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Middle East Press (26 Nov 2016 NewAgeIslam.Com)

Saudi Role Critical For Middle East Stability: New Age Islam's Selection, 26 November 2016

New Age Islam Edit Bureau

26 November 2016

Saudi Role Critical For Middle East Stability

By Samar Fatany

Five News Stories We Could Expect From Trump

By Fareed Zakaria

A New Muslim Registry

By Dr. Amal Mudallali

Turkey-KRG Alliance, PKK And The EU

By Sinem Cengiz

Compiled By New Age Islam Edit Bureau


Saudi Role Critical For Middle East Stability

By Samar Fatany

Nov 26, 2016

Saudi Arabia can play a significant, global and regional role to bring about peace and defeat Daesh (the self-proclaimed IS) and all other terrorist organizations. It commands the religious authority to promote moderate Islam and expose the distorted and extremist ideology that is being propagated by the barbaric and un-Islamic terrorists.

Saudi Arabia as a regional power can also be instrumental in resolving the problem of the toxic environment and saving the region from a catastrophic future that could last for decades to come. However, it remains critical for Saudi Arabia to defuse differences between all major regional powers. It is time to put an end to tensions, old grievances and perpetual conflicts. This is the only solution to the unrest and turmoil that continues to escalate the ongoing wars. Failing to act and cooperate will result in dire consequences for the whole region.

Saudi collaboration with regional powers represents the only real option for peace. The humanitarian disaster in Syria, Iraq, Yemen, and Libya needs more serious and realistic solutions. It is critical to enhance nonviolent forms of conflict resolution, and build trust and find common ground to foster lasting peace and understanding.

Women and children in war-torn countries are living in fear, poverty and disease. The security of the region is in need of policies to address issues related to trade, water, energy, food and climate. It should be developed on the basis of meeting human needs as well as countering extremism, terrorism and violence. The military build-up in the region is quite alarming and detrimental to peace. Political experts argue that peace in the Middle East can only be achieved through diplomacy and reconciliation with trade replacing arms and cooperation replacing conflict. They urge politicians to provide mechanisms for sustainable solutions and peaceful resolutions. There can be no military solution. The raging wars can only bring more misery and total destruction.

The facilitation of intraregional trade can usher in a more prosperous future for the region. Reaching out with humanitarian initiatives and substantial economic aid is the way forward. Gestures of goodwill and genuine support are positive measures that can put an end to hostilities that are fueling conflicts.

Political analysts maintain that Arab countries are challenged today to find a new balance of policies that can meet security needs and national expectations. This requires a rethinking of the approach to national security and stability.

They add that peace can be accomplished if regional powers are willing to reconsider what can be credibly accomplished and what is unrealistic and cannot be accomplished.

The support of the international community is key to global security. Regional experts maintain that a continuation of the status quo will threaten global instability. They remain critical of world leaders and urge them to find just solutions to the devastating regional conflicts. It is quite evident that without the support of the international community to influence a reconciliation strategy, the situation will get worse and the cycle of revenge and retaliations will continue forever. The people of the region will continue to suffer and the global community will continue to be threatened by the spread of terrorism and the refugee crises.

Saudi Arabia and the GCC countries can play a significant role in the post-conflict reconstruction of war-torn countries with help from the international community and multilateral institutions like the World Bank.

Regional experts urge Arab and Muslim leaders in the region to muster the political will to collaborate and to avoid drowning in the abyss of destruction and to work toward lasting stability and a more prosperous future for the whole region.

Samar Fatany is a radio broadcaster and writer.

Source: saudigazette.com.sa/opinion/saudi-role-critical-for-middle-east-stability/


Five News Stories We Could Expect From Trump

By Fareed Zakaria

November 25, 2016

Trump has a unique opportunity. A vast number of Americans are deeply distrustful of elites in Washington and New York.

So Donald Trump now says, in an interview with The New York Times, that he believes there is some connection between human activity and climate change, that Hillary Clinton should not be prosecuted, and that, after one conversation with retired Marine Corps Gen. James Mattis, he might be having second thoughts about waterboarding. One might wonder why he didn't have that conversation during the campaign or why he pounded home the opposite views on all these topics for a year and a half. But at this point, it doesn't matter. Trump is president-elect. We should all hope that he flip-flops some more.

