New Age Islam Edit Bureau
19 April 2018
Turkey’s Rapprochement With Iran, Tactical Or Strategic?
By Shehab Al-Makahleh
France: When Macron Confronts Secularism
By Christian Chesnot
Can Arab Women Set The Cyber Security Agenda?
By Wayne Loveless
Trump Fulfills Syria Promise By Showing What A ‘Red Line’ Really Means
By Mashari Althaydi
Compiled By New Age Islam Edit Bureau
Turkey’s Rapprochement with Iran, Tactical or Strategic?
18 April 2018
At a time when relations between the traditional rivals of the US and Russia do not seem well with so many complicated files including the Syrian cause, Turkish President Recep Teyyip Erdogan has been trying to walk on the Russian and American tight ropes, in an attempt to achieve Ankara’s interests.
Washington supports Ankara in its opposition to the Syrian regime, bringing Turkey closer to the Gulf capitals and Tel Aviv, while Moscow provides Ankara with support against the Kurds. However, the question that arises is the following – the current Iranian-Turkish rapprochement tactical or strategic?
At present, following the 14th of April tripartite missile strike against Syria, it seems that Erdogan’s dance on Russian music may not be beneficial, especially after Turkey hailed the strikes against Damascus, which is rejected by Moscow and Tehran.
Erdogan has tried to play with the two superpowers in the absence of a consensus and full understanding between Ankara and Moscow regarding Afrin, Manbij and Idlib as well as some other Syrian opposition fighters.
Between Washington and Moscow
Today, Turkey is reaping from the conflicting interests of Moscow and Washington. In 2013 and early 2014, Turkish border cities became a chief logistical hub for foreign fighters seeking to enter Syria and Iraq to join ISIS and other rebel groups. By August 2015, Turkey did eventually tighten up security on its borders.
Though the Russians are dealing with the Turkish government at the top levels; yet, Moscow is not fully satisfied with Erdogan’s attitude and his perspective toward the Syrian conflict. Erdogan described as “very wrong” the approach of Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov to the future of Syria’s Afrin, where Turkey carried out an offensive to drive out the Kurdish YPG militia.
The lack of Arab presence and its inability to formulate new parameters for national and regional security have allowed Turkey and Iran to balance their regional roles within the Arab world. The following are the most important regional determinants.
Politically and Strategically
Turkey moves according to an ideology based on exporting itself as a democratic state that sponsors its principles and supports them as an excuse to intervene in the internal affairs of Arab countries under the guise of supporting democracy.
The opportunity of the Arab Spring was the elixir of life for the Turkish project in passing its expansionist policy aimed at returning to the region by supporting demonstrations in some Arab countries including Syria and Egypt.
Turkey has been surrounded by enemies, and this has forced the Turkish government to play a role through intervention in internal affairs of the Arab countries on the basis that Arab countries’ instability is of interest to Turkey. Therefore, Turkey considered Arab revolutions or Arab Spring as a way to play an important role in shaping the security of the Arab region to suit its aspirations.
Economic and Military
Turkey and Iran have given the military dimension an important role in shaping their regional role. Turkey used pre-emptive military intervention in its movements in the Arab region after adopting a defensive military approach based on protecting the borders. Turkey is also using its economic growth by branding itself as a country with Islamic economy to serve the Arab and Muslim countries.
In addition, Turkey does not cease to declare its right to the Ottoman historical heritage in the city of Mosul, which was part of Turkey for four centuries until WWI, which Turkey lost after the signing of the Treaty of Lausanne in 1923 and the Ankara Agreement of 1926 between Turkey, the UK and Iraq. Turkey has always declared its historical and international rights to be the area extending from Aleppo to Mosul.
Rapprochement with Tehran
The main idea with regard to the external political motives behind the Turkish-Iranian rapprochement is Turkey’s difficulty in achieving the goal it sought to bring about, driving Ankara to strive to lead the region by supporting Islamic groups, especially the Muslim Brotherhood, in Egypt and in some other Arab countries.
However, the fall of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt has been deemed a blow to Turkey’s regional ambitions. In this regard, it is possible to refer to Ankara’s efforts during the entire year of the rule of Mohammad Morsi to support Egypt politically and economically in order to overcome the difficulties it has faced and ultimately to consolidate the Muslim Brotherhood’s rule in Egypt.
Since the situation seems more complicated for Syria, Ankara was quick to support the Syrian revolution and worked in many positions to overthrow Bashar al-Assad’s regime. However, the recent developments in Syria were tectonic, especially in light of the Russian-US misunderstanding and the launch of a massive “military strike” on Syria.
