New Age Islam Edit Bureau
30 October 2017
Palestinian reconciliation ...
Complicity in the sexual abuse
of women is built in to the heart of our politics
Stop letting powerful men
silence victims with confidentiality agreements
Little value of human Life
Daily Star Net
destruction of a heritage site
Prolonging the Rohingya crisis
will work to China's disadvantage
Egypt’s capital expenditure is
in the wrong place
How Israel exports its
oppression to America
What is behind Iran's war on the
Syria: Should Astana
negotiations be expanded?
Compiled by New Age Islam Edit
Gender equality still a far cry
By Hala Al-Qahtani Al-Watan
on the waves in the shores of oceans is not an art that can be done by anyone,
but it’s a skill and passion that requires hard work and continuous training to
learn how to stand up on surfboard with balance before thinking about riding
the waves. Repeated attempts will make a person a professional surfer.
know that an official would not be able to achieve his department’s objectives
by just placing the vision slogan on the walls of his office. We have seen that
the slogan will be something and the reality on the ground will be something
not deny that in the last few years most ministries in the Kingdom have changed
their policies and programs to improve their performance but some of them
announced the results of those changes before achieving their goals.
ministry can achieve its objectives without focusing on the size and strength
of its human resources, without knowing their strengths and weaknesses and
without making use of their wasted energies through reforms. Measures should be
taken to improve the condition of employees through financial incentives and
providing them with peace of mind to perform their tasks efficiently with
official should expect excellent performance of employees by placing the
vision’s banner in every corner of the company. It is also inappropriate for a
minister to inaugurate a program or project that was already inaugurated by a
former minister. For example, we know very well that former health minister Dr.
Abdullah Al-Rabeeah launched the first phase of the Health Service Center (937)
in 2013. About seven months ago, the new health minister inaugurated the same
center after it was shifted to a new building.
the publicity campaign, the media should have mentioned that the ministry has developed
an existing service center instead of giving the impression that it was
altogether a new project initiated by the new minister. The media should have
explained the new facilities and services offered by the center to win public
satisfaction. This is essential to remove doubts about new projects.
week, we read the news of justice minister inaugurating commercial courts. We
know such courts existed in the Kingdom for decades. I wish the ministry of
justice had clarified the aspects of modernization it introduced on commercial
courts to prevent sending a wrong message to society and the world that such
courts were launched for the first time in the country.
and government departments have been competing with one another in appointing
women to leadership positions without considering whether their specializations
and professional experience matched the ministry's nature of work. There is no
explanation for this wrong trend except giving prominence to women having
social weight. The ministries and departments believed that the placement of
these women would enhance their reputation and they did not specify the
responsibilities of these women leaders. Some departments have justified
appointment of women as part of efforts to realize Vision 2030. But most of
these women are inexperienced like surfers who do not know how to venture into
the last two years Saudi Arabia has been working to achieve the 17 sustainable
development goals (SDGs) adopted by world leaders in 2015. The goals are as
follows: 1. No poverty 2. Zero hunger 3. Good health and well-being 4. Quality
education 5. Gender equality 6. Clean water and sanitation 7. Affordable and
clean energy 8. Decent work and economic growth 9. Industry, innovation and
infrastructure 10. Reduced inequalities 11. Sustainable cities and communities
12. Responsible consumption and production 13. Climate action 14. Life below
water 15. Life on land 16. Peace, justice and strong institutions and 17.
Partnerships for the goals.
SDGs include gender equality in jobs, salaries and other civil rights. Saudi
Arabia agreed to realize this objective and it has been working in this
direction. If the ministries had understood these goals well, they would have
appointed highly qualified and experienced women in such leadership positions.
the wave requires professionalism, courage and quick thinking and action. Not
just placing the vision slogan on office walls. We know that many officials who
have decorated their offices with vision slogan have refused to recognize that
female employees have the same right to training and salary like their male
of these officials also refuse to accept that women’s work in a mixed
atmosphere represents lack of decency and that begging in the street is better
for them than working with men to earn a decent living. Those officials who
have such thoughts would drown in an inch of water even if they pretend
By Hussein Shobokshi
the Palestinians reconcile with Fatah and Hamas agreeing to unite. I do not
know how many times have they joined forces but the important aspect is they
are reconciling. Egypt had put all its political weight and pressed the parties
to reach a settlement. Now everyone has his hand on his heart for fear of
failure of this agreement as many of the earlier agreements on rapprochement
has failed. The situation of Palestinian inter-factional conflict is a sad
picture of the most important and noblest issue in the Arab world.
of talking about salvation from occupation, the talk was about trying to find a
solution between the fighting Palestinian forces. I do not know anyone who
would appreciate and imagine the extent of pain and suffering of the
Palestinians, who are bearing the great injustices of the Israeli occupation.
But it is also necessary to recall here the political folly committed by the
Palestinian leadership and the high cost the Palestinians have paid.
foolishness and mistakes began since the sin of Black September and the
attempted coup against the regime in Jordan, followed by the biggest folly in
Lebanon, which was the cause of the outbreak of civil war, and then belonging
to the Assad regime (the criminal regime that killed Palestinians more than
Israel camp wars in Lebanon).
the Palestinian leadership did not dare to condemn this, and only denounced the
massacre of Sabra and Shatila and accused Israel and the Lebanese battalions.
