Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Houthis Not Serious About Peace: New Age Islam's Selection, 02 August 2016

New Age Islam Edit Bureau
02 August 2016
Houthis Not Serious About Peace
By Bikram Vohra
Civil Society against Terror
By Dominique Moisi
Can A Muslim Immigrant Deliver The Defeat Of Donald Trump?
By Joyce Karam
Should We Cover Terrorists’ News?
By Mshari Al Thaydi
Making Sense of the 2016 Summer of Terror
By Ibrahim Al-Marashi
In Turkey, Democratic Transparency Defeats Esoterism
By Yasin Aktay
Compiled By New Age Islam Edit Bureau
Houthis Not Serious About Peace
By Bikram Vohra
2 August 2016
The up in the fighting on the Saudi-Yemeni border and the death of seven border guards is regrettable in the extreme. The military coalition led by Saudi Arabia has again been forced to show its intent and its commitment to taking on rebels and paying for this commitment in blood and lives.
Despite severe restraint and literally holding back against several provocations the coalition was left with little choice but to retaliate when a major push by the Houthis in the Najran area compelled an aerial strike in the effort to ensure no territory was acceded to the rebels.
That the truce has splintered and the revelation of Houthis using children as shields adds another woeful dimension to the ongoing fighting. It is fervently hoped that the global community will take note of this development, which goes against tenets of conflict and then bring pressure to bear on the Houthi leadership to leave children out of it. Last month the coalition handed over 54 children to the Yemeni caught in the fighting some of them as young as 8 years old.
The Saudi government denounced the use of children in no uncertain terms but it seems the practice has not ceased. Last year, the UN announced that over 900 children had been killed in the fighting. For a brief moment there was a flicker of hope that the truce would hold and the promised meetings for a more durable peace would provide some comfort.
The talks that in March of this year were getting somewhere now seemed to have slipped off the rails. Although technically there is a week to go in the talks in Kuwait any progress of spiking guns seems faint.
Matters have been made worse with the Houthis stating they have joined with the General People’s Congress to create an alternate government to the legitimate Hadi regime. This is a provocative move since it not only vitiates UN Security Council Resolution 2216 that calls on Houthis to not activate any initiative, which goes against the ushering in of peace and this certainly does not conform to any such assurance.
As things stand the situation is being monitored but there seems little doubt that any incursions by Houthi forces to grab Yemeni territory will be met with strong resistance. The point now is whether the militants and their allies or various splinter groups use the remaining six days of the peace proposal to positive advantage and seek the elusive peace for a war-torn country and not wreck prospects by trying to win land at the point of a barrel.
Source; arabnews.com/node/963271/columns
Civil Society against Terror
By Dominique Moisi
2 August 2016
After the terror attacks in Paris last November — a carefully coordinated series of assaults carried out by multiple attackers, resulting in 130 deaths — there was intense pain and fear, but also a spirit of unity and resilience. By contrast, since the Bastille Day massacre in Nice, the dominant feelings seem to be impotence and anger.
The French are now frustrated and anxious. They are used to some semblance of security in their cities, which have long been bastions of knowledge and art, not sites of relentless terror. They want to feel safe again — whatever it takes. These feelings are entirely understandable, but they don’t necessarily contribute to effective decision-making. The “whatever it takes” is the problem. If people feel that their leaders are failing to protect them, they may turn to more radical alternatives; already, populist and even overtly racist political parties are gaining traction in France and elsewhere. Urged on by such forces, people may even decide to take the law into their own hands.
But the authorities already have a lot on their plate. Trying to protect a population from terrorist attacks while upholding the rule of law is, after all, a very difficult task. Individuals, particularly those with mental disorders and a broad interest in violence, can become radicalized quickly, as occurred with the Nice attacker. They may not have committed any crimes, nor established actual ties to terrorist groups, before launching a major attack. Given this, the French authorities can provide no guarantee against further attacks. This is not to say that the authorities should not be pushed to improve their prevention and response tactics. There is plenty that can and must be done to strengthen security in France and elsewhere. But the ultimatum that some French are now implicitly presenting — guarantee absolute security or watch us cast aside the rule of law and basic principles of openness and equality — does more harm than good.
