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World Press (08 Sep 2017 NewAgeIslam.Com)

Is There Any End To The Plight Of Rohingyas?: New Age Islam’s Selection, 08 September 2017

New Age Islam Edit Bureau


September 08, 2017

Trump cut a deal with the Democrats. Is a new era upon us?

By Ross Barkan

Modi misses opportunity to be a true statesman

By Bikram Vohra

We are ready to boycott Qatar for 700 days

By Mohammed Al-Hammadi

North Korean nukes and the Iranian nexus

By Faisal Al-Shammeri

Aung San Suu Kyi does not deserve the Nobel Peace Prize

By Hamid Dabashi

A ‘truly credible election’ in Syria? The UN envoy is dreaming

By Sharif Nashashibi

A major game-changer of alliances in the Middle East

By Maria Dubovikova

Trump is not fearless, he is just insecure

By EJ Dionne Jr (Wide Angle)

Turkey at a crossroads

Saudi Gazette

Britain’s clampdown on FGM is leaving young girls traumatised

By Nadifa Mohamed

The murder of journalist Gauri Lankesh shows India descending into violence

By Mari Marcel Thekaekara

Britain is no longer a civilised country – the UN’s disability report confirms it

By Frances Ryan

The Book That Made Us Feminists

By Carol J. Adams

Is it already time to sit at the table with Syria’s al-Assad?

By Ertugrul Özkök

Compiled by New Age Islam Edit Bureau

URL: http://newageislam.com/world-press/new-age-islam-edit-bureau/is-there-any-end-to-the-plight-of-rohingyas?--new-age-islam’s-selection,-08-september-2017/d/112464


Is there any end to the plight of Rohingyas?:

By Shah Husain Imam

September 08, 2017

Bangladesh can feel that she is not alone in combating the stupendous pressure brought on her by an unprecedented Rohingya influx into her territory. The immediate outpourings of sympathy and expressions of humanitarian concerns for the victims, messages of solidarity and support to Bangladesh and condemnations of the Myanmar regime can be seen from two angles: First, these are indicative of a certain arousal of international conscience; and secondly, the outburst is at an initial stage, to be developed into a package of actions ensuring the return of Rohingyas to the Rakhine State.

It won't be easy, but is attainable provided we pass a few reality checks in order to be pragmatic and reasonably fail-safe. The pivot around which we need to rebuild our case is that as per the 2014 census in Myanmar, the Rohingya Muslim population stood at 2.4 million. If that figure is not credible, a fresh count may be made in a normalised environment in due course. The point I wish to highlight is this: In spite of the waves of exodus into our territory, amounting to a large number, a substantial number of Rohingyas do remain in the Rakhine State or thereabouts on the unassailable grounds of continuous residency. So it will be a worthwhile, in fact a morally obligatory mission, to protect them from atrocities as we work to secure repatriation of the refugees encamped in Bangladesh.

The three other factors we have to bear in mind as we embark on a decisively remedial approach are: One, the humanitarian concerns, however eloquently expressed for the weak and vulnerable, have scarcely, if ever, overridden geopolitical considerations including trade and investment priorities of the big powers. We have a considerable potential geo-political clout ourselves; we only need to play our cards to work our way on to the right side of the equations.

Secondly, an ethnic minority with an Islamic identity is liable to be suspected of militant inclination, especially when a step-motherly treatment has been meted out to them by a government.

Thirdly, and importantly, Aung San Suu Kyi, as the foreign minister and state counselor of her country is not in the driving seat. She cannot apparently overrule the military which is in charge of ethnic minorities. Besides, the army maintains control over the heartland by extracting from the largesse of mineral wealth of Myanmar and sharing it with the powerful countries.

On a side note, earlier this year, U Ko Ni, a prominent Muslim personality and legal advisor to Daw Suu was shot and killed at Yangon airport. He was purportedly working on an amendment to the 2006 constitution that would have clipped some of the powers of the military.

We expected that India being the nearest and professedly most friendly neighbour to Bangladesh would be sensitive to our present plight—a huge Rohingya refugee influx even as we reel from the effects of a devastating flood. Well, that expectation seems to have been belied.

The Times of India in a report on September 6, 2017 gave the highlights of the Modi-Suu Kyi meeting in Yangon in the following, rather one-sided terms:

a) "India shares Myanmar's concern over the violence in the Rakhine state.”

b) "Suu Kyi thanked India for taking a strong stand on the terror threat that Myanmar faced recently.”

In his 35-minute address to the Indian Diaspora, Prime Minister Modi "did not allude to the Rohingya Muslim crisis," even though Myanmar is facing international censure and its repercussions spill over to India in the shape of "illegal immigrants".

The Times of India noted that Modi's observations came at a time when Bangladesh was facing refugees pouring across the border two weeks after Myanmar's military crackdown in the Rakhine State. The Hindustan Times also reported that Modi was silent on the Rohingya issue.

We think, the Indian prime minister has lost an opportunity to play an honest broker here. Given the prestige India enjoys with the Myanmar establishment—Suu Kyi saying “Myanmar looked up to India for (guidance) and support”—and Bangladesh's close ties with India, a process of engagement could be initiated by Modi.

China has remained equally silent over the imperilled Rohingyas. She has an important vision of a corridor girdling Myanmar and Sri Lanka. But having regard to her traditional clout with Myanmar topped up by infrastructural investments and a sliver of ethnic connectivity, China can persuade Myanmar to see reason to make up with Dhaka. Doesn't Bangladesh have a claim to it as a friend of China?

In these days of distracting global issues with newer complexities amid "post-modern confusions" it is difficult to stick by any line of distinction between friend and foe. In such a context it's imperative for Bangladesh to craft her own policy package and implement it with selective but effective international assistance.

The components of such a policy can be various forms of diplomatic pressure on Myanmar if it continues to be defiant of the Human Rights Charter of the UN; reinstatement of citizenship rights that were divested of them in 1982. Interestingly, cards were given to them to participate in the 1990 election and they won some parliamentary seats as well. While annulling the results of the 1990 election, the military didn't only throw the winner Suu Kyi in jail but also dubbed the cards the Rohingyas used as “fake”.

The immediate task is two-fold: Take the refugees under the wings to provide emergency medical attention, food and shelter. Secondly, we must take up repatriation of the refugees with the Myanmar government, spearheaded by the UNHCR. Their orderly return to their homeland and resettlement will have to be ensured under the UN auspices, if necessary, buttressed by an appropriate UN resolution.

Shah Husain Imam is a commentator on current affairs and former Associate Editor, The Daily Star.



Trump cut a deal with the Democrats. Is a new era upon us?

By Ross Barkan

7 September 2017

Is this the beginning of a new Donald Trump?

The president, who has governed like a rightwing Republican and terrified vulnerable people everywhere, struck a deal with Democratic congressional leaders on Wednesday to lift the debt limit and finance the government until the middle of December.

The debt ceiling increase was combined with a stopgap funding measure to provide aid for the areas devastated by Hurricane Harvey, and temporarily avoids a government shutdown. For once, a needless and brainless fight was avoided in Washington.

Trump actually circumvented Republican leaders to get it done. Neither speaker Paul Ryan nor majority leader Mitch McConnell were willing to accept the terms, so Trump went behind their backs. These are strange times, indeed.

Trump is impulsive and mercurial, typically devoid of ability to think in the long-term. He watches TV and gets ideas. Building the most conservative administration in recent memory, he has existed so far under its influence, empowering the kind of people who want to punish the poor and people of color.

Nothing more should be expected out of Trump on this front. He is who he is. He wisely cut a deal with Democratic leaders because even he understood that holding up disaster relief was cruel and idiotic. He may have also been hungry for a positive headline from the mainstream media he allegedly reviles, but is actually obsessed with.

Chuck Schumer, the minority leader of the Senate, is a natural collaborator, his ideology resting somewhere in the milquetoast center. He would love to do more deals with Trump. Trump likes the idea of deals. They are both from New York, after all.