After this black history of the Assad regime and its allies, the follies of
political Palestinian continued with Hamas joining Hezbollah and Iran.
continued its political follies to cooperate with the coup regime in Qatar, by
becoming a tool for it, and antagonizing the Egyptian government, which
historically has provided the Palestinians support. Egyptian soldiers have been
wounded and martyred over the years in Palestine battles more than Qatarâ€™s
population itself. Hamas has not only resorted to political hooliganism, but
has dealt explicitly with terrorist factions to kill Egyptian soldiers in the
Sinai and to smuggle arms. Over the past years, some Palestinian factions have
been tools in the hands of crazy rulers and regimes such as Muammar Qaddafi,
Bashar Al-Assad and Saddam Hussein.
factions have been employed to carry out the dirtiest of operations. This has
harmed the Palestinian cause and the Palestinian people. Today it is seen in
their promotion to the Palestinian people that Qatar and Assad and Hassan
Nasrallah and Iran are allies, while Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the UAE are its
enemies, and this act is not innocent. It is clear today the biggest enemy of
the Palestinian cause is the Palestinian political foolishness that has cost
the noblest issue dear.
described before, no one can imagine the magnitude of the suffering and the
injustice inflicted on the Palestinian people under a brutal, unjust and bloody
occupation. But there is moral and humanitarian responsibility for the
Palestinian politicians to bear and recognize that they have become a
contributor in a clear tragedy of the Palestinian people. It is no longer
believable when they blame others. Perhaps, this latest reconciliation between
the Palestinian factions is a last chance, for if the Palestinian politicians
do not fully understand their interests and priorities, no one else would.
article was first published in the Saudi Gazette on October 29, 2017.
Hussein Shobokshi is a Businessman and prominent
columnist. Shobokshi hosts the weekly current affairs program Al Takreer on Al
Arabiya, and in 1995, he was chosen as one of the “Global Leaders for Tomorrow”
by the World Economic Forum. He received his B.A. in Political Science and Management
from the University of Tulsa. His twitter handle is @husseinshoboksh.
By Suzanne Moore
enormous effort to enter the modern age, Westminster and much of the
sycophantic media that buoys it up appears to have progressed to the 1970s.
While the rest of us are discussing rape, sexual assault and sexual harassment
in every workplace following the Weinstein “revelations”, in the parallel world
of politics there is talk of “sex pests”, “high jinks” and the pathetic nature
of women who cannot bat away clumsy passes.
way that senior Tories and the provisional wing of the Mens’ Rights Movement
that is called the Today programme deals with all this, precisely reveals the
structural nature of the problem. Michael Gove thought he could go on BBC Radio
4 and make a joke about Weinstein who, let’s not forget, has been accused of
rape. Then this morning, the Today programme has Anne Robinson talking of the
“fragility of the women who are unable to deal with the treachery of the
what is emerging is the incredible tenacity of many female politicians and
staff who have worked in an environment in which when a woman stands up to
speak, men make gestures about breasts. This has long been considered “just the
way it is”. I was astonished even in 2005 to bump into David Davis, currently
doing a turn as Britain’s top cheeky diplomat, walking around Tory party
conference with women wearing T-shirts with “It’s DD for me” emblazoned across
their chests. Hilarious?
first went to Westminster, I was told, as many female journalists were, to wear
a short skirt, stand in the central lobby and catch the eye of male MPs if I
wanted to get “a story”. I didn’t, nor did I understand the culture of
archaic ways of the Palace of Westminster are well-known. Many become so
institutionalised, including the embedded lobby journalists, that they are not
questioned. So researchers, staff, assistants are all subject to harassment by
men whose “wives don’t understand them” or with whom they don’t live most of
the time. Contrary to Robinson’s position, this is not just about the
“fragility” of women. Young men too are harassed by men.
resigned air – that there will always be ambitious young people and those in
power over them, rather like the film industry – is not enough of a response.
Theresa May’s attempt to establish an independent mediation service following
calls from John Mann and Sarah Champion is necessary. But there is already
legislation against sexual harassment in the workplace, though it is incredibly
hard to deal with when coming from your boss in a small office. Fears of not
working again are real. But this is crunch time. More action is needed.
the prime minister may have to sack some of her own ministers. By referring
wrongdoing to the Cabinet Office, Labour has accused her of washing her hands
of the affair. Surely Stephen Crabb, who sent explicit text messages to a
19-year-old who came for a interview, and the dildo collector Mark Garnier, who
asked his secretary to buy sex toys, will have to go. Of course, allegations
will emerge about Labour MPs too and the Liberal Democrats have their baggage
that was never dealt with properly. Think of the allegations against Lord
lists currently circulating, the Benny Hill language in which harassment is
described as “handsy with women at parties”, none of this is exactly a
revelation to anyone who has been near Westminster and its bars. Indeed the
opposite is true. It has been so acceptable, so much part of this environment,
that this information is known and used by party whips to keep these harassers
Perrior, once May’s head of communications, said that this information was kept
away from the prime minister but used to enforce party discipline. In other
words, information about the abuse of women is used for the benefit of the
party: “You will vote in a certain way or we will tell your wife what you’ve
been up to.” Complicity with such abuse of power is built into this system.
long, long time certain men have taken such complicity for granted. But
something is changing. Women are speaking out. These men are not sex “pests”,
they are elected representatives exploiting their positions of power. If
disrespect for women is tolerated at the heart of government, it will be
tolerated everywhere. Who wants to live in such a place?
