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Saudi Women Diplomats Can Be Agents of Change: New Age Islam's Selection, 03 December 2016

New Age Islam Edit Bureau

03 December 2016

Saudi Women Diplomats Can Be Agents of Change

By Samar Fatany

Evaluate the Success of Saudisation Programs

By Hameed Alonezi

The UAE Is a Soft Power in Its Own Right

By Suneeti Ahuja-Kohli

Iran Hardliners Celebrate Forthcoming Years

By Dr. Majid Rafizadeh

Is The Rohingya Abuse Exposing Aung San Suu Kyi?

By Fawaz Turki

What’s At Stake for Ankara-Tehran Ties?

By Sinem Cengiz

Compiled By New Age Islam Edit Bureau


Saudi Women Diplomats Can Be Agents of Change

By Samar Fatany

Dec 3, 2016

Empowering the role of women in politics can be critical for peace. A woman’s perspective can have a positive impact in negotiations for peaceful resolutions. In times of war, it is important from a humanitarian point of view to allow women the opportunity to show their solidarity with their sisters who are living in fear, are surrounded by violence and are victims of political disputes. The role of women in politics should not be underestimated. They can be much better agents for peace.

Manal Radwan, the first secretary of the Saudi mission at the UN, demonstrated great strength and eloquence in her speech when she boldly called on the United Nations to set a timeline ending Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territories and to compel Israel to abide by UN resolutions during the fourth meeting of the UN General Assembly’s Special Political and Decolonization Committee at UN headquarters in New York on 7 Oct 2016.

Speaking on behalf of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), Radwan emphasized the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination. She stated that Israel should be compelled to comply with UN resolutions and with the Arab Peace Initiative launched 14 years ago by Saudi Arabia to establish an independent Palestinian State, with Jerusalem as its capital.

The initiative also demanded that Israel be compelled to withdraw from all occupied Arab lands. Radwan’s fluent English and her smooth delivery were very effective and gave the statement extra strength. Furthermore, the fact that she is a Saudi woman had a positive impact on the audience. We need to project this positive image more often in international events to erase some of the prevailing misconceptions about Saudi women that have dominated the Western media for some time. Radwan is one of many Saudi women who continue to serve their country and represent the modern progressive woman who is equal to any in the international community.

In November, Hala Al-Jafali was the first woman to become an honorary consul in Saudi Arabia after being appointed to that post by Saint Lucia, an island nation in the eastern Caribbean. Al-Jafali’s appointment should have received more media coverage and it should be celebrated by women on a national scale.

Equally prominent is Afnan Al-Shuaiby who was appointed Secretary-General and Chief Executive of the Arab British Chamber of Commerce in 2007. Dr Al-Shuaiby has rich experience and is truly a role model who has not been given due recognition by Saudi media. Women like her project a positive image of the country with their advanced credentials and international acclaim.

Dr Al-Shuaiby previously worked as Advisor to the President of the US-Saudi Arabian Business Council in Washington, D.C. She is an active member of the Board of Directors of the London-based Arab International Women’s Forum (AIWF).

Dr. Al-Shuaiby holds a certificate in Peace and Conflict Resolution from the School of International Service, American University, Washington, DC and Executive Education from the Harvard Kennedy School. She was nominated for the Business Services Award Category in 2009, and was named “Diplomat of the Year” for the Middle East by Diplomat Magazine in 2011 in recognition of her achievements as a foreign diplomat in London.

Dr. Al-Shuaiby was also the recipient of the World of Difference 100 Award in 2011 from The International Alliance for Women (TIAW). She topped the list of the 30 most powerful women in Saudi Arabia in 2014 as reported by the Arabian Business website.

Earlier this year, Arwa Al-Munajjed was appointed First Secretary at the Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia in Washington DC. She is a graduate of the Institut d’Études Politiques de Paris, one of France’s leading universities for social sciences. She was previously Human Rights Attache to the Permanent Mission of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to the UN in Geneva and represented the Kingdom at the UN’s Convention on the Rights of the Child in New York.

