminating terrorism cannot be achieved unless by eliminating the phenomenon of both Sunni and Shiite political Islam.

Source: english.alarabiya.net/en/views/news/2017/05/08/On-Iranian-religious-democracy.html


France Has Decided, but It Is Far From Over

By Cornelia Meyer

9 May 2017

On May 7, France elected 39-year-old Emmanuel Macron as president, the youngest in the country’s modern history. He won with over 66 percent of votes cast. As a former Rothschild banker, presidential adviser and economy minister, he is very much a scion of the French establishment. He is part of the urban elite and value system. He won on the back of a movement, not an established party. He founded En Marche! just a little over a year ago.

Macron painted a picture of hope. His was a positive vision of economic reform, social inclusion and multilateralism. He is a strong proponent of the EU and the euro, and wants France to assume her rightful position in the union. He said he wanted to take the best ideas of the right, left and centre of French politics. In his detractors’ words, he wanted to be all things to all people, which down the road might become the undoing of his popularity.

Macron’s opponent Marine Le Pen of the populist, far-right Front National (FN) managed to get shy of 34 percent. She may have lost, but her party managed to gain close to 11 million votes. Last time her party made it to the final stage of the presidential election, it only managed to obtain 7 million votes. That was in 2002, when her father faced off against President Jacques Chirac.

Her vision was one of a France in the olden times. She ran on a platform that put security, anti-immigrant and anti-EU sentiments front and centre. She wanted to leave the euro should she be elected.

She was popular in rural districts and had fans on the international stage, namely Presidents Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump. When the result of the vote was announced late Sunday night, one could literally hear and feel the sighs of relief emanating from the capitals of Europe, especially Berlin and Brussels.

Last year saw established party landscapes in many Western democracies put into question. It was the year of movements: Brexit and Trump’s election. Traditional parties did not reach their goals, and pollsters fared even less well. There was a marked shift to the right: The Tea Party and alt-right in the US, the Alternative fuer Deutschland in Germany, the Freedom Party in Holland and the FN in France.

In France, the left was deeply divided between the far-left Jean-Luc Melenchon and the Socialists, who were riding on the back of President Francois Hollande’s unpopularity. The traditional centre-right Republicans party moved to the right when it nominated the socially conservative, Euroskeptic Francois Fillon as its candidate. He was popular.

But a scandal about overpaying family members out of state coffers for political services rendered became Fillon’s undoing. So for the first time in modern France neither of the established parties, the Socialists or Republicans, made it to the final round of the election.

It broke with the tradition of the presidency alternating between the two parties. It was essentially two movements, one on the extreme right and one in the liberal center, which made the race to the finals.

Europe was deeply shaken after the Brexit vote, and taken aback when Trump got elected. Anti-EU sentiment seemed to be gathering momentum on both sides of the Atlantic. The turning point came when Dutch elections returned Prime Minister Mark Rutte back into office. His People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy decisively beat the ultra-right Freedom Party of Geert Wilders.

The French presidential election reinforced the reversal of fortune in anti-European sentiment. Still, Wilders’ party ranks second in the Netherlands. Britain is poised for Brexit, which will prove to be a painful experience on both sides of the Channel. As for France, it is not over yet: On June 11, the French will elect a new Parliament. Whereas France’s president has sweeping powers, experience tells us that coalitions tend to achieve little.

It will be hard for Macron to obtain a majority in Parliament, given that En Marche! does not yet have the apparatus of an established party at its disposal. Furthermore, during the last stage of the presidential election both the Socialists and Republicans supported Macron, mainly in opposition to Le Pen’s extreme views. Now they will run their own candidates on their own tickets. The FN and the Left Party are also back in the fray.

For the time being Europe may have stemmed the tide of populism, but between fickle majorities, German elections, Brexit, the Greek debt crisis and the Italian banking crisis, the summer of 2017 promises to be politically hot.

Source: arabnews.com/node/1096656/columns


Trump’s Visit to Saudi Arabia and Gulf Unity!

