SELECTED NEWS

News articles from various sources carefully selected by Dr. Jawad Hashim.
Saudi Arabia’s Lebanon Gambit

Saudi Arabia’s Lebanon Gambit

Saudi Arabia pressed Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri to resign to try to weaken Iran-backed Hezbollah in Lebanon. The path to resolving the crisis could run through Yemen. Saad Hariri’s unexpected resignation in Riyadh fueled speculation in Lebanon over whether its prime minister was a captive of his Saudi patrons and his speech was coerced. Locked in a regional struggle with Iran, Saudi Arabia came to see Hariri as a “fig leaf” for Tehran-backed Hezbollah, which sits in the national unity government, says Mohamad Bazzi, a journalist and professor at New York University. But, Bazzi says, there is a possibility for this crisis to be defused if Hezbollah withholds support for Houthi rebels in Yemen.

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How the Islamic State Benefits from Sexual Violence

How the Islamic State Benefits from Sexual Violence

Extremist groups benefit strategically and financially from the subjugation of women, says Nadia Murad Basee Taha, United Nations Goodwill Ambassador for the Dignity of Survivors of Human Trafficking, who spoke at a recent CFR roundtable meeting. Extremist groups benefit strategically and financially from the subjugation of women. So says Nadia Murad Basee Taha, United Nations Goodwill Ambassador for the Dignity of Survivors of Human Trafficking: “The Islamic State didn’t come to kill the women and girls, but to use us as spoils of war and as objects to be sold.” They generate revenue from sex trafficking, sexual slavery, and extortion through ransom: the United Nations estimates that ransom payments extracted by the self-proclaimed Islamic State in Iraq and Syria from the Yazidi community amounted to between $35 million and $45 million in 2014 alone. In fact, as a new Council on Foreign Relations report outlines, conflict-related sexual violence has emerged as a core element of both the ideology and operation of extremist groups, including the Islamic State and Boko Haram in Nigeria. These groups use sexual violence not only to generate revenues but also to achieve security objectives by terrorizing populations into compliance, displacing civilians from strategic areas, and entrenching an ideology of suppressing women’s rights to control reproduction and provide labor. In her new book, The Last Girl: My Story of Captivity and My Fight Against the Islamic State, Murad shares the harrowing experience of witnessing the Islamic State’s genocide of her Yazidi community, and a vision for how to defeat them and ensure the survival of the Yazidis. Last week, the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) had the honor of hosting Murad and Mark Lagon, former U.S. Ambassador-at-Large to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, for a discussion on the Islamic State and efforts to counter human trafficking and conflict-related sexual violence.

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Saudi Arabia’s Shaky Experiment in Modernization

Saudi Arabia’s Shaky Experiment in Modernization

With a bold modernization project, Saudi Arabia is embarking on reforms U.S. policymakers have been urging for decades. The crown prince’s recent crackdown could undermine this crucial effort

On November 4, official media announced an order by King Salman for the arrest of some of the most powerful men in Saudi Arabia, including eleven princes. The decree came from a hastily created anticorruption agency headed by his son Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. “Laws will be applied firmly on everyone who touched public money and didn’t protect it or embezzled it, or abused their power and influence,” the king’s order proclaimed. The corruption charges appear to be a pretext for the crown prince to displace his rivals, many of whom were close to the late King Abdullah or are concerned about his fast-paced reforms.

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Saudi Arabia: Corruption Arrests Raise Due Process Concerns

Saudi Arabia: Corruption Arrests Raise Due Process Concerns

Follows Clampdown on Journalists, Clerics, Intellectuals. Saudi Arabia’s mass arrest of princes, current and former government officials, and prominent businessmen on November 4, 2017, over corruption allegations raises human rights concerns, Human Rights Watch said today. Saudi authorities should immediately reveal the legal and evidentiary basis for each person’s detention and make certain that each person detained can exercise their due process rights.

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The Constitutional Context for Iraq’s Latest Crisis

The Constitutional Context for Iraq’s Latest Crisis

o achieve an enduring reconciliation in Iraq, both the Iraqi government and the Kurdistan Regional Government will eventually need to reach a political agreement that not only resolves the key issues underlying the conflict but is consistent with—and reflects a shared understanding of—Iraq’s constitution. As Scott Anderson writes, doing so will almost certainly require renewed engagement from the international community.

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Dashed Hopes of the Arab Spring

Dashed Hopes of the Arab Spring

Steven A. Cook, CFR’s (Council on Foreign Relations) Eni Enrico Mattei senior fellow for Middle East and Africa Studies, discusses why the uprisings in Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya in 2011 and Turkey in 2013 failed to produce lasting democratic change and why political uncertainty and instability persist in the region.

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Iraq, the Kurds and Me: What Went Wrong in Kirkuk?

Iraq, the Kurds and Me: What Went Wrong in Kirkuk?

I didn’t expect Iraq to use military force against the Kurds. And I believed, or hoped, the U.S. would step in. Last Sunday night, Iraqi government forces — with the help of Popular Mobilization Units aligned with Iran — retook the disputed city of Kirkuk. In this effort they benefited from the tacit cooperation of Kurdish military forces, known as peshmerga, who are loyal to the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK). The PUK is the historic rival of the Kurdistan Democratic Party under the leadership of Masoud Barzani, who is also the president of the Kurdistan Regional Government.

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What to Watch For in Post-ISIS Iraq and Syria

What to Watch For in Post-ISIS Iraq and Syria

As the campaigns to wrest the Islamic State from the territory it held in Iraq and Syria near completion, new conflicts may arise if old political arrangements prevail. The self-proclaimed Islamic State, once estimated to have occupied a third of Iraqi and Syrian territory, has been reduced to a handful of enclaves, bringing a complicated endgame into focus. In July 2017, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi declared victory in Mosul, as his troops, with U.S. backing, recaptured Iraq’s second city. In Syria, the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) recaptured the Islamic State’s self-styled capital of Raqqa in October, and the SDF and forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad are both closing in on the Islamic State in its final eastern redoubt.

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Can the United States Broker Peace Between Iraq and the Kurds?

Can the United States Broker Peace Between Iraq and the Kurds?

Washington should respond to sectarian conflict near Kirkuk by seeking to preserve a united Iraq while supporting Kurdish autonomy. The chaos spread by the self-proclaimed Islamic State across Iraq, further fragmenting that already fragile state, inadvertently redounded to the benefit of the Kurdish population. This presents the Trump administration with a quandary: Should the United States support or oppose long-frustrated Kurdish ambitions for statehood? The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), which already enjoys autonomy from Baghdad, took advantage of the initial reverses suffered by Iraqi forces since 2014 to expand its sphere of territorial control by roughly 40 percent. Most notably, the KRG asserted control over the oil-rich province of Kirkuk, which has long been contested by Kurds, Turkmen, and Arabs. Then, on September 25, the KRG, under the leadership of President Masoud Barzani, staged a referendum in which 93 percent of voters opted for independence from Iraq.

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Iraq’s Kurds Need to Put Democracy Before Independence

Iraq’s Kurds Need to Put Democracy Before Independence

The leaders of Iraq’s Kurdistan region are suffering considerable consequences for their reckless staging of a referendum on independence late last month. The Iraqi government has teamed up with Turkey and Iran to impose tough sanctions, including a ban on international flights from Kurdish airports.

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The Time of the Kurds

The Time of the Kurds

The Kurds are one of the world’s largest peoples without a state, making up sizable minorities in Iran, Iraq, Syria, and Turkey. Their history is marked by marginalization and persecution. Yet some Kurds may be on the verge of achieving their century-old quest for independence in a Middle East undergoing the convulsions of Syria’s civil war, Iraq’s destabilization, and conflict with the self-proclaimed Islamic State.

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Video: Saudi Arabia Official Hate Speech Targets Minorities

Video: Saudi Arabia Official Hate Speech Targets Minorities

Some Saudi state clerics and institutions incite hatred and discrimination against religious minorities, including the country’s Shia Muslim minority. Saudi Arabia has permitted government-appointed religious scholars and clerics to refer to religious minorities in derogatory terms or demonize them in official documents and religious rulings that influence government decision-making. In recent years, government clerics and others have used the internet and social media to demonize and incite hatred against Shia Muslims and others who do not conform to their views.

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“They Are Not Our Brothers” Hate Speech by Saudi Officials

“They Are Not Our Brothers” Hate Speech by Saudi Officials

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia traces its origins to a 1744 pact between a religious leader Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab, and the Al Saud family, under which al-Wahhab’s movement enabled the Saudi rulers to expand their political rule in return for enforcing his religious teachings. The power relations between the Saudi royal family and the clerics have changed over time, but the clerics and religious scholars continue to wield power and directly influence the policies and politics of the Saudi state, especially in the justice and education sectors. Since its establishment, the Saudi state has permitted government-appointed religious scholars and clerics to refer to Shia citizens in derogatory terms or demonize them in official documents and religious rulings, which influence government decision-making. In recent years government clerics and others have used the internet and social media to demonize and incite hatred against Shia Muslims and others who do not conform to their views.

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Saudi Arabia’s Attempt To Silence Al Jazeera Is Outrageous

Saudi Arabia’s Attempt To Silence Al Jazeera Is Outrageous

It is as if China ordered Britain to shut down the BBC. In April Saudi Arabia, a land where women may not drive, or leave the country without the written permission of a male “guardian”, or appear in public without an all-enveloping cloak, was elected to the UN’s committee on women’s rights. Now that same monarchy, where the government censors everything from political dissent to risqué Rubens paintings, and where a pro-democracy blogger named Raif Badawi has been sentenced to 1,000 lashes and ten years in jail, is trying to shut down the only big, feisty broadcaster in the Arab world, Al Jazeera. This is an extraordinary, extraterritorial assault on free speech. It is as if China had ordered Britain to abolish the BBC.

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Saudi Arabia Cuts Off Qatar – A Family Feud

Saudi Arabia Cuts Off Qatar – A Family Feud

The kingdom is raising tensions with its immediate neighbours as well as with Iran and Yemen. For Gulf Arabs, the expulsion of Qataris by Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Saudi Arabia ordered on June 5th is more shocking than a declaration of war. It has torn up their code of conduct. With two weeks’ notice to leave, Saudi husbands fear they might forfeit their livelihoods if they follow their Qatari wives.

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The Sorry State Of Arab Men

The Sorry State Of Arab Men

They are clinging to the patriarchy for comfort. The Economist finds that around 90% of men in the Middle East believe that they should have the final say on household decisions, and that women should do most of the chores.

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In the Middle East, Russia Is Reasserting Its Power

In the Middle East, Russia Is Reasserting Its Power

Bombs and diplomacy, both part of the toolkit. Russia’s ability to roam the region stems largely from the waning of American influence. Middle Eastern rulers have proved to be open to diversifying their investments. Moscow’s fixation with stability stems partly from the threat terrorism poses to Russia itself.

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The Islamic Enlightenment – A Counter-Argument To The “Clash Of Civilisations”

The Islamic Enlightenment – A Counter-Argument To The “Clash Of Civilisations”

What happened when Islam encountered modernity two centuries ago. Few topics are as bitterly contested today as the nature of Islam. America has just elected a president who speaks pointedly of “Islamic terrorism”; his predecessor balked at connecting Islam with violence and said those who did, including terrorists, were misreading the faith. In Western intellectual debates, meanwhile, some maintain that Islam stultifies its followers, either because of its core teachings or because in the 11th century Islamic theology turned its back on emphasising human reason. Others retort indignantly that the Islamic world’s problems are the fault of its Western foes, from crusaders to European colonists, who bruised the collective Muslim psyche.

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Startups In The Arab World – Set Them Free

Startups In The Arab World – Set Them Free

Arab entrepreneurs could help with many of the region’s problems, but too many obstacles still stand in their way. Across the Middle East in recent years, young men and women have created new products, started new companies and inspired hopeful talk of replicating the startup scenes in America and Europe. These entrepreneurs are a potential boon to the region’s economies, which suffer from slow growth and high unemployment, especially among the young. A pity, then, that so many obstacles stand in their way—and that so many are put there by governments. No place in the Arab world comes close to Silicon Valley in terms of dynamism. But, slowly, progress is being made, say entrepreneurs.

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Iraq’s Long War – A Goody and Abadi

Iraq’s Long War – A Goody and Abadi

They said it would be over by Christmas. Now Haider al-Abadi, Iraq’s prime minister, is suggesting that the battle for Mosul could last until Easter. For almost a month his forces had stalled on what was supposed to be the easier eastern bank of Iraq’s second city. And the costs have been gruelling. A fifth of Iraq’s elite force has reportedly fallen in the assault. With the support of more American special forces, Mr Abadi has launched a second phase, taking the city’s industrial zone. Progress is being made. But what Iraqi soldiers clear by day, Islamic State (IS) fighters often regain by night, thanks to a warren of tunnels under the front lines.

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