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The Rohingya crisis is now genocide and we must recognize it as such : New Age Islam’s Selection 06-11-2017

New Age Islam Edit Bureau


7 November 2017

Interpol and Turkey’s fight against the Gülenists


Is sexual harassment really difficult to understand?

By Suzanne Moore

Stability will not come easily to Saudi Arabia, but the status quo cannot continue

By Michael Stephens

Saudi's bold moves will stir change in the region

By Talmiz Ahmad

Here are the options for war with Iran, and how to avoid it

By Abdulrahman Al-Rashed

Compiled by New Age Islam Edit Bureau

URL: http://newageislam.com/world-press/new-age-islam-edit-bureau/the-rohingya-crisis-is-now-genocide-and-we-must-recognize-it-as-such---new-age-islam’s-selection-06-11-2017/d/113136


The Rohingya crisis is now genocide and we must recognize it as such

By Dr. Azeem Ibrahim

6 November 2017

The Rohingya situation has been evolving. And now, it seems, we can no longer avoid the conclusion we have all been dreading. This is now a genocide, and we, in the international community, must recognize it as such.

The first world leader to confront this reality has been France’s Emmanuel Macron one week ago: he condemned “this genocide which is unfolding, this ethnic cleansing”, before calling the UN to act in accordance to their obligations in such humanitarian disasters.

President Macron’s intervention shows the kind of moral courage we need our leaders to have in this world of escalating humanitarian disasters, from the still ongoing calamity in Syria, the Yemen famine, or the tragically under-reported violence across the Sahel.

Still, “genocide” is not a word that can or should be thrown around loosely. And not even the President of France can carry such a verdict on his own. But serious analyses by some of the world’s leading legal scholars and increasingly leaning towards the conclusion that the Rohingya are the victims of genocide.

Allard K. Lowenstein of the International Human Rights Clinic at Yale Law School, for example, has found strong evidence of genocide against the Rohingya in Myanmar in his legal analysis of the human rights situation in Rakhine state as long ago as Autumn 2015. That was when there were still over 1 million Rohingya still living in Rakhine state.

Tragically prescient

Subsequent analyses, for example by the International Stata Crime Initiative group at Queen Mary University of London in 2016, have had largely the same findings. And these analyses of the human rights situation then has proved tragically prescient. After last month’s dramatic exodus of Rohingya out of Myanmar, there are now probably fewer than 600,000 left in the country of their birth.

Article II of UN’s 1948 Genocide Convention describes genocide as any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such: Killing members of the group; Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group; Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.

Though the Rohingya situation meets most of the above criteria for being described as a genocide under international law for a number of years now, the label has been resisted until now because we think of genocide as one huge act of frenzied violence, like we have seen in Rwanda. But Rwanda has been the exception, rather than the norm.

The Nazi genocide during WW2, for example, began slowly and had few distinctive flashes to indicate delineate where one degree of crime against humanity ended and where another began. All in all, that genocide developed and unfolded over a period of more than 10 years.

The Rohingya situation has been going on for decades, but it has certainly been in genocide territory since at least the outbursts of communal violence in 2012. Those clashes, and the ones in the subsequent years have driven 200,000 - 300,000 Rohingya out of Myanmar.

But somehow, at that rate of attrition, and against the backdrop of Myanmar’s supposed move toward democracy with the election of Aung San Suu Kyi to power in late 2015, world leaders have allowed themselves to hope that the situation could still be turned around.

Reality of an exodus

Now, the reality of an exodus of more than 609,000 people, amounting to approximately 50 percent of the total Rohingya population in Myanmar, in the space of just one month, the incontrovertible evidence of large scale burning of villages by the Myanmar military, the reports of widespread extra-judicial killings against fleeing civilians by the country’s federal security forces, have made it much more difficult to avoid the conclusion that this is nothing short of genocide.

The tragedy is that the international community will compound the situation. Despite President Macron’s call for an adequate response, the UN Security Council will decline to respond to the situation with the seriousness it deserves. If a situation is defined by the Council as a “genocide”, then the UN becomes legally bound to intervene, with peace-keeping missions and so on.

That is why Western countries will be reluctant to make the necessary commitments, and China, who is building one branch of its New Silk Road infrastructure right through Rakhine state to access the port of Sittwe, will outright veto any such proposal.

Just like we did in Rwanda, just like we did in the Balkans, we are once again seeing a genocide happen before our very eyes. And all we will do about it, once again, is to bury our heads in the sand and plead ignorance when our children will ask us why we let this happen.

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).



Interpol and Turkey’s fight against the Gülenists


November 07 2017

Created in 1930, INTERPOL Ankara is one of the first and oldest INTERPOL National Central Bureaus (NCB), its official website says.

Established in 1923 with the name International Criminal Police Commission Interpol, it is as old as the Republic of Turkey itself. So the relationship between Interpol and Turkey dates back to the time of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk.

“We have always been a very cooperative member of the organization. But no message of condolence whatsoever came after the July 2016 coup attempt, when so many police officers lost their lives,” one source from Ankara told me.

By now, Turkey’s foreign interlocutors are tired of hearing from Turks about how Europe has shown a tepid reaction to the failed coup. One may think that the disappointment would be limited to government-to-government relations, but it goes deeper than that.

The network of U.S.-based Islamic preacher Fethullah Gülen is an extremely sophisticated illegal network that penetrated the Turkish state and ultimately tried to topple the government in a coup attempt last year. It is so unique - with such an unparalleled structure - and so well-organized abroad that the fight against the network, especially in Western countries, requires an extremely sophisticated approach put into practice with highly skilled officials.

Unfortunately, aside from a few exceptions Turkey has neither a sophisticated approach nor the skilled officials. The efforts of those “few exceptions” are dashed away by the mistakes committed by other incompetent officials.

This is entirely the mistake of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party). Once upon a time, in order to eliminate Turkey’s secular bureaucracy, which it considered its enemy, the AK Party helped the Gülenists. While the Gülenists did everything to root out the secularists, they also canalized all the state’s means and privileges – such as receiving training abroad - to its members. Given a free ride for many years, the Gülenists once shined as the most competent and qualified officials in the state bureaucracy.

Once the state was cleansed from the “best and brightest” after the coup attempt, the small handful of remnants of the secular bureaucracy, which had clung on with many scars from the abuses of the Gülenists, found themselves increasingly alongside incompetent and unqualified colleagues. The latter now dominate the bureaucracy only because they know how to pray in the right way. In the campaign against the Gülenists, they often do more damage than good.

It was a grave mistake, for example, to upload a list of 70,000 names onto Interpol’s database a few days after the coup attempt - before legal cases had even started in Turkey against them – and then lying about it by saying these were all people who had lost their passports. This move inflicted great damage on Turkey’s cooperation with Interpol.

There is also an external factor that makes the struggle against Gülenists additionally difficult: The lack of empathy on the part of Turkey’s foreign interlocutors.

My Turkish sources admit initial mistakes and try to justify it by the sense of panic and shock that dominated Ankara in the immediate aftermath of the coup attempt. But they also accuse Interpol of scrapping a quarter-and-a-half-century-long cooperation, immediately closing the doors without even listening or trying to understand their Turkish colleagues. Interpol refused to give the benefit of the doubt and has suspended all cooperation on the Gülen cases.

The Turkish side has now lowered the number of wanted Gülenists to 2,000. But Interpol wants a separate justification for each of these cases - a procedure it does not deploy for foreign jihadist fighters. In addition, Interpol also says that because the cases relate to a coup attempt, it is a political affair and they therefore cannot interfere.

While Gülenists were stepping up their campaign stating that Turkey is using Interpol against legitimate democratic dissent, another mistake was made last July: Turkish authorities sent a list of German companies suspected of having links to Gülenists to Interpol.

The problem here is manifold. Ever since the break up between the AK Party and the Gülenists in 2013, state institutions have not been able to reshuffle themselves. The security attaches assigned to Turkey’s foreign missions were all called back after 2013 and they have still not been replaced. If they had been replaced in time it could have been a little bit easier to maintain a healthy dialogue with security officials of Western capitals.

But the gist of the problem lies behind the fact that the AK Party does not learn from its mistakes. The remnants of the secular elites are still looked down on, while the government prefers to rely on incompetent but so-called pious officials.

The secular bureaucracy had years of experience in how to pursue Turkey’s enemies, especially in Western Europe. The government should have paid more attention to them. For instance, they should have listened to the advice that Gülenists should not be labeled a terror organization. There is a huge legal difference between a terror organization and a criminal organization.

Unfortunately, as a friend of mine recently said, Turkey’s state bureaucracy is today dominated by a group whose vocabulary is limited to around 100 words!



Is sexual harassment really difficult to understand?

By Suzanne Moore

6 November 2017

Don’t sexually harass women in the workplace. It’s clearly a big ask, isn’t it? For certain kinds of men, this appears to be an imposition that confuses them terribly. How are they to know how to make passes at women? Surely everyone understands that making a pass is not like raping someone? No they are just being men, watching porn, sexting teenagers, saying lewd things to colleagues, banter innit? They are the kind of men no woman wants to get in a lift with, the type for whom the acronym NSIT (Not Safe in Taxis) was invented. Do these creeps ever wonder why?

They shouldn’t worry too much. The Today programme, Have I Got News For You and Newsnight are still totally dominated by sniggering men who would hate to muddle a minor “indiscretion” with a major one. When Jo Brand calmly told a panel of public school boys and Paul Merton that repeated low-level sexual harassment wore women down, for a moment they were silenced – but only for a moment.

Up pops David Goodhart – Etonian, thinktanker, categoriser of people into Anywheres and Somewheres – to inform us on Twitter that the “inability to distinguish hand on knee/sleazebag behaviour from rape/serious intimidation is typical of ideological (metropolitan) thinking”. Okey Dokey. Who exactly is unable to distinguish this? Men? Women? The police? People who live in cities? We can of course distinguish, especially perhaps those of us who have experienced it – and we tend to see it on a continuum. Men who don’t require consent or get off on making women feel uncomfortable make us both fearful and compromised in the workplace. This applies as much in an out-of-town superstore as it does in Westminster.

So for Goodhart to conjure up this bizarre metropolitan elite argument to shore up male privilege shows just how fragile these old forms of masculinity are currently feeling. The idea that outside metropolitan areas it is apparently OK to behave as a lech is deeply insulting and untrue.

If by “metropolitan” he means progressive, and this is part of his general attack on the liberal tribe who have lost touch with reality, Goodhart would be endorsing a reality that is inherently sexist and arguing that abhorrent attitudes are fundamentally unchangeable.

Away from Goodhart, there is battalion of vocal wronged men who think of women as fantasists, and in expressing that, they reveal more than we may wish to know about them.

Such poor souls are wounded not by the metropolitan elite or liberal values but by the visible refutation of their own ideology which assumes that an entitlement to power means unquestioned sexual entitlement too.

Why is it so difficult for them? They are often, it has to be said, of a certain age. One man years ago in Westminster told me that his attitude to sex was “throw enough mud against the wall and some of it sticks”. Pity us walls.

Now that the ground is shifting and the walls have words, they’re the ones who look shifty. We are to feel sorry for them. They know not what they do because the rules have changed. Actually their rules – not the law. This newfangled idea of consent has befuddled them. The idea that male sexuality is controllable is news to them.

Maybe though they could ask us – the women and the men who don’t behave like this – how we manage it? How we get through life without intimidating younger people into having unwanted sexual relations with us, how we don’t touch up strangers in lifts, how we don’t make sexually suggestive remarks to colleagues all the time? How we know when we are interested in someone and they are interested in us?

This is hardly the secret knowledge of the metropolitan or a few progressives. It is about those rather old-fashioned values of respect, decency and manners. Men who find this impossible to understand need to check themselves and listen. They are not victims of some new ideology, they are desperately trying to hold on to a self-serving system in which they held unaccountable power. They feel that power slipping away and will blame anyone at all except themselves. They look pathetic.

• Suzanne Moore is a Guardian columnist



Stability will not come easily to Saudi Arabia, but the status quo cannot continue

By Michael Stephens


There is much risk in the Crown Prince’s bold autocratic revolution in the name of reform

After a weekend of arrests and sweeping anti-corruption purges it’s clear that a revolution is taking place in Saudi Arabia. It is not an Army revolt, nor a popular uprising, but palace intrigue of the most Byzantine sort – a move against the elite, by the elite. With former ministers, royal family members, and business leaders being rounded up and detained, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has taken a giant leap toward becoming de facto leader of his country.

There is an irony in his revolution. It is done in the name of reform, yet its methods are autocratic. And in contrast to previous rulers who traditionally preferred to take baby steps, Prince Mohammed is in a hurry, with little time for anybody who appears to be stand in the way of his ambitious programme for change.

There is much merit to this...



