New Age Islam Edit Bureau
18 January 2016
India and Pakistan Must Unite Against
By Khaled Almaeena
Eradicating the Scourge of Racism
By Sabria S. Jawhar
Understanding the Saudi Stance
The Enduring Legacy Of Operation
By Ibrahim Al-Marashi
The Dawn of A New Iran
By Hamid Dabashi
Educating Europe’s Refugees as
Important as Feeding Them
By Abdulrahman Al-Rashed
Jan 17, 2016
The terror attack at the Pathankot Air
Force Base, the second in the Punjab within a span of six months, once again
gave cause for alarm. It came very
shortly after the surprise visit of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to
Lahore to attend the wedding of Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s
granddaughter. Described as brazen and bizarre by the Indian media, the
murderous Pathankot attack served no purpose.
The killing of innocent people is a heinous
act. The perpetrators of this act, those who carried it out and the masterminds
who planned it, should be hunted down and brought to justice.
India has been at the receiving end of
several terror attacks. The Bombay
carnage is one just example. Pakistan has also suffered at the hands of these
However, the urgent solution to this
problem is not a hysterical media and extremists trying to gain points and
inflame people. Rather it is to challenge the terror threat and make terror
costly for anyone who perpetrates it.
The urgency of the situation does not
require bland statements from Pakistan where the attackers came from. Nawaz
Sharif and Narendra Modi know only too well the cost of bloodshed.
They both know that they have rabid
extremists in their own land. They both aim at uplifting the living conditions
of their countrymen living in abject poverty and deprived of clean water,
sanitation and basic health services and goaded into extremism by
self-appointed saviours of their country.
While Sharif has promised to further
investigate evidence handed over by the Indian authorities, more is expected.
A public examination and media focus on all
aspects of this attack should be made. This initial step will soften the
situation and will lessen the frenzied rhetoric of extremist organizations in
India notably the RSS and their allies who are baying for blood. They and those
who claim to have carried out the attack, Jaish-e-Muhammad or whatever
murderous group, are undermining the progress of both countries.
Non-state actors should never be allowed by
their terror attacks to cause misery and havoc. It is to the credit of the
Indian government that it has remained calm. And that is the right thing to do.
Sharif’s call to Modi and his pledge to
take action should be followed by meetings of senior security officials from
both sides of the border.
What if Ajit Doval, the Indian security
Czar, dropped into Islamabad for a cup of “Chai” with his Pakistani
Take a leaf out of Sadat’s visit to the
Knesset or the extension of Arafat’s hand to a hesitant Rabin on the lawns of
the White House.
Well-wishers of both countries want peace
for the people of the subcontinent who, while having obtained political freedom
in August 1947, have yet to free themselves from several miseries including
that of war psychosis and the blackmail of murderers and extremists.
That would be the real day of freedom.
Khaled Almaeena is Editor-at-Large.
Eradicating The Scourge Of Racism
Nearly 12 years ago while working with a
Saudi newspaper I met an eager, intelligent young Saudi woman who was prepared
to take on the world.
This was a time when young Saudi women were
testing the waters of journalism and were taking privately sponsored classes to
learn the craft of news reporting.
Some young ladies bowed out of the program
or went on to other things once they received their certificate of completion.
But Nawal Al-Hawsawi wanted to save the
world and she persisted long after some of her colleagues in class lost interest.
Even when some of her editors did not take her seriously she did not lose hope
that there was a place for her.
I have kept track of Nawal through the
years and have read with great interest her successes in the United States. She
married an American and now has children of her own. She is a certified
airplane pilot and a licensed family counsellor.
It surprised me not in the least when I
learned that she is working to aid victims of domestic violence. But it does
surprise me to learn that she is being attacked almost daily on social media
for her work and her background as a Saudi citizen.
I can identify with Nawal because we have
taken similar paths in our professional and personal lives, although I give her
the credit for being much more courageous and adventurous than me. We suffer
some of the same slings and arrows for our work and opinions, but Nawal’s work
makes mine look like I live the life of a princess.
The attacks on Nawal, including death
threats, are racist and delivered by many young Saudis who have delusions of
grandeur and believe somehow that there is a certain purity that can only apply
to a specific group of Saudis. Nawal is black so she is perceived by the
ignorant as not worthy of Saudi citizenship. As noted recently in this newspaper,
there are three categories in which the residents of Saudi Arabia fall,
according to those misled people.