So maybe, just maybe, a new era is upon us. But Trump can change his mind tomorrow. He usually does. Congressional Republicans are furious. They are still waiting to build Milton Friedman’s Eden, here on Earth, and this reality show president who calls himself a Republican has been too incompetent, at least so far, to make it happen. They will yell at him and maybe he’ll listen. The last person in his ear usually has the advantage.

What people should remember, always, is how obstructionist congressional Republicans were under Barack Obama and how they alone brought government to a standstill. Democratic lawmakers, for all their flaws, worked with Republicans when they were in power to at least keep the government functioning.

Bipartisanship for its own sake is stupid – no one should be celebrated for helping to deregulate the economy or crushing the working class – but there are basic things (like raising the debt limit) that both parties can agree upon and usually did until the tea party rose to power.

Trump shouldn’t be praised for cutting this deal. It’s an obvious deal, and we can’t set the bar so low just because this president was so unprepared to run the most powerful nation on Earth. Instead, understand that it is congressional Republicans who deserve your scorn. They are the people who see government as an unmitigated evil, who endorse austerity at all costs.

Paul Ryan is not your friend, and never will be. Mitch McConnell has no serious legislative accomplishments. They are smarter men than Trump and ultimately, barring Trump starting a war, more dangerous. If they had a partner like Mike Pence in the White House, America would be transformed forever.

Remember, it can always get worse.



Modi misses opportunity to be a true statesman

By Bikram Vohra

September 7, 2017

Few Indians are aware that their nation shares a 1,600 kilometre border with Myanmar. Indian ignorance of this neighbour allowed China to hop in and practically make Myanmar a silent satellite

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi stopped over in Myanmar on his way back from a rocky and still largely ambiguous meeting with Chinese president Xi Jinping at the ninth Brics summit and an uneasy rapprochement over the Doklam impasse.

It is a calculated risk because Beijing can interpret this two-day layover as a deliberate slight seeing as how the Indian delegation made no secret of its intent to compete commercially with China in this market. Already India's $500 million investment in the Kaladan multi-modal transit transport project which has a whole link missing and the Tri-Lateral Highway still unfinished, has produced no great results.

India now belatedly wants to strengthen ties with Yangon so that a balance of power is maintained in that region. It is a bit of a forlorn hope with Myanmar pretty much in the fiscal pocket of Beijing already and having a closer nexus in cultural terms. On both those nations the winds of democracy are seen as ill winds.

But Modi has chosen to go and he does have a persuasive personality. Even as he basks in the sunny warmth of the reception accorded to him, it is incumbent on the leader of the largest democratic nation in the world to address the Rohingya problem frontally and use his stopover effectively to bring some comfort to these displaced thousands.

If you elect to visit a country in the throes of a conflict seen by many including Turkish President Erdogan as an ongoing genocide, then you have to less than discreet. This is Modi's opportunity to be a statesman on a global stage. After all, the litany of atrocities is heartbreaking. There are nearly 150,000 displaced Rohingya Muslims. Over 40,000 are at the Bangladesh border, men, women and children escaping the gunfire that follows them. Over the stench of cordite a death toll of over 400 already and rising by the day. Government troops are burning bodies of civilians to conceal the evidence. Myanmar is again risking ostracisation by the global community.

And the Indian leader in situ, extraordinarily well-placed to save lives and offset any impression of his holding any ethnic prejudice. By coming to the rescue of the Rohingyas and using his influence to good use Modi can send out a loud message to the Islamic world that he cares about humanity regardless of caste, colour or creed.

Even if it is not to be seen as a politically expedient and tangible appeasement of the huge Indian Muslim vote bank any move to generate peace is doing the right thing and saving lives of non-combatants can never be wrong.

Will Modi take that major step? The initial 24 hours of his visit seemed dedicated more to hearty camaraderie. To an extent this is understandable.

Modi cannot, ipso facto, antagonise the military junta or offend the gathering of generals who run the country. Even Aung Suu Kyi who was seen as the strong defiant one chose a discreet silence on the Rohingya issue in case it tees off the military high command.

More importantly, Modi knows that India has had a rather indifferent relationship with Myanmar. Few of the 1.2 billion Indians are even remotely aware that their nation shares a 1,600 kilometre border with Myanmar and it is adjunct to the northeastern states which are already in an uneasy relationship with New Delhi. Indian ignorance of this neighbour allowed China to hop in and practically make Myanmar a silent satellite. For this closed country while it is laudable that Modi has realised Indian foreign policy shortsightedness in staying away, his presence at this crucial juncture demands more assertion than he has shown so far.

The joint statement is low on solution and high on rhetoric.

"Being the neighbour, in security, our interests are the same. It is necessary we safeguard our border for security and stability. In black money project, work has been completed. The road component work has started. And under our comprehensive partnership, we have been cooperating in high quality health care."

But the direct comment on the crisis and the killings is far too soft; "We share your concerns about extremist violence in Rakhine state and violence against security forces and how innocent lives have been affected."

One gets the feeling that Modi has placed Indian priorities on the front burner and is more concerned about out-manoeuvring China on this chessboard rather than condemning the ethnic violence.

In all fairness, one cannot totally blame him because it is not easy to meddle in the affairs of a sovereign state, especially one which could form a backdoor corridor for the Chinese to exercise fifth column influence on India's seven sister states.

Having ignored Myanmar these past seven decades and already lost a massive lead to China where fiscal clout is concerned, this visit could have been postponed to a later date if the Indian Prime Minister was not prepared to show more intent and vigour vis a vis the Rohingya problem.

This way not much is gained and a major opportunity to do the greater good lost.

Bikram Vohra is former editor of Khaleej Times



We are ready to boycott Qatar for 700 days

By Mohammed Al-Hammadi

7 September 2017

Arab countries that boycotted Qatar have reiterated their position and voiced their willingness to continue to boycott Doha, which supports terrorism and interferes in the affairs of other countries.

Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir clearly said on Tuesday: “There is no harm if Qatar crisis continues for two more years.” UAE’s minister of state for foreign affairs Anwar Gargash also confirmed this more than once.

Qatar must choose and either do what’s right and end its support of terrorism and funding of terrorists or let the boycott continues. It must realize that the inciting media campaigns against the Saudi kingdom, Egypt, the UAE and Bahrain will not benefit it for long.

Arab and foreign media figures who are affiliated with Qatar and funded by it and Al-Jazeera anchors will be thrilled for a while with the lies they propagate and which some people believe. However, this media is losing its credibility and its influence will come to an end soon, in less than the two years which Jubeir specified.

Fake propaganda

The world has clearly seen that Qatar’s allegations that it’s besieged are fake propaganda and mere attempts to gain the global public opinion’s support and pressure the boycotting countries to end their boycott. There’s no blockade whatsoever and there’s nothing illegal about the crisis with Qatar.

As Jubeir stated on Tuesday: “What we said is that we will not deal with Doha and will not allow it to enter our airspace.” All countries have the right to make such decisions. Now that it’s been 90 days since severing ties with Qatar, it turns out this was the right decision as Qatar did not respond to the demands of the boycotting countries and either ignored these demands or mocked them.

Doha also hurled accusations against the four boycotting countries and did everything that prevents reaching a solution to this crisis. It refused to take any measures towards resolving the crisis. This is Qatar’s problem and not the problem of the boycotting countries.

When Jubeir states that the crisis may last for two years, reasonable men in Qatar must pause for a while and contemplate this serious statement and analyze what does a boycott that lasts for 730 days mean. When a Qatari hears this, he is supposed to think about the political, security and economic repercussions and even about the psychological repercussions on the Qataris and residents in Qatar.

Qatari people no longer call the situation they are going through a “crisis” or a “blockade” but a “dark cloud” and they’re wondering when they will turn this page. The question to this lies with Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim.

The solution is to simply end the schemes of the Hamad bin Khalifa’s and Hamad bin Jassim’s regime and stop interfering in other countries’ affairs, particularly Arab and Gulf ones, and end support to terrorists.

