New Age Islam Edit Bureau
26 November 2016
Saudi Role Critical For Middle East
By Samar Fatany
Five News Stories We Could Expect
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
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.
Five News Stories We Could Expect From
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,'
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
"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
Fareed Zakaria is host of the CNN show
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
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
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
Turkey-KRG alliance, PKK and the EU
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.