The French, like all people, deserve to feel safe walking down the street, going out to dinner, enjoying a concert, celebrating a national holiday, and just living their lives. The question is how to restore that sense of security at a time when the risk of a terrorist attack cannot be fully eliminated.
The answer lies with civil society. Ordinary citizens should become more alert to the signs of radicalization, and more educated on how to respond. People should be encouraged to report the possible radicalization of those close to them to the relevant authorities, whether psychiatric professionals or the police.
The goal is not to revive McCarthyism, with people making unsubstantiated accusations against neighbours and friends. Rather, it is to create channels through which people who recognize radical or violent leanings in someone they know can report their concerns. Beyond giving law enforcement a chance to prevent a serious attack, such contributions from civil society could help to reinforce citizens’ willingness to leave anti-terror operations and policies to the authorities.
Of course, France is not on the verge of collapsing into chaos, with vigilantes attempting to take on the terrorists. But the relentless fear-mongering of populists, together with genuinely terrifying, tragic, and infuriating experiences, is undermining people’s better judgment, causing them to fall prey to inflammatory rhetoric. And with a presidential election set for next spring, there is strong incentive for self-serving politicians to use the victims of Nice as instruments of campaign strategy.
This cannot be allowed to happen. If the French ultimately succumb to fear, electing populist bigots, the struggling Daesh will have scored a major victory — one that could potentially lead to a reversal of fortune for it.
And, make no mistake: Despite what the populists say, Daesh is losing. Its territory is dwindling, taking with it the dream of a new caliphate spanning the Arab world. But Daesh does have a last-ditch strategy to prop itself up: Rapid recruitment. And that effort would receive a major boost from further intensification of anti-Muslim rhetoric or, worse, the election of those who would turn rhetoric into policy.
Already, Daesh recruiters are achieving success, even as the group loses control of cities and provinces in Syria and Iraq. From Orlando to Istanbul to Dhaka, Daesh has found plenty of supporters who are eager to kill in its name. Most recently, two Daesh-affiliated suicide bombers blew up a peaceful demonstration in Kabul, killing 80 and injuring more than 200.
But as long as the “enemy” in the West remains united and principled, Daesh cannot emerge victorious. For France and others, the key is collective action, both at home and abroad, which will require improved links between internal and external security agencies, together with greater risk awareness within civil society. Add to that continued strikes against Daesh sanctuaries, and the dream of the caliphate will soon be dead.
It’s bad enough that terrorists want to take our lives; the last thing we need is populists taking our souls. Regaining control over our lives and our destinies means being realistic. Instead of demanding a return to a time before terrorism, we must become more alert to the risks it poses — not only to our safety, but also to our values and commitment to the rule of law — and do our part to minimize them.
Source; arabnews.com/node/963281/columns
Can A Muslim Immigrant Deliver The Defeat Of Donald Trump?
By Joyce Karam
2 August 2016
For over a year, the Republican nominee Donald Trump has built his political rise on an unhinged rhetoric of fear, hate and slandering of Muslims, Latinos and anyone that comes in his way. While nothing seemed to stick, this week's attacks on the Khan family and a fallen U.S. soldier, is exposing the hollowness and depravity of the real estate mogul.
The unlikely hero of the two conventions was not an eloquent Barack Obama or a glamorous Ivanka Trump, it was a Muslim immigrant who captured in seven minutes the story of America and what is at stake in this election. The words of Khizir and Ghazala Khan, immigrants from Pakistan who lost their son Captain Humayun in Iraq in 2004, has hit a nerve in the United States and is promising a turning point in this race. Unlike sophisticated attack ads and focus-group lines, the Khans critique of Trump is unconventional. It comes from the heart, bridges partisan politics, speaks of the ultimate sacrifice to a nation and brings heavy contrast between an arrogant billionaire and a modest family.
