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Arab foreign ministers seek ‘multilateral’ process to
revive Mideast peace talks
AFP, Cairo/February 02/2018/Arab foreign ministers on Thursday called for the creation of a UN-backed “multilateral mechanism” to help revive the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians. The appeal was issued at the end of a two-day meeting to discuss US President Donald Trump’s December 6 recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital which has sparked Arab anger. Trump’s decision also to relocate the US embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv triggered deadly clashes in Palestinian territories and was rejected in a non-binding UN General Assembly resolution. The Palestinians have frozen contacts with the Trump administration over the decision and said the United States can no longer mediate in the Middle East conflict following Trump’s decision. Meeting at Arab League headquarters in Cairo, the foreign ministers called for the “creation of an international and multilateral mechanism under the aegis of the United Nations to sponsor the peace process”. The ministers called for the “creation of an international and multilateral mechanism under the aegis of the United Nations to sponsor the peace process”. (Reuters)
They also asked for an international conference to be held to re-start peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians and the international recognition of a Palestinian state with east Jerusalem as its capital. Arab League chief Ahmed Abul Gheit told a news conference the peace process should not remain “within the hands” of one faction alone. He also singled out the position of the European Union. On Wednesday EU diplomatic chief Federica Mogherini had also said the United States was “essential for any process to realistically have a change to succeed”. “If I can put it in a headline, ‘Nothing without the United States, Nothing with the United states alone’,” she said. Palestinian foreign minister Riyad al-Malki told reporters in Cairo that the “old mechanism has ceased to exist and is history”. “It will not bother us should the United States be part of the (new) mechanism,” he added.
Israel strikes Hamas in Gaza after rocket fired
AFP, Gaza/February 02/2018/Israeli forces struck a Hamas position in Gaza early Friday after a rocket was fired from the Palestinian enclave. “An aircraft targeted a Hamas observation post in the Gaza Strip,” an army statement said. The raid hit near Beit Hanoun in the north of the territory. There were no reports of any casualties, although a few nearby homes were damaged. Local resident Mohamed Abu Jarad said he and his family had been forced to flee their home after two missiles hit. The strike came hours after a rocket was fired at Israel from Gaza without causing damage. Such rockets are usually fired not by Hamas, that controls the territory, but by fringe radical groups.
Tariq Ramadan in custody in Paris over rape charges, to face magistrate
Staff writer, Al Arabiya English/February 02/2018/Prominent Islamic scholar Tariq Ramadan will face a French investigating magistrate Friday after two days of questioning over claims by two women that he raped them in French hotel rooms in 2009 and 2012. The judge may then formally charge the 55-year-old Oxford professor over the allegations which emerged in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal, a judicial source told AFP. Earlier, French police were granted another 48 hours to question Islamic Studies Professor, Tariq Ramadan, and the academic has been handed over to Paris Prosecution department, news reports have revealed. The British Express newspaper, quoting a judicial source, confirmed on Thursday that Prof Ramadan’s custody had been extended for a further 48 hours in order to give Paris police more time to question the suspect. Following this period, he should either be freed, formally charged, or made an “assistant witness”, meaning police do not believe he committed an offence, the report revealed. Ramadan was arrested on Wednesday during a preliminary investigation after two women accused him of rape and sexual assault last October.
The report said that Prof Ramadan took a leave of absence from Oxford after the allegations came to light but has vehemently denied raping the two women. He has also filed a complaint for slander against feminist author and former Salafist Henda Ayari, who happens to be one of his accusers.
According to the report, Ayari said the sex scandal involving Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein had encouraged her to “name and shame” her alleged abuser and file an official complaint with police. Another woman who has claimed that she was raped by Ramadan said that they met at a bar in Lyon where he told her that a Maghrebi person - who worked at the reception - knew him. He invited the woman to his room where she claimed that he slapped and then raped her twice. According to Le Monde newspaper, the woman also claims that she has a mark to prove her version of events. According to her version of the story, she escaped from the room next morning. With AFP.
Memo Alleging FBI Abuse Released on Trump's Okay
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/February 02/18/The U.S. Congress released a Republican memo Friday alleging bias in FBI investigations into Donald Trump's election campaign, moments after the president authorized the explosive move. "What's happening in our country is a disgrace," Trump said, announcing that he had declassified the memo drafted by Republican Congressman and former Trump transition team official Devin Nunes. "A lot of people should be ashamed," added Trump, who earlier Friday accused the leaders of the Justice and FBI of politicizing their investigation in favor of the Democrats. "So I sent it over to Congress. They will do what they're going to do. Whatever they do is fine. It was declassified, and let's see what happens."The move set up an extraordinary confrontation with the country's top law enforcement authorities, and triggered speculation that FBI Director Christopher Wray would step down just six months into the job. Trump's critics allege the memo is designed to undercut special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation of his campaign's ties with Russia, which U.S. intelligence agencies unanimously agree tried to tilt the election in his favor. Based on classified materials, the four-page document claims that the FBI used an unsubstantiated, Democratic-funded research report to obtain a warrant in 2016 to surveil Trump advisor Carter Page, who had extensive Russian contacts. The FBI had warned that the memo, crafted by Nunes as chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, contained "material omissions of fact that fundamentally impact the memo's accuracy."But Trump lashed out hard at the leaders of the FBI and Justice Department as he prepared to declassify the document. "The top Leadership and Investigators of the FBI and the Justice Department have politicized the sacred investigative process in favor of Democrats and against Republicans," he tweeted. The president called the alleged bias "something which would have been unthinkable just a short time ago. Rank & File are great people!"
The document, which has circulated among many members of Congress, was based on the highly classified, much larger record of the application to obtain a so-called FISA national security warrant in 2016 to surveil Page. Democrats have sought approval for the release of their own counter-memo that argues Nunes simplified and "cherry-picks" facts to distort what happened. Directly in the firing line were Wray, Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, all chosen last year for their jobs by Trump. Sessions has stayed out of the fray, but Rosenstein, who directly oversees Mueller's Russia investigation, and Wray have battled Nunes and the White House over the memo since the beginning of the year. Democrats allege that the ultimate target is Rosenstein, the sole person able to fire Mueller. Rosenstein and Wray this week lobbied Trump's chief of staff John Kelly, and Paul Ryan, the top Republican in the House of Representatives, against the release. On Tuesday the FBI issued an extraordinary public warning that it had "grave concerns about material omissions of fact that fundamentally impact the memo's accuracy." On Thursday, however, Ryan backed Nunes, characterizing the release as an act of transparency and a defense of American civil liberties. "This memo is not an indictment of the FBI or the Department of Justice," Ryan said.
Republican senators uneasy over fight
Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee and the author of the still-secret counter-memo, rejected Ryan's explanation, citing the president's own Friday tweet. Speaking to CBS Friday morning, Schiff said the president's tweet made plain that the memo's release was "designed to impugn the credibility of the FBI -- to undermine the investigation; to give the president additional fodder to attack the investigation." "It's a tremendous disservice to the American people, who are going to be misled by this -- by the selective use of classified information." Not all Republicans were on board, however. Four senior Republican senators, including John Thune, Lindsey Graham, Susan Collins and Jeff Flake, expressed their unease about Nunes' use of intelligence in a political battle. "The president's apparent willingness to release this memo risks undermining U.S. intelligence-gathering efforts, politicizing Congress' oversight role, and eroding confidence in our institutions of government," Flake said in a joint statement with Democratic Senator Chris Coons.
