Archive for category International
Benjamin was Coordinator for Counterterrorism at the U.S. State Department and is director of The John Sloan Dickey Center for International Understanding at Dartmouth College
Counterterrorism may seem like a complicated, murky business. But practitioners agree on a few simple rules. Among them:
1. Be clear about who threatens you, and target them. Casting your net too widely creates new enemies.
2. Build strong alliances. Terrorism is a global problem that requires a global solution; you need capable, like-minded partners to collaborate on intelligence, law enforcement and military operations.
3. Counter and undermine your enemies’ narrative. Don’t confirm it.
4. Don’t drive away moderates; winning them over is key to defeating your enemies.
And, 5. Show efficiency and competence. Those qualities bolster deterrence. Read the rest of this entry »
BY MICHELE GORMAN
Disapproval of Trump’s recent executive orders ranged from 55 percent to 60 percent.
All three of President Donald Trump’s recent executive orders have earned majority disapproval ratings among Americans, according to a new Gallup poll released Thursday afternoon.
Arguably the most controversial order came on January 27, when Trump banned Syrian refugees and immigrants from seven majority-Muslim countries from entering the United States. Since then, Americans in cities from coast to coast have gathered in airports and streets to protest the ban, while the White House defends the president’s actions. Even some fellow Republicans have publicly criticized the ban. Read the rest of this entry »
2nd Feb 2017
Donations to rebuild the Islamic centre are adding up
Jewish people in a small Texas city handed Muslim worshippers the keys to their synagogue after the town’s only mosque was destroyed in a fire.
The Victoria Islamic Centre burned down on Saturday and had previously been burgled — the cause is being investigated by federal officials.
But the town’s Muslim population will not be without a place to worship while their building is reconstructed, thanks to their Jewish neighbours. Read the rest of this entry »
Feb 1st 2017
Why Muslim pundits feel let down
AMIR AHMAD NASR is about as pro-Western as anyone born deep inside the world of Islam could possibly be. Born to Sudanese parents whose professional lives took them to many countries, he is bilingual in Arabic and American English. He believes passionately in liberal democracy and the free exchange of ideas. He has no patience with those who think that authoritarian systems of government, whether secular or Islamist, are better suited to certain countries. The globe-trotting author and digital activist has recently settled, gratefully, in Canada.
Mr Nasr used his Western freedom to do something that he could not have managed if he were still living in the Islamic heartland. With disarming humour, he described his own spiritual path in a successful book with an almost self-explanatory title, “My Islam: How Fundamentalism Stole My Mind and Doubt Freed My Soul”. This recounts how he went through a phase of believing not only in Islam’s literal truth but in the duty to despise people outside the tent of strict Sunni orthodoxy, and then his evolution through many stages into what he calls himself now: a cultural Muslim and spiritual humanist. Read the rest of this entry »
By RICHARD W. PAINTER and NORMAN L. EISEN
New York Times
JAN. 29, 2017
President Trump’s executive order banning travel to the United States from seven predominantly Muslim countries is being rightly challenged in the courts for, among other things, its unconstitutional interference with free exercise of religion and denial of due process. Overlooked in the furor is another troubling aspect of the situation: President Trump omitted from his ban a number of other predominantly Muslim nations where his company has done business. This adds further illegitimacy to one of the most arbitrary executive actions in our recent history, and raises significant constitutional questions.
The seven countries whose citizens are subject to the ban are relatively poor. Some, such as Syria, are torn by civil war; others are only now emerging from war. One thing these countries have in common is that they are places where the Trump organization does little to no business. Read the rest of this entry »
By MARGHERITA STANCATI in Dubai and AHMED AL OMRAN in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
Wall Street Journal
Jan. 30, 2017
Monarchy’s desire to cultivate good relations with Trump administration run counter to outcry in Muslim world over ban
Saudi Arabia, the birthplace of Islam and home to the religion’s two holiest sites, has long used its religious clout to project its role as a regional leader. Now that same clout has caught the kingdom in a prickly dilemma.
The monarchy’s desire to cultivate a better relationship with the Trump administration than it had with the U.S. under Barack Obama is exposing Saudi Arabia to criticism that it is unwilling to stand up for its Muslim allies, particularly those caught in an executive order that restricts entry to the U.S. for citizens of seven predominantly Muslim countries.
