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World Press (01 Nov 2017 NewAgeIslam.Com)

Can the ‘hunter’ bring peace to northern Iraq?: New Age Islam's Selection, November 1, 2017

New Age Islam Edit Bureau


November 1, 2017

The myth of a military coup in Myanmar

By Dr. Azeem Ibrahim

A country in denial over 100 years of betrayal

By Chris Doyle

Granting citizenship to Saudi women's expatriate sons

By Maram Makkawi Al-Watan

Compiled by New Age Islam Edit Bureau

URL: http://newageislam.com/world-press/new-age-islam-edit-bureau/can-the-‘hunter’-bring-peace-to-northern-iraq?--new-age-islam-s-selection,-november-1,-2017/d/113095


Can the ‘hunter’ bring peace to northern Iraq

By Deniz Zeyrek

October 31 2017

The crisis in northern Iraq started after the referendum on Sept. 25, escalating to another level after the resignation of Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) President Masoud Barzani.

The United States and Britain welcomed Barzani’s resignation while also praising his “leadership” and “opposition to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant [ISIL].”

The Anglo-Saxon alliance pointed at Nechirvan Barzani and Qubad Talabani as the leaders of the new era in northern Iraq’s politics, which until today was led by Masoud Barzani and Jalal Talabani.

Germany and France, too, sent their ambassadors in Baghdad to Arbil in order to meet Nechirvan Barzani. The two countries, offering mediation between Baghdad and Arbil, displayed their recognition of the new period of Nechirvan Barzani and Qubad Talabani in the region, like the U.S. and Britain.

Turkey, on the other hand, is not taking clear steps concerning the future of northern Iraq, but is giving advice to Barzani.

Now, let’s take a closer look at the new rulers of the KRG, favored by the West and Iran.

Northern Iraq’s new generation leader

Nechirvan Barzani was born in 1966. “Nechir” means “hunt” in Kurdish, and Nechirvan means “hunter.” He is the son of Idris Barzani, who is the brother of Masoud Barzani. When the family was expelled from Iraq, he moved to Iran at the age of nine.

He entered politics in his youth. At the age of 23, he was selected to the central committee of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP). When he was 30, he became the deputy prime minister of the KDP government. At 40, he played an active role in meetings where regional political parties gathered, and became the prime minister of the newly established KRG. He never hid the fact that he preferred a Western life style. Nechirvan Barzani is known for showing his wine cellar to Western guests at his house and offering them expensive wines.

When Barzani received an honorary degree from Washington & Jefferson College in 2008, Jess Baily, a U.S. diplomat based in Arbil, who also worked at U.S. missions in Adana and Ankara, introduced him as a progressive figure.

“Prime Minister Barzani revealed a vision; one that places significance on education, the rights of women and minorities and economic development in northern Iraq and Iraq as a whole,” Bailey had said.

Can Qubad Talabani gather the PUK?

The second biggest party in northern Iraq is the late Jalal Talabani’s Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK). When Barzani became the president of the KRG, Talabani had become the president of Iraq. After Talabani left his party, his wife, Hero Talabani, took over, leading to a division of the party into two. The Goran Party had surprisingly received huge support.

In the new period ahead for the KRG, the Talabani couple’s youngest son, Qubad Talabani, will represent the PUK. He was born in 1977, raised in the U.K. and has for quite a long time served as the KRG’s representative in Washington.

Two important duties await him: Solving the problems in front of the KRG together with Nechirvan Barzani, and ensuring a reshuffle within the PUK

Why not the son but the nephew?

You might also be wondering whether Masoud Barzani has no child, and why he is not leaving the post to his son.

He has four children. The oldest one is Masrour Barzani. He is the most important security and intelligence figure in the KRG.

He is three years younger than Nechirvan, his cousin. While Nechirvan chose politics, Masrour chose to become a soldier. Since the age of 16, he fought for the Peshmerga. While his younger brother, Mansour, serves as a military officer for the Peshmerga.

According to some diplomats, the most important reason behind Masoud Barzani’s decision to pass it on to his nephew instead of his son is that one of his sons is a politician and a diplomat, while the other one is a soldier and an intelligence officer.

Also because of this, the West prefers Nechirvan Barzani.

Another important reason is that Nechirvan Barzani never warmed up to the idea of a referendum. On the other hand, Masrour

Barzani is a staunch defender of independence; even if there was war over it, he would not escape from fighting.

