LCCC ENGLISH DAILY
Bible Quotation For Today/Have
nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them
Ephesians 05/01-25: " Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person—such a person is an idolater—has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient. Therefore do not be partners with them. For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord. Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. It is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. But everything exposed by the light becomes visible—and everything that is illuminated becomes a light. This is why it is said: “Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.”
Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ."
Latest analysis, editorials from miscellaneous sources published on December 02-03/14
The UAE, a shining example for the region and the world/Khalaf Ahmad Al Habtoor /Al Arabiya/December 02/14
Between ISIS and Iran: Bahrain Tweaks Washington/Simon Henderson/Washington Institute/December 02/14
Erdoğan, on Women/Burak Bekdil/Hürriyet Daily News/December 02/14
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Lebanon bids farewell to poet Said Akl
Edy Semaan/The Daily Star/Dec. 03, 2014
BEIRUT: Lebanon bid farewell to a titan of Lebanese culture, the renowned poet Said Akl Tuesday, with mourners paying their respects in Beirut and his hometown of Zahle. Patriarch Beshara Rai led the funeral services at the St. George Cathedral in Downtown Beirut, hailing the late poet’s achievements. “The absence of [Akl’s] physical presence is a big loss, but his great output – of poetry, prose and plays – keeps him alive in minds, consciences and hearts, one generation after another. He remains a literary, intellectual and cultural icon for the coming generations,” Rai said. The Mass brought together politicians from rival factions. Culture Minister Raymond Areiji represented Prime Minister Tammam Salam and Speaker Nabih Berri. Also attending were former Presidents Michel Sleiman and Amine Gemayel; MP Assem Araji, representing former premier Saad Hariri; Free Patriotic Movement leader Michel Aoun; and other politicians. Other well-known figures were also in attendance, such as Papal Nuncio Gabriel Caccia, singer Majida al-Roumi and composer Elias Rahbani, as well as other cultural, religious and academic figures. Many mourners laid wreaths in remembrance of the beloved literary icon. The late poet’s body was brought to the cathedral at 10:50 a.m., carried in a casket made of Mount Lebanon’s rocks and cedar wood. Designed and built by Lebanon’s famous painter and sculptor Rudy Rahme, the coffin had Akl’s name and the titles of many of his poems, as well as the word Lubnan carved into it.
Akl died at the age of 102 last Friday, leaving behind poetic oeuvres filled with philosophical thoughts, lyrical imagery and profound spirituality.
Notre Dame University had hosted prayers over Akl’s body Monday at its campus in Louaizeh, where students, officials and artists took photos of the corpse. A particular sense of patriotism characterized most of Akl’s poems, Rai remarked at the funeral.
“He loved Lebanon and he put it on top of all nations,” Rai said. “He’s the one who said: ‘I love Lebanon more than myself,’ and considered it as an extraordinary country.” The centenarian poet had dug deeply into Lebanon’s history during his life, hoping to revive the memory of ancient thinkers and cultural figures who hailed from the shores of what is now Lebanon, Rai said.
“Akl is an artist who spent his long life in constant search of the true meaning of things, and a burning desire to express the indescribable,” Rai said. The patriarch ended his speech with an extract from a prayer that Akl wrote, which like many of his works has become a popular hymn. Rai concluded by professing hope that the deceased’s family, hometown of Zahle and all of Lebanon would find solace in faith as Akl did in his lifetime. After the Mass, the funeral parade left Beirut for Zahle, where the coffin was carried by residents and taken on a tour accompanied by a huge cheering crowd from the city. The parade arrived to the Mar Maroun Cathedral in Ksara, where Bishop Joseph Mouawad led the ritual prayers for the poet’s body. It then headed to Zahle’s Governmental Serail, passing by the Mar Afram School that Akl ran for many years, then to the city’s downtown on foot. Finally, the casket was transported to Our Lady of Deliverance Cathedral, as stated in the poet’s will, where prayers were once again recited over the body that was then buried in a special tomb in the city’s cemetery.
Six soldiers martyred in jihadi ambush
The Daily Star/Dec. 03, 2014
BAALBEK, Lebanon: Six Lebanese soldiers were killed and one wounded Tuesday in an ambush by militants near the Syrian border, on the same day that the military’s apparent arrest of ISIS chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s wife and child was made public.
Unidentified militants ambushed an Army patrol on the outskirts of Ras Baalbek in the northeast, the military said.
