Monthly Archives: November 2016

De-Radicalization: Time for serious actions

DE-radicalization is at the top of the agenda for stakeholders, donors and the Jordanian state. We are seeing multiple projects, speeches, conferences and workshops trying to address the issue and find a workable solution. While theories and proposals are to be encouraged, it is important that we begin to implement and trial some of these and move from theory to application..

Deradicalization is a process of change, and any such process should start with a comprehensive understanding of the underlying issues and clear objectives and outcomes. We must understand why it is that deradicalization is required. The level of radicalism that we are facing today is the result of a process that has been progressing for a long time, one that, on the whole, we have been blind to. In order to learn from the past and move forward, we have to be honest about all aspects of the issue.

We must understand and acknowledge that this is a complex issue and we need innovative thinking and people with a broad range of expertise. The issue is not just religious, there are cultural and economic aspects, and we need to bring people together, make them feel connected to each other and society to appreciate their existence and their neighbors. We must promote dignity and respect while reintegrating people to participate in building their own future and become productive for society.

We cannot continue to theorize, we need to intervene on the ground with practical measures. From here, concrete projects are more important than debates and conference. When we identify places with high levels of radicalization through polls surveys and studies, we must intervene. Playgrounds, parks, cultural plans, and programs that promote and enable artistic endeavours such as drawing, music, theater and cinemas are great ways to engage otherwise marginalized populations. We need microeconomic projects to intervene and break the cycle of radicalization. Improving quality of life, giving them hope for the future can be achieved by engaging them in art and culture. This is what we need to engage and involve people in creating this change.

We need to stop relying so much on the narrative that moderate doctrines can address radical Islam. Real change will come from cultural change, enhancing the concepts of pluralism, diversity and respect for others with real and practical programs on the ground. We can only face radicalism by adopting a comprehensive multilateral strategy.

The role of the state is essential. The absence of an active role in providing services and social justice is part of what has fostered the evolution of radical thought. We have also failed to accept the signs of increasing radicalism, but we must act. When a cinema in Zarqa was targeted by terrorists back in 1993, we responded with security measures, but ignored the underlying cause of the problem. That we didn’t protect cinemas and other cultural institutions means the terrorists have already won. The more that cultural institutions are targeted, the less people will attend them, which is exactly what we have seen.

The more prevaricate and pontificate, the more difficult and the more embedded the issue becomes. As radicalism expands and recruits more of our society, the more we face the risk that they will infiltrate all aspects of society, civilian and military. We must act before that happens. The time for talking and theorizing is over. We must face this scourge with action and we must do it now.

Dr. Amer Al Sabaileh

Donald Trump Seen From The Arab & Muslim World

The election of Donald Trump as President of the United States represents the start of a new phase following eight years of the Obama administration.  While Trump’s win has surprised many people, Donald Trump the candidate will be very different to Donald Trump the President. His victory speech was the first indication of this change, and there is more to come. 


Prior to his candidacy, Trump was hardly known by the Muslim and Arab world. However, some of his comments during the campaign have lead to his portrayal as an enemy, with suggestions that his first priority as President will be to attack Arabs and Muslims. This perception will be difficult to change, as it was one of the key arguments used against him by his opponent and those in the media who do not support him. 

Trump’s management of the issue is not as simple as the media has portrayed, and it has massive political implications for Arab societies. A clear pillar of Trump’s foreign policy is to take the fight to the terrorists, specifically targeting ISIS. For many Arab leaders, especially the American-bloc leaders, a strong clear strategy to fight ISIS would be welcomed as it represents the re-building of relations with US through this anti-terror strategy. Many US allies in the region have struggled to openly support Obama’s strategy and rhetoric and have tried to deal with America under the same assumptions from the early stages of the War on Terror under George W. Bush. A US return to those strategies will be a relief to many regimes in the region.
 
A Hillary Clinton White House would likely have meant a new set of challenges for many Arab and Muslim countries. According to the Obama doctrine published in the Atlantic, the Arab world’s problems are internal. Their strategy was based on placing blame on the American-bloc countries in the region, especially the Gulf monarchies, particularly Saudi Arabia. 
This is despite those monarchies are facing the threat of new and diverse Islamic movements under the Muslim Brotherhood banner, in Egypt and across the Gulf that could lead to a new wave of Arab Spring uprisings targeting the monarchies and sheikhdoms. The arrival of Trump will make an uprising of these groups far more difficult but another Democrat in the White House, according to many observers, would have created a series of challenges based on the strategy of promoting democracy and human rights at all costs.

