New Age Islam
Fri Jul 19 2024, 01:37 PM

Middle East Press ( 15 Oct 2020, NewAgeIslam.Com)

Comment | Comment

Middle East Press on Women Portrayed by Media, Saudi Arabia-Israel Relations and Libya: New Age Islam's Selection, 15 October 2020

By New Age Islam Edit Bureau

15 October 2020

• Why the Way Women Are Portrayed By The Media Matters

By Asma I. Abdulmalik

• Pompeo Calls on Saudi Arabia to Normalize Relations with Israel

By Al-Monitor Staff

• No Peace in the Middle East without Resolving Palestinian Issue

By Najla M. Shahwan

• Is The Normalisation Deal Really A Win For Israel?

By Adnan Abu Amer

• Palestinian Leadership Needs To Get Its Act Together

By Ray Hanania

• Cairo Pushes For Military Agreements in Libya

By George Mikhail


Why the Way Women Are Portrayed By the Media Matters

By Asma I. Abdulmalik

October 14, 2020


Protesters took to the streets of Swiss cities to demand gender equality in 2019. (Reuters)


Like any normal and easily distracted person, I often find myself scrolling through endless pages of social media posts. Between the latest beauty trends and the current state of affairs, I stumble upon a few “non-official” local media accounts that never fail to stir controversy.

Over the past few months, I have noticed an increase in the frequency of posts that are negative about women. These posts do not necessarily attack women directly, but they include content and innuendoes that paint women in a negative light. In a matter of a week, for example, one account posted these headlines: “Revenge on her ex-husband — the motto of some divorcees,” “Woman files for divorce because she can’t stand her husband,” “Women encourage others to seek divorce for unreasonable reasons,” and “Study shows women measure a man’s affection with material things and not emotions.” They even pose questions aiming to stimulate male discussions, such as “Should you choose to marry a stay-at-home woman or one that works?”

These accounts go as far as attempting to normalize and encourage delicate social subjects, such as polygamy, by posting successful outliers like the case of the Gulf wife who planned and paid for her husband’s second marriage. In the same week, the same account also conveniently selected some secondary observations from an old study by the University of Sheffield to demonstrate that polygamy has multiple positive benefits for the husband.

What many might disregard as harmless online banter or random social observations and discussions can have real negative repercussions in the long run. These messages are, by their nature, misogynistic, stereotypical and sexist. The real threat, however, lies in the fact that they can actually influence public opinion.

Comments turn into discussions, which can develop into a wider debate and be picked up by official news media channels or even government institutions. This was evident when a simple post was published that presented the court case of a divorced woman demanding “unreasonable” alimony from her ex-husband. The online debate became very heated and it was eventually discussed by members of the UAE’s Federal National Council.

I will not delve into how these messages reinforce archaic notions of patriarchy and moral authority. Nevertheless, it is imperative to highlight that it is becoming more and more difficult to accept the randomness of these posts. Instead, they could be a deliberate attempt to normalize controversial subjects and undermine the image of women.

These accounts are not official, nor do they belong to private corporations, but are instead individual efforts by citizens. Their influence has grown over the years and they now have hundreds of thousands of followers. They post the latest local news, sometimes even before the official channels, as well as social issues and entertaining videos. In fact, most of the content is recycled material from international tabloids, such as the UK’s Daily Mail, or has been cherry-picked from local court cases. Their comparative advantage lies in their wide public outreach and the lack of official accountability.

What is unfortunate, however, is that they champion messages that absolutely contradict what official government establishments and media outlets advocate daily. Official media accounts spare no expense in highlighting all the great successes women have achieved over the years. They celebrate every break in the glass ceiling and provide all possible means for women to excel outside of their preconceived gender roles.

Over the course of history, women have been defined in very narrow roles. This comes as no surprise, since exclusively men managed the media and images and content were tailored to men’s preferences. However, much of the media has now come a long way, from exploiting women’s images and sexuality to now portraying them as independent and powerful. This is why it matters how we portray women in the media.