• Suzanne Moore is a Guardian columnist
By Brad Hoylman
day seemingly brings new revelations about Harvey Weinstein’s three decades of
alleged sexual assaults, harassment and sleazy come-ons. As the victims continue
to stream forward, we’re left wondering: how did he get away with it for so
thing seems clear. Ultimately, if not for the bravery of his victims coming
forward, Weinstein, who has denied allegations made against him, would have
least eight of the dozens of women he allegedly harassed not only had to endure
the terror, confusion and humiliation as a consequence of Weinstein’s
misconduct, but also were convinced to sign agreements drafted to protect
Weinstein’s reputation by keeping them quiet. In consideration, they received
hush money, but in the process they signed away important legal protections
against sexual harassment in the workplace.
is acquired. But at what cost? Silence begets more silence, giving predators the
license to prey on new victims with little or no consequence. At the same time,
accusers who speak up are ousted through settlements, often leaving their
unknowing colleagues behind to become victims themselves.
This vicious cycle must stop.
it comes to sexual assault and harassment, there should be no such thing as an
open secret. Confidentiality agreements can play a legitimate role in business,
protecting intellectual property, strategy and finances, but they should never
be used to cover up illegal behavior like we’re seeing alleged in the Weinstein
case. Moreover, employees should never be forced to sign away their rights.
After all, what’s the point of strong labor laws if employees can’t take
advantage of them?
is certainly not the first powerful executive to prey on his employees. Nor is
he the first to silence employees who threaten to reveal his incriminating and
abusive behavior. As we’ve seen most recently with Roger Ailes and Bill
O’Reilly, non-disclosure agreements serve to institutionalize labor abuses at
workplaces and allow employers to sweep allegations of wrongdoing under the
Weinstein and Fox News, both located in my senate district, settlement payouts
seem to have been the cost of doing business.
response, I’m introducing legislation in New York to ensure alleged predators
like Weinstein, Ailes and O’Reilly can no longer negotiate the silence of their
victims. Under my legislation, which I carry with Queens assemblywoman Nily
Rozic, contracts that conceal abuse or waive an employee’s legal rights or
remedies relating to a claim of discrimination, retaliation, or harassment
would be deemed “unconscionable, void and unenforceable”.
long as we allow the Harvey Weinsteins of the world to pay off victims in exchange
for silence, we leave all employees vulnerable. Eliminating shady
confidentiality clauses would help ensure fair labor standards, prevent
workplace hazards and misconduct, and protect employee rights.
agreements with confidentiality clauses are another example of the power
imbalance that fuels sexual harassment in the workplace. They serve predators
and facilitators – and no one else.
system that too often vilifies victims and harbors powerful abusers at the
expense of the safety and rights of employees, New York must declare once and
for all that we won’t accept “open secrets” as the norm in any industry.
Senator Brad Hoylman is a Democrat representing
Manhattan in the New York state senate
The Daily Star Net
what is sadly, no longer a surprising incident, Aziza, a student of class V,
was allegedly set on fire over the allegation of stealing a mobile phone in
Khainput village, Shibpur upazila, Narsingdi, on Friday night. She died at
Dhaka Medical College Hospital (DMCH) on Saturday morning. Aziza Begum was set
on fire allegedly by her aunt for ostensibly "stealing a mobile
killers of Aziza have been rightly condemned by a parliamentary body that
suggested that the government ensure exemplary punishment for them. The
promptness in acknowledgement and condemnation of the incident is admirable.
However, acknowledgement and condemnation are no longer doing enough to change
the situation. In line with the parliamentary body's suggestion, we would also
like to insist on an exemplary punishment for Aziza's killers. However, it is
not only Aziza that has suffered this fate. The Daily Star reported an arrest
of two people on October 27, at Char Shafipur Haat of Barisal's Muladi for
torturing a boy accusing him of, again, "stealing a mobile
phone". Heinous incidents such as
this should have no place in society.
against children has become rampant in Bangladesh. Aziza's death is a testament
to how little society has come to value life.
In addition to strengthening rules and laws, we must also ask ourselves
what values are we promoting in society that assigns such little value to human
life? It is unacceptable that a society where things are valued more than
people is perpetuated. We hope that Aziza's killers are duly punished and
simultaneously zero tolerance of abuse of children, the most vulnerable in
society, is practised. In turn, ethical codes that allow us to assign
appropriate value to human life should be instilled in our moral compass.
By Adnan Morshed
yourself in the year 1905. Governor General Lord Curzon has just implemented
the Partition of Bengal. Curzon Hall and the Supreme Court were yet to be
Bengal was predominantly rural, mostly a collection of villages. Not much was
going on in this part of Bengal. The areas around present day Farmgate, Indira
Road and Agargaon were predominantly vast tracts of paddy fields with almost no
buildings. This was the northern fringe of the city.
that rural landscape, a two storied red brick colonial building was built, to
house scientific agricultural research. This building later became known as
"Khamarbari". The building was not as spectacular as Curzon Hall or
the Supreme Court. Yet, the building's historic significance lay in heralding
not only the beginning of institutionalised scientific research on agriculture,
but also a culture of research in general in East Bengal. Lest we forget, the
establishment of the University of Dhaka was still 15 years away (it was
established in 1921).
is the site of many agricultural innovations. Among many other innovations, the
paddy "Najirshail" was invented here. The building's architectural
features include characteristic colonial red brick, verandas that serve as
transitional spaces between the indoor and the outdoor, oblong multi-bay plan,
and many other details derived from both Mughal and European architectural
the Public Works Department (PWD) has claimed that the building was unsafe and
its structural integrity compromised. Without any expert consultation, the PWD
unilaterally decided that the building should face the wrecker's ball. Despite
a massive public outcry and protest from heritage advocacy groups, design
professionals, environmentalist and civil society members, the demolition crews
started to take down the building brick by brick.
