On Hiding behind a Pseudonym: New Age Islam’s Selection, 06 May 2016

New Age Islam Edit Bureau

06 May 2016

On Hiding behind a Pseudonym

By Turki Al-Dakhil

Iraq A Failed State

By Gwynne Dyer

Are Kurds Seeing Calm Before The Storm?

By Seth J Frantzman

Israel On Alert As Threat Of Chemical Warfare Spreads

By Brooklyn Middleton

Can Saudi Women Work As Shopkeepers?

By Abdulaziz Al-Suwayed

Will Syria Airstrikes Stop?

By Shahriar Kia

Should Men Let Their Wives Uncover Their Faces?

By Muhammad Fayeh

Compiled By New Age Islam Edit Bureau

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On Hiding behind A Pseudonym

By Turki Al-Dakhil

5 May 2016

It is people’s rights to express their opinions within the context of common laws, regulations and values, and by either using a pseudonym or their real name. For example, the requirements, conditions and bases of expressing one’s opinion on Twitter are the same whether or not the user is anonymous.

The history of literature is full of prominent authors and poets who used pseudonyms to test their styles and ideas, or to protect their posts or status in society.

Fear and Weakness

The problem nowadays lies in hiding behind a fake name to attack and defame. Hiding behind a pseudonym is a sign of fear and a desire for revenge. Some of those who do so suffer from a psychopathic crisis, as they have issues with their society and want to criticize and libel others without confronting them or making a public appearance.

Hiding behind a pseudonym while expressing opinions that sometimes harmonize with rogue or terrorist groups reflects weakness, and a lack of morals and values

However, hiding behind a pseudonym while expressing opinions that sometimes harmonize with rogue or terrorist groups reflects weakness, and a lack of morals and values. Saudi rules strictly criminalize those who attack others. This is justice and the implementation of civil formulas.

Source: english.alarabiya.net/en/views/2016/05/05/On-hiding-behind-a-pseudonym.html

Iraq A Failed State

By Gwynne Dyer

6 May 2016

property prices in central Baghdad are as high as London’s, even though Iraq’s national income is down by 70 percent since the oil price crash. Daesh’s bombs regularly devastate parts of the capital, and still the real estate market booms. Why? Because there is so much “dirty money” in Iraq that needs to be laundered. If you lack the political clout to get your stolen money out of the country, the safest course is to put it into residential property.

That’s not a very safe bet either when the entire pseudo-democratic system bequeathed to Iraq by the US invasion is on the brink of collapse. Last weekend’s intrusion by thousands of angry Iraqis into the Green Zone, the vast (10 sq km) government compound in Baghdad, was probably the beginning of the end of the current dispensation in Iraq. They left only two days later, after delivering an ultimatum for complete reform of the government. They left but with a vow to return if it does not happen. It will not happen, and they will be back in the streets soon. Former prime minister Nouri Al-Maliki, forced from power in 2014 after Daesh forces invaded the western half of Iraq, has been plotting a comeback with other parties in parliament. He may not succeed, but he and his allies are certainly able to block the passage of most measures they do not like.

The cement binding Al-Maliki and the other plotters together is their determination to retain the utterly corrupt system that has allowed them to loot the country’s oil wealth for so long. The oil wealth is a great deal less now, but it is still practically Iraq’s only source of income, and they have no intention of giving it up.

The man who replaced Maliki, President Haider Al-Abadi, is in relative terms a reformer. He belongs to the same Dawa Party as Al-Maliki and cannot afford to get too far out of touch with his power base. Nevertheless, almost a year ago he promised that he would replace many of his cabinet members, drawn from the various parties in the ruling coalition, with “technocrats” who would (theoretically) be less likely to steal the government’s money.

He couldn’t deliver on his promise, however, because any cabinet changes have to be approved by parliament. None of the parties there were willing to give up their own cabinet ministers, and with it their ability to divert the government’s cash flow into their own pockets. Three times Abadi’s proposed reforms were rejected by parliament.

It was after the last time, in April, that Moqtada Al-Sadr, a populist cleric with a big following among Baghdad’s multitudinous Shia poor, ordered the invasion of the fortified Green Zone. That did force parliament to approve of five of Abadi’s cabinet changes, and more will probably follow.

But changing the figureheads in the government ministries will not end the looting of public funds, which permeates the system from top to bottom. Indeed, you might say that corruption is the system in Iraq.

