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World Press on Erdogan, Kamala Harris, Private Militias and Rape: New Age Islam's Selection, 9 October 2020


By New Age Islam Edit Bureau

9 October 2020

• When Rape Is Okay

By Kajalie Shehreen Islam

• Erdoğan and His Arab 'Brothers'

By Burak Bekdil

• Kamala Harris Knows How to Win Elections

By David Brooks

• The Plot against Gretchen Whitmer Shows the Danger Of Private Militias

By Mary B. Mccord

• The Conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan Could Spiral Out Of Control

By Lara Setrakian

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When Rape Is Okay

By Kajalie Shehreen Islam

October 09, 2020

 

If rape is not okay, it is not okay for anyone, no matter who they are, where they were, when and with whom, what they were wearing, what they said or did, or what their “character” is lik . Photo Muntakim Saad

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Is rape ever okay? Most of us would say no. Yet, something that is "not okay", happens every day, most often with impunity. According to a report published by Ain Salish Kendra (ASK) last week, 975 women have been raped in Bangladesh between January and September of this year. Of them, 43 women were killed following rape, while 12 women committed suicide. That was before the news of rape in Sylhet, Rajshahi, Sunamganj, Habiganj, Gopalganj; the rape of the madrasa student; the teenage girl raped by her father-turned-"saint"; the 13-year-old pregnant as a result of rape and now being threatened to withdraw the case; the 12-year-old with special needs allegedly raped by an 85-year-old man; and the pages of news on rape reported in the last week. There is a flurry of media reports following every sensational case, but the heinous crime of rape is committed every single day. While the numbers are slightly less than during the same time period last year when 1,115 women were raped and 57 women were killed afterwards, the brutality of such crimes has increased, according to the ASK report. 

The video gone viral last week depicting the gang-rape of the woman in Noakhali is just the tip of the iceberg, but which raises several questions. What kind of families, society and legal system do we have, where a woman can be raped for multiple days at gunpoint and does not feel she can report it? When the same woman is recorded being stripped and raped by multiple men with sticks while begging for mercy? When, for over a month, she still does not dare to report the crime, and it is actually the perpetrators themselves who release the video to shame her, the victim. When, after everything, and feeling like her own life has been "ruined", the woman worries about her daughter's in-laws seeing the video and taking it out on her daughter by throwing her out. Because that is the kind of society we have made for ourselves, where women's bodies are not only sites of hatred, violence, venting of frustrations and abuse of power, but where women themselves are often held responsible for the crimes committed against them.

If rape was not "okay", then victims of rape would not be questioned about when and where they were and why, what they were wearing, what relationship they had with the rapist, or whether they were sexually active. Every woman, no matter who they were or what they said or did, would not be threatened with rape on social media, the comments section of online mainstream media, and even in person, with the most violent and violating language. Perpetrators would be immediately arrested, tried and convicted, regardless of whether or not the crimes went viral in the media. Justice would be done, whether the crime occurred in a madrasa, in the hill tracts, or at a late-night party. Rapists would not dare to keep raping repeatedly, assaulting the victims and their families, and threatening them with worse if they dared to report it to the authorities. There would not be debates over what does and does not classify as rape based on archaic laws. There would be more and harsher punishment of rapists. Court judgments that would "deter other men from going down the same wrong path" would be highlighted in the media, as it was in the recent case of a woman convicted of murder. If rape was not "okay", rape jokes and metaphors would not be normalised in sports or under any circumstances, and rape would not have become an acceptable weapon for terrorising (mostly) women, with threats, the actual act, threats of consequences after the act, and the shame of it forever.

Rape would not just seem "not okay" if the victims were children, or covered in a burqa, or accompanied by their husbands. It would not just seem "not okay" for those with the same beliefs and ideologies. It would not just seem "not okay" only in the cases where we speak, write, and take to the streets in angry protest and not the countless others. 

If rape is not okay, it is not okay for anyone, no matter who they are, where they were, when and with whom, what they were wearing, what they said or did, or what their "character" is like. We cannot pick and choose the victims we think did not "deserve" it and show them our support, while others are raped over and over again—by the rapists, at the police station, the hospital, in court, in the media, and with our own judgment. Neither can we choose to punish some perpetrators and not others based on their money, political influence, official positions, or simply whether or not they fit our "image" of a rapist. If rape is not okay, every incident needs to be reported, every case filed, taken to court and issued a prompt and fair judgment, with severe punishment for the perpetrator which will serve to deter every other potential rapist.