According to an Army statement, a military unit was ambushed by a “terrorist group” around 5:10 p.m. during a routine patrol. The ensuing clashes between the Army and militants killed six soldiers and wounded one, the statement added. Militant casualties were not known.
Sources told The Daily Star the patrol came under fire in the village of Tal al-Sayl on the outskirts of Ras Baalbek. The troops attempted to communicate with central command in Ras Baalbek to inform them of the attack, but the communication was suddenly interrupted, sources said. The affiliations of the militants were not immediately known. But the Army has routinely clashed with jihadi militants from both the Al-Qaeda-affiliated Nusra Front and ISIS on the eastern and northeastern border. The attack came on the same day that the arrest of a woman believed to be the wife of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, as well as the arrest of the wife of a Nusra Front commander, were made public by media outlets. News emerged Tuesday that Saja Hamid al-Dulaimi, one of Baghdadi’s wives, and their child, were arrested by the Army while trying to enter Lebanon from Syria more than a week ago using fake IDs. Separately, Lebanese authorities also arrested the wife of Nusra Front commander Anas Sharkas.
It was unclear if the attack came in response to the news of their arrests. But jihadi groups operating in Lebanon have typically responded to arrests of its members with attacks on Army targets.
The arrest of jihadi militant Imad Ahmad Jomaa in August sparked five days of clashes between the Army and militants from the Nusra Front and ISIS in the northeast town of Arsal, which killed dozens. Tuesday’s ambush was the latest in a series of attacks on the Army by Islamist militants across the country. Prime Minister Tammam Salam called Army commander Gen. Jean Kahwagi to offer his condolences over the fallen soldiers, while expressing hope that the wounded would recover quickly.
Salam, who ended a two-day official visit to Brussels Tuesday, also expressed solidarity with the Army, saying that all of Lebanon stood behind the military in its battle against terrorism. ISIS and the Nusra Front are still holding 26 Lebanese soldiers and policemen captive on the outskirts of Arsal.
Lebanon is still waiting on badly needed foreign military aid, including a promised two Saudi packages worth a combined amount of $4 billion. Speaking to The Daily Star, an Army source also confirmed that Intelligence officers arrested ISIS chief Baghdadi’s wife and their son more than a week ago as they tried to enter Lebanon from Syria using fake IDs after receiving a tip from Western intelligence agencies.
The source identified the wife as Saja Hamid al-Dulaimi, who was one of the prisoners released earlier this year from Syrian jails in exchange for the 13 Maaloula nuns abducted by the Nusra Front last December.
A separate security source said Baghdadi’s wife was arrested at the northern Abboudieh border crossing.
Reports differed about whether the child in question was male or female. Reuters, citing a “senior Lebanese security official” reported that the wife was stopped with one of their daughters nine days ago, and that DNA tests confirmed it was Baghdadi’s child. But a judicial source told The Daily Star that interrogations were currently focusing on revealing whether the suspect in question was in fact Baghdadi’s wife.
The Army Intelligence was interrogating Dulaimi under the supervision of Military Prosecutor Judge Saqr Saqr, the source said.
The source confirmed that Dulaimi was in fact detained by the Syrian regime and was released as part of a trade-off to secure the release of the Maaloula hostages.
Investigations are not restricted to identifying Dulaimi’s relationship to Baghdadi, but are also attempting to establish whether her entry is linked to a potential terrorist operation, and are also looking in to her ability to communicate with ISIS cells in Lebanon. The judicial source did not confirm or deny whether her child was also detained because “publicizing this information would negatively impact investigations,” he said.
Anadolu News agency quoted Nusra Front members as saying the Lebanese government has demonstrated weakness by arresting women and children, threatening to kill all the captive servicemen to take revenge for any person whose honor was violated.
When asked about implicating Dulaimi in a swap deal to secure the release of the Lebanese captives, the judicial source said that the decision falls on the government and not the judiciary.
Speaking to Lebanese expatriates in Belgium earlier Tuesday, Salam had reiterated that his government would not be blackmailed by the jihadi captors of Lebanese servicemen, stressing that negotiations for their liberation should be conducted according to certain norms and rules.“We are entrusted with the lives of our heroes, but we will not bow to blackmail. Let no one try to blackmail 4 million Lebanese people, or attempt to blackmail the Lebanese Army,” Salam told the Lebanese expatriates.