By Dr. Khaled M. Batarfi

May 9, 2017

I WAS trying to clarify the positions of the Gulf states on main Middle Eastern issues, and to explain the differences of opinion in some areas, such as Egypt and Syria, when my Algerian friend announced: The Gulf position is one … regardless of details! Unlike in the Maghreb union and other Arab regional blocs in modern history, GCC states are but one entity!

I confirmed the validity of her impression, and reminded of the European Union, which, despite the occasional divergence in some policies, they are one big family. The mechanisms they created would take care of opinion or interest differences in orderly fashion.

Yes, the Gulf is one entity, and perhaps it is on the way to full unity. Times prove this fact to our friends and foes at every turn. Those in Tehran who betted on the breakup of our alliance and tried to penetrate it by drawing closer to some of its members, thought at some point that they succeeded.

The Arab Alliance in Yemen woke them up. So was the unified position on all issues, such as the unity of Yemen and the legitimacy of its leadership, and the solidarity against the coup forces and the advocates of separation. They were also shocked by our success in building up Islamic and international coalition in the face of their threats to global peace and security. The alliance is getting stronger by the day, as more evidence exposed Iranian sponsorship of terrorism. It is clearer now who was creating and supporting terrorist organizations, whether Sunni or Shiite, from Daesh (the so-called IS) and Al-Qaeda to Hezbollah and Al- Hashad Al-Shaabi.

Those who believed in Iran’s good intentions after the conclusion of the nuclear agreement, or were fooled by its “doves and falcons” play, “reformers and hardliners” act, came to realize later the truth about its schemes and true intentions.

Actions test words, and facts expose lies. Iran’s behaviour in the region was enough evidence, but fortunately its leaders helped too with their arrogant declarations and hasty policies, after believing their mission was succeeding in controlling four Arab capitals—Baghdad, Damascus, Beirut and Sanaa.

Thus, it is clear to those who betted on reforming the Iranian regime from within that the Constitution of the Republic and Khomeini’s commands do not allow for any leader to break away from the Safavid ultimate project. This is a project formulated by a clearly defined ideological doctrine, stipulating that Islam is confined to the Twelver Jaafari school of thought. The rest of us are infidels who must adhere to the their sect. The Muslim world, including Makkah and Madinah, must be united under the leadership of the supreme leader and the deputy of the absent imam. Their mission is to prepare the world for the return of the “savior imam,” who has disappeared in a tunnel hundreds of years ago, and should reappear before the end of time.

A sign of the international community awakening and resolve is how the United States ended an eight-year “secret understanding” with Iran to conclude an agreement that gave the rogue nation a free hand in the region. Instead, the Trump administration has decided to rehabilitate its time-tested alliance with the Gulf and allied Arab and Muslim states, such as Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, Pakistan and Turkey.

This shift was manifested in stronger cooperation with the Arab Alliance in the liberation of Yemen and the securing of international waterways in the Red Sea and the Arabian Gulf. The latest manifestation of this change of track was the announcement by US President Donald Trump about his choice of Saudi Arabia as the first stop of his first tour since taking office. During the visit, he is to meet with the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, Gulf, Arab and Islamic leaders. The US president emphasized the importance of Saudi Arabia, the cradle of Arabism and Islam, and its leading role in the Arab and Muslim world, as well as, in global politics, economy and security. He rightly decided that the Land of Islam is the most effective platform for communicating with the Muslim public, especially the youth, and for combating terrorism.

Yes, our Gulf is one… It is about time our bully neighbor puts its hopes and doubts to rest! We will face them as one! And as one we shall prevail!

Source; saudigazette.com.sa/opinion/trumps-visit-saudi-arabia-gulf-unity/


It Is Not Just Americans Who Know So Little of the Arab World

By Chris Doyle

9 May 2017

Should we be shocked that 81 percent of Americans cannot identify the Arab world on the map? This was the headline finding of the Arab News/YouGov poll published last week. After all, the US just elected a man who promised “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States,” and claimed: “I think Islam hates us.” Surveys show that views of Arabs and Muslims have just merged into one.