The cards are being shuffled from start in northern Iraq, and the new Kurdish leaders will undergo important tests.



The myth of a military coup in Myanmar

By Dr. Azeem Ibrahim

The received wisdom in Western diplomatic circles is that the ongoing genocide against the Rohingya Muslims of Myanmar betrays the limits of the authority of the civilian government led by Aung San Suu Kyi, and that the genocide is happening because the military is imposing this on the country.

This is also the rationale Western diplomats use for why they have been reserved in their condemnation of the country’s authorities. The idea is that power in Myanmar is in a very delicate balance between the malevolent forces of the military establishment and the benevolent forces of the democractically elected civilian government. Attacking the (civilian) government for the excesses of the military would only serve to undermine their power and authority in this equation, and would thus serve only to hand more power to those who perpetrate the genocide against the Rohingya.

The polite way to describe this situation is to say that Ms Suu Kyi’s government and our own diplomatic corps are in a very vulnerable position with regards to Myanmar’s progress towards democracy and normalisation of relations with the rest of the world. The less polite way to say it is that for Ms Suu Kyi and for our own diplomats and leaders, genocide is a price worth paying for the modest gains towards democracy that the country has made so far.

Yet even this would be a far more generous description of the situation than is warranted. The problem for the myth of Aung San Suu Kyi’s saintliness, and for those of our diplomats who want to believe in that myth, is that there is precious little evidence of this epic power struggle between the military and the NLD government. And there is particularly little conflict over the Rohingya situation.

Power without accountability

The fact of the matter is that both the civilian government led by the NDP and the military are in perfectly comfortable positions. On the side of the military, they have attained the holy grail of politics: power without accountability. They control a quarter of the Parliament by constitutional provision, the have full autonomy and power in all ministries that are of direct interest to them, such as defence, internal security and foreign policy, and have a good looking human shield in the form of Aung San Suu Kyi which can absorb international criticism for them. This leaves them with a fully free hand to engage in all the humanitarian abuses they like.

Prior to “the move to democracy”, the military was very unpopular. Since those constitutional changes, they have become very popular, since all the problems they cause can be blamed on someone else: either the civilian government, or scapegoats like the Rohingya. But also, they have become rich. The lifting of sanctions which followed the apparent moves towards democracy enables the valorification of the country’s economic resources, the majority of which the leaders of the military also control. This is a win, win for them.

For the NLD this is also a perfectly acceptable arrangement. All the evidence we have about their leaders, including Aung San Suu Kyi, is that they have the same prejudices against the Rohingya that the old military juntas have been cultivating for decades. None of them are vested in the fate of the Rohingya. They also get to be seen as the ascendant power of the future in the country and get to establish their own power bases, after so many decades of military rule. And, of course, they also get a piece of the economic pie. What’s not to like?

If the two sides of the government really were at loggerheads, one would expect the governance of the country to be much more chaotic, and overt conflicts much more common. But while there are disagreements between the two power bases, they are nothing out of the bounds of normal for any normal government anywhere. In fact, the two sides are getting along much better than anyone would have expected when the NLD first swept to power.

Nevertheless, this narrative of perennial conflict between the two sides in government suits the purposes of both parties. It enables both sides to pass blame, recrimination and international pressure back and forth against each other in a perverse game of tennis which enables both sides to pursue their own goals while dodging accountability. And we have allowed this game to cripple our response to the ongoing genocide against the Rohingya.

Dr Azeem Ibrahim is a Senior Fellow at the Center for Global Policy and author of “The Rohingyas: Inside Myanmar’s Hidden Genocide” (Hurst & Oxford University Press)



A country in denial over 100 years of betrayal

By Chris Doyle

31 October 2017

The tensions over the 100th anniversary of the Balfour Declaration are accelerating to the long-expected fever pitch, outside Israel-Palestine and nowhere more so than in Britain. 

Already there has been a row over the decision to ban from the London Underground  a series of Palestinian advertisements about the impact of Balfour, although the same ads are now being shown on London’s taxis.

Rival events will parade diametrically opposed narratives of those historic 67 words. The Balfour Project, which aims to secure justice and fairness for all sides, held an event in London on Tuesday that is reported elsewhere in Arab News. On Nov. 4, a march through central London in support of Palestinian rights will culminate in a rally in Parliament Square. Perhaps most bizarrely, a celebration organized by the Balfour 100 group at the Royal Albert Hall on Nov. 7 will try to portray the declaration as some kind of symbol of Jewish-Christian partnership.

