New Age Islam Edit Bureau
03 December 2016
Saudi Women Diplomats Can Be Agents
By Samar Fatany
Evaluate the Success of Saudisation
By Hameed Alonezi
The UAE Is a Soft Power in Its Own
By Suneeti Ahuja-Kohli
Iran Hardliners Celebrate Forthcoming
By Dr. Majid Rafizadeh
Is The Rohingya Abuse Exposing Aung
San Suu Kyi?
By Fawaz Turki
What’s At Stake for Ankara-Tehran
By Sinem Cengiz
Compiled By New Age Islam Edit Bureau
Saudi Women Diplomats Can Be Agents of
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
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
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
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.
Evaluate the Success Of Saudisation
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
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
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
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
The UAE Is a Soft Power in Its Own Right
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. -firstname.lastname@example.org
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
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
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
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
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
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
As a result, from the hard-liners’
perspective, any change in the nuclear deal is not going to affect their rising
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
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
Is The Rohingya Abuse Exposing Aung San
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
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, 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.
What’s At Stake for Ankara-Tehran Ties?
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Sinem Cengiz is a Turkish political analyst who specializes mainly on
issues regarding Turkey’s relations with the Middle East.