If rape is not okay, change must come at every level, from changes in the law in order to make it more relevant to crimes committed today, to changes in our culture, society and family, where women are explicitly taught that their lives and reputations begin and end with their sexuality, and men implicitly learn about the worst weapon to use to destroy women. If rape is not okay, each and every legal, political and social institution must be sensitised to deal with victims/survivors as being just that. If rape is not okay, it is the rapist whose life should be "ruined", and who should live in fear and shame forevermore. If rape is not okay, it is the survivor who should be free to live in society with their honour intact, because their honour does not lie in their chastity and their shame is not in its violation. If rape is not okay, women need to be seen not only as sacred mothers and sisters and daughters and friends who need protection from being violated and ensured justice if they are, but as human beings with basic human rights to safety and well-being.

While we express outrage at the most gruesome crimes committed because we cannot turn away from what is literally staring us in the face, let us not neglect to demand justice for those who suffer in fearful silence every day. And while we protest the rape and other atrocious war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in our history, demanding that harsh justice be done, let us not forget the crimes that are going down in our history today.

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Kajalie Shehreen Islam is Assistant Professor, Department of Mass Communication and Journalism, University of Dhaka.

https://www.thedailystar.net/opinion/news/when-rape-okay-1974769

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Erdoğan and His Arab 'Brothers'

By Burak Bekdil

October 8, 2020

 

Recep Tayyip Erdogan with member of the Turkish Army behind him, image via Wikipedia

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EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: After the infamous Mavi Marmara incident of May 2010, Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and then foreign policy tzar Ahmet Davutoğlu (later PM and now an Erdoğan opponent) pledged to internationally isolate Israel. This was intended to help them advance their Islamist agenda and augment an emerging unity in the umma, preferably under Turkish leadership. A decade later, pragmatic Arab states are lining up to normalize relations with Israel, leaving state actors Iran and Turkey as well as non-state actor Hamas in a punishing position of international isolation—exactly where Turkey wanted to push Israel.

Neither the Ottoman nor the modern Turkish language has ever been short of racist proverbs denigrating Arabs and their culture. No more, said Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the Islamist leader who has been at the helm in Turkey since 2002. He made it a habit to publicly refer to Arabs, including his then regional nemesis Syrian president Bashar Assad, as “my Arab brothers.” His goal was to build a Muslim-Arab pact, a modern umma under Turkish leadership as in Ottoman times, to challenge Israel in the region and, more broadly, Western civilization. In 2010, Turkey’s state broadcaster TRT even launched an Arabic language channel, TRT Arabi. Sadly for Erdoğan, his attempt to fuse Islam and anti-Zionism seems to have fallen apart.

Turkish diplomats officially said the recent normalization deal between the UAE and Israel meant Abu Dhabi was betraying the “Palestinian cause.” This response from Ankara looked ridiculous, as it appeared to have forgotten that Turkey itself has had diplomatic relations with Israel since 1949. Turkish Islamists apparently do not care about looking ridiculous.

In its September 10 edition, Yeni Akit, a staunchly pro-Erdoğan and Islamist militant newspaper, said the “Saudis were competing with the UAE in treason [against the ‘Palestinian cause’].” Yeni Akit was referring to the decision by Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, in a landmark change of policy, to allow all flights to and from Israel to use their airspace. The trouble with that criticism is that there too, Israel is one of the 138 countries with which Turkey has mutual accords for the use of airspace.

According to this logic, diplomatic relations with Israel and flights using the airspace of both countries are privileges that should be accorded to one Muslim country alone: Turkey. If other Muslim countries sign identical accords with Israel, it’s treason.

This rhetoric reflects Turkey’s increasing loneliness in the Muslim/Arab world (with the sole exception of Qatar) after several years of loneliness within the NATO alliance. Turkey can thus claim the bizarre title: “Odd man out in both NATO and the Muslim world.”

This state of affairs has been coming on for years, but Erdoğan has stubbornly refused to recalibrate his policy.

In early 2019, six nations, including the Palestinian Authority (Erdoğan’s ideological next of kin), agreed to found the Eastern Mediterranean Gas Forum. At a July 2019 meeting in Cairo, the energy ministers of Egypt, Cyprus, Greece, Israel, Italy, and the PA, as well as a representative of the energy minister of Jordan, said they would form a committee to elevate the Forum to the level of an international organization that respects the rights of its members to their natural resources. Erdoğan privately felt betrayed by this act of treason from his “Palestinian brothers,” comforting himself that the traitors were not members of his beloved Hamas.