is outrageous and unacceptable. A nation that is not sensitive to its heritage
is a nation suffering from cultural poverty. Culturally rich cities around the
world are preserving their cultural patrimony with utmost care. A building may
not be architecturally spectacular but it may present rich histories of a
nation's evolution. Any sensible community will preserve heritage buildings as
a way to showcase the people's progress.
abound. Consider New York City's High Line Project. The High Line presents a
fascinating story. It was an elevated freight train track, built in the late
1920s in Manhattan, New York City. The elevated track allowed freight trains to
bring goods from the port to the warehouses in downtown Manhattan. In the
1980s, the nature of storing goods in the city changed. The train track was
soon abandoned. In the early 2000s, the city decided to knock it down as it was
deemed unsafe and a hindrance to new development. But the local community, led
by two enlightened activists, organised an all-out campaign to preserve this industrial
relic, even though it was not a spectacular piece infrastructure or
design competition was organised and New Yorkers soon witnessed the birth of a
beautiful, elevated urban park. Today, the High Line Project is one of the most
visited sites in New York city.
Bangladesh we have failed on multiple heritage frontiers. We failed to identify
what is important culturally, socially and aesthetically. When it comes to
heritage preservation in this country, we live in an absurdly bureaucratised
world of mindless list-making. If a building is on the list, the building
lives. If it is not, it dies. What are the criteria for making that list in the
first place? Who make that list and based on what?
need a sea change in how we deal with our cultural history. A body of historic
preservation experts, comprising members from various disciplines, should
research, deliberate, and present a reasoned policy to the public forum as to
why certain buildings deserve to be preserved for the present and the future.
the civil society, strongly condemn the barbaric destruction of Khamarbari
which, not only pioneered scientific agricultural research during the Bengal
Partition but also offered an architectural gateway, Farmgate, to a vast
experimental agricultural zone in the city.
destruction of Khamarbari is no less a cultural suicide. When will we ever
learn from history?
Morshed, PhD, is an architect, architectural historian, and urbanist, and
currently serving as Chairperson of the Department of Architecture at BRAC
University. He is the author of Impossible Heights: Skyscrapers, Flight, and
the Master Builder (2015) and Oculus: A Decade of Insights in Bangladeshi
Affairs (2012). He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Samiur Rahman Bhuiyan and Tasmia Kamal Proma who teach at the Department of
Architecture, BRAC University contributed in this article.
By Ruby Amatulla
Rohingya crisis, if not resolved soon, may haunt the entire Southeast Asian
region. And China is a critical player in all this. It is in China's best
interest as well as that of the region to bring about a sustainable conflict
resolution without losing any time.
the ARSA resistance gains momentum and links up with international terrorist
networks there would be a real threat of radicalisation in this region. The
difficult terrain of mountains and forests is most suitable to sustain
long-term guerilla warfare both against Myanmar and China, and that would be
extremely costly to endure. Prominent military generals have conceded that
there is no military solution to neutralising radicalised groups. The
deep-rooted issues that give rise to them must be addressed.
past is any reference, ignoring the causes of radicalisation has fuelled the
conflicts in Afghanistan, Iraq and the Middle East. Since 9/11, instead of
addressing the grievances and injustices, the Western powers undertook a
military strategy called the War on Terror to quell rebellion. The strategy has
failed even after spending hundreds of billions of dollars for over a decade.
Terrorism has increased many folds since then.
has proved that a conflict resolution is the most powerful deterrent against
radicalisation and violence. As the previously conflicting groups came together
to establish a functioning democracy, a polarised and confrontational society
became more pluralistic and tolerant. The case of neighbouring Nepal is an
example of that constructive process and so is El Salvador in the 1990s. The
Balkans have a similar story.
is the biggest stakeholder in this turmoil. A radicalised region is going to be
a major roadblock for China's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) as well as to maintain
the gas-oil pipelines carrying 80 percent of China's imports that come from the
Middle East and Africa.
peaceful, stable region nothing short of a comprehensive approach is going to
work. That means Myanmar should take Rohingyas back, giving them full
citizenship status, respecting their rights and dignity under the supervision
of the international community. Rohingyas need to be rehabilitated, their homes
rebuilt and their lives restored.
isolated terrorist attacks were used as an excuse to commit crimes against
humanity and unleash a campaign of ethnic cleansing on the entire Rohingya
population. Satellite imageries have confirmed that many areas of Rakhine were
burned to ashes. Countless Rohingyas have lost everything they had. The horrible
tales of torture and persecution, family members being killed in front of their
very eyes and babies thrown into fire in front of mothers, have been echoed
from one end of the vast refugee camps to the other.
crisis indeed is going to be a stain on the leadership of China and other
countries for a long time to come. Even a drop of conscience should compel
Chinese policymakers to act responsibly for about one million
refugees—according to the most recent UN assessment—are living in dire and desperate
conditions in Bangladesh, a poor country itself.
back, when Rakhine residents including Rohingyas revealed the damages they
faced due to the Chinese gas-oil pipeline project (from Rakhine to Yunnan
province of China), had China given the local residents fair compensation for
the expropriated lands for China's pipeline project, things might have turned
out differently. The compensations for Rakhine residents would have been only a
tiny fraction of the enormous benefit China would receive every year by
bringing in gas and oil through Rakhine instead of through the distant Strait
of Malacca and the risky South China Sea.
stable and developed Rakhine would have been conducive to China's expressed
greater vision of the regional developments in which China would remain an
indispensable and dominant player. The possibility of a win-win state of
affairs was nipped in the bud. Now, a costly quagmire in the form of a mega
humanitarian crisis has emerged.
costly can it become? China does not need to go far to look for an answer. The
story of Vietnam is good enough. More than half a century ago, if America had
spent USD 500 million to help build the infrastructure of Vietnam (then an
American ally) after the World War II devastation, and addressed the economic
crisis the Vietnamese were facing, as was suggested by an expert and American
official posted then in Vietnam and as Ho Chi Minh himself was eager to work
with America at that time, the entire Vietnam war could have been avoided.