What stands out, however, is that the British government is absent from any event critical of Balfour, but very much a fixture at the Israeli Zionist and anti-Palestinian ones. The British government, most notably in the person of Prime Minister Theresa May, has adopted almost solely the Israeli Zionist narrative. Even last year she was proclaiming that the declaration was “one of the most important letters in history. It demonstrates Britain’s vital role in creating a homeland for the Jewish people. And it is an anniversary we will be marking with pride.”  Other British cabinet members have mouthed the same mantra.

In her public statements, May has shown not even a scintilla of feeble interest in the impact of the Balfour Declaration on the non-Jewish inhabitants of Palestine. On Nov. 2 she will attend a dinner in London for the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, hosted by the current Lords Balfour and Rothschild — descendants of the author and recipient of the declaration. A small silver lining, but cold comfort for Palestinians, is that the leader of the opposition Labour party, Jeremy Corbyn, has refused to attend. That said, having Hamas tweet support for his stand may not quite be what Corbyn needed; anti-Palestinian groups jump on every opportunity to demonize him as a Hamas-supporting, anti-Israel fanatic.  

Down at the other end of the political food chain, the deputy UK representative at the UN, Jonathan Allen, did at least say: “Let us remember, there are two halves of Balfour. There is unfinished business.” And a junior minister acknowledged last year that the declaration should have guaranteed political rights for Palestinians, not just civil and religious rights.

If senior British ministers had over the past year adopted more of this line, perhaps they would not have found themselves in quite such bad odor with their Palestinian counterparts. 

For the truth is, it is hard to recall a lower point in British-Palestinian relations. For sure, British politicians were never going to issue the sort of apology that would have satisfied Palestinian demands, let alone agree to compensation.  The Palestinian leadership’s threat to sue the British government was the epitome of empty, futile gesture politics.

All of this follows Palestinian anger at the failure of the British government to recognize the state of Palestine, or even back this at the UN. The major success of securing the passage of UN Security Council 2334 in December 2016, which Britain did support, was short-lived as Britain quickly shifted in January to adopt positions more welcome in the Trump White House. May’s government refused to send any high-level representation to the Paris peace conference in January. Activists are also outraged that their efforts to protest at Israel’s illegal actions through the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement receive far more opprobrium from the British authorities than the actual war crimes and violations of international law perpetrated every day in the occupied territories.

However, given the appalling consequences of the Balfour declaration, an imperial, colonial act that led to 70 percent of their people becoming refugees, hundreds of their villages destroyed, over four and half million under occupation today and a million as fourth-class citizens in Israel, Palestinians had reasonable grounds to expect something just a little more respectful than what they have been served up so far.  

If one thing unites Palestinians it is that Britain was the author and genesis of this conflict.  Arthur Balfour made clear in 1919 that “in Palestine we do not propose even to go through the form of consulting the wishes of the present inhabitants of the country.” This summarized the entire approach of the British mandate that did everything to ensure that no democratic institutions came into existence.

It is a sad reality that even in 2017 the Palestinian right to self-determination is still denied and that Britain does so little to remedy this. When Palestinians voted for a Hamas government, the British government refused to respect this. When Palestinians sought legal redress by pressing for their case at the International Criminal Court, once again Britain was in opposition. When Palestinians sought their own state, Britain stood in their way. It is time for Britain to start treating Palestinians with respect, and sooner rather than later to celebrate the establishment of a viable state of Palestine with pride.

• Chris Doyle is director of the London-based Council for Arab-British Understanding (CAABU). He has worked with the council since 1993 after graduating with a first class honors degree in Arabic and Islamic Studies at Exeter University. Twitter: @Doylech



Granting citizenship to Saudi women's expatriate sons

By Maram Makkawi Al-Watan

GIVING Saudi nationality to sons of Saudi women married to foreigners is an old issue. It will be raised again and again until the authorities decide to end the suffering of many families in the country. I would like to point out that the article is not about the eligibility of nationality of sons with one of their parents being a non-Saudi, but the sons of Saudi mothers.

We know that sons of a Saudi man married to a foreign woman are given nationality but so far no decision has been made on granting nationality to expat sons of Saudi women. As a result, many Saudi women have been standing in queue in front of Saudi embassies with the hope of getting nationality for their sons.

