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Pakistan Press (01 Jul 2016 NewAgeIslam.Com)

Extremism: Between Magic and Ideology: New Age Islam's Selection, 01 July 2016

New Age Islam Edit Bureau

01 July 2016

Extremism: Between Magic and Ideology

By Turki Aldakhil

Saudi Arabia, France Share Common Vision

By Mohammed Fahad Al-Harthi

Intervention: Syria’s Most Unresolved Issue

By Dr. Halla Diyab

Senior American at IMF Says Iran Faces 'Fundamental' Economic Choices

By Barbara Slavin

Egypt Moves to Ban 'Immoral' TV Ads

By Ahmed Hidji

Israel: A Country at a Crossroad

By Yossi Mekelberg

Compiled By New Age Islam Edit Bureau


Extremism: Between Magic and Ideology

By Turki Aldakhil

30 June 2016

The repercussions of the Saudi twins’ murder of their parents have not ended. People are still discussing it in councils and gatherings. The crime was so horrific that some have suggested magic was one of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria’s (ISIS) tricks. Such justifications, however, are very shallow.

Magic has nothing to do with extremist ideology. There are ideas planted and spread everywhere. ISIS has tricks such as resorting to electronic games, where it sends messages – particularly to youths – and holds conversations with them to gather information and know about their household secrets.

Extremism is not magic, where the cure lies in removing a spell. Extremism is based on wrong thinking, and is due to weak education and supervision, and lack of discussion. Children spend around six hours, from 11pm until dawn, in their bedrooms by themselves. During this time, they can communicate with people worldwide.

Extremism is not magic, where the cure lies in removing a spell. Extremism is based on wrong thinking, and is due to weak education and supervision, and lack of discussion


The solution first lies in proper education at home, as an absent mind is a sign that the child’s head has been filled with wrong ideas. Then comes individual responsibility and ending limits between parents and children. Parents must let their children talk about everything they see and watch, about the messages they receive and the discussions they engage in.

Saudi cleric Sheikh Adel al-Kalbani responded to these comments about magic, and said resorting to the latter to justify ISIS crimes is a means to escape from confronting the truth. May God protect homes and people’s minds?

Source: english.alarabiya.net/en/views/2016/06/30/Extremism-Between-magic-and-ideology.html


Saudi Arabia, France Share Common Vision

By Mohammed Fahad al-Harthi

1 July 2016

The message of Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to France about the Kingdom’s economic restructuring under Saudi Vision 2030 has been welcomed by French President Francois Hollande, who described it as a new and important approach.

He expressed his desire for mutually beneficial investments and joint projects abroad, particularly in Africa. France has a keen focus on political and economic matters.

In the French senate on Tuesday, the role of Saudi Arabia in the region and the world, particularly the fight against terrorism, was highlighted by Nathalie Goulet, a member of the senate and foreign affairs and defense committee. She said there should be continued strengthening of bilateral ties through regular visits.

The Kingdom and France agree on many issues. Prince Mohammed said France was an “ally and friend of the Kingdom” and that there were important matters to tackle together including dealing with Russia and the problem of Da’esh (ISIS) and Libya. France “represents the Kingdom in Europe,” he said.

It is clear that this strategic relationship is likely to improve further with the Kingdom playing an important role in the fight against terrorism by leading an Islamic alliance to fight the menace. France has also been the victim of terrorist attacks and therefore see the Kingdom as a trustworthy ally in the region.

It is clear that this strategic relationship is likely to improve further with the Kingdom playing an important role in the fight against terrorism by leading an Islamic alliance to fight the menace

Syria without Assad

The two nations have the same solution for Syria, which excludes Bashar Assad, who has been responsible for the massacre of thousands and the displacement of millions.

The two sides also agree that recent peace initiatives on Syria have been undermined by Russia and Iran.

There has also been unity on Lebanon, Iraq and Yemen. The visit has sent a clear message that the French are listening to Saudi Arabia for solutions to these conflicts. Observers have been praising Saudi Arabia for its commitment to peace and stability, not only for itself, but the entire region.

The visit was not just about political matters. There has also been a great deal of progress on trade and business matters, which also fits into the overall vision of the two countries for peace and security in the region and world.