Mattis: U.S. Concerned Sarin Gas Used in Syria
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/February 02/18/The United States is concerned that sarin gas may have been recently used in Syria, U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said Friday, as Washington steps up the pressure on Bashar al-Assad's regime to put an end to chemical attacks.
Mattis told reporters that chlorine gas was known to have been weaponized "repeatedly" in attacks in Syria, but added: "We are even more concerned about the possibility of sarin use, and we are looking for the evidence."The Pentagon chief cited reports from NGOs and rebel groups in the battlefield who say the chemical weapon has been used, although he stressed that the United States currently has no evidence to support those claims. "But we are not refuting them -- we are looking for evidence of it since clearly we are dealing with the Assad regime that has used denial and deceit to hide it," he said. "They would be ill-advised to go back to violating the chemical convention."Mattis's remarks come a day after senior administration officials said Washington was not ruling out fresh military action against the Syrian regime in the wake of suspected sarin and chlorine attacks. President Donald Trump "hasn't excluded anything" in the bid to halt the program, a senior U.S. official told AFP. "Using military force is something that is still considered." There have been more than 260 reports of chemical attacks in Syria, some of which have been verified by UN-backed inspectors and attributed to the Assad regime. Aside from the threat to Syrian civilians, Washington is worried that the well-documented chemical attacks -- systematically denied by Damascus and its Russian ally -- is undermining long-standing taboos on their use. The Assad regime appears to have altered course only slightly since the United States fired 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles at a Syrian airfield in 2017, after a large chemical attack on rebel-held Khan Sheikhun. Instead of dropping barrel bombs filled with chemical agents from helicopters, senior administration officials say that mortars and other ground-based delivery systems are now being used. The chemical of choice has most often been industrial chlorine, which is easy to produce and legal to possess, rather than sarin, which is banned by the Chemical Weapons Convention.
Israel Strikes Hamas in Gaza after Rocket Fired
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/February 02/18/Israeli forces struck a Hamas position in Gaza early Friday after a rocket was fired from the Palestinian enclave. "An aircraft targeted a Hamas observation post in the Gaza Strip," an army statement said. The raid hit near Beit Hanoun in the north of the territory. There were no reports of any casualties, although a few nearby homes were damaged. Local resident Mohamed Abu Jarad said he and his family had been forced to flee their home after two missiles hit. The strike came hours after a rocket was fired at Israel from Gaza without causing damage. Such rockets are usually fired not by Hamas, the Islamist group that controls the territory, but by fringe radical groups. Israel holds Hamas, with which it has fought three wars since 2008, responsible for any fire coming from Gaza.
Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis &
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on February 02-03/18
Palestinians: Arbitrary Arrests, Administrative Detentions and World Silence
Khaled Abu Toameh/Gatestone Institute/February 02/2018
While Israel uses "administrative detention" as a tool to thwart terrorism, the Palestinian Authority (PA) leadership holds people without trial as a means to silence them and prevent them from voicing any form of criticism against Mahmoud Abbas and other Palestinian leaders.
While administrative detainees in Israel are entitled to see a lawyer, receive family visits and appeal against their incarceration, the Palestinians detained by the PA are denied basic rights. Yet, Israel-obsessed human rights organizations seem uninterested in this fact.
Particularly disturbing, however, is not that the PA leadership is acting as a tyrannical regime, but the abiding silence and indifference of the international community and human rights organizations. Those who scream bloody murder about Israel's security measures against terrorism would do the Palestinians a better service by opening their mouths about how human rights are ravaged under the PA.
For many years, Palestinians and their supporters around the world have been condemning Israel for arresting suspected terrorists without trial.
It turns out, however, that the Palestinian Authority (PA) also has a similar policy that permits one of its senior officials to order the arrest of any Palestinian, regardless of the nature of the offense he or she commits.
Israel holds suspected terrorists in "administrative detention" on the basis of laws such as: Israeli Military Order regarding no. 1651 Security Provisions, Incarceration of Unlawful Combatants Law and Defense (Emergency) Regulations, a law that replaces the emergency laws from the period of the British Mandate of Palestine (1920-1948).
It is worth noting that Israeli citizens, and not only Palestinians, have also been held in "administrative detention" over the past few decades. This means that Israel does not distinguish between a Palestinian and an Israeli when it comes to combatting terrorism.
While the campaign against Israel's "administrative detentions" has been going on, the Palestinian Authority has been, according to Palestinian human rights activists and lawyers, conducting unlawful and arbitrary arrests against its own constituents.
Once again, the double standards of the Palestinians and their international supporters have been exposed.
For more than a decade, the PA has been detaining Palestinians without trial for up to six months -- on the basis of an order signed by one of its senior officials, usually a governor appointed by PA President Mahmoud Abbas.
But while Israel uses "administrative detention" as a tool to thwart terrorism, the Palestinian Authority leadership holds people without trial as a means to silence them and prevent them from voicing any form of criticism against Abbas and other Palestinian leaders.
The PA argues that its "administrative detentions" are being conducted within the framework of the law and as a preemptive measure to safeguard public safety and prevent violence.
While administrative detainees in Israel are entitled to see a lawyer, receive family visits and appeal against their incarceration, the Palestinians detained by the Palestinian Authority are denied basic rights. Yet, Israel-obsessed human rights organizations seem totally uninterested in this fact.
The Palestinian Authority detains people without trial as a means to silence them and prevent them from voicing any form of criticism against President Mahmoud Abbas and other Palestinian leaders. Pictured: PA President Mahmoud Abbas.
How, then, do the Palestinian Authority's "administrative detentions" work?
According to Palestinian human rights advocates and lawyers, a Palestinian governor or senior official is authorized to issue arrest warrants against any Palestinian for any reason.
Although it remains unclear on what basis PA governors and top officials are entitled to order arrests, some legal experts say they believe the practice is based on a 1954 Jordanian law that is still in effect in the West Bank.
Experts say that although a Jordanian court abrogated the law many years ago, the Palestinian Authority continues to use it against its own people.
Palestinian lawyer and former judge Daoud Dirawi said that the practice of detaining Palestinians on orders of Abbas's governors and top officials was "illegal" and "unconstitutional." He pointed out that the Palestinian High Court of Justice has ruled against the practice.
"Unlawful incarceration is a crime punishable by law," Dirawi explained. "Anyone affected by this practice is entitled to sue for damages. This is one of the most dangerous assaults on public freedoms."
The Palestinian Center for the Independence of the Judiciary and the Legal Profession (Musawa), says it has received many complaints from Palestinians about the unlawful detentions by the Palestinian Authority.
Noting that the detentions were "unconstitutional" and constitute a grave violation of human rights, Musawa said that governors and senior officials do not have the power to order the arrest of anyone.
Last year, the Faculty of Law at An-Najah University, the largest Palestinian university in the West Bank, held a seminar dedicated to the Palestinian Authority's "administrative detentions."
Dr. Muayad Hattab, dean of the faculty, said that most Palestinian legal experts agreed that the detentions without trial were in violation of the Palestinian law and constitution. He too pointed out that Palestinian courts had repeatedly ruled against the practice of holding people without trial.
Palestinian lawyer Ala Al-Badarneh, who conducted a study about the Palestinian Authority's "administrative detentions," found that most of the detentions were carried out without the knowledge of the governor or the senior Palestinian official in whose name the detention was carried out.
