New Age Islam Edit Bureau
29 March 2018
Life's Hard, But Hope Springs Eternal in Gaza
By Atef Abu Saif
Stability, Not War, Is Answer to Lebanon's Problems
By Christiane Waked
In Spite Of Leftist Propaganda, We Shall Continue To Buy Weapons
By Mohammed Al Shaikh
Why Iranian People Welcome Bolton’s New Position
By Hamid Bahrami
Iran’s Missiles Shell Saudi Arabia
By Mashari Althaydi
How MBS Went In To Bat For The Arab World
By Ray Hanania
Compiled By New Age Islam Edit Bureau
Life's Hard, But Hope Springs Eternal In Gaza
March 28, 2018
My paternal grandmother, Eisha, was expelled from Jaffa in 1948, during what Palestinians call the 'Nakba', and since then four generations of hers, of us, have lived as refugees.
"Are you still living in Jabaliya Camp, Gaza Strip?" he asks.
"Where else should I live?" I answer.
It's the same conversation I have every time I catch up with this one Palestinian friend in France. Same question, same answer. Life in Gaza is hard. Then it gets worse and we think it's intolerable. Then it gets even worse.
According to the World Bank, youth unemployment in Gaza hit 58 per cent in 2016, and nearly 80 per cent of the territory's 2 million residents received aid. The United Nations has warned that the place might collapse. Despite a reconciliation deal in the fall, tensions remain between Hamas that runs Gaza, and Fatah, which leads the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank. Recently, there was what looked like an assassination attempt on the Palestinian prime minister as he travelled to Gaza, and Fatah leaders are blaming Hamas.
"You must be tempted to leave," my friend says.
When so many basic things are so fundamentally beyond your control, you sometimes do feel like giving up, saying goodbye to both country and past, and letting Palestine go. The problem is, Palestine won't let you go.
My younger brother Ibrahim studied English literature hoping to become a teacher.
It's been nine years since he graduated, and he still has had no teaching job. He recently started working at a TV repair shop after trying reporting, translating and being a cashier in a supermarket. He spends most of the day fixing satellite dishes in the Jabaliya refugee camp, where he and I and our other eight siblings grew up, and where most of our family still lives. "It's better than nothing," he says. Many people here say that.
I teach political science at Al Azhar University. My introductory course sometimes has 200 students. When I ask them what they want to do after graduation they say, "nothing." When I meet former students years after they have graduated and ask them, "what did you end up doing?" they, too, say, "nothing." Even the brightest ones end up jobless, or at least careerless, scratching a living from dirt.
One of my current students is so smart - I know that in any other place he would have a great career in academia ahead of him. But for that he would have to do research and take posts abroad, and he can't leave. "I am rotting in Gaza," he says.
He's been trying to leave, legally, through the Rafah border crossing into Egypt for five years. But the border is closed much of the time - last year, it was opened for a total of just over 30 days - and his name never makes it to the short list of those who get permission to go. (In February, some 660 people reportedly made it through, most of them medical patients.)
The other exit is via Erez, into Israel, and then onward to Jordan. That's an even harder way to go. "Should I leave by boat?" he asks. He's joking: The Israeli military patrols the sea off the Gaza Strip as closely as the land border.
All of this may seem like an old story, just more of the same. But things haven't improved for so long that they can't help but get worse. My paternal grandmother, Eisha, was expelled from Jaffa in 1948, during what Palestinians call the 'nakba' or 'catastrophe' and since then four generations of hers, of us, have lived as refugees in Jabaliya. The restrictions on Gaza have affected every generation here - even the dead.
The other day I was driving through the western part of the city with my five kids.
Suddenly my five-year-old daughter shouted: "Dad! Dad! Pizza! Pizza!" She was pointing to a shop on the other side of the street. She wasn't hungry; it's just that seeing a pizza drawn out on a storefront sign made her think of a cartoon she watches. I was thrilled to see her make a connection between the image and the word.
Children are different from us adults: They're wired to find some joy in everything. It's my daughter's hope that makes me stay in Gaza. It belongs here, this hope, not elsewhere. It belongs to Palestine.
Neither Lebanon nor the world wants a new round of destruction and war; instead Lebanon needs stability and economic growth now more than ever before.
Despite alarming articles such as the one published by Dr Mara Karlin, US Former Deputy Assistant Secretary for Strategy and Force Development, that a "war between Israel and Hezbollah is almost inevitable", Lebanon seems to be the most secure country in the region.
Researchers like Elliott Abrams and Zachary Shapiro who work on Middle Eastern studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, too, have warned in an article in Politico Magazine on March 15 that thousands of Americans could be stuck in a war in Lebanon. However, such arguments have no solid roots. The duo even stated that the US is not prepared for this eventuality.