Khizir Khan vs. Donald Trump
Unlike Trump's past subjects whom he slandered such as Judge Curiel, Ted Cruz's father and a disabled journalist, Khizir and Ghazala Khan are not bound by legal (Judge Curiel) , political (Cruz’s father) or professional (journalist) and have been able to respond. Since their speech the Khans have been loud and clear in defending their patriotism, repudiating Trump's attacks and highlighting his ego-driven agenda front and center to the national stage.
For 5 days now, Trump's insecurities, angry and thin skinned character have determined his response. Instead of taking the high road, paying his respect to a fallen American soldier and reaching out to his grieving parents, Trump chose to go to the gutter (again), slander the mother and erratically attack the father. While his campaign tried to correct the tone by changing the subject to "radical Islamic terror", the Khan-Trump dispute was never about nitty gritty political talking points but rather about the Republican nominee’s own destructive approach to politics.
There is a sense of poetic justice if the Khan controversy ends up being the turning point of this election, where a Muslim immigrant family deals irreparable damage to the Republican nominee.
In the Khan family , America saw and embraced a modest and inclusive couple that upholds the constitution above all. In contrast, Trump epitomizes an individualistic, ruthless and Machiavellian model for America in glorifying his own success and wealth while condescending everybody else’s. Trump speaks a whole lot about law and order, yet there is nothing legal and constitutional about the Muslim ban he proposed, or the torture tactics he wants to reinstate. There is nothing legal or constitutional either in inciting violence at his rallies or encouraging the Russian intelligence to launch cyber attacks on U.S. targets.
Trump's ego driven and divisive agenda has come full circle with the Khans. For Trump, who was born with a silver spoon, to smear a mourning ailing mother for not speaking on stage illustrates how low he can dive in this election. From "little Bloomberg" to "lyin Ted" to "crooked Hillary", name calling is all what the former TV star got in this race. Against a fallen soldier and a patriotic American family that idolizes the constitution, Trump's smear tactics have backfired.
Republicans, veterans, Gold Star mothers have all condemned Trump, in a moment that put American values of inclusiveness and sacrifice above all.
Can Trump Recover?
With 98 days left until the US votes on November 8th, Trump is facing a complicated electoral map and record unfavourability numbers with 7 out of 10 Americans having a negative opinion on the candidate.
There is a sense of poetic justice if the Khan controversy ends up being the turning point of this election, where a Muslim immigrant family deals irreparable damage to the Republican nominee. Trump’s own rhetoric to ban Muslims and disparage the community, cannot be seen in isolation of rising hate crimes against Muslims in the United States. Incidents on Southwest Airlines and with the Emirati who got arrested in Ohio have followed Trump's divisive campaign talk.
By alienating minorities, relying strictly on the white vote, Trump will have to create massive turnout and win at least 66% of that vote to prevail on November 8th. Electorally and where the Khan controversy hurts Trump most is among military families who repudiated his attack. Even if the Hillary Clinton campaign does not win that vote, Trump's inability to grab two thirds of the White majority could lead to his loss.
Win or lose on Election Day, the Khan feud has laid bare the true character of Trump as a devoid narcissist who stops at nothing to drive his own interest. This time, Trump has gone too far, and the Muslim immigrants will have the last word.
Source; english.alarabiya.net/en/views/2016/08/02/Can-a-Muslim-immigrant-deliver-the-defeat-of-Donald-Trump-.html
Should We Cover Terrorists’ News?
By Mshari Al Thaydi
It is crucial to answer this question at this time, as it has technical, professional, political and intellectual sides. The question relates to the thorough daily media coverage of terrorists’ news, operations, backgrounds, photos and social media accounts, as well as victims’ stories, security and military emergencies, public reactions, and threats by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) after every crime.
Does this round-the-clock coverage help stop terrorists’ activities or disrupt their propaganda, expansion and interaction with terrorist groups? Would it limit interaction between security forces, intelligence services and other concerned forces?
Is the media’s main responsibility to cover news that can prompt people’s attention? What can be more important for people than their security, lives and future? Would it be correct for the media to abandon what it does best, which is news coverage? These are very difficult questions.