"Detaining people on orders of the governor sometimes occur without the knowledge of the governor," Al-Badarneh said.
"Even when the governor is made aware of the detention, the detainee is not brought before the governor. The governor often denies knowledge of the detention when asked by the families. Jordanian law stipulates that when someone is detained on orders of the governor, he or she must be brought before the governor. But this is not what is happening with those who are being detained without trial by the Palestinian Authority."
Al-Badarneh also noted that the Palestinian "administrative detainees" were being taken into custody on the basis of assessments by the Palestinian security forces, without referring to the party that purportedly ordered the arrest: a governor or senior official.
In some cases, the Palestinian governors and senior officials, who have turned themselves into law-enforcers, resort to "administrative detentions" to circumvent implementing court orders.
A court, for example, can order the release of a detainee, but he or she can still remain behind bars if a governor or top official signs an arrest warrant.
Take, for instance, the case of Mahmoud Asideh of Nablus, the largest Palestinian city in the West Bank. After 37 days in detention, a number of Palestinian courts ordered Asideh released. To avoid implementing the courts' orders, however, Palestinian Authority security forces served him with an arrest warrant signed by the governor of Nablus. Another detainee, Anas Judallah, also from Nablus, was held in detention on orders of the Nablus governor although a Palestinian court had decided to release him.
In 2016, Palestinian journalist Ragheed Tabasiyeh was detained for 17 days on order of the governor of the West Bank city of Kalkilya. Tabasiyeh said he was interrogated about the nature of his journalistic work and the party he was working for. He was finally released without bail or charges.
In December 2017, Palestinian human rights groups received complaints from seven Palestinians who said they had been detained without trial on the orders of a governor. Two of the detainees have since been released, while the remaining five are still being held without trial.
Palestinians say that the PA is using "administrative detentions" mostly as a tool against its political opponents and to silence critics, and not as a precautionary measure to prevent a crime, as the Palestinian Authority claims.
Khalil Assaf, head of the Independent Palestinians Association in the West Bank, denounced the practice as a crime, saying that it was primarily aimed at silencing the Palestinian Authority's critics. Referring to President Mahmoud Abbas, Assaf wondered:
"How can he who is at the helm of the Palestinian Authority and is breaking the law ask his people to abide by the law? The violation of the law by anyone is unacceptable. Detaining any person on orders of the governor or a senior official is a crime punishable by law."
Thus, we have yet another example of how the Western-funded Palestinian Authority makes a mockery of its judicial system and continues systematically to violate human rights and wage assaults on public freedoms. In a world where any of Abbas's senior officials can sign an arrest warrant against a Palestinian, the Palestinians can only continue to dream of having a country of law and order.
Particularly disturbing, however, is not that the PA leadership is acting as a tyrannical regime (this is absolutely expected by those familiar with the inner workings of Abbas and his loyalists), but the abiding silence and indifference of the international community and human rights organizations. Those who scream bloody murder about Israel's security measures against terrorism would do the Palestinians a better service by opening their mouths about how human rights are ravaged under the Palestinian Authority.
*Khaled Abu Toameh, an award-winning journalist, is based in Jerusalem.
© 2018 Gatestone Institute. All rights reserved. The articles printed here do not necessarily reflect the views of the Editors or of Gatestone Institute. No part of the Gatestone website or any of its contents may be reproduced, copied or modified, without the prior written consent of Gatestone Institute.
The 'Goodness' of Migrants: When Feelings Trump Facts
Douglas Murray/Gatestone Institute/February 02/2018
No one asked what in the hearts of the migrants of Calais is so very "good", and what "goodness" is so lacking in the hearts of the British people that it needs topping-up from the camps of Calais.
It is worth reflecting on just two recent terrorist plots, by people who did not bring only "goodness" when they came from Calais.
The question fails to get asked: "What exactly did we gain from their presence in our country? And what exactly was the 'goodness' that you think they brought?"
In Western Europe, there is still an overwhelming political and social price to pay for appearing to be against mass immigration. Public opinion polls may consistently show the public to be opposed to mass migration. But in public, it remains most acceptable, and indeed commonplace, to continue to utter bromides about the benefits that migration brings, including the advantages from any and all illegal immigration.
Recently on the BBC's main political discussion programme, Question Time, the panel were asked about immigration and, as so often in the British immigration debate, the subject of the situation in Calais, France came up. Over recent years Calais has repeatedly become the place for illegal camps of illegal migrants to congregate, in the hope of moving from France to the UK. Some of these migrants attack lorries and disable vehicles to try to climb aboard them. Others attempt other ways to get through the Channel Tunnel, either on a vehicle or on foot.
A group of migrants gather near a truck depot in Calais, France, on January 19, 2018. Calais is a central hub for illegal migrants to congregate, in the hope of moving from France to the UK. Some of the migrants attack UK-bound lorries and disable vehicles, to try to climb aboard them.
Of course, if these people were genuine asylum seekers with genuine asylum claims, they have already passed through several countries in which they could and should have claimed asylum. That they are congregating around the entrance to the Channel Tunnel in Calais is a demonstration not that they are legitimate asylum seekers in search of safety, but illegal migrants seeking to get into Britain.
Like everything else in the immigration debate, and often life, feelings most of the time trump facts. The discussion on the BBC's Question Time was, in that sense, utterly typical. One of the guests on the panel was the Hollywood scriptwriter Dustin Lance Black. A social and political liberal, Black used his time there to make one extraordinary claim in particular:
"Understand that some of these people who are in Calais trying to get here. They're not coming to try and steal from you or to ruin your culture. They're coming here because you're a giant, beautiful beacon of hope for them. And I hope that the government finds it in their heart to spend some of that money to make sure that their conditions are liveable there and to let some of them in, to share their goodness with your greatness."
This speech was greeted with a roar of applause from the audience and audible approval from other members of the panel including the Conservative cabinet minister, Margot James. No one asked what there is in the hearts of the migrants of Calais that is so very "good", and what "goodness" is so lacking in the hearts of the British people that it needs topping-up from the camps of Calais.
So even in a society as self-delusional and self-forgetting as modern Britain, it is worth reflecting on just two recent cases of people who did not bring only "goodness" when they came from Calais.
At the beginning of January, Munir Mohammed of Derby was convicted of an attempted terrorist attack. It is believed that Mohammed and two collaborators were planning a Christmas terrorism spectacular involving a bomb attack. Mohammed was apparently only days away from achieving his aims when he was arrested by the British police. And where was Mohammed from? Born in Eritrea, he grew up in neighbouring Sudan. In June 2013, he and his pregnant wife left for Europe and took the now traditional route into Turkey and from there into Europe via the Greek island of Samos. Somewhere on the route from Athens through the Balkans, his wife lost her baby and he promptly dumped her.
By January 2014, Mohammed had reached France and from there he managed to pay a smuggling gang to get him through the Channel Tunnel. He successfully hid in a lorry in order to reach the UK, and got out of the lorry on the motorway service station on the M1. After applying for asylum, he got caught in the long backlog of cases, met a new girlfriend, and with her and another accomplice plotted to carry out a mass casualty terrorist attack that was only very narrowly averted.