Iraq distributes some of the cash-flow to the citizens by means of paying them to do non-jobs. Most of the rest is stolen by the 25,000 or so people who hold senior administrative, political or military positions, leaving a small amount for public works.

There are seven million government employees in Iraq — a large majority of the adult male population — and most of them do little or no work. Indeed, some of them don’t even exist, like the “ghost soldiers” whose pay is collected by their officers. Collectively they were paid around $4 billion a month, which was all right when monthly oil income was up around $6 billion.

The oil revenue is now down to $2 billion a month. The Central Bank has been making up the difference from its reserves, but those are now running out. The country’s economic crisis is now more urgent and more dangerous than the military confrontation with Daesh, but that does not seem clear to many of the major players in Iraq’s dysfunctional political system.

It is so dysfunctional that little is being done even to repair the Mosul Dam, which requires constant work on its foundations if it is not to break and drown Mosul, four hours downstream, under a 24-meter-high wave. The wave would be much lower when it reached Baghdad two days later, but it would still be big enough to wreck property values for a long time to come.

All the talk about the Iraqi army driving Daesh back is just hot air. The only Iraqi military advances have happened under the cover of massive US air strikes, and the government’s own attention is elsewhere. So, increasingly, is that of the population. But Daesh is still paying attention.

Source: arabnews.com/news/iraq-failed-state

Are Kurds Seeing Calm Before The Storm?

By Seth J Frantzman

06 May 2016

When protesters stormed Iraq’s parliament on September 30, a Kurdish news team from Rudaw found themselves reporting live in the midst of the chaos. A Kurdish Peshmerga soldier outside the parliament told them that protesters “had kissed [him] and given [him] flowers. It’s very peaceful.” It was a momentary gesture in a region that has become increasingly fractured along sectarian lines.

Kurds have been seeking greater independence and autonomy throughout the region in the last hundred years in the wake of what many complain were European-imposed colonial borders that ignored their rights.

Since the rise of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) group in 2014, the Kurdish regions in Syria and Iraq have found their areas largely cut off from the central government.

This has brought widespread hopes for a Kurdish referendum on independence in the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in Iraq, and a federal structure in Syria that would preserve the Kurds’ hard-fought rights.

Conflicting Interests

But a series of incidents in recent weeks have threatened to undo Kurdish gains and are a foreshadowing of worse to come if the differing Kurdish political groups cannot navigate the competing agendas in the region.

Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) leader Cemil Bayik told the BBC that they are willing to escalate the conflict with Turkey that has killed thousands.

Across the border in Syria’s Qamishli clashes between the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) and forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad ended on April 23 with dozens of casualties.

The objective for Kurds must be to build stable institutions and seek international support, while not falling into the trap of internecine fighting.

In Iraq, conflict between Kurds and Shia Turkmen in Tuz Khurmatu, about 170km north of Baghdad, boiled over last week.

These conflicts are all interconnected. Turkey’s ruling party and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan have amicable relations with KRG leader Massoud Barzani, while Turkey views both the PKK and YPG as “terrorist” organisations.

While the PKK operates from bases in Iraq, it is widely resented among members of Barzani’s Kurdish Democratic Party (KDP) who recall the bitter years of civil conflict with it in the 1990s.

There is also a frigid coexistence between the KRG and the YPG-dominated Kurdish areas of Syria. For instance, a border crossing between Kurdish Iraq and Syria has been closed for more than a month.

Three international volunteers for the YPG were briefly detained in mid-April in the KRG while trying to travel home to the United Kingdom and Ireland. The message was clear: the days of an open border are behind us.

Complex Situation

At the very moment when Kurds are the most empowered, they face major obstacles. In Turkey the Kurdish-dominated Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) made it into parliament in 2015, only to see the breakdown of the ceasefire with the PKK lead to massive conflict throughout eastern Turkey. There seems little interest on both sides in reducing this conflict.

In Syria the Assad government will move to neuter Kurdish aspirations if it defeats the Syrian rebels with help from Iran and Russia.

Yet here we find Russia politically supporting the Syrian Kurds, and Turkey unsurprisingly attempting to keep them from gaining any ground or playing a role in peace talks.

Syrian rebel groups accuse the Kurds of collaborating with Assad, even though the two forces have come to blows in Qamishli, where Assad’s forces still control the airport and a small enclave.