Sarah Husseini was appointed Elections Officer at the Permanent Mission of Saudi Arabia to the UN. Husseini designs and runs international campaigns in which the government of Saudi Arabia and Saudi nationals are candidates. She also directs outreach efforts including internship programs, the UN Young Professionals Program, as well as recruitment. Previously, Husseini was the Sixth Committee Expert covering topics in Legal Affairs and Counter Terrorism and was the Fifth Committee (Budgetary and Administrative Committee) Adviser at the Permanent Mission of Saudi Arabia to the UN. Husseini holds a Master’s Degree from Seton Hall University’s School of Diplomacy and International Relations in International Law and Human Rights.

Osama Nugali, the spokesman of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said that the ministry has been employing Saudi women for the past 10 years according to their merit. More than 370 women are working abroad as undersecretaries or attaches.

If encouraged, Saudi women diplomats can be agents of change and a driving force for stabilizing an insecure and troubled region. Many international organizations involve women in the security arena and as agents for peace. The participation of more women of high calibre in Saudi and Muslim international organizations could rejuvenate their role in addressing many of the challenges facing the Arab and Muslim world today.

Samar Fatany is a radio broadcaster and writer.

Source: saudigazette.com.sa/opinion/saudi-women-diplomats-can-agents-change/


Evaluate the Success Of Saudisation Programs

By Hameed Alonezi

Dec 3, 2016

The latest report of the General Authority for Statistics indicates that there are around 693,000 unemployed Saudis, with an unemployment rate of 12.1 percent. The majority of unemployed young men and women either have high school education certificates or college degrees. This is the highest recorded rate since the third quarter of 2012. The report noted that the manufacturing sector created 156,000 new job opportunities in the fourth quarter of this year and that all of these jobs were given to expatriate workers.

Between 2010 and 2015, the Ministry of Labour spent millions of riyals on conducting countless programs and studies to create job opportunities for the Saudi workforce. Programs have been conducted and studies have been applied but no effective results have been achieved. However, neither the programs nor the studies have been assessed to find out if they have had actual positive results and whether they have achieved their goals.

The Ministry of Labour is planning to implement more Saudisation programs and spend millions of riyals on them. Again, we will not be able to assess the effectiveness of the programs and evaluate their results. We need an independent body that can play a neutral role and assess with transparency the results of the new programs that are to be implemented. Whether the results are negative or positive does not matter. What matters is to find the right program that creates decent job opportunities for young Saudi men and women.

Equally important is the fact that such programs should not have a negative impact on small- and medium-scale enterprises in the long run. In fact, such enterprises continue to suffer from the negative effects of the Saudisation programs the ministry introduced in the private sector in the past. Currently, the private sector is experiencing the impact of a slump in oil prices and a government policy that seeks to rationalize public spending.

Moreover, the entire sector suffers from stagnation, which affects the application of Saudisation programs. Such stagnation may backfire as many Saudis could end up being laid off. The ministry should take this fact into consideration before implementing any new programs.

Source: saudigazette.com.sa/opinion/local-viewpoint/evaluate-success-saudization-programs/


The UAE Is a Soft Power in Its Own Right

By Suneeti Ahuja-Kohli

December 1, 2016

The revival of art and architecture has helped reshaped the national identity

Geographically, the UAE is small, and at 45, it is relatively young. Yet, its fair share of accomplishments and feats dwarf even so-called superpowers of the world. Today, the UAE isn't just a haven of stability and an economically prospering nation; it has also gained its rightful seat on important global forums. The country is a major stakeholder in the United Nations, International Monetary Fund, and regional alliances undertaking humanitarian efforts. Development of significant defence capabilities has helped it don a larger role in regional geopolitics.

On the international front, the UAE is lauded for its mature foreign policy and diplomacy. From being principally centred on maintaining peace and stability in the Gulf from the 1970s to the 90s, the country, in the last couple of decades, has broadened its diplomatic horizons and advanced its commercial and trade relations with a number of countries. It has taken these audacious steps with great responsibility.

