Thursday, July 21, 2016

No, We Have Not Survived Terrorism’s Murderous Cycle: New Age Islam's Selection, 21 July 2016

New Age Islam Edit Bureau
21 July 2016
No, We Have Not Survived Terrorism’s Murderous Cycle
By Diana Moukalled
The Right Way To ‘Dry Up’ The Sources Of Terror
By Eyad Abu Shakra
Will Turkey Boycott The West?
By Abdulrahman Al-Rashed
Why Are Others Still Accusing Saudi Arabia Despite 9/11 Report?
By Turki Aldakhil
Why These Tunisian Border Towns Have Become ISIS Recruitment Hotspots
By Ahmed Nadhif
Compiled By New Age Islam Edit Bureau
No, We Have Not Survived Terrorism’s Murderous Cycle
By Diana Moukalled
20 July 2016
Is it enough not to be direct victims of murder, and not to be offenders, to breathe a sigh of relief and think we are survivors? Regarding the French city of Nice, once again we are faced with two murderous scenes: the massacre in which a man ran over people in his truck, and the subsequent explosion of more hatred that paves the way for a new massacre and a more violent, oppressive world.
Following the massacre, some in the West are reprimanding French and Western leaders, demanding security and protection, and rejecting calls to take non-racial stances and strict positions against Muslims. Meanwhile, some in our societies celebrated the massacre, considering it the price of Western policies.
When such things happen, those of us who think we have survived find ourselves facing waves of reactions that are sometimes harsher than the murder itself, and make us feel suffocated. What kind of survival is this? Although we are not among the dead, we are witnesses and participants in what follows. Reactions to terrorism produce more terrorism.
The problem that raging emotions cannot understand is that no country can deter someone who has lost their mind from using a truck to kill people
What happened following the Nice massacre happened after other massacres in France. I am referring to the media’s focus on a deterrent security policy that lacks the social and cultural depth required to confront all this murder. Persistent demands for strong security have fallen into the trap of right-wing movements, where extremism and isolation are being marketed.
The problem that raging emotions cannot understand is that no country can deter someone who has lost their mind from using a truck to kill people. Prior to his act, French warplanes performed an air parade and displayed their deterrent power, which is supposed to be one of the means of protecting the French people. However, a disturbed man proved that warplanes and advanced weapons were unable to protect people celebrating in the streets of Nice.
The French people, like any other who have been targeted with such murder, deserve the world’s solidarity and sympathy. However, what is worrisome is that reactions have become terrorists’ best means to mobilize, recruit and plan for worse. Therefore, statements that policies adopted to deal with terrorist operations have not produced security are not naive.
The Right Way to ‘Dry Up’ The Sources Of Terror
By Eyad Abu Shakra
 20 July 2016
The terrorist attacks that recently targeted Bangladesh’s capital Dhaka, and before them, those targeting Istanbul-Ataturk Airport in Turkey, Paris and Brussels – without forgetting the tragedies shaking the Middle East states – are outrages that underline the world’s duty to confront criminal terror perpetrated under ‘Islamic’ banners. Verbal condemnations are no longer acceptable and solid actions are now the only answer.
In the aftermath of the September 11 attacks in the US, senior figures in the Bush administration called for ‘drying up’ the sources of terror. This is absolutely right. There is no alternative other than ‘drying up’ the sources of terror, in the sense that terror must be deprived of the social ‘incubators’ in which it grows and finds protection.
The Bush administration, however, committed two big mistakes during the early period after the September 11 attacks. The first was to silence the good-intentioned voices of ordinary American who innocently asked “Why do they hate us?!” The extreme Right’s ideologues and fixers worked overtime to discredit this question by claiming that no political stances would or should justify outrages of that scale.
The second was launching an ‘open-ended’ war against an undefined ‘enemy’, then creating new realities on the ground that only helped the very same ‘enemy’ find a social ‘incubator’, although the declared aim of the war was exactly the opposite!
As regards the first mistake, given the massive shock that overwhelmed American society in the autumn of 2001, it was understandable that the need for national solidarity against unprecedented terror outweighed any rational, serious and democratic debate. Furthermore, some beliefs and interests pushed for quick ‘practical solutions’ rather than proper and serious strategic approaches. The Bush administration, led by the ‘Neocons’, did not limit its war to attacking Al-Qaeda (which claimed responsibility for the September 11 attacks) and Taliban (its Afghani ally and defender), but began implement an ‘old pre-planned strategy’ – totally unrelated to the attacks – aimed at bringing down ‘unfriendly’ Middle East regimes, beginning with Saddam Hussein’s Baath regime in Iraq.
In those pre-Obama and pre-JCPOA days, Washington regarded Iran a terror-sponsoring rogue state. Indeed, Iran had through its local operatives and puppets planned and executed the infamous hostage taking operations in Lebanon, including Americans – some of whom were later murdered – as well as the suicide attack against the US Marines base in Beirut on October 23rd 1983 where 241 Americans were killed. Those operatives and puppets, now known as Hezbollah, were organized, financed and guided by Ali Akbar Mohtashamipur, who was then Iran’s ambassador in Syria, and later became Iran’s Interior Minister.
In Iraq, almost immediately after the overthrow of Saddam Hussein in 2003, the exiled Shi’ite leaders of ‘The Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq’ (presently known as ‘The Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq’) flocked to US-occupied Baghdad from Iran. Among these and their militiamen were ex-fighters on the Iranian side during the Iran-Iraq War (1980-1988) in the ranks of the ‘Badr Brigade’ militia. Incidentally, the ‘Council’ was founded by the exiled Iraqi Shi’ite cleric Mohammad Baqer Al-Sadr in November 1982 in Iran, and was granted its official sponsorship as being a part of Tehran’s strategy of ‘exporting the (Khomeini/Islamic) revolution’.
Hezbollah’s Hegemony
Iran’s growing influence in Iraq, indeed, ‘taking over the country’ – as the British military in southern Iraq soon discovered – was moving hand in hand with Hezbollah’s gradual hegemony in Lebanon, where it imposed its control not only on Lebanon’s political institutions, but also on its security institutions.
This became much clearer in the following years at decisive landmarks in the country’s modern history; namely since the autumn of 2004 when the presidential term of Pres Emile Lahhoud, an ally of Tehran and Damascus, was unconstitutionally extended. After that several leading opponents of the Tehran – Damascus axis were assassinated including Lebanon’s ex-Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri (2005). Later, in 2006, Hezbollah fought a war against Israel that now appears to have been planned by Iran merely to achieve a permanent ceasefire in south Lebanon and create a de-militarized ‘buffer zone’ with Israel that allows Hezbollah to be employed in other regional wars.
Indeed, by 2008, Hezbollah became not only a fully-fledged ‘state within a state’, but also bigger and more powerful than the Lebanese state itself while remaining a partner in its political decision processes and its political and security institutions.
Simply declaring war on Sunni Muslims will do nothing but further stoke the fires of extremism
Then, in March 2011, after the Syrian popular uprising against the Assad dynastic dictatorship – Iran’s only Arab ally during the Iran-Iraq War – the full truth became clear and fake slogans uncovered, as Hezbollah turned its attentions away from the Israeli ‘Blue line’ in order to fight the Syrian people and abort their uprising.
By this time, Nouri Al-Maliki, Iraq’s ex-Prime Minister (2008-2014) and former pro-Tehran Al-Da’wa Party activist was fully engaged in an Iran-aided and abetted sectarian war against Sunni Arab Iraqis, antagonizing even their tribal ‘Sahwaat’ militias which since 2006 succeeded in preventing Al-Qaeda’s spread in Sunni western Iraq.
It is important to mention here that Al-Qaeda would have never existed in the that region in the first place had it not been for the ‘policies’ of hatred, revenge, spite and sectarian discrimination practiced by Al-Maliki against his Sunni compatriots. Thus, when ‘Iranian political Shi’ism’ controlled Iraq at the expense of the Sunnis, imposed its hegemony over Lebanon, and expanded its influence militarily in Syria – with Assad’s collusion – it was only natural that a counter-reaction would emerge. This counter-reaction soon took the shape of a social ‘incubator’ for desperate and suicidal Sunni extremism, materializing into ISIS; the same ISIS that has attacked and occupied the city of Mosul without a fight!
The conditions that ‘created’ ISIS are what we see and know. And the security and intelligence ‘apparatuses’ that have maintained, exploited and benefitted from ISIS and its crimes know exactly what they are doing, leaving nothing to chance.
This extremist terrorist organization is consciously, or unconsciously, drawing the maps of grand plan for a new Middle East, and forcing the Muslim world into endless religious wars with the west, sectarian wars between Sunnis and Shiites, and ethnic wars between Arabs, Turks, Kurds and Iranians.
Eliminating this social ‘incubator’ of extremism would be impossible without Arab and international goodwill and deep political understanding of what is taking place in the Arab and Muslim worlds.
Simply declaring war on Sunni Muslims, more precisely Arab Sunni Muslims, will do nothing but enlarge this ‘incubator’ and further stoke the fires of extremism.
Will Turkey Boycott The West?
By Abdulrahman al-Rashed
20 July 2016
The number of Arab Gulf tourists to Turkey does not exceed more than 200,000 a year, while the number of Russian and Iranian tourists is 4 million and 1.5 million a year respectively. These numbers help us understand ties between countries and what influences them. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan recently said he intends to reform relations with neighbouring countries, which have been damaged due to disputes over Syria.
The economy is an important reason. Tourism in Turkey brings in about $30 billion a year. The first decision Russian President Vladimir Putin took after the downing a Russian jet that violated Turkish airspace was banning citizens from travelling there. This caused a huge and immediate crisis for Turkey’s tourism sector.
Without a booming economy, Erdogan cannot enhance his governance, and his party cannot resume winning the majority of votes in parliamentary and municipal elections. This means he will have to take into account Turkey’s relations with Europe, his country’s primary economic partner.
The commercial deal signed in the mid-1990s with the EU changed the face of Turkey and strengthened its economy. Turkey ranks 17th in the G-20 of major economies. Saudi Arabia ranks 14th.
The coup attempt may alter Erdogan’s foreign policy, but despite his impassioned speeches he remains a smart politician
Following the failed coup attempt, Erdogan can do whatever he wants domestically but cannot influence other countries much. His success and that of his party is due to economic prosperity - without it, threats and problems that are worse than the coup attempt will emerge.
This explains many of the contradictions of government policy regarding various activities. Turkey supported Iran the most when the latter was under Western economic sanctions, and was Iran’s number-one commercial partner. Ankara also has good relations with the Russians, who consider Turkey an important partner in Central Asia and a vital passage for their exports to Europe.
It is unlikely that anyone will be able to stop Erdogan eliminating his domestic rivals following the coup attempt if he chooses to do so. Western governments will not do anything significant, regardless of how harsh their warnings are.
However, it is highly unlikely that he will resort to holding accountable or boycotting major countries, as he threatened to do with the United States if it does not extradite his rival Fethullah Gulen, who lives in Pennsylvania and who Erdogan accuses of involvement in the coup attempt. Turkey’s military and economic interests would be greatly harmed - this is the price of economic success and international alliances.
The coup attempt may alter Erdogan’s foreign policy, but despite his impassioned speeches he remains a smart politician. For example, despite all his threats he has not directly entered the Syrian conflict, despite Russian and Iranian intervention. Instead, Turkey supports Syrian opposition groups. Erdogan is now willing to reconsider his disputes with Moscow and Tehran regarding Syria.
Why Are Others Still Accusing Saudi Arabia Despite 9/11 Report?
By Turki Aldakhil
20 July 2016
Unfortunately, news stories compete to the extent that one can completely burry the other.
The world waited months for the declassification of the most famous 28 pages in the world – the U.S. congressional report on the Sept. 11 attacks. Lobbies that opposed Saudi Arabia exploited those pages and considered them as carrying evidence of supposed involvement from Riyadh, and used it for years against the Saudi government, its ruling family and more than 20 million Saudis and hundreds of millions of those who love Saudi Arabia and its people and culture.
The problem with prejudgments is they are based on wishes rather than facts. Saudi Arabia's enemies, primarily the Iranian lobby in the US and those benefiting from hostilities against Riyadh as they seek political, electoral or popular gains, continued to talk about the 28 pages as if they were conclusive evidence to the Saudi government's involvement in the Sept. 11 twin attacks which struck the US in 2001.
After Iran propagated claims that Saudi Arabia had a direct role in Sept. 11, it got a taste of its own medicine.
Riyadh had been demanding the declassification of the 28 pages for some time now. Diplomatically, Saudi Arabia has requested the pages be made public first through the late Prince Saud al-Faisal and most recently through Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir. All the while, US courts were demanding Iran pay up to an excess of $21 billion in compensation for providing material support during the 9/11 attacks.
The US government finally did so last Friday, and it turns out that they do not implicate Riyadh in any way. However, less than an hour after this news broke, the failed Turkish coup dominated media coverage. Those who were exploiting the classified pages were thrilled because it diverted attention away from Saudi Arabia’s innocence regarding Sept. 11.
On March 9 this year, US District Judge George Daniels in New York issued a default judgment ordering Iran to pay more than $7.5 billion in damages to a group of insurers and families of those killed on Sept. 11. Daniels said Tehran “had failed to defend claims” that it aided the hijackers, and so was liable for damages tied to the attacks.
Iran’s Foreign Ministry itself said some of the attackers passed through its territory. The late al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden acknowledged Tehran’s role in sponsoring his family, friends and fighters. After Iran propagated claims that Saudi Arabia had a direct role in Sept. 11, it got a taste of its own medicine.
There has been slander against Saudi Arabia since the attacks. The nationalities of the hijackers do not implicate an entire society or state. Even more dangerous is the provision of funds, training and sponsorship to these terrorists. Iran is pervasive in terror.
Why These Tunisian Border Towns Have Become ISIS Recruitment Hotspots
By Ahmed Nadhif
July 20, 2016
Tunisian Mabrook Zaytooni’s family spent Eid al-Fitr hoping to find the body of their son who died in the Mediterranean Sea. Mabrook, just 25, drowned with at least 13 others attempting to sail to Italy. The boat, which had 28 passengers on board, sank as soon as it left the coast of the Libyan city of Sabratha on July 3.
All the passengers were from the city of Ben Guerdane, located far south on the border with Libya, where an attack left dozens dead and wounded in March 2016. The perpetrators were militants with the Islamic State (IS), which wants to establish an emirate in the city. A large number of the IS members who participated in the attack were residents of the city.
In Ben Guerdane, a small city that enjoys a strategic position and serves as a gateway between Tunisia, Libya and the Sahara's Mediterranean coast, the young residents are falling prey to jihadist recruitment and illegal immigration. The town’s proximity to Libya may have made it more vulnerable to these highly active networks amid the security chaos plaguing the country.
Hussein Zaytooni, Mabrook's older brother, told Al-Monitor that they were “born to a poor, big family." He said that their "father is a per diem worker who has a basic educational level and no stable income. Being unemployed, these tough economic times led [Mabrook] to opt for emigration to Europe with no prospects of getting a job.”
“A lot of guys from our neighbourhood have emigrated or are considering emigration. A friend of Mabrook from the same neighbourhood drowned with him while several other guys from the neighbourhood survived. Meanwhile, there are also several guys in the neighbourhood who joined jihadist organizations,” Hussein added.
He said his family does not care much for politics, but they know, just like everyone else in the city, that “the state is neglecting their rights as thousands of citizens are suffering from permanent unemployment amid no work prospects.”
Although it overlooks the sea, Ben Guerdane depends on the trade carried out through the land crossing between Tunisia and Libya. From the early morning hours, men from the city stand in long queues at the crossing to have their passports stamped and cross to the Libyan side to buy some goods and electronics, which they then sell individually or to wholesalers when they return to Tunisia.
Sharif Zaytooni, a journalist who lives in the city and a relative of Mabrook, told Al-Monitor, “Most of these men work for businessmen and are paid at the end of each day for transporting these goods. These fees are low when considering the harassment that workers are exposed to in Libya, where some of them get kidnapped or are ill-treated at the hands of armed groups there," Nevertheless, he said, "Each time the border crossing is closed, residents of the city stage protests and strikes.”
Zaytooni said, “The absence of job opportunities has made bilateral trade with Libya the only source of livelihood. The solutions that the youth are looking for are nowhere to be found at the moment. Therefore, the state must shoulder its responsibilities.”
For his part, Radwan Azlook, the local coordinator of a trade union that organizes unemployed university graduates, estimated the number of unemployed residents at more than 3,000 in a city of fewer than 79,000 people.
Azlook told Al-Monitor that the organization “made proposals to the authorities to solve the unemployment crisis in the city," explaining, "Among these proposals is the imposition of taxes on goods and people at border crossings that could be allocated to the creation of jobs for young people, the establishment of a port for the city and the creation of a free trade zone with Libya, which will create greater economic opportunities for young people.”
Azlook went on, “The number of unemployed youth with no university degrees is much larger than that of the holders of university degrees. Although there are always exceptions, this [large group] is more likely to join jihadist groups or opt for illegal migration.”
Omar el-Kouz, the head of the local authority in Ben Guerdane, told Al-Monitor, “The state is not systematically marginalizing border areas. On the contrary, the state views these areas as outposts that protect the nation from hazards. We recently witnessed the inspiring performance of the Ben Guerdane population in the face of the IS terrorist attack of March, when they supported government forces.”
He added, “The state has recently designed development programs for interior and border areas in a bid to create jobs, support investment and encourage the youth to start small- and medium-sized projects. In Ben Guerdane specifically, there is an inclination on the part of official agencies to diversify production activities in the city and not just rely on trade with the Libyan neighbours.”
This situation in Ben Guerdane is not much different from other neighbouring border towns. In Tataouine, young people are suffering in the same conditions. This city has the highest unemployment rate in the country, with 37% of its residents unemployed, despite oil-rich Tataouine's status as a major contributor to the country's budget. As a result, many citizens have chosen illegal immigration or joined jihadist groups. Some unlucky few have fallen into both traps.
To the south of Tataouine, there is Remada, where the situation is no different. This city has been a major centre of recruitment for IS’ Libyan branch, and the Tunisian authorities have dismantled a number of jihadist cells there.
While there are other psychological, cultural and religious motivations that prompt Tunisian youths to join the ranks of jihadist groups or illegally immigrate, economic motives remain the most prominent. Had they had job opportunities, many citizens would not take such troubled paths that so often lead to death.
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