Also this January, the British courts saw 18-year-old Ahmed Hassan Mohammed Ali. Born in Iraq, he came to the UK illegally via Calais in 2015. He now stands charged with leaving a bomb on a London Underground train at Parsons Green tube station last September during the morning rush hour. The detonating part of the device went off, causing minor burns to some of the passengers and leading to a stampede in which a number of schoolchildren on the train were hurt. Fortunately, however, the device itself failed to go off, so a bomb that would have led to dozens of body bags being needed again in London resulted instead only in minor injuries and a lot of terrified children.
Ahmed Hassan Mohammed Ali and Munir Mohammed are both migrants from Calais. Both were in Britain illegally. Still, the question fails to get asked of people such as Dustin Lance Black: "What exactly did we gain from their presence in our country? And what exactly was the 'goodness' that you think they brought?" That such people would probably have no answer to this question is one thing. That so few people would even bother to ask such questions publicly is another. But one day they will ask, and with increasing -- and justifiable -- anger.
**Douglas Murray, British author, commentator and public affairs analyst, is based in London, England. His latest book, an international best-seller, is "The Strange Death of Europe: Immigration, Identity, Islam."
© 2018 Gatestone Institute. All rights reserved. The articles printed here do not necessarily reflect the views of the Editors or of Gatestone Institute. No part of the Gatestone website or any of its contents may be reproduced, copied or modified, without the prior written consent of Gatestone Institute.
Arabs and Muslims Will Never Accept Israel as the Jewish State"
Daniel Pipes/Feb 2, 2018/Cross-posted from Israel Hayom
Mordechai Kedar, a distinguished specialist of the Middle East, recently published an article arguing that Israel can never win its neighbors' acceptance. This conclusion flies directly in the face of the Israel Victory Project I have proposed, which is about gaining precisely that acceptance. So, Kedar's analysis calls for a reply.
He makes two arguments, religious and nationalist, to support his conclusion. "The religious reason is rooted in Islam's conception of itself as a faith whose mission is to bring both Judaism and Christianity to an end and inherit all that was once Jewish or Christian: land, places of worship, and people. ... That] Jews now attempt to pray on the Temple Mount, suggest[s] that Judaism has returned to being an active, living, and even dynamic religion. This brings the very raison d'être of Islam into question. ... Muslims loyal to their religion and aware of this danger cannot possibly accept the existence of a Jewish state, not even a tiny one on the Tel Aviv coast."The nationalist motive concerns the Palestinian national movement being "wholly based on the negation of the Jewish people's right to its land and state." Therefore, it seeks "an Arab state on Israel's ruins, not alongside it."
Combining these two motivations, he concludes that "Arabs and Muslims are incapable of accepting Israel as the Jewish State."
In response – and this is the key point – Kedar says Israel should "tell them in no uncertain terms that Jerusalem belongs to the Jews and they are going to have to learn to live with it." Extrapolated out, he is advising Israel should assert itself as the Jewish state to Arabs and Muslims.
Looked at closely, Kedar's analysis and policy recommendation contradict each other: If Arabs and Muslims will never accept Israel as a Jewish state, why does he call on Israel to assert this fact and force them "to learn to live with it"? If they will never accept this reality, how can they possibly be forced "to learn to live with it"?
In other words, Kedar does not believe his own negative prediction. If he did, he'd not be confronting Arab and Muslim rejectionism but finding ways to work around it. For example, someone truly convinced of eternal Arab/Muslim opposition to the Jewish state might give up Jerusalem to salvage the rest of the country. Or he would give up on the entire Zionist enterprise and urge Jewish Israelis to move to Scarsdale.
That Kedar does not adopt such defeatism implies that, deep down, he hopes to convince Israel's enemies that the Jewish state is too tough, competent, and strong to be beaten, so they should give up the hopeless campaign against it. His real message is not the defeatist "Arabs and Muslims will never accept Israel as the Jewish State" but the optimistic one of "Israel will never accept Arab and Muslim rejectionism." Despite himself, Kedar believes in Israel Victory.
Welcome to our ranks, Mordechai.
Mr. Pipes (DanielPipes.org, @DanielPipes) is president of the Middle East Forum.
For Saudis and Israelis, Cost of Open Ties Outweighs the Benefits
Yaroslav Trofimov/The Wall Street Journal/February 02/18
U.S. wants to bring allies together, but Palestinian issue stands in the way
RIYADH, Saudi Arabia—Saudi Arabia and Israel share a common enemy, Iran, and a common friend, the Trump administration in Washington.
But despite mounting evidence of informal cooperation, any open rapprochement—a goal of the Trump White House—between these two American allies remains elusive. That is largely because both have too little to gain, and too much to lose, from any such a breakthrough.
For the current Israeli government, the benefits of a diplomatic relationship with Saudi Arabia aren’t worth the tangible concessions to the Palestinians that Riyadh expects Israel to make in exchange. And to Riyadh, the price of being seen as forfeiting the Palestinian cause remains simply too high compared with what Israeli security assistance and technology, such as missile defense, could provide.
That has become especially so after President Donald Trump in December recognized the contested city of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, galvanizing emotional protests across the Muslim world, reigniting support for the Palestinians—and prompting a rare rebuke from Riyadh.
Saudi Arabia’s ambitions to lead the entire Muslim world, or at a minimum a Sunni alliance opposed to Iran, are rooted in its control of Islam’s two holiest sites, in Mecca and Medina. As a standard-bearer of the faith, the Saudi kingdom can’t afford to be seen cozying up to Israel at a time when passions run high over the future of Jerusalem—home to Islam’s third holiest shrine, the Al Aqsa mosque.
The protests haven’t just been whipped up by Iran and its proxies, which seek to dismantle the Israeli state. Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who seeks to challenge Saudi Arabia’s pre-eminence in the Muslim world, has been just as vocal. In this environment, any Saudi opening to Israel is guaranteed to be exploited by the kingdom’s rivals, and may even include a boycott of the hajj, or pilgrimage, to Mecca, a senior Saudi official cautioned.
“It’s a scary thought. Palestine is not an easy issue,” he said. “Saudi Arabia is expecting to hold Islamic leadership, and will not let it go easily. And, if you need Israel in anything, you can do it anyway, without having a relationship.”
Indeed, Israel and Saudi Arabia have already been cooperating discreetly by sharing intelligence and coordinating lobbying efforts and military activities that seek to deter Iran’s influence in the Red Sea.
Saudi Arabia is also making a public outreach to the American Jewish community. Senior cleric Mohammed al Issa, the kingdom’s former justice minister and the head of its proselytizing arm, the Muslim World League, in January sent an unprecedented official Saudi letter to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum.
“We consider any denial of the Holocaust or minimizing of its effect a crime to distort history and an insult to the dignity of those innocent souls who have perished,” he wrote, offering a contrast to Iran’s sponsorship of Holocaust denial and revisionism.
Public contacts between Saudi Arabia and Israel, however, have been limited to informal meetings between retired officials at conferences. Saudi Arabia has balked at American proposals to allow overflight rights to Israeli civilian aircraft heading to Asia and, in December, refused to let Israeli chess players attend an international tournament in Riyadh.
The official Saudi position remains that Israel must accept the 2002 Arab League peace initiative, proposed by Saudi Arabia’s then-Crown Prince Abdullah, that calls for normalization of Arab states’ relations with Israel in exchange for Israeli withdrawal from Palestinian territories occupied in 1967, establishment of a Palestinian state with east Jerusalem as its capital, and a solution to the problem of Palestinian refugees.