The UAE is an important stakeholder in bringing stability in the region and has undertaken defence interventions in the Middle East and beyond with its allies. It has taken a seminal stance against extremism and used its assertiveness and influence to promote peace in the Middle East which has been enveloped in turmoil for over a decade. Its roles in Egypt, Libya, Yemen, Iraq, Syria are all efforts in the right direction to establish legitimate regimes.

On the cultural and economic fronts, this country is emerging as a powerful link between the West and the East. The UAE has successfully diversified its economic model and opened the sluice gates of opportunity for investors. It is fast emerging as the new capital of international finance, and looks to evolve into the capital for Islamic finance and tourism. Over the last two decades, Abu Dhabi and Dubai in particular, have become revolving doors for high-flying CEOs, banker, decision makers, influencers, tourists, and more, who wish to be part of its growth story.

The revival of art and architecture has helped reshaped the national identity. A number of museums like the Louvre and Guggenheim in Abu Dhabi are in the works, and new hotspots such as Dubai Opera are adding to the country's cross-cultural appeal. It was the vision of the founding fathers that laid the foundation for this great growth story. However, it is the dynamic and ambitious Rulers of the day who have to be credited for ensuring a socially compatible and economically progressing nation. The emirates has stayed away from the combustible mix of social problems by taking a tough stance on extremism of all kinds. It has even appointed happiness and tolerance ministers, while emerging as a beacon of stability and hope in a region torn apart by sectarianism and polarising agendas. Tolerance is recognised as the fifth pillar in the country and the emirates allows freedom of all faiths. Different places of worship for different religious beliefs have added to its appeal and also strengthened the confidence of the global community in it.

Consequently, more than 200 nationalities call the UAE their second home and live harmoniously -a no mean feat for any nation. UAE is a successful model in governance and entrepreneurship, a society that is worth emulating in a world fraught with divisive agendas. It has stayed true to its core values and ideals for peaceful co-existence, while writing its own story to make the world a better place. -suneeti@khaleejtimes.com

Source: khaleejtimes.com/editorials-columns/the-uae-is-a-soft-power-in-its-own-right


Iran Hardliners Celebrate Forthcoming Years

By Dr. Majid Rafizadeh

2 December 2016

Iran’s Hardline newspapers and officials write and speak of good and advantageous years in the near future for the Islamic Republic due to fundamental and permanent changes in the regional and global order.

The final decision makers in Iran’s domestic and foreign policy- who are the hardliners, primarily the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and the senior cadre of Iran Revolutionary Guard Corps- argue that Iran’s expanding influence inevitable.

Syria, Iraq, Yemen, and Iran’s Shiite Proxies

The fate of the Alawite state and Bashar Al Assad is a matter of national security for Iranian leaders. Any change in the political system of Damascus will significantly alter the regional power of power. That is why Tehran has invested billions of dollars, resources and military forces to keep Assad in power.

From the hardliner’s perspective, the West will not intervene militarily in Syria because the stakes are too high. Iran’s hardliners strongly believe that the West is more than willing to allow Russia and Tehran to handle the Syrian war.

In addition, although Iran is ranked the top sponsor of international terrorism, Iran’s hardliners believe that they have effectively sold the international community on the idea that Tehran is the single most important partner to fight ISIS, and that the West needs Iran to fight terrorism.

On Iraq, Iran hardliners view their power to have effectively penetrated the security, military, political, and religious institutions.

When it comes to Iran’s proxies, Iran’s hardliners make certain that their increasing revenues ensure the survival of these proxies. Tehran is also giving birth to other Shiite militia groups and turning them in political realities which would make it impossible for other powers to counter Tehran’s increasing regional influence.

The Nuclear Deal

For hardliners, they have achieved their major objectives from the nuclear agreement.

They argue that the four rounds of the UN Security Council Resolutions have been lifted and that the likelihood of snapping those sanctions back is zero because of Russia's and China’s veto power.

They hold the belief that the increasing oil sales and trades with the West as irreversible. Iranian officials make the argument that the European countries are dependent on Iran’s oil and gas for decades to come because they would rather find other alternatives to Russia for energy supplies. Approximately 29 percent of Iran’s crude oil is being exported to European countries including Spain, Greece, and France. Hardliners believe that the export to European nations will definitely increase as Iran expands its output.