Instead, the American leadership abandoned the path of helping others who
needed it most—the path advocated both by President Woodrow Wilson in the 1920s
and Franklin D Roosevelt in the 1940s to help build a peaceful and progressive
world—and embarked on a path of prejudice, cynicism and military confrontation.
The vigorous persuasion of the vested interests, the military industrial
complex, and the neoconservatives using fear-mongering has helped derail the
decision-making process of the superpower. The consequence: a futile war that
took about 55,000 American lives, killed over one million people in the region,
and cost American taxpayers 2,000 times (USD 1 trillion in 2011 valuation) that
of the meagre USD 500 million that was to be given to help Vietnam. The trust
and political capital that this sum of money could have earned at that time
would have brought about new heights of America's position in the world and a
paradigm shift in our time. A golden opportunity was squandered in the early
1950s, which, if used, could have brought the Cold War to an end much sooner.
Moreover, it could have achieved many of the foreign policy goals at the
fraction of the price the US paid later.
is the price for deviating from principles, for ignoring the sufferings of a
people, and for having the arrogance to think that military power is going to
fix everything. China and Myanmar today have a lot to learn from America's
Ruby Amatulla is Executive Director of the
US-based Muslims for Peace, Justice and Progress, and the Bangladesh-based
Women for Good Governance.
By Mohammed Nosseir
decision to build a new administrative capital has been condemned not only by
citizens who are emotionally attached to the historical capital, Cairo, but
also by urban development experts. Building the new city (planned to be
approximately twice the size of Cairo) will not only devour a significant part
of the national budget, it is also an expression of the government’s vision and
the way it is using the budget to replace historic buildings (the parliament,
cabinet office, mosques, churches, etc.) with new premises distinguished only
by their size.
the Egyptian people’s morale is the justification often offered by the
government for projects that fail to measure up to initial expectations. The
question is, should the government be working on raising the morale of a nation
where over a quarter of the population is living below the poverty line, or
should it reallocate its budget to the critical needs of Egyptians, such as
health care and education?
a nation is wealthy or poor is of little importance when it comes to being
mature concerning investment and expenditure policies. A developing nation that
is by default overwhelmed by plenty of challenges should give much thought to
its return on investment before undertaking any project, prioritizing its
expenditures based on its citizens’ real and immediate needs. We should have
raised the question of whether developing a new luxury city for a tiny wealthy
minority is essential, or whether it would be better to allocate the money to
meeting some of the needs of the deprived majority of Egyptians.
Egypt builds a new administrative capital, 45 kilometers from downtown Cairo,
most advanced nations have been working on offering public services online to
reduce the number of their government employees. Egypt’s seven million
government employees (roughly a third of the national workforce) are known for
their low productivity and modest earnings. Do we expect them to move to the
new luxury administrative city, or does the government intend to further expand
the ranks of its employees by hiring more?
Egypt, we tend to focus on the cherry on top of the cake without truly
considering the quality of the cake itself, convinced that the cherry alone
will attract enough customers. The inauguration of a luxury hotel in the new
administrative capital while the city is still under construction is an example
of this tendency. Our nation is blessed with hundreds of kilometers of seafront
and a river over 1,000km long; if we want to build a luxury hotel, it should
obviously be where tourists and businessmen will be eager to stay — on the
banks of the Nile or on one of our many beachfronts.
developing nations are not destined to remain so for decades — if they make the
correct choices. We are working to run away from the fabulous historic city of
Cairo by building a new isolated city in the desert, based on a single
proposition: “size matters.” Egypt has a serious overpopulation challenge that
needs to be addressed by substantially reducing the number of births, not by
building new cities. We tend to run away from our challenges by creating
something new (and less attractive), ignoring our invaluable assets.
is blessed with countless resources; before constructing a new isolated city,
the government needs to think of how to maximize the use of these resources.
Constantly thinking of developing something new while ignoring our historical
venues is clear proof of shortsightedness. The Egyptian government should set
an example by its investment choices, ensure the transparency of public
projects and engage its citizens constructively in all its forthcoming ventures
Mohammed Nosseir, a liberal politician from Egypt,
is a strong advocate of political participation and economic freedom. Twitter:
Call time on the charade of
By Chris Doyle
all its extraordinary efforts, the current Israeli coalition has yet to kill
off talk of a two-state solution, a Palestinian state and peace deals. Even
President Donald Trump still refers to this, as of course do pesky irritating
far, the message has not sunk in internationally, even after the transfer of
600,000 Israeli civilians into more than 150 illegal settlements or the
annexation of occupied East Jerusalem. Belief was not killed off by the
segmentation of the Occupied Territories into Gaza, East Jerusalem, Areas A, B,
C, H1, H2, and the seam zone. The massive wall that severs the overwhelming
majority of the settlements from the rest of the West Bank and effectively
annexes them was still not enough to wake up the international community from
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu believes that the Trump administration offers
a gigantic opportunity to push hopes for peace even more into the realm of
fantasy politics. His latest anti-peace torpedoes focus on occupied Jerusalem
Netanyahu has also now backed a three-pronged assault on Jerusalem, somehow
finding a little bit more space in the peace process coffin to bang a few more
Netanyahu publicly endorses the Greater Jerusalem annexation bill. This would
entail the annexation to Jerusalem of 19 Israeli settlements with 150,000
settlers, who would then be allowed to vote in Jerusalem elections. These would
be in addition to those already built in east Jerusalem.