That is a reality that Jared Kushner, Mr. Trump’s son-in-law and the White House point-man in attempts to reach a Middle East peace deal, acknowledged in remarks at a Brookings Institution event in December.
Countries such as Saudi Arabia “look at regional threats and they see that Israel, who was traditionally their foe, is a much more natural ally to them today than perhaps it were 20 years ago—because of Iran, because of ISIS, because of extremism,” Mr. Kushner said. “A lot of people want to see it put together, but we have to overcome that issue, the Israeli-Palestinian issue, in order for that to happen.”
Even much more modest steps to address Palestinian grievances that could give Saudi Arabia cover for opening up to Israel are politically unpalatable for Mr. Netanyahu and his coalition partners, cautioned Joshua Teitelbaum, a professor specializing on Gulf affairs at the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies of Israel’s Bar-Ilan University.
“The price tag will have to be low.” Mr. Teitelbaum said. “Israel will not make any land concessions, or any concessions having to do with its security, for the sake of diplomatic relations with Saudi Arabia.”
**Write to Yaroslav Trofimov at email@example.com
Bill Richardson spotted Aung San Suu Kyi’s stitch up
Dr. Azeem Ibrahim/Al Arabiya/February 02/18
Myanmar is in an untenable position internationally in the wake of the Rohingya crisis. But that does not seem to have stopped the country’s leadership, not least Aung San Suu Kyi, to attempt to maintain some semblance of international credibility. Just prior to the flaring up of the latest wave of violence in August last year, the civilian government of Myanmar was attempting to recover buttress the country’s public image by supporting a UN commission on the Rohingya situation led by Kofi Annan. Agreeing to that commission did get Myanmar substantial sanctions relief. But as soon as the sanctions were lifted, the recommendations of the Annan commission were dismissed out of hand. After nearly 700,000 Rohingya have fled Myanmar for Bangladesh in the second half of last year, international patience seems to have mostly run out. Nobody seems under any illusions that the former human rights icon will be either willing or able to help with the sustained attacks that the Myanmar military are carrying out against this civilian population.
With his departure, Richardson has helped dispel any lingering hopes that Aung San Suu Kyi, or her government, might come around on the Rohingya issue, and might take active measures to help them. Nevertheless, it is the duty of every humanitarian to pursue every available avenue available to them, if there is even a slight possibility of helping. In this spirit, Bill Richardson, one of America’s most experienced diplomats, and a man with a remarkable humanitarian history in the Balkans and Iraq, had agreed to join an international panel set up by Aung San Suu Kyi to advise on the Rohingya refugee crisis.
But, this week he has quit this position, stating that the “advisory board is a whitewash”, and that he did not wish to be “cheerleading” the policies of the Myanmar government. This was to be expected. Bill Richardson is a man of principle, while the political gestures that Aung San Suu Kyi has been making towards the Rohingya situation ever since she has come to power have never had the weight of conviction behind them.
The Kofi Annan commission
The story of this advisory panel is the same story as the Kofi Annan commission, and the same story as the repatriation agreement with Bangladesh. While the Myanmar army continues to purge the Rohingya off their native lands, Aung San Suu Kyi has made it her business to provide them with political cover by setting up commissions, signing deals and treaties, and generally keeping busy and looking like useful things are being done. But Richardson is a highly experienced diplomat, and he can spot a stitch-up when he sees one. It is hardly surprising that he should refuse to be complicit in this farce. On the other hand, this is also a highly significant moment for the relationship between Myanmar and the international community. With his departure, Richardson has helped dispel any lingering hopes that Aung San Suu Kyi, or her government, might come around on the Rohingya issue, and might take active measures to help them. There is no longer any ambiguity behind which the leaders of Myanmar can hide. They are complicit in this genocide, and are happy to serve as enablers for the military commanders who are carrying it out. What is less clear is whether the international community will now assume responsibility for what is happening in Myanmar. But my bet is that we will stand by and watch, as we have done so many times before. My contacts in the international diplomatic circles all seem to believe that the permanent removal of the Rohingya from Myanmar is a done deal, and there is nothing we can do except to wait for the process to be complete.
A firm and unifying Saudi-Emirati stance in Aden
Mashari Althaydi/Al Arabiya/February 02/18
After fighting between Yemeni parties calmed down in the temporary capital of the “legitimate” Yemeni state Aden, a high-ranking military and security delegation from Saudi Arabia and the UAE visited the city to check the response to the Arab coalition’s decision to a ceasefire.
We all know about the unfortunate and “foolish” battles which recently erupted between the supporters of Aidarus al-Zoubaidi, Aden’s former governor and one of the Southern movement’s symbols, and forces loyal to President Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi and which killed some and injured others.
The dispute between these two parties is “real” and it actually has deep roots. People in the South think they have a rare historical chance to separate from the North and become independent.
Meanwhile, people in the North, who are the pillar of political, military and media strength which Yemeni legitimacy (that’s headed by a president and a prime minister who are from the South) relies on, think that maintaining Yemen’s entity is a higher interest that cannot be given up on.
Recent lack of maturity
It’s a strange scene that’s not unusual in Yemen which hasn’t been lacking in maturity recently. This is why the Arab coalition dispatched a Saudi-Emirati military delegation to set things straight and remind oblivious parties that the real battle in Yemen is about restoring the Yemeni state from Iran’s spider web which the Houthis are weaving.
The delegation in Aden issued a statement voicing the importance of rejecting fighting among people of the same country. It reiterated that the coalition’s task is to restore legitimacy in Yemen and implement UN Security Council Resolution 2216. Qatar’s and the Muslim Brotherhood’s policies aim to create a rift between Saudi Arabia and the UAE. This is one of their major goals as the alliance between the two countries is strong and it is the base of the solid confrontational policy against Khomeinism, the Brotherhood and “revolutionaries” who revolve in their orbit. Their aim is to harm this alliance whether in Yemen or in Egypt or in Iraq. All they care about is demolishing what Abu Dhabi and Riyadh have agreed on! “Saudi Arabia’s and the UAE’s goal is one and they share the same vision,” the delegation added. An Emirati military commander said: “We stand with Saudi Arabia to achieve reconciliation among Yemeni parties.”
Qatar’s and the Muslim Brotherhood’s policies aim to create a rift between Saudi Arabia and the UAE. This is one of their major goals as the alliance between the two countries is strong and it is the base of the solid confrontational policy against Khomeinism, the Brotherhood and “revolutionaries” who revolve in their orbit. Their aim is to harm this alliance whether in Yemen or in Egypt or in Iraq. All they care about is demolishing what Abu Dhabi and Riyadh have agreed on! We hope that the Arab coalition’s “political” command holds a unifying Yemeni conference for all those in support of the coalition to reach a common word.
Religious discourse and the diagnosis of Sahwa
Fahad Suleiman Shoqiran/Al Arabiya/February 02/18
On 7 October 1993, a royal decree was issued for the establishment of the Ministry of Islamic Affairs in Saudi Arabia, with its full nomenclature being The Ministry of Islamic Affairs, Endowments, Call and Guidance.
From its preamble, we come to know that Sheikh Mufti General Abdul Aziz bin Baz had adjudged “the need to establish the Ministry of Islamic Affairs and Endowments and guidance and advocacy to God Almighty, and our support for it”. At that time, the state of Islamic understanding in the region was characterized by agitation and impulsiveness.