Source: english.alarabiya.net/en/views/2016/07/01/Saudi-Arabia-France-share-common-vision.html


Intervention: Syria’s Most Unresolved Issue

By Dr. Halla Diyab

30 June 2016

The Middle East is littered with remnants of failed Western military interventions that at first were based on sound reason and logic, from Afghanistan and Iraq to Libya and Syria. With Russian military forces and US back-pocket arms deals to rebels, the Syrian conflict is constantly being reshaped by the changing face of modern Western intervention.

Contrary to its claims, the United States is not entirely excluding a military solution to the crisis. The Syria Democratic Forces (SDF), a rebel coalition in eastern Syria, is heavily backed by Washington. Meanwhile, France does not shy away from the fact that it has deployed boots on the ground to assist in the SDF offensive, mainly in Manbij in Aleppo.

So intervention in Syria is happening, but it is indirect and unconventional, with Western powers allying with local factions. Despite the enmity between these alliances, they share a common desire to annihilate extremist militants, mainly al-Nusra Front and the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

Giving the SDF a democracy-orientated name legitimizes the indirect US military intervention, but by no means serves democratic reform in Syria. Rather, Washington is fostering the idea that democracy will only be achieved by military power.

Instead of the West taking a step back and promoting a solution that is sustainable and not based on what seems ideal in the moment, it is pouring yet more arms into a highly militarized conflict


Instead of the West taking a step back and promoting a solution that is sustainable and not based on what seems ideal in the moment, it is pouring yet more arms into a highly militarized conflict. The most bizarre facet of this intervention is how Western powers are competing for local allies with financial and military offers. With Russia trying to recruit US-supported rebel groups to fight al-Nusra and ISIS, Syrians’ desire for political reform and democracy is compromised.

With rebel leaders weighing up the best offers, the question of their loyalty arises. One day, so-called “democratic” fighters may claim to stand with the United States, and tomorrow they could declare their support for Russia. As a result, arms are easily passed to the rebels, whose nationalistic and “democratic” relativism is not fully defined or known.

Western intervention is distorting the history of the Syrian people’s popular struggle, diverting attention and diminishing it into a proxy war. The current Western intervention will not produce a free democratic state, but rather small divided territories ruled by the most ruthless and powerful. There is no magic wand to end the conflict, but the West will be forced to live with its miscalculation for decades to come.

Source: english.alarabiya.net/en/views/2016/06/30/Intervention-Syria-s-most-unresolved-issue.html


Senior American at IMF Says Iran Faces 'Fundamental' Economic Choices

By Barbara Slavin

June 30, 2016

A senior official from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) says that Iran faces a challenge similar to post-Soviet Eastern Europe in modernizing and transforming its economy to take advantage of the opportunities presented by the landmark nuclear accord.

David Lipton, first deputy managing director of the IMF, told a conference at the Carnegie Endowment in Washington June 29, “Iran faces a fundamental choice.” The Islamic Republic can stick with a largely oil-based closed economy with heavy state involvement or seek greater integration, private enterprise and foreign investment, he said.

“The first will fail to generate employment” for Iran’s youthful population, Lipton said, while “the second can succeed but will require a transition on a scale and type countries in Eastern Europe went through” after the collapse of the Soviet Union and its hold over the Eastern Bloc.

Lipton said that while he was not sure what choice Iran would make, he and other members of the first IMF management team to visit Iran since the 1979 revolution found Iranian officials “very interested in restoring growth without rekindling inflation.”

Since Hassan Rouhani became president of Iran three years ago, Iran has cut inflation from about 45% to about 10%. Lipton said the IMF is predicting 4.5% growth for Iran this year, also a significant improvement over the economy’s performance under sanctions. But a number of factors are holding back more sustained progress.

During the delegation’s May visit to Tehran, Iranian officials raised concerns about difficulties in re-establishing links to foreign banks, Lipton said. These were similar to those expressed by Iran’s Central Bank Governor Valiollah Seif during a visit to Washington for the IMF/World Bank meetings in April.

Iranian bankers say that while they have been able to open correspondent accounts in smaller regional and third-tier banks in Europe and Asia, major financial institutions have stayed away for fear of incurring huge fines from the US Justice Department.

US officials counter that they are not “playing gotcha,” in the words of John Smith, the acting director of the US Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control, and will not penalize foreign companies that do due diligence about their Iranian counterparts but inadvertently make mistakes. Foreigners are particularly worried about a lack of transparency in Iranian banks and fear that they might unknowingly have contact with persons or organizations on a list of about 200 still sanctioned by the US government.