“The ban puts Saudi Arabia in an awkward position,” said Ibrahim Fraihat, a professor of conflict resolution at the Doha Institute for Graduate Studies. “Saudi Arabia will be expected to take a position against it because some of the countries included in the ban like Sudan and Yemen are key allies and because it projects itself as leader of the Muslim world.” Read the rest of this entry »
Najib should call for an emergency OIC meeting to demand that Trump rescind the anti-Muslim executive order to bar people from at least seven Muslim countries from entry into United States
The Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak should call for an emergency Organisation of Islamic Countries (OIC) meeting to demand that President Triump rescind the anti-Muslim executive order to bar refugees and people from at least seven Muslim countries from entry into United States for 90 days.
Trump’s executive order, which temporarily halts admissions for all refugees while barring Syrian refugees indefinitely, also temporarily bans the entry of visa holders from at least seven Muslim countries: Iran, Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Somalia, Libya and Yemen. Read the rest of this entry »
New York correspondent
10 January 2017
Barack Obama sealed his racial legacy the moment he sealed victory in the 2008 election – a black man would occupy a White House built by slaves, a history-defying as well as history-making achievement.
In 1961, the year of Obama’s birth, there existed in the American South a system of racial apartheid that separated the races from the cradle to the grave.
Whites-only water fountains. Whites-only schools. Whites-only graveyards.
In some states, his very conception – involving an African father from Kenya and a white mother from Kansas – would have been a criminal offence.
Washington, too, remained a largely segregated city.
When in the 1950s, a former TV executive by the name of E Frederic Morrow became the first black White House aide not to have a job description that included turning down beds, polishing shoes or serving drinks with a deferential bow, he was prohibited from ever being alone in the same room as a white woman.
Back then, as Morrow recounted in his memoir, Black Man in the White House, African-Americans were routinely stereotyped as sexual predators incapable of controlling their desires.
Little more than half a century later, a black man ran the White House – occupying the Oval Office, sitting at the head of the conference table in the Situation Room, relaxing with his beautiful young family in the Executive Mansion – a family that has brought such grace and glamour to America’s sleepy capital that it is possible to speak of a Black Camelot. Read the rest of this entry »
BY SHUSUKE MURAI
The Japan Times
JAN 2, 2017
The global refugee crisis is stoking anti-immigration sentiment in Europe and the United States, but Japan could take the initiative to become a leading voice to protect those who are displaced, an expert on assistance to such people in Asia has said.
“I’m not very confident that the West can play a lead in being that voice,” said Lilianne Fan, co-founder of Geutanyoe Foundation, a nongovernmental organization based in Aceh, Indonesia.
“I think we need actors from our regions — from Asia — and I think Japan is the best candidate to be the leading voice in trying to champion peace,” Fan said in a recent interview with The Japan Times. Fan was visiting to discuss refugee issues with Japanese stakeholders.
Fan has worked for more than 16 years to support refugee and other displaced people in Asia and other parts of the world, particularly in Aceh, Myanmar, Haiti and Jordan. Having received a master’s degree from Columbia University in 2004, Fan, who concurrently works as a research associate at the London-based Overseas Development Institute, has served as an adviser for the United Nations, the World Bank and the Red Cross. Read the rest of this entry »
The Arab world is home to 5% of the global population, but accounts for half of all terrorist attacks. With poverty outpacing the growth in numbers of young people and democracy crushed, a revolt could re-emerge
This month marks six years since the beginning of the Arab spring, a series of events that were meant to be a major turning point in the modern Middle East.
It was the self-immolation of a Tunisian street vendor and his death on 4 January that initiated a revolutionary year.
The subsequent protests energised ordinary Arabs, who recovered, it seemed, a popular self-confidence diminished by six decades of autocracy.
The Arab street was honoured for its people’s courage and determination, inspiring movements across the world. Protesters did not just voice their complaints, it was said, they changed the world. Four Arab leaders fell.
Yet six short years on those dreams are now in tatters. In Egypt, the most populous Arab nation, a counter-revolution has returned a military dictatorship. Much of Libya and Yemen is reduced to rubble in a war where outside powers are the principal actors, prepared to fight until the last local is dead. Syria is in ruins, stained by rivers of blood.
The sole democratic success was Tunisia, which did see a peaceful transition from authoritarian rule to elective government. The main Islamist party won power and last year declared it would end all of its cultural and religious activities to focus only on politics – becoming a Muslim democratic party, rather like its western Christian counterparts.
But every silver lining has a cloud: Tunisians make up the largest number of foreign fighters in the ranks of Islamic State. Read the rest of this entry »
MICHAEL VATIKIOTIS, GUEST CONTRIBUTOR
06 DEC, 2016
Southeast Asians must value the cohesive elements of society, embrace diversity and not allow political differences to destroy the pluralistic fabric of society if they are to avoid the disinetgration and conflict that has ensued from the Arab Spring, writes Michael Vatikiotis.