In this spirit, let me outline a few news stories that I hope we will see over the next few weeks.

"Donald Trump wants to keep Iran deal: The president-elect has come to realize that the agreement with Iran has blocked that country's pathways to a nuclear weapon. Furthermore, were the U.S. to pull out, no other country would reimpose sanctions, so it would simply hurt American business. 'I hadn't focused so much on the benefits of the deal,' Trump said."

The president-elect described a phone conversation with President Obama in which he learned that the United States and its coalition partners have conducted more than 16,000 airstrikes on Daesh. 'That's a lot,' said Trump, noting that in Syria, the Obama administration had been focused on defeating Daesh and not on deposing President Bashar Assad. 'They have been doing what I suggested all along,' he noted proudly."

"TrumpCare will be a 'terrific' improvement on Obamacare: The Trump administration plans to propose a health care bill that will require insurance companies to enrol people with pre-existing conditions. In return, the companies will gain millions of new customers, since people will now face a mandate to buy health insurance or else face a $10,000 fine - much higher than under Obamacare. 'I figured out, like with houses or cars, insurance can't work unless we're all in,' explained the president-elect."

"New administration to scale back tax breaks for the rich: Donald Trump said that once his friends Carl Icahn and Wilbur Ross crunched the numbers on his tax plan, they realised that it would explode the federal deficit. So he has put forward a new plan that simplifies the code but cuts taxes only for the middle class. 'These are policies aimed to help the forgotten Americans,' he explained. 'I don't need a tax cut.'"

"Trump plans to limit deportations: The Trump administration is going to proceed slowly and carefully with the deportation of undocumented workers. 'If we deport millions of these people, industries like construction and agriculture would collapse and we would have a big recession. How does that help the American worker?' asked Trump."

"Donald Trump announces sale of the Trump Organisation: The president-elect said that he decided that people deserved a president without even the hint of conflicts of interest and so has decided to sell all his companies, put the proceeds in a multibillion-dollar charitable trust, and ask his children to run it. 'If they want to get back into business, I will give them each a few million to get started, just like my father gave me.'"

OK, that last one is total fantasy. On the others, I don't know if they will happen, but if they do, that would be great for America. I know that there are many people who opposed Trump's election who want him to fail. I don't. It's much better for the country and the world if Trump does well in the White House.

That is not "normalising" him, as some worry, but recognising that the situation is what it is and trying to hope for the best. When Trump does things I disagree with, I will loudly protest. (For example, his refusal to properly separate himself from his businesses is truly unconscionable and makes the country look like a banana republic.) But if he ends up doing things that are sensible, I will cheer.

Trump has a unique opportunity. A vast number of Americans are deeply distrustful of elites in Washington and New York. They believe that there are simple solutions to the problems that America faces, and they resent the country's engagement with the world, which they see as harming the average American.

These people have put their faith in Donald Trump. If Trump can help make them understand some of the realities of the world and the constraints on government, that would be a huge step forward. If Donald Trump tells his followers that the Paris agreement on climate change is worth preserving or that Nato is crucial for global stability, they might actually listen.

Fareed Zakaria is host of the CNN show

Source: khaleejtimes.com/editorials-columns/five-news-stories-we-could-expect-from-trump


A New Muslim Registry

By Dr. Amal Mudallali

25 November 2016

In an interview with CNN’s GPS with Fareed Zakaria, former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger advised people not to expect President-elect Donald Trump to “maintain all his promises” made during the campaign, or to “give voters exactly what he promised.” Sure enough, The New York Times interview this week saw Trump rethinking his positions, or — in the words of the Times — “retreat” from “some of his extreme campaign positions.” Notably, the president-elect said he changed his mind about “the usefulness of torture,” moved away from his call to “lock her up,” when talking about his opponent Hillary Clinton, and mellowed on climate change.

But most importantly Trump “disavowed” and “condemned” the alt-right, White Nationalist conference that was held in Washington last weekend. In this conference, which was reportedly attended by around 200 people, there were Nazi salutes and “Hail Trump” chants.