While in Tehran, Lipton said, the IMF team spent a lot of time discussing Iran’s efforts to get the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), an international intergovernmental body based in Paris, to lift its designation of Iran as a “high-risk" jurisdiction for money laundering and "non-cooperative" in countering financial terrorism. Iran and North Korea are the only two countries on FATF's blacklist, but the organization recently suspended counter-measures against Iran for 12 months to take account of new regulations the Central Bank of Iran is putting in place to prevent money laundering and terrorism financing.

In response to a question from Al-Monitor, Lipton distinguished between the sort of regime he said Iranian banks need to establish to prevent diversion of funds and the “activities of the state” in supporting groups such as Hezbollah. “Whatever a state does is a separate matter” from these banking procedures, Lipton said.

A cleaner bill of health from FATF might give more confidence to big foreign banks to return to the Iranian market, Lipton added. He said the IMF is providing technical assistance to Iran to carry out these reforms.

The IMF is urging Iran to make a number of other fundamental changes in its economy to fully profit from the relief from nuclear-related sanctions under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

Iranians have complained that the economy has been slow to take off and there are concerns that that could undermine political support for the government of Rouhani, who faces re-election next year.

Iran, Lipton said, needs to modernize its economic structure by reducing regulation, high tariffs and state-granted monopoly rights that are limiting competitiveness and dampening job growth.

To attract needed private and foreign investment, Iran needs “a broad liberalization of the economy,” Lipton said, that would challenge “vested interests that have benefited” from a more closed system such as the Revolutionary Guard Corps and religious foundations.

Iranian officials at the Central Bank said Seif was not available to respond to a request for comment on the IMF suggestions. But in his April interview with Al-Monitor, Seif acknowledged deficiencies in the banking sector that he said he was addressing.

Lipton said he talked with Iranian officials about his experiences advising Poland in the 1990s after the collapse of communism and the problems that afflicted Asian countries during a banking crisis two decades ago because of an overly intimate relationship between the banks and local governments. He said he asked an Iranian official, “Does this sound familiar?” and the Iranian, whom Lipton did not identify, “smiled and nodded his head.”

A rare high-level American to visit Iran, albeit as an official of a multilateral organization, Lipton, a former undersecretary of the Treasury for International Affairs under President Bill Clinton and National Security Council senior director for Barack Obama, said he was impressed by what he called “a pretty normal and positive environment” in Tehran and by his interlocutors at the Central Bank, other banks, the chamber of commerce and at universities.

“These are people who really want to make change,” Lipton said. “Whether they will win the day with the senior government leadership and conservative side of society, I don’t know. They want to understand how to succeed.”

Source: al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2016/06/senior-american-imf-iran-fundamental-economic-choices.html


Egypt Moves to Ban 'Immoral' TV Ads

By Ahmed Hidji

June 30, 2016

The Egyptian Consumer Protection Agency (CPA) decided earlier this month to ban certain TV ads by Juhayna Dairy Products, Al-Ahram Beverages Co., and Cottonil and Dice underwear companies, saying the ads are immoral or designed to deceive children.

Some members of the advertising industry say the action isn’t warranted and is based on nebulous concepts of what “moral” means. A draft law wending its way through the legislative process could help address that objection.

Consumers complained about the ads, the CPA said in a June 11 statement on its website. The CPA said the Juhayna ads promoted false information by saying the company’s milk is better than breast milk. Also, ads by Al-Ahram, Cottonil and Dice included overt sexual references, CPA said.

Karim Imam, who directs TV ads, told Al-Monitor that the successive decisions to stop airing creative artistic content make such ads formulaic and mundane. Imam said that ads require innovative ideas that are of interest to the public, but that the agency is trying to impose moral control on society.

The agency’s primary role, he said, is to prevent harmful commodities from being traded and to keep the prices of goods and services from being manipulated. According to Imam, the agency isn’t doing its job because harmful goods are being traded in the market. Also, some movies and soap operas contain explicit phrases that he finds more offensive to public decency than the banned ads.

“Ads are mainly aimed at drawing attention,” Imam pointed out. “This is why imposing excessive restraints in this regard will only lead to [repetitive commercials].” Most communities do not impose prohibitions on commercials except when such ads deceive children or humiliate a particular class or group — which is not the case with any of the banned ads, according to Imam.