To understand the comparative success and failures of political transition in Asia and the Middle East, it is important to say from the outset that in neither part of the world has political transition worked very well.
The Arab Spring soon turned into Arab fall and winter, destroying the former countries of Libya, Syria and Yemen and leading to stronger military rule in Egypt. Here in Asia, there has been more of a rolling transition; it started at the back end of the so-called third wave of democratisation in the mid-1970s and ultimately led to the People Power revolt in the Philippines a decade later.
For different reasons and in different ways, this wave of political liberalisation stalled and then got started again after the Asian Financial Crisis in 1997. While Indonesia has undeniably embarked on the path to democracy, it is still regarded as only partly free. Prevailing democracy deficits in the region, suggest that Southeast Asia’s rolling transition still has not completely delivered effective change.
There are lessons each region can learn from the other. And perhaps counterfactually, I tend to think there is more that Asia can learn, specifically Muslim society in Asia, from the Arab context. Read the rest of this entry »
Call for international inquiries into both ethnic cleansing of Rohingyas in Myanmar and the international 1MDB money-laundering scandal resulting in Malaysia being stamped as a “global kleptocracy”
Malaysians feel deeply hurt when the Prime Minister of Malaysia, whatever our political differences with him, is lampooned and made the butt of jokes internationally, as in the case of Sunday’s UMNO-PAS rally on Rohingyas where the Prime Minister called for foreign intervention to stop the “genocide” of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar.
Myanmar media and NGOs are lampooning and accusing Najib of using Rohingya rally to divert attention from the 1MDB scandal which had caused Malaysia infamy and ignominy to be regarded world-wide as a “global kleptocracy”, attracting Myanmar reminders that “people living in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones” and that Najib himself had recently told the world with regard to the 1MDB scandal that “the internal affairs of a country should be determined by the people themselves as the formula had been proven successful” and that “Malaysia did not need foreign interference to shape and determine the direction of the country”.
Both Najib and the Myanmese government are wrong, but Najib would not have opened himself as an easy target if Sunday’s Rohingya rally had NOT been organised as a UMNO-PAS rally to win Muslim points but as a humanitarian call by all Malaysians, regardless of race, religion or politics. Read the rest of this entry »
Sebagai juara hak asasi manusia, Aung San Suu Kyi mesti membuktikan bahawa beliau adalah juara untuk semua lapisan manusia, tanpa mengira kaum, agama, wilayah dan latar belakang
Setakat hari ini dilaporkan sekurang-kurangnya 86 orang telah terbunuh manakala 300,000 lagi telah melarikan diri di tengah-tengah keganasan yang semakin memuncak di wilayah Rakhine, Myanmar.
Human Rights Watch sejak Sabtu lalu telah melaporkan beberapa gambar satelit menunjukkan beberapa perkampungan etnik Rohingya di wilayah tersebut telah dibakar, dan menjadi bukti kepada pembersihan etnik yang tidak boleh dinafikan lagi.
Apa yang lebih mengecewakan ialah kegagalan pemenang Hadiah Keamanan Nobel, Aung San Suu Kyi untuk menawarkan keamanan, bahkan dituduh pula tidak mendengar keluh kesah nasib penduduk Islam Myanmar. Suu Kyi tidak menafikan tuduhan-tuduhan tersebut.
Kegagalan Suu Kyi untuk bersuara bagi pihak etnik Rohingnya yang teraniaya adalah keaiban dan penghinaan kepada hadiah Nobel yang telah dianugerahkan kepada beliau. Apatah lagi setelah partinya yang mengusung nama ‘demokrat’ berjaya meraih kemenangan yang begitu besar tahun lalu, bagi menafikan kekuasaan pentadbiran tentera selama lebih dua dekad lampau. Read the rest of this entry »
6 July 2016
Sir John Chilcot delivers highly critical verdict on Iraq war but ex-PM says: ‘I believe we made the right decision’
Chilcot report: ‘A devastating critique of Blair and the British government’
A defiant Tony Blair defended his decision to go to war in Iraq in 2003 following the publication of a devastating report by Sir John Chilcot, which mauled the ex-prime minister’s reputation and said that at the time of the 2003 invasion Saddam Hussein “posed no imminent threat”.
Looking tired, his voice sometimes croaking with emotion, Blair described his decision to join the US attack as “the hardest, most momentous, most agonising decision I took in 10 years as British prime minister”.