The mass media is clearly no longer just about informing. It plays an important role in shaping society and swaying public opinion. It influences our priorities and is a vehicle for changing our laws and policies. It carries a great responsibility in raising awareness of the pressing and relevant matters that concern us, as well as promoting messages that inform, engage and educate for the betterment of every group in society. What we all want is to foster a society that promotes and respects both men and women. It is thus more important than ever to understand that the media accounts and individuals that continue to produce discriminatory and insulting stereotypes about women should no longer be entertained.


Asma I. Abdulmalik is an Emirati civil servant and a writer interested in gender and development issues.


Pompeo Calls On Saudi Arabia to Normalize Relations with Israel

By Al-Monitor Staff

Oct 14, 2020


US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, right, listens to Saudi Minister of Foreign Affairs Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud during their meeting at the State Department, Oct. 14, 2020, in Washington, DC. Photo by MANUEL BALCE CENETA/AFP via Getty Images.


US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo urged Saudi Arabia to consider normalizing ties with Israel, he told the press on Wednesday following a meeting with the Saudi foreign minister as part of the inaugural US-Saudi strategic dialogue in Washington. 

During joint remarks with Prince Faisal bin Farhan, Pompeo said the US-brokered Abraham Accords “reflect a changing dynamic in the region.”

“We hope Saudi Arabia will consider normalizing its relationships as well. We want to thank them for the assistance they've had in the success of the Abraham Accords so far,” Pompeo said, adding he was hopeful that Saudi Arabia can encourage the Palestinians to return to negotiations with Israel.

Last month, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain agreed to recognize the Jewish state in exchange for Israel agreeing to hold off annexing large portions of the West Bank. President Donald Trump has said that he expects "five or six" countries, including Saudi Arabia, to follow their lead and strike their own normalization deals with Israel.

Prince Faisal has previously said that Saudi Arabia still adheres to the Arab Peace Initiative, which calls for recognition to be offered only in exchange for Israel’s complete withdrawal from the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967.

But analysts say the tiny Gulf state of Bahrain would not have agreed to the Israel accord without the approval of its close Saudi ally. Riyadh also hinted at its approval when granting Israeli commercial flights permission to cross its airspace when flying to or from the UAE.

Also on Wednesday, Pompeo said he and his Saudi counterpart “reaffirmed our mutual commitment to countering Iranian malign activity” and added that the Trump administration supports a “robust program of arm sales to Saudi Arabia.”

Despite objections from lawmakers over the mounting civilian death toll in Yemen and the 2018 murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, the administration pushed through arms sales worth $8 billion to Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Jordan last year.

Pompeo also said he encouraged Saudi Arabia to commit to human rights reforms, “including the need to allow free expression and peaceful activism.”

Despite efforts to polish its image abroad, Saudi Arabia lost its bid on Tuesday to retain a seat on the UN Human Rights Council. The kingdom under its de facto ruler, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, has widened its crackdown on free expression and jailed more than a dozen female activists.

Pompeo also expressed concern for Americans in Saudi Arabia, including Walid Fitaihi, a Harvard-trained physician who Saudi authorities arrested without charge in November 2017. He was released from prison after two years but is now barred from leaving the country.


No Peace In The Middle East Without Resolving Palestinian Issue

By Najla M. Shahwan

October 15, 2020

During the Sept. 15 ceremony at the White House, representatives from the United Arab Emirates (UAE), the Kingdom of Bahrain and Israel signed agreements normalizing relations between the two Gulf states and Israel.

Although U.S. President Donald Trump described the event in a tweet as an “historic day for peace in the Middle East,” these agreements are far from promoting any kind of reconciliation in the Middle East, as they are only a declaration of the long and quiet relationship between the three nations, which have never been in conflict or war with one another.

These normalization agreements make the existing relationship official and provide an opening for stronger economic ties and military coordination. Public to public engagement, however, cannot exist as long as the Palestinians are under occupation.