He predicts that advertisers will gradually start using more electronic platforms and social networking sites for their ads. When the commercials of the mentioned companies were banned on TV, the ads were not deleted from the companies' official YouTube accounts.

CPA head Atef Yacoub disagreed with Imam’s arguments.

“The decision does not restrict creativity and innovation. Misleading information is being spread, the law is being violated and commercial standard specifications are being disrespected,” he told Al-Monitor.

Yacoub also charged that the banned ads violate the Consumer Protection Law of 2006 as well as specifications from 2005 covering advertising requirements for products and services and advertisements aimed at children.

The law stipulates advertising must respect consumers’ religious customs, traditions and values. The CPA is entitled to monitor any irregularities in commercial activities, including ads, and can ask offenders to pull the ads.

The 2005 specifications state ads should be ethical and moral and should not include any audio or visual content that is contrary to public morals. Also, ads should not contain false information that can deceive children or encourage them to engage in dangerous activities.

Yacoub accused most media outlets of airing ads without ensuring any compliance with the law and conformity with the standards. Therefore, he said, media outlets share the responsibility for the spread of objectionable ads. Yacoub stressed that he called on representatives of advertising agencies to tighten self-censorship on advertising content.

Ad writer Hazem Hassan told Al-Monitor that during the five years he has worked in the field, he has never been aware of standards defining moral prohibitions on advertising texts and video and audio effects. Hassan stressed that he makes such decisions based on his knowledge of what is accepted or rejected by society.

“It is impossible to have consensus over any artistic content,” Hassan said, pointing out that the diverse cultures of audiences cause some to admire one ad idea when others might find it contrary to morals and custom. He said this cultural diversity contributes to the creation of innovative ideas that develop the ad industry in general.

Huwaida Mustafa, a media professor at Cairo University, called for the standards to be reviewed and defined more clearly.

“We have no clear rules that explain ethics and morals in this regard,” she told Al-Monitor.

Mustafa also said that the expression “violation of public morality” is vague, which makes it inevitable that some ads will be banned while others are aired despite their disregard for the values of some communities.

The public in general is offended by ads that contain overt sexual references or insults, demean women by portraying them as commodities, ridicule a certain sect or religion, or deceive children, she said. She allowed, however, that ads should not be subject to severe restrictions because they are mainly based on continuous innovation to attract viewers.

Mustafa stressed the need to leave room for creative freedom, provided it doesn’t turn into a tool to spread profanity or obscenity. She noted that the ad industry in Egypt is witnessing a boom and the levels of quality and ideas are continuously evolving. Overregulation of the ad industry could cause significant losses in the economy as a whole; advertising’s evolution reflects the strength of competition among advertisers to provide goods and services that satisfy the consumers, she added.

To an extent, ads regulate themselves, said Hassan Imad Makkawi, former dean of the faculty of mass communication at Cairo University.

Ads should be moral and truthful, and those that don’t meet minimum standards of taste and civility drive viewers away, even when they provide accurate information, he told Al-Monitor.

A draft law making its way to parliament proposes, among many other things, formation of a “supreme council to regulate the media” to set standards for evaluating the content and artistic quality of ads aired in all media outlets.

Makkawi predicts that, once applied, the press and media regulation law will impose more specific ethical controls. He emphasized that the obvious presence of such controls — ones that fit the culture of the Egyptian society — will limit violations that could lead to an ad being banned.

Source: al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2016/06/egypt-ban-questionable-ads-tv-ramadan.html


Israel: A Country at a Crossroad

By Yossi Mekelberg

30 June 2016

For the last sixteen years the Interdisciplinary Centre Herzliya (IDC), one of the leading academic institutions in Israel, convenes what is probably the most important political-strategic conference in the country.

The Herzliya Conference, named after the city which hosts this prestigious institution, became a place of pilgrimage for vigorous and rigorous debates on the most fundamental issues affecting Israeli security and prosperity. It is an opportunity for politicians, generals, academics and social activists to reflect on the past and set an agenda for the years ahead.

A notable absentee was Prime Minister Netanyahu, who despite being scheduled to deliver the closing speech opted for a no show. By skipping this year’s conference he spared himself hearing some home truths about his lack of leadership and the disastrous direction in which he takes the country. Some of the boldest criticism was delivered by those who served in his government not that long ago.