For Iran, the continuation of the extra revenue is critical and inevitable. Iran’s oil revenue has currently increased approximately 380 percent, in only a year after sanctions were lifted. This revenue is based on the current low prices of oil, and selling roughly 3.9 million a barrel a day, and trade with Asia and Europe (not the US). This means that, even at the current low oil prices, if Tehran reaches the goal of exporting 4.2 million barrel a day, Iran’s oil revenues will be around $50 billion a year, almost 450 percent of Iran’s oil revenue before sanctions were lifted.

Hardliners see that the Islamic Republic will be receiving billions of dollars in additional revenue while other countries observe a decrease in their revenues.

Iran’s extra budget will be channelled to Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and the Office of the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, due to the fact that they enjoy the ownership of major oil and gas sectors and stocks in the Islamic Republic. This will significantly assist Iran’s allies- Bashar Al Assad and Shiite proxies- to shift the regional balance of power in favor of Iran. In other words, Iran believes that it will continue to achieve its geopolitical, strategic and regional hegemonic ambitions.

As a result, from the hard-liners’ perspective, any change in the nuclear deal is not going to affect their rising power.


Iran hardliners argue that they are building more bases, ports and ships in Arab or Western countries, and that their military power has reached an unprecedented level. Major General Mohammad Hossein Baqeri said the deterrent of building more ships, ports and bases in foreign nations “could be ten times more efficient than nuclear power”. An Iranian flotilla was recently deployed to the Atlantic Ocean for the first time ever.

Iran’s military institutions appear to benefit from the continuing chaos and crises in the region.

As Iran’s hardliners see their increasing power becoming unstoppable and as they view the upcoming years as bringing advantageous news, it remains to be seen whether the West and regional power will cooperate effectively and comprehensively in order to counter IRGC’s increasing power and influence in foreign nations.

Dr. Majid Rafizadeh, an Iranian-American political scientist and Harvard University scholar, is president of the International American Council. Rafizadeh serves on the board of Harvard International Review at Harvard University. He is also a member of the Gulf project at Columbia University. Rafizadeh served as a senior fellow at Nonviolence International Organization based in Washington DC. He has been a recipient of several scholarships and fellowship including from Oxford University, Annenberg University, University of California Santa Barbara, and Fulbright Teaching program. He served as ambassador for the National Iranian-American Council based in Washington DC, conducted research at Woodrow Wilson International Centre for Scholars, and taught at University of California Santa Barbara through Fulbright Teaching Scholarship.

Source: english.alarabiya.net/en/views/news/middle-east/2016/12/02/Iran-hardliners-celebrate-forthcoming-years.html


Is The Rohingya Abuse Exposing Aung San Suu Kyi?

By Fawaz Turki

1 December 2016

We know about the agonies of Aleppo and have all been exposed, by the media almost daily, to the suffering of its people.

But why is it that the plight faced by the Muslim minority in Myanmar seems to pass largely unnoticed by the international community, causing relatively little outrage - or perhaps not as much outrage as the issue warrants – at the atrocities committed by security forces, including gang rape, torture and murder committed against a people described by human rights organizations as “the most persecuted in the world?”

Though a minority, numbering just over one million in a Buddhist nation of 54 million, the Rohingya have lived in Myanmar since the 16th century, concentrated in the northern state of Rakhine to the West of the Bay of Bengal. Yet to this day, they continue to be denied citizenship and to be subjected to all manner of discrimination. Last week, a United Nations official accused the central government - whose incumbent State Councilor Aung San Suu Kyi is a Nobel Peace Prize winner - of ethnic cleansing.

John McKissick, head of the United Nations refugee agency UNHCR in neighbouring Bangladesh (which Myanmar shares a 120-mile border with), addressed reporters after thousands of refugees poured into the country, with others feared drowned after a boat sank in the River Naaf during a bid to flee the violence that by last week had killed more than 80 people and displaced about 30,000. He spoke, reportedly breathlessly, of security forces “killing men, shooting them, slaughtering children, raping women, burning and looting houses, forcing these people to cross the river into Bangladesh.”

Bangladesh, however, does not want “these people.” In recent days, authorities began to turn refugees back. The logic here, it would appear, is that to open the border would play into the hands of the Myanmar government, further encouraging it to continue to push its Muslim minority out, with no expectation of return.

At one point, McKissick told reporters: “Difficult as it is for the Bangladesh government to absorb large numbers, it seems to me there’s no other choice, because the only other choice is death and suffering.” Yet at another, he said in an interview with the BBC that keeping the border open “would further encourage the government of Myanmar to continue the atrocities and push [the Rohingya] out until they have achieved their ultimate goal of the ethnic cleansing of the Muslim minority.”

Talk about a people caught between a rock and a hard place.

Meanwhile, Ms Suu Kyi is being exposed, along with her cohorts in the National League for Democracy, as a “champion of democracy” only in name, not in practice. The warning last week about the dire lot of the Rohingya people by Adama Dieng, the UN special adviser on the prevention of genocide, reflected an astonishing reversal of global opinion of Myanmar’s 71-year-old putative human rights activist and Nobel Peace Prize winner, whose government is now facing fierce criticism for refusing to allow international aid workers and journalists to gain access to Rakhine in order to verify claims of atrocities there.

Ethnic cleansing, the systematic and forced removal of ethnic groups from a given territory by a more powerful group with the intention of making it racially homogeneous, is, very simply, a war crime. Never mind that one act of ethnic cleansing may differ from another in kind or in degree. The forcible deportation, expulsion or eviction - in short the permanent exile - of someone from his or her homeland, based on that person’s ethnicity is defined under international law as a crime against humanity.

But sadly, this racist practice is not unique to any one people or to any one era. The 19th century was replete with it - from the poetically resonant name given the Trail of Tears in 1820, when President Andrew Jackson ordered the forced removal of native American tribes from their ancestral homelands in the south-eastern United States to an area west of the Mississipi River, where they suffered severely from exposure, disease and starvation, with more than 4,000 dying while on route; to the expulsion, in the years that followed 1821, of a large number of Muslims from south-eastern Europe as Bulgaria, Greece and Serbia gained their independence from the Ottoman Empire.

As was the 20th century equally replete, from the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians by Jewish gangs in 1948, especially in the twin cities of Lydda and Ramleh; to the atrocities committed by the Serbs against “Bosniaks, or Bosnian” Muslims, between 1992 and 1995.

This brings us today to the 250,000 Rohingyas languishing in refugee camps in not altogether hospitable host states, along with roughly 100,000 others living in camps for internally displaced persons which they are not allowed to leave.

So, Ms Suu Kyi, I have a question for you: Isn’t it true that in a democracy, of which you’re a champion, we are all brothers and sisters, irrespective of our ethnic identity, the colour of our skin, and the nature of our national background? Judging by where you stand on the issue, you appear to think otherwise.

Fawaz Turki is a journalist, author and lecturer based in Washington, DC.

Source: english.alarabiya.net/en/views/news/world/2016/12/01/Is-the-Rohingya-abuse-exposing-Aung-San-Suu-Kyi-.html


What’s At Stake for Ankara-Tehran Ties?

By Sinem Cengiz

3 December 2016

The relations between two major non-Arab countries, Turkey and Iran, in the Middle East have deep historical roots and since the 1639 Treaty of Qasr-e-Shirin, the two countries have maintained these ties.

Throughout the history, Turkish-Iranian relations have had their ups and downs both due to their enduring geostrategic and ideological rivalry and occasional alliances when it came to the developments regarding the balance of power in the region.

It wouldn’t be wrong to describe the complex nature of relations between the two neighbours as a form of “tacit tension” i.e. both countries have serious disagreements in the region; yet are careful not to allow these differences affect bilateral relations mainly due to the convergence of economic and strategic interests.

Up until the Arab Spring in 2011, both countries were able to manage elements of cooperation and competition in their relationship. However, with the Arab Spring, differences between Ankara and Tehran increased as they interpreted the regional developments from very divergent views and threw their support behind rival groups in the region. This dealt a severe blow to the semblance of harmony in the relations between the two sides.