This will not be achieved unless by exiling one of the Hamads and trying the other. This is how Qatar can go back to being a positive and efficient Arab Gulf state that exists and co-exists with its surroundings – as today it’s only among us in body while its heart is with our enemies!


Mohammed Al-Hammadi is the Editor-in-Chief of Al Ittihad newspaper and Executive Director of editing and publishing at the Abu Dhabi Media Company. He founded and was Editor-in-Chief of the Arabic edition of National Geographic magazine, and has held numerous positions in journalism since joining Al Ittihad in 1994. Al-Hammadi has been a columnist for more than 15 years, including writing a daily column for seven years and producing a weekly political column in Al Ittihad since 2001. He has also worked as a parliamentary editor for seven years, covering the proceedings of the Federal National Council in the United Arab Emirates. In addition to being an active participant on social networks, Al-Hammadi has an interest in new media and is currently working on a project to ease the transition from traditional to digital and smart media. Al-Hammadi has received numerous awards and is a member of a number of organizations and federations. He features regularly in broadcast media as a regional political commentator and has authored several books including Time of Ordeal (2008), The UAE Democracy (2009) and The Fall of the Muslim Brotherhood (2016). Twitter: @MEalhammadi.



North Korean nukes and the Iranian nexus

By Faisal Al-Shammeri

The flavor of geopolitical discussions these days is the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), commonly known as North Korea. As always, it is the present-day context that makes the country quite the hot potato.

The starting point for such discussions is invariably North Korea’s heretical brand of communism that follows a dynastic order. It is also a Stalinist state, which distinguishes it from other ‘mainstream’ communist regimes.

The last bastion of Stalinism

Lenin’s Bolshevik Russia was a vicious place from its inception. But it was under Joseph Stalin that evil reached diabolical extremes, hitherto unknown in human history. Murder, torture, mass deportation, incarceration of millions in concentration camps and the unbridled excesses of security services were the mainstay of its state policy. Stalin had himself once famously said that a single death is a tragedy, a million deaths a statistic.

On Stalin’s death in 1953, the world heaved a collective sigh of relief as his reign of terror had infested every aspect of life in Bolshevik Russia. His successor Nikita Khrushchev was quick to remove all Stalinists from positions of power, and is famously known for denouncing the crimes of Stalin at the 20th congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union in 1956.

Also read: Nuclear deal allows Iran to become the next ‘North Korea,’ US envoy warns

However, Bolshevik Russia remained a brutal place, with no real freedoms available to its citizenry, but Stalinism never returned. Even Stalingrad — the city that bore Satlin’s name and was the place where one of the most important battles of the 20th century was fought — was deserted.

The famines, summary executions, concentration camps, dragnet of security services, terror and torture of innocent civilians that once characterized Stalin’s Russia now beset North Korea. As a violator of human rights, the regime in Pyongyang finds itself among the worst in history. Only Stalin, Hitler and Mao perpetrated greater barbarity than the present Kim dynasty.

With regular news of mass and summary executions and a country perpetually on the brink of famine, with orphaned street children desperately seeking food, warmth and shelter, the sadism of North Korea is only topped by ISIS. So from the vantage point of what we know about the DPRK, let us take a look at the things that we do not know.

Nuclear missiles on mobile launchers

The recent inter-continental ballistic missile (ICBM) tests conducted by Pyongyang are critical for two reasons. Instead of being tested from a fixed position, these missiles were fired from mobile launchers with a nose cone capable of carrying nuclear payload.

The Kim regime is the greatest proliferator of ICBM’s around the world, but it seems that some power has supplied the country with both the mobile launchers and the nuclear-missile nose cone. What are the strategic implications of this development for the Middle East? There may be several serious ramifications of this development for the region, which need looking into:

1.       We know that the Assad regime in Syria has been working on a nuclear program with North Korean assistance. To what end have North Korea and Syria been working together in this regard? Is there still a relationship between Pyongyang and Damascus on nuclear issues?

2.       Recently, two North Korean ships were intercepted at sea en route to Syria. Is North Korea actively shipping weapons to the Assad regime that are used for killing the people of Syria?

3.       Iranian engineers and scientists were present at the ICBM launches in North Korea. What common cause brought the theocratic Shiite state of Iran so close to an atheist, Stalinist regime?

4.       How has Pyongyang aided Tehran with in its missile development program? Has DPRK shared its technology on developing Iran’s ICBM’s, particularly in the development of mobile launchers? Is the nature of this exchange limited to the missiles or does it also include the nuclear-tipped cones that Pyongyang has recently obtained?

5.       In an environment of heightened sanctions and limited access to foreign currency, it is estimated that this new technology would have cost North Korea about $1.3 billion annually to have reached the stage of conducting these tests, which also includes both research and development and manufacturing expenses. According to The CIA Factbook, the GDP of North Korea in 2013 was an estimated $28 billion. It seems someone is helping North Korea finance these tests? If so, who?

Tehran provides the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), a designated terrorist group, with the weapons it procures from Pyongyang. It is also reasonable to conclude that these weapons eventually pass on to Hezbollah, Houthis and the sectarian militias in Iraq.

To put it bluntly, one can surmise that North Korean weapons may have killed soldiers and citizens of Saudi Arabia over the years, and this might be happening in Yemen even today.

North Korea impacts the Arabian Gulf

It is indeed a matter of collective shame for the world that a Stalinist regime not only exists on the planet today, but enjoys official recognition and the legitimate right to exist by having its diplomatic missions around the world.

It should now become abundantly clear that the actions of North Korea not only destabilize Northeast Asia, threatening Seoul and Tokyo, but also have a cascading effect on the security situation in the Arabian Gulf. North Korea is not just problem for South Korea, Japan, and United States. It is a problem for The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, The Gulf Cooperation Council, and even the people of Syria.


Faisal Al-Shammeri is a political analyst based in Washington DC. He tweets @mr_alshammeri.



Aung San Suu Kyi does not deserve the Nobel Peace Prize

By Hamid Dabashi

"There are no more villages left, none at all." The accounts of the systematic ethnic cleansing of Muslims in Myanmar, now effectively ruled by the world renowned Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, are finally making it to the mainline news these days. "There are no more people left, either. It is all gone."

The pathological hatred of Muslims ingrained in the leading US and European media (now aggressively replacing the historic anti-Semitism of these societies) scarcely allows them to see or to report the magnitude of the calamity masses of Muslims face at the hands of Myanmar security forces and the Buddhist nationalist vigilante mobs.

Just imagine, for a minute, if it were Jews or Christians, or else the "peaceful Buddhists" who were the subjects of Muslim persecutions. Compare the amount of airtime given to murderous Muslims of ISIL as opposed to the scarcity of news about the murderous Buddhists of Myanmar. Something in the liberal fabric of Euro-American imagination is cancerously callous. It does not see Muslims as complete human beings.

"Nearly 20,000 Rohingya flee to Bangladesh from Myanmar," Al Jazeera reports, "refugee flow gathers pace amid renewed fighting as the international community expresses concern for civilian safety."

"More than 100 Rohingya Muslims massacred in Rakhine state," other reports confirm, as the icon of human rights in the West, the sweetheart of every single European and US leader, Ms Suu Kyi has either remained deadly silent on the slaughter of innocent human beings or else dismissed such widely reported facts as "propaganda".

"I don't think there is ethnic cleaning going on," Suu Kyi told the BBC in April. "I think ethnic cleansing is too strong an expression to use for what is happening." Why so? What word should we use to please Her Majesty's lexicography of murder and mayhem?

"It is not just a matter of ethnic cleansing as you put it," she said. "It is a matter of people on different sides of the divide, and this divide we are trying to close up."

Is this Trumpian charlatanism at work in Myanmar or is it another entirely different kind of Aung San Suu Kyi Newspeak? Hard to tell. But more urgently: Does this shameless power monger deserve to carry the title of a "Nobel Peace Prize laureate?"