Saudi's bold moves will stir change in the region

By Talmiz Ahmad

November 6, 2017

Kingdom's evolving domestic and foreign policies will ensure more stability and growth

Saturday, November 4, was an extraordinary day: it witnessed three developments which, taken together, suggest a major escalation in the armed conflict in West Asia is in the offing, even as the region is already groaning under the violence of bloody wars in Syria, Yemen and Iraq, in which half a million people have been killed and several million have been displaced.

Saudi Arabia is at the heart of all these developments. First, 11 princes have been detained in the kingdom, along with four sitting ministers and several former ministers and officials on various corruption charges.

Prince Miteb bin Abdullah, the commander of the National Guard, the country's powerful domestic security force, has been dismissed, and the force has now also come under the control of the crown prince. The instrument used to effect these changes is the anti-corruption committee set up by King Salman and his son, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, as its chairman.

The second development was the sudden announcement in Riyadh by the Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri that he was resigning. Hariri had taken charge only in December 2016 after entering into a power-sharing agreement with President Michel Aoun. In his public remarks, Hariri said that Iran had planted "disorder and destruction" in his country and had made Hezbollah a "state within a state" in Lebanon.

Hariri's announcement has plunged Lebanon into a fresh crisis, when it has barely recovered from the two-year impasse earlier when it could not agree on a president until Aoun, said to enjoy the backing of Hezbollah, took over in a compromise arrangement and later got Hariri on board. Hariri's resignation means that the power-sharing arrangement has collapsed, setting the stage for a deep national divide.

As Saturday came to an end, there was news that the Houthis in Yemen had fired a missile at Saudi Arabia's international airport in Riyadh. The kingdom announced that the missile had been intercepted by US-supplied Patriot missiles and destroyed before it could do any damage. Houthi sources said the missile was a Burkan-2H, a homemade variant of the Scud missile, which is available to the Houthis.

The spokesman of the Saudi-led coalition forces said that a "regional state" was providing material support to the Houthis and that the missile "threatens the security of the kingdom and regional and international security". The statement added: "This hostile and random act by the Houthis proves that one of the terrorism-supporting countries supports the Houthis."

Purge in Saudi Arabia

The anti-corruption committee has very wide-ranging powers: it is empowered to investigate, issue arrest warrants, and place tight controls over the funds of persons under investigation. It can also take "precautionary measures" while investigations are ongoing, including taking control of all assets of those being investigated.

In his upward push, Prince Mohammed bin Salman has attempted to broaden his popularity base in the country, particularly among the young. He has sought to make them his partners in the economic and social transformation and to announce policies that are likely to go down well with them. His decision to allow women to drive and his commitment to make the country a moderate nation where all faiths will be tolerated are two such popular initiatives. His anti-corruption stance touches on a major area of concern for most Saudis.

Post-Daesh politics

The Hariri resignation is the first salvo in the competition to re-shape West Asian politics in the aftermath of the removal of Daesh from the regional configuration. From the US-Saudi-Israeli perspective, this means reducing, if not eliminating, Iran's influence from Syria and Lebanon. In addition, Israel is specifically interested in destroying Hezbollah as a military force in the region, while sections of the US administration would like to see Russia's influence reduced, though Trump's own view on this is not clear.

In the face of this challenge, Iran and Hezbollah are gearing themselves for a military engagement with Israel in Lebanon, while politically Iran is seeking to ensure it continues to have strong ties with Russia in resisting the US (and Saudi Arabia) in Syria. This complex inter-play of diplomacy and war is now the defining feature of regional politics.

As of now, Russia is pushing ahead with the Syrian peace process led by it, in association with Turkey and Iran. It has invited all opposition groups to a conference in the Black Sea resort town of Sochi on November 18, which will be followed by the eighth round of the Geneva process on November 28. At this point, Iran has legitimate concerns that Russia might not favour its thinking that the US be excluded from any role in the peace process, with the nightmare scenario before it that Moscow might even abandon Tehran in pursuit of closer ties with Washington not just in Syria, but in other areas where it might suit Russian interests to work with the US.

During his day-long visit to Tehran on November 1, which included an hour-long meeting with Supreme Leader Khamenei, Putin expressed full support for the nuclear agreement, highlighted the importance of their bilateral cooperation in the fight against terrorism, and spoke of the value of their strategic partnership, particularly in the defence area.

But, Iran wants more: it would like to see a strong Iran-Russia relationship that would, in Khamenei's words, "isolate America" and promote their cooperation in Syria, remain alert to US machinations in Syria and Iraq, and jointly combat US sanctions on Iran. As of now, Putin seems to be wary of committing his country to this exclusivist relationship, including in Syria.