What was alarming about this conference is that one block from the White House, where the first African-American president was sitting in the Oval Office, people were listening to, and cheering Richard Spencer, the leader of the “alt-right” or White Nationalist movement, carry a message so alien, we thought, to today’s Washington. He told them “America was until this past generation a white country designed for ourselves and our posterity. It is our creation, it is our inheritance, and it belongs to us.”

The condemnation by President-elect Trump was received with a sigh of relief by those who believe his rhetoric during the campaign was for election purposes, and insisted that we will see a new Trump emerge after he is elected.

But for Muslims there is little comfort, because they are afraid of becoming a soft target. Muslims hope that Trump’s rethinking of the other issues will extend to his views on Muslims after his declaration in an interview early in his campaign in 2015 that he was “open to requiring Muslims in the US to register in a data base.” As on many topics, Trump’s position was confusing. He tweeted after this interview that he did not suggest a data base but rather the “reporter did.”

Registering Muslims reappeared last week when Reuters quoted Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach as saying that “Trump’s policy advisers had also discussed drafting a proposal for his consideration to reinstate a registry for immigrants from Muslim countries.”

Kobach said “the immigration policy group could recommend the reinstatement of a national registry of immigrants and visitors who enter the US on visas from countries where extremist organizations are active.” He said the registry will be similar to the National Security Entry-Exit Registration System (NSEERS) which was enacted during President George Bush’s presidency after the 9/11 attacks in 2001. That registry was seen as targeting Arabs and Muslims. It included fingerprinting and photographing visitors from certain countries, mainly Muslim ones. Those who were already in the US went through “special registration” with periodical checks and interviews with immigration officials.

That program was seen as a “failure,” and CNN said NSEERS “did not result in a single terrorism conviction.” The program was suspended by President Barack Obama in 2011. To reinstate the program, there is reportedly no need for the creation of a new structure; all the new administration has to do is revive it through adding names of countries to the list.

The news of a new Muslim registry was received with outrage among civil rights groups, some members of Congress, and Americans from all walks of life with some people likening it to the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II. American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) Director David Cole considered a Muslim registry by President-elect Trump’s administration “unconstitutional.” New York Mayor Bill de Blasio threatened to sue the incoming Trump administration if it implements a national registry for Muslims.

Public figures and ordinary people, from political life to university campuses, are vowing that if a registry is created they will go and register themselves as Muslims in solidarity with the Muslims in America.

The Trump transition team denied that there will be a Muslim registry. The future White House chief of staff for President-elect Trump, Reince Priebus, said the Trump team is “not planning to establish a Muslim registry,” but he told NBC news that he is not “going to rule out anything,” and explained: “We are not going to have a registry based on a religion.”

Priebus said that Trump “believes that no faith in and of itself should be judged as a whole. But there are some people in countries abroad that need to be prevented from coming into this country.” Priebus believes this is what the American people want. He said: “I think that is where 99 percent of Americans are at.”

Jason Miller, communications director of the presidential transition team, echoed Priebus, when he said: “President-elect Trump has never advocated for any registry or system that tracks individuals on their religion, and to imply otherwise is completely false.” But he hinted where things might be going when he said: “The national registry of foreign visitors from countries with high terrorism activity that was in place during the Bush and Obama administrations gave intelligence and law enforcement communities additional tools to keep our country safe, and the president-elect will release his own vetting policies after he is sworn in.”

ACLU’s Cole described this denial as “semantics.” He said the transition team is reportedly planning just that, only under the guise of focusing on countries that happen to be majority Muslim. But Republican Party leaders seem to be sure it will not happen. One such leader who preferred not to use his name told me: “There will never be a Muslim registry. Impossible, impractical, unlawful. Congress won’t fund it.”

All these assurances are good for now, but Muslims are worried and fearful that in case of any terrorist attacks in the US all bets will be off the table.

Dr. Amal Mudallali is an American policy and international relations analyst.

Source: arabnews.com/node/1015171/columns


Turkey-KRG alliance, PKK and the EU

By Sinem Cengiz

26 November 2016

The prime minister of the Iraqi Kurdish Regional Government (KRG), Nechirvan Barzani, was in Turkey this week for talks with top Turkish officials amid significant developments taking place in the region.

It was his second visit to Turkey this year and topics of discussion ranged from the ongoing Mosul operation against Daesh to the Euphrates Shield operation in Syria, and from Turkey’s fight against the terrorist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) to economic ties between the KRG and Turkey.