"No one told me I was going to be interviewed by a Muslim," she complained indignantly in 2013, after a BBC reporter questioned her hypocrisy in refusing to address the slaughter of Muslims in Myanmar. The more blatant her hateful racism is and the more evident her implication in the ethnic cleansing of her country, the more the Norwegian Nobel Committee must ask itself about the moral grounding of bestowing any such honour on the next recipient.

A Nobel 'Peace' Prize?

Nobel Peace Prize has become something of a global recognition. The fact, however, is that it is a Swedish-Norwegian, or Scandinavian-European, or as they say "Western" recognition force-fed to the world at large. We may agree or disagree with their choices but their choices have become a global marker in science, literature, and peace. They make the decision for the world. We have to live with it.

There are choices they have made that at the time they were made, they may in fact have made some sense - such as Barack Obama (and later you cringe at the very idea of it), and then there are choices they have made that make you reach for your pillow when you heard their name in association with Nobel Prize for the first time: the director of a poisonous gas factory Fritz Haber (1918 - chemistry), the inventor of lobotomy Antonio Egas Moniz (1949 - medicine), the war criminal Henry Kissinger (1973 - peace), or more recently the European Union (2012 - peace).

In the more recent years, however, it is the more egregious case of Aung San Suu Kyi, the Burmese politician, who is now at a head of a state apparatus engaged in mass murder of Muslims that needs urgent attention.

The widely documented slaughter of Muslims in Myanmar and Aung San Suu Kyi's callous disregard for their fate and even possible political collusion with the mass murderers now leaves no doubt that even if she originally deserved the Nobel Peace Prize, she most certainly no longer does.

Here is the point where the United Nations Human Rights Council, the European Union, the International Criminal Court, Amnesty International, and any other international organisation concerned with human rights should be among the global institutions to put pressure on the Norwegian Nobel Committee to rescind the honour they once bestowed upon such people who are now implicated in gross violation of the very idea of "peace" on which they had awarded this prize in the first place.

Correcting wrongs

The world at large cannot be at the mercy of the Nobel Peace Prize spectacle to bestow such spectacular honour on a person and then wash its hands of the subsequent actions of these people.

To be sure the idea of at least regretting the award of Nobel Prize to certain recipients has perfectly logical foregrounding and precedent. For example, we know for a fact how "Nobel secretary regrets Obama peace prize". Geir Lundestad is reported to have said: "Awarding the Nobel Peace Prize to US President Barack Obama in 2009 failed to achieve what the committee hoped it would."

If the idea of the Nobel Peace Prize is to acknowledge and honour those who have contributed significantly towards the realisation of peace, the committee awarding it must stay apace that cause and monitor the behaviour of its awardees to see in what ways they have remained true to it or else diverted from it. Otherwise the whole ceremonial spectacle is an exercise in futility.

The point of this proposal to the Norwegian Nobel Committee is not to single out Aung San Suu Kyi or any other past recipients of the prize for reprimand or rescinding of the prize but to rethink the very logic of the recognition in a manner that makes it more engaging, responsible, and enduring. Today Aung San Suu Kyi must be the single most embarrassing name on the roster of the Nobel Peace Prize recipients. That global embarrassment is necessary but not sufficient. The committee must restore its own credibility and the credibility of the future recipients it will honour by publicly rescinding this prize from a person so blatantly affiliated with genocide.

Dismissing the Nobel Peace Prize altogether as irrelevant or too political or Eurocentric in politics and taste is of course too easy and yet too pessimistic and nihilistic. We only have one world and that is the world in which we live and the urgent task at hand is to see how we can save this world against its own evils with any means at our disposal. The task is therefore to see how the very logic and mechanism of Nobel Peace Prize can be used to save it for a better global mechanism of encouraging peace and denouncing violence.

Hamid Dabashi is Hagop Kevorkian Professor of Iranian Studies and Comparative Literature a Columbia University.



A ‘truly credible election’ in Syria? The UN envoy is dreaming

By Sharif Nashashibi

7 September 2017

“What we are seeing is… the beginning of the end of this war,” UN envoy Staffan de Mistura said Friday, referring to his prediction that Daesh’s remaining Syrian strongholds will fall by the end of October. That, he added, raises the possibility of a “truly credible election” in Syria “within a year.” These statements display a worrying degree of naivety.

This is not the first time de Mistura has indicated that he sees Daesh’s defeat as the key to ending the war in Syria. How can a peace envoy hope to succeed in his role when he misdiagnoses the cause of the conflict he is tasked with ending? It did not start with Daesh, which did not even exist at the time — this should go without saying. As such, the conflict will not end with its demise.

From a military standpoint, much of the country remains outside the Syrian regime’s control, and the war could escalate as opposing sides fight over the carcass of Daesh’s “caliphate.” Furthermore, realizing President Bashar Assad’s repeated vow to recapture the whole country would mean opening an entirely new front, against the Kurds, who control swathes of northern Syria and with whom the regime has thus far avoided conflict. Planning their own elections, the Kurds do not seem to be in any rush to roll back their declared autonomy.

De Mistura’s hope for free and fair elections within a year of Daesh’s downfall is predicated on “the international community… helping both the opposition and the government by pushing the government to accept a real negotiation.”

How can someone so familiar with the regime’s obstructionist negotiating tactics — he has presided over the ‘peace process’ for most of its lifespan — think that Assad would finally entertain “a real negotiation” when the military tide has turned decidedly in his favor?

It is preposterous to think that a dictator who preferred to destroy his country than relinquish his absolute grip on power would finally decide to heed his people’s democratic rights and aspirations, at a time when his regime is no longer under existential threat.

It is equally preposterous to assume that Assad’s allies, having invested so much in his survival and dictatorship, would “push” him to adopt a genuinely democratic system that could see their investments undone.

In March 2016, Assad said he would consider an election before his current seven-year term ends in 2021 “if the Syrian people wanted it.” This from a man who deems himself sole arbiter of what his people want. Were he at all interested in heeding his people’s will, the conflict would never have started.

The only election Assad would entertain is a sham one designed only to rubberstamp his authority. This is not hypothetical — the elections of 2000, 2007 and 2014 clearly display his warped idea of what passes for democracy.

Having won 99.7 percent of the vote in 2000 (when the constitution was amended just so he could ‘run’) and 97.6 percent in 2007, Assad in 2014 — needing to burnish his democratic credentials amid international calls for him to step down — settled for a slightly less ridiculous electoral victory of 88.7 percent.

To verify the authenticity of the 2014 election, the regime invited observers from “friendly countries” — bastions of democracy such as North Korea, China, Tajikistan, Zimbabwe and Cuba.

It was the first time in 40 years that more than one candidate was allowed, but eligibility restrictions ensured that Assad faced no real opponents. Candidates need the support of 35 members of Parliament, which is so dominated by the ruling Baath party that no one could run without its blessing.

Candidates must also have lived continuously in Syria for 10 years prior to nomination, automatically ruling out those in exile for daring to voice dissent. Furthermore, anyone “convicted of a dishonorable felony” is not eligible “even if he was reinstated” — in other words, no one who has ever been a political prisoner (not exactly a rarity in Syria).

No wonder, then, that the Supreme Constitutional Court accepted only three of the 24 applications to run for president: Assad, Maher Hajjar and Hassan Al-Nouri. But to call the latter two challengers would be woefully misleading. Besides being unknown before their nominations, and having far less exposure than the incumbent in the run-up to the vote, they heaped praise on him throughout, and expressed total agreement with his handling of the war.

The Associated Press, which interviewed Hajjar, reported that he “offered little to differentiate himself from Assad.” And Al-Nouri may as well have been the president’s campaign spokesman, saying Syrians “need Assad to continue leading” the country.

Al-Nouri described the incumbent as a “great” and “very strong leader” who is “believed in by many Syrians.” He added: “You have to respect what he’s doing.” Al-Nouri’s icing on the cake: “I’m not opposition.” At least he spared us the pretense.

