New Age Islam Edit Bureau
27 July 2017
Outrage from Israel, When It Is
By Ray Hanania
Qatar Dispute and Its Unintended
By Dr. Mohamed A. Ramady
The Failed Mediation Is A Message To
By Abdulrahman Al-Rashed
Tamim’s Speech and the Missing Wisdom
By Abdullah Bin Bijad Al-Otaibi
How Tech-Driven Marketplaces Can
By Zeid Hreish
I Hope My Colleagues Will Be Released
By Murat Yetkin
Turkey Should Respect the Convention
Named After Istanbul
By Barçin Yinanç
Compiled By New Age Islam Edit Bureau
26 July 2017
The biggest obstacle to peace between
Israel and its Arab neighbours is Israeli hypocrisy driven by a double standard
of justice. Israel has been highlighting Arab speculation that it orchestrated
the most recent clashes at the Haram Al-Sharif mosque compound in order to
further obfuscate its archaeological digging.
Israel has been digging in, around and
under the compound since it occupied East Jerusalem in 1967. One of its first
acts was to expel hundreds of Palestinians from their homes next to the Wailing
Wall to turn the biblical Hebrew site into a huge plaza.
Over the years, Israel has initiated dozens
of archaeological digs to prove Jewish heritage at the site, and to challenge
the rights of Christians and Muslims in Jerusalem. It is part of Israel’s
Judaisation of Palestine, erasing historic icons that reflect the heritage of
Christians and Muslims, and augmenting and exaggerating the heritage of
Pro-Israel activists have been expressing
outrage over what they claim are “blood libel” assertions that Israel is
excavating under the Haram Al-Sharif. Tensions spiked following violence by
three oppressed Palestinians at the compound, which resulted in their deaths
and that of two Israeli police officers. Israel imposed metal detectors and
blocked Muslim access to the compound.
Fears are growing that the anger will, as
before, get out of hand. Israel does not want another uprising. Even though it
squashes Palestinian rebellions brutally, at the cost of thousands of civilian
lives, it ends up suffering too, though not as much.
Tensions have spread to Jordan, the
official custodian of the compound, and King Abdallah has protested its closure
for prayers. Israel has a discreet embassy in Amman, and over the weekend
Israeli security guards shot and killed two Jordanians, one of whom they
claimed had attacked them. One of the victims was a physician called to the
Jordan acted quickly to cordon off the area
and try to prevent protests. Jordanian authorities wanted to investigate, but
Israel cited diplomatic immunity under international law, which it consistently
Israel ignores international law when it
oppresses Palestinians, destroys the homes of relatives of suspects accused of
violence, confiscates lands and homes on occupied territory, prevents Muslims
from praying at holy sites, and rejects UN resolutions. For instance, UNESCO
has repeatedly been denied access to inspect Israel’s archaeological digs under
the Haram Al-Sharif.
Israel cannot continue to claim it is a
victim when it is the cause of most of the violence, death and destruction in
that part of the world. Its refusal to recognize Palestinian rights is a
violation of the very international law it embraces when convenient. Israel’s
actions are fuelling a conflict that it knows could easily spiral out of its
The current dispute between Qatar and its
GCC neighbours and Egypt has created unintended consequences for all parties
concerned, irrespective on which side of the dispute they sit. This relates to
international perception of political and economic country risk and to hoped
for inward Foreign Direct Investment (FDI).
Foreign investment lays at the heart of
some of the more ambitious economic transformation, visions and plans that many
of the GCC countries in the dispute, as well as Egypt, are hoping to attract to
launch these programs.
The motives may be different, with some
trying to attract foreign FDI partners capital to supplement local hard
currency reserves, while others see FDI as a tool to attract international
technology and management partners.
This is meant to help in the establishment
of local joint ventures or wholly owned foreign operations that will add
high-level skilled manpower and establish modern industrial and service hubs in
The longer the current Qatar dispute goes
on the more hesitant will foreign investors become as uncertainty, rather
certainty in long tern planning and free flow of goods and services in the
region no longer becomes the norm but the exception.
The CDS Swaps
One indication of market uncertainty is the
price assigned to so called Credit Default Swaps (CDS), which the markets price
to sovereign borrowing and existing bonds to reflect the likelihood of default
and is basically a risk premium over international borrowing benchmarks such as
the LIBOR or London Interbank Offered Rate.
The higher the risk premium, the wider the
CDS spread. Today, all GCC countries without exception have seen their CDS
spreads widen, including that of Egypt, albeit with varying degrees. Saudi
Arabian and UAE CDS spreads are still lower than those of Qatar.
The important point is that they are wider
today compared to two months ago as a consequence of the Qatar dispute standoff
and seeming impasse, although there are some indications that a window of
compromise is possible following the reduced number of demands from 13 to 6 by
the sanctioning countries.
While CDS swaps might narrow again based on
some glimmer of positive news and the mediation of parties wishing to see an
amicable and honourable end to the dispute – without it becoming a zero sum
game situation of total winners or total losers – the issue of investor
perceptions and FDI flows will be more problematic. This is because investors
have to answer to their boards and lenders who will want more detailed
information and assurances that such investments will not go sour based on
future political disputes.
The fact that previous agreements made in
2014 were not ostensibly honoured indicates that unless the issues are totally
and fully resolved, the same problems could rise again in the future. This will
hold back potential FDI investors from making a decision now but either
postponing it or moving their operations outside the region and try to deal
with their market from locations that are not involved in bilateral disputes.
Of course there are those that will focus
on a specific country for their investments and operations and inter-country
sanctions will not be of a major concern to them, but board members might also
very well ask whether that country could also face similar sanctions in the
future that could hurt its investment plans.
The whole point of establishing the GCC is
that, like the European Union model, it assured freedom of investment and
market penetration between the member states, irrespective which country was
initially chosen as their investment entry mode. Jebel Ali is a prime example
in the UAE as the multitude of companies operating there did not do so just to
serve the UAE market, but the wider GCC market.
Any obstacles in carrying out this function
will cause many potential new entrants to reconsider their plans. This will
also apply to wholly-owned GCC companies and investors and the quicker and more
elegantly the dispute is settled the better, to avoid bitter inter GCC memories
to set in where it will become preferable for some GCC companies and investors
to deal with others outside the bloc than with those within the bloc.
Like any other family dispute, estranged
family members can either forgive and forget and go on to create stronger
bonds, or split and move apart.
Corporations, and individual investors,
like certainty in their decision making process and what the current Qatar
dispute has created is a situation where a large element of uncertainty has
crept in, much to the detriment for enhanced FDI flows and foreign
partnerships, as the old adage “capital is a coward” is very apt here.
The Failed Mediation Is a Message to
There is no doubt that the Qatari crisis is
far from resolving as some think or hope that it would only be a summer cloud.
The failure of all the visits of foreign ministers and the mediation of heads
of state from all over the world proves that the four countries are still
standing by their demands.
As for why do we expect it to go on, well
because it is an old and cumulative problem. Qatar has been the source of
concern for a long time, almost 20 years.
Despite the old differences, the statement
issued by the four countries at the beginning of June represents a new
development. The confrontation and the most serious one in nature severed
diplomatic ties and consular relations, and prohibited traffic and transit.
Since that day, and so far, the confrontation has been escalating, and the
speech of the Emir of Qatar broadcast days ago is one of escalation and not
bridging. Therefore, the crisis is expected to last for months.
Who are the ones who have lost and the ones
who have earned so far in the last round? In my opinion, countries such as
Egypt and Saudi Arabia are used to attacks and hostile media campaigns. They
can even coexist with it. Qatar, on the other hand, is a country that is used
to a luxurious comfortable lifestyle. It has only been attacked by extremist
organizations such as al-Qaeda in the 1990s.
It does not have a large population
density, or a cultural and religious diversity that threatens its stability,
Qatar sleeps comfortably on a cushion under
the protection of two American bases.
Qatar has two true images, one a negative
representation like any other hostile Arab state and a false media image that
depicts it as modern, tolerant and youthful country with a moderate policy. It
is a country of liberties, independent of pressures and foreign dependency. Few
people knew that the image of Qatar was forged, or at least exaggerated.
In the current crisis, the conflict has
fallen to its lowest levels, and the main victim is Doha, because the other
party is used to coexistence with distortion and media. For the first time,
Qatar’s name is attached to terrorism and extremist ideology. No matter how
much the government tries to hire more public relations companies in Washington
to repair its image, it will not be able to do so, because the damage has
occurred, and because the other party still has the ammunition to deliver its
As for the Qatari’s information efforts,
they are practically almost consumed, repeated messages that governments are
used to hearing.
In the Arab region, the tactic of the
Qatari propaganda machine was based on old methods such as exploiting the
Palestinian cause, but they did not succeed. They tried to convince the
citizens of these countries that their governments are biased and false but
they found little sympathy since the four governments disrupted the groups
hired by Qatar, such as commentators, advocates and academics. Consequently,
the control of the four countries has undermined the Qatari government’s
investment in these people who were silenced. The issue is not so much freedom
of expression as much as standing against lobbies and public relations that are
illegally leased by a foreign government. In fact, most regimes in the world
prohibit receiving money from foreign governments for sponsoring political
The dispute with Qatar will eventually come
to an end, and we cannot say when or how, maybe it will be next year.
Qatar is under the political pressure in
the region and will reach a dead end because it is no longer possible for these
countries to be patient. Most countries in the region also share the agonies of
the four countries. Most countries in the region consider that the Doha
government is targeting stability. Therefore, responding by targeting Qatar is
legitimate and necessary. Is Doha able to bear the risks and consequences of
The continuation of the crisis and the
rejection of mediation and pressure are all indicators that Qatar is playing a
very dangerous game, and it has to decide to either completely abandon its
policy or risk its very existence.
By Abdullah bin Bijad Al-Otaibi
This time, Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim’s
speech was aired successfully after a previous attempt by Al-Jazeera, at the
beginning of the crisis, had failed. Back then, a part of the speech was aired
and then suspended halfway through without any comments or clarifications.
Sheikh Tamim’s speech was almost void of
any valuable stance regarding the current crisis that is a result of Qatar’s
destructive policy and continuous support of terrorism. Sheikh Tamim spoke like
he’s unaware of the crisis’ consequences and of the pressure which the boycott
exerts on him and on decision makers in Doha.
How can we comprehend that a political
leader made an appearance to speak about attracting investments when his
country is going through an unprecedented boycott, and by whom? A boycott by
the closest brothers, i.e. Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and
Egypt. Not only that, but his people are also suffering to enjoy a decent
living due to his policies!
In his speech, he spoke about Qatar and how
it’s internationally well-known for fighting terrorism. This stubbornness is
both funny and sad! Qatar has provided terrorists across the world with all
forms of support but its emir wants to deny all this via a statement in a
short, simple speech. This shows that Qatar does not comprehend the gravity and
seriousness of the crisis and does not understand that burying heads in the
sand does not solve crises.
It would’ve been better if he spoke about
the victories of the Arab coalition in Yemen after Qatar was expelled from it
(the coalition) and failed to betray it there. Or it would’ve been better if he
spoke about the victories against terrorism in Libya and which was completely
supported by Qatar or about the defeat of ISIS in Mosul and pursuing it in
ar-Raqqah. All this happened before the crisis with Qatar completed its second
month. This is what he should have talked about and answered for.
Why didn’t he explain to his people why his
brothers are hostile to him? Why didn’t he explain why the Qatari people feel
outcast in their religious, tribal, cultural and social environment in the
Gulf? Who did this to the Qataris? Why didn’t he speak about foolish ambitions
to hijack the legacy of prominent men or about the conspiracies which the
Qatari command schemed against neighbours and brothers? Why didn’t he respond
to the leaks and documents that scandalize the Qatari command and expose it in
front of the Qataris and others? A traitor does not like to speak about
Why didn’t he explain to the Qatari and
Gulf people why Qatar gathered all the world’s terrorists in Doha? Why didn’t
he explain to them why Qatar spends on them double what it spends on its own
people? Why didn’t he expose Qatar’s conspiratorial role against its neighbors?
How many did it kill, injure and harm? How much destruction has it caused? How
much did it interfere in the internal affairs of its neighbors? Such
discussions are not desirable because they show the size of conspiracies and
A real leader acknowledges and justifies
his policies, strongly defends his stances and explains the causes and effects.
However, Sheikh Tamim did not do any of this and he just extended a cold and
meaningless invitation to negotiate the demands of the boycotting countries.
The four countries’ demands were publicly
announced and what was later added to them was also announced so why didn’t he
directly respond to them if he does not have anything to hide? These are simply
the tricks of an incapable man, no more no less.
An Arab proverb says: The mountain went
into labor and gave birth to a mouse! This in fact describes Tamim’s speech.
Such an approach in managing the crisis will not lead to any solution but it
will prolong the crisis and worsen its consequences. This is all a result of
the absence of wisdom.
How Tech-Driven Marketplaces Can Support
Two decades ago, cell phones barely
existed. And computers, not to mention the internet, were anything but
familiar. But these fast-paced technological advances, coupled with the advent
of social media, are leading to the rise of new economic opportunities and the
demise of more traditional ones.
These are the changes that are having a
considerable impact on sources of income in both Saudi Arabia and beyond.
Tech start-ups like ours are at the centre
of this change, and are driving it by offering consumers more choice, and more
convenience. And with their rise in profile, not only have people around the
world embraced the flexibility that these opportunities can offer, but they
have also helped to create a tangible economic difference, affording
opportunities to those who might otherwise remain unemployed.
In Saudi Arabia, this benefit is magnified.
Like many fast growing and emerging economies, the youth represent a big part
of the total population, with two thirds of it currently 30 years old and
To help afford the country’s youth the
economic opportunities they seek, the Kingdom’s government has prioritized
‘Saudisation’ as part of its National Transformation Plan, and aims to create
450,000 private sector jobs by 2020.
The advantage of all the new technology-driven
marketplaces is that they don’t merely enable or facilitate new processes of
production, but have also clearly and profoundly redefined multiple industries,
most notably in terms of participation.
And in the context of our own company, not
only do we strive to increase economic opportunities in the region, but we’re
also hoping for driver partners to set their own schedules, and use our
technology to drive in their cities, making the money they need, when they
Since launching in Riyadh in early 2014,
Uber’s impact has gone beyond the general convenience of tech-enhanced ride
hailing, making a tangible difference in the city’s urban mobility
infrastructure. Recognizing the role that Uber is playing in the Kingdom, the
Saudi Arabian Public Transport Authority (PTA) recently awarded us with a
certificate for regulatory alignment – not only a reflection of our alignment
with local regulations, but also of our commitment to providing economic
opportunities in the Kingdom.
Just over a year ago, we committed to the
on-boarding of 100,000 Saudis on the app by the year 2020, but in the short
time since, we have successfully on-boarded more than 80,000 Saudi
driver-partners - this, only a year after. Easing congestion, increasing rider
choice, creating economic opportunities for local youths, and contributing to
faster economic growth than alternatives – these are just some of the benefits
that companies like ours can bring to cities around the world.
Features and Innovations
Much of this success stems from the fact
that Uber connects people to safe, reliable and affordable transportation at
the tap of a button, through built-in features like driver verification,
scheduled rides, and sharing your ETA (estimated time of arrival) with family
and loved ones. Moving forward, this success will give rise to new features and
innovations through our technology, and more importantly, the opportunities
that digital economies can offer.
We are continuously working on introducing
technology features, which would improve people’s daily lives – one such
feature is “Virtual Onboarding”, which facilitates partner-drivers process to
drive on the app. We have some way to go until we achieve our end goal: an
ideal where driver-partners complete the signup process to the Uber app in the
morning, drive that same day, and then use the money earned the same night.
Previously, potential driver-partners had
to go to a local Uber office to go through paperwork with an operations manager
to create an account, but virtual onboarding will make the process painless,
quick and convenient. Globally, we are also continuing to work on launching new
services like UberPOOL, our globally successful carpooling option, which
matches users with riders heading in the same direction, allowing them to share
both their ride and cost.
More than anything however, the surge in
popularity of on-demand apps like Uber – both from the point of view of
suppliers and driver-partners – sends a broader message to Saudi Arabia’s young
populace, its entrepreneurs and its businesses: that the Kingdom recognises
that it cannot build for the future, if it isn’t part of a thriving ecosystem
of entrepreneurs and innovators – pushing, prodding and inspiring each other
along the way.
Whoever is giving information to President
Tayyip Erdogan about the Turkish journalists in prison, they are not doing any
good neither to him nor the country.
Of course, it is not the president’s work
to count who among the arrested journalists, writers and other media employees
are holding press cards. The number of jailed journalists is 159, according to
the Turkish Journalists’ Association (TGC). But our president said in recent
interviews that only two of them were actually press card holders.
Well, nine out of the 12 arrested suspects,
who have been appearing before the judge in Istanbul since July 24, are press
card holders; they have been waiting to appear in court for the past 267 days.
They were active journalists, working for the center-left daily Cumhuriyet
until the day they got arrested on charges of helping two different terrorist organizations
and spying against Turkey. One of those organizations is the outlawed Kurdistan
Workers’ Party (PKK), which is against Cumhuriyet’s left-Kemalist editorial
policy, and the other is the illegal network of Fethullah Gülen, the U.S.-based
Islamist preacher who is accused of masterminding the July 15, 2016, defeated
military coup attempt.
Kadri Gürsel, Cumhuriyet’s foreign affairs
columnist and the head of the Turkish chapter of the International Press
Institute (IPI), is accused in the indictment that he had received 112 calls
and messages from users of ByLock, an encrypted smartphone application used by
members of the Gülenist network and used as evidence that he was linked.
Underlining that he did not even reply to the messages with or without the
knowledge that they might be ByLock users, he said he could have as a
journalist who had criticized Gülen and the PKK throughout his career. “All
these charges against me” he said in his defense, “Not only lack intelligence
and logic, but they are also out of any standard of law and conscience. These
charges only produce injustice.”
Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavusoglu also
repeated the words during his meeting with Federica Mogherini, EU foreign and
security policy chief, on July 24 that the journalists and writers in prison
were there not because of what they had written or said but because of
terrorism and espionage.
It is true that those are what the
journalists are accused of under the state of emergency, which was declared by
the Justice and Development Party (AK Parti) government in the wake of the
military coup attempt, but those accusations are far from being convincing
neither inside nor out of Turkey. If Mogherini said she was against those who
asked her to display more severe reaction against Turkey because of what was
happening nowadays - including the arrest of human rights activists at a
meeting in Istanbul earlier this month - that is probably not because she
agreed with the thesis that journalists and human rights activists were spies
and terrorists, as the Turkish government says, but that is probably because
the EU does not want to be a part of cutting relations with Turkey because of
common strategic interests and because it seems the EU does not want to
antagonize relations with Turkey in order not to get involved in the Turkish
domestic scene more.
If the EU wanted to get involved on behalf
of a better working democracy and the rule of law in Turkey, they would have
opened the negotiation chapters 23 and 24 on judiciary and freedoms, wouldn’t
Journalists are not immune of being tried
in courts, if the accusations are based on solid evidence. And journalists
should not be tried – unless there is a murder or similar heavy crime involved
- under arrest. The release of the journalists by the courts will not only free
our colleagues but also be a relief for people believing in pluralistic
democracy and the rule of law in and outside Turkey.
I hope my colleagues will be released by
the court as soon as possible.
The Council of Europe Convention on
preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence is called
the Istanbul Convention. It was signed in Istanbul in 2011. Turkey worked
tremendously hard to reach an agreement with member-states and it became the
first country to sign it. This was highly significant and symbolic since a
majority Muslim country had taken leadership on an issue about women.
These were the good days. Turkey cared
about its image. Actually, it was the last days of the Justice and Development
Party (AKP) governments pretending to be working for a democratic country with
the rule of law and respect to fundamental freedoms. By then, the AKP’s ruling
elites concluded that they no longer needed the support of Europe and the West in
general to legitimize and consolidate their power. So, they stopped posing as
if they endorsed and internalized universal values.
July 31 will mark the third year of the
Istanbul Convention being put into force in Turkey. If the convention did not
carry the name of a Turkish city, the government would probably by now have
withdrawn its signature from it, or suspended it, if there was such a clause.
Avoiding such a scandalous step, it tries to erode the convention’s
Divorce Cases under Spotlight
Women wanting to divorce are most of the
time the main reason behind femicides in Turkey. Ironically, as the rising
divorce rates have been seen to be at an alarming level by the government, the
parliament decided to set up a commission to investigate the rise in divorce
figures. The commission’s report, concluded on May 2016, sparked fierce
criticism from women’s rights NGOs. The report’s recommendations are seen as an
effort to erode the stipulations of the Istanbul Convention.
The government’s move on November 2016 to
introduce a bill in parliament, which would have enabled men who married the
girls they sexually abused to be released from prison, was another case showing
the AKP’s general mentality.
“There is nothing positive to report about
the implementation of the Istanbul Convention,” Gülsüm Kav from the “We Will
Stop Women Murders Platform” told me. Each signatory country is expected to
report to GREVIO, the independent expert body responsible for monitoring the
implementation. Ironically, GREVIO is headed by a Turkish woman, Feride Acar, a
very prominent academic with extensive knowledge and experience on women’s
rights issues. I can’t imagine her humiliation at Turkey’s lamentable
performance in implementing the Istanbul Convention.
But the picture is not all that gloomy.
Despite the pressure from the government, which has increased especially with
the state of emergency, women’s rights NGOs are fighting hard to prevent a
backsliding. In fact, it was thanks to the efforts of women’s rights NGOs that
the government withdrew a scandalous bill last November, which would have
served the “marry your rapist” mentality had it passed in parliament.
It might sound oxymoronic and it is sad to
say this but there is also a “positive” dimension to femicides.
They happen because women become more aware
of their rights and if they don’t want to continue a marriage, they ask for a
divorce. “A lot of women who file divorce cases see the horrible end of those
women murdered because they asked for a divorce. But they don’t give up. They
are courageous to continue their legal cases despite the risk of getting
killed,” said Kav.