That puts the YPG in the unenviable position of being disliked by both sides in the conflict while it still fights a brutal war against ISIL.

In Iraq, the KRG is fearful of Iranian attempts to undermine moves towards independence. Iran has a deep influence over the Shia militias such as Hashd al-Shaabi and in Baghdad.

In the lead-up to the liberation of Mosul from ISIL, the Kurds have been clear that they prefer a Sunni Arab militia such as the Turkish-backed Hashd al-Watani – which is led by the former Mosul governor – to re-conquer the city.

They don’t want Iranian-backed Shia militias in Mosul, which they view as an attempt to surround Kurdistan. Saudi Arabia has been growing closer to the KRG over this issue as well, because of fears of Iranian encroachment throughout the region.

A Kurdish Spring?

There was a kind of Kurdish spring in the Middle East in the past few years, bolstered by military successes against ISIL.

The US has dispatched military missions to both the KRG and Syria’s Rojava in recognition of these achievements.

But when Kurds talk independence or federalism, the US administration is quick to oppose further gains.

The objective for Kurds must be to build stable institutions and seek international support, while not falling into the trap of internecine fighting.

This means finding accommodation in Turkey, patching up differences between the YPG and KRG and frustrating Iran’s growing power without open conflict or allowing Iran to harm the KRG economically.

As a post-ISIL region comes into shape, the Kurds can play an essential role for the first time in 100 years to heal the region’s difficulties.

Source: aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2016/05/kurds-calm-storm-160501102717343.html

Israel on Alert As Threat of Chemical Warfare Spreads

By Brooklyn Middleton

6 May 2016

Israeli media recently reported that the country is continuing to track chemical weapons in Syria, including in the Golan Heights, and will act to prevent them from being used by terrorists. As the conflict continues to rage in the war-torn country, an Israeli strike on any terrorist group in possession of chemical weapons – especially those based close to Israel’s own territory – becomes increasingly likely with each passing day.

According to the Times of Israel, the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) have assessed that the Yarmouk Martyrs Brigade – an ISIS-affiliated faction based in southern Syria on Israel’s northern front – has possibly seized chemical weapons and could attempt to test them in the near-term. The report also indicated Israel does not assess that militants would attempt to carry out a chemical weapons attack on Israeli soil as fighters are “not currently concerned with Israel.”

Any faction in possession of chemical weapons is highly unlikely to target Israel in an attack in the near-term given that such an operation would trigger immediate and sustained retaliation, which they likely cannot withstand. Nonetheless, a chemical weapons attack taking place close to Israel’s border, regardless of which party is targeted, is a precedent Israel is unlikely to allow to be set.

In a second report, published by the same newspaper, an unnamed Israeli official confirmed that the Israeli military would indeed target any terrorist group conducting chemical weapons experiments, vowing that “Israel will not stand by — we will act to thwart such capabilities.”

Any faction in possession of chemical weapons is highly unlikely to target Israel given that such an operation would trigger immediate and sustained retaliation

These reports out of Israel are only the latest to confirm that the entirety of Assad’s chemical weapons arsenal was not destroyed – despite the US and Russia backed deal that was struck in September 2013 and was supposed to achieve precisely that.

The Assad regime has continued to carry out chemical weapons attacks since the implementation of the deal, with chlorine attacks continuing to terrorize and harm; in February, the Syrian American Medical Society published a report noting that of 161 total chemical weapon attacks, “77 percent have occurred after the passage of United Nations Security Council Resolution 2118 in September 2013, which created a framework for the destruction of Syria’s declared chemical weapons stockpiles.”

Stockpiles

Israel has also warned earlier that the Assad regime has kept stockpiles of chemical weapons, including Sarin. Meanwhile, ISIS has also begun carrying out chemical weapons attacks, using mustard gas in both Syria and Iraq.

As chemical weapons attacks continue in Syria and more actors begin using such weapons, it can be assessed that Israel is increasingly motivated to act. Further, an Israeli attack on chemical weapons in Syria in the near-term would serve a two-fold purpose in addition to thwarting what could be the latest massacre in Syria.

The first would be to signal to the international community, including Russia and Iran, that Israel will continue to protect its interests no matter how the conflict changes or what party involves itself. The second would signal to the Assad regime that Israel remains fully capable and committed to protecting its northern front – both from the Syrian regime and from terrorists.

Just weeks ago, Syria’s Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad made a particularly bellicose statement about the Golan Heights stating, “We are prepared to do anything in order to return the Golan to the Syrian motherland, including using military force.” “While there is no chance Syria will seek a broader conflict with Israel in the near future, Israel may still be inclined to demonstrate exactly how serious it is when it vows to protect its northern front from both current and future threats.”

Going by the spiralling cycle of violence being witnessed in the region, it is anybody’s guess what dimension this chemical warfare will take.

Source: english.alarabiya.net/en/views/2016/05/06/Israel-on-alert-as-threat-of-chemical-warfare-spreads.html

Can Saudi Women Work As Shopkeepers?

By Abdulaziz Al-Suwayed

May 6, 2016

Why do some Shoura Council members get angry at the media when it attacks them for calling for Saudi women to work as grocery shopkeepers? If Shoura Council members have made such a recommendation, then what can we expect next? Will some members recommend that Saudi women work as plumbers or bakers?!

If women were allowed to run grocery shops, how would they make home deliveries? What kind of transport would they use? Did the members who came up with this recommendation think about this? I sometimes think that the recommendations of Shoura Council members do not make much sense or have not been properly studied or thought out.

I have a message for Council members who really care about finding ways to create job opportunities for women. Firstly, try to lay down a law that protects the rights of women as clearly as possible in line with Shariah. The work environment for women should protect women’s rights and safeguard them from harassment or abuse of power from line managers and those who have the power to hire and fire employees.

Some women are abused because they are poor and needy. All work environments for women should have surveillance cameras to prevent any attempt to abuse or harass women. The Ministry of Labor has not succeeded in ending the exploitation of women, nor has the Shoura Council.

Source: saudigazette.com.sa/opinion/local-viewpoint/can-saudi-women-work-shopkeepers/

Will Syria Airstrikes Stop?

By Shahriar Kia

6 May 2016

Following 10 days of airstrikes, coinciding with calls made for a ceasefire agreement in Aleppo, there are also signs indicating the Assad regime and its allies are orchestrating a major ground attack against opposition-controlled areas of Aleppo. Iran has been rallying forces for this campaign and Syrian opposition military experts say Russian warplanes are targeting Aleppo as the Assad air force is incapable of such precision air raids that recently leveled medical centers and a number of bakeries in crowded areas. These atrocious attacks have prompted the international community to launch a new wave of efforts to produce a tangible ceasefire on the ground in Syria to include Aleppo. Is this a repeat episode, or will the innocent people of Syria finally witness a lasting peace without attacks launched by Assad, Iran and Russia?

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon expressed grave concern over the violence seen in Aleppo and other areas of Syria. He joined other world leaders calling on all parties involved in the Syria conflict to immediately bring an end to all forms of aggressive measures and live up to their responsibilities regarding the grave impact of such violence on civilians. Ban demanded the ceasefire must expand far beyond Damascus and Latakia — a devious plot blueprinted by Assad and company — to cover all of Syria, especially Aleppo.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry also rushed to Geneva seeking to reinforce the previously crafted ceasefire agreement. Washington is asking Moscow to use its influence over Bashar Assad to halt the indiscriminate attacks, described by experts as carpet bombings. May 10 is the date set for Geneva to host a new round of UN-sponsored peace talks.

As the war rages in Syria, Iran is escalating tensions by resorting to a deplorable tactic not seen since the Iran-Iraq War of the 1980s. Back then the mullahs literally dispatched 400,000 juveniles to the battlefronts as cannon fodders to fuel the war. Today, Tehran is repeating that experience to provide forces for the war in Syria. A program has been aired in Iran showing children undergoing military training provided by the Iranian regime, preparing the teenage boys — and even as young as 10 — to learn the simple tactics and know-how of ground warfare. A recent video clip posted by the Paris-based Iranian opposition has rendered international outrage describing such measures by Iran as human rights violations and adding fuel to the threat of fundamentalism and violence across the Middle East.

Iran sees no need in denying its role in provoking the war in Syria by deploying militia groups and mercenaries to fight for Assad. It recently sent units of 65th regular army brigade to pave the path for a new ground campaign to be carried out by Assad forces and allies in Aleppo Province. As Afghan, Pakistani, Iraqi and other recruits have failed to deliver the necessary results, the mullahs in Tehran are now turning to small teenage boys to fill this void of necessary boots on the ground.

Documents smuggled out by Daesh defectors unveil how the Assad regime has been in full cooperation with the self-proclaimed “Islamic State” in selling oil, with all coordination carried out on the field. These documents show the recent withdrawal by Daesh from the ancient city of Tadmir was in full harmony with Assad forces. However, the Syrian regime propaganda machine portrayed the entire story as if the city had been completely liberated. The truth is that the Assad regime was fully involved in the rise of Daesh from the very beginning, seeking to cripple the Syrian opposition as a result. This has been a plot carefully shaped by Iran.

In March the Kremlin suddenly announced a decision to pull out the bulk of its forces from Syria, with various countries welcoming such a move, while others maintained their suspicion, considering the entire story as a Russian plot aimed at deceiving the West. Washington and London kept their distance in disbelief. U.K. Foreign Secretary Phillip Hammond said Russia withdrawing forces from Syria is a cycle of forces. Vitaly Churkin, the Russian Ambassador to the U.N., unveiled plans claiming to launch new airstrikes against Daesh positions in Raqqa and Deir Ezzur provinces. However, the Syrian opposition have described such measures as a cloak to provide cover for Russian warplanes to continue their war crimes in Aleppo.

As the conglomerate of Syria crises continue in a frenzy, various countries across the globe are witnessing demonstrations and rallies condemning the atrocious crimes committed by the Assad regime, Iran and Russia against the Syrian people. A video clip has gone viral showing a small Syrian child weeping over the body of his brother. He lost four members of family in a recent airstrike in Aleppo. It is time for world powers to put their foot down and say enough is enough. Too many innocent Syrians have lost their lives, been wounded and displaced from their homes. The international community must rise to its obligations to end the cruelty imposed on the Syrian people, and uproot the crisis expanding across the globe.

Source: arabnews.com/news/will-syria-airstrikes-stop

Should Men Let Their Wives Uncover Their Faces?

By Muhammad Fayeh

May 6, 2016

There was a hashtag that was recently trending about a man and his wife. Some of the comments about the hashtag surprised me. The man took his wife out for dinner. In the restaurant, he sat in the family section inside a small cubicle that had frosted glass. He took off his “Shemagh” (Saudi headscarf) and put it over the frosted glass to prevent people from seeing his wife. The picture sparked a debate in social media and some supported the man’s action while others opposed it.

I strongly support what the man did and found it to be in line with the ruling of Shariah in relation to Hijab, although many people try to belittle the importance of this ruling.

Almighty Allah says in the Holy Qur’an, “O Prophet, tell your wives and your daughters and the women of the believers to bring down over themselves (part) of their outer garments. That is more suitable that they will be known and not be abused. And ever is Allah Forgiving and Merciful.” (33:59)

Allah clearly orders women to cover and this order was made thousands of years ago when sedition was less prevalent than today. Wearing the Hijab is mentioned in the Holy Qur’an in the following way, “That is purer for your hearts and their hearts.” (33:53)

Unfortunately, we see many Saudi women uncovering their faces and wearing short dresses. I do not criticize them and I am not responsible for the action of what other people do; everyone is responsible for his or her own actions. Let us go back to the hashtag. What is really strange is that some people criticized the man for what he did. If some men do not have a problem letting their wives uncover their faces and wear makeup, then there is no harm in that. But they cannot prevent other men from looking at their wives’ faces and they should not be angry if other men do so.

A friend told me a story about a man from Upper Egypt who happened to sit in front of a young woman who did not cover her face and hair on board a train. The man kept gazing and staring at the woman’s face although her husband was sitting next to her. Finally, the husband got angry and told the man to turn his face away and not look at his wife. The man said, “If you are okay letting your wife wear makeup in public and not cover her face, you should not be angry if other men stare at her.”

Men are jealous by nature. Saad Bin Obada (may Allah be pleased with him), one of the companions of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), once said, “If I saw a man walking with my wife, I would strike him with my sword.” When a companion told the Prophet (pbuh) about it, the Prophet (pbuh) said, “Do you wonder at Saad’s jealousy, I am more jealous than him and Allah is more jealous.”

Source: saudigazette.com.sa/opinion/local-viewpoint/men-let-wives-uncover-faces/

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/middle-east-press/new-age-islam-edit-bureau/on-hiding-behind-a-pseudonym–new-age-islam-s-selection,-06-may-2016/d/107208

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