One cannot deny the existence of a relation between the thrill of the media, and the obsession and vanity of the terrorist killer.
ISIS members are teenagers and gangsters, such as the truck driver in Nice, the killers of the French monk in his church, and the lunatic Afghan killer who committed the Orlando nightclub massacre. They do not hide their passion for news coverage. Omar Mateen, the Orlando shooter, was following updates on his Facebook page while committing his crime.
Causal Relationship
This debate is not limited to the Arab world. It is a raging controversy in the West, especially after the attacks in France and Germany. The media quoted Dr Michael Jetter, who has conducted research on all terrorist attacks worldwide since 1970, as saying: “Through the preliminary results of the research that I’ve led, I can conclude that there’s a causal relationship between media coverage and the exacerbation of terrorism.”
The controversy has been raised again with the frequency of ISIS attacks in France. What is new today is that a number of French media outlets have stopped publishing photos or names of perpetrators to avoid falling into the trap of advertising for ISIS.
The confusion between the necessities of the media and the constraints of public security and civil peace is a major dilemma. However, one cannot deny the existence of a relation between the thrill of the media, and the obsession and vanity of the terrorist killer.
Making Sense Of The 2016 Summer Of Terror
By Ibrahim Al-Marashi
01 Aug 2016
How does one connect the murder of a French priest, Jacques Hamel, in Normandy on July 26 with two car bomb attacks that killed more than 50 in the Syrian city of Qamishli the following day? Both tragic acts of violence were claimed by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) but represent the evolution of two distinct trends of political violence, even if the events occurred within 48 hours.
While the Qamishli attacks targeted Syrian Kurds, a formidable threat to ISIL's presence in Syria, the tragic death of an elderly priest did not increase the strength of the ISIL in any tangible way.
The notion of a "lone-wolf" has come under question as a faulty analytical concept in understanding the violence in Europe.
Rather, those attacks in Europe and the United States are launched by individuals operating within an ISIL hierarchy of violence, and developing a self-perpetuating momentum, with little guidance from ISIL's capital in Raqqa.
These types of attacks do little to prevent ISIL's territorial contraction in Iraq and Syria, yet they form a discrete pattern of violence of striking at soft, symbolic targets, which harkens back to the anarchist terrorism more than a century ago - a persistent source of fear and anxiety in Europe and the US.
Activating Cells
The summer of 2016 has witnessed ISIL attacks in urban centres such as Orlando, Baghdad, Istanbul, Medina, Nice, Munich, Kabul, Ansbach, Germany, Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray in Normandy, and Qamishli.
Hamid Dabashi's earlier article on these attacks attributes them to ISIL as "the total state predicated on the pure spectacle of violence". The attacks in Baghdad and Qamishli were orchestrated by this "total state", striking at enemies which border it.
First, ISIL's central organisation uses car bombs on the battlefield. Second, car bombs are ISIL's most effective - yet indiscriminate - weapon of sapping the morale of the civilian base of its enemies in Iraq and Syria, the equivalent of Adolf Hitler's V-1 and V-2 missiles which terrorised London.
Beyond its base in Syria and Iraq, ISIL projects violence beyond its state with autonomous cells, groups consisting of more than five people, with one member directly dispatched by the ISIL base.
The phenomenon of ISIS-ish attacks in the summer of 2016 raises the spectre of a type of political violence resembling the anarchist violence, or the 'first war on terror'.
The attacks further afield in Europe, the US, and Medina, Kabul, and Istanbul appeared to have been the work of ISIL cells, most likely with some direction of the central leadership or its regional "franchises".
These self-contained networks were responsible for relatively sophisticated urban-guerrilla attacks such as the ones in Paris and Belgium. All these attacks were tangential to ISIL's military campaign, but struck at soft targets that perpetuate a narrative of the global reach of the ISIL.
William McCants distinguishes between ISIL-directed violence and a category he terms "ISIS-ish" conducted by "men and women who have no organisational ties to ISIS but murder in its name."
These attacks are launched on the individual level, and tangential to ISIL's military and territorial objectives in Syria and Iraq. The attacks from San Bernardino to Orlando, from Nice to Normandy, appear to be ISIS-ish.
Towards the end of their killing sprees, the perpetrators claim loyalty to ISIL, usually through a Facebook post or call to the authorities. Some of these individuals had online contacts before with ISIL members or sympathisers.
In some cases, ISIL leaders most likely learned about the attacks the way we do, from the news, and then opportunistically claim credit after the fact. Both on the cell and individual level, they strike at symbolic targets.
Past Waves of Terror
The phenomenon of ISIS-ish attacks in the summer of 2016 raises the spectre of a type of political violence resembling the anarchist violence, or the "first war on terror".
While anarchists sought to usher in an age without political and religious authority, ISILists seek to usher in an age with a single religious-political authority, their caliph.
From the 1880s to the 1930s, anarchist terrorism ranged from assassinating European heads of state and royalty, to US President William McKinley in 1901.
They targeted industrialists, such as Rockefeller and Morgan, and sought to bomb targets ranging from a Catholic church in Wisconsin in 1917, to Wall Street in 1920.
By no means did these anarchists match the brutality or systemic horror of ISIL-directed or ISISish attacks. Rather this historical comparison of cell-based and individual anarchist violence indicates what ISIL-inspired violence represents for the 21st century.
After World War II, terrorism emerged owing to a confluence of nationalism, decolonisation, and Cold War proxies.
Groups such as the Irish Republican Army, the Basque ETA or Turkey's Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) and the likes sought a future nation, usually within an existing state.
Leftist groups such as the Italian Red Army or Peru's Shining Path, while adhering to a transnational ideology, still operated within their respective national settings.
The emergence of religious groups in the 1980s, such as the Lebanese Hezbollah or Hamas, originated from within national conflicts during that decade.
ISIL and al-Qaeda represent a decentralised form of transnational terrorism. The individual-level ISISish attacks this summer do bear some resemblance to the anarchist attacks of the last century.
Opposed to terrorist groups that sought Irish unity or Basque independence, both anarchist and ISIL violence sought and seek to bring radical change to the global order.
Whether it was an anarchist attack against a Catholic church, or the murder of a Catholic priest last week by a deranged ISISish youth, such attacks claimed symbolic value in the name of ushering in a utopian future.
Both represent the violent counter-cultures of their time. And like all violent counter-cultures, they will eventually lose relevance and die out over time.
Source; aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2016/08/making-sense-2016-summer-terror-isis-160801072331216.html
In Turkey, Democratic Transparency Defeats Esoterism
By Yasin Aktay
01 Aug 2016
On July 4, a criminal judge in Turkey, Ilhan Karagoz - also known as one of the disciples of Fethullah Gulen in the judiciary - issued a court decision stating that Gulen was "The Mahdi".
The Mahdi is the name given to a holy leader who, according to some Muslims, will be sent by God to guide humanity, calling them to follow Islam before the end of the world.
Karagoz incorporated himself in this fiction by designating himself as the so-called harbinger of Mahdi, as is written in some religious narratives.
Moreover, he issued a call for President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, together with all cabinet and parliamentary members, hundreds of mayors, journalists and businessmen, to be taken into custody.
Karagoz has now been taken into custody, yet his scandalous verdict clearly demonstrates the extent of this Gulenist esoteric group's conception of the world - and it helps us anticipate what Turkey would be like, should such a coup attempt succeed.
The Night Of The Coup Attempt
On July 15, Gulen unleashed his pawns - his disciples had been infiltrating into the Turkish army since the 1970s - against Turkish democracy. These pawns attempted to seize the government by brute force.
Millions of civilians flooded the streets to prevent the nefarious objectives of the coup plotters and forced them to surrender with their mere unarmed solidarity. That night, the putschists killed hundreds of civilians. Fortunately, at the end of the day, they lost and people saved the democracy.
The Turkish nation, with all its elements - including the staunch critics of the Justice and Development Party (AK party) - united against the insidious coup attempt. Almost all segments of society echoed the same message to the whole world. Yet this event bears the characteristics of a litmus test for global media coverage.
We are already accustomed to widespread criticism, particularly aimed at Erdogan, parroting his so-called authoritarianism. There was no change on this occasion.
Once again, he had his share of being the target of unjust assault even before any serious condemnation of the bloody coup attempt. Pedantic criticism of Erdogan's - potential - attitude towards coup plotters accompanied whispered expressions of condemnation of the coup.
Reactions from the global community in this sense have helped to reveal Westerners' sincerity and consistency on embracing democracy. Once again their attitude reflects a crude repetition of orientalism, in the same way they reacted against General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi's coup in Egypt back in 2013.
According to them, eastern - particularly Muslim - societies lack pluralism, civil society and personal liberties. There is nothing to learn - especially on the concept of democracy - from the easterners.
How Do The Gulenists Work?
Another source of confusion in the minds of obsessive opponents is the lack of understanding of the Gulenist organisation. It is also the main reason behind the sniff at the heroic victory of the Turkish nation against coup plotters.
Although the Gulenist organisation might be quite alien to some Westerners, at least they should take into account the details of how Gulen started this organisation and the methods he used to covertly infiltrate into bureaucratic institutions.
Those who direct the sharpest arrows of criticism at Erdogan since day one, should realise the extent of threat Turkey has faced.
The most remarkable thing about their organisational structure is the peculiar hierarchy they adopt. In their idiosyncratic chain of hierarchy, an elementary school teacher might possess the authority to give orders to an army general.
Day by day, confessions of the plotters revealed the scope of the decade-long underhand project of Gulen and shed light on his final treason.
One criticism to deal with the failed coup attempt centres on the number of people taken into custody or dismissed from public service and other institutions.
Recalling how the Gulenists boasted about the number of their followers gives an insight into the number of people involved in the plot.
For years, Gulenists were boasting of having millions of supporters. This attempt was clearly organised by hundreds, including the allies in various departments of the government.
Some experts estimate that had the Gulenists not attempted to overthrow the government, they would have controlled 90 percent of the command echelon of the Turkish military by 2023. Consequently, such a large-scale bloody attempt would inevitably involve thousands.
Were Gulen And Erdogan Allies?
Gulen has always worked in harmony with various Turkish governments. He has never missed any opportunity that would brace his organisation. He was always careful not to clash with any government, let alone have any critical stance against previous coups.
His pragmatism continued during the rule of the AK party. Obviously G├╝lenists exploited the AK party's reforms and the democratisation initiatives with the aim of increasing their power within the bureaucratic and civil society circles.
Moreover, Erdogan's governments were not categorically against religiosity. Freedom of religious expression was fully guaranteed, and religiosity was no longer an obstacle to being in public service.
The ostensible alliance between Erdogan and Gulen made it easier for the latter to deeply penetrate into the government.
Erdogan was initially neutral towards the Gulenists. Nevertheless, after realising that they were following a different agenda, respecting an autotelic chain of hierarchy and increasingly posing a threat to the legitimate bureaucratic hierarchy, the government started to take measures to avoid what it termed as a "parallel state".
Extreme Threat
Various analyses in the aftermath of the coup attempt have been quite different from previous ones targeting Erdogan or the AK party. Those who have directed the sharpest arrows of criticism at Erdogan since day one should realise the extent of the threat that Turkey has faced.
Social media is vibrant with the recordings of the putschists' atrocities and people's unprecedented resistance in the name of protecting democracy and the very legitimate ground of politics.
Turkey is now taking serious measures to consolidate its government against any other attempt that could endanger its future.
This momentous campaign is run both by the ruling and opposition parties. Hence, before reformulating obsolete arguments, journalists need to have a far better insight into the actuality of the cause celebre in Turkey.
Source; aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2016/07/turkey-democratic-transparency-defeats-esoterism-160731140355979.html
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