Its rhetoric opposed the Gulf War, the deployment of American forces, and there was a rise in ‘jihadist literature’ after the Afghan-Soviet war. All these developments made governments more interested than ever in monitoring the religious discourse, and controlling any potential political fallout.
Monitoring the radical discourse
Before the establishment of the Ministry, anyone could deliver a lecture in any mosque or distribute political flyers in any shop or mosque. The government had to find a formula for institutionalizing the religious discourse against any politicization of any religious interpretation of the time.
The implementation of the royal decree in mid-1994 helped extinguish the fires. The symbols of the so-called ‘Sahwa’ or ‘awakening’ were seized before things could get out of hand.
A few days ago, Dr. Tewfik al-Sudairi, deputy minister of Islamic affairs, published a book entitled Diagnosing the Sahwa - Analysis and Recollections, in which he recalls the different trends of the times.
The author admits that the current situation allows him to write such a book and bring out memories out of the drawer and in to the printing press.
Muslim Brotherhood developed its own strategies for garnering leadership, while the Sahwa sought to spread its influence through propaganda and control over mosques
Al-Sudairi is known for his moderate views – both in the administrative and intellectual realms. He has been critical of the Muslim Brotherhood and the Sahwa movement since his early years, although his criticism was not abrasive because of the circumstances of the past. The ministry, since its establishment, could not stay away from all the confusion of various Islamic currents.
On the one hand, the Muslim Brotherhood developed its own strategies for garnering leadership, while the Sahwa sought to spread its influence through propaganda and through its control over mosques.
These two trends opposed al-Madinah Salafism, what is currently known as al-Jamiyya. However, the ministry now has more than 90,000 mosques, but still these currents wish to dominate them.
A guiding light
In the book Dr. Tewfik al-Sudairi says: “My generation witnessed the refraction of the national left, and the beginning of the glow of Islamic thought, or what can be called the thought of the lucrative interpretation and the employment of religion specifically with a political interest. I was aware of this new wave and I followed the intellectual movement of my predecessors which took full form before the 1967 war. But I have not fully witnessed it because of my age.”
“I also grew up in a conservative and religious environment that is deeply loyal to the identity of the Saudi state, and therefore I cannot write about that period as I write about the Islamic political dynamic movement since I witnessed it in school, mosques, the university, the cultural activities and the different walks of life.”Dr. Tewfik al-Sudairi discusses in the book the formation of the Muslim Brotherhood, the Juhayman incident and the effects of the Sahwa. Saudi newspapers have published several reviews of the book, according importance to this book, given the position and the eminence of the writer.
The book can be turned into a guide at the Ministry of Islamic Affairs, in order to immunize the workers from the radical ideas of various Islamist movements. This is not difficult, as this lies at the core of the ministry's work. I recall that one of the main objectives and policies of the Ministry, specifically its second objective, refers to the subject of “qualified preachers”.
The book could prove useful in refining the qualification of those responsible for religious discourse. Al-Sudairi is not far from drawing policies and adapting to the great Saudi shift against the outlook of the past 30 years that destroyed, exhausted and ruined both society and government.
Let the experience be a lesson to us; vital institutions lead societies to change, especially since there is a political desire to bridge the gap and overcome the old discourse. It is a difficult and necessary task so as not to witness turmoil once or twice every year, leaving behind many who neither repent nor remember.
Who is behind militants in Aden?
Abdulrahman al-Rashed/Al Arabiya/February 02/18
As signs of the Houthi rebels’ defeat in the Yemeni capital Sanaa emerged, battle erupted in the temporary capital Sanaa.
Igniting battles in the South is no coincidence as it reflects the worries of those who are gambling on the war to persist in the North. They believe that the legitimate forces will not win since this would guarantee their establishment of a state in South Yemen.
The prospects of rebels, i.e. the Houthis’, defeat have increased in the North ever since their former ally Ali Abdullah Saleh ended his alliance with them. The Houthis’ situation worsened after they killed Saleh as most of the latter’s supporters turned against them.
Hostile regional parties like Qatar sought to fuel the situation by worsening the southern separatist militias’ propaganda that incites against the government. This political activity is nothing new but it now harmonizes with the Houthis’ interests and seeks to create a front that compensates the Houthis for losing Saleh’s camp by besieging the government in Aden.
Government forces which thought they will restore Sanaa realized they can lose Aden. It’s a bad political and military development that proves old fears that southern parties which tend to favor separation are infiltrated by the same powers – specifically Iran and Qatar – that want to prolong the duration of war in Yemen. This contradicts with what Qatar has been marketing as it claimed there are disputes among the members of the coalition in support of the legitimate government. Doha has been playing the same old tune as it thinks if it convinces people, it will be able to neutralize the anti-terror quartet that’s boycotted it.
There is a wide segment of people in the South who believe that unification impoverished them and led to oppression and injustice
This analysis does not mean there is no desire to separate into North and South and that there are no movements in favor of this separation; however, it shows the relation between the events in which more than 20 people were killed - or who were rather killed during unjustified confrontations.
Those calling for separation call for using military power based on complaints from the current situation due to the brutal war. What’s certain is that the armed attack on the premiership headquarters has gone beyond the limits of a political dispute.
The armed group behind the attack, and which raises slogans that appeal to the sentiment of Yemenis in the South, is now like the Houthis in terms of committing the same crime of taking up arms against the state.
What about their desire to separate Yemen into two independent states? This is up to the Yemeni people. If they agree on separation in the future, then so be it, and if they don’t, the party in favor of separation can go ahead and take its demand to specialized international organizations under the excuse that “Yemen consisted of two independent states and its time to separate again after unity failed.”
The UN may agree to this demand via the international court or another institution, and the dispute would thus end in a civilized, legal and safe way. It may also reject it and the controversy would come to an end. The Kurds in Iraq tried their luck and they had a long history that supported this right.
Laws that govern
However, countries are not managed according to the desires of politicians and parties calling for separation but according to laws that govern peoples’ relations.
There is a wide segment of people in the South who believe that unification impoverished them and led to oppression and injustice. What’s certain is that late President Saleh’s governance destroyed all of Yemen and is in fact greatly responsible for the failure of the state.
The current war was launched to eliminate pockets of rebellion and end attempts to illegitimately seize power. It seeks to restore the state’s entity according to the UN’s project for a democratic Yemen as supported by the Gulf initiative - to establish an interim government then draft a constitution under international supervision, hold parliamentary elections then presidential elections and form a government.
Only the Yemenis choose their leaders under international supervision. Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Iran or Qatar do not decide on their behalf. The Iranians, however, are using the Houthis to keep what they gained during the coup and to prevent the implementation of the aforementioned international plan.
Those calling for separation in the South can wait and then legally and properly request separation instead of destroying the country with their own hands and of being dragged behind countries that scheme chaotic plans to target the coalition’s countries at the expense of the Yemeni people’s lives, security and stability.
Trump, The Ayatollah And Twitter
Amir Taheri//Asharq Al-Awsat/February 02/18/February 2018
Trump, the ayatollah and Twitter
In his first year as US president, Donald Trump has been credited, and more often blamed, for numerous things. His admirers credit him with the 32-percent rise in the American Stock Exchange, and the lowest unemployment rate since the Halcyon days of the 1950s. His detractors blame him for everything they do not like under the sun.