The Syrian electorate also faced severe limitations, rendering the official turnout of almost 74 percent absurd. New ID documents that can only be issued by the regime were necessary to cast a ballot, and voting only took place in regime-controlled areas, where Syrians reported threats and pressure to take part and re-elect Assad.

Refugees could only take part if they left the country via official border crossings (most in neighboring Turkey and Iraq did not), and they had to cast their ballots at a Syrian Embassy. The Interior Ministry said only 200,000 Syrians outside the country would be eligible to vote — less than 8 percent of the total refugee population at the time. They too said they received threats, such as not being allowed to re-enter Syria or having their homes confiscated.

In Lebanon, there were reports of men — identifying themselves as members of a Lebanese political party allied to Assad (hint hint) — asking Syrian refugees who would be voting, and taking down names. “Their presence was a reminder to the more than one million Syrian refugees in Lebanon that they are still within the reach of (the) Damascus government,” Reuters reported.

This is Assad’s notion of democracy — a tool to manipulate in order to remain in power, rather than to give the Syrian people genuine freedom of choice and expression. Expecting him to embrace true democracy is to be as deluded as the useful idiots who believe he was freely and fairly elected last time.

• Sharif Nashashibi is an award-winning journalist and commentator on Arab affairs.



A major game-changer of alliances in the Middle East

By Maria Dubovikova

7 September 2017

When it comes to political alliances in the Middle East, Syria has emerged as the main game-changer. The Syrian conflict has allowed Russia to draw Iran and Turkey to its orbit, while the US shifts its focus to domestic politics. The new alliance between Russia, Iran and Turkey is no longer temporary; it is strategic, based on trilateral interests.

Last month, US President Donald Trump approved fresh sanctions against Russia, bearing in mind differences between the two countries over the latter’s annexation of Crimea, its interference in Georgia, and its continued support for Syrian President Bashar Assad.

US forces and their allies in eastern and northern Syria are working to build a “national army” from Kurdish cities to engage more in the war against Daesh and other militant groups. This means the Pentagon program to train and arm Syrian rebel groups has been replaced by another project. Those groups that refuse to limit their fight only to Daesh, rather than the regime also, will not be part of the new army.

The end of US support for rebels fighting Assad means Washington does not seek regime change. Some have viewed this decision by Trump as a US concession to Russia, as Washington today relies on Moscow to limit Iran’s regional influence.

In a few days, the Assad regime will control Deir Ezzor in the east without fearing attacks in other areas. The Syrian-Iraqi border has been handed over to the Iranians, who have established a corridor from Tehran to the Mediterranean, at a time when the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) do not want to fight the regime or seize land beyond the Kurdish areas due to Russian-Iranian-Turkish coordination.

Moscow knows that the US needs its cooperation regarding Iran’s expansionist policies in the region. In the coming months the Assad regime will work to restore its authority in eastern Syria, and 2018 is likely to see the defeat of rebel remnants in the west; no self-government in any part of the country will be allowed.

Iran and Turkey have succeeded in neutralizing the West, signaling the end of its role in Syria. The major issue will be Idlib province, which borders Turkey; that is why Moscow is maintaining good ties with Ankara.

It seems the biggest winner in the war is Russian President Vladimir Putin, whose country has become a prominent player in the Middle East. Russia is working hard to consolidate and expand the “de-escalation zones” in Syria in cooperation with its allies Turkey and Iran. The three countries are also guarantors of the Astana process.

The US is counting on a rift emerging between Russia and Iran over Syria, but that may take a long time. Tehran and Moscow have long-term strategies in the Middle East, and are able to cooperate on all levels, getting other countries to join them, including Turkey, whose relations with the EU are fast deteriorating.

The US and its allies are in a state of confusion and retreat, while Turkey, Iran and Russia remain coherent and in a state of progress regarding the liberation of Syria from terrorism and the maintenance of its territorial integrity.

• Maria Dubovikova is a prominent political commentator, researcher and expert on Middle East affairs. She is president of the Moscow-based International Middle Eastern Studies Club (IMESClub).



Trump is not fearless, he is just insecure

By EJ Dionne Jr (Wide Angle)

September 7, 2017

Lacking any deep instincts or convictions, he tries to move in several directions at once, an awkward manoeuvre even for an especially gifted politician.

One of the most cynical quotations in history is also one of the most widely attributed. Let's ponder the version associated with Groucho Marx: "Sincerity is the key to success. Once you can fake that, you've got it made."

From the moment Donald Trump opened his quest for the presidency, this idea has defined him and served as an organising principle of his politics.

He presented himself as the guy who said whatever was on his mind, who didn't talk like a politician, who didn't care what others thought and who railed against "political correctness."

In fact, just about everything that comes out of his mouth or appears on his Twitter feed is calculated for its political and dramatic effect. Trump is the exact opposite of what he tries to project: The thing he cares about is what others think of him. So, he'll adjust his views again and again to serve his ends as circumstances change. He's not Mr Fearless. He's Mr Insecure.

Putting aside the catastrophe of his presidency, this approach has worked remarkably well for Trump. But when the input on which he bases his calculations is garbled or contradictory, he doesn't know which way to go.

Lacking any deep instincts or convictions, he tries to move in several directions at once, an awkward manoeuvre even for an especially gifted politician. In these situations, Trump offers us a glimpse behind the curtain, and we see there is nothing there.

This is the most straightforward explanation for the fiasco created by the president's mean-spirited decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals programme, known as DACA. Trump was trying to square incompatible desires: to look super tough on immigrants to his dwindling band of loyal supporters, and to live up to his expressions of "love" (you have to wonder why Trump throws this word around so much) for the 800,000 residents who were brought to the United States illegally as children, conduct productive lives and are as "American" as any of the rest of us.

His solution is a non-solution. First, Trump showed how little he believes in his policy - of ending DACA but delaying its death sentence by six months - by having Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the administration's ad hoc director of nativist initiatives, make the announcement.

Trump shifted responsibility for his impossible political dilemma to Congress.

It's true that Congress should have acted on this long ago, but Trump undercut his claim by not telling his allies what he wanted done. He was simply tossing the choices down Pennsylvania Avenue in the way a lousy neighbour might hurl unwanted debris into the yard next door.

And then, when the bad reviews poured in, Trump backed away from even his muddle of a policy. He tweeted that if Congress didn't act, "I will revisit this issue!" So a six-month delay might not really be a six-month delay. It might be extended. Or maybe not. Who knows? Adding an exclamation point to your waffling doesn't help.

The improvised character of the Trump presidency owes to his inclination to see politics as entirely about public performance. He cares above all about the reactions he arouses day to day and even hour to hour.

There is no strategic vision of what a Trump administration should look like because he doesn't have any clear objectives of his own. On some days, he buys into the Sessions-Steve Bannon-Stephen Miller nationalist world view. On others, he goes with his practical generals or his business-friendly Wall Street advisers. He doesn't resolve the philosophical tensions because they don't matter to him.

All this underscores what a waste this presidency is. Trump's campaign was irresponsible in many ways, but it did highlight problems the US needs to grapple with, particularly the vast gap in opportunity and hope between the country's prosperous metropolitan areas and its economically ailing smaller towns and cities. We are doing nothing to ease this divide, and the policiesTrump does embrace by default (he goes with conservatives in Congress on many issues as the path of least resistance) may worsen it. Stasis also rules on health care and infrastructure.

Those who condemn the fundamental cruelty of using "dreamers" to make a political point are right to do so. The mobilisation for decency in reaction to Trump has already altered the direction of his weather vane. But there is a larger lesson here: It is a genuinely bad idea to elect a president who worries far more about how his actions look than what they actually are.

