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Middle East Press (27 Jul 2017 NewAgeIslam.Com)

Outrage from Israel, When It Is Convenient By Ray Hanania: New Age Islam's Selection, 27 July 2017

New Age Islam Edit Bureau

27 July 2017

Outrage from Israel, When It Is Convenient

By Ray Hanania

Qatar Dispute and Its Unintended Consequences

By Dr. Mohamed A. Ramady

The Failed Mediation Is A Message To Doha

By Abdulrahman Al-Rashed

Tamim’s Speech and the Missing Wisdom

By Abdullah Bin Bijad Al-Otaibi

How Tech-Driven Marketplaces Can Support ‘Saudisation’

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


Outrage from Israel, When It Is Convenient

By Ray Hanania

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 anything Jewish.

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 scene.

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 violates.

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 control.

Source: arabnews.com/node/1135246


Qatar Dispute and Its Unintended Consequences

By Dr. Mohamed A. Ramady

26 July 2017

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 country.

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.

EU Model

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.

Source: english.alarabiya.net/en/views/news/middle-east/2017/07/26/Qatar-dispute-and-unintended-consequences.html


The Failed Mediation Is a Message to Doha

By Abdulrahman Al-Rashed

26 July 2017

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, like Bahrain.

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.

Futile Effort

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 message.

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 activities.  

Political Pressure  

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 its policies?

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.

Source: english.alarabiya.net/en/views/news/middle-east/2017/07/26/The-failed-mediation-is-a-message-to-Doha.html


Tamim’s Speech and the Missing Wisdom

By Abdullah bin Bijad Al-Otaibi

26 July 2017

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.

No Explanation

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 treason!

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 treason.

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.

Source: english.alarabiya.net/en/views/news/middle-east/2017/07/26/Tamim-s-speech-and-the-missing-wisdom.html


How Tech-Driven Marketplaces Can Support ‘Saudisation’

By Zeid Hreish

26 July 2017

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 under.

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.

Redefining Industries

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 want.

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.

Source: english.alarabiya.net/en/views/news/middle-east/2017/07/26/How-tech-driven-marketplaces-can-support-Saudization-.html


I Hope My Colleagues Will Be Released

By Murat Yetkin


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 they?

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.

Source: hurriyetdailynews.com/i-hope-my-colleagues-will-be-released.aspx?pageID=449&nID=116011&NewsCatID=409


Turkey Should Respect the Convention Named After Istanbul

By Barçin Yinanç


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 requirements.

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.

Source: hurriyetdailynews.com/turkey-should-respect-the-convention-named-after-istanbul.aspx?pageID=449&nID=116010&NewsCatID=412


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