But Trump has his own barometer of success: The number of followers of his Twitter account. At a dinner party in Florida a few weeks ago, he told a friend that his aim was to have at least 100 million Twitter followers by the end of his first term. Trump also boasted that no political leader came anywhere near him in terms of the number of Twitter followers.
Do political leaders worry about how many Twitter followers they have? We have no means of finding out. What is certain is that many politicians share Trump’s obsession. The foreign minister of a country whose total population is under half a million claims he has 2.5 million Twitter followers. His jealous rivals claim he has bought most of them through “Twitter marketing” companies operating from Macedonia, for an average price of $1 for every 1,000.
One leader we did not expect to be worried about his Twitter account is Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. To his entourage, he is not only the arbiter of Iran’s fate but also “leader of all Muslims in the world,” whether they like it or not. Khamenei fancies himself as a poet and author, while also doubling as professor of applied theology in a private seminary for students on his payroll.
A chorus of flatterers keeps telling him that all mankind is thirsty for his thoughts. Khamenei pens periodical open letters to the “youths of the world.” His literary exercises are translated into countless languages, and distributed by Iranian embassies and Hezbollah branches.
According to the Kayhan daily, Khamenei’s presence in a province leads to a return of the spring at any season, with birds chirping earlier and flowers blooming while the air acquires an inexplicable fragrance. He has written on many issues, including healthy Islamic diet, the secrets of a successful marriage, composing poetry, naval warfare, and last but not least, destroying Israel and America.
None dare question his supremacy. At least, if one ignores Twitter which, even if you purchased followers in Macedonia, may still ditch you as a fickle lover might in a tiff. This seems to be what happened to Khamenei last month when the number of his Twitter followers fell from 2.2 million on Jan. 1 to just over 960,000 on Jan. 25.
What happened? First, we had the uprising that mobilized thousands of people in 100 cities across Iran. The uprising was not the work of traditional opponents of the regime, but an expression of anger by ordinary citizens from all walks of life.
For the first time, Khamenei was denounced by name while regime grandees tried to earn kudos by slyly blaming him for everything. He made the mistake of going into seclusion for almost a week while top officials, notably President Hassan Rouhani, Islamic Chief Justice Sadeq Amoli, and even payroll ayatollahs such as Makarem Shirazi, tried to curry favor with the protesters at Khamenei’s expense.
Khamenei reminds one of the wizard of Oz, who knew he was no wizard but could not escape the role because others needed him to pose as one.
The wizard had no Twitter account, but had he had one, he would have felt the same pain at being shunned as Khamenei does these days.
Next, a cyberspace bomb was detonated against him with the online publication of a video from 1989 depicting the proceedings of the Assembly of Experts, a body of mullahs tasked with choosing a successor to Khamenei’s predecessor Ayatollah Khomeini, who had died.
In the video, since seen by more than 10 million visitors to various websites, we see the late Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, the regime’s Machiavellian wheeler-dealer, trying to persuade a horrified Khamenei to accept the post of supreme leader. The deal offered is: Rafsanjani becomes president in place of Khamenei, who becomes supreme leader in place of Khomeini.
We see Khamenei almost shouting that he is wholly unqualified for such a lofty position. He is a junior mullah who has not completed even the first stages of training as a mujtahid, a person authorized to issue fatwas or opinions on matters of doctrine. It is like promoting an army private to the position of five-star marshal and commander-in-chief. “We should shed tears of blood for a nation who might even consider me as leader,” Khamenei says.
But the wily Rafsanjani calms the situation by telling him that his promotion would be temporary, until a permanent successor is found. The rest is history. The temporary becomes permanent, and Rafsanjani, who gets the presidency in time, finds out what Dr. Frankenstein did belatedly. The publication of the video unleashed a storm because it reveals the ugly truth that the Khomeinist regime has always been founded on lies and subterfuge.
The so-called “election” violated Article 109 of the constitution, under which the supreme leader must be chosen from among the maraj’e (sources of emulation) — a handful of grand ayatollahs, not just anyone who wore a turban.
The irony is that Khamenei is better educated than Khomeini, and his command of Persian and Arabic firmer. Having spent years studying Khomeini’s work to write his biography, I could claim that the late ayatollah was far from qualified to pose as senior theologian, an opinion that almost all top ayatollahs share, albeit in private.
Also, the cult of personality built around Khamenei, though distasteful, is nowhere near the idolatrous chorus barking around Khomeini. Even when it comes to such evil records as the number of executions and political prisoners, Khamenei’s is still far from nearing Khomeini’s.
I do not know if Khamenei still believes he is unqualified to be supreme leader. In any case, it does not matter now. What matters is that the whole supreme leader rigmarole and the mythology built around it have been exposed as a sham.
Khamenei reminds one of the wizard of Oz, who knew he was no wizard but could not escape the role because others needed him to pose as one. The wizard had no Twitter account, but had he had one, he would have felt the same pain at being shunned as Khamenei does these days.
• Amir Taheri was executive editor in chief of the daily Kayhan in Iran from 1972 to 1979. He has worked at, or written for, innumerable publications and published 11 books.
— Originally published in Asharq Al-Awsat.
Twitter: @ AmirTaheri4
HomeIran’s Relationship With Qatar Could Be Crumbling
Romany Shaker/Arab News/February 02/18
Iran’s relationship with Qatar could be crumbling
Tensions between the Gulf states and Qatar developed into an outright feud last June as a result of Doha’s drift toward Iran, which led the Saudis and their partners to impose a boycott and cut off air, sea and land routes to Qatar. Instead of responding positively to a demand that it cut ties with Tehran, Doha defiantly restored full diplomatic relations with it.
Now, the battle between Qatar and the quartet of Arab states led by Saudi Arabia has broken out on a new front: Dueling media coverage of the protests in Iran, with Doha taking the side of the regime and the quartet backing the protesters.
“Iranian youths will no longer accept suffering and starvation, while the murderers and terrorist mercenaries of the regime are enjoying the wealth of the Iranian people,” wrote Ahmad Al-Jarallah, editor-in-chief of the Kuwaiti daily Al-Seyassah.
Abdulrahman Al-Rashed, a prominent Saudi media figure, wrote in Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper: “The Iranian people harbor a genuine hatred for the regime.”
Meanwhile, Al-Sayyed Zahra, a columnist for the Bahraini daily Akhbar Al-Khalij, opined that the uprising of the Iranian people dealt a “fatal blow” to the Qatari strategy of aligning itself with Tehran’s project in the region. Zahra expressed hope that the events in Iran will awaken the Qatari regime and make it return to the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) fold.
However, Qatari-funded Al Jazeera has aired statements by Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and covered rallies organized by Tehran. Gulf critics have denounced Al Jazeera’s one-sided coverage of the protests in Iran, which signals a major shift from its role as an advocate of popular protests during the 2011 uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt, and the 2009 protests in Iran.
Syrian-American analyst Oubai Shahbandar told Arab News: “I remember in 2009, Al Jazeera English was the go-to channel for people in the West to follow the Green Revolution in Iran and to get the latest updates. Nowadays it really does seem that, more often than not, (Al Jazeera) has become the go-to channel to get the Iranian regime’s viewpoint on the ongoing uprising.”
Shortly after the Gulf Quartet launched its campaign to isolate Qatar, Al Jazeera made public overtures to Tehran. In July, executives from the network and from Iran’s Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) signed a cooperation agreement emphasizing “the need for using the media to create an atmosphere of peace, friendship and convergence.”