-The Washington Post

EJ Dionne Jr is senior fellow in Governance Studies at the Brookings Institution, a government professor at Georgetown University and a frequent commentator on politics for National Public Radio



Turkey at a crossroads

Saudi Gazette

TURKEY made its first formal approach to join the European Union thirty years ago under the reformist premier Turgut Özal. Özal opened up his country for foreign investment and began the demolishing of the state-controlled industries which had been built up after Ataturk founded the Republic in 1923. Until then the country had sought to be self-sufficient. Pick up most any manufactured good in the 1970s and it would have “Türk imal” stamped on it somewhere.

The quality of these products was not always of the highest — an automobile called the “Anadolu” rivaled East Germany’s “Trabant” for the title of the world’s worst motorcar.

But what this independent manufacturing demonstrated was that Turkey possessed the capacity and indeed the will to become a potent economic power. And as Özal welcomed foreign investment, embarked on widespread privatization, including selling off the first Bosphorus Bridge to the public, it was clear to the Europeans that Turkey was going to be an attractive market as well as an effective partner.

Turkey also benefitted from a trading agreement with the old European Economic Community. This had been put in place in part because of the crucial role that Turkish gastarbeiter — guest workers — played particularly in the German car industry. In textiles and white goods Turkey has now become a leading international player. The chances are that your kitchen stove, fridge or freezer were made in Turkey even though they carry famous international brands.

The British were the biggest backers for Turkish EU membership. The Germans and Dutch appeared in favor and the Italians — whose style and culture the Turks have long admired — seemed equally supportive. Only the French were reserved. In the early 1990s an eminent Turkish banker was at a dinner in Brussels, when a French banker brought an awkward halt to the conversation at their table after he said that of course Turkey could never be part of Europe because it did not share its Christian values.

Accession talks between Ankara and Brussels have dragged on for years with the EU raising issues such as human rights, freedom of the press and the transparency of commercial law. One initial concern was also political stability. The Turkish military, which saw itself as protector of the secular Kemalist republic, has three times overthrown parliament democracy in the name of public order.

But under the moderate Islamist leadership of Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the teeth of the military have been pulled. Erdogan has proved a remarkable politician but his increasingly authoritarian style has polarized his own people. And even before last year’s failed coup, Erdogan had torn up of his own peace deal with the Kurds, which had earned him international kudos and begun to exert pressure against, political and media dissent.

Since the coup, his substantial clampdown on political opponents and his muzzling of the press have played into the hands of those in the EU who never wanted Turkey to join. Erdogan has now challenged Brussels to abandon accession talks with Ankara. It is likely that if Angela Merkel wins the German election at the end of the month, that this is precisely what will happen. Overnight, the future for NATO-member Turkey will look very different. It is not beyond the bounds of possibility that Erdogan will look for a considerably closer relationship with Vladimir Putin’s Russia.



Britain’s clampdown on FGM is leaving young girls traumatised

By Nadifa Mohamed

7 September 2017

The whispers have been growing in volume for a while, tentative, but more and more concerned about exactly what the Female Genital Mutilation Act, passed in 2003, has achieved. The whole subject of FGM has sometimes seemed to emit more heat than light over the past few years, and now there is a growing concern that measures aimed at protecting children are actually harming them.

While the desire to protect every child from physical and psychological harm is laudable, the lack of clarity over what is actually happening to children in Britain with regards to FGM is now being seen to have a potentially negative impact on child protection.

In 2015, Keith Vaz, then chair of the home affairs select committee, described a situation in which “young girls are being mutilated every hour of every day”. Perhaps he was referring to NHS figures, recorded between April 2015 and March 2016, that showed “a case of FGM is newly recorded every 92 minutes on average”; or the numbers of patients with FGM who were “assessed on average every 61 minutes”.

No doubt Vaz had noble intentions in raising the issue, but the NHS figures in fact refer not to young girls who have been cut in Britain under the noses of doctors, social workers and the police, but to adult women who have received medical treatment for a variety of issues, who were subjected to FGM at a young age in their home countries.

What about the other claims around FGM? The planes full of children shipped to Africa and Asia when “cutting season” begins? In 2015 Baroness Tonge, on her return to London after a flight to Addis Ababa, reported passengers she’d seen to the Metropolitan police, concerned that she had stumbled on one of those rumoured FGM transports.

Had she overhead something? Had a girl quietly asked for help? Did she observe any signs of abuse that worried her? Apparently not: that “the plane was heaving with mainly British-Somalia [sic] families returning to Somalia for ‘the holidays’”, and that there seemed to be more girls on the flight than boys, was enough to raise her suspicions. “It was just odd,” she said. The police, feeling both public and political pressure to act assertively on FGM, checked the flight records and questioned the families on their return.

There are also routine checks of flights carrying “at risk” children, where sniffer dogs and uniformed officers meet departing families and warn them of the FGM law. The message is drummed in at nurseries, schools and GP surgeries too.

What happens to those who are accused of subjecting their children to FGM? A BBC Newsnight investigation this week featured one woman whose children had been put under a protection order – which can ban certain family members from contacting their children or taking them abroad. The reason for this order, the mother believes, was a question she had asked of her midwife regarding what FGM actually entailed (she came from a Kenyan background where it was not practised). This mother had to wait four months before a medical examination proved that neither she, nor her two daughters, had had FGM.

Other families have had children taken into care, sometimes for more than a year, while they wait for one of the accredited doctors who can perform the forensic exam needed on young girls’ bodies to prove whether FGM has taken place or not. One particularly upsetting case I came across involved an eight-year-old Somali girl who was taken from her parents at an airport, and kept in care for months before an exam exonerated them. She was traumatised by the separation from her family and experienced absence seizures while in care.

As Toks Okeniyi, of the Africa gender rights group Forward, says: “If there are bottlenecks in the system, it needs to be resolved to ensure that families are able to have access to clinics very early on in the investigation, to eliminate them and to protect the interests of the child.”

Discussion of FGM in Britain rests on just how many girls are “at risk”. In 2016, the Health and Social Care Information Centre reported 5,700 recorded cases of FGM in the previous 12 months: 5,657 of those women were born outside the UK. The cases of the 43 born here are extremely worrying, as are the reported 18 cases where the FGM actually took place in this country; however, around 10 of those UK cases were genital piercings, presumably freely chosen, which are now recorded as FGM type 4.

These much smaller figures accord with my experience – of opposition to FGM among the vast majority of British Somalis, who make up roughly a third of the historical cases. We are now seeing the second and third generation of British-Somali girls who only know of FGM from campaigns rather than lived experience.

It is still widely reported by campaigners that 23,000 girls in Britain are “at risk” of FGM every year, but there is little evidence of this from the NHS. It appears more likely that nearly all UK families from countries where it is prevalent know it is harmful and illegal; and away from the dominant societies and cultures where it is practised, they see no reason to continue the tradition.

This is a success born from many decades of hard work within communities by women who experienced the pain and harm of FGM themselves. But in treating the lack of cases and prosecutions as a failure, – with loud voices calling for tougher crackdowns – the government risks actually harming little girls. Those who sincerely want to help vulnerable youngsters should ask if the methods used so far have really achieved what they set out to do.

• Nadifa Mohamed is a British-Somali writer and author of The Orchard of Lost Souls



The murder of journalist Gauri Lankesh shows India descending into violence

By Mari Marcel Thekaekara

7 September 2017

Once quiet, civilised Bangalore is shaken to the core by the news of the shocking murder of its most famous journalist, Gauri Lankesh. In big cities and small towns across India thousands of people are protesting at the murder of a gutsy woman who fought for the marginalised, who called Dalit victims her sons, and who protested against injustice and venal politics in the face of death threats.

When you know someone, their death hits you harder. Lankesh was the recipient of endless hate mail from Hindu extremists. She was vilified on two fronts. She dared to take on the powerful Bharatiya Janata party (BJP), currently ruling most of India. She criticised them and their cohorts for attacking minorities and creating a culture that enabled lynching, mob violence and hate crimes. She also defended Dalit rights, provoking the ire of many dominant-caste Indians across the political spectrum.