More alarming is that over a fifth of those polled believe in the existence of Agrabah, the fictitious setting for Disney’s “Aladdin,” one of the most egregious of anti-Arab films. This echoes a 2015 poll showing that 30 percent of Republican primary voters would back bombing Agrabah (it was 19 percent for Democrats).

Levels of ignorance and apathy are translating into dangerous prejudice and support for racist and discriminatory policies. Thirty-eight percent of those polled would be happy with a travel ban on Agrabah, even it if it is accessible only by magic carpet.

But the US is not the sole bastion of such ignorance and hatred. European snobbery about American lack of knowledge of the wider world, not least the Middle East, is not unknown. I would not care to guess at the level of geographic knowledge of most Europeans about Southeast Asia, for example, let alone the Middle East. As bad as it is in the US, other areas of the world often fare little better in their knowledge of the region.

Sixty-five percent of those asked in this poll admitted they know little about the Arab world. To put this into perspective, one of the reasons the Council for Arab British Understanding (CAABU) was created was that there was an opinion poll in Britain that showed 98 percent of the public claimed to know little or nothing about the Arab world. Then again, in 1967 there were no satellite news stations or the Internet.

A quarter of Canadians wanted a Donald Trump-like ban, and most Canadians do not hold positive views of Muslims. In a survey of 10 European countries, 55 percent wanted a ban on immigration from mainly Muslim countries, with only 25 percent opposing it.

Most polls show that in the US, UK, Germany, Italy and France, there is a grossly exaggerated sense of the size of the Muslim population. In France, a poll found that most people thought 31 percent of the population was Muslim; the real figure is 7.5 percent. Trump tapped into this sentiment, but so have many far-right politicians across Europe.

Just like him, European politicians have seen Muslim- and Arab-bashing as a vote-winner. The leader of a fascist party, Marine Le Pen, just got 34 percent of the vote in France. Geert Wilders, the “Dutch Trump,” came second in the Dutch elections in March. Only in last year’s London mayoral elections did Muslim-bashing fail, when Sadiq Khan triumphed to become the city’s first Muslim mayor after facing a torrent of dog whistle-style attacks.

The implications remain alarming as the situation deteriorates. More Daesh-inspired atrocities and negative attitudes will gather pace, with innocent Muslims bearing the brunt. Already many Arabs and Muslims anglicize their names in the US, from Muhammad to Mo or Walid to Wally. European Arabs and Muslims are increasingly fearful.

Arabs appear to have the worst reputation among those who do not follow news of the region. Improving news quality and coverage can help, but for those who do not pay attention to news, it is vital to reach out to them culturally. There is also the issue that for decades, Hollywood and television have largely dehumanized and stereotyped Arabs and Muslims. This must be challenged even more vigorously.

Whatever PR and education drives are mounted, little will be truly effective while conflicts, terrorism and extremism blight the Middle East. Daesh killed more than 6,000 people in 2015 in 28 countries. The overwhelming majority of the victims are Muslim, but attacks in developed countries are on the rise. It will probably not make much impact to point out that in 2014, gun crime accounted for 1,000 times more American deaths than terrorism.

This is an emotional, not a logical challenge. The narrative of the “Arab-Muslim” threat is powerful, and has been exaggerated all too often for political gain. Powerful Arab and Muslim role models are a vital asset. Leadership on this issue will not flow from the White House under Trump. Other leaders must step forward to heal these rifts before it is too late.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and German Chancellor Angela Merkel appear willing to a degree, but the new French President Emmanuel Macron must also challenge these prejudices. Likewise, Arab and Muslim leaders must become partners and active ambassadors to tackle this ignorance and prejudice, and not wait for the next crisis to act.