He said he had contacted Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamid al-Thani to urge him to revive Qatari mediation to secure the release of the servicemen. The emir stressed his desire to assist Lebanon on the issue and said he would direct those involved in the file to take necessary measures. Meanwhile, General Security denied Tuesday releasing Free Syrian Army commander Abdullah Hussein Rifai, while announcing that his freedom was contingent on negotiations to secure the release of Lebanese captives held by jihadis. The statement denied rumors that the detainee was handed over to Hezbollah for the purpose of a swap deal that secured the release of one of the party’s fighters who was freed by the FSA last week
Lebanon detains ‘wife and son’ of ISIS leader Baghdadi
By Staff writer | Al Arabiya News
Tuesday, 2 December 2014
The wife of the elusive Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdad, has been reportedly detained at the Lebanese-Syrian border, Lebanese security officials said on Tuesday. Baghdadi’s wife was held along with one of his sons. She is Syrian and is the ISIS leader's second wife, Al Arabiya News Channel reported. "Military intelligence detained one of his wives, who was travelling with their son, near (Lebanese border town) Arsal 10 days ago ," the source told Agence France-Presse.
Lebanese newspaper As-Safir reported the army had detained her in coordination with "foreign intelligence apparatus". A senior Lebanese security official said Baghdadi's wife had been traveling with one of their daughters, contradicting earlier reports that it was his son. DNA tests were conducted to verify it was Baghdadi's child, the official said. They were detained in northern Lebanon. Investigators were questioning her at the headquarters of the Lebanese defense ministry, the security officials said.
There was no immediate reaction from ISIS websites to the arrest. Earlier this year, photos of one of Baghdadi’s wives surfaced online, offering a glimpse into the private life of the self-proclaimed “caliph.” It is not known whether Saja Hamid al-Dulaimi, the woman identified in the image, is the currently detained wife of Baghdadi It is not clear however whether Saja Hamid al-Dulaimi, the woman identified in the images, is the currently detained wife of Baghdadi. It is unclear how many wives the ISIS leader has.
Last month, Baghdadi was “critically wounded” when a U.S.-led air strike targeted the western Iraqi border town of al-Qaim, tribal sources told Al Arabiya News Channel. U.S. Central Command confirmed in a statement that U.S.-led air strikes targeted ISIS leaders near their northern Iraqi hub of Mosul Baghdadi’s aide Auf Abdulrahman Elefery, who went by the code name Abu Suja, was reportedly killed in the strike. The ISIS chief was put on the U.S. "terrorism" watchlist in October 2011, and there is a $10 million bounty for his capture. ISIS has seized wide areas of Iraq and Syria, Lebanon's neighbor to the east. The Lebanese security forces have waged a crackdown on ISIS sympathizers in Lebanon and the intelligence services have been extra vigilant on the borders with Syria.
They have arrested over the past few months a number of Islamic militants suspected of staging attacks to expand ISIS influence in the country neighboring Syria. [With AFP and Reuters]
Nusra execution threat leaves hostages’ families in panic
Hashem Osseiran| The Daily Star/Dec. 02, 2014
BEIRUT: A state of confusion and panic prevailed Monday among the families of the 26 Lebanese soldiers and policemen held by militants, shortly after the Nusra Front threatened to execute one of the captives. The Nusra Front was reported to have threatened to execute soldier Ali Bazzal at 10 p.m. Monday in protest at the government’s delay in implementing a reported prisoner swap deal. However, the execution threat had not been carried out as The Daily Star went to press early Tuesday. To protest the government’s failure to act over the execution threat, the hostages’ families blocked roads in the north, the Bekaa Valley region and in Downtown Beirut. They also burned tires near the Grand Serail. “The threat is still on, and the government has done nothing to eliminate it,” Hussein Youssef, the father of captive soldier Mohammad Youssef, told The Daily Star by phone. Youssef said that Sheikh Mustafa Hujeiri, an influential sheikh and unofficial negotiator, told the wife of Bazzal, Rana Fliti, that he could not give the kidnappers what they want to refrain killing Bazzal. “It seems that we are still at the starting point,” Youssef said, adding that attempts to reach government officials were unsuccessful. “We are trying to contact officials for new information but they are not responding,” he said. “Minister Wael Abu Faour, whose information is always transparent, said the talks with the kidnappers are ongoing to ensure they commit no executions before reaching a swap deal.”
The Lebanese government has been following up on the issue through a crisis cell that includes top security officials and ministers. The negotiations have been carried out through a Qatari-appointed Syrian mediator. The kidnappers are demanding the release of Islamist prisoners in Lebanese and Syrian jails Ministerial sources said the Cabinet has not taken any decision on whether to enter into direct negotiations with the militants. A ministerial crisis cell tasked with the hostage issue can take the measures it deems fit to secure the release of the captive soldiers, the sources told The Daily Star. The sources said they did not expect a breakthrough in the hostage crisis soon in view of the complications and uncertainty of the kidnappers’ demands.
MP Walid Jumblatt called for a quick solution to the hostage crisis through a swap deal with the kidnappers. “I hope there will be no objection to my statement. Whoever is the negotiator, no problem. What matters is the negotiations, a swap and the lives of the kidnapped soldiers,” Jumblatt said on Twitter Monday night. Earlier Monday, Hujeiri warned that the Nusra Front could carry out the execution of Bazzal within hours.
“An escalation will happen in hours, not days or weeks,” Hujeiri, who hails from the Bekaa town of Arsal, told The Daily Star by phone. He claimed that a violation of the agreement that delayed the execution of Bazzal would prompt the militants to go through with the killing. According to the sheikh, in an agreement brokered with the Nusra Front Friday, the Lebanese government was set to carry out its first swap deal in return for one of the captives that should have been released Monday.
Hujeiri said he had started negotiations with the Nusra Front on Skype Thursday, moments after they released a threat to execute Bazzal unless a female terror suspect was released from a Lebanese jail.
The negotiations, which went on till past midnight Friday, resulted in a decision to hold off the execution on the condition that a swap deal would be carried out within days, Hujeiri said. Even though the government has accepted the principle of a swap deal, a delay in its implementation has left the captors frustrated. “How do I benefit from an acceptance of the principle if there is no actual implementation?” Hujeiri asked. He said Ahmad al-Khatib, a Syrian mediator appointed by Qatar, was not currently on the outskirts of Arsal, criticizing him for “neglecting” the case. “I want the Qatari mediator to be beside me when the crisis is happening. I don’t want him to show up after the crisis is resolved and everything is agreed upon,” Hujeiri said. In response to the threat to kill Bazzal, a group calling itself “The Bazzal Family Youth” threatened to target residents of Arsal and Syrian refugees if the soldier was executed. “We will not refrain from taking revenge if Ali Bazzal is harmed. Be sure that we will not show mercy with any elderly, woman, man or child from Arsal or with any Syrian,” the group said in a statement. “Don’t say they are not involved.” “We will not show mercy, eye-for- eye and tooth-for-tooth,” the group said. The group also said Hujeiri would be held responsible if Bazzal was harmed.
Lebanon probing 55 state workers for real estate graft
The Daily Star/Dec. 02, 2014
BEIRUT: Fifty-five civil servants are being investigated for corruption as part of a widespread crackdown on fraudulent real estate-related activities, including the illegal appropriation of public property and embezzlement, Finance Minister Ali Hasan Khalil said Monday.
“There is an increasing number of cases related to bribes and embezzlement by clerks in real estate departments, [forcing] many citizens to pay more to finish their paperwork and [causing] the government to lose millions of dollars over the years,” Khalil said in a televised news conference at his ministry. Khalil promised in October to refer all suspected corrupt civil servants in the Finance Ministry’s Real Estate Department to the Prosecutor’s Office.
The minister believes the Treasury has lost millions of dollars each year as a result of corruption.“After the rise in complaints and as a result of investigations into reported violations, we now have dozens of documents that prove employees in these departments were involved in corruption,” Khalil said. Khalil insisted that the campaign would even target senior government officials if there was evidence that they were involved in corruption cases.
He said the crackdown would not spare anyone, including allies of his own Amal party. Khalil said he referred “55 employees in real estate departments, among them surveyors, to investigation,” including several high-ranking officials, and stressed that Finance Ministry staff no longer enjoyed immunity. The suspected civil servants who will be questioned by the prosecutor’s office are from different areas of Lebanon, he said. Khalil also said there were many cases of public money being illegally transferred to the personal accounts of employees. His crackdown tackles the almost taken-for-granted practices of public sector employees, primarily surveyors, accepting bribes to speed up paperwork and estimate property at a lower price or at a larger size, which at times extends into public property.
“One surveyor’s house cost $6 million. How is that possible?” Khalil asked, saying the state had lost much property to such illegal practices. “Millions of meters belonging to the state are now the private property of either individuals or suspicious companies,” he said.