The influx of refugees to Lebanon peaked this year (almost two million from Syria and Iraq alone) and is still on the rise. These refugees, while considered a burden for some Lebanese, are actually a shield that prevents a war from happening in this small country. The western world has invested significantly to keep these refugees away from their country and retain them in Lebanon.
Two important conferences were held recently in favour of Lebanon - in Rome and Paris. The Rome II conference held on March 15 sought to find means to back Lebanon's military and security forces and was attended by around 40 countries and regional bodies. Important financial commitments were made by several countries, including the United Kingdom which is expected to announce an 'eight figure pledge'.
The Lebanon investment programme which will be discussed in April at the Paris IV conference, also known as the Cedar Conference, is valued at around $17 billion. The attendees are expected to make commitments to bolster the infrastructure and the Lebanese economy that is burdened by refugee population.
Recently the International Monetary Fund (IMF) urged Lebanon to implement reforms ahead of Paris IV conference. In its latest report concerning Lebanon, the IMF warned that Lebanon's economic situation is alarming and remains challenging as a result of slow GDP growth and rising public debt.
A war with Hezbollah now would spell disaster not only for Lebanon but also on a regional and international level. Neither Lebanon nor the world wants a new round of destruction and war; instead Lebanon needs stability and economic growth now more than ever.
Iran recently made budget cuts on Hezbollah after having lost around 2,000 fighters in Syria excluding those disabled and the seriously wounded. Israel, on the other hand, is well aware that it will pay a high price if it engages in war with Hezbollah.
Israel has realised that the Hezbollah is no longer a serious threat and that Lebanon is gradually acquiring the status of a responsible sovereign state. With the Lebanese parliament elections during the first week of May, it is felt that an attack on Hezbollah will only raise its popularity.
It is time Israel realised that it has more to gain by proclaiming peace, instead of declaring war with Hezbollah.
28 March 2018
Arab leftists and those influenced by their defeated culture have been criticizing Saudi Arabia for strengthening its military to develop it into a powerful deterrent force against any threats to its security and stability, such as the ones posed by the theocratic state of Iran. They concoct devious insinuations that imply military purchases are imposed on us by Western countries, especially the US.
Saudi Arabia is a major regional power with huge financial resources. Its geographical spread is equivalent to that of a continent, and all Muslims around the world aspire to perform pilgrimage in the two Holy Mosques situated here. The country is located at the center of the global human populace, between the East and the West, which gives it a great advantage. It is for all these factors that Saudi Arabia is being targeted, whether directly as the Persian clerics aspire or indirectly by other international powers aspiring to have a foothold in our country. Our deterrent military power is thus a top priority. The purchase of weapons will undoubtedly contribute to deterring the avaricious countries.
Western countries are also keen to sell us weapons for purely economic reasons as these sales would boost their economy. Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s signing of new deals for advanced weaponry with the US, the UK and other Western countries, makes us proud. The world nowadays only respects the powerful, and we happen to have the financial and human capacities needed to make the Saudi deterrent force capable of curbing the greedy.
Betting On The Right Horse
Saudi Arabia has had the political acumen of betting on the right horse, since the time of Abdulaziz till the reign of Salman bin Abdulaziz, which is the West that is now headed by the US. Meanwhile leftist Arabs have historically sided with the eastern camp, specifically with the defeated Soviet Union. In the end, all those who placed their hopes on the eastern camp failed. This defeat was not only related to the military but also to economic development. This is evident on any visit to Syria, Iraq, Libya or southern Yemen. One can easily see the huge gap between what we have been able to accomplish in terms of construction and services and what these countries achieved. It is not that the other side was not endowed with natural resources, because Iraq and Libya have rich petroleum deposits, financial resources and capabilities that could have made their countries develop on par with Riyadh, Abu Dhabi or Kuwait. However, their futile slogans and allegiance to the decadent left, brought them misery and suffering.
In the end I wish to tell those influenced by the vanquished leftist ideology that we will deal with the West, and we will benefit from its superior civilization and its accomplishments — both its military feats and its other cultural achievements. These mainly deliver deterrence to our communities and also enhance welfare and services. As for you, your media, your intellectuals, and your criticism, these are nothing but the groans of a defeated force as it falls in the battle of civilizations.
Iranian people have begun the new year with three messages from Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and the US President Donald Trump.
In his remark, Khamenei, humiliated the Iranian people, especially the poor, by connecting their demands of improved living standards raised during the nationwide uprising early this year, which continue desultorily across the country, to western countries.
Instead, he praised activities of the Revolutionary Guard (IRGC) in the Middle East while blaming protesters for refusing to support it.
On the other hand, the US President congratulated Iranian people on the new Persian year, while slamming the theocracy and its paramilitary force, IRGC.
The Iranian youth and activists embraced President Trump’s message on social media because it acknowledged their rich history as compared to the clerics’ hostility against Iranian national symbol.