It is interesting to compare Trump’s stated position on the Gulf countries with the position that Congress has taken in overruling Obama’s veto of Justice Against Sponsors of Terror Act (JASTA). Clearly they are on the same page. The next challenge for Trump will be in relations with countries that support the Muslim Brotherhood.

While Trump may be viewed negatively by the Muslim and Arab public because of some of his comments, his relationship with their leaders is likely to be good as politically, their positions are aligned. Trump is likely to build relations based on cooperation in fighting terrorism and any steps towards weakening the Muslim Brotherhood because of the connections with terrorists, may force the region to return to the old paradigms which will rebuild US-Arab relations.
 A Trump White House could also lead to a rapprochement with Russia, which will have a huge impact on US foreign policy and specifically on NATO as the alliance is increasingly concerned with Russian aggression. It may lead to a new wave of political extremism and a growth in extreme right wing groups in Europe. It will also mean concrete changes on the ground in Syria, potentially ending the confusion of policy in the area.

The current dynamics in the Arab world mean that many leaders do not see a Trump Presidency as a negative. The two major threats to the current political system in the region are more serious calls for democracy and human rights, which would directly support the Muslim Brotherhood who are the only organized alternative in many political systems in the region.
These calls were supposed to be part of Clinton’s Agenda, so Trump’s win means that many leaders will avoid some tough challenges. Trump’s primary foreign policy agenda in the region is fighting terrorism, which will enable many countries to restore legitimacy and importance as part of an anti-terrorism alliance.
There are some threats still, especially for Gulf countries, particularly Saudi Arabia. Trump has made comments that indicate the type of relationship he wants to establish with Gulf countries. The US agenda after the passing of JASTA and overruling Obama’s veto is based on the Interest-Based Relational (IBR) approach.
The other interesting factor for the Gulf monarchies is Trump’s position on Iran. While Trump can do little to change the Iran nuclear deal signed by the P5+1, the Gulf countries can take solace in the fact that while he may not be an enemy to Iran, he is certainly not going to be a friend.

The other issue that interests Arabs is the President-elect’s position on Syria.  Trump’s declared statements about improving relations with Russia and taking serious steps against ISIS are steps that would likely help put an end to the crisis there, yet another positive for the Arab world.

The US relationship with Israel will also shape the way Arabs see the President-elect. Trump has publicly supported Netanyahu’s policies on many occasions. Apparently Netanyahu will also be the first leader to be received in the Trump White House. Full adoption of Israeli policies by Trump will negatively impact the perception of common Arabs and Muslims but not necessarily Arab leaders. However, it will impact the peace process and could increase the possibility of regional clashes.
Trump represents a series of contradictions that makes Middle Eastern politics seem more complicated. While the people of the Arab and Muslim world might view Trump negatively, their leaders might actually be quite positive towards him as his policies could have a positive impact for the region by creating common ground for cooperation especially in combatting terrorism.

While Iran would love to have a US President putting real pressure on the Gulf countries, it will not like him trying to revise their nuclear deal. Revising relations with Iran may be a positive for many Arab countries, but they will not be happy to see the US strong-arming Arab countries who would be happier to have an American president who cares more about fighting terrorism than imposing democracy and human rights issues. Syrians would love to have an American president who cares more about eliminating ISIS rather than the positioning on the future of Bashar Al Assad, but they would not like to see another American President who completely backs Israel in a regional settlement process.

Dr.Amer Al Sabaileh
amersabaileh@yahoo.com

Donald Trump seen form different Arab angles

The election of Donald Trump as President of the United States represents the start of a new phase following eight years of the Obama administration.  While Trump’s win has surprised many people, Donald Trump the candidate will be very different to Donald Trump the President. His victory speech was the first indication of this change, and there is more to come.

Prior to his candidacy, Trump was hardly known by the Muslim and Arab world. However, some of his comments during the campaign have lead to his portrayal as an enemy, with suggestions that his first priority as President will be to attack Arabs and Muslims. This perception will be difficult to change, as it was one of the key arguments used against him by his opponent and those in the media who do not support him.

Trump’s management of the issue is not as simple as the media has portrayed, and it has massive political implications for Arab societies. A clear pillar of Trump’s foreign policy is to take the fight to the terrorists, specifically targeting ISIS. For many Arab leaders, especially the American-bloc leaders, a strong clear strategy to fight ISIS would be welcomed as it represents the re-building of relations with US through this anti-terror strategy. Many US allies in the region have struggled to openly support Obama’s strategy and rhetoric and have tried to deal with America under the same assumptions from the early stages of the War on Terror under George W. Bush. A US return to those strategies will be a relief to many regimes in the region.