Khalil said many citizens took advantage of the 2006 war in Lebanon to identify and register property, mostly state-owned, in their names. “How can a grandfather inherit from his son? Or his grandchildren?” he said, referring to suspicious transfers between relatives during the war.To address these concerns, Khalil said he issued a decision at the ministry to stop all ongoing paperwork in the real estate departments for three months in order for citizens to resubmit their files. “I have also spoken to the Justice Ministry to follow up on these documents,” he said, adding that an additional 29 files had been referred to the Office of the Financial Prosecutor. He also said he would form a committee to follow up on all complaints filed by citizens. Khalil suggested that some prominent political figures could be involved in the scams but at the same time gave assurances that no party was willing to protect any of its members if the were involved in corruption. Corruption and bribery are believed to be widespread in the public sector in Lebanon, according to successive opinion polls conducted by organizations such as Transparency International.
Between ISIS and Iran: Bahrain Tweaks
Simon Henderson/Washington Institute
December 02, 2014
Amid electoral boycotts and continued concerns about ISIS and Iran, King Hamad has reappointed a prime minister whom Washington regards as an impediment to political progress. A flurry of recent events in Bahrain could have a significant impact on the island's future domestic politics and its relationship with the United States. On November 22, the first round of elections was held for the forty-member lower house of the national assembly, which has only limited powers. Along with several smaller groups, al-Wefaq -- the political society that draws support from the majority Shiite population and won eighteen seats in the 2010 election -- boycotted the vote to protest the lack of progress in the so-called "national dialogue" involving the Sunni ruling family. On November 25, security forces raided one of the homes of Sheikh Isa Qassim, al-Wefaq's spiritual leader, while searching for a bombing suspect. And on November 29, the run-off round of elections was held; the next day, King Hamad asked Sheikh Khalifa bin Salman al-Khalifa -- who is seventy-nine and has been prime minister continuously since 1970 -- to form another government. Meanwhile, the Financial Times carried a long interview today with Foreign Minister Sheikh Khalid bin Ahmed bin Muhammad al-Khalifa in which he announced the formation of a joint Gulf military command aimed at countering Iran as well as working with the United States against the "Islamic State" (also known as ISIS or ISIL). On December 5, a major international conference opens in the capital and will likely be attended by senior U.S. government and military officials (e.g., last year, Defense Secretary Hagel was a speaker). Will the U.S. presence sanctify a flawed political system or celebrate greater military cooperation?
Usually, it is Washington that sets the tone for bilateral relations, balancing its desire for greater democratic freedoms in Bahrain with the utility of maintaining the headquarters of the U.S. Fifth Fleet there. Now Bahrain is trying to dominate the relationship, which has been under tension since demonstrations in early 2011 prompted the resignation of al-Wefaq parliamentarians. Relations have been especially raw since July, when Manama expelled visiting assistant secretary of state for democracy, human rights, and labor Tom Malinowski, apparently for upsetting King Hamad by meeting with members of the Shiite opposition before seeing any of his Bahraini government counterparts. Although that rift seemed to be patched up during the UN General Assembly in September, Malinowski has so far been thwarted in his attempts to revisit Bahrain.
CHANGES, BUT NO CHANGE?
Bahrain's political structure is dominated by the al-Khalifa ruling family, members of which counted for about half of the now-caretaker cabinet. King Hamad (age sixty-four), who assumed the title of monarch after a 2001 referendum on political reform, rules in an uneasy triumvirate with his uncle, Sheikh Khalifa, and his eldest son, Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad (45), who is also the first deputy prime minister. Photos of all three are displayed across Manama and in government offices.
The main tension in their relationship is between the king's frequent vacillation and the prime minister's people skills; a subsidiary tension is the crown prince's willingness to contemplate political reforms on a scale that is anathema to Sheikh Khalifa. Although the rest of the royal family never challenges the king's supremacy, they tend to divide up across this political spectrum. The most significant camp is the hardliner faction known as the Khawalids, who include military chief Khalifa bin Ahmed bin Salman al-Khalifa and his brother Khalid bin Ahmed bin Salman al-Khalifa, the minister of the royal court.
Today's front page of the English-language Gulf Daily News, which closely reflects government thinking, carried the banner headline "Time for Change" along with photographs of the king and prime minister. Although the broadness of this editorial conclusion is debatable, the election results at least show change in the lower house of parliament. (Members of the upper house are directly appointed by the king.) Three quarters of the incoming members are new faces -- in addition to al-Wefaq's absence, the representation of Muslim Brotherhood affiliates and other Sunni political societies has been reduced. "Citizens for Bahrain," a pro-government website, noted the broad mix of new Sunni and Shiite representatives, including women, pointing out that candidates campaigned on such issues as better education, infrastructure, and health services.