Needless to say, the ongoing war in Syria, the chaotic situation in Iraq, the emergence of Daesh and the conflict in Yemen have caused periodic crisis between Turkey and Iran. The post-Arab Spring era has further complicated the relations and limited the area of cooperation as the threat perception of the two countries in Syria and Iraq intensified. While Turkey backs the Free Syrian Army (FSA) that is fighting the brutal regime of Bashar Assad in Syria, Iran throws its full support behind the regime by sending its troops to Syria to fight against Turkish-supported opposition groups.

Besides Syria, another issue that brings Turkey and Iran at loggerheads is Iraq, where both countries are competing for political influence. Particularly, the ongoing battle of Mosul against Daesh is a concern for both countries as Turkey and Iran support different groups here as well. Turkey gives support to Kurdish Peshmerga forces loyal to Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and Sunni Arab tribes, Ninova Volunteers, while Iran supports Shiite forces — Hashd Al-Shaabi.

We see that there are several official visits taking place between both sides and the two countries are enjoying good economic ties; but behind closed doors, it is not a secret that the atmosphere does not seem sincere between the two states. However, we could say that the two countries — for the time being — seems to “agree to disagree” on their perception toward the developments in Syria and Iraq. Not only for the sake of economic and energy concerns, the threat emerging from Daesh and Kurdish separatism issue brings the two uneasy neighbors back on the same page.

While Turkey carries out its fight against Daesh in Syria, there are also groups (mainly Kurdish) from Iran that carry out a fight against Daesh in Iraq. Second reason is Kurdish separatism that pushes Tehran and Ankara for cooperation against a common threat. Both Turkey and Iran are aware of the fact that the separatism efforts have increased at a time when the region is experiencing political turmoil. As the Middle East is going through extraordinary days, Turkey and Iran are concerned that this situation may flare up the Kurdish idea for independence. Nervous about its own Kurdish minority, Iran follows the moves of Kurds, particularly those in Syria.

Both Turkey and Iran seems to have reached a tacit deal on the common fight against the terrorist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

Speaking at a panel titled “Iran and Turkey in a changing Middle East” held in Ankara, touching upon this issue, Turkish academic Meliha Altunisik said: “Interest perception of both Turkey and Iran against Kurdish issue plays an important role in relations.” As a third reason for cooperation in relations, Altunisik said that while Iran’s trust toward Russia declines, Turkey loses confidence in the US with regards to the regional developments. “For Iran, only relying on Russia in Syria has become difficult. While for Turkey, it does not want to rely merely on the US. So we see some extent of cooperation between Tehran and Ankara in the perception toward the external powers.”

In late November, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani stated that if major regional powers (Turkey and Iran) stood together, problems in Iraq and Syria would be resolved without the need for “foreign powers.”

Despite all differences, the two countries are aware of the fact that they need to set the parameters for cooperation in order to establish a common ground against all challenges.

Speaking at the same event, Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister Seyed K. Sajjadpour stated that “in Turkish-Iranian relations zero-sum game doesn’t work and that no single actor can be ignored in the region and none of the actors can impose hegemony.”

There is some merit to this argument as each country in the region lacks some assets and has some weaknesses, which pushes toward regional cooperation. Indeed, the Middle East is facing crisis that requires regional cooperation, but to what extent? What will happen when the common threats are eliminated?

It is still not clear at this point how the Syrian crisis and the situation in Mosul will evolve; however, as long as the conflicts in the region prolong rather than winding down, the divergence between Iran and Turkey is likely to deepen. I don’t mean here that geopolitical rivalry between Turkey and Iran may lead to a military confrontation, as this is a situation, which both countries have always avoided. But as regional conflicts escalate, the risk of deterioration of ties increases. As Altunisik says, “The rivalry between Turkey and Iran can go in the direction of successful conflict management; but it can also escalate as well.”

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

 Source: arabnews.com/node/1018716/columns

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/middle-east-press/new-age-islam-edit-bureau/saudi-women-diplomats-can-be-agents-of-change--new-age-islam-s-selection,-03-december-2016/d/109265


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