I have been told off for comparing the current political climate to Nazi Germany. “Don’t go over the top, you’ll lose credibility,” critics advise. Yet for 16-year-old Junaid, a hapless Muslim youth recently stabbed more than 30 times on a public train when he had merely gone out to buy festive clothes for Eid, the pattern is chillingly similar to films we’ve watched on the attacks on Jews in Hitler’s Germany. J

Junaid and his friends were first pushed, then abused as “dirty Muslims”, then told to vacate their seats, their distinctive skull caps thrown on the ground. They tried to escape but Junaid was held down while his assailant stabbed him multiple times. The other boys, who were merely beaten or stabbed, were the lucky ones. They escaped with their lives.

Harsh Mander, former civil servant and activist writer, has appealed to the majority of peace-loving Hindus of India to stop the violence, to stand with the minorities. Even as Lankesh was being lethally mown down, a peace pilgrimage, or yatra, had been initiated in faraway Assam. Called the caravan of love, Karwan e Mohabbat (Kem), it aims to atone for the violence against minorities, and beg for peace and harmony to replace the politics of hate. Currently Muslims, tribal groups (the Adivasi), Dalits and Christians have been singled out in violent attacks.

A US state department report quoted in The Hindu says: “Authorities frequently did not prosecute members of vigilante ‘cow protection’ groups who attacked alleged smugglers, consumers, or traders of beef, usually Muslims, despite an increase in attacks compared to previous years.”

Kem proposes to travel across India, to meet the families of people victimised, attacked, raped and murdered for being minorities. It began on 4 September when Mander and other activist writers visited two women whose teenage sons had been brutally killed.

The cousins, Riyaz and Abu, had gone fishing on their day off. Someone screamed that they were cattle thieves. Within minutes a mob assembled. The boys were thrashed mercilessly while pleading for their lives. Their mutilated bodies came home with eyes gouged out and ears cut off. Two carefree, laughing boys left home promising their mums a fish feast. Instead the women received the worst news possible for any parent: their children had been murdered.

Kem urges Indians to fight to uphold the values of the Indian constitution, which promises its citizens liberty, justice, equality and fraternity after centuries of oppression. Now we appear to be turning into that which we hated, that which we fought against: oppressors, cruel tyrants, intolerant murderers.

In the last two decades, the voices of Hindu extremists have become more vocal, frighteningly shrill. They’ve become emboldened with the culture of impunity which seems all-pervasive. When minorities are killed, often falsely accused of trading, eating or carrying beef, by cow vigilantes, our most vocal, always tweeting Prime Minister Modi says not a word. The silence is deafening. This has encouraged the fanatics to lynch, attack and kill people.

Shockingly, the fanatics glorify Nathuram Godse, the man who assassinated Gandhi, because he believed Gandhi had caved in to Muslim demands by allowing the creation of Pakistan. The once-banned Godse cult is now thriving. Social media are powerfully used to propagate lies, hate and distorted facts.

Critics of Hindu nationalists’ fanaticism are being murdered to scare all dissenters into silence. Two years before Lankesh’s death, the eminent intellectual MM Kalburgi was also shot dead outside his home. That same year, Govind Pansare another vocal critic of extremist Hindu groups, was murdered. In August 2013, the Dalit campaigner and atheist Narendra Dabholkar killed. All of these martyred Hindus were fighting for the idea of India. They were battling to save Hinduism from bigots and charlatans.

All over India, people are waking up to the reality that their beloved country could be destroyed. Never has the country witnessed the flood of hatred and vitriol currently being openly spewed. The voices of sanity plead: “Stop the descent. We cannot become Kosovo or Rwanda.”

Mander issued a challenge to India, but especially to the Hindu majority. “It’s a call of conscience to India’s majority,” he says. “We need our conscience to ache. We need it to be burdened intolerably.” Silence can mean complicity. The silent majority needs to speak up. And to speak out now. Otherwise the Hindu stalwarts who fought for justice will have been martyred for nothing.

In spite of these dark, dismal days, hope has not died. People are protesting: “Not in my name.” And India’s supreme court has just ordered all states and union territories to appoint police officers in every district to track down and prosecute cow vigilante groups. Perhaps sanity will be restored. Perhaps peace will return to this beleaguered nation again. Perhaps Lankesh and the martyrs who preceded her will not have died in vain.

• Mari Marcel Thekaekara is a human rights activist and writer based in Gudalur, Tamil Nadu



Britain is no longer a civilised country – the UN’s disability report confirms it

By Frances Ryan

7 September 2017

It’s often said that the mark of a civilised society is how it treats its most vulnerable citizens in times of austerity. And in the past week, Britain has had not one but two damning judgments – the first from a committee room in Geneva, the second in a courtroom in London.

Last Thursday a United Nations inquiry into disability rights in the UK ruled that the government is failing in its duties in everything from education, work and housing to health, transport and social security. Presented with overwhelming evidence of a range of regressive policies and multibillion-pound cuts to disability services, it described the treatment of disabled people in this country as a “human catastrophe”.

Less than 24 hours later, Luke Davey lost his appeal against his local council cutting his care package almost in half. I wrote about Luke in the Guardian last year, just as the then-39-year-old started his court battle. Luke is quadriplegic, has cerebral palsy and is registered blind. But in this climate of cuts to disability services, after 23 years of 24/7 support, his care hours have been suddenly gutted. Without enough funding for full-time personal assistants, his mother, Jasmine, is forced to fill in the gaps: sitting in the bungalow to ensure he’s not alone, and lifting her 14-stone son into a hoist. Jasmine, it’s worth noting, is 75 and has cancer.

This is grotesque, but it becomes more grotesque still when we consider this situation is not rare. By this financial year, around 200,000 disabled people will have lost between £15,000 and £18,000 in income through a combination of cuts, from the bedroom tax to the abolition of disability living allowance. Meanwhile, 1 million disabled people now have to live without the social care they need to wash, cook, or leave the house.

I am struck daily by the number of readers who tell me what’s being done to them by this government, simply because they have the nerve to be disabled and, often, poor. Grandmothers falling into depression and anxiety waiting to hear whether they’ll be deemed “fit for work”. Middle-aged men with arthritis sitting in a coat in their living room because they can’t afford to put the heating on. Young disabled women turning to sex work after having their Disability Living Allowance removed, and having no other way to pay the bills.

Bit by bit, the abuse of disabled people in Britain is being normalised. This isn’t simply the result of newspapers and politicians dehumanising the “scrounging” disabled. It’s that the hardship being witnessed is now so common, so widespread, it’s as if it’s beyond comprehension.

Resisting this becomes almost an act of defiance: to say that it’s not normal for a self-proclaimed global leader of disability rights to have to be shamed publicly by the United Nations over its treatment of disabled citizens; that it’s not economically necessary for one of the wealthiest nations on Earth to cut benefits and social care so deeply that disabled people are housebound, hungry, or suicidal.

When the “most vulnerable citizens” line is used by well-meaning voices, there’s a secret second sentence that’s rarely uttered: disabled people, truth be told, do not need to be vulnerable. Contrary to the myth sold by years of austerity, to be afraid, desperate or isolated is not a normal state of affairs for people with disabilities. Vulnerability comes when politicians choose to pull the support disabled people need in order to live dignified, fulfilling, independent lives – knowing full well the misery it will cause.

“I’m nervous, really nervous,” Luke had told me last year when I asked how he was feeling about his court battle. “But I have to do it. If I don’t, God knows what will happen to me or my mum.”

This was the week this country lost the right to call itself civilised. If that doesn’t shame politicians to address its treatment of disabled citizens, surely nothing will.

• Frances Ryan is a journalist and political commentator



The Book That Made Us Feminists

By Carol J. Adams

SEPT. 7, 2017

I was 19 years old when I bought a first edition of “Sexual Politics” in 1970. Kate Millett’s first book, published the year before, was that unlikeliest phenomenon — a dissertation heard around the world. What I remember most about that year was the dizzying experience of reading Ms. Millett, who died on Wednesday, and the new theories of her sister feminists that came in its wake. Like one of Yayoi Kusama’s “Infinity Rooms,” my consciousness, and that of the women I knew, gained new dimensions.