The island's next significant political event is the holding of internal elections for al-Wefaq this week. A court banned the group in October for breaching the government's rules on political societies, even though it had already announced it would boycott the elections. The justice minister quickly suspended the ban for three months, apparently to allow al-Wefaq's planned internal elections to take place. But if Manama hopes that the group's self-marginalization will prompt a leadership change, it will likely be disappointed. Despite al-Wefaq's internal debate over the boycott and subsequent realization that it may have been a mistake, Sheikh Ali Salman and Khalil al-Marzouq are expected to be reelected as general-secretary and spokesperson, respectively. The government views both men as unwilling to compromise.
For now, the prime minister's age and reported ill health suggest that his reappointment may be a stopgap measure. Despite American officials counseling the king to remove him for decades, Sheikh Khalifa shows no desire to step down, and those close to him portray his possible departure in terms of "apres moi, le deluge." A quiet campaign of support for him has been growing for several months, with big posters showing his photo and the words "The People. Khalifa bin Salman. The Red Line," implying that getting rid of him would be a step too far. But if he were to go, several of the royal family members currently serving as deputy prime ministers could potentially replace him:
Crown Prince Salman, who would likely push his reformist agenda amid opposition from the hardliners.
Muhammad bin Mubarak al-Khalifa (age 79), the next most senior deputy prime minister after Salman, who is regarded as a conciliatory figure and was foreign minister for thirty-five years until 2005.
Ali bin Khalifa al-Khalifa, Sheikh Khalifa's son.
Khalid bin Abdullah al-Khalifa, the favored candidate of the Khawalid hardliners.
THE ROLE OF ISIS AND IRAN
The emergence of ISIS in Syria and Iraq and the formation of the U.S.-led coalition have enabled Manama to emphasize a different dimension in its relationship with Washington. Bahraini F-16s have taken part in airstrikes against ISIS targets in Syria, and the Fifth Fleet's island headquarters has been at the center of related naval actions. Foreign Minister Khalid's announcement of a new regional command to coordinate Gulf policy against ISIS and Iran seems like a further step down this path -- and perhaps a means of distracting Western and Gulf Arab leaders from Bahrain's domestic political tensions.
The State Department and the British Foreign Office have been exasperated by al-Wefaq's election boycott, which they saw as a lost opportunity to calm Bahrain's troubled political waters. Manama's allies Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are also keen to see the island's domestic politics quiet down; both countries sent security forces to bolster the government during Bahrain's 2011 street riots. Riyadh in particular is anxious because ISIS-linked jihadists killed Saudi Shiites last month in the kingdom's oil-rich Eastern Province, which is joined by a causeway to Bahrain. A similar incident on the island could have catastrophic consequences for tense intercommunal relations. The House of Saud is also fearful of contagion between Bahrain's troubles and its own Shiite community.
Such is the background to this weekend's "Manama Dialogue," an annual event organized by the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies and hosted by Bahrain. Manama will want to show off its role in the anti-ISIS coalition while also emphasizing the threats posed by a nuclear Iran, which it blames for subversion among its Shiite population. The third leg of the stool is Bahrain's political system, for which last week's elections are a probably short-term fix. But for how long it will remain stable is uncertain.
**Simon Henderson is the Baker Fellow and director of the Gulf and Energy Policy Program at The Washington Institute.
The UAE, a shining example for the
region and the world
Tuesday, 2 December 2014
Khalaf Ahmad Al Habtoor /Al Arabiya
This 43rd UAE National day, marking the day in 1971 when our flag was hoisted high for the very first time, is one of the most joyous occasions on the Emirati calendar, and rightly so.
Most people feel a sense of pride in their own country and its achievements. It’s only natural to feel affection for one’s own soil which holds so many memories and, indeed, even as a young man in Dubai - then part of the Trucial States under Britain’s protection - I was proud of my roots. But when the UK announced that the treaty would soon be null and void, there was a cloud of great uncertainty around all of us, while at the same time we were overjoyed that we were about to gain our independence. How could we defend ourselves? Would we be able to stave off the big sharks swimming all around? One of those sharks, the Shah of Iran, took the opportunity to rob us of three islands even before the treaty was terminated.
We suffered hardships without realising that life was hard. We were without necessities, let alone luxuries, but in their place were powerful extended family bonds. Our treasure was dignity, honesty and trustworthiness. Our jewels were our parents, our siblings and our children. Those values have endured throughout the decades. We teach them to our children. My father always told me to hold my head up high and look at the person speaking to me straight in the eye. Emiratis are proud of who they are, of the society they have created, which is one of very few multi-cultural places on earth that enjoys stability, security, peace and harmony.
“Democracy, which was delivered to Afghanistan and Iraq on the back of a bomb, is nothing but a con”
Those days have gone. But now we have so much more to be proud of, thanks to our rulers who came together to build a strong unified nation that forges ahead year-upon-year and on so many levels is the envy of the region. Led by the ruler of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al-Nahyan, and Dubai’s ruler Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al-Maktoum, together they created a blueprint for the future. They were true Arabs, true sons of the soil, whose wisdom didn’t derive from books but from their pure hearts and souls. They loved their people and wanted the best for them; they were down-to-earth and approachable. Everyone was welcome in their majlis from the humblest citizen to the heads of wealthy families. Everyone was treated with equal respect and we all had an opportunity to air our problems. They gave us the gift of self- confidence; they pushed us to work hard; they asked us to make sacrifices for our new country. We didn’t mind. We trusted those exceptional human beings with our lives.
Whereas once our forefathers dove for pearls, my generation and those that followed have created a regional diamond reflecting innovation, progressive thinking and opportunity. Ours is a nation of firsts, not because we want to boast of our achievements, but as a small country, we needed to inscribe our place on the map. I still remember a time when people I met abroad would say, “The UAE? Where’s that?” We couldn’t achieve worldwide recognition by being average or ordinary. The only route was the pursuit of excellence. Of course, nowadays everyone who isn’t living in a cave has heard of the Emirates, a name that’s become synonymous with success.
The UAE offers lifestyles that are second to none. Our cutting-edge infrastructure is world-renowned. We have the finest educational institutes and medical facilities anywhere. And those of us who respect the laws of the land enjoy freedoms people in Western countries can only dream about. Sure, they have a vote. They can choose their representatives. But, in all honesty, who can say with hand on heart that their choice has ever made a real difference. Democracy in its true form, ‘rule by the people, for the people’, is an illusion. There are always taxes to pay but revenues are often frittered away on wars of choice. And as for equal opportunity, that’s just a carrot put out by states to keep the masses subdued while the fat cats line their pockets.
Democracy, the pitfalls
Democracy, which was delivered to Afghanistan and Iraq on the back of a bomb, is nothing but a con. People imagine they are empowered when, in reality, they have very little power. What’s more, they are forced to expend all their energies in holding down a job just so they can pay the bills. Millions don’t have jobs or even basic shelter. The homeless are flooding the streets of New York, Paris, London and other major Western cities, whose governments are far wealthier than the UAE in terms of technological advancements, geopolitical influence, and military might. There are people sleeping in their cars or under bridges. Others queue outside churches or charitable institutions for a hot meal. Families survive on food stamps. And what do human rights organisations say? Nothing; they’re too busy undermining countries in the Middle East and Latin America for supposed human rights abuses.
The Western interpretation of human rights principles is not ours. We don’t walk by a person who falls down ill in the street. We don’t drive past when we see someone stranded because of a flat tyre. We don’t abandon our parents in places where they die among strangers or throw our teenagers into the street to fend for themselves. We provide everything a citizen needs for a decent life in an aesthetically beautiful, safe environment, energised by economic growth and fertile soil for new ideas. HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, vice-president and prime minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, once said, “Authority is to serve the people, not control them.” His government’s objective, he says, is to make the citizens of this country happy. Have you ever heard a Western president or prime minister say anything similar?
For decades, we were like students eager to learn as much as we could. We sent our children to Western universities; we hired the finest expertise and were open to advice from foreign experts. Now that the UAE has reached maturity, the pupil has overtaken the master. On this, our 43rd anniversary, December 2nd 2014, I invite the world to learn from us how to do things better.
Erdoğan, on Women
Burak Bekdil/Hürriyet Daily News
November 28, 2014
Originally published under the title, "So we are shocked (again)?"
Turkey ranked 125th out of 142 nations in the World Economic Forum's 2014 Gender Gap Index, a drop of 20 places over the last eight years.
This columnist is often shocked when others are shocked when President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's Islamist-self speaks like an Islamist. What's so shocking about him saying that women cannot be treated equal to men – other than the irony that he said it at a feminist summit? He had said this before. He had also prescribed, numerous times, how many children Turkish wives should make – three, or if possible, four or five. How on earth does the world expect him to speak? Like a liberal? Like a secular Muslim? Like the leader of an EU member state? Or like the leader of a country where an average of three women every day are being killed by men, and where domestic violence, abuse and sexual discrimination is part of the culture?