The fate of Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city with a population of 1.5 million, after it is liberated from Daesh is a great concern for both Ankara and Irbil.

Turkey’s approach to Mosul is shaped by concerns for the fate of the Turkmen there, the potential refugee flow, the situation in the post-Daesh era and PKK’s area of operation.

Peshmerga forces are playing a crucial role in the south, east and north of Mosul, so Irbil shares many similar concerns with Ankara. The situation in Sinjar is also among these concerns. During talks with Turkish officials, Barzani expressed concern over the possibility that Sinjar could serve as a second headquarters for the PKK in northern Iraq, stressing that the Peshmerga forces were working to get the upper hand in the area.

Turkey said that it would not allow Sinjar to become a new Mount Qandil and a logistics base that enables access between Syria and Iraq.

The Turkish government and the KRG have similar attitude regarding the situation in Syria’s north, which is to oppose any attempt by the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) — the Syrian branch of PKK — to create a political entity in north-western Syria under its control.

Tension between the KRG and the PKK is not new, but as the crisis in Syria deepened, the disputes among Kurds, particularly between the PYD and Barzani-supported Kurdish parties, have intensified.

The KRG premier’s visit came at a time Turkey issued a warrant for the arrest of PYD co-head Salih Muslim, who is regarded by the KRG not as a Kurdish leader but as a collaborator with the Syrian regime because of a February bomb attack in Ankara.

The Turkish government’s arrest warrant came a day after Ankara issued arrest warrants against other senior PKK militants.

European Hypocrisy

Commenting on the arrest warrant against him, Salih Muslim said that European countries would not do so.

Unfortunately he is right on this point.

PKK is on the terrorist list of European countries, but its members are quite free to parade in the streets of these countries, make propaganda, choose militants and threaten, not to mention harassing Turks living there.

PKK members are free to roam European capitals with posters of their imprisoned leader, Abdullah Ocalan, and even swarm with its banners in the corridors of the European Parliament building, despite all warnings from Ankara.

Turkey has repeatedly urged European countries not to turn a blind eye to the activities of the PKK within their borders. However, seeing how Germans paraded Salih Muslim in the Bundestag and how other western leaders host him as a treasured guest, one could not stop questioning the so-called European principles and rules, not to mention their “sincerity” toward Turkey.

European countries, which do not miss a chance to state their “support” for Turkey’s fight against terrorism, somehow fail to align their rhetoric with their actions and measures against the terrorist group.

Moreover, this week the European Parliament adopted a temporary motion urging the European Union to halt temporary accession talks with Turkey. The coming days will show which way Turkish-EU relations will take.

Turkey’s Real Ally: KRG?

In a region where European intentions are questionable, American moves are uncertain and proxies of the regional countries are apparent, Iraq’s Kurdistan Regional Government appears to be an Ankara ally.

Cooperation between Ankara and Irbil, which is based on mutual interdependence, security and economic and strategic interests, may even double down due to the uncertainties and challenges that could follow in the post-Daesh era, both in Iraq and in Syria.

Amid all these developments, the battle for Al-Bab heats up in Syria.

An air attack by Syrian regime forces in Aleppo against the Turkish Armed Forces, which led to the death of three Turkish soldiers this week, was a striking development which risks turning everything even uglier.

Moreover, Iran’s expansionist policy, its proxies in the region and its support for both Iraq and Syria is a reason for major concern for both Ankara and Irbil.

Looking at the bigger picture, there seems to be a Baghdad-Damascus-PKK axis, on the one hand, and the KRG-Ankara axis, on the other.

In view of the situation, Barzani and Turkish leaders agreed to open a KRG diplomatic office in Ankara in January 2017. It will be for the first time that Kurdistan will have a representation in Turkey.

These developments show the will of both sides to further strengthen ties at a time the region has become more and more embroiled in conflicts.

Sinem Cengiz is a Turkish political analyst who specializes mainly on issues regarding Turkey’s relations with the Middle East.

Source: arabnews.com/node/1015686/columns

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/middle-east-press/new-age-islam-edit-bureau/saudi-role-critical-for-middle-east-stability--new-age-islam-s-selection,-26-november-2016/d/109200


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