does this matter? Consider first that Israel has not done this since 1967 when
it annexed 70 sq km to Jerusalem. In five decades since every Prime Minister
bar none built and expanded settlements, but none dared to do this, not even
are not just random settlements. They include the city settlements of Ma’ale
Adummim, Beitar Illit and Giva’at Ze’ev. In fact, it is in effect three major
settlement blocs as it includes the settlement authorities.
of the settlements are not even contiguous with the Green Line let alone the
illegally expanded borders of the city. Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor
Lieberman may be happy as his settlement at Nokdim will be annexed even though
it lies well inside the West Bank, south-east of Bethlehem.
these blocs to Jerusalem would not be annexation to Israel itself but the
difference is minimal. It is annexation in all but name.
second prong of this assault is perhaps even more insidious, involving ethnic
gerrymandering. Three Palestinian communities in Jerusalem, Kufr Aqab, Anata
and Shuafat refugee camp, would no longer be considered part of Jerusalem, the
municipality no longer providing services. This was already barely happening in
any event as even though all the residents pay Jerusalem taxes, because they
live on the other wide of the wall for the most part they do not benefit from
Jerusalem services such as garbage collection.
life in these communities is akin to a dead zone. Kafr Aqab has not received a
single building permit since 2001. Shuafat refugee camp, the only one inside
Jerusalem, is a lawless zone, unpoliced by Israeli forces and outside the
Palestinian Authority’s jurisdiction. In fact, criminals and drug dealers from
PA areas flee there for refuge.
could mean over 120,000 Palestinians would be disenfranchised, having their
voting rights forcibly taken from them. They cannot vote in any national
election. They would have no resources and practically no economic life.
law’s author was clear about the racist intent. In the words of the Knesset
Member Yoav Katz from Netanyahu’s Likud party, the aim is “to strengthen
Jerusalem by adding thousands of Jewish residents to the city and
simultaneously weakening the Arab hold on the capital.” It is demographic re-engineering
of the city carried out physically with settlements and by planning,
essentially redrawing the boundaries for the supposed benefit of Jews over
third nail is an amendment to the Jerusalem Basic Law. It would change the law
so there would need to be a special majority of 80 out of 120 in the Knesset to
transfer any part of Jerusalem to a foreign entity.
latest assault on hopes for peace has been put on hold, but not canceled. The
Israeli government says it has to “coordinate” with the US. Pressure from
Washington appears to have brought this about. The European Union has said
little in public but private pressure was mounted. Yet this may only be a brief
lull, not least as Israel may yet proceed imminently with some of the changes,
even if diluted.
need to call time on this charade. Israel’s claims to be a democracy, always
weak, would be shredded by the attempt to give more votes to one ethnicity, the
“Jews,” and take them away from another, the “Arabs.”
Israeli government does not want peace, does not want a Palestinian state and
will not share this land. The international community needs to adapt to this
• 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
By Ramzy Baroud
footprints are becoming more apparent in the US security apparatus, which does
not bode well for ordinary Americans.
Senate Bill S.720 should have been a wake-up call. The legislation drafted by
the Israel lobby group, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC),
would punish any individual or company that boycotts Israel with a fine of up
to $1 million and up to 20 years in jail. Although political boycott has been
sanctioned by the US Supreme Court, the Congress wants to make a boycott of
Israel the exception, even it means the subversion of US democracy.
protests are muted. Hundreds of elected representatives have endorsed the Bill,
but the mainstream US media has not taken them. Criticizing Israel is taboo in
the US, where the Congress is beholden to lobby pressures and kickbacks, and
where the media’s script on the illegal Israeli military occupation of
Palestine is even less critical than Israel’s own media.
the infiltration of the US government is not new. It is only becoming more
emboldened, because there are too few critical voices capable of creating a
semblance of balance or a serious debate.
years, ordinary US citizens were far removed from the discussion on Israel and
Palestine. The subject felt alien, marred by Hollywood propaganda, religious
misconception and the lack of any understanding of history. But in recent years
Israel has become an integral part of American life, even if most people do not
spot the Israeli influence.
the aftermath of 9/11, Israel seized on its decades-long experience as an
occupying force to brand itself as a world leader in counter-terrorism,” Alice
Speri wrote in the Intercept. This has earned Israeli security firms billions
of dollars, exploiting American fear of terrorism while presenting Israel as a
successful model for fighting it.
such as AIPAC, the Anti-Defamation League and the Jewish Institute for National
Security Affairs are involved in turning US police forces into militarized
units similar to the Israeli police.
occupying power, Israel has blurred the lines between the police and the army.
