Archive for February, 2021

News and Analysis (2/26/21)

Friday, February 26th, 2021

As Biden demonstrates his perpetuation of America’s Middle East war strategy by launching an unconstitutional airstrike in retaliation for a rocket attack in Iraq against the American troops … :

… Neoconservatives mull joining the Biden wing of the Democratic Party:

Under Chinese-owned social media platform Tiktok, Palestinian youth across the world have been successfully spreading information about occupation in the region:

Conservative Political Action Conference is called upon to remove speaker Scott Presler for his previous work with ACT for America, “an anti-Muslim hate group because it pushes wild anti-Muslim conspiracy theories, denigrates American Muslims and deliberately conflates mainstream and radical Islam”:

As more than 40 Republicans introduce a resolution “opposing any move to lift sanctions on Iran, underscoring the resistance the Biden administration will face in trying to get back into the 2015 nuclear accord” …

… a clause in the JCPOA requiring the U.S. “to seek Congressional approval for the lifting or modification of all US nuclear-related sanctions against Iran” in 2023 may pose a hurdle the Biden administration can’t jump:

The Malaysian high court unanimously ruled that the provincial law against homosexual activity is unconstitutional since there is already a penalty of “up to 20 years in jail under a British colonial-era law that bans gay sex, known as Section 377”:

Colin Kahl is criticized during hearings on confirmation to a Defense Department position due for his past involvements with 2015 Iran nuclear deal and his omission of a call to recognize Jerusalem the capital as Israel in the 2012 Democratic Party platform before then-President Obama’s intervention:

“India and Pakistan issued a joint statement saying both sides have agreed to stop firing along their disputed border in Kashmir” after reports show multiple killed civilians:

Hamas wants “to cancel the presidential decrees issued in 2007 that criminalise the Palestinian factions’ military wings, considering them ‘illegal militias'” …

… and Israel would prefer there be no Palestinian elections at all:


Libya’s Transitional Government and the Lead-Up to December Elections

Thursday, February 25th, 2021

[These are my notes from the National Interest Foundation discussion on Libya’s transitional government and the prospects for December’s elections. These notes summarize my impression of selected highlights of the presentations and are not an attempted transcription. I have paraphrased in the first-person for convenience.]

Federica Saini Fasanotti, Brookings Institution.

We have good movement on the political level but big problems on the security and social level. Insurgency usually comes from a huge sense of injustice.  Four men (the members of the Presidency Counsel, Mohamed Younis Ahmed Al-Manfi, Abdullah al-Lafi and Musa Al-Koni, and the new Prime Minister Abdul Hamid al-Dabaib) are tasked with finding the new government. It is too early to tell, but many signs are good.  Everyone congratulated the winning ticket, including Marshall Khalifa Haftar. Internationally, not only Tukey, but even Egypt has congratulated the winning ticket. After the names of the new government are announced the House of Representatives (HOR) will have the option to approve. The PM could in theory unilaterally approve the new government, but that could cause problems.

Dr. Esam Omeish, Libyan American Alliance.

Things are happening hour by hour in Libya. We have yet to reach a stable, let alone successful, state.  The General National Congress (GNC) did a pretty good job of initiating a hopeful process, but they were unable to finish the job and the parliamentary election was challenged in the Supreme Court as well as by poor turnout (less than 25%). In the midst of this mess a warlord arrived and militarized the conflict with his so-called “war on terror,” as did foreign intervention from Turkey, Egypt, Qatar, and the UAE. Once again we are on the brink of a failed state.  The Presidential Council of nine people was given international recognition to resolve the matter. International envoy Salama managed to bring people together and then came Haftar’s attack, and the setback of casualties and human suffering. In January 2020 a number of international actors rallied to the national government. After a cease fire the political track was restarted and Stephanie Williams rose to the challenge leading to the Tunisian and Moroccan meeting and in turn to the 74 member meeting (a 75th died of Covid) that has successfully elected a Presidential Council of three people and a PM. After the rapprochement between Turkey and Egypt, the UAE remains as the most difficult proxy to deal with. Any failure of Libyans to deliver a legitimate government that speaks for all Libyans leaves an unstable situation with a threat of war.