Source: arabnews.com/node/1096666/columns


Agreement To Establish Safe Zones In Syria Comes Into Effect

By Maria Dubovikova

9 May 2017

On May 4, Russia, Turkey and Iran signed an agreement in Astana, Kazakhstan, establishing four “tentatively designated de-escalation zones” in Syria, where the three will act as guarantors to stop hostilities for six months, extendable if all parties agree. The two-day meeting between the Syrian government and opposition groups led to Moscow, Tehran and Ankara agreeing to establish the zones in northern, central and southern Syria.

The agreement is an important step in the peace-building process, and has great potential to end six years of Syrian bloodshed. The zones will provide refuge and humanitarian aid to many displaced Syrians.

But the agreement is not quite clear about how the guarantors will monitor the zones; this is its Achilles heel, like all previous initiatives. Thus many doubt the zones will be a successful move toward resolving the conflict. Some believe such zones will be targets of increased violence, and will limit the military action that could pave the way for a comprehensive cease-fire and a political process.

The UN special envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, said the agreement “is an important, promising, positive step in the right direction.” This signals that it has been given the green light by the UN as a last chance to stop the bloodshed.

But representatives of the armed opposition stormed out of the meeting, rejecting the agreement because it “fails to guarantee the unity of Syria.” Syrian unity remains a key issue. All proposals that could lead to the division of the country have been continuously rejected by all parties to the conflict.

Russian negotiator Aleksandr Lavrentyev said his country will send observers to the safe zones, and all parties involved should “work more closely.” He voiced hope that the US and Saudi Arabia will cooperate to achieve peace in the region. Apparently both countries support the idea of safe zones.

Lavrentyev said the Syrian government will honor the agreement, which has been in effect since May 6, as long as armed groups do not attack the zones. But the US believes his statement has a “loophole which allows violations in these zones.” The high level of mutual distrust explains the skepticism over the zones’ prospects.

Within 10 days of the signing of the agreement, the guarantors will set up a joint working group to monitor the zones and their borders. By late May, maps will be drawn to help implement a lasting cease-fire between the Syrian government and the armed opposition.

The zones are in Idlib province and some adjacent territories, including Latakia; Hama and Aleppo to the north of Homs; Eastern Ghouta; and Daraa and Quneitra provinces in the south, by the border with Israel. Checkpoints will be set up at the zones’ peripheries to ensure security, safe passage of civilians and delivery of humanitarian aid.

As soon as the agreement was made public, the US State Department said: “The United States supports any effort that can genuinely de-escalate the violence in Syria, ensure unhindered humanitarian access, focus energies on the defeat of ISIS (Daesh) and other terrorists, and create the conditions for a credible political resolution of the conflict.”

But it added: “We continue to have concerns about the Astana agreement, including the involvement of Iran as a so-called ‘guarantor.’ Iran’s activities in Syria have only contributed to the violence, not stopped it, and Iran’s unquestioning support for the Assad regime has perpetuated the misery of ordinary Syrians.

“In light of the failures of past agreements, we have reason to be cautious. We expect the regime to stop all attacks on civilians and opposition forces, something they have never done. We expect Russia to ensure regime compliance.”

Will US-Russian distrust lead to the agreement’s failure? This depends on Turkey, which is a gatekeeper for NATO but has close ties with Russia and is deeply involved in Syria, supporting certain opposition groups and fighting Kurdish forces. For the time being, the US wants to continue dialogue with Russia to end the Syrian conflict, and strongly supports the UN-led Geneva process.

Building trust, in Syria and among the global and regional players involved, is a must under the current circumstances. The number of guarantor countries should be extended to include the US and Saudi Arabia, considering the latter’s influence on certain opposition groups. Another right thing would be for joint international observer groups, with a UN mandate, to monitor implementation of the agreement.

Observer groups operated by one guarantor will lack credibility. International observer groups with a UN mandate would be more significant and credible. Peace in Syria should be guaranteed by more countries than just Russia, Turkey and Iran, the most dubious player in this situation. Global cooperation should prevent escalation in Syria and among the foreign players involved.