“The Original Saudis descend from Bedouin
tribes, the ‘Vomit from the Sea,’ which is Saudis of foreign descent and
‘strangers,’ which are basically all expats.”
To the bigoted, Nawal falls into the second
category. I have heard about these categories many times and even have
discussed this at the dinner table with my family. But when Saudis take to
social media and ridicule other Saudis’ ethnic and regional background, it says
much more about them and their insecurities as Saudis than it does about Nawal
and people like her. To many independent-minded Saudis — and yes, there are a
few out there — it only puts Nawal above them. In fact, when some Saudis
ridicule individuals as vomit from the sea, it’s a reflection on them as
narrow-minded racists incapable of being true Muslims.
Nawal was born and raised in Makkah and
considers herself the daughter of Al-Hijaz, but she doesn’t carry the tribal
credentials or have that perfect alleged Saudi looks that makes her, in the
eyes of the hateful, a true Saudi.
I don’t deny that many Saudis divide their
brothers and sisters into numerous categories and even rank them whether they
are authentic. But that is true in many societies, such as what we are
witnessing in the United States presidential Republican campaign in which
apparently the only true Americans are white and Christian, or in Europe where
darker second-generation Europeans are still marginalized.
But frankly, we Saudis think of ourselves
as special because we live in the land of the Two Holy Mosques and the cradle
of Islam. Yet many of us behave as if we don’t live in this special place and
we don’t accept the teachings of Islam. Really, how do these racist bullies
look themselves in the mirror and call themselves Muslims?
Understanding The Saudi Stance
By Saad Al-Dosari
The report that profiled Saudi Arabia and
was published by The Economist earlier this month was a bit unjust. In a lot of
its parts, it was like an opinion article rather than a journalistic profile.
Nevertheless, it is always an intriguing
opportunity to see how others are looking at you, how they perceive you, make
sense of your actions and try to spend the least of efforts to understand your
motives and relate to your personality.
What The Economist got right is that we,
and the whole world for that matter, are passing through a very tight
economical bottleneck these days. The mounting pressure of the declining oil
prices combined with the adventures of our Persian neighbor are forcing us, the
region, and the whole world, to take measures that were not even on the table a
couple of years ago.
Sometimes going to war is not a decision
for a nation to contemplate; it becomes an unavoidable eventuality, an
inevitable choice; that is exactly what happened in Yemen. It is a war against
terrorism and an effort to stop the bloody game Tehran is playing to throw the
whole region into chaos.
To Iran, it is a holy mission to avenge the
past, at least this is what they are trying to sell to the public in order to
keep the fire of hatred burning. To us, it was not an adventure but a
The Economist also did not understand the
execution of terrorists in Saudi Arabia. Those criminals were not partially
linked to Al-Qaeda; actually, all of them, no matter of which Muslim background
they came from, actively tried to destabilize the country, not through
preaches, seminars, and white papers, but through guns, bombs and calls for
blood and death. They had to be captured, they had to face the law of the lands
they were terrorizing.
What The Economist got right though is that
Saudi Arabia is serious about its economic transformation plans. It is right
that the plans are not necessarily new; diversification of national income and
drastically restructuring the government work and its financial policies have
always been on the table, sometimes parts of long-term plans and sometimes in
hopes and discussions of those interested in this country’s stability. The fact
that we need to face and admit is that the implementation of those plans and
translating them into actions has always been a bit slow. However, the Saudi
government is decisive in its efforts to reform the economy, reaching its core
to modify and correct. It is a tough operation, but once succeeded, it will
usher in a new era for the country and its people.
The Enduring Legacy of Operation Desert
17 Jan 2016
It is January 17, 1991, Baghdad time, two
days after the UN deadline for Iraq's withdrawal from Kuwait, which had been
occupied in August 1990. Operation Desert Storm had commenced with air strikes
against Iraq and its military, launched by US F-117 stealth fighters and cruise
missiles, two weapons particularly dreaded by the Iraqi forces as their
military correspondence demonstrated.
One of the documents from the first days of
the war was a transcript of communications from an Iraqi soldier on a remote
outpost on Qaruh Island off the coast of Kuwait. What this unfortunate Iraqi
soldier would witness was the transformation in the way the US began to
transform Iraq from the air as of 1991.
US Launches Operation Desert Storm
On the eve of the air campaign this remote
Iraqi outpost served as a microcosm of what the Iraqi military would endure
during the six-week air campaign of the Gulf War.
Enduring Operation Desert Storm
Codenamed "Sha'ab", this outpost
received a message from its headquarters on the Kuwaiti mainland, codenamed
"Azhar": "In case you see any enemy targets call the base
The soldier at the outpost, perhaps with a
bit of relief responded, "Nothing in the area now. And you?"
A few hours later the silence was broken as
Azhar sent an urgent and secret message to the island: "We inform you the
enemy has started to attack. Be extremely cautious, aware and alert. Inform us
about all enemy targets."
The outpost on the island passed the first
day of Operation Desert Storm without an incident. However its fortune ended at
4:45 on the morning of the 17th, as the small island outpost incurred the wrath
of the enemy's attacks. Coalition planes pounded the island in three subsequent
waves of attack.
Iraqi POWs, taken by US Marines, fanning
out in desert, during Gulf War Desert Storm ground campaign (1991) [Getty]
On the following day, the headquarters
checked into the status of the island outpost asking: "What is your
Sha'ab reported no new attacks, but that
for nine hours high altitude aircraft were circling over the island.
The next morning, Azhar asked Sha'ab for a
status report. Sha'ab replied that there was no enemy movement in the area but
they had run out of rations. The headquarters offered no rations but these
words of comfort:
"To the people of Saddam Hussein,
victory for Iraq. We know that you will teach the enemy the lesson that they
need. We want you to save ammunition. Don't use your weapons unless it is a
This is the last message the outpost
received. We do not know the fate of these soldiers on this island, whether
they survived or died in an air attack, but the paperwork did survive the war,
which was captured by US forces and was later declassified.
Operation Desert Strom represented the
first time the US sought to shape, control, and configure the region from the
air, and 25 years later ... the US is still trying to determine the destiny of
the Middle East from miles above it soil.
First Air War in Iraq
Operation Desert Strom represented the
first time the US sought to shape, control, and configure the region from the
air, and 25 years later, as the air campaign against ISIL has demonstrated, the
US is still trying to determine the destiny of the Middle East from miles above
Up until 1991, US interventions in the
Middle East had been through covert operations, such as using the CIA to
overthrow the Iranian premier Mosaddegh in 1953, deploying the Marines to
Lebanon twice, in 1958 and then in 1982 during the civil war to prop up
pro-Western governments, and in 1987 when the US Navy deployed to the Gulf to
reflag Kuwaiti ships during the Iran-Iraq War.
Operation Desert Storm represented the
first time the US sought to change the status quo on the ground in the Middle
East, the Iraqi occupation of Kuwait, from the air, culminating in a six week
aerial campaign to compel Iraq to withdraw.
The transcript from the first days of the
war revealed the fighting capability of Iraqi military elements on the front lines
during Operation Desert Storm, as they endured the next six-weeks of aerial
Not only were the soldiers hungry on this
remote Kuwaiti island but they also had to conserve ammunition when defending
themselves from the aerial onslaught. The transcripts exemplified the dilemma
faced by the Iraqi military in general and why its overall defence collapsed as
Operation Desert Storm proceeded.
The outpost Sha'ab, meaning the
"people" or "masses", stood to represent the fate of the
Iraqi masses conscripted into a doomed defense of Kuwait and Iraq. The Iraqi
military was commanded to defend Iraq and its 19th province, Kuwait, at all
In spite of the desperate need for
provisions, in many instances the only things that reached the frontline units
were mere words of support from the Iraqi leadership. The Iraqi military did
not have any chance of resisting the six-week aerial campaign.
Yet, six weeks later Iraqi forces still had
not withdrawn from Kuwait. It took US and Coalition ground forces to expel the
Iraqi military, which happened relatively quickly within the span of two days
more or less.
The decisive victory for the US after
Operation Desert Storm had been described as helping the US recover from its
Yet from a perspective 25 years later,
Operation Desert Strom was a Pyrrhic victory. Saddam Hussein survived the 1991
Gulf War, and the air war continued for more than a decade afterwards, dubbed
Operation Southern Watch.
Airstrikes constituted a means of disciplining
Saddam Hussein from the air, where Coalition aircraft flew 153,000 sorties over
Iraq to enforce its "no-fly" zone, targeting targets such as Iraqi
anti-aircraft radars. This "Operation" continued until Operation
Iraqi Freedom, when George HW Bush sought to finish the unfinished legacy left
by his father George W. Bush.
However, the 2003 invasion would lead to an
insurgency erupting the same year, which would result in the rise of the
Islamic State of Syria and the Levant (ISIL), which is now being fought with
another US air war.
Rather than seeing Operation Desert Strom
as the beginning of a conflict that began in January 1991 and ended in March
1991, it was the beginning of US use of air power to try and shape Iraq, which
has continued for 25 years, with no end in sight.
Ibrahim al-Marashi is an assistant professor at the Department of
History, California State University, San Marcos. He is the co-author of
"Iraq's Armed Forces: An Analytical History".
The Dawn of a New Iran
In a sudden, though well-choreographed and
much-expected dramatic succession of news releases, Iran has emerged from years
of economic isolation when the heavy shadow of crippling economic sanctions
were lifted in exchange for a drastic curb in its nuclear programme.
"Iran has carried out all measures
required under the [July deal]," according to reports, "to enable Implementation
Day [of the deal] to occur," the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy
Agency has said in a statement," paving the way for the lifting of these
crippling economic sanctions.
In a no less dramatic announcement,
deliberately designed to coincide with the lifting of these sanctions, Iran was
also reported to have released five US citizens, including the much-publicised
case of Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian, as part of a prisoner exchange
with the United States.
Iran frees Washington Post reporter in US
The combined announcements in conjunction
with the recent swift release of US sailors caught off the Iranian coast
declare a seismic change in the emergence of Iran from its global isolation
almost intact as a regional power.
The release of billions of dollars of
frozen Iranian assets will open a floodgate of European and international
conglomerates to rush to Iran for lucrative contracts.
At a time when a dramatic drop in the price
of crude oil has plunged all oil producing countries (and with them the world
economy) in deep despair, the release of these funds amounts to a bonanza for
Iranian economy - as if the world had created a safe deposit account for Iran
to give it back in its time of need.
What would be the implication of the dawn
of this new Iran in its internal and external affairs?
Internally, the ruling regime in Iran faces
a robust, young, energetic, ambitious and restless civil society that will miss
not a single ... opportunity to assert its rightful place among nations.
The working of two parallel paradoxes will
boost Iran both as a nation and as a state to achieve towering significance in
Internally, the ruling regime in Iran faces
a robust, young, energetic, ambitious and restless civil society that will miss
not a single social, cultural, economic, or political opportunity to assert its
rightful place among nations.
The porous boundaries of the nation are
going to be opened even more fluidly. With the anticipated increase in global commerce
comes unanticipated organic growth of the culture: The widening highways of
transnational interchange will make the Iranian civil society even more robust
Almost 80 million strong, with official
policy to boost the population, Iran as a nation will continue to test the
survival instincts of the state that lays a claim to it.
What its democratic weakling neighbours
don't understand is that the ruling regime in Iran is strong - not despite its
restless population, but precisely because of it. Iranians resist tyranny not
by blowing up buildings or murdering innocent people, but by going to polls and
voting in elections they know are already rigged.
Theirs is a vastly different exercise in
the democratic will of a nation.
They have forced even their so-called
Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei to publicly and repeatedly admit that when
they vote, they vote for their country - for the safety, security, and future
prosperity of their homeland - and never to legitimise the rule of a band of
octogenarian theocrats who are delusional enough to think they are actually
ruling this nation's dreams and aspirations.
Externally, the warring position of the
ruling state of the Islamic Republic strengthens it not despite its regional
adversaries, but in fact, because of them. None of its regional adversaries -
from Turkey to Israel to Saudi Arabia - are a match for the Iranian version of
soft and smart power.
The military budget of Iran is nowhere near
the military budget of any of its regional adversaries. But they have never and
will never choose to fight any conventional warfare they can never win.