Only a month ago, the World Economic Forum's (WEF) Global Gender Gap Report 2014 ranked Turkey at 125th out of 142 countries – compared to 120th out of 136 countries last year. According to the WEF's report, Turkey is among the lowest ranked of the 40 countries in the upper-middle income group (and holds the lowest spot in the Europe and Central Asia region). See, money doesn't bring civilization! Inheritance rights for women were introduced in Ottoman Turkey in 1847. Women won the right to become civil servants in 1913. Equal education rights were introduced in 1924. Women won the right to vote in municipal elections in 1930 and were granted full suffrage by a constitutional amendment on Dec. 5, 1934, 25 years earlier than Swiss women (Turkish women obtained 35 parliamentary seats in elections in 1935.)
"Women should have chastity. They should not laugh in public."
Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç
However, 80 years after granting women full suffrage, Turkey is probably better known to the rest of the world for its habitual honor killings, rape stories, underage marriages (at one-third of all marriages) and violence against women than its beaches, sunshine and kebabs.
The findings of a 2011 survey by a team of academics from Istanbul's Bahçesehir University revealed hints about the related Turkish mental paradigm: 33 percent of Turks (male and female) think women should be beaten if they deserve to be beaten; 60 percent (both male and female) think women should obey men and, surprise, surprise, 81 percent identify themselves as religiously devout. A separate study in 2010 had found that 25 percent of Turks think it would amount to sinning if women and men worked in the same office.
In a 2011 article, this columnist found the stereotypical details of the professional careers of the lady members of the families of government bigwigs. The finding was boringly analogous and revealed an almost identical resumé story: for the pious mind, the only suitable profession for a female family member, even if she holds a degree from the world's finest university, is housewifery. A clear majority of the lady members of the rising Islamist aristocracy sported the fancy "quit work when married" line in their resumés, with only a couple of ministerial wives following professional careers. This pattern could not be a coincidence, or have changed since 2011.
Remember what President Erdoğan said last week along with "women cannot be treated equal to men": "Feminists do not grasp the importance of motherhood in Islam" and "the office [job/post/career] that our religion has bestowed on women is motherhood."
Also remember what Prime Minister Erdogan said a few years earlier: "Do not expect me to respect it when boys and girls sit together on benches [at university campuses]." And also remember what Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç said - not 400 years ago, but last July: "Women should have chastity. They should not laugh in public."So, once again, we are shocked that President Erdoğan thinks women cannot be treated as equal to men. So awfully shocked! But never mind; Turkish women are happy. Most of them, like Turkish men, passionately vote for Mr. Erdoğan. And remember: A third of Turks, both male and female, think women should be beaten if they deserve to be; and 60 percent of Turks, both male and female, think women should obey men.
Are we still shocked?
**Burak Bekdil, based in Ankara, is a columnist for the Turkish daily Hürriyet and a fellow at the Middle East Forum.
Assad's Regime/A regime reassured
The Daily Star/Dec. 03, 2014
The message from the world to Syrian President Bashar Assad has never been clearer: Proceed with all of the violence against your people that your regime can muster. This week’s meeting between the Russian and Turkish leaders represents one component of the message, as Vladimir Putin and Recep Tayyip Erdogan were talking business, dispelling any notion that their differences on the Assad regime would block their relationship. The White House, meanwhile, is still basking in the glow of its latest accomplishment on the Syria front, namely the ouster of Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, who had the insolence to point out that U.S. policy was a confused, contradictory mess. Kuwait, moreover, recently declined to host another donors’ conference for Syria after various sides failed to honor their earlier pledges – Kuwait is also giving visas to Syrian regime diplomats so that its embassy can be reopened. The international community, in the form of the World Food Program, also sent a clear message this week when it halted food assistance for millions of needy Syrians, due to a lack of funding. Also, a prominent opposition figure, Ahmad Moaz al-Khatib, is proposing direct talks with Assad. Khatib resorted to this move because he experienced firsthand the lack of international seriousness to tackle the question of responsibility for the deaths of 200,000 people and widescale destruction. But Western countries have been the most disappointing when it comes to Syria. They preach about the need to alleviate Syria’s suffering, but refuse to take in refugees. They preach about Assad’s lack of legitimacy, but block every serious move to see meaningful political change. Worst of all, they believe that all of these confused and confusing moves will have no repercussions in the future, when it’s time to put Syria back together again.