In October 2019, the Arab League condemned Turkey’s cross-border military operation in northeast Syria as an “invasion of an Arab state’s land and an aggression on its sovereignty.” The League would consider taking measures against Turkey in the economic, investment, and cultural sectors, including tourism and military cooperation. It also called on the UN Security Council to “take the necessary measures to stop the Turkish aggression and [enforce] the withdrawal from Syrian territory immediately.” To Ankara’s deep embarrassment, its closest regional ally, Qatar, did not block the League’s communique condemning Turkey.

Turkey’s reaction was characteristically childish. Fahrettin Altun, Erdoğan’s communications director, said the “Arab League do not speak for the Arab world.” An angry Erdoğan said, “All of you [Arab nations] won’t make one Turkey.” That’s quite a drift from his “our Arab brothers” rhetoric.

Apparently in the Turkish world of make-believe, only Turkey’s Islamists or those with a seal of approval from Ankara can speak for the Arab world. Worse, Erdoğan et al believe this idea can sell on the Arab street if it is dressed up in nice anti-Zionist, pro-Hamas rhetoric.

On September 9, the Arab League condemned Turkey (along with Iran) for “interference in the region and the Palestinian cause.” At the League’s foreign ministers’ meeting, Egypt’s FM Sameh Shoukry said Cairo “will not stand motionless in face of the Turkish greed that is especially being shown in northern Iraq, Libya, and Syria.” Once again, Ankara “totally rejected” all the decisions taken at the meeting.

Murat Yetkin, a prominent Turkish journalist and editor of Yetkin Report, recently wrote: “With the exception of [currently ambiguous] Libya and Qatar, what unites the Arabs now is no longer anti-Israeli sentiment but anti-Turkish sentiment.”

That’s quite a long political journey to travel, and a tough destination for Erdoğan.

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Burak Bekdil is an Ankara-based columnist. He regularly writes for the Gatestone Institute and Defense News and is a fellow at the Middle East Forum.

https://besacenter.org/perspectives-papers/erdogan-arab-brothers/

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Kamala Harris Knows How to Win Elections

By David Brooks

Oct. 8, 2020

 

Democratic US vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris. Photo: Reuters

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Back in February it seemed as if we were about to have one of the most ideologically polarized elections in American history. President Trump was rushing ahead with his populist/ego-trip/authoritarian whatchamacallit. The Democrats were shifting left: Medicare for All, Green New Deal, Bernie Sanders-style reimagining of capitalism.

The great political/culture war was at hand!

Instead, this has turned into the least ideological election in recent times. The campaign has largely shrunk down from grand ideological issues to two practical problems: How to get rid of Donald Trump. How to beat Covid-19.

The shrinkage happened in three stages. First, Democratic primary voters decided that beating Trump was more important than the revolution. Second, the pandemic hit. Candidates imagine that if elected they will be able to implement their grand vision. But as George W. Bush, Barack Obama and Donald Trump all learned the hard way, governing is usually about responding to crises you didn’t choose or foresee.

Third, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris decided to run a professional campaign. Instead of trying to please those of us who consume large amounts of media, they have ruthlessly and effectively focused their campaign on the Exhausted Majority — people who are disgusted by and semidetached from politics in working-class homes in the Midwest, in retirement communities in Florida, in suburban cul-de-sacs everywhere.

Kamala Harris’s debate performance was the perfect implementation of the strategy and the perfect illustration of why it is succeeding. A lot of the conversation about who “won” the debate misses the crucial question of who effectively implemented her or his campaign’s strategy. Harris did. The Republicans don’t have a strategy, so Mike Pence’s performance was beside the point.

If you can stretch your mind back to the Democratic debates of last winter, you may remember a different Kamala Harris. You might remember that she was held in suspicion by the left because of her record as a prosecutor but that she was working hard to shore up support on that flank.

In 2019 she was ranked as the most liberal person in the Senate, to the left of Sanders, by Govtrack. She supported the Green New Deal and, for a while, Medicare for All. She co-wrote an environmental bill with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and proposed spending plans that one analyst reckoned would cost more than $40 trillion over 10 years.

That’s not whom we saw Wednesday night. Her first answer on Covid-19 was the most ingenious of the evening, in that it hit Trump from the right. She did not say that government should come in and make the country safe with mandates, or even lead with the mask issue. She said that in January, Trump denied self-reliant families the information they needed to keep themselves safe. It was the kind of language a libertarian suspicious of Washington could feel comfortable with.