He said he felt “deeply and sincerely … the grief and suffering of those who lost ones they loved in Iraq”.
“There will not be a day when I do not relive and rethink what happened,” he added.
But asked whether invading Iraq was a mistake Blair was strikingly unrepentant. “I believe we made the right decision and the world is better and safer,” he declared. He argued that he had acted in good faith, based on intelligence at the time which said that Iraq’s president had weapons of mass destruction. This “turned out to be wrong”.
Blair also said the Iraq inquiry – set up by his successor Gordon Brown back in 2009 – shot down long-standing claims that he had lied about the war to the British public and cynically manipulated intelligence. Where there had been mistakes they were minor ones involving “planning and process”, he said. He said he “couldn’t accept” criticism that British soldiers died in vain.
Blair’s extraordinary two-hour press conference came after Chilcot, a retired civil servant, published his long-awaited report into the Iraq debacle. In the end, and seven years after hearings first began, it was a more far-reaching and damning document than many had expected. It eviscerated Blair’s style of government and decision-making. Read the rest of this entry »
6 July 2016
The main points from Sir John Chilcot’s inquiry regarding Tony Blair’s decision to go to war and how he put his case.
The Chilcot inquiry has delivered a damning verdict on the former prime minister Tony Blair’s decision to commit British troops to the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003. It says:
The UK chose to join the invasion before peaceful options had been exhausted
Chilcot is withering about Blair’s choice to join the US invasion. He says: “We have concluded that the UK chose to join the invasion of Iraq before the peaceful options for disarmament had been exhausted. Military action at that time was not a last resort.”
Blair deliberately exaggerated the threat posed by Saddam Hussein
Chilcot finds that Blair deliberately exaggerated the threat posed by the Iraqi regime as he sought to make the case for military action to MPs and the public in the build-up to the invasion in 2002 and 2003. The then prime minister disregarded warnings about the potential consequences of military action, and relied too heavily on his own beliefs, rather than the more nuanced judgments of the intelligence services. “The judgments about Iraq’s capabilities … were presented with a certainty that was not justified,” the report says. Read the rest of this entry »
By Dan Balz
June 27, 2016
LONDON — Britain’s political system remained in turmoil Monday, virtually leaderless and with the two major parties divided internally. But the meltdown that has taken place in the days after voters decided to break the country’s ties with Europe is more than a British problem, reflecting an erosion in public confidence that afflicts democracies around the world.
Last Thursday’s Brexit vote cast a bright light on the degree to which the effects of globalization and the impact of immigration, along with decades of overpromises and under-delivery by political leaders, have undermined the ability of those officials to lead. This collapse of confidence has created what amounts to a crisis in governing for which there seems no easy or quick answer.
The debris here is clear. The Brexit vote claimed Prime Minister David Cameron as its first victim. Having called the referendum and led the campaign to keep Britain in the European Union, he announced his intention to resign the morning after the vote. The results also now threaten the standing of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, who faces a likely leadership election after seeing more than two dozen members of his leadership team resign in the past two days.
Alastair Darling, a former chancellor of the exchequer, outlined the extent of the crisis here during an interview with the BBC’s “Today” program on Monday. “There is no government. There is no opposition. The people who got us into this mess — they’ve gone to ground,” he said “How has the United Kingdom come to this position? We have taken this decision and have no plan for the future.”
The seeds of what has brought Britain to this moment exist elsewhere, which makes this country’s problems the concern of leaders elsewhere. In Belgium and Brazil, democracies have faced crises of legitimacy; in Spain and France, elected leaders have been hobbled by their own unpopularity; even in Japan, where Prime Minister Shinzo Abe faces no threat from the opposition, his government has demonstrated a consistent inability to deliver prosperity. Read the rest of this entry »
By Griff Witte
June 30, 2016
LONDON – It was a scene lifted from the scripts of Shakespeare — or perhaps a binge-watching session of “House of Cards.”
When Thursday morning broke, Boris Johnson, the transparently ambitious former mayor of London, was preparing to give the speech of his life — one that would vault him out of the political mayhem wrought by last week’s referendum on the European Union and straight to the job he had long sought: British prime minister.
But the man who was to be Johnson’s campaign manager had a different idea: Michael Gove, the bookish justice secretary who has repeatedly denied any aspiration to higher office, was getting ready to stick a dagger into Johnson’s chances, and twist.
By day’s end, Britain would be reckoning with one more betrayal in a political season full of them. This one stunned an already dazed nation, and left no doubt, if any had remained, that Britain is divided, directionless and leaderless as it prepares for a leap into the unknown of life outside the E.U.