The previous 1979 Egypt-Israel and 1994 Israel-Jordan peace treaties did not witness people-to-people normalization, and relations remained quite cold until date.

As a result of the declaration of the Bahraini agreement with Israel, there were huge protests in the capital Manama against the government’s move alongside a joint statement by a group of the nation's political and civil society associations, including the Bahrain Bar Association, standing against the deal.

In Rabat, demonstrators protested outside the Parliament of Morocco to denounce Arab countries agreeing to normalize ties with Israel and others around the city waved Palestinian flags, decrying the deals as “treason” and chanting “Palestine is not for sale.”

In the Arab world, the opposition to normalization with Tel Aviv remains strong because the public sees Israel as an illegal occupying power. Despite this push, governments rush toward these deals, ignoring their nations’ demands.

In reference to the normalization agreement between Manama and Tel Aviv, Amnesty International highlighted that no diplomatic agreement could change the legal duties of Israel as an occupying power. It also posted on its Twitter page that “any process aimed at a just and lasting resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict must constitute the removal of illegal Israeli settlements.”

The peace process should also include “putting an end to the systematic violations of human rights and ensure justice and compensation for victims of crimes under international law,” it added.

“No diplomatic agreement can change the legal duties of Israel as an occupying power under international humanitarian principles nor can it deprive Palestinians of their rights and protection by international law,” Amnesty pointed out.

By signing these agreements Israel did not make any concession. Tel Aviv did agree to suspend its plan to annex the West Bank just to calm down the uproar inside and outside the country. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, however, made it clear that the suspension is only temporary and on the ground, Tel Aviv is continuing to expand its settlements as evidenced by the approval of the establishment of 5,400 new settlements in the West Bank in early October.

On the other hand, the suspension declaration provided cover for the Gulf monarchs from their populations who are passionate about the Palestinian cause.

For its part, Israel is exploiting the normalization opportunity to annex more Palestinian lands and demolish more Palestinian homes.

For decades, the UAE and the Kingdom of Bahrain were similar to most of the Arab world. Each rejected official diplomatic ties with Israel, insisting that recognition is only to be implemented in return for giving the Palestinians their full rights in their own independent state based on 1967 borders with east Jerusalem as their capital. The new accords with Tel Aviv, however, break this long-held principle that was a crucial asset for Palestinians and weaken a longstanding pan-Arab position that calls for Israeli withdrawal from the occupied territories.

On what peace?

Signaling an end to “land for peace," Netanyahu in a late-August news conference said that a deal to establish full diplomatic ties with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) proves that Israel doesn’t need to retreat from the occupied land demanded by Palestinians to achieve peace and normalization with Arab states.

“According to the Palestinians, and to many others in the world who agreed with them, peace can’t be reached without conceding to the Palestinians’ demands, including uprooting settlements, dividing Jerusalem and withdrawal to 1967 lines,” Netanyahu said in a video statement. “No more. This concept of peace through withdrawal and weaknesses has passed from the world.”

Netanyahu never wanted peace – a just peace, based on a just compromise for both sides. Over the years, he has moved away from even the aspiration of reconciliation, its place taken by collective anxieties that are systematically implanted by personal and private matters and lately, by the so-called normalization with some Arab states.

The overwhelming evidence of Netanyahu’s rejection of peace is, of course, the settlements project that expands systematically, consolidating the occupation and creating a new status quo on the ground.

If the Israeli prime minister really wanted to achieve peace, his first move should have been to unconditionally end all construction in the occupied territories.

As published in the Middle East Monitor, the former chief of Israel’s intelligence agency Mossad, Shabtai Shavit, said in late June of 2019 to Israeli daily Maariv that Tel Aviv does not want peace and that, if it had, it would have done so with the Palestinian Authority (PA) long ago.

Shavit, however, said that Netanyahu does not see the PA as a negotiating partner and therefore refuses to develop relations with the authority. “Do you know any other head of an Israeli government who did not talk with the Palestinians?” he asked.