From there it was center-left all the way. She asserted her support for a woman’s right to have an abortion but turned questions about the Supreme Court fight into a conversation about protecting Obamacare.

The three supporters she name-checked were Colin Powell, Cindy McCain and John Kasich. When asked about racial justice, she didn’t talk expansively about systemic racism but focused more practically on what she did as a prosecutor.

Big controversial issues were dodged or avoided altogether: Bernie-style class conflict, even any comprehensive talk about inequality and redistribution. When she was asked directly about the Green New Deal, she immediately reminded voters that Joe Biden wouldn’t ban fracking, and she then sketched out a set of policies much more moderate than those she’d embraced in the primaries.

The policies she did embrace mostly came from the center-left Obama playbook: preserving and extending Obamacare, protecting those with pre-existing conditions, investing in renewable energy and infrastructure, free community college, preserving tax cuts for anybody making less than $400,000 a year.

The one plausible argument the Republicans had against Biden was that he is a Trojan horse for the far left. After the first few months of the campaign and especially after Wednesday night, it is simply hard to believe that. When Biden said in the first presidential debate, “I am the Democratic Party,” it was inartfully put, but it’s closer to the truth than I would have imagined a few months ago.

How you campaign is how you govern. As people who have served in past administrations understand, once in office it is nearly impossible to rally support for issues and plans you didn’t take to the American people during the fall. All those plans buried in Biden campaign reports but being ignored now will not suddenly burst to life after Inauguration Day. That’s why it’s unlikely that Biden and Harris would switch sharply back to the left once elected.

Trump’s stated reluctance to accept the election results means that Biden has to run this way. He can’t run an ideological campaign that wins a bare majority. He has to inarguably crush Trump with the broadest possible coalition.

So far, that’s what’s happening. There’s a moment in many American campaigns when the people see chaos looming on the horizon. It happened in 2008 with the fall of Lehman Brothers and in 1968 with the riots. At those moments, Americans shift to the candidates who provide safety and order. Americans have seen chaos loom, particularly over the past nine days, and Biden and Harris seem like the safest and least exhausting pair of hands.

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/10/08/opinion/kamala-harris-2020-election.html?action=click&module=Opinion&pgtype=Homepage

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The Plot against Gretchen Whitmer Shows the Danger of Private Militias

By Mary B. McCord

Oct. 8, 2020

In the swirls of disinformation that now pollute our political discourse, one  is particularly dangerous: that private militias are constitutionally protected.

Although these vigilante groups often cite the Second Amendment’s “well regulated militia” for their authority, history and Supreme Court precedent make clear that the phrase was not intended to — and does not — authorize private militias outside of government control.

Indeed, these armed groups have no authority to call themselves forth into militia service; the Second Amendment does not protect such activity; and all 50 states prohibit it.

The danger of these groups was brought home on Thursday with the announcement that the F.B.I. had thwarted a plot by people associated with an extremist group in Michigan to kidnap Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and overthrow the government.

Court documents say that the group discussed trying the governor for treason and murdering “tyrants.” Six men now face federal kidnapping conspiracy charges, but unauthorized militia activity continues in Michigan and elsewhere.

The unnamed militia involved in the kidnapping plot is part of a growing number of private paramilitary groups mobilizing across the country, wholly outside of lawful authority or governmental accountability. These organizations — some of which openly refer to themselves as “militias,” while others reject the term — often train together in the use of firearms and other paramilitary techniques and “deploy,” heavily armed and sometimes in full military gear, when they deem it necessary.

Sometimes they want to fight against the perceived tyranny of the states, as when they stormed the Capitol in Lansing, Mich., this spring to demand the end of the governor’s pandemic shutdown order, egged on by President Trump’s tweets to “LIBERATE MICHIGAN!”

Sometimes they want to usurp the functions of law enforcement, as they’ve done in Kenosha, Wis., and elsewhere, purporting to “protect” property during racial justice protests, often in response to false rumors about leftist violence, rumors stoked by the president’s calls to designate “antifa” as a terrorist organization.

Most alarmingly, some of them are planning their own poll-watching and openly training in preparation for the post-election period.

Whatever their stated purpose, their conduct is unlawful and not constitutionally protected. Even before the adoption of the Constitution, the colonies recognized the importance of a “well regulated” militia to defend the state, in preference over standing armies, which they perceived as a threat to liberty. The militia consisted of able-bodied residents between certain ages who had a duty to respond when called forth by the government.

But “well regulated” meant that the militias were trained, armed and controlled by the state. Indeed, 48 states have provisions in their constitutions that explicitly require the militia to be strictly subordinate to the civil authority.

Likewise, state constitutions and laws then and now generally name the governor as the commander in chief of its armed forces — and only the governor or a designee has the power to call forth the able-bodied residents for militia service.

Emerging from the American Revolution, the founders reasonably were wary of insurgencies that could threaten the stability of the new Union. Shays’ Rebellion and other early armed uprisings against the states only solidified those fears. Thus, the “well regulated militia” in the Constitution’s Second Amendment refers to the militia once called forth by the government, not by private vigilante organizations deciding when and under what circumstances to organize and self-deploy.

The federal and state government control of the militia has also been confirmed by the Supreme Court. In 1886, the court upheld the constitutionality of a state criminal law that made it unlawful for “any body of men” outside state or federal governmental authority to “associate themselves together as a military company or organization, or to drill or parade with arms in any city or town of the state.”

This criminal statute and others were enacted after the Civil War and are on the books of 29 states. The Supreme Court said without question that states had authority to control and regulate military bodies and associations as “necessary to the public peace, safety and good order.”

The court’s 1886 decision was reaffirmed in 2008 in Justice Antonin Scalia’s majority opinion in District of Columbia v. Heller. That case established that the Second Amendment protects an individual right to bear arms for self-defence, but “does not prevent the prohibition of private paramilitary organizations.” Although there are many gray areas about Second Amendment rights, this is not one of them.

Which brings us back to the authority of the states. In addition to state constitutional and statutory schemes by which only the governor may activate “able-bodied” residents for militia service, other laws also forbid paramilitary activity and the usurpation of law enforcement and peacekeeping authority.

Twenty-five states prohibit teaching, demonstrating or practicing in the use of firearms or “techniques” capable of causing injury or death for use during a civil disorder. Eighteen states prohibit either the false assumption of the duties of public officials, including law-enforcement officials, or the wearing of uniforms similar to military uniforms.

All these laws point to a single conclusion: There is no right in any state for groups of individuals to arm themselves and organize either to oppose or augment the government.

Now, more than ever, state and local officials must enforce these statutes. In battleground states like Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin, as well as other hotbeds of militia activity like Oregon, Idaho, Virginia and Texas, they must ready themselves for unlawful private militias showing up at the polls and on the streets during ballot counting and beyond.

Those groups, like the Three Percenters, Oath Keepers and others that claim to be “patriots” but answer to their own interpretation of the Constitution, are likely to hear the president’s unsupported claims about election fraud as their license to deploy to the polls to “protect” or “patrol” the vote.

Their armed presence not only would violate state anti-paramilitary laws, it would likely violate laws against voter intimidation as well. State attorneys general, secretaries of state, local prosecutors, law enforcement officers and election workers must know about these laws and be prepared to enforce them. They should announce this in advance and consider taking pre-emptive action through attorney general legal opinions, cease and desist orders, and prosecutions or civil litigation.

These efforts must continue after the election, when the threat of civil unrest could be at its greatest. State and local leaders, in both parties, must denounce armed militia activity, whether from the right or the left.

These leaders may also have to take swift action to protect public safety and preserve constitutional rights. But the law is on their side — private armed militias find no support in the U.S. or state constitutions or in American history. They must not be tolerated in our society.

Mary B. McCord, legal director for Georgetown Law’s Institute for Constitutional Advocacy and Protection and a visiting professor, was the acting assistant attorney general for national security at the Department of Justice from 2016 to 2017.

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/10/08/opinion/militias-gretchen-whitmer.html?action=click&module=Opinion&pgtype=Homepage

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The Conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan Could Spiral Out of Control

By Lara Setrakian

Oct. 8, 2020

 Taking shelter in a hospital basement, 19-year-old George Alexanian can hear the suicide drones buzzing overhead in the city of Stepanakert.

A few days ago, he said, one of them headed toward the hospital but was struck down before it could explode. Yet being there, he told me, is better than staying home, where every strike felt like an earthquake. His sister is a doctor, working upstairs and sleeping in the hallway because the beds are all full.

“We get used to it,” he said. “But it’s hard to live not knowing if you’re safe.”