The Lebanese writer, Rafiq Khouri, has said in Al Anwar that Russia sees the importance of the US role (with Europe and the Gulf states) in the peace process since their backing will be required to see through the reconstruction in Syria after peace has been achieved; peace without reconstruction would be "putting a cemetery in order", he says sharply.

Talmiz Ahmad, author and former diplomat, holds the Ram Sathe Chair for International Studies, Symbiosis International University, Pune, and is Consulting Editor, The Wire



Here are the options for war with Iran, and how to avoid it

By Abdulrahman Al-Rashed

7 November 2017

Fronts of confrontation with Iran and its main allies are increasing. The ballistic missile that Houthis launched on the Saudi capital is a serious military development that cannot be alienated from the regional conflict with Iran in Lebanon, Syria and Iraq. Diplomatic means have failed owing to the Iranians’ continuous refusal to withdraw their forces and militias from Syria. They had previously refused to withdraw them from Iraq where they undertook military operations. Iran’s latest battle is the recent invasion of Kurdistan.

Iran controls its battles from a distance in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen. The countries of the region, as well as the US, have failed to adopt a policy that responds to the “expand and control” strategy that Iran adopted through its proxies. America, which has suffered as a result of explosions and assassinations by Hezbollah, simply chose to confront the proxy itself — through kidnappings and assassinating people involved on Hezbollah leaders. Egypt and Gulf countries have done the same in the past, and simply pressured Hezbollah politically and economically.

Iran forces its opponents to resort to one of two options; either through direct confrontation with the source itself (Iran), or through the formation of regional proxies who will fight the wars for it. The opponents are unlikely to adopt the first choice and fight a war with Iran, unless Tehran decides to launch a direct armed attack, which is not Iran’s way of managing its crises. Even when Iran lost eight diplomats, among others, in a Taliban ambush in Mazar-i-Sharif, Afghanistan, in the late 1990s, it did not wage a war there but instead, it built local militias, with patience and persistence.

Despite Iran’s clear control in some fronts such as Iraq, the Iraqi army cannot confront the pro-Iranian local armed forces, owing to the pluralism of its political leadership and the predominant Iranian influence there.

It is very clear that Iran is playing a big role in directing the Iraqi forces and especially the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) to exterminate the Kurds from Kirkuk. This is a very important regional battle and not only an Iraqi one. Kurds are not exempt from serious political and military mistakes; they are committed in this crisis as a result of the independence referendum, the excuse Iran used to encroach on vital, oil-producing and geographical territories.

The states will find no use in resorting to militias’ conflicts to restore balance. Today, Syria is entering the phase of governance arrangements, the most important of which is marking its area of control. Iranian militias are carrying out numerous executions of people in the regions they control, which were areas of opposition in the past. With their activities, the Iranian militias are looking to take control of the security in their regions, since the Syrian regime has no longer enough military and security capacities to project its power. 

Under these circumstances, the countries of the region will have to confront a huge Iranian project that is using Syria to control Syria itself, as well as Iraq, Lebanon and what is beyond the borders at a later stage. Other than this policy, there will be no way for the Russians or the Syrian regime to weaken Iran or make it leave, no matter what is being said and promised. By then, it is expected that Syria will become a country controlled by militias too.

Iranians are profiting from the proxy policy because they consider that their investment in Hezbollah, their most expensive and long-term project, is costing them around $700 million per year, represented with an advanced army. As for their Houthi proxies in Yemen, they are cheaper; a fighter might cost them two dollars per week. 

I go back to my main idea: The fields of confrontation are increasing with Iran’s expansion and the absence of a means to deter its control. Iran got even more dangerous after it had succeeded in weakening Saad Hariri’s presence and promoting the Houthis’ capacity to threaten the heart of Saudi Arabia with missiles.

Eliminating the option of a direct military confrontation with Iran, which nobody wants to see happening, the only possible option would be strengthening the local militia forces in the troubled countries.

• Abdulrahman Al-Rashed is a veteran columnist. He is the former general manager of Al Arabiya news channel, and former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat, where this article is also published. Twitter: @aalrashed


URL: http://newageislam.com/world-press/new-age-islam-edit-bureau/the-rohingya-crisis-is-now-genocide-and-we-must-recognize-it-as-such---new-age-islam’s-selection-06-11-2017/d/113136



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