In areas such as occupied East Jerusalem, both behave in a similar way. They
shoot to kill on the slightest provocation or suspicion, sometimes for no
reason at all.
past two decades, hundreds of US federal agents and thousands of police
officers have received training in Israel or through seminars and workshops
organized on Israel’s behalf. Alex Vitale, an author and a Brooklyn College
professor of sociology, said: “A lot of the policing that folks are observing
and being talked to about on these trips is policing that happens in a
“non-democratic context” involves the humiliation and often outright murder of
Palestinians. Instead of pressuring Israel to end its occupation, the US
government is bringing Israeli “expertise” to its own cities. Indeed, many US
police officers look more like an occupying force than one sworn to protect the
is exporting its occupation tactics to the US, with Israeli military
contractors opening subsidiaries across the country, promoting their
surveillance technologies, walls, border monitoring equipment and violent
Israeli-owned defense company, Elta North America, was paid $500,000 to produce
a prototype for the wall that President Donald Trump wants to build along the
one of his main pledges during the election campaign, and Israel was the first
to support it.
Trump is right. I built a wall along Israel’s southern border. It stopped all
illegal immigration. Great success. Great idea,” Prime Minister Benjamin
Netanyahu said. His support of Trump angered Mexico and many Americans, but
Netanyahu knew only too well that there was money to be made in the years
US border security is already a major source of revenue for Israeli companies.
For example, Elbit Systems was awarded a $145 million contract by the Obama
administration to provide surveillance equipment and build towers along the
Arizona/Sonora US-Mexico border.
was also a subcontractor to Boeing in 2006 for the Department of Homeland
Security’s initiative to secure US land borders.
Security Systems, the Israeli company that has helped the Israeli military to
tighten the siege on Gaza, is also involved in the burgeoning US security
industry, and was one of the first companies to pitch building Trump’s wall.
oppression is now the model through which the US plans to police its cities,
monitor its borders and define its relationship with its neighbors. But the
fact is that Israeli walls are not meant for defense, but rather to annex
Palestinian and Arab land, while feeding its own national phobia of threats all
the imprudent and violent US response to the 9/11 attacks has contributed to
American fears of the rest of the world, Trump’s isolationist policies pave the
perfect ground for further Israeli infiltration of American government and
evidence of all of this can now be found in US cities, along its borders and in
the surveillance systems that have the potential to monitor every US citizen.
• Ramzy Baroud is a journalist, author and editor
of Palestine Chronicle. His forthcoming book is “The Last Earth: A Palestinian
Story” (Pluto Press, London). Twitter: @RamzyBaroud
What is behind Iran's war on
By Massoumeh Torfeh
October 25, the BBC sent an official complaint to the United Nations over the
persecution which the staff of its Persian service face in Iran. A criminal
investigation has been launched against 152 former and current BBC staff for
"conspiracy against national security". In August, a court ordered
the freezing of assets of the 152 individuals and their families.
Iranian authorities have harassed, insulted and intimidated staff of the BBC
Persian service for almost 40 years, often accused of being spies for the
sustained campaign has no justification whatsoever in the present day but its
roots could be traced in the role that the BBC used to play as a propaganda
tool during World War II and the early days of the Cold War.
of the British Foreign Office reveal how in December 1940 when BBC's Persian
radio first came on air they were part of the British strategy to counter Nazi
propaganda. The broadcasts in Persian included texts written by the British
intelligence directly targeting the then shah of Iran, Reza Pahlavi, who was
suspected of supporting Adolf Hitler's expansionist plans in Asia. The
broadcasts which are said to have led to the downfall of Reza Shah criticised
his "dictatorial" methods and advocated republicanism.
Majesty's Government now agreed that the BBC might begin to give various
broadcasts in Persian which had been prepared beforehand, starting with talks
on Constitutional Government and increasing in strength and colour until all
Reza Shah's mismanagement, greed and cruelty were displayed to the public
gaze," one document stated.
in the late 1940s and early 1950s when the diplomatic crisis over the
nationalisation of Iranian oil came to a head, BBC Persian broadcasts were used
to discredit the popular prime minister of Iran, Mohammad Mossadeq. In March
1951, when the nationalisation was carried out, he was portrayed as "a
misguided and often purblind patriot whose distinct demagogy, his single-minded
obstinacy and his total lack of construction ideas" had caused the crisis.
episodes had a lasting impact on the collective memory of Iranians towards the
BBC Persian. But two points should be noted here: First, that the Islamic
Republic has no affinity with either Reza Shah or Dr Mossadeq. Second, in the
decades following the Mossadeq affair, the BBC gradually changed and by the
time the popular uprising against Iranian Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi started in
1978, it was looking to cover events in the country objectively.
the conspiracy theorists in Iran, led by the Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, still
regard the BBC as an instrument of British political machinations
lie-broadcasting BBC channel funded by English intelligence services is aiming
to interfere in Iran's internal affairs and this requires vigilance of the
revolutionary forces," said the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) when BBC
Persian TV went on air.
the authorities have conveniently forgotten that it was the BBC Persian
broadcasts during the two years prior to the Iranian revolution of 1979 that
first aired their demands from the shah's regime.
have forgotten how they benefitted from BBC's independent reporting when
despite mounting pressure from both Iran and the UK governments not to air an
interview with the leader of the revolution, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the
BBC decided to go ahead with it.
that reason, the shah called the BBC his "number one enemy" in the
final months of 1978, demanding the Foreign Office to close the section down.
documents have revealed that the complaints were transmitted by Sir Anthony
Parsons, the then UK Ambassador in Iran, who argued that the broadcasts had
enraged the shah "an important British friend in the region".