Workers hurry out of other basements for a few hours, then rush back down to shelter. Eleven days into an escalating fight between Armenia and Azerbaijan, Stepanakert is being pummelled with missiles and drone fire. One building that still stands is the home of the National Assembly of the Republic of Artsakh, a country that has never been recognized by the wider world.

Known internationally as Nagorno-Karabakh, the tiny Armenian separatist enclave in Azerbaijan is at the centre of a dangerous conflict that has drawn in Turkey and Russia — and claimed hundreds of lives. Without engagement from the United States, whose attention to the region has slipped, the situation could spiral out of control.

The conflict is an unresolved leftover from the Soviet Union. In 1923, Communist rulers placed Nagorno-Karabakh and its ethnic Armenian majority within the borders of Soviet Azerbaijan, giving it special status with a high degree of self-rule. As the Soviet Union was collapsing in 1991, the region declared its own independence, setting off a war that lasted until a cease-fire in 1994. That held for 26 years, though clashes have broken out over the past four years.

This round of hostilities, which started on Sept. 27, is different. What had previously been theoretically possible but highly improbable military actions — Azerbaijani drones flying within 20 miles of Yerevan, Armenia’s capital, or an Armenian strike on a military base in Azerbaijan’s second city, Ganja — were quickly carried out. The next targets could be oil and gas facilities in Azerbaijan, or Yerevan and Azerbaijan’s capital, Baku.

The threat of mutually assured destruction was supposed to be a deterrent that kept each side in check. Now it risks becoming reality. Azerbaijan, encouraged and materially supported by Turkey, has vowed to fight until its control of Nagorno-Karabakh is assured. Armenians, for their part, have vowed to give their last drop of blood to maintain the region’s independence.

The fighting has expanded beyond anything seen in the past few decades. If it develops into an Azerbaijani attack on Armenian soil, it would be likely to bring the direct participation of Russia, which is treaty-bound to protect Armenia. At that point, with Turkey and Russia on opposing sides, the wider region could be engulfed by war.

It was the United States that once led the effort to avoid such a disaster as one of the co-chairs of the Minsk Group, the body created by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe to negotiate a settlement to the conflict. After the cease-fire in 1994, the group began intense rounds of diplomacy, including the promising peace talks at Key West, Fla., in 2001, overseen by a sharp cast of American diplomats.

But America is now practically absent from the peace process. Its meeting in Geneva on Thursday with France and Russia, the other co-chairs of the group, comes after nearly two weeks of inaction. No major proposals or initiatives have emerged from the group since 2007. The United States’ interest gradually dropped away.

“They’ve been taking a step back for mostly a decade,” Stefan Meister, the head of the Heinrich Böll Foundation’s office for the South Caucasus, told me. “They have left it to Russia to solve this conflict, or at least negotiate a cease-fire.”

But the group is designed for American leadership. It reflects the power structure and political will of the 1990s, when the United States was committed to peace and development in the former Soviet Union. As Washington disengaged, it didn’t call in another country to replace it or rejigger the format. The structure stayed the same; the peace process just went quiet. Azerbaijan’s leaders have said that’s why they lost patience and moved to resolve the issue by force.

Now, with Turkey’s overt assistance on the Azerbaijani side — its drones are some of the deadliest flying over Stepanakert — few countries other than the United States stand a chance of halting the violence.

“The U.S. can act as a spur for better diplomacy,” said Salman Shaikh, an expert in conflict resolution. America still has the relationships, leverage and strategic assets needed to move the process forward. But without a strong American presence, the peace process will lack critical heft. The consequences could be grave.

Playing the world’s policeman may have proven too expensive for America’s taste and too expansive for its capabilities. But active diplomatic engagement — appointing a special envoy or assigning a senior State Department official the job — would be a relatively low-cost way for America to prevent loss of life and the devastating consequences of a regional war.

Azerbaijanis say they have the right to control all the territory within their United Nations-recognized borders and want restitution for those displaced by the 1990s war, some 600,000 people. Armenians say the inhabitants of Nagorno-Karabakh have the right to democratic self-determination. They also fear being slaughtered if they come under Azerbaijani rule.

But those arguments don’t have a chance to play out toward resolution until robust negotiations are back on track. If that doesn’t happen, the alternative is more than just two countries giving each other a bloody nose. It is a fearsome regional conflict that would do irrevocable damage to the world.

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Lara Setrakian is a journalist and the chief executive of News Deeply.

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/10/08/opinion/nagorno-karabakh-armenia-azerbaijan.html?action=click&module=Opinion&pgtype=Homepage

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