At the same time, the sons of Saudi man, even if they have not visited the Kingdom or do not speak Arabic, or their mother is a non-Muslim, deserve Saudi nationality as per custom and the law. Why the situation becomes different when it comes to sons of Saudi woman married to a Muslim man, often an Arab born and brought up in the Kingdom?

Most laws and legislations are enacted by lawmakers in society. Our male-dominated society does not consider men and women equal citizens, but thinks that men are the origin while women are their dependants. Women derive their value and rights as a result of their belonging to men as daughters, wives, sisters and mothers and they do not have any independent identity or free will.

Therefore, there is nothing unusual if we see discriminatory regulations relating to women. Sons of Saudi women married to foreigners are not given nationality hence they are not entitled to public housing schemes or government loans except in special cases.

Women are considered dependent on their families or tribes who choose their grooms. The Saudi society will not accept a woman’s independent selection of her husband without meeting the society’s criteria, even if it is done with the consent of her family. Some families and tribes consider it as a big crime.

When a woman commits a ‘societal’ crime like marrying a non-Saudi she must be prepared to face its consequences. She may even face expulsion, albeit indirectly, either by her children or complexities in family's life. The Saudi society thinks that a woman challenges masculinity of Saudi men by marrying a non-Saudi. They say it secretly and sometimes openly. For them it is better for a Saudi woman to become the fourth wife of a Saudi or a misyar wife than marrying a foreigner who treats her like a queen.

These things happen because the male-dominated society views women as light-headed with limited thinking power and are unable to distinguish between good and bad. Such unbecoming treatment of women may occur anywhere in the world but a good number of Saudi women suffer for marrying foreigners.

Although a person is not supposed to give justifications for one of his/her personal choices, such as marriage, there is nothing wrong in giving some justifications to establish justice, especially when compare it with Saudi man married to a foreigner. I don’t have any objection to granting his wife and sons citizenship.

It’s the man who decides to marry the woman he likes. The situation is completely different for a woman who has to wait for the right groom to come and accept her. A physically and financially fit man is eligible for marriage even if he crosses the age of 40 while an unmarried woman aged 30 is considered a spinster.

A man will have specific conceptions about his would be life partner and her shape and nationality and can travel to any country to marry the woman he likes after obtaining permission from the Interior Ministry. But for woman it’s not that easy and we have not heard about Saudi women traveling abroad in search of a groom. Even if she does she would require the consent of her guardian (to travel not to mention marriage), the rest of her family, and then the Interior Ministry.

Why Saudi women marry non-Saudis? There are many reasons including the family’s desire to get her married with a cousin and other close relatives following Arab customs and traditions. A woman’s non-Saudi mother may wish to have a conjugal relationship with the son of her uncle. She may be a matured and highly educated woman and did not receive any suitable proposal from Saudis.

Another potential reason is that the woman would be divorced and had children, factors that sadly reduce a woman’s attractiveness to get married in our society. Marriage with a foreigner may also occur after falling in love with a co-worker or a college mate and it’s Allah Almighty who creates love between men and women.

In any case, it’s a true marriage based on the Qur’an and Sunnah fulfilling the required conditions. As long the spouses are happy and satisfied with the relationship no one is allowed to separate them and no one is allowed to make their life difficult.

Women are more attached to their land and nation, and the mother is the one who nourishes good habits, traditions, values ??and patriotism along with her milk. Her wards will be closer to the values ??of society than others. There lies the answer to those who fear naturalization would change the country’s demography. We are not discussing about the Aryans in Nazi Germany but about Muslims and Arabs.

Another argument is that such marriages would contribute to increasing unemployment among Saudis. Those who make this argument forget that granting citizenship is a human right, which may be subject to specific conditions such as religion, language or years of residency, but should not be subject to changing market situation and economic problems.

The government has given justice to women by allowing them to drive. I am sure it’s capable of putting an end to the suffering of Saudi women by giving security and safety to their sons by granting them citizenship without considering their father's nationality. Citizenship must be granted to all citizens — both men and women — without discrimination.


URL: http://newageislam.com/world-press/new-age-islam-edit-bureau/can-the-‘hunter’-bring-peace-to-northern-iraq?--new-age-islam-s-selection,-november-1,-2017/d/113095


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