New Age Islam
Fri Sep 25 2020, 09:44 AM

Middle East Press ( 20 May 2016, NewAgeIslam.Com)

Clovis Maksoud and Arabism: New Age Islam's Selection, 21 May 2016

New Age Islam Edit Bureau

21 May 2016

Clovis Maksoud and Arabism

By Nayla Tueni

A Strong Message from London against the ‘Clash of Civilizations’

Eyad Abu Shakra

Key Reasons behind Iran’s Extension of Power in Yemen

By Dr. Majid Rafizadeh

Failure Of Syria Diplomacy In Vienna

By Mshari Al Thaydi

Compiled By New Age Islam Edit Bureau


Clovis Maksoud and Arabism

By Nayla Tueni

 20 May 2016

Perhaps the recent death of Clovis Maksoud, a strong advocate of Arabism, sheds light on the fact that the concept of Arabism is fading away amid Islamist domination.

Even in countries where no Islamist revolution erupted, extremists have either invaded positions of authority via parliamentary elections, or gained popularity among the middle and working classes.

The problem is not with Islam, and we must not confuse Muslims with those who kill, rape and kidnap innocents, blow up places of worship and destroy ancient sites. Such people are an affront to humanity.


There is an urgent need to revive the concept of Arabism and include all sects, religions, parties, races and nationalities. Under this concept, the Arab world has progressed socially, politically and intellectually.

There is an urgent need to revive the concept of Arabism and include all sects, religions, parties, races and nationalities

However, the enemies of the Arab world were quick to undermine this civilized concept and revive prejudices, tribal affiliations and sectarian loyalties in order to destroy what was achieved and thwart future progress.

We have lost a prominent and strong advocate of Arabism, and although I did not know Maksoud well, his reputation preceded him.

Given his death and that of many other thinkers from the Arab world, the challenge lies in maintaining this bright intellect and carrying it as a torch that lights the paths of a nation that is about to lose all it has.



A Strong Message from London against the ‘Clash of Civilizations’

Eyad Abu Shakra

 20 May 2016

Last Thursday morning I voted early in the London suburb where I live, before taking the train to my office in Central London.

To be frank, a few weeks before election day I was not very keen to vote, given how many times I have been disappointed with politics during the last 15 years. During this period I almost lost all trust in politicians, especially, when they claim “the high moral ground” and start lecturing ethical values and human rights.

Incidentally, I never bothered to join a political party – neither in Lebanon nor in the UK despite my strong political convictions – until 1996, when I joined the British Labour Party. However, I suspended my party membership in 2003 as the Iraq War was looming when I realized that the party establishment was unwilling to listen to any voice critical of its policies and decisions.

Those days, like many, I was not a great fan of Saddam Hussein, but was insistently seeking one convincing answer to my question(s): “What about the day after? … How will the post-Saddam Hussein Iraq look like?”

At that time it became obvious that the British Prime Minister Tony Blair had chosen to sheepishly follow President George W Bush and his neocon backroom operators. He later let down and relieved his cabinet of two of its best and most principled members: Foreign Secretary Robin Cook due to disagreements on Iraq, and Northern Ireland Secretary Mo Mowlam who was never given credit for her courage and efforts in securing peace in that troubled region.

Anyway, after my disappointment with Blair and his party, I decided to take it easy, observe, follow, and vote tactically. Then, after Blair left I thought for a while of returning to the fold, but later chose to wait and see how Labor would re-invent itself. By then I had met Jeremy Corbyn, the firebrand Leftist, ‘champion’ of the causes of suppressed and dispossessed – including, of course, the Palestinian cause –, and the unflinching enemy of imperialism and racism.

Corbyn was and continues to be an honest man; magnanimous, modest, honourable and idealistic… maybe a bit too idealistic! Furthermore, he was never seriously regarded a leadership project, let alone prime minister material.

Corbyn’s Leadership

Even when the Labour leadership campaign was underway, Corbyn encountered difficulties in gathering enough nominating votes. Later on when some MPs chose to put their names as nominators, many of them declared that they won’t be voting for him, but rather intended to have an open debate that included all views within the party.

Corbyn was and continues to be an honest man; magnanimous, modest, honourable and idealistic… maybe a bit too idealistic

However, the moment Corbyn’s nomination became official, Labour MPs lost control of the election process to the party’s grassroots activists, constituency parties and trade unions. This assured the Leftist maverick of a stunning victory to the shock and dismay of the party’s moderates who believe that with Corbyn at the helm Labour will surely be in political limbo for years to come.

The last time Jeremy Corbyn and I met was a couple of years ago (before his election as party leader) when he invited me to lunch at the House of Commons. Our talk over lunch ended when my host blocked any path of meaningful discussion, by implicitly repeating the claims of some Arab Leftists that Bashar Al-Assad’s regime was a bastion of steadfastness against (American) imperialism, and a platform for the struggle of a free Palestine!

Thus, from the refusal of the Blairite ‘cabal’ to listen on Iraq, to reaching a dead-end with Corbyn on Syria, I simply relinquished any lingering hopes of re-joining Labour.

My decision was soon proven right when the truth began emerging from across the Atlantic about the real principles and ethical values of the Barack Obama administration. In November 2004 I wholeheartedly celebrated the election victory of Obama, a self-proclaimed progressive liberal, after becoming worried about the destructive internal and external policies of the Republican’s conservative Right.

However, the unfolding tragedy of Syria proved to me beyond doubt that there was not much difference between Blair and Obama; and he who was willing to throw Iraq into the ‘unknown’ does not differ from he who conspires against the Syrian people.

The fake and duplicitous ‘ethical foreign policy’ which Blair trumpeted for years before it was undone by his subservience to Bush Jr and his ‘neocons’ is now being replayed in Washington with the non-existent humanity of Obama’s junta’ including Ben Rhodes, Denis McDonough, Susan Rice and Valerie Jarrett.

Given the above I stopped believing claims of progressive and liberal British and American imposters, and ceased to go forward attacking windmills “Don Quixote-style”.

Conservative Propaganda

This was the reason why I thought there was no need to vote in the local elections. But the same reason that pushed me to join a political party 20 years ago pushed me to vote a few days ago. It is the negative propaganda the Conservative Party has mastered and perfected after decades of experience, and that is always ready to stoop low pandering to racists and xenophobic bigots through ruthless and efficient media onslaughts.

In 1996, after winning four consecutive general elections the Conservatives embarked on scaring the voters, warning them against voting Labor because Labour – as they claimed – “should not be trusted with the economy” and that they will destroy the economy due to their ‘lack of experience in government’ after being in opposition since 1979. The Conservatives were also assured of the last resort scare tactic which was the alleged ‘invasion of immigrants and foreigners’, especially, from the Indian subcontinent.

This time around too, when the campaign managers of the Conservative mayoral candidate Zac Goldsmith noticed that he was trailing his Labor opponent Sadiq Khan, the son of a Pakistani Muslim immigrant, they began insinuating that Khan “appeared” with extremist Muslims. This tactic infuriated even Goldsmith’s sister Jemima, the divorcee of the world famous Pakistani cricketer and politician Imran Khan.

This picture hit my memory augmented by the ‘isolationist’ feelings the anti-Europe and anti-immigrants UK Independent Party succeeded in entangling the Conservatives with; in addition to the poisonous racist climate created throughout Europe by the heinous Paris and Brussels attacks, and the memories of the 7/7 attacks in London in 2005 perpetrated by four assailants, three of whom were Muslims who hailed from the Indian subcontinent.

These facts led me to believe that voting has become a duty, and Sadiq Khan’s victory has become a civilized message sent by London to the world.

Thankfully, as things turned out, London, the tolerant and venerable great city, did well.

Its message has been loud and clear against “the Clash of Civilizations”.



Key Reasons behind Iran’s Extension of Power in Yemen

By Dr. Majid Rafizadeh

 20 May 2016

When a conflict erupts in a state, some countries which are not bordered with the conflict-affected state use political opportunism to direct the war in their interest.

Massoud Jazayiri, deputy head of Iran’s Armed Forces, recently told Iran’s Tasnim news agency that Iran is ready to copycat the process it adopted in Syria and use it in Yemen as well. He added that Iran is prepared to send “military advisers” in support of the Houthis in Yemen.

Several of Iran’s weapons shipments, which were likely heading to war-torn Yemen, had also been seized.

The statement by the deputy head of Iran’s Armed Forces, referring to repeating Iran’s role in Yemen, is more of an exaggerated political posturing than reality.

Iran’s role in the war in Yemen is multidimensional. On the surface, Yemen does not seem to bear geopolitical or strategic significance for the Iranian leaders. Yemen’s conflict also does not pose a national security threat to Iran. But, why Iran is determined to have a role in Yemen’s war and direct it in its favour?

The Ideological Factor

One dimension of Iran’s involvement in Yemen is ideological. One core pillar of its foreign policy is anchored in its Islamic revolutionary principles.

The key decision maker in Iran’s foreign policy is the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who pursues the ideology of his predecessor, Ayatollah Rooh Allah Khomenei, the founding figure of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Khamenei has shown almost no deviation from Khomeini’s ideals.

In addition, Khamenei gives weight to the information he receives from his close advisors in the Office of the Supreme Leader (not the President, the foreign minister, or other powerful clerics) and the hardline senior cadre of Iran’s revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).

Since Khamenei views himself as the leader of Muslims, he has naturally positioned himself to view Saudi Arabia as a competitor and rival

One of Khamenei’s underlying revolutionary values is that he views himself as the leader of the Islamic world and he views Iran as the vanguard of Muslims. In fact, his official website refers to him as the “Supreme Leader of Muslims”, not the Supreme Leader of “Iran” or solely the “Shiites”.

As a result, from Khamenei’s perspective, as a supreme leader of Muslims, using rhetoric, influencing, and directing the political affairs of every Muslim country, including Yemen, is his religious and ideological duty.

In addition, since Khamenei views himself as the leader of Muslims, he has naturally positioned himself to view Saudi Arabia as a competitor and rival. Showing his ideological influence in Yemen gives him leverage against Riyadh.

Other revolutionary ideals include anti-Americanism. Khamenei regards his rhetoric and projection of Iran’s increasing role in Yemen’s conflict is a tactic to counter-balance the US role in the region.

The Geopolitical and Strategic Reasons

Iran considers itself, and desires to be treated, as the paramount power in the Middle East because of it strategic significance, geographic location, military capabilities, economic strength, wealth and natural resources (such as holding the second and fourth largest gas and oil reserves in the world), and size of its population (second largest most populous nation in the Middle East after Egypt).

Iran’s regional hegemonic ambitions direct the Iranian leaders to pursue policies which are aimed at countering the power of other regional state actors (mainly Saudi Arabia), and weakening their strategic, economic and geopolitical significance in order to tip the regional balance of power in favor of Tehran.

While Yemen does not pose a national security threat to Iran, it does to Saudi Arabia since it shares a border with Riyadh. Iran seizes this opportunity, by supporting the Houthis, to challenge Saudi Arabia, making it look more vulnerable, all while Tehran is showing off its regional significance to Saudi Arabia and how it can cause a security threat to Riyadh.

In addition, by diverting the Saudi’s attention to Yemen, Iran is attempting to create a quagmire for Riyadh in Yemen, making it bogged down in Sanaa, in order to draw it away from Syria and Iraq; Iran’s main allies.

Iran also seizes the opportunity to increase its leverage against Riyadh and use Yemen as a strategic bargaining chip, to push Saudi Arabia to change it policy toward Damascus, Baghdad, Bahrain or other countries where Iran exerts influence.

Economic, Ethnic and Sectarian Factors

Economically speaking, Yemen is not as costly for Iran as Syria is, but it brings many benefits. Furthermore, Iran’s strategy of expanding its influence in the region is to create proxies in Muslim countries and make a political reality out of them to influence the domestic affairs of those nations (as it has done with Hezbollah and other Shiite groups in Iraq).

Ethnically speaking, and in terms of nationalism, Iran views one layer of its competition against Saudi Arabia as the rivalry between Persians and Arabs. Iran’s influence in Yemen helps Tehran in this respect.

Finally, although Iran views itself as the vanguard of both Sunnis and Shiites, it does contain a covert sectarian agenda in supporting the Shiites (or an offshoot of Shiism) to improve and extend its influence in other countries.



Failure of Syria Diplomacy in Vienna

By Mshari Al Thaydi

20 May 2016

The International Syria Support Group (ISSG) left the Geneva talks not admitting their failure, but that is the conclusion of the statements made by foreign ministers and by the team of UN special envoy Staffan de Mistura.

The ISSG includes the United States, Russia, European countries, Saudi Arabia and even Iran, as well as three international organizations.

The aims of the Vienna talks were to solidify the ceasefire, deliver humanitarian aid and begin a political transition. However, the Syrian regime and its allies did not respect any of these goals, nor did the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) or Al-Nusra Front, which are not part of the talks.

Humanitarian needs have not been met, resulting in death by starvation in places such as Madaya and Al-Waar, so the Vienna talks agreed to aid airdrops.

Washington and Moscow disagree over a political transition, with Russia stubbornly refusing to see Syrian President Bashar al-Assad as the problem

US and Russia

Washington and Moscow disagree over a political transition, with Russia stubbornly refusing to see Syrian President Bashar al-Assad as the problem.

Philip Gordon, a former National Security Council aide to US President Barack Obama, criticized US policy in this regard, saying: “Many have consistently underestimated Russia’s determination to prevent [the Assad] regime from falling.”

There have been many news reports on European frustration over US-Russian disagreement on Syria. This contradicts US Secretary of State John Kerry’s repeatedly optimistic statements.

Europe believes the Syrian conflict has caused security, social and political problems in its countries due to the refugee influx and the rise of far-right parties as a result. This in addition to ISIS recruitment of Europeans, some of whom are converts to Islam.

The Obama administration has always acted gradually on Syria, and after provocative hesitation that made matters worse, emboldening Russia and Iran in their support of Assad.

After the Vienna talks ended, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir told reporters: “We believe we should have moved to a Plan B a long time ago.”