The Syrian crisis showed the overlap of issues in the region and that no file can be resolved without resolving the other and that the regional players should be involved with super powers to bring solutions to these questions politically. Thus, the Syrian dilemma is looking more and more difficult to solve and radical Islamists have become the common enemy of all.
Economic motives have played an important role in stimulating Turkey’s rapprochement with Iran, especially in light of the problems that the Turkish economy. It seems that the rapprochement between Ankara and Tehran is just a tactical move driven by regional and global developments and circumstances. In general, there is a state of division between the observers and analysts on characterizing the nature of the Turkish move towards Iran.
The Turkish move came as a tactical step by which Ankara is trying to absorb the negative repercussions it has suffered as a result of developments in the region, whether in Egypt or Syria. Turkey, which was presenting itself as the spearhead of the project to topple President Bashar al-Assad’s regime, is suffering internal crises and the backlash of terrorist groups in Syria.
On April 10, Emmanuel Macron delivered a speech before the Bishops of France in Paris. He addressed the prelates by saying that “the association between the Church and the State has declined and that it is important for both you and me to mend it.” Some observers, especially from leftist groups, regarded this statement as an act of questioning secularism, which is a pillar of the republic, as they felt that that there was no "repairing" to be done.
Historically, the debate has been sealed since 1905, the date of the notable law on the separation of Church and State, which prescribes two fundamental principles still implemented today: “The Republic guarantees the freedom of conscience and the freedom of exercise of worship, but, the state does not recognize, finance, or subsidize any religion”.
Secularism is essentially a French theory, often difficult to comprehend in other languages, especially in Arabic. It is difficult to export abroad. Besides France, it is challenging to understand this concept, even in Europe.
In reintroducing the debate on the status of the Catholic Church, Emmanuel Macron has apparently taken note of the return of religion in France. Confronted with poverty and a confused society, people turn to religion. The implementation of marriage for everyone, including homosexual unions, has incensed Catholic elements in France and thus divided the country in two.
What Emanuel Macron wants to say to us is that the state is secular but that doesn’t necessarily mean that people are too and that it is his duty to bring together all French citizens, whatever their faith or belief, since the country needs all the potential to bounce back. Hence he has reached out to the Catholics.
Here, Emmanuel Macron is not forgetting about the Muslims, the second religion in France, which has few places of worship. Catholics do not face this dilemma, since the great majority of churches and cathedrals were built before the law of 1905, hence received the aid of the State. For the Muslim community, it is a convoluted situation as they have to build a mosque on their own because, as the law of 1905 dictates, “the Republic does not subsidize any religion ...”
The great majority of French Muslims are migrants from the Maghreb countries (Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia) and black Africa (Senegal, Mali, Niger, etc.). Very often to fund their mosques, they revert to their countries of origin for funds. Earlier, this link was tolerated but now it is being questioned.
In a recent interview, Emmanuel Macron did not mince words when he said: “I do not want any more mosques that use secret capital.” A large number of Muslim places of worship are subsidized by the followers themselves, but it would appear that there is still much transparency needed.
The fact that Islamophobia is fuelled by a militant communitarianism, it is crucial that all cards are laid on the table and that Islam gets its place in the Republic and it disposes itself off of its radical leanings.
Emmanuel Macron promises acts and reforms in this sense. All of his predecessors failed to create an Islamic structure in France. The French president is walking on a thin line since French secularism forbids the state to meddle in religious affairs, only to perpetuate public order. It is an ongoing debate that has not ceased making headlines.
The digital future presents one of the greatest challenges to global security that world has ever faced. Cyber security has moved from being a back office team of a few people trying to protect a few databases and applications from disruption to being at the forefront of every government agency, multinational company and leading economic sectors.
With this rapid growth of the digital landscape and increasing cyber threats, organizations across the globe are struggling to recruit, retain, train, build, and supply a qualified cyber security workforce.
By 2022, the Centre for Cyber Safety and Education have predicted there will be 1.8 million unfilled cyber security positions. Much of this is in part due to globally low number of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) oriented graduates and exaggerated by a significant gap in individuals seeking to join the cyber security ranks.
Further, the global cyber security labour supply is negatively impacted by a continued perception that only candidates with ten years of experience in the field can be of any value. While some of the issues are more about perspectives on building a cyber workforce, the real world problem lies with developing human capital in cyber security.
Women In Cyber
A golden opportunity lies in capturing the potential of women STEM candidates in MENA to address the workforce shortage in cyber security. Over the past few years, there has been a steady increase in the number of women in STEM aligned cyber educational background.
According to data compiled by researchers from New York University Abu Dhabi (NYUAD), the percentage of women graduates in engineering related degrees in the Middle East is very high, compared with the US and Europe.
In Saudi Arabia, for example, the number of women with degrees in Computer Sciences reaches thousands each year and many universities have introduced academic programs and degrees in network security specialties. Data from a leading Saudi university indicates that 20 percent of all local computer science graduates over the last five years are female.
With so many potential technically qualified candidates being produced by the academic systems in MENA, organizations and governments should develop and implement programs of mentorship, apprenticeship, training, development, and internship that can set a foundation for building a qualified and locally sourced cyber security workforce.
These initiatives and campaigns to attract and further develop cyber skills present an ideal solution to the cyber workforce challenge by expanding into previously untapped resources.
In the MENA region in particular, organizations and government entities have the prospect of countering misplaced international perspectives of women’s rights in the region, and demonstrating through action how these perceptions can be changed, all while securing their national and regional future in the advancing digital economies.
With the confluence of the global shortage of qualified and skilled labour and leadership in the cyber security field, the higher percentage of STEM qualified women in the MENA region, and the cultural evolution that is embracing women as an integral part of the workforce, the MENA region could be a leading example of best practice for women in cyber security.
Leaders in organizations are beginning to identify this untapped resource as a key element to building a strong, diverse, and technically proficient workforce. While further work is yet to be done, the opportunity for MENA based organizations and governments to set the global pace and trend for inclusion of women in the cyber workforce remains readily apparent.
Leaders should capitalize on this opportunity and demonstrate to the world that not only can women participate in greater numbers within the cyber security ranks, but they can also represent the future of the field and lead the way across the digital landscape to ensure a secure future for MENA.
Trump Fulfils Syria Promise By Showing What A ‘Red Line’ Really Means
US President Donald Trump did it and proved that he is not like his “soft,” if not to say the conspirator, predecessor Barack Obama. Trump has fulfilled his promise and showed what his ‘red line’ means on the Syrian map, the map of death and terrorism and international political vileness.
He struck Al-Shayrat airbase with several Tomahawk missiles after the Syrian regime’s chemical attacks last year. Still, Bashar and his protectors, Russia and Iran, were not deterred. They carried out another chemical attack in Douma and then feigned innocence along with some Arab and non-Arab groups from around the world, such as the heirs of the Latin Guevara hot temper that’s mixed with the comrades’ cigars, like Bolivia.
“We did not do it, you are defaming us, and you are violating international law,” Russian President Putin bellowed along with Iranian supreme guide Khamenei and Bashar al-Assad’s international speaker whom you can call Bashar al-Jaafari.
You cannot blame them for making such statements as they are the ones who committed the crime or tried to hide it, not just in Douma but in other places. There has been a sustained method of carrying out attacks, both chemical and non-chemical, ever since the Syrian crisis erupted in 2011.
The big moral disgrace is the stance taken by groups, figures and movements like Hamas in Palestine, other “progressive” Arabs and a few retired “nationalists.”
They did not see Bashar’s crimes in Houla, Baba Amr, Zabadani, Madaya, Al-Qusayr, Idlib and Aleppo and in the evil perpetrated in the prisons of Sednaya, Mezzeh, Palmyra and Homs. They did not see the brutality and savagery of Assad’s officers, like Issam Zahreddine, Colonel al-Nemr, Suhail al-Hassan and Maher al-Assad. They appear oblivious to the forced displacement of millions of Syrians, the sectarian cleansing and the import of Shiite militias from Afghanistan, Lebanon and through Iraq. Last but not least, they did not take note of the chemical attack in Douma and in the entire of Ghouta and in Khan Shaykhun before that.
This reflects a scandalous lack of values and of conscience. Bashar Al-Assad has destroyed Syria, divided people, planted sectarian and national hatred and legislated the law of the jungle. When it comes to death, the poor peasant in Daraa or Aleppo’s countryside will not tell the difference between dying by the attacks of the Sukhoi, Tornado, Rafale and F-16, or by Bashar’s barrels, Nasrallah’s Grad rockets, Al-Nusra’s mortar, ISIS’ explosives or the Sarin gas produced by Assad’s Jamraya lab.
During his phone call with Rouhani, Putin described the US strikes as “an act of aggression against a sovereign state that is at the forefront of fighting terrorism!” This is what Putin said and he first bears the “logical” then the moral responsibility for these remarks.
Imagine a well-known writer from Gaza which wants the world’s sympathy with it against Israeli aggression is saying this when commenting on Assad’s strikes. Ibrahim Abrash, Professor of Political Science at Al-Azhar University in Gaza, said in an article: “Regarding the use of chemical weapons, this is controversial.”
We are faced with an incurable Arab and international leftist “cultural” disease, which is openly manifesting itself.