BBC remained adamant that its reporting on the revolution must continue.
Several prominent supporters of the shah presiding in the UK bombarded the BBC
Persian service became a highly debated topic in the Foreign Office with many
agreeing with Parsons that the service should be closed and others including
the then Foreign Secretary, David Owen, saying the BBC should be allowed to
operate independently. The latter argued that the long-term interests of
Britain lay in allowing the BBC to be independent and trusted as a world
the Iranian revolution, the BBC has had difficulty sustaining an office in Iran
and keeping its Iranian staff out of harm's way. It has complained of
harassment to the authorities on several occasions but without any result.
the protests of 2009, which the BBC covered extensively, harassment against its
staff has increased exponentially.
complaint the network filed with the UN details "multiple ongoing
infringements of the BBC Persian staff's right to freedom of opinion, movement
and expression". It also states that measures being imposed on its staff
and their families potentially "engage a wide range of rights under
general international law and international human rights".
documents several cases of harassment of its staff such as how the sister of a
journalist was held in Evin prison for 17 days and forced to plead with the
journalist via Skype to stop working for the BBC or spy on colleagues. There's
also evidence of how elderly parents of the journalists have been interrogated
and questioned at night. The most common form of harassment involves the confiscation
of passports on arrival, call for interrogation and then accusations and
inflammatory fabricated stories in the hardline press.
clear that the staff of the BBC Persian are being punished for exposing
inconvenient truths in Iran, where the repressive regime continues to stifle
freedom of expression. Journalism is not a crime and the authorities in Iran
should not use journalists as pawns to settle political scores against Britain.
Dr Massoumeh Torfeh is a Research Associate at
LSE, specialising in Iran, Afghanistan and Central Asia.
By Christian Chesnot
defeat of the self-proclaimed Caliphate of Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi is almost
achieved. It's only a matter of weeks for the pseudo-state before it disappears
from the scene, most likely before the beginning of 2018. In Syria, a new
diplomatic-military dispensation is being set up, the one succeeding that which
emerged in 2011.
special envoy Staffan de Mistura summed up the current situation when he said:
“ISIS has been routed in the desert (...) Terrorism is on the defensive, even
if it cannot be defeated by military means only (... ) The de-escalation
agreements are sometimes seriously questioned, but they have achieved results.”
New power equation
take a look at the situation on the ground. The last battle in the east will
soon leave the Syrian Democratic Forces (dominated by Kurds and supported by
the United States and France) come face to face with Bashar Al-Assad's troops
(backed by Russia, Iran, and Hezbollah). Opposition by moderate rebel forces
has almost completely disappeared from the map, apart from a few regions in the
suburbs of Damascus and in the south. Only the region of Idlib will remain in
the hands of the jihadists, some of whom are affiliated with al-Qaeda.
the stage is set for great diplomatic maneuvering to commence, with two
meetings scheduled in the upcoming weeks: the Astana meeting (October 30-31)
and the inter-Syrian talks in Geneva (28 November). Earlier, France had tried
to return to the game by proposing the creation of a contact group, including
the P5 plus regional countries. In fact, Emmanuel Macron tried to unsuccessfully
sell this idea to Donald Trump on the occasion of the UN General Assembly. The
French idea fell as the US refused to include Iran into the process.
fact, the UN process in Geneva (led by Staffan de Mistura) could not really
take off today, nor build any momentum. In the new military configuration
described above, there appears to be no conceivable reason for the situation to
change any time soon. The regime of Bashar Al-Assad appears less inclined today
than in the past to make any concessions or enter into any process of political
compromise with the opposition.
Absent from Astana
the process of Astana currently remains on the table, which strictly speaking
does not have a political framework. However, it is the only one to have
produced results on the ground with the establishment of four de-escalation
zones. Therefore, is it not the time to think of expanding the number of
participants, which for the moment are reduced to Russia, Iran and Turkey?
names of several countries — including Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Iraq
and China — have been suggested to take part in the Astana talks. Apparently,
Turkey has opposed the suggestion. In any case, the real discussion on the
future of Syria is taking place in the capital of Kazakhstan and not in Geneva.
It is difficult to imagine that the fate of Syria now solely remains in the
hands of Moscow, Tehran and Ankara.
reconstruction of a country whets the appetite of international powers. China
and Egypt have declared their readiness to participate in the effort to turn
the page on the civil war. Although Europe outwardly seems unenthused by the
ongoing diplomatic discussions, the mood is likely to change soon. In fact,
several EU countries have already started sending diplomats and security agents
back to Damascus.
is the United States in all of this? At this point, no one has a clear idea of
its policy particularly after the eradication of ISIS from Syrian territory.
Will the US withdraw and ditch the Kurds, just as it left moderate Syrian
rebels in the lurch? Will it maintain its military presence on the ground to
see how the situation evolves? Both scenarios are possible.
Syrian Kurds, it would be better not to make the same mistake as their Iraqi
cousins by waving the red rag of independence. By maintaining links and
contacts with the regime, they can hope to find a modus vivendi with Damascus,
wherein they may accept some form of autonomy for the ‘Kurdish state’ within
the borders of Syria. In short, 2018 may prove to be a decisive year for Syria
where one can finally see light at the end of the tunnel.
Christian Chesnot is grand reporter at Radio
France in Paris in charge of the Middle East affairs. He has been based as
correspondent in Cairo and Amman. He has written several books on Palestine,
Iraq, Syria and the Gulf. Chesnot tweets @cchesnot.