Dr. William Lawrence, American University.

I completely agree with both Federica’s cautious optimism and Esam’s catalog of cautions. It is amazing that this process has remained on track. A lot of people thought Libya would change after the revolution, but the problems of 2011 have not bee solved at all. The fundamental possibilities and aspirations of Libya are the same as those in Tunisia and the rest of the region. Any Libyan under forty will offer the same set of values offered by American or European activists. Libya was derailed not by elections but by Haftar’s three-year effort to take Benghazi. Haftar was the opponent of democratization. Oil money is important.  There is a domestic spoils system and an international spoil system, and promises made behind the scenes about distributions of benefits and contracts to keep the political track moving forward.  If anyone who received promises by this system is cut out, the progress will unravel. The power brokers are the people behind these spoils. That doesn’t mean that we must resign ourselves to Libya being a corrupt system, but we need to put into place safeguards to reduce the corruption in the future. Even many of the soldiers who supported Haftar share the sentiment of throw the bums out. The U.N. Secretary-General’s Special Representative Stephanie Williams understands this and the Libyan Political Dialogue Forum (LPDF) that she launched is making important decisions about governance and about these financial commitments.  For 220 years the U.S. has either been fighting with Libya, saving Libya, or ignoring Libya.  The U.S. has been critical not only on the ground in Libya but at the U.N. which is why Libyans have a lot of confidence in the U.S. as deus ex machina. No one, even the Turks, has shown as much leadership.

Federica Saini Fasanotti. I certainly agree about the militarization of the problem by Haftar being a blow to the process. I would not be surprised if Haftar is awarded a ministry, such as defense, since if he is left on the sidelines he remains a danger, even though he does not want to be a politician and sees Libya as unready for democracy. I remain skeptical about the security issue: you have 20 million weapons and six million people and no private sector for the young people.

Doug Bandow. What are your thoughts on Saif al-Gadhafi?

Dr. Esam Omeish, Gadhafi’s people are still a force in Libya and they must be brought into the political process, although those who participated in atrocities must be excluded. They were allied with Haftar until recent developments split them.

Dr. William Lawrence. Libya is subject to an enormous amount of propaganda from Russia and others pushing for Saif, but Libyans are well aware of this. We know Haftar was promised the defense ministry. We don’t know if he was promised the Finance Ministry. There may be another delay in the election, but Libyans will not tolerate another five-year delay. All the Libyans who sold their weapons in 2014 in anticipation of peace had to buy them back at higher prices to fight against Haftar.  They will not make the same mistake again. That means we have to save an armed Libya. That will be tricky, but it is necessary. Since 2015 there have been sanctions against some persons but others equally deserving sanction have been spared because they were “needed” for the process. Sanctions are necessary but they are useless unless they are consistent.

Federica Saini Fasanott. In my opinion sanctions are the weapon of the weak. I don’t understand the strategy of the United States. The U.S. could have a wonderful role in dissuading foreign intervention into Libya.

Dr. Esam Omeish, When the administration was looking for things to do in March, they had meetings at Treasury that found that it would cost $37 billion just to deal with players they had already identified. Biden has automatically renewed a process that sadly has gotten nowhere over ten years.

Dr. William Lawrence. Most countries want access to oil and gas. The Russians also want a port or two and a military base in Libya. The first job of the new parliament will be to kick the Russian paramilitary Wagner Group out. The UAE is the most confusing.  It goes back to a geopolitical, geo-economic strategy of creating commercial opportunities and spaces throughout the region while also fighting the Muslim Brotherhood at all costs. I don’t think they know how to get what they want in Libya.

Dr. Esam Omeish. I think there are some positive interests in the cases of Italy and Egypt.  The French interests have always been one sided, but maybe they could learn. With Russia, it is important to refuse a base, but when it comes to contracts, the Libyans are willing to negotiate, even as regards unpaid debts. Tripoli is the next Dubai as a gateway to Africa.

Doug Bandow. Concluding remarks?