As always, public debates in Israel are vibrant and painfully frank. They also bring to the surface not only areas of consensus, but likewise areas of deep divisions that polarise the political system and the society. Divisions are not confined to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which is the most obvious issue that splits political opinion, or to relations with the surrounding Arab world, or even Iran.

They are as much about domestic priorities in education, the economy, welfare, and role of law for instance. With very few exceptions there is general agreement that the country’s military and economic strength ensures that Israel does not face any existential threat right now or in the foreseeable future.

It is the short-sightedness of this government that sees peace and ending the occupation as a price to pay for gaining acceptance in the region, instead of a win-win situation

Nevertheless, an absence of an existential threat does not equate to a lack of looming security challenges. Israeli strategists see in front of them an increasingly more complex region, in which state rivalries and conventional battlefields are almost confined to the past. It is the perils of uncertainty and unpredictability, which are disconcerting to any political and military leadership, and Israel is no exception to this rule.

Military doctrines find it very difficult to thwart, for instance, terrorism carried out by individuals or by small groups with no organisation behind them, but who are instead motivated by fanatical ideology and hatred.

There is also a growing understanding that in my mind is well overdue, that the term Arab-Israeli conflict is irrelevant anymore. Most of the Arab world appears to have no interest in conflict with the Jewish state. Peace agreements with Egypt and Jordan have survived considerable tests, and the turmoil in large parts of the region has presented not only threats, but also new opportunities for closer cooperation with those who are seen as pragmatic or stability seeking states, whether in the Gulf or in North Africa.

The Arab Peace Initiative

This resulted in a newfound enthusiasm, some tactical some strategic, with the Arab Peace Initiative (API) – conceived in Riyadh and delivered by the Arab League in Beirut more than fourteen years ago. Whereas, the Netanyahu government and the prime minister himself pay no more than lip service to this initiative, others in Israel gradually internalise that this initiative provides Israel with the best opportunity to end the conflict with the Palestinians and be accepted in the region.

Netanyahu and his delusional political camp hope that rapprochement between Israel and those in the Arab world, who see Israel as an asset in fighting radicalism or containing Iran, could be satisfied by statements of support for the API alone. Those who are more grounded in Middle Eastern realities, and I had heard quite a few of them over this past week, recognise that there is a need for progress on the Palestinian track to create a more conducive environment for improving relations with Israel.

It is the short-sightedness of this government that sees peace and ending the occupation as a price to pay for gaining acceptance in the region, instead of a win-win situation.

Not surprisingly the most critical views, in a packed and fascinating gathering, came from two figures, who served in Netanyahu’s government as Defence Ministers and intimately know how he operates. Both Ehud Barak and Moshe Ya’alon, former generals who also led the Israeli military, accused the current prime minister of endangering the product of the Zionist movement – the state of Israel.

It would be difficult to argue with their very sober and sombre verdict that Netanyahu is ruling by dividing the society, very effectively utilising fear and cronyism as his main tools for staying in power. Moreover, due to his obsession with power, he left himself hostage in the hands of the most fanatical in the Israeli political system, and wanders from one political crisis to another with no strategy or direction.

Beyond these gentlemen’s own personal ambitions, there was a real concern in their voices that the current government is destroying the very foundations of Israeli democracy through anti-democratic legislation and attacks on the High Court of Justice. Furthermore, corruption, growing inequalities, incitement and discrimination of the ‘other’, is crushing the Israeli society, and evidence is definitely on their side. Moreover, without peace with the Palestinians based on a two state solution, Israel is heading, as Barak warned, towards becoming either an apartheid state or a bi-national one, but not one that is Jewish and democratic.

Not for the first time, I left Israel with mixed feelings regarding the direction the country is taking and concerned about its future. I have heard diverse and lucid expressions about the need for peace and the sacrifices that come with it, the need for engagement with the region and the need for urgent domestic reforms.

However, there is a sense of resignation that the same public that expresses support of all of this still elects those who do exactly the opposite to power. I cannot help but think that one must rely on the discipline of psychology to explain this phenomenon instead of political science. No one understands this better than the incumbent prime minister.

Source: english.alarabiya.net/en/views/2016/06/30/Israel-A-country-at-a-crossroad.html

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/pakistan-press/new-age-islam-edit-bureau/extremism--between-magic-and-ideology--new-age-islam-s-selection,-01-july-2016/d/107816


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