The most impressive new year message was, however, President Trump’s appointment of John Bolton as the US National Security Adviser (NSA). It was received by both the regime and the people but in different ways.
According to Iran’s state media the Secretary of the regime's Supreme National Security Council (SNS) Ali Shamkhani harshly criticized Bolton as he attacked the main Iranian opposition coalition, the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) and its leader Maryam Rajavi, who has appeared on many conventions and conferences with Bolton and other prominent US officials.
In contrast, Iranian activists have created hashtags in both Farsi and English on Twitter “#JohnBolton #???_??????” in order to support the appointment.
Now one may ask how Iranians judge Bolton and why they welcome his new appointment.
During and after the recent uprising in Iran, Khamenei blamed the NCRI and Mrs Rajavi for organizing the anti-regime protests.
Rajavi is a vividly debated politician who leads the organized resistance against the fanatic religious regime in Iran. While the theocracy views women as second-class citizens, the Iranian society acknowledges Rajavi for her firm stands to overthrow the mullahs regime.
As a social activist and journalist who lived in Iran for 27 years and being actively involved in politics since 2009 both inside and outside Iran, I admit that Rajavi has a great influence and social charisma among the young generation and marginalized women who seek a democratic and secular Iran.
The new NSA partook in several NCRI gatherings in Paris and New York and spoke in support of the coalition’s demands for a free Iran. Bolton believes Mrs Rajavi’s 10-point plan is the most appropriate alternative to the Ayatollahs’ regime, according to an interview with Fox News.
In his latest remarks in Paris in July 2017, he said that “the US policy should be determined that the regime [in Iran] will not last until its 40th birthday in February 2019.”
John Bolton has come to the attention of Iranian people only because of his support for the organized resistance.
Indeed, the nuclear deal is no longer the main issue for people in Iran. The prime concern is how to bring about necessary democratic change to their country and as such they welcome a firm policy against their oppressors.
Now, the Iranian society and oppressed people of Iran have a friend in White House, whose believe converge with their legitimate demands for change.
The Houthi-Iranian missiles which were fired towards Riyadh and other Saudi cities reveal why fighting the Houthis in Yemen is an existential matter and an inevitable choice, contrary to those demanding to halt the war or doubting its usefulness.
We are before a terrorist group that takes orders from the Iranian Revolutionary Guards and that does not even aim to serve the interests of the Houthi Movement itself. Just like its masters in Tehran, this terror group frankly states that it wants death and destruction for Saudi Arabia and the Saudi people.
It’s important to clarify this for the thousand time and note that this is not only Saudi Arabia’s war but the war of an Islamic Arab coalition that has international legitimate support. The summary of the argument of Turki Al-Maliki, the spokesman of the Arab coalition, is that it’s Iran which actually shelled some Saudi cities while the Houthis are just a nickname, like when one uses a fake name on online interactive platforms!
All this happened as US President Donald Trump’s team integrated and the political mood towards Iran was unified by appointing Mike Pompeo as US Secretary of State and John Bolton as national security advisor. It’s also happened as Saudi-Emirati-American coordination strengthened as seen by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s current tour to the US.
The conclusive evidence that Iran has supplied the Houthis with the missiles used to target Saudi Arabia and sent Revolutionary Guards, and perhaps Hezbollah experts as well, to Yemen, make the confrontation with Iran, whatever its form is, imminent, that is if the decision to confront it had not been already taken!
Commenting on the Houthi-Iranian missiles which targeted Saudi Arabia, Emile Ameen wrote in an article published in Asharq al-Awsat newspaper: “There must be quick efforts in the UN to look into how it can confront Iran, and the Americans must prepare the required responses to these power tests they’ve been subjected to.
After the Iranian missiles were fired towards Saudi Arabia, the Saudi cabinet chaired by King Salman said: “The Iranian-backed Houthi militias’ criminal aggression proves that the Iranian regime continues to support the Houthis. This is a clear violation of UN Security Council Resolutions 2216 and 2231. It also shows the destructive role Iran is playing in Yemen by smuggling missiles to terrorist militias to use them against civilians in Yemen and the kingdom.”
The spokesman of the Arab coalition Colonel Turki Al-Maliki said the kingdom “reserves the right to respond to Iran.” Commenting on the recent Houthi attack on Saudi Arabia, Rebecca Rebarich, the US Department of Defense spokesperson, accused Iran of supplying the Houthis with weapons.
Will this reckless missile attack expedite the pace of the “great confrontation” with Khomeini's Iran that nurtures all evils in the region?
How MBS Went In To Bat for the Arab World
Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia last week shattered many of the negative stereotypes about the Arab world that persist in America, and have defined the contentious relationship between the two.