Shavit also claimed that Netanyahu stopped speaking to the PA under pressure from the Israeli right, who he claimed “would lynch him in the city center” if he opened discussions today.

Shavit continued" “We (Israel) are the strongest in the Middle East ... At this time, no Arab coalition is likely to be formed that would endanger (Israel’s) existence like in the 1960s and 1970s."

“The strong can do for itself what the weak cannot do ... We can run over the other side if we want,” he added.

Regarding the Oslo Accords of the mid-1990s – the last substantial attempt at peace negotiations – Shavit said that the Israeli right has since painted this agreement as a “sin,” arguing that had they continued down this path, there could have been peace.

“This is not fantasy, because those who do not want peace succeeded in making large portions of the country believe that Oslo was the mother of all sins and the desire for peace is also a sin,” Shavit concluded.

The Netanyahu myth is that the status quo can be indefinitely sustained and that the international community, distracted by more immediate tragedies in the Middle East, is losing interest in the Palestinian issue.

A wrong thinking

For its part, Russia said that it would be a “mistake” to think about peace in the Middle East without resolving the Palestinian issue, noting that even if there is “progress” in the normalization of ties between Israel and several Arab countries, “the Palestinian problem remains acute,” and “it would be a mistake to think that without finding a solution to it that it will be possible to secure lasting stabilization in the Middle East.”

Moscow urged regional and global players to “ramp up coordinated efforts” to solve the issue adding, “Russia is ready for such joint work” included within the framework of the diplomatic Middle East Quartet peace negotiators and in close coordination with the Arab League, its Foreign Ministry said.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said early this month that only an Israeli withdrawal from its occupied territories could bring peace to the Middle East.

The war on Palestine has been raging for 72 years, and the current circumstances are more daunting than at any time since the 1948 Palestinian exodus “Nakba,’’ while Trump’s so-called “deal of the century” purportedly aims at a conclusive resolution to the conflict, denying all of Palestine's historical rights in their occupied lands.

Even his team member, Ambassador to Israel David Friedman demanded that the state department stop using the term “alleged occupation,” declaring that Israel has the “right” to annex “some, but unlikely all, of the West Bank.”

Besides, the envoy for Israel-Palestine negotiations Jason Greenblatt stated that the West Bank settlements “are not an obstacle to peace.” He rejected the use of the term “occupation” in a meeting with European Union representatives and endorsed Friedman’s views regarding annexation.

In this painful situation when a solution seems more difficult than ever, Tel Aviv needs to re-examine its actions that shape its peace illusions, admitting that by its normalization with Arab countries it cannot alienate the Palestinian cause because it is not only in the heart of the Middle East, but it is in the heart of Israel’s stability.

Tel Aviv must stop its settlement activities that include actions taken in that context against the Palestinians, such as forced transfers, evictions, demolitions and confiscations of homes, which are illegal under international law and constitute an obstacle to a just solution.

It is essential that to this end, meaningful negotiations on all final status issues must resume between Israelis and Palestinians. They need to built upon their agreed-to international parameters and international law with full respect and implementation of Resolution 2334 to ensure sustainable peace, security and stability in the Middle East.


Najla M. Shahwan, Palestinian author, researcher and freelance journalist; recipient of two prizes from the Palestinian Union of Writers


Is The Normalisation Deal Really A Win For Israel?

By Adnan Abu Amer

14 Oct 2020

The signing of the deal normalising relations between Israel, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates caused a stir in the Middle East. It seems Israel is increasingly gaining political ground in the region, expanding trade and financial relations, and solidifying an Arab-Israeli axis against Iran. All of this is happening against the will of the Palestinian people and without any concession from the Israelis.

These developments have raised a number of important questions on the political scene in the Middle East. Does this diplomatic success for Israel mean that the Palestinian question has been completely sidelined in Arab politics? Have Palestinians lost their “veto power” on the normalisation of relations between Arab states and Israel? Will the UAE be able to bypass the Palestinians, the original owners of the cause, and come up with a “solution” to the Palestinian issue?

The Palestinian loss of ‘veto power’

For decades, there has been a consensus among Arab states that any dealings with Israel have to be conditioned on a “land for peace” arrangement that includes its withdrawal from the territories it occupied during the 1967 war. That is, the Israelis would have to give up occupied territory for the creation of an independent Palestinian state in exchange for normalising relations with Arab countries.

This consensus gave an unspoken “veto power” on normalisation to the Palestinians, making the resolution of the Palestinian issue the only way in which Israel would be accepted in the Arab world.

What the Emirati-Bahraini-Israeli agreement has done is basically sideline this past Arab consensus on how to deal with the Palestinian issue and make public what has been going on informally for years – the normalisation of relations between Tel Aviv and Abu Dhabi.

It demonstrates Emirati and Bahraini disregard for the long-term Arab position of “land for peace”. Abu Dhabi and Manama have effectively given the Israelis what they want – open political relations, trade, and backing for their anti-Iran confrontation efforts – without any real concessions on the Palestinian issue.

For the Palestinians, this is a clear attempt to preserve the status quo and allow the Israelis to continue stealing Palestinian land, demolishing Palestinian homes, imprisoning and killing Palestinians and altogether solidifying their apartheid rule. Contrary to what the Emiratis have claimed, this deal has not stopped the annexation of Palestinian lands on the ground.

The Israelis do not hide their optimism that establishing full diplomatic relations with the UAE and Bahrain will open the door to establishing full relations with other countries, such as Oman, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, and perhaps Sudan. If these normalisation deals continue, then it would mean that the Palestinians have lost their “veto power” on normalisation with Israel and their cause has lost its political value to the Arab regimes.

While the deal is indeed bad news for the Palestinians, it is important not to exaggerate its significance. Abu Dhabi, Tel Aviv and Washington have touted it as a “peace for peace” (as opposed to “land for peace”) initiative, trying to equate it to the peace agreements Egypt and Jordan concluded with Israel in the past. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the architect of the deal, like most Israelis, knows very well that any such comparison is unrealistic.

After all, neither Bahrain nor the UAE has actually been at war with Israel and they also have no common borders, unlike Jordan and Egypt, which waged deadly wars against the Israelis. The peace deals that the two countries signed with Israel not only put an end to hostilities but also forced Israel to withdraw from territories it had occupied.

Nothing of such political importance was contained in the “peace” deal that Bahrain, the UAE and Israel signed last month.

The UAE, a peacemaker?

As bad as this deal is for the Palestinians, it does not make the Palestinian issue go away. Despite all the noise and PR, Israelis very well realise that normalisation of relations with Gulf nations will not “get rid of” millions of Palestinians. It cannot erase them from history or from reality.

There seems to be some hope among some moderate Israelis that the UAE, the new self-declared “peacemaker” of the region, could use the deal as a stepping stone and wield its influence to help resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In a recent article, former Israeli diplomat, Nadav Tamir, wrote about the possibility of Abu Dhabi initiating new negotiations between the Palestinian Authority and Tel Aviv to produce a settlement that includes a separate Palestinian state.

The success of such an initiative, however, is highly unlikely, given that the relations between Ramallah and Abu Dhabi are at an all-time low. The PA has made it clear it considers the Emirati deal with Israel a “betrayal” and has issued strongly-worded condemnations.

If the UAE fails to play a useful role in reaching a settlement with the Palestinians, Tamir fears that the agreement with the UAE could turn from a tactical achievement to strategic harm.

In the short-term, normalisation with Israel only adds to the isolation of the PA and could benefit Hamas – something that is not in the interest of Israel, which has long used the authorities in Ramallah to indirectly depoliticise and control the Palestinian population. In the long run, Arab normalisation with Israel without concessions on the Palestinian issue takes away the main Arab leverage to enforce a two-state solution, which could backfire.