Over the last three decades and more, they
have out-Joseph Nyed Joseph Nye's notion of soft and smart power. They are
regionally powerful not despite their adversaries military power, but because
of their conventionally flawed calculus of power.
The Achilles heel of the ruling regime in
Iran's external affairs, and where it has failed to follow its own logic of
soft power, is its continuous support for the murderous Assad regime in Syria.
This is costing the ruling regime not just
the hearts and minds of Syrian people, but that of the entirety of the Arab
Yes, in the quagmire of Syria there are no
innocent parties except the peaceful and democratic aspirations of the Syrian
people. Every single other country involved in Syria on both sides of the
conflict is implicated in and responsible for the bloody mayhem that is the
scene in Syria today.
But each one of these countries will bear
the consequences of their bloody involvements in Syria slightly differently.
The dawn of a new Iran will never be fully materialised unless and until the
democratic will and emancipatory politics of Iranians and Arabs, Sunnis and
Shias, see and sow their future liberation on a common field and as integral to
Hamid Dabashi is a Hagop Kevorkian Professor of Iranian Studies and
Comparative Literature at Columbia University in New York.
Educating Europe’s Refugees As Important
As Feeding Them
17 January 2016
More than a million refugees have arrived
in Europe from around the world, who may be deemed as easy prey for extremist
These groups reached Europe before the
influx of refugees and they enjoy greater freedom of expression. They are also
more engaged in social activities. The more recent refugees, on the other hand,
went to Europe in search of a new life. Yet, many of them may end up becoming
the target of extremists looking to expand their presence. They are intent on
producing terrorists and spreading an extremist ideology that turns these
refugees into opponents of the very society they live in.
Ever since Syrians started fleeing their
war-ravaged country in large numbers, they headed to Europe via Turkey. This
marked the beginning of a new phase in the crisis, which will probably continue
even if the Syrian conflict is resolved. A million refugees, most of whom Syrians,
is not a big number in a continent inhabited by around 300 million people. The
number is also not a complication for Germany, the biggest refugee hosting
country, as its huge economy can sustain them. But the challenge posed by these
refugees is bigger on intellectual, social and security fronts.
What is as important is educating them so
that they integrate with society easily and confront attempts by extremists to
There are real threats facing these
refugees who are victims of the repulsive war which has unjustly displaced more
than 10 million Syrian people and a few million Iraqis. The refugees in Europe
are vulnerable to exploitation and to being used in this game which is getting
more complicated and dangerous. There are powers fighting over them in Europe
such as those who oppose refugees, parties protesting over unemployment and
groups supporting Syrian and Iranian regimes. Of course the most dangerous are
extremists and people cooperating with terrorist groups such as ISIS and al-Nusra
Challenge of Radicalization
It will be in the interest of German and
European authorities in general to pre-emptively address this problem by not
letting these refugees fall prey to extremists who influence them under the
pretext of humanitarian support. These refugees must be intellectually equipped
to live with dignity and co-exist in the new society which has hosted them; a
society which respects their rights and beliefs and expects the same from
refugees. European governments and people are currently focused on helping
these refugees. They are being provided food and housing while their papers are
processed. However, what is as important is educating them so that they
integrate with society easily and confront attempts by extremists to radicalize
Governments can do nothing but threaten to
expel anyone who is proved to be engaging in extremist activities, as has been
seen in Germany. This approach only addresses a small percentage of the 1
million refugees. The biggest challenge is to intellectually strengthen the
majority from attempts being made by extremists to turn refugees from being
thankful to hateful and into extremists who reject their new society and clash
I am confident that it is possible to
spread the culture of co-existence and tolerance, which can be derived from the
refugees’ Muslim and Middle Eastern culture that has collapsed in the last
three decades due to extremist and hateful ideologies and ongoing wars.
Abdulrahman al-Rashed is the former General Manager of Al Arabiya News
Channel. A veteran and internationally acclaimed journalist, he is a former
editor-in-chief of the London-based leading Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat, where
he still regularly writes a political column. He has also served as the editor of
Asharq al-Awsat’s sister publication, al-Majalla. Throughout his career, Rashed
has interviewed several world leaders, with his articles garnering worldwide
recognition, and he has successfully led Al Arabiya to the highly regarded,
thriving and influential position it is in today.