Safe zones could bring about reconciliation and peace-building in Syria, but only if given a chance by all the players, who need to put aside their ambitions and geopolitical egoism. Unless there is regional and international will to solve the roots of the conflict, the problem will persist militarily and politically. Ending the Syrian conflict has become a global concern.

Source: arabnews.com/node/1096696/columns


The Significance for Syria of Erdogan-Putin Meeting

By Yasar Yakis

9 May 2017

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had talks with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin last week in Sochi, Russia. The most important item on the agenda was the creation of “de-escalation” zones in various parts of Syria. Turkey had long promoted the idea of establishing a safe zone in northern Syria. Russia and the US were also interested, but perceptions regarding the content of the idea varied.

Erdogan had in mind a safe zone preferably in areas controlled presently by the Free Syrian Army (FSA), with the support of the Turkish Army. If possible, this zone would be protected by a no-fly zone, meaning Syrian regime aircraft would be prevented from flying over the zone and bombing targets in it. However, Turkey could not gather sufficient support for it.

The US said on several occasions it was in favor of such an idea, but with a different scope. It wanted to protect the Kurds from the regime. Turkey tried to persuade the US to create a zone free from Kurdish fighters of the People’s Protection Units (YPG), which the US views as a valuable ally.

Last week, Erdogan and Putin agreed on an entirely different concept. Russia wants to draw a line between the warring parties in four places: Idlib in the north, next to the Turkish border; Homs, north of Damascus; the Ghouta neighbourhood of Damascus; and a region near Daraa close to the Jordanian border. De-escalation is not expected to become operational at the same time in every region.

Russia, Turkey and Iran will be the guarantors of the plan, but other countries will be invited to contribute to its implementation. The aim is to end the hostilities and create favorable conditions to advance a political settlement of the crisis in Syria.

Hostilities will be controlled by the parties in the de-escalation areas, including weapons. Unhindered, immediate and safe humanitarian access will be provided under the supervision of the guarantor. Conditions will be created to provide medical aid to the population.

Measures will be taken to restore social infrastructure, water supply and other life-supporting systems, and conditions will be created to ensure the safe and voluntary return of refugees and the work of local governing bodies. Along the borders of the de-escalation zones, there will be safe areas to prevent incidents and direct clashes between the warring parties. This part of the plan vaguely resembles Turkey’s original proposal.

Daesh, Al-Qaeda-linked opposition groups and other terrorist organizations listed by the UN will not be covered by the plan, so they will continue to be targeted by the Syrian and Russian air forces.

Putin said he discussed the plan and other ways to consolidate the cease-fire with US President Donald Trump, and that he supports the ideas. But State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert said the US had reasons to be cautious, including Iran’s role in the deal and the Syrian regime’s failure to fulfill past commitments. “The US appreciates the efforts by Russia and Turkey, and supports any effort that can lower violence in Syria,” she added.

A working group will be established five days after the agreement is signed by Russia, Turkey and Iran. It will determine the boundaries of the areas of tension and security, and will finalize technical issues related to the implementation of the plan. The maps of “areas of tension and de-escalation areas” will be completed by May 22.

The deal reached in Sochi is a major breakthrough, and makes Ankara an officially involved party in the de-escalation process. It also solves the dilemma of whether Turkey will cooperate with Russia or with the US, because both support the plan.

This cooperation will help mend the damage in Turkish-Russian relations caused by Turkey’s downing of a Russian fighter jet. It will also readjust Ankara’s Syria policy to reflect the realities on the ground, and send a message to the West that its snubbing of Turkey has limits.

Source: arabnews.com/node/1096661/columns#


Tales Of Differences Between Egypt And Saudi Arabia

By Turki Aldakhil

8 May 2017

During the past few months, many have spoken about an alleged “dispute” between Saudi Arabia and Egypt. However, Saudi Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman put an end to these allegations when he said during an interview last week that “relations with Egypt are solid.”