A deeply weakened PA is likely to collapse and leave the administration of Palestinian towns and villages in the West Bank to their occupier – Israel. Such a development would only further put to the fore the apartheid practices of the Israeli state, giving full rights to Israeli Jews, while oppressing and discriminating against the native Palestinian population.

This would likely provide even more fuel into the transnational grassroots opposition to Israeli occupation and apartheid, which is already putting significant pressure on Israel to give the Palestinians their rights.

In this sense, the continuing denial of statehood to the Palestinians by the Israeli right-wing ruling elite and the collapsing support for Israel among younger generations of Americans and Western Europeans puts the country even more firmly on a path towards a one-state solution, where Israelis and Palestinians would enjoy equal rights. This would effectively mean the end of the Zionist dream of a Jewish state on all of historic Palestine.

The current Israeli political leadership is too short-sighted to see these potential developments. Netanyahu is enjoying the image boost the normalisation deal gave him and is probably hoping this would secure his re-election once the ruling coalition collapses and allow him to continue dodging jail over the corruption crimes he is being tried for. His premiership may well go down in history as the one that laid the groundwork for the end of the exclusive Jewish state in Palestine.

Thus, what may seem like a major loss for the Palestinian cause may turn out to be more harmful for the Zionist project. Sooner or later, the Israelis will have to face to consequences of denying Palestinian statehood.


Dr Adnan Abu Amer is the head of the Political Science Department at the University of the Ummah in Gaza. He is a part-time researcher at a number of Palestinian and Arab research centers and he periodically writes for Al Jazeera, the New Arabic and the Monitor. He wrote more than 20 books on the Arab-Israeli conflict, the Palestinian resistance and Hamas.


Palestinian Leadership Needs To Get Its Act Together

By Ray Hanania

October 14, 2020

World Jewish Congress President Ronald Lauder’s visit to Ramallah this week to meet with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas was a significant event that underscored the reality that there are many Jews and Israelis who genuinely wish to achieve peace with the Palestinians.

Lauder, who I interviewed last month following the signing of the historic Abraham Accords between the UAE, Bahrain and Israel, is the perfect person to help bring the Palestinians and Israelis together. During the Arab News interview, Lauder said he believed the Abraham Accords would open the door to peace.

The Palestinians should build on the Lauder visit and reconstruct their relations with Israel, which reached a pinnacle in 1993 before rapidly declining following the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin in 1995. They have descended on a frightening trajectory into an abyss of violence, fear and uncertainty.

It was not just what Lauder said that impressed me as we spoke for 30 minutes, it was also his demeanor and genuine feelings for peace. Everyone speaks about Lauder’s visit being an opportunity for Abbas and the Palestinians to step out of the box they have been forced into.

Last week, Saeb Erekat, the chief negotiator for the Palestinian Liberation Organization, complained about those who have criticized Abbas’ rejection of the current peace efforts. He stated on Twitter (in Arabic): “The Palestinian leadership is a failure and must be changed, and the Palestinian people are ungrateful and hateful. Why: Because it refused to have the Al-Aqsa Mosque and Jerusalem under Israeli sovereignty, because it refused settlement and annexation, and because it defends the Arabness of its land and sanctities, a people who offered hundreds of thousands of martyrs and wounded and a million prisoners, then it is accused of treason.”

First of all, Twitter may be a good place to promote things, but it is a horrible place to express any opinion. The limitation on the length of posts causes people to edit thoughts down to the basics, meaning they often convey the wrong message or impression.

I know Erekat. We met in Jericho in 1995, when I led a delegation as national president of the Palestinian American Congress. We found ourselves being berated, lectured and scolded for “interfering” in Palestinian affairs. Erekat scoffed that Palestinian Americans should “stay out” of the fight for Palestinian justice, brushing aside the diaspora and a powerful alliance that could have strengthened his weak and ineffective leadership.