Johnson, the mop-headed rogue who had been considered the odds-on favorite to take the keys to 10 Downing Street, has now been shunted to the sidelines of the contest to lead the Conservative Party and, by extension, the nation. Read the rest of this entry »
Malaysia laughing stock of all foreign offices in the world with the infantile and moronic justification that TMI banned to maintain peace, stability and harmony
Malaysia is the laughing stock of all foreign offices in the world with the infantile and moronic justification by the Malaysian Foreign Ministry that the news portal The Malaysian Insider had to be banned to maintain peace, stability and harmony in the country to safeguard the multi-racial and multi-cultural values, norms and practices in Malaysia.
Wisma Putra’s response to United States’ concern about the move to restrict access to domestic and international reporting on Malaysian current affairs and the call by the US State Department spokesman John Kirby to the Malaysian government to ensure that its laws respected freedom of expression including the free flow of ideas on the Internet is one of the most asinine statements ever issued in the name of the Malaysian government in the nation’s 48-year history.
Has the intellectual depth and breadth of the “Mandarins” in the Malaysian civil service become so scarce and shallow that such a statement could pass muster as to be released in the name of the Malaysian government?
What has happened to the Malaysian Governments’ 20-year Multimedia Super Corridor (MSC) Bill of Guarantees especially on “No Internet Censorship”?
Are all the ten guarantees in the MSC Bill of Guarantees now to be regarded as no better than a worthless scrap of paper? Read the rest of this entry »
— Tobin Harshaw
Malay Mail Online
January 8, 2016
JANUARY 8 —Saudi Arabia’s feud with Iran over the beheading of a prominent Shiah cleric led to a lot of overwrought speculation about Sunni-Shiah tensions rising to tear up the Middle East. Those more steeped in regional affairs point to the other 46 men beheaded, almost all of whom were Sunnis charged with terrorism.
The theory here is that the execution of the preacher, Nimr al-Nimr, was less about provoking Shiahs than pre-empting domestic outrage over the deaths of so many Sunnis, who make up 85 per cent of the country’s population. The kingdom has rarely been concerned with domestic opinion in its 90 years of statehood. Does Saudi Arabia now fear unrest among the masses? Should it?
Outside of North Korea and the New England Patriots, few institutions are more opaque than the Saudi royal court. But over the last year, the first in the reign of 80-year-old King Salman, the famously hidebound monarchy has undergone a shocking and risky makeover.
Salman, who took over last January 23 on the death of his half-brother King Abdullah, was widely expected to be just a caretaker. Instead, he took care of business. Within months, he replaced the anointed crown prince with his nephew Mohammed bin Nayef, the longtime interior minister. Yet he also watered down this new heir’s influence by dismantling the crown prince’s previously independent court.
The real winner was the king’s young son, Defence Minister Mohammed bin Salman, who became deputy crown prince and gatekeeper to those seeking the king’s attention. The prince was named head of the new Council of Economic and Development Affairs, which took over many powers of the finance ministry, and was given control over Saudi Aramco, the state-owned oil monopoly. (Yesterday, he suggested that the kingdom may consider selling a stake in the oil giant.) Read the rest of this entry »
Jan 9, 2016
The desert kingdom is striving to dominate its region and modernise its economy at the same time
FOR years Saudi Arabia seemed inert, relying on its vast oil wealth and the might of its American patron to buy quiet at home and impose stasis on its neighbours. But oil prices have tumbled, America has stood back from leadership in the Middle East, the region is on fire and power has shifted to a new generation—notably King Salman’s 30-year-old favoured son, Muhammad bin Salman. A sandstorm of change is rousing the desert kingdom.
The visible result is the brutal treatment of dissent at home and assertiveness abroad that has just been on chilling display. On January 2nd Saudi Arabia executed 47 people. Most of them were terrorists linked to al-Qaeda but some, including a prominent Shia cleric, simply called for the fall of the ruling House of Saud. After Iranians set fire to the Saudi embassy in Tehran in protest, the kingdom cut diplomatic, trade and air links, a grave and foolish escalation in a febrile region.
Away from the headlines, however, a different assertiveness could prove equally consequential. Prince Muhammad has drawn up a blueprint designed to throw open Saudi Arabia’s closed economy and government—including, he says, the possible sale of shares in the national oil firm, Saudi Aramco.
Coupling geopolitical swagger with sweeping economic change is a gamble. The outcome will determine the survival of the House of Saud and shape the future of the Arab world. Read the rest of this entry »