It’s no secret that Egypt and Saudi Arabia have different visions regarding some affairs. This is widely known. And here I emphasize the word “some,” since those who are drowned in illusions celebrated these differences and viewed them as the basis for “severing relations” when in fact there are only differences and not a “dispute.”

Egypt has its own vision regarding the Syrian crisis and is different than Saudi Arabia’s. Everyone knows that. Having different points of view regarding an affair or two does not mean abandoning cooperation on 100 other affairs which they agree on.

Amid this uncontrolled media criticism, Egypt announced that its operations with the Arab coalition to restore legitimacy in Yemen will continue and condemned the malicious roles which some parties in the region play. Egypt is also one of the founding members of the Arab and Islamic alliances. News reports are one thing but the wisdom and awareness of Egypt and Saudi Arabia’s leaders are something else.

Egypt and Saudi Arabia are the wings of the Arab world. Wisdom among any two brotherly countries is always based on “organizing differences” until the reasons behind these differences end.

Differences are the norm, but what is strange here is the practice of exaggerating them.

Source: english.alarabiya.net/en/views/news/middle-east/2017/05/08/Tales-of-differences-between-Egypt-and-Saudi-Arabia.html


France’s Clash within Civilizations

By Hussein Shobokshi

8 May 2017

The results of the first round of the presidential elections in France brought to the fore the growing signs of the end of the traditional party system in the world, whether it is the right-wing party or the left-wing party; both of them have decisively been hit.

Today, there is the emergence and ascendancy of one-person political system of governance rather than a party-based setup.

Individuals, who decide to walk against the mainstream politics and read what the street wants, are taking the reins of governance. We saw it in Britain’s vote and its exit from the European Union. We also saw it clearly in the election of Donald Trump as the president of the United States of America.

They managed to convince the people of globalization that the world is flat — as described by writer Thomas Friedman — and is full of twists and turns formed by the sectarian, ideological and religious affiliations and far removed from the idea of coexistence, tolerance and fraternity.

Even the notion of the end of the world, as propagated by American author Francis Fukuyama in his famous book with the same tile, that the fall of the Soviet Union is the end of the world as we know it.

The only one had foresight is famous American writer and historian Samuel P. Huntington, who raised the slogan of a “clash of civilizations” in his book with the same controversial title.

What we see today is also the clash of civilizations and cultures in absolute terms — ideas, religions, creeds, and sects that collide and wrestle in a crazy and bloody way. It may be the beginning of the collapse of traditional institutions as defined by humanity in its recognized forms and may be the beginning of the formation of new institutions.

The clash of civilizations is old, not new, and the conflict has turned different historical stages into clashes and battles between the east and west, north and south, religions and sects. Sometimes it is for political reasons, sometimes for economic factors and sometimes for religious and cultural reasons. It can also be for employment and re-employment according to objectives of the situation.

Today, the political West is living in a striking and important phase. The society that was built and founded on a set of values, noble and lofty goals is now living in a state of “shock” with itself first and then it is colliding with other through an unprecedented series of policies and legislations, which can easily be described as aggressive, exclusionary and negative. It is exactly the opposite of what the political West was glorifying itself as the protector of rights and the fortress of minorities

A clash within civilizations might be a more accurate description of what is happening within the West. A new identity is trying to emerge. But the young Emmanuel Macron, who beat others in the primaries, has now beaten Marine Le Pen, a symbol of racism and hatred.

Source: english.alarabiya.net/en/views/news/middle-east/2017/05/08/France-s-clash-within-civilizations.html


Is Tony Blair Back?

By Dr. Azeem Ibrahim

8 May 2017

Since Blair’s intervention in the ongoing Brexit debate in the interview in the Mirror on 1st May, many in the liberal centre of British politics have been hailing his announced return as some kind of providential deliverance from the craziness of our current political landscape.