It is clear from last week’s tweet that Erekat is expressing the frustrations shared by many in the Abbas administration that their actions have been judged unfairly. Well, with all due respect, the Palestinian leadership is not a failure because of the suffering the Palestinians have been forced to endure during 72 years of an oppressive and brutal occupation: It is a failure because Erekat and other leaders rely on emotion and rejectionism to respond to Israel’s many media lies.

Mr. Erekat, you should be everywhere the issue of Palestine is discussed, whether you like the discussions and plans or not. You can’t hide behind our Palestinian suffering because the diaspora has suffered just as much as you.

You should have been in Bahrain. You should have been in Washington. You should have spoken forcefully about the unfairness of Donald Trump’s peace deal and US foreign policies that, by the way, are not just Republican but Democratic too.

You ran from the media at the opening of the UN General Assembly last year. I was there as officials representing nearly every member state stopped to speak to advance their views, while you rushed past, brushing us aside with your hand, frightened of the news media, like a deer in the headlights.

As government leaders, you deserve criticism not just for failed policies but also for failing to convey conviction. You are not an inspiration to the Palestinian people at all, despite your suffering and ours.

This is not just about having new elections or changing government leaders. Hamas, which has partnered with the most extreme elements like Hezbollah, Iran, Qatar and Islamic Jihad, has been far worse than the Palestinian Authority in pursuing salvation for the Palestinian people. Elections won’t bring change. The problem is deeper than that.

Achieving Palestinian-Israeli peace is not an easy task, but it deserves your 100 percent effort and engagement, not your personal emotions. It deserves your strategic thinking, not your knee-jerk anger.

You need to do a better job of bringing the diaspora together. You should reach out for support from all Palestinians, including those who serve in the Israeli Knesset. Most of all, you need to do a better job of strategic communications. I have previously written about the need to provide your most eloquent spokesperson, Hanan Ashrawi, with an effective communications budget. She has achieved so much on a wing and a prayer; imagine what she could do with a professional PR budget and staff?

You need to do a better job of conveying to the world the truth, the facts and the deep desire of the Palestinian people for a fair and just peace. You haven’t done any of that. Your administration needs a radical change in policies and strategy, not a further radicalization of the Palestinian movement.

Abbas and Erekat either need to get their act together to achieve a lasting peace or get out of the way.


Ray Hanania is an award-winning former Chicago City Hall political reporter and columnist.


Cairo Pushes For Military Agreements In Libya

By George Mikhail

Oct 14, 2020

Cairo is currently working to find a solution to the presence of armed militias in Libya and ways to unify the military institutions and resolve the military conflict.

On Sept. 27, the Egyptian city of Hurghada hosted military talks between representatives of the eastern Libyan National Army (LNA) and the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA), to discuss ways to unify the military institutions and deal with militias.

The Libyan parties agreed at the conclusion of the talks Sept. 29 to form a military body that includes all Libyan parties and to establish a rapid intervention force to protect the Libyan government headquarters and oil facilities. They also agreed to distribute military control equally among the three Libyan regions as part of plans to integrate Libyan fighters in a unified military institution, restructure the various security services and dissolve the militias.

Maj. Gen. Khaled Mahjoub, director of mobilization for the LNA, said in a Sept. 28 television interview, “An agreement was reached on several points during the Hurghada talks, most importantly on the unification of the armed forces under the banner of the General Command of the Libyan Army.”

Mahjoub said, “The discussions also focused on the dismantlement of the militias, the inclusion of beneficial elements into the Libyan army and the exclusion of criminal or terrorist ones. It was agreed that weapons will be limited to the Libyan army.”

He added, “A practical program was developed for the implementation of the understandings and agreements between the Libyan parties.”

The Hurghada talks were widely welcomed by the United States, with the US Embassy in Libya tweeting Sept. 29, “Ambassador [Richard] Norland: ‘Egypt talks are a sign the UN-facilitated process is working.’”

On Oct. 5, Norland visited Cairo, where he met with the director of Egyptian intelligence, Maj. Gen. Abbas Kamel. The two discussed the outcomes of the Hurghada talks and the Egyptian efforts to unify the Libyan institutions. Norland described the meeting as “fruitful.”

Norland also met with the speaker of the Tobruk-based Libyan Parliament, Aguila Saleh. The two parties agreed on the need to expel foreign fighters and Turkish military advisers from Libya, dismantle the militias and form a unified security apparatus.

In an Oct. 7 interview with the Egyptian newspaper Al-Akhbar, Norland said, “We are happy with the outcome of the Hurghada talks, as an important step toward de-escalation and activating the cease-fire in Libya.”

Norland went on, “On the agenda as well, there is a need to support the efforts led by the Libyans to round up the militias across the country and disarm them. It is difficult to achieve that unless through a united and strong Libyan security [apparatus].”

He said, “Egypt has helped expand the political dialogue between the west and the east in Libya and is still playing an important role. This is why I visited Cairo to consult on the best ways to support the Libyan political dialogue forum and the next steps toward a permanent political settlement to the war and conflict in Libya.”

Meanwhile, the United Nations is to host intra-Libyan political and military talks in Geneva on Oct. 19. Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova said in an Oct. 10 press statement, “One hundred Libyan figures will attend the forum, including supporters of the [former Moammar] Gadhafi regime.”

She said, “The invitees are trusted politicians and public figures from the three Libyan regions, with the aim to draft agreements on establishing a unified transitional authority for Libya,” adding, “The recent talks in Hurghada between security representatives of the two conflicting parties is a good basis to resume the work of the 5+5 Libyan Joint Military Commission.”

The 5+5 Libyan Joint Military Commission was formed following the Jan. 19 Berlin Conference on Libya, where it was agreed to select five officers from the LNA and five from the GNA to conduct negotiations.

Ali Saidi, a member of the Tobruk-based House of Representatives, told Al-Monitor, “Cairo is striving to end the Libyan crisis and achieve stability in the country.”

Saidi added, “The LNA’s representatives agreed at the Hurghada talks on the inclusion of members of the armed groups, but under some conditions, namely that they be medically fit and hold a clear criminal record, in order to achieve Cairo’s goal of unifying the Libyan military establishment.”

He said, “It was agreed to unify the military institution [and] to include elements from the three regions of Libya, namely Cyrenaica, Fezzan and Tripoli.”

Saidi went on, “The GNA military team taking part in the negotiations does not have the ability to control the armed militias. This could be the main obstacle to the implementation of the agreements reached by the military parties in Hurghada.”

Tarek Fahmy, a political science professor at Cairo University, told Al-Monitor, “Cairo stirred up the stagnant water in the Libyan military file. The Hurghada talks are the first military agreement between the Libyan parties.”

Fahmy added, “The Hurghada talks have received international and US support. The international community has faith that a successful military track in Libya is a real guarantee for the success of the political track.”

He said, “The US ambassador to Libya visited Cairo after the end of the Hurghada talks to affirm the US support for the results of the talks and the agreement to dismantle the militias.”

He pointed out, “The Libyan army did not agree to include terrorist elements from the militias in western Libya, contrary to the GNA and Turkish desires. The Egyptians also refused to include terrorist elements who have a criminal record within the ranks of the Libyan army.”

He continued, “The international community and the US are working toward eliminating the militias and preparing a black list of terrorists, while leaving the opportunity for other elements to join the Libyan army in order to unify the military establishment and ensure that the military conflict is not renewed.”

“Cairo will depend on US and European support in implementing the outcomes of the Hurghada talks to resolve the militia crisis in Libya,” Fahmy concluded.



New Age IslamIslam OnlineIslamic WebsiteAfrican Muslim NewsArab World NewsSouth Asia NewsIndian Muslim NewsWorld Muslim NewsWomen in IslamIslamic FeminismArab WomenWomen In ArabIslamophobia in AmericaMuslim Women in WestIslam Women and Feminism