In my library today, that volume of “Sexual Politics” sits next to the feminist classics that soon followed. Both “The Dialectic of Sex” by Shulamith Firestone and “Sisterhood is Powerful,” Robin Morgan’s ambitious anthology, appeared in 1970. The following year, Germaine Greer published “The Female Eunuch” in the United States. Each year thereafter brought a major new work: Phyllis Chesler’s “Women and Madness” (1972); Mary Daly’s “Beyond God the Father” (1973); Andrea Dworkin’s “Woman Hating” (1974); and Susan Brownmiller’s “Against Our Will” (1975).

These women and many others, including Adrienne Rich and Angela Davis, offered new insights, shaking foundation after foundation for me and my peers. But it was Ms. Millett’s book that made us feminists.

I remember staring at Alice Neel’s image of a confident-looking Ms. Millett on a Time magazine cover in August 1970. It made me feel a little indomitable, too. That fall, I started to offer feminist analyses in my literature classes. Maybe I wasn’t ready to take on the world, but I could take on John Keats’s “La Belle Dame Sans Merci.”

In 1963, Betty Friedan had called the “feminine mystique” the problem with no name. It was Ms. Millett who gave it a name — sexual politics — and explained its cause: patriarchal society. By introducing the concept of “patriarchy as a political institution,” she equipped her readers to become their own theorists of culture. Ms. Millett revolutionized our thought by helping us to perceive the power structures in what had previously been cast as apolitical terrain: the home; literature; romantic relationships.

It felt so liberating to realize that we could follow her lead. We could take this fundamental insight to our jobs, our schools, our marriages — and to politics itself. Theory mattered. It was capable of propelling real change.

It’s been 47 years since that white cover with the stark black capital letters appeared. The challenge for us in thinking about “Sexual Politics” now is the weariness of knowing Ms. Millett’s analysis isn’t yet outdated. President Trump has made second-wave feminism relevant again. Sexual bragging? Discussing women’s bodies as objects? Fascination and repulsion by women’s bleeding and other bodily functions? Check, check, check.

For Ms. Millett, misogynist literature — exemplified by the writings of D. H. Lawrence, Henry Miller, Norman Mailer and Jean Genet — was the primary vehicle of masculine hostility. The tools for disseminating such hostility — @realdonaldtrump — have increased exponentially.

When Ms. Millett talks about the “politically expedient character of patriarchal convictions about women,” I think about the health care debates of the past year, the reference by one state legislator to pregnant women as “hosts” and of the fact that not a single female senator was invited to help write the health bill this past spring.

Ms. Millett challenged the gender conditioning of early childhood that “runs in a circle of self-perpetuation and self-fulfilling prophecy.” How else to think about “reveal” parties, where expectant parents announce the sex of their baby?

And her discussion of the family as “patriarchy’s chief institution” feels suddenly acute when one considers our current first family. Patriarchy, literally "the rule of the father,” has found new meaning in the Trump White House.

Ms. Millett’s work wasn’t exhaustive. Later feminist theory pursued other important ideas about equality and inequality, about intersectionality and colonialism. But I love Ms. Millett for her ambition. She wanted us to take it all in: from the gas station that stood in the 1960s where the Seneca Falls women’s rights meeting was held in 1848 to the anatomical discussion of the female orgasm. She would consume it all; she had consumed it all, devoured the wealth of material from anthropology, theology, history, philosophy, economics and literature, and showed us how to recognize the sexual politics that undergirded everything.

Kate Millett ended her book on a hopeful note, of how “the new women’s movement” would “ally itself on an equal basis with blacks and students in a growing radical coalition.” At a time, “poised between progress or political repression,” Ms. Millett hoped that women might swing the national mood toward social revolution. “For to actually change the quality of life is to transform personality, and this cannot be done without freeing humanity from the tyranny of sexual-social category and conformity to sexual stereotype — as well as abolishing racial caste and economic class.” The next Women’s March could adopt this as their motto.

On Wednesday night, after hearing of her death in Paris earlier that day, I went to my bookshelf. There they all sat: the volumes that changed how we saw the world. I pulled out Ms. Millett’s book and opened it to the Postscript. Perhaps, after all these years, it wasn’t just Ms. Millett’s élan, or confidence, or ambition, or erudition. It was that she ended with a visionary hope for us all, that we might create “a world we can bear out of the desert we inhabit.”

Carol J. Adams (@_caroljadams) is the author of “The Sexual Politics of Meat: A Feminist-Vegetarian Critical Theory,” now in a 25th anniversary edition.



Is it already time to sit at the table with Syria’s al-Assad?

By Ertugrul Özkök


Two interesting developments occurred in our neighbor Syria on the day our National Football Team beat Croatia and rose to third place in their group in the World Championship play-offs.

The national football team of Syria, which has fallen into pieces in its sixth year of civil war, fell 2-2 with Iran and won the right to participate in the eliminations for the World Championship play-offs.

This victory was celebrated with joyful demonstrations on the streets of Damascus.

These celebrations can also be regarded as the first photographs marking the end of the civil war in Syria.

Yes, a World Champion team came out of the ruins of war.

On the same day, troops under Syria’s Bashar al-Assad’s command took back a region that had been controlled by Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) for three years.

One day later, the United Nations stated the troops of Assad used nerve gas in Idlib.

The U.N. also stated that until today, 33 different kinds of chemical weapons were used in the civil war in Syria and seven of them were used by the Assad regime between March and July.

This means that in the civil war, there are also those who use chemical weapons among the opponent groups against Assad. Only, this statement alone already shows the size of the human tragedy.

The war in Syria is almost coming to its end.

Aside from us, the whole world has understood this reality very well.

The best solution with regard to world peace is if the Assad regime takes back control over the country again.

This historical tragedy showed everyone that every region the regime could not control was seized by ISIL or Al-Qaeda-linked Nusra.

This is a mindset that cuts heads, burns people alive and makes women sex slaves.

Just like in the beginning of the war, today I am still writing with the same realism.

It is time for Turkey to sit at the table with the al-Assad regime and start discussions.

The question to be put forward will then be: “Are we going to sit at the same table with the butcher of Syria?”

I know very well what reaction those, dreaming of “performing prayers at the Emevi Mosque in Damascus” will give to my writing.

They will say: “Are we going to sit at the same table with the man who killed 200,000 Muslims in Syria and used chemical weapons?”

My answer is ready: “Those who met al-Bashir, the butcher of Darfur who killed 200,000 people in Sudan, with a ceremony by the state at the Atatürk Airport and welcomed him like a king in Turkey, may as well sit at the same table with Assad.”

What it takes is to put the interests of our country above your egos.

Observations of Erbil

It is a big loss for me to see journalists such as Cengiz Çandar and Fehim Tastekin out of mainstream media when the whole world’s attention is on the Middle East.

Luckily enough, Tastekin writes on the website “Ilke Haber” and I follow him closely.

Tastekin has gone to Erbil and wrote a very interesting article there at a time when we were all curious about the Kurdistan Regional Government’s (KRG) referendum.

I will share with you the most interesting lines of this article.

The Kurdish are stuck in the triangle of “yes,” “no” and “boycott.”

In the first group, there are those who see the answer “yes” as “Kurdishness” and “patriotism,” and “no” as “the betrayal to the dream of Kurdistan.”

On the other hand, there are those who believe the timing is wrong and it is an effort to cover the failures of KRG President Massoud Barzani.

Even more interesting is there are those who believe a conspiracy theory, the referendum is a trick by Turkey, in an attempt to make Kurdistan a “second Cyprus.”

In another group, there are people who say regional actors are pushing the independence project so it fails, as the KRG will hold the referendum without being prepared.



URL: http://newageislam.com/world-press/new-age-islam-edit-bureau/is-there-any-end-to-the-plight-of-rohingyas?--new-age-islam’s-selection,-08-september-2017/d/112464


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