There is no doubt that Tony Blair wants to return to the political spotlight. He says so himself, and some observers have traced a pretty credible analysis of the PR campaign being waged to rehabilitate his public image. We can observe intent and commitment. But this is no guarantee of success.

Tony Blair is still hailed by his fans as one of the most successful politicians of his generation. And that is a fact that cannot be denied, whether you are a fan of his record in government or not. That record of success is what drives the hopes of the liberal centre-left that he can do it again. That he will make a success of this comeback, just as he has made a success of the Labour party in the 90s.

What is missing from the analysis is the extent to which politicians, and the success they enjoy is a product not just of their own force of personality or of their policies, but in fact, mostly a product of the times. In other words, Tony Blair is about as likely to succeed in his political comeback as Margaret Thatcher would have been if she had attempted a political comeback in 2001. Which is to say, not very. Though it is not difficult to why he would appeal to a large part of the electorate considering the state of politics at the moment in the UK and the Labour Party in particular.

‘Cool Britannia’

It is easy to be nostalgic about the lost glories of ‘Cool Britannia’, much as we loved to deride its kitch even back then. In the late 90s and early 2000s, Britain was a self-confident, assertive and successful country. And Tony Blair was a leader that perfectly embodied the spirit of that age. Just as many of Britain’s earlier leaders embodied the spirit of their ages: Margaret Thatcher, Harold Wilson, Harold Macmillan, Clement Atlee, Winston Churchill, and so on. Tony Blair will be rememberd in that succession of memorable leaders who perfectly represented the Britain of their times.

But Tony Blair’s Britain is gone. It has been swallowed whole by the 2008 Global Financial Crisis. Today’s Britain is petty, meagre, fearful, inward looking and with uncharacteristically illiberal leanings. Today’s Britain is not looking at how to build a better future for all of us, but it is looking at who to blame for our society’s failings. Today’s Britain has a greater affinity to Nigel Farage’s political persona: small, insular, gobby, and driven by unarticulated, uncomprehending rage, than it has with the hopeful, confident and assured stride that it used to cut in the heyday of Tony Blair’s premiership.

And Blair’s revived interest in front-line politics is not going to change that. All it will do, is exactly all that it has done so far: give false hope to the demoralised liberal centrists who still yearn for the glory days of ‘Cool Britannia’. The rest of the country has moved on. We may lament the direction in which it has moved on. Where we are now is indeed lamentable. But just as Tony Blair, Peter Mandelson and the rest of the old Blairite cadre chide the Corbyn wing of the Labour party for living in the 70s, so they are guilty of living in the 90s. And neither will deliver any success to the progressive cause in Britain while they are stuck in their own anachronisms.

This is why Theresa May is dominating the political field as she is at the moment. She is a better embodiment of the spirit of our time than any other political leader we have on the national stage: that schizophrenic mixture of quiet, reserved, old-school, elegant British pragmatism of her ordinary character, and the shrill, impotent, defiant, jingoistic, reactionary rage at our collective inability to pull ourselves out of the current national malaise. Theresa May dances perfectly to the tune of modern Britain. Tony Blair’s return, on the other hand, is just as likely to cheer up the audience.

Source: english.alarabiya.net/en/views/news/middle-east/2017/05/08/Is-Tony-Blair-back-.html


The West's Obsession with Itself

By Donald Collins

From the musings of New York Times columnist David Brooks to the ravings of Rep Steve King (R-IA), there is a growing sense among many that Western values, even Western civilisation, is in mortal danger. So-called radical Islamic terrorists are the ultimate threat.

But so too is an education in which any aspect of Western civilisation is treated as anything less than sacred. Arab Muslims, Latino immigrants, and African migrants have served as the straw persons for the economic uncertainties and racial anxieties stemming from globalisation and the 2008-09 financial crises. And those uncertainties explain much of the anxiety over the possible fall of Western civilisation to anti-Western teachings and demographic shifts in the United States and in Europe.

This is all part of a larger theme, of the West's obsession with seeing itself as the pinnacle of everything humanity has achieved. But make no mistake. White and European populist nationalism has always been a part of modern Western political thought. With the United Kingdom's Brexit vote and Donald Trump winning the presidency in 2016, however, these fringe-group, master race proponents are now fully mainstream, like they were in the 1930s.

Civilisational Concerns

Last month in his column "The Crisis of Western Civ," Brooks wrote, "Starting decades ago, many people, especially in the universities, lost faith in the Western civilization narrative … Now many students, if they encounter it, are taught that Western civilization is a history of oppression."

King tweeted in March, "Wilders understands that culture and demographics are our destiny. We can't restore our civilisation with somebody else's babies." Brooks' column was a half-baked response to the rise of strongmen in geopolitical affairs, including President Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin in Russia and Recep Erdogan in Turkey, and the possibility for others like Marine Le Pen in France.

King's nasty tweet was an indirect reply to Dutch right-wing politician Geert Wilders, who had repeatedly called for the "de-Islamification" of the Netherlands, including an end to Muslim immigration, the banning of the Quran, and the closing of all mosques. Both Brooks and King perceive the US and the West to be under siege from anti-Western values and demographic shifts that would reduce European - or really, White -dominance in the US and in Europe.

Americans, in particular, are obsessed with the US being #1 and with continued expressions of greatness and patriotism. But this is the opposite of what Brooks believes regarding the teaching of Western civilisation at the college and high school levels, that professors have de-emphasised Western greatness. If anything, many of these courses reinforce the stereotype of the West as fundamentally good for the globe.

The first time I taught a course in world history was at Carnegie Mellon University in 1994, and the professor for whom I taught was Peter Stearns. He, along with Jerry Bentley and Herbert Ziegler, brought world history as a course to many US high schools and colleges in the 1980s. For at least that long, the issue of a strong Western bias has remained a big concern among educators. In the sections of the course I taught, we spent a week on classical India and China (roughly the period between 500 BCE and 500 CE) discussing women's roles in patriarchal societies. After a discussion of Hindu poetry, one of my students wrote in an essay, "Chinese women resisted patriarchy, but Indian women were demure."

This was a typical example of what I have come to call "world stereotypes" - the quick, dirty, and Eurocentric ways in which high school teachers and college professors teach world history. It is the idea that Western civilisation is automatically better and that "non-Western others" can neatly fit pre-existing stereotypes. It means that courses like world history often serve as tools that reproduce a strong, pro-Western bias, and reinforce racial, ethnic, religious, and gender-based prejudices.

In the past few years, a number of school districts have resisted even minor changes in history curricula in which the idea of Western civilisation as something other than a positive force for the world was a consideration.

This resistance has included Jefferson County, Colorado's school board, where one board member insisted that the new Advanced Placement curriculum for US History should only "present positive aspects of the United States and its heritage." The Texas state school board has also been in this mix. They proposed a Mexican American heritage textbook that suggested Mexican Americans had "adopted a revolutionary narrative that opposed Western civilization and wanted to destroy this society". In Tennessee, the state school board stirred controversy in September 2016 when it gutted Islamic history and culture from its seventh-grade social studies curriculum for fear of religious "indoctrination."

There is nothing wrong with teaching the history of Western civilisation. The problem is that millions want the world to see Western civilisation as sacrosanct. The problem is that Western civilisation would not exist without the significant contributions of diverse peoples and other civilisations from all over the globe. The problem is that Western civilisation has also done much harm to the world. Slavery, global warfare, and climate change are as much the legacy of Western civilisation and the US as are industrialisation, feminism, and parliamentary democracies.

White Americans and Europeans should understand the full catalogue that is Western civilisation. A more white-washed history and more European babies will definitely not make America and the West great again.

Source: aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2017/05/western-civilisation-education-obsession-170506160625491.html


URL: http://www.newageislam.com/middle-east-press/new-age-islam-edit-bureau/on-iranian-religious-democracy--new-age-islam-s-selection,-09-may-2017/d/111072


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