Dr. William Lawrence. The spoils system will either keep it on track or derail it.  I think it will probably stay on track, but the Turks and the Italians and others have to step up. I think Haftar will try to spoil it, although I don’t know when. Everyone has to be ready for that. In my opinion we need to look at Libya and Tunisia as a package. I know its hard to justify aiding a rich country, but there is too much at stake.

Dr. Esam Omeish.  I am not pessimistic. We have no option but to remain hopeful. There are too many ways to fail and too few to succeed. I agree that Haftar is the biggest threat. We need to find a way to remove him from the scene. I don’t think the international community can afford to leave a geographical area the size of Libya as unstable.

Federica Saini Fasanott. All the signs are good and Haftar is silent, but I see so many problems in front of this future government. In addition there is Covid.

Imad-ad-Dean Ahmad, Ph.D.
Minaret of Freedom Institute

News and Analysis (2/24/21)

Wednesday, February 24th, 2021

MP Asaduddin Owaisi calls attention to how development, such as schools, under BJP rule has skipped Muslim-dominated areas:

A police raid on Muslim children results in no public outcry:

The first-time Iowa State Senator is an ordained Evangelical Lutheran Minister who has “received derogatory messages on social media after she recited a Muslim prayer written by a Drake University student at the statehouse”

Canada passes a motion in parliament recognizing “that a genocide is currently being carried out by the People’s Republic of China against Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslims” …

… as Human Rights Watch reports that “China has increased its prosecution of Muslim minorities in Xinjiang, handing out longer jail terms”:

“[A]fter a near total absence of official contact during former President Donald Trump’s four years in office[,] … American officials plan steps to restore direct ties with the Palestinian leadership”:

“Activist and scholar says he is being denied tenure at Harvard University because of his views on Israeli occupation”:

Tension and political instability between Myanmar citizens and military due to “brutal repression of the Rohingya minority in recent years” parallel a lot of what occurred in the Middle East and Arab Spring:

The U.S. and Pakistan once worked together with the Saudis to radicalize the youths who became the Taliban, but now a former top US military is upset that Pakistan is hosting the Taliban so they can work with countries such as Russia, China, and Iran …

… NATO backs Biden in keeping troops in Afghanistan even though original plans had called for troops returning as soon as possible:

Not a single frame is different in the Iranian release from the American release of “the first U.S.-produced film to achieve a wide theatrical release in Iran since the country’s 1979 revolution”:

News and Analysis (2/22/21)

Monday, February 22nd, 2021

Although many far-right European politicians have backed Modi, Kashmiri human rights issues have come to the EU’s attention, and Indian politicians are pushing for Kashmiri statehood now following peaceful DDC polls:

Reports reveal a human rights crisis in Kashmir, but the Indian government has been presenting a false and idealistic image of the region to envoys and diplomats:

As the pervasive influence of Islamophobia in ICE is still present, examples of people being persecuted for being Muslim in their home countries and America exist:

BBC interview with the first female leader of the Muslim Council of Britain is slammed for abrasive style and potential malicious intent. On the other hand, some are arguing that “[t]o insist that Muslim leaders should not be subject to the same harsh questioning as anyone else is hardly an argument for equal treatment”:

As tense negotiation proceed …

… Biden’s waves a big stick:

Palestinians working in Israel (who they might expose Israelis) will receive the coronavirus vaccine from Moderna:

Following talks between Russia, Syria, and Israel, Putin may be able to facilitate a deal between Israel and Assad’s regime:

The UNRWA implemented a one-coupon system standardizing aid across all refugees, but the decision hasn’t been popular as Palestinians want “to redress the Palestinian refugees classified under the extreme poverty line” and go back to a two-coupon system:

News and Analysis (2/18/21)

Thursday, February 18th, 2021

In a “warm conversation” with Netanyahu, Biden supports Trump’s normalization policies and commends Netanyahu’s Coronavirus policies …

… and Biden is accused of downplaying human rights violations at Xinjiang’s camps for saying, after BBC reports highlighting systematic rape and torture, “Culturally, there are different norms that each country and their leaders are expected to follow…”:

Amnesty International criticized Iran’s prison system treatment after Hadi Rostami, received lashes and an extended sentence after attempting suicide:

As Muslim voter-turnout increases in New York City, Andrew Yang receives backlash for skipping a forum sponsored by Muslim groups for a podcast with Sam Harris who has history of anti-Islamic views:

The Muslim community in Buffalo complains of the lack of halal options in their public school system and fear students “will go throughout the school day hungry, hindering their learning”:

“What Yazidis requested is already a recognised right for Jewish, Christian, and Druze religious minorities in the country”:

“The case unraveled and the charges were dropped after prosecutors revealed their inadequate disclosures to the defense, including when a prosecutor suggested that the government ‘bury’ a key exculpatory document”:

Muslims sometimes sidestepped the sparsity of Muslim cemeteries in Italy by shipping bodies to their home country, but Covid has made that impossible:

A Palestinian court decision and an Iranian travel ban that limit the freedom of travel of grown women demonstrate how Islamic law intended to protect women from danger can be perverted into denial of their fundamental rights:

“The ICC’s affirmation of jurisdiction in the occupied Palestinian territory promises a protracted process, at best”:

News and Analysis (2/16/21)

Tuesday, February 16th, 2021

Although imprisoned since 2002 by Israel, Senior Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti will be running for PA president and many predict him will be the preferred candidate over incumbent Abbas:

“Citing Israeli sources, AFP reported that allowing the transfer from the West Bank to Gaza was not a simple administrative measure under the purview of Cogat, but rather a political decision possibly linked to talks between Israel and Hamas”:

The Biden administration and the Democratic party are taking a similar stance on Palestine as the Trump administration, with differences only in “semantics and political jingoism, not policy”:

Concerned that public protests of anti-Islamic and blasphemous online speech may result in violence by and/or upon the demonstrators, Tahaffuz Namoos-e-Risalat Board (Protection of the Honor of the Prophet Board) calls for legal action to use the threat of state violence to restrict offensive speech:

Muslims in prison, who are overrepresented with respect to the general population in the United States, are denied religious rights and often left out of the conversation when discussing incarcerated people:

Construction of many mosques in Kerala was delayed by a stipulation that required approval from district collectors; India now allows local governments to make the decision instead:

Citizens of the Parisian suburb resent being used as a propaganda tool for a French “separatism” bill, saying that “Buddhists, atheists, Muslims, and Christians live together in Trappes with respect for each other” and problems “no different from those of other cities in France”:

Although many Palestinians now believe a one-state solution is the only realistic option, Egypt continues to support a two-state solution based on the borders of June 4, 1967:

News and Analysis (2/13/21)

Saturday, February 13th, 2021

Private and public institutions are working together to silence any valid criticisms of the state of Israel, and by not protecting freedom of speech, individuals are being affected significantly:

Biden’s choice of a “longtime diplomat and conflict mediator” has attracted bitter criticism because the “soft-spoken Rhodes Scholar with a Harvard law degree” and “son of a leftist, Jewish, Egyptian-born journalist” harbors the radical notion that we should (GASP!) negotiate with our enemies:

“[M]edia establishments in J&K have paid gravely for being on the “wrong” side, losing not just sources of revenue like government advertising, but having their premises raided, their power lines disconnected, and inviting constant police scrutiny”:

By seeing ourselves as the sole world superpower and getting into unnecessary conflicts, U.S. foreign policy on the United States has fallen apart:

“The regime and the terrorist organization may coordinate with each other on some matters, but they are not the kind of operational partners that some would like to believe they are”:

Pakistan Foreign Ministry points out misinformation being spread by United States when discussing Kashmir’s access to the Internet:

As the Indian government pushed forward a plethora of development schemes, it attempts to rebut resistance to its settler-colonialism in Kashmir, by denying that anyone will lose their private property as a consequence of state land development:

Consistent with a Supreme Court ruling that that those convert leave the caste system, BJP insists they are no longer entitled to contest for reserved seats …

… while “[r]etirement of 4 members leaves disputed region of Jammu and Kashmir without any representation in upper house”:

After restoring diplomatic relations with Israel, UAE has been working to eradicate UNRWA and its funding:

News and Analysis (2/11/21)

Thursday, February 11th, 2021

Except for the BJP, every political party in Kerala is fighting for the release of an Indian-Muslim journalist who was wrongfully arrested in Uttar Pradesh when reporting a case of murder and rape:

Despite election campaign comments regarding Iran and the nuclear deal, Biden and his administration now hesitant to make any effective change surrounding Iran …

… while Iran’s restriction of negotiations to original deal members is challenged by the Saudi and French calls for other countries in the region to be involved in any negotiations:

The U.S. explains that it still sees Jammu and Kashmir as disputed territory after  a tweet referring to the area as “India’s Jammu and Kashmir”:

Understanding the Saudis’ “abrupt turnaround … – requires a … subtle understanding of the intersection of Saudi domestic goals with national ambitions”:

Following rival groups in Palestine agreeing to go forward with first elections in Palestine for 15 years, election registration offices open in Gaza and West Bank:

Both the Ummah Party “affiliated with the spiritual descendants of … the self-proclaimed Mahdi (“guided one”) who led an 1881 revolt against Anglo-Egyptian rule” and continue to loathe Egypt and the Republican Brotherhood Party founded by Mahmoud Mohammed Taha” had long called for rapprochement with Israel”:

The largest circulation law journal in the world had a Jewish founder, and is now headed by a Muslim:

News and Analysis (2/9/21)

Tuesday, February 9th, 2021

The police defend the arrest of an Indian-Muslim comedian for comments he did not make and a high court judge denies him and the event organizers and a personal friend bail demonstrating the BJP threat to freedom of speech:

Across Europe, political parties are demonstrating, once again, that election victories are most easily obtained on the backs of Muslim populations …

… and as right-wing populism gets increasingly popular in Europe, Islamaphobic attacks have increased as well in places such as Germany:

Muslim teenager was wrongfully shot by Kashmiri government forces and as the father went to seek for body, he was arrested and charged using India’s restrictive anti-terror law:

Canadian Baha’is protest Iranian seizure of private property “on the basis of what the court called the religious belief of the ‘perverse sect of Bahá’ísm’:

A woman who was married against her will is told by the court that she must divorce her current husband before marrying another man, although the law would place no condition on a man in her situation: 

Meeting with the US envoy to Yemen, Iran’s FM discusses regional developments and criticizes Saudi Arabian involvement for worsening situations in the area:

Iran’s intelligence minister says Biden’s refusal to reverse Trump’s abandonment of the JCPOA may force them to pursue nuclear weapons:

Pakistanis are pushing President Biden to voice his concern regarding the crisis in Kashmir, the same way he “pleaded the case of Bosnia … in 1995”:

Prior to Biden’s term, Pompeo designated Yemeni Houthis as a terrorist group, but the current administration has returned to restoring humanitarian aid in the region during the civil war: 

News and Analysis (2/7/21)

Sunday, February 7th, 2021

Senate overwhelmingly approves making Trump’s relocation of embassy to Jerusalem permanent:

BJP pushes a narrative that large Muslim families is an “organized conspiracy” to alter India’s demography, but a popular scholarly book concludes that Hindus will always be the majority:

The U.S. follows other nations in trying to push India to protect human rights in Kashmir and include Pakistan in the negotiations:

Kashmir is a primary case study demonstrating how governments are quick to censor and restrict access to internet:

Annual UAE aid to Palestine had peaked over $50 million, but is now down to just $1 million following UAE’s normalization with Israel:

Egyptian MPs are in an uproar over the possibility that the U.S. Congress may give an audience to the victims of their human rights abuses:

As Muslim hate-crimes increase in the developed nations, another instance of Muslim women wearing a burka is attacked:

U.S. and Iran remain at an impasse over the U.S> abandonment of the JCPOA as Iran calls for U.N. action in the face of Israeli threats:

Although the United States has been intervening in the Middle East for many years now, some Iraqis are beginning to worry about American troops leaving due to the presence of extremist and paramilitary groups: