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Posted on on August 28th, 2016
by Pincas Jawetz (



This article tells us what we at SustainabiliTank knew for years – the oil money was used by the Saudi Royal family to export Wahhabism to the Islamic world. This Wahhabi indoctrination gave birth to the culture of terrorism that surfaced at the 9/11 attack against humanity. The US government – that is all US governments – to be exact – starting with President Franklyn Delano Roosevelt who in his 1945 meetings at Yalta and on the ship in Suez – traded away the future of the West for the barrels of oil of the Middle East


THE NEW YORK TIMES – Front-page August 25,2016

Saudis and Extremism:
‘Both the Arsonists
and the Firefighters’

Critics see Saudi Arabia’s export of a rigid strain of Islam as contributing to
terrorism, but the kingdom’s influence depends greatly on local conditions.

By SCOTT SHANE August 25, 2016

WASHINGTON — Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump do not agree on much, but Saudi Arabia may be an exception. She has deplored Saudi Arabia’s support for “radical schools and mosques around the world that have set too many young people on a path towards extremism.” He has called the Saudis “the world’s biggest funders of terrorism.”

The first American diplomat to serve as envoy to Muslim communities around the world visited 80 countries and concluded that the Saudi influence was destroying tolerant Islamic traditions. “If the Saudis do not cease what they are doing,”
the official, Farah Pandith, wrote last year, “there must be diplomatic, cultural and economic consequences.”

“If the Saudis do not
cease what they are
doing, there must be
diplomatic, cultural and
economic consequences.”

“If there was going to be
an Islamic reformation in
the 20th century, the
Saudis probably prevented
it by pumping out literalism.”

And hardly a week passes without a television pundit or a newspaper columnist blaming Saudi Arabia for jihadist violence.

On HBO, Bill Maher calls Saudi teachings “medieval,” adding an epithet. In The Washington Post, Fareed Zakaria writes that the Saudis have “created a monster in the world of Islam.”

The idea has become a commonplace: that Saudi Arabia’s export of the rigid, bigoted, patriarchal, fundamentalist strain of Islam known as Wahhabism has fueled global extremism and contributed to terrorism. As the Islamic State projects its menacing calls for violence into the West, directing or inspiring terrorist attacks in country after country, an old debate over Saudi influence on Islam has taken on new relevance.

What Is Wahhabism?

The Islam taught in and by Saudi Arabia is often called Wahhabism, after the 18th-century cleric who founded it. A literalist, ultraconservative form of Sunni Islam, its adherents often denigrate other Islamic sects as well as Christians and Jews.

Is the world today a more divided, dangerous and violent place because of the cumulative effect of five decades of oil-financed proselytizing from the historical heart of the Muslim world? Or is Saudi Arabia, which has often supported Western-friendly autocrats over Islamists, merely a convenient scapegoat for extremism and terrorism with many complex causes — the United States’s own actions among them?

Those questions are deeply contentious, partly because of the contradictory impulses of the Saudi state.

In the realm of extremist Islam, the Saudis are “both the arsonists and the firefighters,” said William McCants, a Brookings Institution scholar. “They promote a very toxic form of Islam that draws sharp lines between a small number of true believers and everyone else, Muslim and non-Muslim,” he said, providing ideological fodder for violent jihadists.

Yet at the same time, “they’re our partners in counterterrorism,” said Mr. McCants, one of three dozen academics, government officials and experts on Islam from multiple countries interviewed for this article.

Conflicting Goals

Saudi leaders seek good relations with the West and see jihadist violence as a menace that could endanger their rule, especially now that the Islamic State is staging attacks in the kingdom — 25 in the last eight months, by the government’s count. But they are also driven by their rivalry with Iran, and they depend for legitimacy on a clerical establishment dedicated to a reactionary set of beliefs. Those conflicting goals can play out in a bafflingly inconsistent manner.

Thomas Hegghammer, a Norwegian terrorism expert who has advised the United States government, said the most important effect of Saudi proselytizing might have been to slow the evolution of Islam, blocking its natural accommodation to a diverse and globalized world. “If there was going to be an Islamic reformation in the 20th century, the Saudis probably prevented it by pumping out literalism,” he said.

The reach of the Saudis has been stunning, touching nearly every country with a Muslim population, from the Gothenburg Mosque in Sweden to the King Faisal Mosque in Chad, from the King Fahad Mosque in Los Angeles to the Seoul Central Mosque in South Korea. Support has come from the Saudi government; the royal family; Saudi charities; and Saudi-sponsored organizations including the World Muslim League, the World Assembly of Muslim Youth and the International Islamic Relief Organization, providing the hardware of impressive edifices and the software of preaching and teaching.

There is a broad consensus that the Saudi ideological juggernaut has disrupted local Islamic traditions in dozens of countries — the result of lavish spending on religious outreach for half a century, estimated in the tens of billions of dollars. The result has been amplified by guest workers, many from South Asia, who spend years in Saudi Arabia and bring Saudi ways home with them. In many countries, Wahhabist preaching has encouraged a harshly judgmental religion, contributing to majority support in some polls in Egypt, Pakistan and other countries for stoning for adultery and execution for anyone trying to leave Islam.

But exactly how Saudi influence plays out seems to depend greatly on local conditions. In parts of Africa and Southeast Asia, for instance, Saudi teachings have shifted the religious culture in a markedly conservative direction, most visibly in the decision of more women to cover their hair or of men to grow beards. Among Muslim immigrant communities in Europe, the Saudi influence seems to be just one factor driving radicalization, and not the most significant. In divided countries like Pakistan and Nigeria, the flood of Saudi money, and the ideology it promotes, have exacerbated divisions over religion that regularly prove lethal.

For minorities in many countries, the exclusionary Saudi version of Sunni Islam, with its denigration of Jews and Christians, as well as of Muslims of Shiite, Sufi and other traditions, may have made some people vulnerable to the lure of Al Qaeda, the Islamic State and other violent jihadist groups. “There’s only so much dehumanizing of the other that you can be exposed to — and exposed to as the word of God — without becoming susceptible to recruitment,” said David Andrew Weinberg, a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies in Washington who tracks Saudi influence.

Exhibit A may be Saudi Arabia itself, which produced not only Osama bin Laden, but also 15 of the 19 hijackers of Sept. 11, 2001; sent more suicide bombers than any other country to Iraq after the 2003 invasion; and has supplied more foreign fighters to the Islamic State, 2,500, than any country other than Tunisia.

Mehmet Gormez, the senior Islamic cleric in Turkey, said that while he was meeting with Saudi clerics in Riyadh in January, the Saudi authorities had executed 47 people in a single day on terrorism charges, 45 of them Saudi citizens. “I said: ‘These people studied Islam for 10 or 15 years in your country. Is there a problem with the educational system?’ ” Mr. Gormez said in an interview. He argued that Wahhabi teaching was undermining the pluralism, tolerance and openness to science and learning that had long characterized Islam. “Sadly,” he said, the changes have taken place “in almost all of the Islamic world.”

In a huge embarrassment to the Saudi authorities, the Islamic State adopted official Saudi textbooks for its schools until the extremist group could publish its own books in 2015. Out of 12 works by Muslim scholars republished by the Islamic State, seven are by Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab, the 18th-century founder of the Saudi school of Islam, said Jacob Olidort, a scholar at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. A former imam of the Grand Mosque in Mecca, Sheikh Adil al-Kalbani declared with regret in a television interview in January that the Islamic State leaders “draw their ideas from what is written in our own books, our own principles.”

Small details of Saudi practice can cause outsize trouble. For at least two decades, the kingdom has distributed an English translation of the Quran that in the first surah, or chapter, adds parenthetical references to Jews and Christians in addressing Allah: “those who earned Your Anger (such as the Jews), nor of those who went astray (such as the Christians).” Seyyed Hossein Nasr, a professor of Islamic studies at George Washington University and the editor in chief of the new Study Quran, an annotated English version, said the additions were “a complete heresy, with no basis in Islamic tradition.”

Accordingly, many American officials who have worked to counter extremism and terrorism have formed a dark view of the Saudi effect — even if, given the sensitivity of the relationship, they are often loath to discuss it publicly. The United States’ reliance on Saudi counterterrorism cooperation in recent years — for instance, the Saudi tip that foiled a 2010 Qaeda plot to blow up two American cargo planes — has often taken precedence over concerns about radical influence. And generous Saudi funding for professorships and research centers at American universities, including the most elite institutions, has deterred criticism and discouraged research on the effects of Wahhabi proselytizing, according to Mr. McCants — who is working on a book about the Saudi impact on global Islam — and other scholars.

One American former official who has begun to speak out is Ms. Pandith, the State Department’s first special representative to Muslim communities worldwide. From 2009 to 2014, she visited Muslims in 80 countries and concluded that Saudi influence was pernicious and universal. “In each place I visited, the Wahhabi influence was an insidious presence,” she wrote in The New York Times last year. She said the United States should “disrupt the training of extremist imams,” “reject free Saudi textbooks and translations that are filled with hate,” and “prevent the Saudis from demolishing local Muslim religious and cultural sites that are evidence of the diversity of Islam.”

Yet some scholars on Islam and extremism, including experts on radicalization in many countries, push back against the notion that Saudi Arabia bears predominant responsibility for the current wave of extremism and jihadist violence. They point to multiple sources for the rise and spread of Islamist terrorism, including repressive secular governments in the Middle East, local injustices and divisions, the hijacking of the internet for terrorist propaganda, and American interventions in the Muslim world from the anti-Soviet war in Afghanistan to the invasion of Iraq. The 20th-century ideologues most influential with modern jihadists, like Sayyid Qutb of Egypt and Abul Ala Maududi of Pakistan, reached their extreme, anti-Western views without much Saudi input. Al Qaeda and the Islamic State despise Saudi rulers, whom they consider the worst of hypocrites.

“Americans like to have someone to blame — a person, a political party or country,” said Robert S. Ford, a former United States ambassador to Syria and Algeria. “But it’s a lot more complicated than that. I’d be careful about blaming the Saudis.”

While Saudi religious influence may be disruptive, he and others say, its effect is not monolithic. A major tenet of official Saudi Islamic teaching is obedience to rulers — hardly a precept that encourages terrorism intended to break nations. Many Saudi and Saudi-trained clerics are quietist, characterized by a devotion to scripture and prayer and a shunning of politics, let alone political violence.

And especially since 2003, when Qaeda attacks in the kingdom awoke the monarchy to the danger it faced from militancy, Saudi Arabia has acted more aggressively to curtail preachers who call for violence, cut off terrorist financing and cooperate with Western intelligence to foil terrorist plots. From 2004 to 2012, 3,500 imams were fired for refusing to renounce extremist views, and another 20,000 went through retraining, according to the Ministry of Islamic Affairs — though the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom expressed skepticism that the training was really “instilling tolerance.”

An American scholar with long experience in Saudi Arabia — who spoke on condition of anonymity to preserve his ability to travel to the kingdom for research — said he believed that Saudi influence had often been exaggerated in American political discourse. But he compared it to climate change. Just as a one-degree increase in temperature can ultimately result in drastic effects around the globe, with glaciers melting and species dying off, so Saudi teaching is playing out in many countries in ways that are hard to predict and difficult to trace but often profound, the scholar said.

Saudi proselytizing can result in a “recalibrating of the religious center of gravity” for young people, the scholar said, which makes it “easier for them to swallow or make sense of the ISIS religious narrative when it does arrive. It doesn’t seem quite as foreign as it might have, had that Saudi religious influence not been there.”

Centuries-Old Dilemma

Why does Saudi Arabia find it so difficult to let go of an ideology that much of the world finds repugnant? The key to the Saudi dilemma dates back nearly three centuries to the origin of the alliance that still undergirds the Saudi state. In 1744, Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab, a reformist cleric, sought the protection of Muhammad bin Saud, a powerful tribal leader in the harsh desert of the Arabian Peninsula. The alliance was mutually beneficial: Wahhab received military protection for his movement, which sought to return Muslims to what he believed were the values of the early years of Islam in the seventh century, when the Prophet Muhammad was alive. (His beliefs were a variant of Salafism, the conservative school of Islam that teaches that the salaf, or pious ancestors, had the correct ways and beliefs and should be emulated.) In return, the Saud family earned the endorsement of an Islamic cleric — a puritanical enforcer known for insisting on the death by stoning of a woman for adultery.

Wahhab’s particular version of Islam was the first of two historical accidents that would define Saudi religious influence centuries later. What came to be known as Wahhabism was “a tribal, desert Islam,” said Akbar Ahmed, the chairman of Islamic studies at American University in Washington. It was shaped by the austere environment — xenophobic, fiercely opposed to shrines and tombs, disapproving of art and music, and hugely different from the cosmopolitan Islam of diverse trading cities like Baghdad and Cairo.

The second historical accident came in 1938, when American prospectors discovered the largest oil reserves on earth in Saudi Arabia. Oil revenue generated by the Arabian-American Oil Company, or Aramco, created fabulous wealth. But it also froze in place a rigid social and economic system and gave the conservative religious establishment an extravagant budget for the export of its severe strain of Islam.

“One day you find oil, and the world is coming to you,” Professor Ahmed said. “God has given you the ability to take your version of Islam to the world.”

In 1964, when King Faisal ascended the throne, he embraced the obligation of spreading Islam. A modernizer in many respects, with close ties to the West, he nonetheless could not overhaul the Wahhabi doctrine that became the face of Saudi generosity in many countries. Over the next four decades, in non-Muslim-majority countries alone, Saudi Arabia would build 1,359 mosques, 210 Islamic centers, 202 colleges and 2,000 schools. Saudi money helped finance 16 American mosques; four in Canada; and others in London, Madrid, Brussels and Geneva, according to a report in an official Saudi weekly, Ain al-Yaqeen. The total spending, including supplying or training imams and teachers, was “many billions” of Saudi riyals (at a rate of about four to a dollar), the report said.

Saudi religious teaching had particular force because it came from the birthplace of the Prophet Muhammad, the land of Islam’s two holiest places, Mecca and Medina. When Saudi imams arrived in Muslim countries in Asia or Africa, or in Muslim communities in Europe or the Americas, wearing traditional Arabian robes, speaking the language of the Quran — and carrying a generous checkbook — they had automatic credibility.

As the 20th century progressed and people of different nationalities and faiths mixed routinely, the puritanical, exclusionary nature of Wahhab’s teachings would become more and more dysfunctional. But the Saudi government would find it extraordinarily difficult to shed or soften its ideology, especially after the landmark year of 1979.

In Tehran that year, the Iranian revolution brought to power a radical Shiite government, symbolically challenging Saudi Arabia, the leader of Sunnism, for leadership of global Islam. The declaration of an Islamic Republic escalated the competition between the two major branches of Islam, spurring the Saudis to redouble their efforts to counter Iran and spread Wahhabism around the world.

Then, in a stunning strike, a band of 500 Saudi extremists seized the Grand Mosque in Mecca for two weeks, publicly calling Saudi rulers puppets of the West and traitors to true Islam. The rebels were defeated, but leading clerics agreed to back the government only after assurances of support for a crackdown on immodest ways in the kingdom and a more aggressive export of Wahhabism abroad.

Finally, at year’s end, the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan and seized power to prop up a Communist government. It soon faced an insurgent movement of mujahedeen, or holy warriors battling for Islam, which drew fighters from around the world for a decade-long battle to expel the occupiers.

Throughout the 1980s, Saudi Arabia and the United States worked together to finance the mujahedeen in this great Afghan war, which would revive the notion of noble armed jihad for Muslims worldwide. President Ronald Reagan famously welcomed to the Oval Office a delegation of bearded “Afghan freedom fighters” whose social and theological views were hardly distinguishable from those later embraced by the Taliban.

Saudi Arabia and the United States worked together to support the mujahedeen, the Afghan fighters whose representatives met President Ronald Reagan in the Oval Office in 1983, in their fight against the Soviet occupation.

In fact, the United States spent $50 million from 1986 to 1992 on what was called a “jihad literacy” project — printing books for Afghan children and adults to encourage violence against non-Muslim “infidels” like Soviet troops. A first-grade language textbook for Pashto speakers, for example, according to a study by Dana Burde, an associate professor at New York University, used “Mujahid,” or fighter of jihad, as the illustration: “My brother is a Mujahid. Afghan Muslims are Mujahedeen. I do jihad together with them. Doing jihad against infidels is our duty.”

Pressure After 9/11

One day in the months after the Sept. 11 attacks, Robert W. Jordan, the United States ambassador to Saudi Arabia, was driving in the kingdom with the longtime Saudi ambassador to the United States, Prince Bandar Bin Sultan. The prince pointed to a mosque and said, “I just fired the imam there.” The man’s preaching had been too militant, he said.

Mr. Jordan, a Texas lawyer, said that after the Qaeda attacks, he had stepped up pressure on the Saudi government over its spread of extremism. “I told them: ‘What you teach in your schools and preach in your mosques now is not an internal matter. It affects our national security,’” he said.

After years of encouraging and financing a harsh Islam in support of the anti-Soviet jihad, the United States had reversed course — gradually during the 1990s and then dramatically after the Sept. 11 attacks. But in pressuring Saudi Arabia, American officials would tread lightly, acutely aware of American dependence on Saudi oil and intelligence cooperation. Saudi reform would move at an excruciatingly slow pace.

Document: State Dept. Study on Saudi Textbooks
Twelve years after Sept. 11, after years of quiet American complaints about Saudi teachings, a State Department contractor, the International Center for Religion and Diplomacy, completed a study of official Saudi textbooks. It reported some progress in cutting back on bigoted and violent content but found that plenty of objectionable material remained. Officials never released the 2013 study, for fear of angering the Saudis. The New York Times obtained it under the Freedom of Information Act.

Seventh graders were being taught that “fighting the infidels to elevate the words of Allah” was among the deeds Allah loved the most, the report found, among dozens of passages it found troubling. Tenth graders learned that Muslims who abandoned Islam should be jailed for three days and, if they did not change their minds, “killed for walking away from their true religion.” Fourth graders read that non-Muslims had been “shown the truth but abandoned it, like the Jews,” or had replaced truth with “ignorance and delusion, like the Christians.”

Some of the books, prepared and distributed by the government, propagated views that were hostile to science, modernity and women’s rights, not to say downright quirky — advocating, for instance, execution for sorcerers and warning against the dangers of the Rotary Club and the Lions Club. (The groups’ intent, said a 10th-grade textbook, “is to achieve the goals of the Zionist movement.”)

The textbooks, or other Saudi teaching materials with similar content, had been distributed in scores of countries, the study found. Textbook reform has continued since the 2013 study, and Saudi officials say they are trying to replace older books distributed overseas.

Excerpts from Saudi textbooks with critical comments from a 2013 study, commissioned by the State Department, that was never released for fear of angering the Saudis. The New York Times obtained the study under the Freedom of Information Act.
But as the study noted, the schoolbooks were only a modest part of the Saudis’ lavishly funded global export of Wahhabism. In many places, the study said, the largess includes “a Saudi-funded school with a Wahhabist faculty (educated in a Saudi-funded Wahhabist University), attached to a mosque with a Wahhabist imam, and ultimately controlled by an international Wahhabist educational body.”

This ideological steamroller has landed in diverse places where Muslims of different sects had spent centuries learning to accommodate one another. Sayyed Shah, a Pakistani journalist working on a doctorate in the United States, described the devastating effect on his town, not far from the Afghan border, of the arrival some years ago of a young Pakistani preacher trained in a Saudi-funded seminary.

Village residents had long held a mélange of Muslim beliefs, he said. “We were Sunni, but our culture, our traditions were a mixture of Shia and Barelvi and Deobandi,” Mr. Shah said, referring to Muslim sects. His family would visit the large Barelvi shrine, and watch their Shiite neighbors as they lashed themselves in a public religious ritual. “We wouldn’t do that ourselves, but we’d hand out sweets and water,” he said.

The new preacher, he said, denounced the Barelvi and Shiite beliefs as false and heretical, dividing the community and setting off years of bitter argument. By 2010, Mr. Shah said, “everything had changed.” Women who had used shawls to cover their hair and face began wearing full burqas. Militants began attacking kiosks where merchants sold secular music CDs. Twice, terrorists used explosives to try to destroy the village’s locally famous shrine.

“One day you find oil,
and the world is coming
to you. God has given you
the ability to take your
version of Islam to the world.”
Now, Mr. Shah said, families are divided; his cousin, he said, “just wants Saudi religion.” He said an entire generation had been “indoctrinated” with a rigid, unforgiving creed.

“It’s so difficult these days,” he said. “Initially we were on a single path. We just had economic problems, but we were culturally sound.”

He added, “But now it’s very difficult, because some people want Saudi culture to be our culture, and others are opposing that.”

C. Christine Fair, a specialist on Pakistan at Georgetown University, said Mr. Shah’s account was credible. But like many scholars describing the Saudi impact on religion, she said that militancy in Pakistan also had local causes. While Saudi money and teaching have unquestionably been “accelerants,” Pakistan’s sectarian troubles and jihadist violence have deep roots dating to the country’s origins in the partition of India in 1947.

“The idea that without the Saudis Pakistan would be Switzerland is ridiculous,” she said.

Elusive Saudi Links

That is the disputed question, of course: how the world would be different without decades of Saudi-funded shaping of Islam. Though there is a widespread belief that Saudi influence has contributed to the growth of terrorism, it is rare to find a direct case of cause and effect. For example, in Brussels, the Grand Mosque was built with Saudi money and staffed with Saudi imams. In 2012, according to Saudi diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks, one Saudi preacher was removed after Belgian complaints that he was a “true Salafi” who did not accept other schools of Islam. And Brussels’ immigrant neighborhoods, notably Molenbeek, have long been the home of storefront mosques teaching hard-line Salafi views.

After the terrorist attacks in Paris in November and in Brussels in March were tied to an Islamic State cell in Belgium, the Saudi history was the subject of several news media reports. Yet it was difficult to find any direct link between the bombers and the Saudi legacy in the Belgian capital.

Several suspects had petty criminal backgrounds; their knowledge of Islam was described by friends as superficial; they did not appear to be regulars at any mosque. Though the Islamic State claimed responsibility for the blasts, resentment of the treatment of North African immigrant families in Belgium and exposure to Islamic State propaganda, in person or via the internet and social media, appeared to be the major factors motivating the attacks.

If there was a Saudi connection, it was highly indirect, perhaps playing out over a generation or longer. Hind Fraihi, a Moroccan-Belgian journalist who went underground in the Brussels immigrant neighborhood of Molenbeek in 2005 and wrote a book about it, met Saudi-trained imams and found lots of extremist literature written in Saudi Arabia that encouraged “polarization, the sentiment of us against them, the glorification of jihad.”

The recent attackers, Ms. Fraihi said, were motivated by “lots of factors — economic frustration, racism, a generation that feels it has no future.” But Saudi teaching, she said, “is part of the cocktail.”

Without the Saudi presence over the decades, might a more progressive and accommodating Islam, reflecting immigrants’ Moroccan roots, have taken hold in Brussels? Would young Muslims raised in Belgium have been less susceptible to the stark, violent call of the Islamic State? Conceivably, but the case is impossible to prove.

Or consider an utterly different cultural milieu — the world’s most populous Muslim country, Indonesia. The Saudis have sent money for mosque-building, books and teachers for decades, said Sidney Jones, the director of the Institute for Policy Analysis of Conflict in Jakarta.

“Over time,” said Ms. Jones, who has visited or lived in Indonesia since the 1970s, the Saudi influence “has contributed to a more conservative, more intolerant atmosphere.” (President Obama, who lived in Indonesia as a boy, has remarked on the same phenomenon.) She said she believed money from private Saudi donors and foundations was behind campaigns in Indonesia against Shiite and Ahmadi Islam, considered heretical by Wahhabi teaching. Some well-known Indonesian religious vigilantes are Saudi-educated, she said.

But when Ms. Jones studied the approximately 1,000 people arrested in Indonesia on terrorism charges since 2002, she found only a few — “literally four or five” — with ties to Wahhabi or Salafi institutions. When it comes to violence, she concluded, the Saudi connection is “mostly a red herring.”

In fact, she said, there is a gulf between Indonesian jihadists and Indonesian Salafis who look to Saudi or Yemeni scholars for guidance. The jihadists accuse the Salafis of failing to act on their convictions; the Salafis scorn the jihadists as extremists.

Whatever the global effects of decades of Saudi proselytizing, it is under greater scrutiny than ever, from outside and inside the kingdom. Saudi leaders’ ideological reform efforts, encompassing textbooks and preaching, amount to a tacit recognition that its religious exports have sometimes backfired. And the kingdom has stepped up an aggressive public relations campaign in the West, hiring American publicists to counter critical news media reports and fashion a reformist image for Saudi leaders.

But neither the publicists nor their clients can renounce the strain of Islam on which the Saudi state was built, and old habits sometimes prove difficult to suppress. A prominent cleric, Saad bin Nasser al-Shethri, had been stripped of a leadership position by the previous king, Abdullah, for condemning coeducation. King Salman restored Mr. Shethri to the job last year, not long after the cleric had joined the chorus of official voices criticizing the Islamic State. But Mr. Shethri’s reasoning for denouncing the Islamic State suggested the difficulty of change. The group was, he said, “more infidel than Jews and Christians.”


Photo: The Seoul Central Mosque in South Korea, one of hundreds of mosques around the world built using Saudi donations. Credit Choi Won-Suk/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Photo: The King Fahad Mosque in Los Angeles. Credit Patrick T. Fallon for The New York Times

Photo: The United States spent millions printing textbooks for Afghan children and adults that encouraged violence against non-Muslim “infidels” like Soviet troops, as in this excerpt from a book for Pashto-speaking first graders. Credit From Dana Burde, Schools for Conflict or for Peace in Afghanistan

Photo: The Iranian revolution in early 1979 brought to power a radical Shiite government, symbolically challenging Saudi Arabia, the leader of Sunnism, for leadership of global Islam. Credit Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Photo: A wounded man at the airport in Brussels after an attack by jihadists in March. There appears to be no direct link between the bombers and the Saudi legacy in the Belgian capital. Credit Ketevan Kardava/Associated Press

Photo: During his reign from 1964 to 1975, King Faisal of Saudi Arabia, pictured here in May 1968, embraced the duty of spreading Islam around the world. Credit Raymond Depardon/Magnum Photos

Photo: Members of the Saudi security services inspecting the site of a car bomb attack in May 2015 targeting Shiite Saudis attending Friday Prayer at a mosque in Dammam, Saudi Arabia. Credit European Pressphoto Agency

Photo: Saudi oil fields developed by Aramco, the Arabian-American Oil Company, as seen in this 1951 photograph, provided generous funding for the export of the Saudi version of Islam. Credit Associated Press


Secrets of the Kingdom

A Saudi Morals Enforcer Called for a More Liberal Islam. Then the Death Threats Began.JUL. 11, 2016

A Saudi Imam, 2 Hijackers and Lingering 9/11 Mystery JUNE 18, 2016

How Kosovo Was Turned Into Fertile Ground for ISIS MAY 22, 2016

ISIS Turns Saudis Against the Kingdom, and Families Against Their Own APRIL 1, 2016

Quiet Support for Saudis Entangles U.S. in Yemen MARCH 14, 2016

U.S. Relies Heavily on Saudi Money to Support Syrian Rebels JAN. 24, 2016


Follow Scott Shane on Twitter @ScottShaneNYT.

Hala Droubi contributed reporting from Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

A version of this article appears in print on August 26, 2016, on page A1 of the New York edition with the headline: ‘Both Arsonists and Firefighters’. Order Reprints| Today’s Paper|Subscribe


‘We Live in a Society Where the Word “Liberal” Is Considered an Insult’ JULY 13, 2016

Cross-Border Fire From Yemen Kills 7 in Saudi Arabia AUG. 17, 2016
Saudi King Shakes Up Government as Economic Plan Moves Forward MAY 7, 2016

Saudi Prince Shares Plan to Cut Oil Dependency and Energize the Economy APRIL 25, 2016



Posted on on January 30th, 2016
by Pincas Jawetz (

Above the entrance to 21 Zerubabel Street in the Yemenite Quarter in Tel Aviv – next door to the Rabbi Shabzi Synagogue and the warning – a dog in the courtyard – it says – in Hebrew:Sun light is very bleak to someone who does not find sense in his life. Next tomit in English is written: “There is no Fear in Love.”

The Israeli papers that are still not owned by an Israeli government related American individual – The HAARETZ and the Yedioth Aharonot – are now full with hints at internal culture wars started by an uneducated Culture Minister – Ms. Miri Regev who contended that even uneducated people can be educated. That is not my topic here – for those interested please read The New York Times article of today – “Israel, Mired in Ideological Battles, Fights on Cultural Fronts” – By STEVEN ERLANGER January 29, 2016. We are here rather interested in what the rather officialpro-government papers say – The MAARIV and The ISRAEL HAYOM say.

A main report comes from the meeting in Nicosia, Cyprus between Israel’s Prime Minister Mr. Netanyahu and His counterparts from Greece and Cyprus titled as the “Mediterranean Alliance.” As I just arrived here from Vienna I am quite familiar with the Merkel & Faymann problems with Greece and Turkey and the simple facts that the EU in ordr to survive tends now to shed Greece and trade it for higher reliance on Turkey. What I sense thus is the contemplation of the Israeli government to look as well for new allies in its troubled corner of thev World.

Then, no misunderstanding here – President Obama just declared for all to hear that Putin is corrupt and Mr. Putin reacted by asking for evidence. No problem on this front – the UK obliged and declared Putin involved in the execution of a financial competitor – mafia style. This sort of language was not heard even in the days of President Regan’s attacks on the Soviet “Evil Empire.”

Obama looks at the mess in Western Asia he inherited from G.W. Bush who really turned all local devils there lose by taking off the lids that kept a modicum of order as left by the British and French colonial powers. G.W. continued the reliance on the Saudis that came down from Democrat President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and thus became partial to an evolving Sunni Shia rift with an ever increasing Iranian threat to the US oil supplies from the Middle East. Obviously, US interests did not match in all of this the European effort to build their own power bloc and the difficulties the EU put before Turkey’s attemp to join in the Union. Russia had its own problems with the EU and when life for the US and the EU became difficultbin the Arab region – they jumped in and used the occasion to move on the Ukraine as well.

So what now?

My suggestion based on an acknowledged very superficial reading of the real news – is: By necessity there are now two new potential NEUTRAL Centers in a renewed COLD WAR scenario.

Oman is the Neutral space between the Saudis and Iran – to be cherished by the US.

The small group of Greece, Cyprus, and Israel – a new buffer zone between the EU & Turkey alliance and the Sunni Arab Golf and the US – with Syria and Iraq the actual battle-field that will churn the Arab World until it reorganizes the remaining waste-lands. Russia has gained a footing via the Shiia Muslims and the US will see to limit this by making it more profitable to Iran to play the US in exchange for diminished role to the Saudis. It is all in the new world cards.

And what about the Arab North African States? Will they fall into the hands of extreme Sunnis as preached by Saudi Wahhabism – the source of what has moved to the creation of the new Islamic powder keg? I do not think this is possible in North Africa – simply because there are no Shiia elements there that justify to the Sunnis such an effort. Will there be another neutral zone in the North African region in the Cold War arena? This makes sense eventually.


Posted on on March 10th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (

We got interested in the above as we saw last night a UN in Vienna showing of the documentary – “THE SUPREME PRICE” – that was inspired by the actions of Dr. Hufsat Abiola – Costello the daughter of Moshood Abiola and Kudirat Abiola – Olayinki Adeyemi. Both of Hufsat’s parents were executed by military takeover of oil rich but poor Nigeria. Actually – her father was the democratic elected President but never allowed to take over his office, and her mother became an activist and was murdered as she posed a threat to the generals. All this before there was a Boko Haram. As all the riches was in the Niger delta oil fields of the South – it is the endemic poverty of the Muslim Northern region that eventually led to the present upheavals.
As Nigeria approaches new contested elections March 28, 2015 – all of the above will again be front page news with the danger being that the elections will be followed by riots.

Neighbors of Nigeria Take On Boko Haram

By ADAM NOSSITER MARCH 9, 2015 – The New York Times

DAKAR, Senegal — Troops from Chad and Niger launched an offensive against Boko Haram militants in neighboring Nigeria, military officials from both countries said Monday, two days after the Islamist terrorist group killed scores in bombings in northeastern Nigeria.

A military official in the Niger border city of Diffa confirmed Monday that two columns of military vehicles carrying soldiers from Niger and Chad had moved into Boko Haram’s stronghold in Nigeria’s Borno State on Sunday, consolidating control over two frontier towns, Damasak and Malam Fatori.

Chad had previously reported that its forces had pushed Boko Haram out of the two towns in mid-February. But Monday was Niger’s turn to do so. Chad’s military spokesman hung up the phone when questioned about the discrepancy, though the spokesman, Col. Azem Bermandoa Agouna, did say that forces from the two neighboring countries were “in coalition” in the regional fight against Boko Haram.
Continue reading the main story
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“The armed forces have launched themselves into the fight to recover the town,” Colonel Azem said Monday from Ndjamena, the Chadian capital, referring to Damasak, a Boko Haram staging post for attacks.
Continue reading the main story
Interactive Graphic: Groups Document Swath of Destruction Left by Boko Haram

Control of the border towns has changed hands several times, and the situation in other remote towns in territory controlled by Boko Haram remains ambiguous. The Nigerian Army, which up until last month had conceded swaths of territory to the Islamist insurgents, is sensitive over the military assistance provided by its smaller neighbors.
Continue reading the main story Video
Play Video|3:51
Boko Haram Kidnapping Tactics, Explained
Boko Haram Kidnapping Tactics, Explained

In Nigeria, more than 200 schoolgirls have been held captive since last April. Some background information on the Islamist group that has been trying to topple the country’s government for years.
Video by Natalia V. Osipova on Publish Date May 9, 2014. Photo by Sunday Alamba/Associated Press.

With a national election scheduled for March 28 and a pledge by military officials to stamp out Boko Haram before the vote, activity by Nigerian forces has intensified, as have efforts by the country’s neighbors, who are worried about the effects of the insurgency on their economies. Boko Haram has increased cross-border raids into Cameroon, Chad and Niger in recent months.

Facing direct engagement from government forces, Boko Haram has reverted to old tactics, bombing so-called soft targets in the northeastern Nigerian city of Maiduguri. Fifty to 100 people were killed in four bombings over the weekend at two crowded markets in the city.

The attacks were grimly familiar, with women concealing explosives under their hijabs. In one attack on Saturday at Maiduguri’s Monday Market, vigilantes forced a woman whom they suspected of carrying a bomb to the ground, only to be blown up as she detonated it. Nigerian reporters at another attack on Saturday at the Baga Fish Market noted that a number of the victims were children.

Issa Ousseini contributed reporting from Niamey, Niger, and a correspondent for The New York Times from Maiduguri, Nigeria.

A version of this article appears in print on March 10, 2015, on page A6 of the New York edition with the headline: Neighbors of Nigeria Take On Boko Haram


With elections scheduled for 15 sub-Saharan countries this year, an Africa Check factsheet looks to the polls for leadership in five volatile states.

In addition to presidential polls held in Zambia in January and Lesotho in February, voters are to cast their ballots in Burkina Faso, Burundi, the Central African Republic (CAR), Chad, Côte d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Guinea, Niger, Nigeria, Mauritius, Sudan, Tanzania and Togo.

South Sudan’s first election since it gained independence in 2011, originally scheduled for June, has been pushed back to 2017 as a result of violence.

Three of the countries heading for elections – Nigeria, Sudan and CAR – were among the bloodiest countries in Africa in 2014. They accounted for almost 50% of the continent’s around 39 000 conflict deaths, according to the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data project. It is possible that elections, if they go ahead as planned, may fuel further violence.

In what concerns Nigeria – we found – according to the following quote from The Guardian – ELECTIONS WILL BE HELD MARCH 28, 2015:

“Challenges have beset the election: Jonathan standing for office for a second term has exacerbated perennial north-south tensions and the Independent National Electoral Commission (Inec) has faced logistical challenges in dispensing voter cards to registered voters and to the roughly one million displaced by Boko Haram attacks.

Security concerns in the northeast of the country have affected polling. In early February, Inec pushed the election back to March 28 owing to the threat posed by Boko Haram, a move criticised by Buhari’s All Progressives Congress. Regional forces have recently made some inroads on the group; they have reclaimed several towns and are planning a major ground and air assault.

Jonathan’s waning popularity as a result of corruption scandals, high unemployment and his lacklustre handling of the Boko Haram crisis would seem to bode well for Buhari, who has extended his support in the south. But with most of his support situated in the north, any cancellation of polling or lack of voter turnout because of Boko Haram threats may affect his chances and call the credibility of the election into question.


The New York based Council on Foreign Affairs has a longer look at the upcoming elections in Nigeria:

Nigeria’s 2015 Presidential Election

Author: John Campbell, Ralph Bunche Senior Fellow for Africa Policy Studies
Nigeria’s 2015 Presidential Election – john-campbell-cpm-update-nigerias-2015-presidential-election

Publisher Council on Foreign Relations Press – Release Date February 2015

The success or failure of democracy, rule of law, and ethnic and religious reconciliation in Nigeria is a bellwether for the entire continent. With a population of more than 177 million evenly divided between Muslims and Christians, Nigeria is Africa’s largest economy and most populous country. A 2010 Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) Contingency Planning Memorandum, “Electoral Violence in Nigeria,” considered the potential for widespread violence associated with Nigeria’s 2011 elections and the limited policy options available to the United States to forestall it. This assessment remains relevant today.

The 2015 elections again may precipitate violence that could destabilize Nigeria, and Washington has even less leverage in Abuja than it did in 2011.

The upcoming elections are a rematch of the 2011 elections between the incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan (a southern Christian) and Muhammadu Buhari (a northern Muslim and a former military chief). Tension between Washington and Abuja is higher than in 2011, largely over how to respond to the radical Islamist insurgent group, Boko Haram, which is steadily gaining strength in northeast Nigeria. According to CFR’s Nigeria Security Tracker, Boko Haram has been responsible for nearly eleven thousand deaths since May 2011.

Nigerian domestic instability has also increased as a result of the recent global collapse of oil prices, which are hitting the government and political classes hard. Oil constitutes more than 70 percent of Nigeria’s revenue and provides more than 90 percent of its foreign exchange. Since October 2014, the national currency, the naira, has depreciated from 155 to the U.S. dollar to 191.

New Concerns:

Since Nigeria’s independence in 1960, political power has alternated between the predominantly Muslim north and predominantly Christian south, an informal strategy to forestall the country’s polarization. Jonathan assumed the presidency when President Umaru Yar’Adua, a northern Muslim, died in 2010. Jonathan gave private assurances that he would finish Yar’Adua’s term and wait until 2015 to run for president because it was still “the north’s turn.” But Jonathan ran for reelection in 2011, thereby violating the system of power alternation. Following the announcement of Jonathan’s victory, the north made accusations of election rigging. Rioting broke out across the north, resulting in the greatest bloodshed since the 1967–70 civil war.
Geographic Distribution of Votes in 2011 Presidential Election

Geographic Distribution of Votes in 2011 Presidential Election:

The 2015 elections are likely to be more violent. A new opposition party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), has nominated Buhari as its presidential candidate. The APC is stronger than its predecessors and reflects a splintering of the political classes. The government’s inability to defeat Boko Haram, the economic hardships brought on by falling oil prices, and a growing public perception that the Jonathan administration is weak have fueled support for the APC. Though the APC’s voter base is in the north, it enjoys support all over the country, unlike the opposition in 2011.

However, any incumbent Nigerian president has significant advantages: he is at the center of extensive patronage networks; he has access to the government’s oil revenue; and he and his party largely control the election machinery and ballot-counting infrastructure. It is uncertain whether any provisions will be made for voters in the three northern states placed under a state of emergency because of Boko Haram, as well as the estimated one million people displaced by the insurgency. These displaced voters would likely support Buhari and the APC; their exclusion would benefit Jonathan and the People’s Democratic Party (PDP). Thus despite the strength of the opposition, Jonathan remains the likely—but not certain—winner.
Policy Implications

An unstable Nigeria with internally displaced and refugee populations and a government unable to quell Boko Haram could potentially destabilize neighboring states and compromise U.S. interests in Africa. Yet, the United States has little leverage over Nigerian politics, which is driven by domestic factors, and even less leverage over the Nigerian security services. Nigeria will be disappointed that the United States has not offered greater assistance to counter Boko Haram, and Washington will be frustrated by Abuja’s failure to address human rights abuses by the security service.


A November 2014 Council Special Report “U.S. Policy to Counter Nigeria’s Boko Haram” recommends long-term steps the United States should take to encourage a Nigerian response to terrorism that advances democracy, rule of law, and respect for human rights. In the short term, vocal U.S. support for democracy and human rights both during and after the elections could help discourage violence at the polls and after the results are announced. Secretary of State John Kerry, in a preelection visit to Nigeria, has already underscored the importance of free, fair, and credible elections to the bilateral relationship.

In the aftermath, Washington should avoid commenting prematurely on the quality of the elections. Observers from the National Democratic Institute and the International Republic Institute are likely to issue preliminary assessments immediately after the polls close. So, too, will observers from the European Union, the Commonwealth, and the African Union. There will be media pressure for early, official comment. But, following a close election and the violence likely to follow, the timing and content of official U.S. statements should take into account the views of the vibrant Nigerian human rights community, which will likely be the most accurate.
Washington should forcefully and immediately denounce episodes of violence, including those committed by the security services. But official statements should avoid assessing blame without evidence, and they should take into account the weak ability of party leaders to control crowd behavior.
Washington should facilitate and support humanitarian assistance. The north is already in desperate need of humanitarian assistance, with the prospect of famine looming. If the postelection period is violent, there may be need for international humanitarian assistance in many other parts of the country. The Obama administration should plan for a leadership role in coordinating an international humanitarian relief effort, including a close study of lessons learned from the Africa Military Command’s successful intervention in Liberia’s Ebola crisis.


Posted on on January 18th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (

The following is an article that questions indirectly the concept that what the West called the Arab Spring and supported in terms that viewed those revolutions as moves towards democracy, were in major part nothing more then a way of putting extremist religion into politics. Nasser wanted to lead an Arab World – Sisi seems to be content to lead a more pluralistic Egypt. After the Paris events, ought not the West realistically line up now behind Sisi?


Brushing Aside Media Criticism, Egypt’s Sisi Preaches Tolerance

by Raymond Ibrahim
PJ Media, January 13, 2015…

Sisi made history as the first Egyptian president to enter a church during Christmas mass.

Originally published under the title, “Sisi’s Brave New Egypt?”

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi with Coptic Pope Tawadros II on Christmas Day

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi continues to be the antithesis of longstanding mainstream media portrayals of him.

First there was his historic speech where he, leader of the largest Arab nation, and a Muslim, accused Islamic thinking of being the scourge of humanity—in words that no Western leader would dare utter. This remarkable speech—which some say should earn him the Nobel Peace Prize—might have fallen by the wayside had it not been posted on my website and further disseminated by PJ Media’s Roger L. Simon, Michael Ledeen, Roger Kimball, and many others, including Bruce Thornton and Robert Spencer.

Instead, mainstream media headlines on the day of and days after Sisi’s speech included “Egypt President Sisi urged to free al-Jazeera reporter” (BBC, Jan 1), “Egyptian gays living in fear under Sisi regime” (USA Today, Jan. 2), and “George Clooney’s wife Amal risks arrest in Egypt” (Fox News, Jan. 3).

Of course, the mainstream media finally did report on Sisi’s speech—everyone else seemed to know about it—but, again, to portray Sisi in a negative light. Thus, after briefly quoting the Egyptian president’s call for a “religious revolution,” the New York Times immediately adds:

Others, though, insist that the sources of the violence are alienation and resentment, not theology. They argue that the authoritarian rulers of Arab states — who have tried for decades to control Muslim teaching and the application of Islamic law — have set off a violent backlash expressed in religious ideas and language.

In other words, jihadi terror is a product of Sisi, whom the NYT habitually portrays as an oppressive autocrat—especially for his attempts to try to de-radicalize Muslim sermons and teachings.

Next, Sisi went to the St. Mark Coptic Cathedral during Christmas Eve Mass to offer Egypt’s Christian minority his congratulations and well wishing. Here again he made history as the first Egyptian president to enter a church during Christmas mass—a thing vehemently criticized by the nation’s Islamists, including the Salafi party (Islamic law bans well wishing to non-Muslims on their religious celebrations, which is why earlier presidents—Nasser, Sadat, Mubarak, and of course Morsi—never attended Christmas mass).

Accordingly, the greetings Sisi received from the hundreds of Christians present were jubilant. His address was often interrupted by applause, clapping, and cheers of “We love you!” and “hand in hand”—phrases he reciprocated.

Part of his speech follows:

Egypt has brought a humanistic and civilizing message to the world for millennia and we’re here today to confirm that we are capable of doing so again. Yes, a humanistic and civilizing message should once more emanate from Egypt. This is why we mustn’t call ourselves anything other than “Egyptians.” This is what we must be—Egyptians, just Egyptians, Egyptians indeed! I just want to tell you that Allah willing, Allah willing, we shall build our nation together, accommodate each other, make room for each other, and we shall like each other—love each other, love each other in earnest, so that people may see… So let me tell you once again, Happy New Year, Happy New Year to you all, Happy New Year to all Egyptians!

Sisi stood side-by-side with Coptic Christian Pope Tawadros II—perhaps in remembrance of the fact that, when General Sisi first overthrew President Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood, Pope Tawadros stood side-by-side with him—and paid a heavy price: the Brotherhood and its sympathizers unleashed a Kristallnacht of “reprisals” that saw 82 Christian churches in Egypt attacked, many destroyed.

Under Sisi, Egyptian police have vigorously defended Coptic Christian churches and businesses from Islamist attacks.

It is also significant to recall where Sisi came to offer his well-wishing to the Christians: the St. Mark Cathedral—Coptic Christianity’s most sacred church which, under Muhammad Morsi was, for the first time in its history, savagely attacked, by both Islamists and the nation’s security (the article shows pictures here).

Once again, all of this has either been ignored or underplayed by most mainstream media.

There is, of course, a reason the mainstream media, which apparently follows the Obama administration’s lead, has been unkind to Sisi. One will recall that, although Sisi led the largest revolution in world history—a revolution that saw tens of millions take to the streets and ubiquitous signs and banners calling on U.S. President Obama and U.S. ambassador to Egypt Anne Patterson to stop supporting terrorism (i.e., the Brotherhood)—U.S. leadership, followed by media, spoke only of a “military coup” against a “democratically elected president,” without pointing out that this president was pushing a draconian, Islamist agenda on millions who rejected it.

That Sisi would criticize the Muslim world and Islamic texts and thinking — a big no-no for Muslim leaders — is unprecedented.

So what is the significance of all this—of Sisi? First, on the surface, all of this is positive. That Sisi would criticize the Muslim world and Islamic texts and thinking—in ways his Western counterparts could never—and then continue his “controversial” behavior by entering the Coptic Christian cathedral during Christmas mass to offer his greetings to Christians—a big no-no for Muslim leaders—is unprecedented. Nor can all this be merely for show. In the last attac
k on a Coptic church, it was two Muslim police officers guarding the church who died—not the Christian worshippers inside—a rarity.

That Sisi remains popular in Egypt also suggests that a large percentage of Egyptians approve of his behavior. Recently, for instance, after the Paris attacks, Amru Adib, host of Cairo Today, made some extremely critical comments concerning fellow Muslims/Egyptians, including by asking them “Are you, as Muslims, content with the fact that today we are all seen as terrorists by the world?… We [Egyptians] used to bring civilization to the world, today what? — We are barbarians! Barbarians I tell you!”

That said, the others are still there—the Muslim Brotherhood, the Salafis, those whom we call “Islamists,” and their many sympathizers and allies.

Worst of all, they have that “corpus of [Islamic] texts and ideas” that has been “sacralized over the centuries” (to use Sisi’s own words) to support them—texts and ideas that denounce Sisi as an “apostate” deserving of death, and thus promising a continued struggle for the soul of Egypt.

Raymond Ibrahim is a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center, a Judith Friedman Rosen Writing Fellow at the Middle East Forum and a CBN News contributor. He is the author of Crucified Again: Exposing Islam’s New War on Christians (2013) and The Al Qaeda Reader (2007).

Related To


Posted on on November 5th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (

The Fletcher School of International Affairs, Tufts University

2014 Fletcher D-Prize Winners Develop Innovative Distribution Models to Help Light the Night in Rural African Villages -
Tommy Galloway, F’14 and Andrew Lala, F’14.

Date: September 12, 2014

“Buses are the West African version of FedEx and Paypal mixed together” says Andrew Lala, Clair de Lune co-founder.

In remote regions of Sub-Saharan African, where local bus routes provide one of the few regular connections between businesses and families, two Fletcher graduates are finding a way to bring people light from a natural source: the bus driver.

Pioneered by Tommy Galloway (F14) and Andrew Lala (F14) and funded in part by $15,000 from The Fletcher D-Prize Poverty Solutions Venture Competition, Clair de Lune – French for “moonlight” – aims to bring solar lights to villages in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Many families – upwards of 600 million people throughout the region – rely on kerosene lanterns to light their homes. Yet, solar lanterns provide a cheaper, safer and cleaner alternative. Families that buy solar lamps save money on energy expenses and are more productive outside of daylight hours. Household incomes often increase 15-30 percent. Children study for an additional two hours a day.

The solar lighting solution existed, but without traditional delivery networks found in other parts of the world, Clair de Lune’s creators hoped to find a way to bring the lights to those who could benefit most from them. They drew inspiration from their prior experiences in the region – Andrew in Burkina Faso and Tommy in Myanmar – where they saw firsthand the powerful conduit buses serve as for transport of all kinds, from people to goods to information.

“I saw my Burkinabé counterparts frequently going to bus stations to send cash and goods that you couldn’t find in villages – such as flashlights and cell phones – to rural family members,” Andrew said. “Buses are the West African version of FedEx and Paypal mixed together.”

Based on this model, the Fletcher alumni duo implemented a distribution platform that leverages existing bus infrastructure and cultural remittance practices to bring solar lights to these hard to reach region. Starting in the summer of 2014 with 400 off-the-grid families in Burkina Faso, they aim to scale to 30,000 customers within two years.

Tommy and Andrew have faced some challenges, from lack of infrastructure to difficult trade policies, yet the pilot program continues onward with new opportunities as Clair de Lune looks for second round investment. What was once a simple business plan hatched on the seventh floor of the Cabot building at Fletcher has evolved into a tangible and promising network of clients and partners on a real path to helping fight poverty.

“Every day you can engage in creating something new that you fundamentally believe in,” Tommy said, “and that is affirmed with every step forward we make.”


Fletcher’s Editors Note: If you had $20,000, how would you fight poverty? Help kick off this year’s D-Prize competition on Tuesday, September 16, 2014, with presentations from D-Prize President Paul Youn and Clair de Lune co-founders Andrew and Tommy. The Fletcher D-Prize is open to all Fletcher students and their Tufts teammates, and – new this year – all Fletcher alumni as well! Read more


Posted on on August 24th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (

 From Daniel Pipes:

Dear Reader:

The article below began life as a presentation at a Muslim conference in Toronto a week ago and is today published in Turkish and English by a newspaper in Turkey.

Also: I appeared August 22 on Sun News Network’s The Arena with Michael Coren, and discussed “Hamas and ISIS on the Rampage.” It’s studio quality and 8 minutes long. Click here.

Yours sincerely,

Daniel Pipes

The Caliphate Brings Trauma.

by Daniel Pipes
Ayd?nl?k (Turkey)
August 24, 2014

Without warning, the ancient and long powerless institution of the caliphate returned to life on June 29, 2014.
What does this event augur?

The classic concept of the caliphate – of a single successor to Muhammad ruling a unified Muslim state – lasted just over a century and expired with the emergence of two caliphs in 750 CE.

The power of the caliphate collapsed in about the year 940 CE. After a prolonged, shadowy existence, the institution disappeared altogether in 1924. The only subsequent efforts at revival were trivial, such as the so-called Kalifatsstaat in Cologne, Germany. In other words, the caliphate has been inoperative for about a millennium and absent for about a century.


“The Kaplan Case,” a German magazine cover story about the “Caliph of Cologne.”

The group named the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria conquered the city of Mosul, population 1.7 million, in June; days later, it adopted the name Islamic State and declared the return of the caliphate. Its capital is the historic town of Raqqa, Syria (population just 220,000), which not-coincidentally served as the caliphate’s capital under Harun al-Rashid for 13 years.

Under the authority of an Iraqi named Ibrahim Awwad Ibrahim, the new caliphate projects boundless ambition to rule the entire world (“east and west”) and to impose a uniquely primitive, fanatical, and violent form of Islamic law on everyone.


{Harun al-Rashid was the fifth Abbasid Caliph. His actual birth date is debatable, and various sources give dates from 763 to 766. His surname translates to “the Just,” “the Upright” or “the Rightly-Guided.”  He died: March 24, 809 AD, Tous, Iran.

Al-Rashid ruled from 786 to 809, during the peak of the Islamic Golden Age. His time was marked by scientific, cultural, and religious prosperity. Islamic art and music also flourished significantly during his reign. He established the legendary library Bayt al-Hikma (“House of Wisdom”) in Baghdad in modern-day Iraq, and during his rule Baghdad began to flourish as a center of knowledge, culture and trade.

In 796, he moved his court and government to Ar-Raqqah in modern-day Syria.

Since Harun was intellectually, politically, and militarily resourceful, his life and his court have been the subject of many tales. Some are claimed to be factual, but most are believed to be fictitious. An example of what is factual, is the story of the clock that was among various presents that Harun had sent to Charlemagne. The presents were carried by the returning Frankish mission that came to offer Harun friendship in 799. Charlemagne and his retinue deemed the clock to be a conjuration for the sounds it emanated and the tricks it displayed every time an hour ticked.  Among what is known to be fictional is  The Book of One Thousand and One Nights, which contains many stories that are fantasized by Harun’s magnificent court and even Harun al-Rashid himself.

Amongst some Shia Muslims he is despised for his role in the murder of the 7th Imam, Musa ibn Ja’far.

(These lines above were  added by PJ when editing this material for as we wonder how the ISIS fighters reconcile their deeds with the historic image that put the Ar-Raqqah town on the Caliphate’s map?)}

Caliphs of Baghdad



Harun al-Rashid as imagined in a 1965 Hungarian stamp.


I have predicted that this Islamic State, despite its spectacular rise, will not survive: “confronted with hostility both from neighbors and its subject population, [it] will not last long.” At the same time, I expect it will leave a legacy:

No matter how calamitous the fate of Caliph Ibrahim and his grim crew, they have successfully resurrected a central institution of Islam, making the caliphate again a vibrant reality. Islamists around the world will treasure its moment of brutal glory and be inspired by it.


Looking ahead, here is my more specific forecast for the current caliphate’s legacy:

1. Now that the ice is broken, other ambitious Islamists will act more boldly by declaring themselves caliph. There may well be a proliferation of them in different regions, from Nigeria to Somalia to Afghanistan to Indonesia and beyond.

2. Declaring a caliphate has major implications, making it attractive to jihadis across the umma (the worldwide Muslim community) and compelling it to acquire sovereign control of territory.

3. The Saudi state has taken on a quasi-caliphal role since the formal disappearance of the Ottoman caliphate in 1924. With the emergence of the Raqqa caliphate, the Saudi king and his advisors will be sorely tempted to declare their own version. If the current “Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques” (as the Saudi king like to be called), who just turned 90, does not indulge this claim, his successors might well do so, thereby becoming the first caliphate in a recognized state.


Pope Benedict XVI (right) met in 2007 with Saudi king (and future Caliph?) Abdullah.
{is this picture a sign of things to come – the Saudi King’s ambition to speak for all Islam?}

4. The Islamic Republic of Iran, the great Shi’ite power, might well do the same, not wanting to be conceptually out-gunned by the Sunnis in Riyadh, thus becoming the second formal caliphal state.

5. This profusion of caliphs will further exacerbate the anarchy and internecine hostility among Muslim peoples.

6. Disillusion will quickly set in. Caliphates will not bring personal security, justice, economic growth, or cultural achievement. One after another, these self-declared universal states will collapse, be overrun, or let lapse their grandiose claims.

7. This caliphate-declaring madness will end some decades hence, with a return to roughly the pre-June 29, 2014, conditions. Looking back then on the caliphal eruption, it will appear as an anachronistic anomaly, an obstacle to modernizing the umma, and a bad dream.


In short, declaring the caliphate on June 29 was a major event; and the caliphate is an institution whose time has long passed and, therefore, whose revival bodes much trauma.


Mr. Pipes ( is president of the Middle East Forum. This paper was first delivered at a QeRN Academy conference on “The Caliphate as a Political System: Historic Myth or Future Reality?” in Toronto on August 16, 2014. © 2014 by Daniel Pipes. All rights reserved.

Related Topics:  History, Islam This text may be reposted or forwarded so long as it is presented as an integral whole with complete and accurate information provided about its author, date, place of publication, and original URL.


Posted on on May 22nd, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (

A Solar-backed Currency for the Refugees of Western Sahara.

By Mel Chin | Creative Time | April 30, 2014…

View of Smara, one of the Sahrawi refugee camps in Tindouf, Algeria. CREDIT: Mel Chin, 2011.

What the world needs now is the first Bank of the Sun.

The HSBC ads at Newark International Airport could not have been more appropriate for my trek to the Sahrawi refugee camps in Tindouf, Algeria. As I ambled through the jet bridge with my carry-on, color-coordinated images of demure North African women met my eyes, accompanied by some facts assembled by the bank—”0.3% of Saharan solar energy could power Europe”—and a self-aggrandizing but, for me, prescient message: “Do you see a world of potential? We do.”

It was the fall of 2011, and I was on a string of flights from North Carolina to Algeria to participate in an ARTifariti convening of international artists presenting human rights–related projects at the Algerian camps and in Western Sahara. During previous gatherings, a New York–based art critic had presented a slide show to international artists and Sahrawi refugees, sharing pieces by activist artists and filmmakers such as Ai Weiwei and Spike Lee. The get-togethers offered a forum to consider artists who might do a project in the camps.

And in the end, the refugees had chosen a Chinese Texan who had spearheaded Operation Paydirt’s Fundred Dollar Bill Project, an artwork that prompted Americans to draw their own versions of $100 bills (in order to raise awareness of and prevent childhood lead poisoning). Essentially they said, “Bring us the guy with the money.” So I packed my bags and left for the western lands of North Africa.

Mel Chin

Operation Paydirt’s Fundred Dollar Bill Project in St. Roch, New Orleans. CREDIT: Amanda Wiles, 2009.

At an unknown hour on a starless night, I arrived in the 27 February Camp—one of Algeria’s five Sahrawi refugee camps (named after the date in 1976 on which the Polisario Front declared the birth of the Sahrawi Democratic Arab Republic)—and was led to the home of our host, Abderrahman. As we entered his compound, the seasoned warrior, dressed in a blue darrâa, emerged from a UN tent, unfurled a carpet over the sand, ignited charcoal and began to prepare the customary tea for us. We attempted to translate from Hassaniya Arabic to Spanish to English over tea, getting a taste of enthusiastic nomad hospitality.

That night I heard firsthand the history of the Sahrawi people, who today are divided between Algerian refugee camps and a sliver of Moroccan-occupied Western Sahara that they call the “liberated territories.” For nearly four decades, warfare and political powers have trapped more than 150,000 Sahrawis in the camps and separated them from their family members in the liberated territories, which are bounded by the Moroccan wall to the west and Algeria’s border to the east.

When Morocco and Mauritania invaded Western Sahara in 1975 (Mauritania withdrew in 1979), they split up the land and seized the Sahrawis’ natural resources—water, rich fishing grounds and the world’s largest phosphate mine. Now, inhabiting either the arid, landlocked region of Western Sahara or the bare-bones camps of Algeria, the Sahrawi people depend entirely on international humanitarian aid for food, water and medicine. And while Western Sahara has none of the lead-poisoning problems of postindustrial America, its liberated territories have more landmines than any other place on the planet.

Mel Chin

In the tent of Abderrahman and his family. CREDIT: Mel Chin, 2011.

In the morning I awoke from this harrowing chronicle in a land of sand and rock that was brutally burnished by the sun—and I can guarantee that there was no bank in sight. I soon learned why the Sahrawi people were so interested in the Fundred Dollar Bill project: they have no currency of their own and deal mostly with Algerian dinars. In response, we created a background template for their currency, printed thousands of blank bills and distributed them through the camps, announcing a design opportunity. After we curated their drawings, the Sahrawis would vote on the designs for what might become their first currency.

The denominations for the currency, called “sollars,” were 5, 10, 20, 50 and 100. Children and teens drew the 5s and 10s; young adults, the 20s; and of course, the elders, the 100s. But the designs for the 50s would have two adult versions, one male and one female. The survivalist family culture that has emerged from the hostile desert climate has enforced a long-standing code of equality between the sexes. In a region where food is scarce and hot summer temperatures and freezing desert nights can kill, whoever survives the elements must be allowed equal rights in the tribe to barter and represent the family, regardless of religious dictates.

Mel Chin

The children’s school at the 27 February Camp. CREDIT: Mel Chin, 2011.

While I was in the camps, I came to understand that the symbolic and therapeutic benefits of designing the first Sahrawi currency with the refugees were not worthy enough goals. The Sahrawi people need a real economy. And to make that happen, the fictional currency I helped the refugees design had to be backed by something real and exchangeable on international markets.

As I mulled over the problem under the blazing sun, I realized that the desert holds the potential to bring Sahrawis economic and political independence—and the leverage necessary to help us all combat climate change.

What the world needs now is the first Bank of the Sun. The first solar energy–backed currency in the world could bring the Sahrawi people an independent economy and offer a major breakthrough in an environmental quagmire. We would create a new model of banking and currency, free from the dominance of gold and oil, for first-world countries to follow.

And this model would be delivered by the Sahrawi people, who have been waiting for freedom and self-determination for 39 years! By achieving worldwide renown for freeing people from hydrocarbon dependency, the Sahrawi could then barter with the global community for another form of independence: their right to self-determination.

Mel Chin Bank of the Sun Western SaharaFreedom is the concept propelling my action with the Sahrawi people. The sun on this poster for the Bank of the Sun is composed of the Arabic word for “freedom,” repeated 38 times—once for every year the Sahrawis have waited for the right to self-determination (as of last year). CREDIT: Mel Chin, 2013.

I admit that it was a pretty far-out and grand idea, but I suppose I did see a world of potential in Saharan solar energy, just like the jetway HSBC ad said. I was thinking like a bank.

After getting back from the Tindouf camps, I found myself in Texas, accepting a national award for my efforts in public art and, most likely, boring everyone with crazy talk about a Bank of the Sun in landmine-laced Western Sahara. My friends were more concerned about my diminishing sense of self-preservation than about anything I said—especially after I told them that my trip to Tifariti had been interrupted by the armed kidnapping of three foreign-aid workers from a neighboring refugee camp. They didn’t even entertain my ideas with any questions about how the bank idea could be pulled off.

As with most such gatherings, there was not much left to do after the award ceremony but drink and dance. So, with friends in tow, we honky-tonked through San Antonio, taking over a bar by the River Walk and proceeding to do what had to be done. While taking a break from the floor, I noticed a man about my age sitting at a table with a beer, tapping his feet to the bluesy beat. I had my posse pull him onto the floor. He began to move in a calculated way, like an engineer. Intrigued, I joined him and the party on the floor.

Over the din, I shouted, “What do you do?”

He shouted back, “I’m an engineer.”

“Really?” I asked. “What kind?”

“A solar engineer.”

I challenged Texas style: “So, ever heard of Western Sahara?”

Matter-of-factly he replied, “Yes, we designed a power station for the refugee camps there.”

For me, a light flicked on, burning away the haze of booze and turning the blaring R&B into a background of sweet birds; the bodies in frantic motion seemed to stand still. I urged him off the dance floor. He told me, in an Australian accent, that he was Dr. Richard Corkish, head of photovoltaic engineering at the University of New South Wales in Australia. Not only that—his colleague had just been in the same refugee camps I had visited, advising on how to power a women’s clinic. It was a profound coincidence, to say the least. We closed the bar, and I left clutching Dr. Corkish’s business card.

For me, a light flicked on, burning away the haze of booze and turning the blaring R&B into a background of sweet birds.

Since our night on the floor, Dr. Corkish has been an adviser to the Bank of the Sun, which is on its way to becoming a reality. He has assigned students the project as part of his curriculum and counseled us on the design of a modular, pragmatic stand-alone solar power plant in Western Sahara, as well as a cost-effective method for transmitting power. Following Corkish’s methodologies, we could generate more than enough energy for Sahrawi needs, creating a surplus to sell to neighboring countries or even to Europe. By working in the Western Sahara to retool our approach to energy, we would prove that the most advanced methods of solar-power storage and delivery are feasible even in a place with no infrastructure. The most appropriate technology for us all could be built from the sand up.

In February 2013 I discussed the project with Ahmad Bukhari, the Polisario representative to the United Nations, and later with Mohamed Yeslem Beisat, the ambassador to the United States for the Western Saharan people. Skeptical at first, they have both become advisers and creative collaborators.

To make the first Bank of the Sun a reality, we have to find a place where electricity can be generated that is both safe from armed conflict and close enough to someone interested in buying energy. Bukhari suggested placing the stand-alone solar power plant not in the camps but in Mijek, a nomadic outpost in the liberated territories. Mijek continues to be the most likely site because the energy could be sold to Zouérat, a town in northern Mauritania where an iron ore mine needs more power than is available. The Mauritanian ambassador recently confirmed that the country would buy any energy offered. I have started to seek funds for a fact-finding trek, during which I will finally step on the sands of Western Sahara.

Mel Chin

The site and plans for the potential Bank of the Sun. CREDIT: Mel Chin, 2013.

During my time in the Sahrawi refugee camps, I relearned a lesson I picked up in the flood-wracked and environmentally poisoned parts of New Orleans: you are not inspired by tragedy or human suffering—you are compelled.

My brilliant translator, a young man named Mohamed Sulaiman Labat, was born in the camps and has never traveled beyond his host country, Algeria, or the shameful wall of sand and explosives erected by Morocco in Western Sahara. Sulaiman is majestic in his capacity for optimism and his aptitude for imagining alternative futures based on ideas we discussed during my stay. On our last night together, he spoke with me about staring each night into the vast sky above the camps. He then asked, “No disrespect, but why is it so easy for an artist to see our need for justice when the rest of the world can’t?”

A question like that makes you think about what could be and about how our humanity is challenged if we don’t take action to amplify his question—and to force an answer.


This piece from Creative Time Reports is republished without trying to track down permission. Climate Reports is made possible by the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation. This series is produced in conjunction with the 2013 Marfa Dialogues/NY organized by Ballroom Marfa, the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation and the Public Concern Foundation. We hope that the authors will not mind our trying to publicize their very sound dream for a mos reasonable future. The only question is if the world will be enlightened enough to see that the true realists are the dreamers of today.



Posted on on March 21st, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (

from:  Österreichische Gesellschaft für Europapolitik (ÖGfE) | Rotenhausgasse 6/8-9 | A-1090 Wien |  europa at | |
+43 1 – 533 4999
FOCUS EUROPAPolicy Brief 2’2014

Reference to the Full Policy Brief - 

The Arab Spring: The role of quality education and the consequences of its lack.
By Anne Goujon
Vienna, 18. February 2014
ISSN 2305-2635
Abstract &  Policy Recommendations:
1. EU Member States should increase bilateral cooperation for teacher training with
Arab Spring Countries.

2. Focus on transparency and accountability in teachers training.

3. Promote the role of the EU as an umbrella and catalyst for all aid-driven education
system reforms activities.
The lack of quality education plays a major role
in explaining the Arab Spring: As a result of past
shortfalls in education, large shares of the working-
age population in the Arab-Spring countries do not
have the right qualifi cations for entering the labour
market. This not only leads to high levels of unem-
ployment but also entails poverty and social dist-
ress. At the macro level, it triggers a vicious cycle
of underdevelopment by hampering an upgrade to
economies driven by knowledge and innovation de-
spite the substantial numbers of higher educated ci-
tizens of working age in these countries. This holds
particularly true for Egypt. Remedying the current
lack of quality education should be a top priority
in the countries of North Africa, because it is the
source of many deficiencies plaguing this region. In
the Arab-Spring countries, the European Union’s
sectoral aid given for education has focused on
quantity (e.g. raising enrollment by supporting the
implementation of the Millennium Development
Goals for Education) rather than on quality, where
interventions usually target higher education (most-
ly through individual sponsorship programmes),
although there are challenges at all levels, starting
with basic education. The European Union’s main
priority should be to guide and assist these coun-
tries in developing training programmes for teachers
as the driving force behind the entire system reform.


Adams, A. and R. Winthrop
. 2011. The role of education in the Arab world. Brookings
Global Compact on Learning Report number 2.
Goujon, A
. 1997. Population and education Prospects in the Western Mediterranean
Region. IIASA Interim Report IR-97-046. Laxenburg, Austria: IIASA.
Goujon, A
. 2002. Population and education prospects in the Arab Region. In: I. Siragel-
din (ed.), Human capital: Population Economics in the Middle East. Cairo: The American
University in Cairo Press, An Economic Research Forum Edition: 116-140.
Goujon, A. and B. Barakat
. 2010. Future demographic challenges in the Arab world. The
Emirates Occasional Papers No. 75. Dubai: Emirates Center for Strategic Studies and
Goujon, A. and H. Alkitkat
. 2010. Population et capital humain en Egypte à l’horizon
2050 [Population and human capital in Egypt up to 2050]. In: P. Blanc (ed.), Egyp-
te: l’Eclipse, Confl uences Méditerranée, numéro 75, Automne 2010: 33–48. Paris:
L’ H a r m a t t a n .
Goujon, A., S. K.C. 2010
. Gender gap handicap in North Africa. Options (IIASA, Laxen-
burg, Austria), Summer 2010, p.22.
Makhlouf Obermeyer, C.
1992. Islam, Women, and Politics: The Demography of Arab
Countries. Population and Development Review 18 (1): 33-60.
. 2012. Arab Knowledge Report 2010/2011: Preparing Future Genera-
tions for the Knowledge Society. Dubai, United Arab Emirates: Mohammed Bin Rashid
Al Maktoum Foundation (MBRF) and the United Nations Development Programme /
Regional Bureau for Arab States (UNDP/RBAS).
Transparency International
. 2013. Transparency International’s ›Global Corruption Baro-
meter 2013‹.
Yousif, H. M., A. Goujon and W. Lutz
. 1996. Future Population and Education Trends in
the Countries of North Africa. Research Report RR-96-11. Laxenburg, Austria: IIASA.



Posted on on February 16th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (


Green Prophet Headlines – El Gouna: Egypt builds MENA’s first carbon-neutral city

Link to Green Prophet



El Gouna: Egypt builds MENA’s first carbon-neutral city


Posted: 15 Feb 2014 09:23 PM PST


el gouna carbon neutral city EgyptEl Gouna, a resort city on Egypt’s Red Sea Riviera, is set to become the first carbon-neutral city in that nation, in Africa, and likely the entire Middle East North Africa (MENA) region. Masdar City, in continuing development in Abu Dhabi, initially targeted zero-carbon status, but has yet to hit that goal.
Image of El Gouna from Shutterstock


The ambitious development agreement was signed last week by the Egyptian Ministry of State for Environmental Affairs, the Italian Ministry of Environment and El Gouna City.


Dr. Laila Iskandar, Egyptian Minister of State for Environmental Affairs, told Trade Arabia, “This agreement will help the Egyptian government to achieve a significant breakthrough in the fields of environment and tourism, enhancing Egypt’s global image and opening the door for Egyptian tourism projects and cities to rank among the leading carbon-neutral entities.”


El Gouna is already hailed as Egypt’s most environmentally-friendly vacation destination.  It’s captured Green Globe and Travelife certifications and was selected as the pilot location for the Green Star Hotel Initiative (GSHI).


Launched in 2007, GSHI is a cooperative effort between public and private sectors, the Egyptian and German tourism industries, and supported by key technical consultants.  They promote use of environmental management systems and environmentally sound operations to improve environmental performance and to increase competitiveness of the Egyptian hotel industry.


Priority projects include conservation of natural resources such as clean beaches, healthy marine life and protected areas, which are the backbone of the Red Sea Riviera and the nation’s eco-tourism market.


Mr. Hisham Zaazou, Egyptian Minister of Tourism, told Trade Arabia, “We will also be working on implementing this project in other Egyptian cities.”


Posted on on January 7th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (



Monday, 13. Jänner 2014, 7 p.m.

Bruno Kreisky Forum for international Dialogue | Armbrustergasse 15 | 1190 Wien

R.s.v.p: Tel.: 3188260/20 | Fax: 318 82 60/10 | e-mail:




Michel Reveyrand de Menthon

EU Special Representative for the Sahel

Günther Barnet

Federal Ministry for Defense and Sports; Head of Africa Policy Department


Georg Lennkh

Member of the Board of the Bruno Kreisky Forum

 For some time now, the European Union has recognized the Sahel Region as an area where security and development are closely interlinked and where the EU can and should play an important role in bringing these two aspects together. The EU had therefore worked out a ‘Strategy for Security and Development in the Sahel’ and made this by Council decision an official part of European Common Foreign Policy. With the events in Mali, not even one year ago, this strategy took on a special significance and the EU decided, in March 2013, to nominate Michel Reveyrand de Menthon as EU Special Representative for the Sahel Region.  The key aspect of his mandate is to contribute to the implementation, coordination and further development of the Unions comprehensive approach to the regional crisis, on the basis of its Strategy, with a view to enhancing the overall coherence and effectiveness of Union activities in the Sahel, in particular in Mali.

Although the Sahel region had designated as its primary focus namely Mali, Mauritania and Niger, it was clear that the regional ramifications would extend to the Maghreb and South and East to the adjacent African countries.

The presentation of M. Reveyrand de Menthon will therefore cover a wider geographical area, and will have a particular significance also in view of the very recent intensification of the conflict in the Central African Republic.

For Austria, the topic, and the visit of M. Reveyrand de Menthon has particular relevance because of the participation of a small contingent of troops in the EU Training Mission in Mali.

Karin Mendel
Bruno Kreisky Forum for International Dialogue
1190 Vienna, Armbrustergasse 15


Posted on on January 4th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (


Green Prophet Headlines – Dubai exploded 400,000 fireworks in record-shattering NYE display [video]

Link to Green Prophet

mailed-by: – Dubai exploded 400,000 fireworks in record-shattering NYE display [video]

Posted: 03 Jan 2014 01:44 PM PST

guinness world records, world's largest fireworks display, the palm, world islands, artificial islands dubai, dubai fireworks, NYE Dubai, 2014 fireworks display Dubai

Dubai rang in 2014 with a record-shattering fireworks display. In an effort to break the Guinness World Record for the world’s largest fireworks extravaganza previously held by Kuwait, the emirate exploded a whopping 400,000 fireworks in less than 10 minutes.

Choreographed by America’s Phil Grucci, Dubai’s fireworks display was spread across 100 kilometers and lasted six full minutes.

The event took 10 months to plan and more than 200 pyrotechnicians arranged around The Palm and The World artificial islands ensured the display went off without a hitch.

Fireworks used were purchased in China, Spain and the United States, according to The National, and were hauled to the launching site by a long series of trucks.

We’re being given the challenge of breaking the world record,” said Grucci, who has worked in Dubai in the past, “so the scale of this is nothing that anybody has had the opportunity to oversee.”

Kuwait’s previous record was shattered by Dubai’s over-the-top performance, where nearly 100,000 fireworks were set off every minute.

“[Kuwait's] firework display stretched over 5 km (3.11 miles) of seafront, started at 8 p.m. and lasted 64 minutes,” according to the Guinness World Record website. “Event organizers Parente Fireworks srl and Filmmaster MEA produced the event, which included the pyrotechnic display and a lights and sound show. Preceding this, an airshow was staged in the afternoon.”

Albeit impressive, the show somehow undoes all of the small steps that Dubai has taken over the last year to become a little less environmentally destructive.

While those that saw the show were extremely impressed and lauded Dubai’s efforts to draw tourists to the city, some commentators expressed regret over the extraordinary expense and extravagance.

“When I see this and remember that Gaza has been without electricity for 40 days,” said Oussama Bargougui on YouTube “I really feel ashamed to be Arabic.”

Screengrab from Dubai Media video


Above reminded me of the Arab UN official supervisor who at 60 years age bragged of just having had a baby.


Posted on on December 15th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (


UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s remarks to the Security Council briefing on peace and security in Africa.
Thursday, December 12, 2013

The session dealt with Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso, and Tchad – the countries visited by Mr. Ban Ki-moon. He did not go to Mauritania or Senegal.

The Secretary-General, Mr. Ban Ki-moon said:

I came back from the visit with a clear sense that we need to do much more to fight poverty, empower women, provide employment opportunities for young people and ensure that all the people of the Sahel have what they need to build a better future.

The Sahel’s vast size and long, porous borders mean that such challenges can be addressed successfully only if the countries of the region work together.  The United Nations will continue its efforts to promote security, good governance and resilience.

We took an important first step in Mali at the regional meeting.  African ministers, as well as regional and international organizations and financial institutions, came together to improve coordination and address the Sahel’s fragility.  They welcomed the African Development Bank’s establishment of an Action Fund, which will help jump-start underfunded projects and contribute to longer-term development.
Going forward, the ministers will meet twice each year to calibrate responses to the Sahel’s challenges. Mr. M. Tete Antonio representing the African Union presented the organization’s views.

During the visit, the World Bank, and the EU, pledged $8.2 Billion for the SAHEL.

 The Secretary-General also had a very moving visit to Timbuktu, he said.  People there are struggling to recover from human rights abuses and upheaval.  I was given an opportunity to view the cultural treasures that had been damaged in attacks.  This was a terrible loss for Mali — and for our common global heritage — but with UNESCO’s (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) help, we are moving to safeguard it.
I condemn all attacks against places of worship and call for reconciliation and accountability.

We must continue to strengthen MINUSMA (United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali).   Mali has made progress toward re-establishing constitutional order.  The first round of legislative elections was conducted in an orderly manner.  But the political process between the Government and armed groups has been delayed.  I remain concerned about the security situation in the north.


Further – “Across the region, terrorist acts, the trafficking of arms, drugs and people, as well as other transnational forms of organized crime, are threatening security.  We must do more to address the food crises that plague the Sahel.  We also have to improve conditions in migrants’ communities of origin while also generating more legal opportunities for migrants to work abroad” – he said.

To put all this into context – we say the situation in this French-speaking belt of Sub-Saharan Africa – is  totally unacceptable.
The lack of positive outside involvement, and an extortive National Governments’ presence, the land is left to marauders and outside trouble-makers who take aim at the larger and richer  countries of the Arab belt of North Africa – Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria, Libya, Egypt. It was through the Sahel that forces fighting the Arab Spring found their way to the North and illegal traffic by those that also control the Sahel made it impossible to do any positive work in the region.

We wait to hear of any projects that help the people there rather then the banks that manage those projects.

Nevertheless – the UNSG continued – “I look forward to the views of Council members on how we can achieve this.  And I count on all partners to live up to our promises so that this important region can break the cycle of poverty and insecurity and usher in an era of prosperity and stability for all.” This prompted statements from some delegations.

Now seeing what the Council said we would not express hopes that the Council intends to do anything about the Sahel.

it is indeed very cheap to say: “The Security Council reaffirms its continued commitment to address the complex security and political challenges in that region, which were interrelated with humanitarian and developmental issues, as well as the adverse effects of climate and ecological changes.”  We ask – indeed gentlemen – what does this mean to you and what do you intend to  do?

All right – there is a reference to a document – S/PRST/2013/20 and then what? So, yes, there is a call to the local governments – but who indeed expects them to act? What are we entitled to expect from this UN?


Posted on on December 3rd, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (

The UPDATE comes in the form of a letter from an organization that helps people who seek asylum in the US and we thought to attach it here:
Hi,I wanted to shoot you an e-mail thanking you for compiling so much great information and links on your website  I did find couple of broken links though!  If you are still
updating your page, the company I work for has a  great link that is related to your site!  The site is:

Adding this resource will make your page even more helpful for  future visitors.Thank you for your time and consideration.Thank You,
Cooper Brimm

American Immigration Center.
As published March 14, 2012:
Mr. George Clooney, accompanied by John Prendergast of the Satellite Sentinel Project, Audu Adam Elnail, Anglican Bishop at Kadugli, Southern Kordofam, Sudan, and Omer Ismail an activist from Darfur, Sudan formed at the Council on Foreign Relations, New York City, a panel   chaired by Ann Curry of NBC News.
The four arrived directly from Sudan where they looked at the ways Sudan is scaring the Nuba of South Kordofam into leaving their villages and hiding in caves. They used to farm the arid land where they live, but now there is no agriculture and no food, and they just live in those Nuba mountain caves.
This happens like it did earlier in Darfur – the Arab Sudanese want to clear the land from the somewhat darker African Nuba people.
We were told this was not a problem of religion – both sides are mainly Muslim and there are some Christians present as well. The problem is rather one of heritage intermixed with a longer war of Non-Arab regions against the Central Government.  The rebels believe they are Sudanese but want some autonomy for their area.  The Government reacts by trying to undercut from the regions any hope, cause starvation in an effort to get them to leave. Left to themselves – this just becomes another Darfur. The four speak about South Kordofam;s Kadugli.

The troops come in daylight, ask the Arabs among the population to operate noisy radios in order to signal that they are Arab Somalis, while the quieter homes are being destroyed. John Prendergast has satellite photos to show the bombings and the prople heading for the caves.

The bishop says that the dark Nuba are the Biblical people of Kush. South Sudan does not support the Nuba, people from among the Nuba that fled to South Sudan come back to fight, but the villagers do not fight – they are just plain victims according to the four witnesses.

The Bishop does not find religion as a cause to the trouble – it is heritage – cultural and oil. South Sudan has decided to stop sending oil to the pipeline to refining in the North. The Chinese have invested $20 Billion in producing this oil and when they are forced to buy oil somewhere else this increases the cost of oil to everybody. This impacts the economy, including here in the US, and has political repercussions. Cloony thus says that what is needed is peace in Sudan and this can be achieved only after the present government of President Omar Hassan al-Bashir has been removed. In the present mess, the Government of Sudan has bombed some Chinese oil wells which turned also China away from Sudan. Nevertheless, Arab governments and Africans still let Criminally indicted al-Bashir come for visits and business as if his deeds do not count. The four cry foul and want to make sure that the world knows – they put the fame of George Clooney and John Prendergast on this public relations line. They will testify in Congress and visit with President Obama. Will the people listen and understand that what is here that confronts them are not just the activities in Sudan, but the US economy and the price of gasoline at the pump. Is that what it takes to save poor people from Arab manipulations?


NAIROBI, Kenya — Ryan Boyette, an American aid worker living in one of the most active war zones in Africa — Sudan’s Nuba Mountains — was in a thatch-roof office on a clear January day when he heard two thunderous blasts.

The explosions were not preceded by the usual growl of aging Antonov aircraft. The Sudanese military has been relentlessly bombing the Nuba Mountains since June, killing hundreds of civilians, trying to quash a dug-in rebel movement. At the faintest sound of approaching aircraft, many Nuban people scramble up the steep, stony mountainsides to take cover in caves. But that day, silence preceded the two loud bangs that jolted Mr. Boyette, giving no time to run.

When Mr. Boyette, 30, dashed out to the blast site, he found his wife, Jazira, stunned, and many children crying.

“Rockets,” the locals told him. “That was the rockets.”

The Sudanese Army, according to aid workers such as Mr. Boyette and weapons experts in East Africa, has begun using long-range, Chinese-made rockets to bombard the Nuba Mountains, adding a new weapon to an increasingly unsparing counterinsurgency strategy.

The rockets, fired from more than 25 miles away, travel at 3,000 miles per hour and pack a 330-pound warhead often loaded with steel ball bearings to increase lethality, experts say. Where they land is random, witnesses say, and they often slam into villages instead of legitimate military targets.

“They arrive without any warning,” said Helen Hughes, an arms control researcher at Amnesty International. “And they are being used indiscriminately, which is violation of international humanitarian law.”

According to Mr. Boyette, more than 70 rockets have been fired into the Nuba Mountains since December, killing 18 people, including several children.

From photographs of bomb sites and remains of the rocket motors, Western experts have identified the rockets as Chinese-manufactured Weishi truck-launched rockets. China is one of Sudan’s closest strategic allies, buying billions of dollars of Sudanese oil and selling Sudan advanced weaponry.

The Sudanese government does not deny using rockets in the Nuba Mountains, insisting that they are a legitimate weapon.

“Rockets are part of combat,” said Al-Sawarmi Khalid, a Sudanese military spokesman. “And the armed groups also use the same rockets and weapons we use.”

Witnesses in the Nuba Mountains said the rebels used a much smaller, shorter-range rocket, and only during battles.

The government rockets are the latest twist in one of Africa’s more intractable conflicts. Tens of thousands of rebel fighters in the Nuba Mountains refuse to disarm, saying that they are fighting for more autonomy from a government that has marginalized and persecuted them. The Sudanese government’s response has been to lay siege to the area: bombarding it, cutting off the roads, blocking emergency supplies and most aid workers and outside observers.

Some analysts see similarities between the brutal tactics used in Nuba and those employed in Darfur, in Sudan’s west, during the height of the violence there several years ago.

The Nuba conflict is complicated by the separation of South Sudan from Sudan in July. The Nuban fighters were historically allied to the south but after South Sudan’s independence found themselves just north of the new border, in hostile territory.

Mr. Boyette, the aid worker, is one of the only Westerners providing battlefield updates. He came to the area several years ago to work for an American aid organization, married a local woman and refused to leave once the conflict began.

Sudan and South Sudan are divided over oil, having not yet come up with an agreement of how to share oil profits. While 75 percent of the oil is in the south, the pipeline to export it runs through the north. On Tuesday, Reuters reported that in the coming weeks Sudan’s president, Omar Hassan al-Bashir, would make his first visit to South Sudan since the country gained independence to meet with South Sudan’s president, Salva Kiir.

Isma’il Kushkush contributed reporting from Khartoum, Sudan.


Posted on on October 23rd, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (


The New York event took place at the Austrian Consulate General, Monday,  October 21, 2013, and was hosted by Consul General, Ambassador Georg Heidl.

Leader of the group was Josef Mantl, the Editor of the “Communicating Sustainability” volume published in Austria, CEO of JMC – Communications that Moves – and a spokesman for the Al Gore campaign for Sustainability.

With him came to the US Mr. Mario J Mueller, General Manager of SFL Technologies (Green Tech Valley of Styria based in Graz); Klaus Tritscher, CEO of EnTri Consulting (Environmental and Infrastructure Services) & Co-initiator of Vienna based “Green Tech Bridge USA-Austria; Gery Keszler, Founder of the Vienna Life Ball – an organization that has a US admirer in the personality of former President Bill Clinton; they were joined on the panel by American partners – Robert Bell, Co-Founder of the Intelligent Community Forum & Co-Author of the volume “Seizing Our Destiny” – Helen Todd, CEO of Socially Squared Social Media Management, a Media Consulting firm – and Leo Borchardt, a New York and London Attorney an associate in Davis Polk’s Corporate Department assigned to the Mergers and Acquisitions Group and for the panel tried to analyze the difficulties that sustainable development encountered .

While most of the speakers dealt with communication issues – two of the Austrian members of the panel are represent active technology companies.

SFL is a company that looks at buildings’ envelope for potential to save energy in passive ways, but also with photovoltaics in order to find new ways to provide for the structure’s energy needs. I understood they are active in Hungary as well. Mueller spoke of Smart Cities of the future and the fact that we do not have an energy problem but an energy harvesting problem. Ultimately all energy comes from the sun and it is good for millions of years.

ENTRI are Project Financing specialists and moved into the Renewable energy area. Sustainability makes economic sense and Dr. Tritscher told us about the example of Haiti that was the sugar supplier of France. People made a lot of money in Haiti and France from the sugar cane industry but the clearing of forests in order to have more sugar producing land has impoverished this wrong headed economy and turned Haiti from a rich island to one of the poorest countries in the world. The lesson is that it is not only environmentally wise, but also economically wise to invest in Sustainability. His company just helped organize financing for photovoltaics in Senegal.

Robert Bell was the first to speak after the host and Mr. Mantl. He introduced the concept of Sustainability and what we can do with it. We want to learn to create growth by using less resources and creating less waste. He as well spoke of homes and cities and the vision that people who care for their homes are stronger people. The volume he co-authored with John Jung and Louis Zacharilla  – “Seizing Our Destiny” – tells the story of seven cities that managed to keep pace with a more innovative world. In the process, they offer lessons on how to innovate in governing, how to build political will for change, and how to understand and adapt creatively to the demands of the new century. The seven cities are Quebbec City, Riverside Californis, Saint John New Brunswick, Stratford Ontario, Oulu Finland, and Tuichung City Taiwan.  None of these are big cities in their respective countries, but they have been able to grow against the world trends.

With the UN making Vienna to its hub for SUSTAINABLE ENERGY 4 ALL Austria will become a focal point for above topics.




Posted on on October 5th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (


Israel has not celebrated the day but for months there is an on-going soul-searching activity in Israel that on the one hand blames itself and the US advise at the time of not to seem to be those that start a war. Yes, Israel starts to see publicly now that it was a pawn in a global chess game. But what is more important – Israel sees it did not take advantage of the outcome of that war in order to solve the Palestinian problem. Simply said it could have been the liberator of the Palestinians from their unfaithful brothers, but opted to become their new oppressors.

The oil games created and paid for Al-Qaeda. The Jinny unleashed from the Saudi Arabian oil-barrels turned against the US, and the US now, while Washington is under siege by the army of an extremist Republican Congress, it is the newer Al Shabab that carries the torch of Al-Qaeda with other tentacles in Yemen and all over else. Will the Republicans see that they act in cohoots with the oil interests and are stabbing the US in the back?
Washington like Jerusalem, are the source of their own destruction. Oil is the medium that feeds the fire.


from CNN:

Abu Anas al Libi was being detained by the U.S. military in a “secure location outside of Libya,” Pentagon Press Secretary George Little said late Saturday night.

Al Libi is an al Qaeda leader wanted for his role in the deadly 1998 bombings of two U.S. embassies in Africa.

He was captured in one of two raids nearly 3,000 miles apart this weekend.

U.S. forces captured al Libi in the Libyan capital of Tripoli. In the second raid, a team of U.S. Navy SEALs in southern Somalia targeted a leader of Al-Shabaab, which was behind last month’s mall attack in Kenya. The SEALs came under fire and had to withdraw before they could confirm whether the leader was dead, a senior U.S. official said.


          Abu Anas al-Liby





In Tripoli, American forces captured a Libyan militant who had been indicted in 2000 for his role in the 1998 bombings of the United States embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. The militant, born Nazih Abdul-Hamed al-Ruqai and known by his nom de guerre, Abu Anas al-Liby, had a $5 million bounty on his head; his capture at dawn ended a 15-year manhunt.

In Somalia, the Navy SEAL team emerged before sunrise from the Indian Ocean and exchanged gunfire with militants at the home of a senior leader of the Shabab, the Somali militant group. The raid was planned more than a week ago, officials said, after a massacre by the Shabab at a Nairobi shopping mall that killed more than 60 people two weeks ago.

The New York Times writes: “With President Obama locked in a standoff with Congressional Republicans and his leadership criticized for a policy reversal in Syria, the raids could fuel accusations among his critics that the administration was eager for a showy foreign policy victory.” 

Are we supposed to see in the Republicans’ digging under the US might something positive rather then the un-American activity that they perpetuate? We rather congratulate the President, the FBI, and the CIA, for picking the coincidental date of October 5-th and see in this a sign that the US is learning lessons from events 40 years old.

His capture was the latest blow to what remains of the original Al-Qaeda organization after a 12-year American campaign to capture or kill its leadership, including the killing two years ago of its founder, Osama bin Laden, in Pakistan.

Despite his presence in Libya, Abu Anas was not believed to have played any role in the 2012 attack on the United States diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, senior officials briefed on that investigation have said, but he may have sought to build networks connecting what remains of the Qaeda organization to like-minded militants in Libya.

His brother, Nabih, told The Associated Press that just after dawn prayers, three vehicles full of armed men had approached Abu Anas’s home and surrounded him as he parked his car. The men smashed his window, seized his gun and sped away with him, the brother said.

A senior American official said the Libyan government had been apprised of the operation and provided assistance, but it was unclear in what capacity. An assistant to the prime minister of the Libyan transitional government said the government had been unaware of any operation or of Abu Anas’s capture. Asked if American forces had ever conducted raids inside Libya or collaborated with Libyan forces, Mehmoud Abu Bahia, assistant to the defense minister, replied, “Absolutely not.”

Disclosure of the raid is likely to inflame anxieties among many Libyans about their national sovereignty, putting a new strain on the transitional government’s fragile authority. Many Libyan Islamists already accuse their interim prime Minister, Ali Zeidan, who previously lived in Geneva as part of the exiled opposition to Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, of collaborating too closely with the West.

Abu Anas, 49, was born in Tripoli and joined Bin Laden’s organization as early as the early 1990s, when it was based in Sudan. He later moved to Britain, where he was granted political asylum as a Libyan dissident. United States prosecutors in New York charged him in a 2000 indictment with helping to conduct “visual and photographic surveillance” of the United States Embassy in Nairobi in 1993 and again in 1995. Prosecutors said in the indictment that Abu Anas had discussed with another senior Qaeda figure the idea of attacking an American target in retaliation for the United States peacekeeping operation in Somalia.

After the 1998 bombing, the British police raided his apartment and found an 18-chapter terrorist training manual. Written in Arabic and titled “Military Studies in the Jihad Against the Tyrants,” it included advice on car bombing, torture, sabotage and disguise.

Since the overthrow of Colonel Qaddafi, Tripoli has slid steadily into lawlessness, with no strong central government or police presence. It has become a safe haven for militants seeking to avoid detection elsewhere, and United States government officials, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss confidential information, have acknowledged in recent months that Abu Anas and other wanted terrorists had been seen moving freely around the capital.

The operation to capture Abu Anas was several weeks in the making, a United States official said, and President Obama was regularly briefed as the suspect was tracked in Tripoli. Mr. Obama had to approve the capture. He had often promised there would be “no boots on the ground” in Libya when the United States intervened there in March 2011, so the decision to send in Special Operations forces was a risky one.


Posted on on July 29th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (

Muslim World Must Declare Zero Tolerance for Militant Jihadists.

By: Fahad Nazer for Al-Monitor Posted on July 28, 2013.

Islamo-fascism is a malicious term. It is meant to draw an analogy between the doctrines of contemporary militant Islamist groups and those of the defeated World War II Axis powers. Primarily used by people who are experts on neither Islam nor fascism, the term intends to stoke fears of “Islamic” armies marching across the world, oppressing non-Muslims and imposing Sharia. That is, unless they are first “stopped.”

Summary : It is Muslims, not the West, who are paying the highest price for Islamist militancy.

While this narrative bolsters the argument of Islamist militants, who maintain that the West is waging a “crusade” against Muslims everywhere, Muslims are in dire need of a paradigm shift: They must re-evaluate the centrality of the doctrine of “jihad” in Islam, and consider its militant variant as more than a source of tension with the West.

Much like the ideology that brought unspeakable pain and destruction to the entire European continent and beyond, militant jihad — as opposed to its spiritual variant — must be seen as posing an existential threat to Muslim civilization.

As luck would have it, I was living in Washington, DC on Sept. 11, 2001; in Jiddah, Saudi Arabia on Nov. 20, 1979, when militants seized the Grand Mosque in Mecca and declared the coming of the mahdi (the Islamic equivalent of the Messiah); and in Alexandria, Egypt on Oct. 6, 1981, when militants assassinated President Anwar Sadat. I have also had the misfortune of attending a handful of Friday sermons delivered by Anwar al-Awlaki — the al-Qaeda propagandist who was killed in Yemen in 2011 — when I lived in Virginia. Just as importantly, I analyze the discourse of militant Islamists for a living. The tendency of a small but vocal minority of Muslims to advocate violent actions to correct perceived injustices is a serious malady that should concern Muslims everywhere.

Extremists readily declare Muslims with whom they disagree over doctrinal — or even political — issues to be “unbelievers,” and enjoin their followers to defend “true” Muslims against these “collaborators” who are assisting the West in its onslaught against Islam. This call to arms resonates when it is framed in the context of ongoing political conflicts in which Muslims are portrayed as being besieged by the “enemies of God.” One can see this phenomenon most clearly in Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria. Contrary to their rhetoric, al-Qaeda, the Taliban, Somalia’s al-Shabab, the different variants of Ansar al-Sharia and a host of other militant groups, including Hezbollah, have not engaged in a war against the West: Their victims have overwhelmingly been other Muslims.

A 2010 study by the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point confirmed what many of us Muslims knew all along: 85% of al-Qaeda’s victims between 2004 and 2008 lived in Muslim-majority nations. A more recent study by the RAND Corporation similarly found that about 98% of al-Qaeda’s attacks between 1998 and 2011 were “part of an insurgency where operatives tried to overthrow a local government or secede from it — and were not in the West.”

The ruthless terrorist attacks in places as varied as Baghdad, Peshawar, Sanaa, Algiers, Kandahar, Riyadh, Amman, Mogadishu and Timbuktu show the dubious nature of the militants’ claims. Both Sunni and Shiite militants who have jumped into the fray in Syria have characterized their brutal attacks against Muslims of the opposing sect as “jihad.”

While the West is mostly concerned with sporadic terrorist attacks that Islamist militants have conducted in cities such as New York, Madrid and London, Muslims should be more concerned about the sustained onslaught against Muslim-majority states. In places like Iraq, Afghanistan and Somalia, militants have eroded not only any semblance of peace and stability, but have injected an insidious sectarianism that has seriously weakened social fabrics. It is no wonder that nations where militants have established a foothold and continue to contest state legitimacy find themselves topping the lists of failed states year after year.

Oddly enough, the country most often singled out as the main “exporter” of militant Islam across the globe — Saudi Arabia — seems to appreciate the danger that this politicized jihad poses to Muslims more than most. While Saudi authorities have not completely expunged jihadist rhetoric from public discourse — the presence of Saudis among militants in Syria indicates that more work is needed — the multi-pronged approach Saudis have implemented to uproot militants and their ideology aims to delegitimize the notion that engaging in violence is the ultimate act of religious devotion.

The Saudi counter-terrorism effort has been part security operation, part public awareness campaign. Although authorities have arrested hundreds of militants and killed many of their leaders, it is the pre-emptive measures that authorities have taken that are the most noteworthy, as they target the root of the problem.

Saudi authorities suspended hundreds of mosque imams and school teachers who espoused militant views. They also apprehended militant sympathizers and put hundreds of them through rehabilitation programs that aim for the renouncement of their violent views. They have even revised their school curriculum, and tried to more narrowly define and limit the concept of jihad: when Muslims can wage it and who can declare it. Mosque imams have also been warned not to deliver politically charged sermons.

This holistic, zero-tolerance approach should be attempted in other Muslim-majority countries. Thousands of Muslims have already paid with their lives. To say that millions more lives are at stake is not an exaggeration.

Fahad Nazer is a political analyst with JTG, Inc and a former political analyst at the Embassy of Saudi Arabia in Washington, DC. His writing has appeared in the International Herald Tribune, YaleGlobal Online and Al-Monitor, among others, and was recently featured on the website of the Council on Foreign Relations.

Read more:…


Posted on on July 17th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (

Mr. Martin Nesirky, the Spokesperson for The UN Secretary-General, Mr. Ban Ki-moon, speaking to the UN accredited PRESS, Monday July 15th, ended his daily briefing by saying:

“This morning, the Deputy Secretary-General spoke to a large group of representatives from non-governmental organizations and the private sector on international migration and development. He emphasized the need to establish sustained and strong partnerships between different actors to harness the benefits of migration and improve the situation of migrants. He also commended the role played by civil society in building such partnerships.

He said that the General Assembly was meeting on international migration and development in October, and that this was an opportunity for member States to lay the foundation for improved local, regional and international migration policies.” That’s what I have. Questions, please? Yes, Pam?

There was not a single question on this topic!

This statement relates to full three days of activities right here at the UN Headquarters in New York and across the street in the Church Center – which followed a full year of preparations outside the UN in a process that was started in 2006 when there was a UN General Assembly mandated first “High-Level” Dialogue on this topic and was succeeded by yearly meetings and further regional meetings.

Now we are at the preparation stage for the October 3-4, 2013 Second United Nations High-Level Dialogue on Migration and Development with next planned meeting already for 2014 in Sweden, the home turf of Ambassador Ian Eliasson, the current Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations. And all of this in the name of figuring out the UN activities in the post-2015 era – as mandated at the 2012 RIO+20 Conference.

At Rio the recommendations included the removal of the non-producing Commission on Sustainable Development and its replacement with a High-Level Panel that will look into the creation of a system of Sustainable Development Goals that will follow in 2015 after the expiring Millennium Development Goals – and this allows for an unusual opportunity to try for making the avoidance of the need of Migration into a Sustainable Development Goal. But the UN seems to oppose this by all the means it has – and I will explain.

You see – when I walk the streets of New York these days I bump into people. This is because the daily temperature reaches 100 degrees Fahrenheit and people do not walk in a straight line. You must try to anticipate which way they will deviate – and I am as guilty as anyone else – this because global warming and Climate Change are already here with us. Relating to our topic here – MIGRATION occurs now not just because people are attracted by magnets of freedom from dictatorships, from religious or sexual oppression, or because of a chance to better education, but now – more and more – there is the push of hunger – climate change has made it impossible to support populations in their country of origin and this migration has become the highest security issue in our days. If heat and Climate Change is impacting New York, just think what this has done in Mali or Darfur!

The UN is not blind to this. The UN Secretary-General was supposed to be the opening speaker at the Monday, July 15, 2013 event at the meeting at the UN General Assembly with Mr. Vuk Jeremik, President of the General Assembly as Chairman of the session. But Mr. Ban Ki-moon chose to be on a July fact finding tour of Europe that took him to see the effects of glaciers melting in Iceland, and a visit in Paris on Bastille Day with the French troops fighting in Mali.

Both above visits, as well as the meetings in-between, would have made a great story had the UN Secretary-General returned to New York and told on Monday July 15th his impressions to the meeting here. But this seemingly did not cross his mind, and surely this is no reflection on the way Mr. Elliason presented the case. It must be said that seven years ago – at the first dialogue – Mr. Eliasson presided because it was his position of President of the UN General Assembly, so he is well versed with the issues – the roles of Civil Society, Labor Unions and Employers’ organizations, diaspora organizations, and academics. He stressed that the challenge is to reach to the help of the media – “Knowing the facts is the source of wisdom” he quoted.

Mr. Eliasson said he wants to see as a post 2015 program a five year action program in five areas of priority:
- the cooperation between States,
- a comprehensive data system of migration facts,
- the integration of the migrants into our societies and economies,
- plan migration with labor markets and development consideration,
- a framework for managing migration from crisis and violence regions.

What he did not mention is the right of people to avoid migration that was pushed upon them because of changes in the local environment.

Mr. Jeremik reminded us of the Rio vision for the post-2015 as an aspiration to strive for equitable approaches to overcome poverty and inequality.

At the meeting on Monday participated over 200 Civil Society organizations and 80 UN member States.
The main organization was in the hands of Switzerland and Swiss based NGOs like Caritas, The International Catholic Migration Commission, The Global Economic Forum, with with Ms. Susan Martin of Georgetown University, Institute for the Study of International Migration that awards you a Certificate on the subject, and Mr. Dennis Sinyolo, Education and Employment Coordinator at Education International, as moderators.

I sat through the full three days and saw that very good people from all over the globe were present – but by no means was this an objective success.

Starting with the strong Swiss presence I must say that as Migration means Emigration from one place and Immigration to another – this except Migration within the same country, Switzerland is a country of poor record as it does not allow citizenship except when the candidate is weighed in gold – and I am not abstract on this – Just think of the Agha Khan and his Swiss based Foundation. So, when A good looking lady presented herself as a migrant from El Salvador to Switzerland, with dual nationality and diamonds sparkling from her earrings, spoke about the Global Economic Forum backing the economic advantages that come from migration – I had to wonder about what I was hearing. Then let us not forget that simple mortals could not stay in Switzerland when their life was in peril. In general – I was more impressed by the people in the room then by some of the presenters, as in UN fashion – the good turns easily into the trite, and good ideas can produce easily flying meetings that are not free to the introduction of ideas born outside the initiating circle. Trying to introduce the notion that the UN is changing and that MDGs are ending with new SDGs taking their place, and the fact that the UN just opened this month the office for Sustainable Energy – the SE4All concept, and that right now there is an opportunity to talk of migration in context of Climate Change – all that was beyond the interest of the organizers and the moderators – but very much of interest of many of the participants.

Civil Society is surely a mixed bag, and the stress on remittances from the Migrants back to their families in the homeland become very important part of the economies of some oppressive governments – so, indiscriminately stressing the economic value may not be any better idea then using military from countries in trouble in order to beef up the troops of UN Peace-Keeping forces in other countries in trouble, when the pay for this service is income for the government that sends these troops. This comment may have nothing to do with the subject at hand but is important to the understanding of the depth of the problem when you work in he UN context.

Without delving further in depth of what was said, this because the meetings were just an interactive exercise that will generate its own papers, the real news this Monday were not the Civil Society NGOs that were allowed to participate – but rather those organizations that were excluded in total lack of transparency and thus gave a blue eye to the UN institution as a whole.

The subject came up when the United States pointed out that three NGOs were eliminated from participation this last week by being BLACKBALLED by some secret member State. These were three organizations – one registered in the UK and two in Israel and the UN does not release the names of the countries that objected to their participation. TO ME THIS WAS THE REAL NEWS OF THE MEETING – COVERING ON ALL THE GOOD THINGS THAT WERE SAID AT THE MEETING.

After the US, spoke also Israel and the EU, and eventually this became an important part in the summary of the meeting, when at the end it was presented by the Chef de Cabinet to the UNGA President, Mr. Dejan Sahovic, who is also from Serbia like the UNGA President.

Mr. Sahovic explained that this had nothing to do with the organizers of the event but is a UN given. Whenever there is an event at the UN, after Civil Society makes up the list of registered NGOs, these lists are distributed to all governments which have then the veto right against any line on that list.

OK, we knew that China will take out any NGO that is based in Taiwan, but how is it that an observer organization at the International Organization for Migration (IOM), that is competent in the subject matter and is very active, could be eliminated? To make it sound even worse – the UN does not release the name of the blackballing country and the delegate for the EU said clearly that the EU is worried about the lately decreasing importance of Civil Society at the UN.

I followed up trying to find who are these three blackballed organizations, but will not allow myself to express a guess to who was the blackballing State as this guesswork is easy – but we refuse to do it. Nevertheless, we must say that wonders do happen at the UN sometimes.

In this case it was with two NGOs with interest in Human Rights of Women – specifically women in Arab lands – even more specific – in Saudi Arabia – they DID SPEAK UP.
Lala Arabian from a Beirut based NGO INSAN, part of the Arab Network for Migrants, which I was told speaks a fluent English, decided to speak out in Arabic against the treatment of Arab women – specifically in Saudi Arabia. Further – A woman in an impeccable English, coming from a United Arab Emirates NGO, but probably living overseas, made a similar statement from the floor. I did not note her name but she came from…

The Three NGOs that were absent are:

1. The Institute for Human Rights and Business Limited (IHRB) is the British organization.
They partner with the Danish Institute for Human Rights (DIHR) on issues like the establishment of the new Myanmar Centre for Responsible Business headed by Vicky Bowman.
They specifically look at how to persuade business to respect Human Rights with Migration one of the specific topics. June 17-18, 2013 they just had a meeting in Tunis on the subject of Free Internet. Is this what some despot did them in for?

2. Microfy – “Microfinance for African refugees and migrant workers in Israel” – an Israeli based NGO that provides assistance to African refugees and asylum seekers, many of them who fled the genocide in Darfur. Clearly a highly ethical organization that might have difficulty being listened to by despots.

3.”The Center for International Migration and Integration (CIMI)” advises governments and NGOs around the world on migration and integration.
CIMI has Observer Status wit the International Organization foe Migration (IOM) since 2003 and participates actively in all its meetings.
CIMI also partners with many other national and International organizations including the UNHCR (The UN Refugee Agency) and the International Committee of the Red Cross.
This information was confirmed by Ms. Michele Klein Solomon, the Permanent Observer for IOM at the United Nations. CIMI is also based in Israel.


Posted on on July 4th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (… – Morsi’s year – Morsi unilaterally decrees greater powers for himself, giving his decisions immunity from judicial review. The move sparks days of protests and it brings about his ouster.

Turkey on the Nile
Egypt 2013 appears as a state with no solution. On the one hand the economy is collapsing and rapidly approaching meltdown. On the other hand there’s no civilian force to impose law and order.
By Ari Shavit | Jul.04, 2013

The week that Hosni Mubarak was ousted, a senior Israeli official was asked what would happen in Egypt. The official answered in his favorite language, English: Turkey one, Turkey two or Iran – a seemingly democratic government run by the army, a seemingly democratic government run by Islam, or an Islamist regime.

Two and a half years later, the possibility of getting an Iran in Egypt can clearly be ruled out. The Nile country will not become a theocracy ruled by the Muslim Brotherhood in the near future. But from the beginning of 2011, the other two possibilities have been vying with each other in Cairo.

What is happening before our eyes is a well organized Egyptian attempt to replace the new Turkish alternative of religious rule in democratic guise with the old Turkish alternative of military rule in democratic guise.

But as Turkey one replaces Turkey two, a third option emerges – disorder. While the Islamic threat to Egypt’s future is diminishing, the new, growing threat is one of chaos. The good news is very good – political Islam is not invincible. The religious wave that flooded the Middle East in the past two years is not the last historic wave.

As of today, the Muslim Brotherhood failed to establish a lasting regime and a lasting reality. While the Soviet revolution founded a tyranny that lasted 70 years, the Sunni Islamic revolution didn’t set up a functioning political system to preserve its hegemony for even one year. Anyone who feared a century of dark caliphates was wrong. Anyone who believed in the new Egyptians’ life forces and desire for freedom was right. Within an extremely short time our neighbors from the south learned that Islam is not the solution, and that they must seek the solution elsewhere.

But the bad news is troubling. Egypt 2013 appears as a state with no solution. On the one hand the economy is collapsing and rapidly approaching meltdown. On the other hand there’s no civilian force to impose law and order. The expectations of the Google age are high, while the reality of hungry mouths is intolerable. Between the expectations and reality there is no meeting point, and between the spirit of freedom and the crumbling republic there is no starting point.

Consequently, Egypt is becoming a dysfunctional, hopeless, ungovernable state. Where Mubarak and Morsi failed, another failure is very likely. Two different trends dovetail at the pyramids’ foot. One is global – a rebellion of the urban middle class. What began in Tahrir, moved to Rothschild, erupted in Istanbul and boiled over in Rio De Janeiro has returned to Tahrir in a big way. As in the rest of the world, in Egypt the youngsters connected to the Internet are no longer willing to accept not being connected to the spigots of the government, and are therefore toppling it.

The second trend is an Arab one – the collapse of secular tyranny and the failure of religious tyranny have generated constant unrest. In the absence of a strong dictator, an intelligent Kadi or a Jeffersonian democracy, there is nobody to regulate public life and restrain the masses.

The merging of global rebellion with the Arab loss of fear has released in Cairo 2013 a concussion blast no regime can withstand. Not the previous regime, not the present one nor the next one. In the absence of a government, an exciting, terrifying situation of uprisings was created – uprisings that are leading Egypt to the brink of an abyss.

Ultimately, the only chance is Turkey one. In the present day Egypt and present day Middle East, anyone hoping for more than enlightened generals can give – will get less. But the question whether the Egyptian army will be able to give the people modern enlightenment remains open. Chaos crouches on the threshold. The new danger hovering over the Middle East is that of complete disorder.


An Egyptian renaissance
The Muslim Brotherhood rose and it fell and amazingly the sun continues to shine. Egypt is returning to its roots.
By Oudeh Basharat | Jul.03, 2013

In 1918, ten years before the founding of the Muslim Brotherhood movement in Egypt, a delegation ?(wafd in Arabic?) was organized, in order to demand that the British grant Egypt its independence. It was led by Saad Zaghloul, who was called “leader of the nation.” Before the delegation set off, prominent Egyptians signed a petition in support of the group using its power to work peacefully ?(salmiya in Arabic?) to achieve independence and “the implementation of the principles of freedom and justice.” On this basis, the al-Wafd party, which won most elections it contested, was later formed.

This is part of the explanation for the exhilarating phenomenon that is unfolding before our eyes, when 17 million Egyptians from across the country rose up against the Brotherhood. This flies in the face of those who tried to convince us that if the Brotherhood rose to power, total bedlam ? a war of Gog and Magog ? would erupt throughout the land. Well, the Brotherhood rose and the Brotherhood fell and amazingly the sun continues to shine. Egypt is returning to its roots. And Egyptian roots aren’t buried in violent religious profiteering or in the dictatorship of Mubarak, but in the magnificent heritage of Saad Zaghloul, which itself is the product of the Arabic renaissance that dates from the beginning of the 18th century until the start of the 19th century.

And thus, in January 2011, when the youth instinctually adopted the way of salmiya they were in fact continuing along the path their grandfathers chose 93 years ago. And now, in response to the demagoguery of the Brotherhood, which believes that the electoral ballots give them the power to destroy the democracy that brought them to govern, these youth have adopted the model of the petition from those days, in their call for Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi to resign. To date, 22 million people have signed the petition.

True, in their return to the magnificent roots of the 7,000 year-old Egyptian civilization they had no choice but to pass through the dark halls of the Brotherhood, but within a year they passed the test. During these formative hours, the Egyptian people are returning to the heritage of their forefathers in its new incarnation: “Bread, freedom, social justice and human dignity.” All this is expressed quite beautifully in the famous 1919 song by Egyptian singer Sayed Darwish, “Oum Ya Masry” ?(“Rise, You Egyptian”?). Among the song’s lyrics it says, “Love your neighbor more than you love life. What does it mean Christians, Muslims or Jews…we are all the descendants of one grandfather.” Here you have the beautiful Egypt in three lines, which should be brought to the attention of those brainwashed by the nation state.

Last Sunday, Egyptian religious leader Sheikh Yusuf al-Qardawi pleaded with the masses to give Morsi another year. At present, Morsi is asking for just half a year. To loosely translate an Arabic expression, “His time has passed.” Prominent Egyptian journalist Ibrahim Eissa has urged Morsi’s sons to convince their father to hop on a flight abroad in order to save him and the Egyptian people the shame of removing a president.

During Sunday’s giant demonstrations, the people’s anger was also directed at Ann Patterson, U.S. Ambassador to Egypt. According to author Alaa al-Aswany, Patterson is the one who convinced the American administration to support the Brotherhood, arguing that only the Brotherhood could protect American and Israeli interests. This is yet more proof of the stupidity of Middle East experts who see Arabs only through the lens of their dictators.

What’s more, Egyptians see a connection between, on the one hand, the pressure Morsi placed on Hamas to agree to a ceasefire with Israel in December and, on the other hand, American support for the draconian measures taken by the Egyptian president to undermine the legal system, including the passage of the controversial constitution. They see a connection between the love heaped upon Morsi by Yisrael Beiteinu leader Avigdor Lieberman, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Shimon Peres and the steps Morsi took the day after the ceasefire agreement.

The day will come when the dramatic waves of change in Egypt sweep the entire Middle East. Israel, which is taking a position that contradicts the desire of the Egyptian people, would be wise to begin to change its way of thinking if it doesn’t want to find itself going against the current of the Arab Spring that is reawakening.


One day, Ramallah will rise up
The events at Tahrir Square will surely be replicated one day in Ramallah’s Manara Square. It is hard now to imagine it happening, but it is even more difficult to imagine that it will not.
By Gideon Levy | Jul.04, 2013

One day the Palestinian people will rise up against their occupiers. I hope this day comes soon.

It’s true that this scenario seems unrealistic right now. The Palestinians are still bleeding from the second intifada, which only brought disaster upon them (and the Israelis). They are divided and torn, with no real leadership and lacking a fighting spirit, and the world has tired of their distress. The Israeli occupation seems as strong and established as ever, the settlements are growing, and the military is in complete control, with all the world’s governments silent and indifferent.

On the other hand, it is impossible to imagine that this scenario will not materialize. To our south, the Egyptian people are struggling over the nature of their regime, in a way that can only inspire awe. To the north, the Syrian people are also doing this, albeit in a much crueler fashion. Could it be that only the Palestinian people will forever bow their heads, submissively and obediently, to the Israeli jackboot? Don’t make the minister of history laugh.

The regimes against which most of the Arab nations are rebelling were generally less brutal than the regime of the Israeli occupation. They were also less corrupt, in the broad sense of the word. Most did not take over the lives of their subjects day and night, did not so drastically restrict their movement and freedom, did not systematically abuse and humiliate them in the manner of the Israeli regime. Moreover, they were not foreign regimes.

Therefore, the events at Tahrir Square will surely be replicated one day in Ramallah’s Manara Square. The masses will flood the Unknown Soldier’s Square in Gaza, push into Police Square in Hebron and storm all the checkpoints along their way. It is hard now to imagine it happening, but it is even more difficult to imagine that it will not.

From Jenin to Rafah, they are enviously watching the wonders of Tahrir Square. Can anyone seriously think these scenes and this spirit will not affect Balata? Not sweep through Jabalya? The first is under Israeli rule, while the other is supposedly controlled by Hamas, and yet residents of the two places cannot even meet with each other. How much longer will they accept this?

Yes, it will happen one day. The masses will rise up against the settlements and checkpoints, against the army barracks and the prisons. And at that point, the Israeli Arabs will no longer stand idly by. They are also watching what’s happening at Tahrir Square and also realize they deserve a different regime and a different country.

It seems to happen when you least expect it. No Military Intelligence report will predict it, and no Shin Bet field coordinator will warn about it. The defense minister will act shocked, the prime minister will convene urgent consultations, and the finance minister will post something on Facebook. The president of the United States will call for calm, and who knows, maybe will send a special envoy. The world’s most powerful and especially most moral military will try to restore order, but the new order will assert its control over the army as well.

As with other unjust and evil regimes, which are always destined to fall, this regime also will fall – it’s just not clear when and how. Sometimes these regimes fall in the wake of terrible bloodshed, as in Syria, and sometimes they fall on their own, like a tall tree whose trunk has rotted, as happened in the Soviet Union, South Africa and Eastern Europe. One day it will happen here, too; there is no other way.

It would be best that this day come soon; too bad it hasn’t come yet. The Israeli public, which didn’t know how to end its occupation regime on its own, will also act surprised, and offended. Again they will say that “there’s no partner,” that “they’re like animals,” but no one will take these statements seriously. Israel will again play the victim, but few will be able to identify with it anymore.

Why is it best that this happens soon? Because as time passes, the damage and rage accumulate. Because there is no chance that Israel will end the occupation voluntarily. Because justice cries out for it to happen. Because whether the solution is one state or two, an Israel that isn’t an occupier, that is just and egalitarian, will be a different and infinitely better place to live.


Posted on on May 11th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (

Matthew Russell Lee reports from the UN that Amid Sahel Standstill, UN Committee Asks Why Prodi Is Based in Rome.


UNITED NATIONS, May 10, 2013 — When Romano Prodi, ostensibly the UN’s envoy on if not in the Sahel, became a candidate for the Italian presidency, the UN of Secretary General Ban Ki-moon made excuses, telling Inner City Press the question of conflict of interest was “moot,” because Prodi lost.


  But the UN Advisory Committee of Administrative and Budgetary Questions is not so forgiving. Their report on Prodi’s office says that Prodi’s fundraising



“does not necessarily require the headquarters of the Office to be located in Rome, or a large share of the staffing of the Office to be located outside the Sahel region. The Advisory Committee …believes that closer proximity to or its placement in the region would allow the Office of the Special Envoy to fully engage and coordinate with the numerous United Nations offices/entities and international actors present in the countries of the Sahel dealing with similar issues.”



  And so, “the Advisory Committee recommends that the General Assembly invite the Secretary-General to review the current arrangements for the Office of the Special Envoy and to consider alternative locations of the Office in the Sahel region. In developing his proposals, the Secretary-General should be requested to take full advantage of the opportunities for realizing synergies with the other United Nations entities present in the countries of the region, and avoid all duplicative activity.”


   Why is Prodi allowed to be based in Rome? And what has he accomplished?




We post this because this is a point well taken when reviewing the wasteland called the UN – but we do not intend this as an attack on Mr. Romano Prodi whom we know from years past. He is an Italian politician who understood the issue of climate change and the problems of reliance on Middle East Petroleum. He surely can do a lot of good under UN employment, but then the UN must hire him in ways that do not allow for mistakes, or even reasons for criticism like the above.


The Sahel is the black Africa arc just south of the Muslim Arab Maghreb and Egypt – the region that includes Sudan, Chad, Niger, Mali, Burkina Faso, Mauritania, and Senegal. A  region that knows the effect of climate change causing drought and conditions that push the region to get involved in the Affairs of the North Africa Arab arc and its Arab awakening from one set of dictators and moving into the arms of Islamic extremists. This while European States like Spain, France, and Italy, with past colonial ties to the region, may thus be not the ideal moderators of the budding new debate of Arab Nationalism at the time of effects of drought caused by climate change. The whole issue needs much more serious UN review then the UN has shown up to now. Would Dakar be the right place to seat Mr. Prodi?



Posted on on April 4th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (


On Mali at Columbia, Nameless Discussion of Colonialism & Other Big Issues


By Matthew Russell Lee 

UNITED NATIONS, April 2 — On Mali there was an event at Columbia University Tuesday night, advertised as “free and open to the public, but please register by writing.” So Inner City Press did, identifying itself as the Press, listing its office at the UN.

  Columbia’s Stephen Wertheim, the last name you’ll see in this piece, wrote back, “You are now registered for the talk, which starts at 7:30 pm. We look forward to seeing you there.”

  After that, notice of the event was further publicized on the website of the Free UN Coalition for Access, as still is another event at the UN this Thursday.

  After a final story about the day’s Arms Trade Treaty vote in the UN General Assembly, Inner City Press arrived at the event. There were twenty to twenty five people, of all ages — and all nameless here.

  After a lengthy speech and two social media missives, as the question and answer began, the moderator suddenly said — and we’ll paraphrase and not quote here — that he should have said so from the beginning, this would be under Chatham House rules, you can use the idea but no quote.

  And so what were the ideas?

That the media focuses too much on the military offensive, which one participant called the kinetic aspect.

That there is a lot of corruption even in the south of Mali.

That the Malian military commits human rights violations, and that the UN does not have the resources to have a crew of human rights observers ready to go there.

That the UN will soon name a Special Representative of the Secretary General.

That the Malian press is reporting rumors of relations of Nicolas Sarkozy and the MNLA. (Inner City Press has been more focused on Sarkozy’s hardly concealed try out to help invest Qatar’s money, with his contacts in the center-right government in Spain.)

That the Security Council implicitly endorsed the French approach.

Inner City Press, which is surely free to report its own questions but apparently not the answers, asked if the envisioned “parallel force” would be under UN control; if coup leader Amadou Sanogo will continue to play a role in the Malian military, and how the fast action to defend Bamako differed from the decision to let Bagui in the Central African Republic fall.

  There was a response to each question, but how to report the answers under the spirit of the Chatham House rules is not clear.

 As Inner City Press left it was told, despite the language of the invitation and its RSVP as the Press, that it is somehow understood that events in the university are under Chatham House rules.

  No, that is not automatically understood. People give on the record speeches at universities. In fact, since students have Facebook pages and blogs and, yes, Twitter accounts, it is entirely unclear what restriction on a class or seminar would look like, or how they could work.

  Nevertheless, Inner City Press has complied with the belatedly announced Chatham House rules. Who is served? The Security Council hears Wednesday on Mali. Watch this site.

Footnote: the UN office that Inner City Press listed on its RSVP has, as we’ve noted, been raided by the UN and others on March 18.