Before embarking on a tour of six American cities and meeting White House and Congressional officials, Crown Prince Mohammed appeared on the CBS TV program “60 Minutes,” which is notorious as the toughest news show in America. The four difficult questions Arab leaders always face but fail to answer properly, thereby undermining the Arab world’s credibility, were thrown at him by reporter Norah O’Donnell. But instead of ducking and dodging, he hit each one “out of the park,” like grand slam home runs in an American baseball championship.
What Crown Prince Mohammed is doing is not a game, obviously. He’s about bettering the future of the Arab world and building a relationship with the West based on facts, not the usual ugly fiction. He showed that someone in the Arab world finally understands how to speak effectively to Americans to reinforce the best interests of the Arab world using strategic communications, not confrontation or disagreement.
The first question Arabs face involves the Sep. 11, 2001, attacks and the fact that 15 of the 19 terrorists were Saudis. Rather than being indignant at the question, as others often are, Crown Prince Mohammed took it head-on, explaining that the 15 hijackers were as much a threat to Saudi Arabia as to America and the West. He said Osama Bin Laden had a “clear objective… to create a schism between the Middle East and the West, between Saudi Arabia and the United States of America… to create an environment conducive to recruitment and spreading his radical message that the West is plotting to destroy you. Indeed, he succeeded in creating this schism in the West.”
The second question Arab leaders face regards the perception that Arab women are more oppressed in the Arab world than they are in the West. Americans conveniently forget that American women are oppressed, too. It took the US 64 years for all 50 states to grant women the right to vote under the 19th Amendment to the US Constitution, which was adopted in 1920. The last of the 50 states, Mississippi, ratified it only in 1984.
Native American women did not receive rights as Americans until 1924, and those rights were not fully implemented until 1948. African Americans lived in a state of limbo in the US from America’s founding right through to the late 1960s, when laws were passed to finally recognize them as equals. Despite those civil rights laws, many black Americans are still not treated equally.
But Crown Prince Mohammed didn’t throw those truths into American faces. Instead, he explained what he is doing to reverse years of restrictions imposed in 1979 after the Iranian-inspired Muslim Brotherhood assault on the Grand Mosque in Makkah, which killed 255 Muslims and injured 560 more. He said that, in response to the 1979 attack, Saudi Arabia cracked down on many rights to confront violent extremism, including closing movie theaters, banning music and dance, and restricting the rights of Saudi women — not just banning them from driving but also excluding them from business and preventing them from obtaining an education.
“The laws are very clear and stipulated in the laws of Sharia: That women wear decent, respectful clothing, like men,” Crown Prince Mohammed said. “This, however, does not particularly specify a black abaya or a black head cover. The decision is entirely left for a woman to decide what type of decent and respectful attire she chooses to wear.”
The Saudi Arabia of the past 40 years is not the Saudi Arabia of today, he said, and he ordered changes to allow all Saudis to live a “normal life,” including allowing women to drive, re-opening movie theaters, and encouraging the arts, music and entertainment.
O’Donnell forcefully re-asked the question: “Are women equal to men?” And Crown Prince Mohammed answered directly and without hesitation: “Absolutely. We are all human beings and there is no difference.”
The third question is always about “oppression” and human rights, this time with reference to the recent measures to address “corruption.” The West has a questionable record on human rights, and civil rights as well, yet Saudi Arabia and the Arab world are always held to a higher standard.
Crown Prince Mohammed explained: “Saudi Arabia believes in many of the principles of human rights. In fact, we believe in the notion of human rights, but ultimately Saudi standards are not the same as American standards. I don’t want to say that we don’t have shortcomings. We certainly do. But naturally we are working to mend these shortcomings.”
The fourth question involves the wealth of the Arab world, a question that ignores the greater wealth of the West. “Arab wealth” is always exaggerated as obscene, while “Western wealth” is associated with success and power. It’s an amazing hypocrisy considering that, on numerous lists of the world’s 50 wealthiest people, there are no Arabs. The lists are dominated by Americans, Asians and Europeans.
Instead of engaging in an argument, Crown Prince Mohammed answered with good sense. He explained that he spent 51 percent of his wealth on others, and said: “My personal life is something I’d like to keep to myself and I don’t try to draw attention to it. If some newspapers want to point something out about it, that’s up to them. As far as my private expenses, I’m a rich person and not a poor person. I’m not Gandhi or Mandela. I’m a member of the ruling family that existed for hundreds of years before the founding of Saudi Arabia.”
Years of Western misconceptions about the Arab world won’t be immediately erased, and his appearance doesn’t minimize the serious threats the Arab world faces from Iran, or the need Saudi Arabia has for nuclear technology to replace depleting oil resources. But Crown Prince Mohammed showed he understands the one thing many Arab leaders and nations fail to understand — that strategic communications, or how you present yourself, are important to the West. “Perception is reality,” and how you say something is often more significant than what you say.
This first formal introduction of Crown Prince Mohammad to the American people was a World Series championship.