The move was severely criticized in Arabic media. Saudi Arabia’s Al-Riyadh daily opined in a Jan. 2 editorial that the Iranian protests “may end the suffering of the people who were burned by the flames of the mullahs’ regime through its proxies in Lebanon and Yemen.”
The reaction of the Saudi media echoes the words of the Kingdom’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who said in a May 2017 interview: “We won’t wait for the battle to be in Saudi Arabia. Instead, we’ll work so that the battle is for them in Iran.”
Doha has sought to enjoy the benefits of maintaining membership of the GCC and close relations with Iran. Now those efforts are working against Qatar.
The tone of UAE officials and news sites has been tough but less severe, with a focus on urging Tehran to reconsider its costly involvement in the region. UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Dr. Anwar Gargash tweeted that Iranian leaders should “put the internal interest before Tehran’s adventures in the Arab region.” He added: “The interests of the region and Iran lie only in internal construction and development, not in antagonizing the Arab world.”
Nonetheless, UAE-based prominent political science professor, Dr. Abdulkhaleq Abdulla, tweeted: “The continuation of internal pressure and the mounting of external pressure mean that the days of the clerical regime in Iran are numbered.”
In Bahrain, where Iran has stoked unrest, columnist Faysal Al-Sheikh, writing on Jan. 2 in daily Al-Watan, denounced pro-Tehran Bahrainis who are silent in the face of Iranian repression. “Now that the Iranian people are rising up against this tyrannical regime, we can only wish them success in overthrowing the tyrannical dictator,” he wrote.
Qatar and Iran are not the only targets of Gulf criticism. Lt. Gen. Dhahi Khalfan Al-Tamim, former deputy head of Dubai Police and General Security, slammed Turkey via Twitter for supporting Tehran. He wrote that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan “incites against Egypt and defends Iran. They don’t go together well.” The general said in another tweet: “Erdogan is despised among Arabs since he is the enemy of the nation.”
The connection between Qatar and Turkey is that both have become the chief allies of the Muslim Brotherhood, a group designated by Saudi Arabia and the UAE as a terrorist organization. For example, Qatar and Turkey host several key Brotherhood figures who fled their homelands.
Similarly, relations between Ankara and Tehran have recently warmed significantly in the midst of Turkey’s authoritarian and anti-Western evolution. One strange illustration of these renewed ties is the case of Reza Zarrab, an Iranian-Turkish gold trader who recently pled guilty in a US federal court to orchestrating a multibillion-dollar scheme to help Iran evade American sanctions with the help of Turkish banks in 2013 and 2014.
This deep polarization between the Gulf states and Qatar has grown out of an already-troubled relationship, which Doha seriously aggravated by interfering in the internal affairs of other Gulf states, supporting extremists, and drawing closer to Iran.
For years, Qatar sought to enjoy the benefits both of membership of the GCC and close relations with Iran and its proxies. Now, it is time for Doha to carefully reconsider the Gulf’s growing concerns over Iran’s behavior in the region, and side with its Gulf allies to end the most serious rift in the GCC’s history.
• Romany Shaker is an Arabic-language research analyst at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.
Question: "Can a Christian lose salvation?"
GotQuestions.org/Answer: First, the term Christian must be defined. A “Christian” is not a person who has said a prayer or walked down an aisle or been raised in a Christian family. While each of these things can be a part of the Christian experience, they are not what makes a Christian. A Christian is a person who has fully trusted in Jesus Christ as the only Savior and therefore possesses the Holy Spirit (John 3:16; Acts 16:31; Ephesians 2:8–9).
So, with this definition in mind, can a Christian lose salvation? It’s a crucially important question. Perhaps the best way to answer it is to examine what the Bible says occurs at salvation and to study what losing salvation would entail:
A Christian is a new creation. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” (2 Corinthians 5:17). A Christian is not simply an “improved” version of a person; a Christian is an entirely new creature. He is “in Christ.” For a Christian to lose salvation, the new creation would have to be destroyed.
A Christian is redeemed. “For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect” (1 Peter 1:18–19). The word redeemed refers to a purchase being made, a price being paid. We were purchased at the cost of Christ’s death. For a Christian to lose salvation, God Himself would have to revoke His purchase of the individual for whom He paid with the precious blood of Christ.
A Christian is justified. “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1). To justify is to declare righteous. All those who receive Jesus as Savior are “declared righteous” by God. For a Christian to lose salvation, God would have to go back on His Word and “un-declare” what He had previously declared. Those absolved of guilt would have to be tried again and found guilty. God would have to reverse the sentence handed down from the divine bench.
A Christian is promised eternal life. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). Eternal life is the promise of spending forever in heaven with God. God promises, “Believe and you will have eternal life.” For a Christian to lose salvation, eternal life would have to be redefined. The Christian is promised to live forever. Does eternal not mean “eternal”?
A Christian is marked by God and sealed by the Spirit. “You also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory” (Ephesians 1:13–14). At the moment of faith, the new Christian is marked and sealed with the Spirit, who was promised to act as a deposit to guarantee the heavenly inheritance. The end result is that God’s glory is praised. For a Christian to lose salvation, God would have to erase the mark, withdraw the Spirit, cancel the deposit, break His promise, revoke the guarantee, keep the inheritance, forego the praise, and lessen His glory.
A Christian is guaranteed glorification. “Those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified” (Romans 8:30). According to Romans 5:1, justification is ours at the moment of faith. According to Romans 8:30, glorification comes with justification. All those whom God justifies are promised to be glorified. This promise will be fulfilled when Christians receive their perfect resurrection bodies in heaven. If a Christian can lose salvation, then Romans 8:30 is in error, because God could not guarantee glorification for all those whom He predestines, calls, and justifies.
A Christian cannot lose salvation. Most, if not all, of what the Bible says happens to us when we receive Christ would be invalidated if salvation could be lost. Salvation is the gift of God, and God’s gifts are “irrevocable” (Romans 11:29). A Christian cannot be un-newly created. The redeemed cannot be unpurchased. Eternal life cannot be temporary. God cannot renege on His Word. Scripture says that God cannot lie (Titus 1:2).
Two common objections to the belief that a Christian cannot lose salvation concern these experiential issues: 1) What about Christians who live in a sinful, unrepentant lifestyle? 2) What about Christians who reject the faith and deny Christ? The problem with these objections is the assumption that everyone who calls himself a “Christian” has actually been born again. The Bible declares that a true Christian will not live a state of continual, unrepentant sin (1 John 3:6). The Bible also says that anyone who departs the faith is demonstrating that he was never truly a Christian (1 John 2:19). He may have been religious, he may have put on a good show, but he was never born again by the power of God. “By their fruit you will recognize them” (Matthew 7:16). The redeemed of God belong “to him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit for God” (Romans 7:4).
Nothing can separate a child of God from the Father’s love (Romans 8:38–39). Nothing can remove a Christian from God’s hand (John 10:28–29). God guarantees eternal life and maintains the salvation He has given us. The Good Shepherd searches for the lost sheep, and, “when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home” (Luke 15:5–6). The lamb is found, and the Shepherd gladly bears the burden; our Lord takes full responsibility for bringing the lost one safely home.
Jude 24–25 further emphasizes the goodness and faithfulness of our Savior: “To Him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy—to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen.”