A Hillary Clinton White House would likely have meant a new set of challenges for many Arab and Muslim countries. According to the Obama doctrine published in the Atlantic, the Arab world’s problems are internal. Their strategy was based on placing blame on the American-bloc countries in the region, especially the Gulf monarchies, particularly Saudi Arabia.

This is despite those monarchies are facing the threat of new and diverse Islamic movements under the Muslim Brotherhood banner, in Egypt and across the Gulf that could lead to a new wave of Arab Spring uprisings targeting the monarchies and sheikhdoms. The arrival of Trump will make a rising up of these groups far more difficult but another Democrat in the White House, according to many observers, would have created a series of challenges based on the strategy of promoting democracy and human rights at all costs.

It is interesting to compare Trump’s stated position on the Gulf countries with the position that Congress has taken in overruling Obama’s veto of JASTA. Clearly they are on the same page. The next challenge for Trump will be in relations with countries that support the Muslim Brotherhood.

While Trump may be viewed negatively by the Muslim and Arab public because of some of his comments, his relationship with their leaders is likely to be good as politically, their positions are aligned. Trump is likely to build relations based on cooperation in fighting terrorism and any steps towards weakening the Muslim Brotherhood because of the connections with terrorist then the region will return to the old paradigms which will rebuild US-Arab relations

A Trump White House could also lead to a rapprochement with Russia, which will have a huge impact on US foreign policy and specifically on NATO as that alliance is built entirely on Russia as an enemy. It may lead to a new wave of political extremism and a growth in extreme right wing groups in Europe. It will also mean concrete changes on the ground in Syria ending the confusion and need to work with groups that are also terrorists.

Dr. Amer Al Sabaileh

amersabaileh@yahoo.com

Coping with Change

One of the key characteristics of a progressive society is its capacity to deal with new developments.  As life moves forward people must adapt, accept and live with new concepts that appear, from technology, lifestyle changes, new ways of thinking, and changing services.

In Jordan one of the major hindrances to the development process is a lack of a decent, well-organized and modern transportation system. Even what we call public buses are in most of the cases privately operated services that function as a public service with no systematic plan, timetable, set routes. Most don’t even follow the laws of the road or accepted rules of driving.  Ignoring this infrastructure failure will eventually lead to more catastrophes like the recent accident with university students on the Mafraq –Irbid Highway.

The issue of transportation in Jordan is not new, but it is increasingly illogical to ignore. Jordanians are totally dependent on their cars for almost every aspect of our lives, and as a result there is rarely a car with more than two passengers on the road.  We are stuck without a decent alternative and traffic congestion is worsening every day.

Another result is increasing issues with the availability and usability of taxis. Most have experience with denial of service, where the drives asks your destination and gauges the value of the trip before accepting to take the fare, and that is if you can even find a taxi, especially at certain times and when it is raining. On top of this our cab drivers often do not know how to get to the destination, and the quality and condition of many taxis leaves much to be desired. These issues also often leads to surge pricing, off-meter fares and drivers asking exorbitant rates, especially of foreigners. We also see many cases of radical driver attitudes, as well as verbal and sexual harassment.

Our transport problems cannot be solved without control over the system, which will also have positive impacts from a security perspective. We need a new service that addresses these issues..

Recently, new and efficient transportation services like UBER and CAREEM have launched. It was expected that the new services would trigger anger amongst existing taxi drivers, but instead it seems the government who has for so long failed to provide the needed services is now working against this new operator instead of seizing the opportunity to improve the whole industry and the quality of transportation in Jordan.

It is a real shame to see our country fighting progress and development. Prison is not the answer to freedom of speech in the same way that it is not the answer to services like this, which are booming in other countries, including in our region and changing the nature of transportation. The solution is not in putting people in jail or seizing cars, it is by compromising and facilitating progress with new laws and regulations.

If we can learn to accept and embrace new services like this we would not only see improvement and development in transportation but across industries and our society. It is about time the government considers adopting and embracing new technologies and new solutions to problems that will make a huge difference and improvement to the lives of Jordanians. We should always remember that life goes forward.

Dr. Amer Al Sabaileh

amersabaileh@yahoo.com

New President in Lebanon: The victory for whom?

After more than two years without a President, Lebanon has finally elected Michel Aoun. It is really interesting to follow the various narratives being run amongst the political elites in Lebanon to explain Aoun’s arrival at Ba’abdah Palace.

Shifting priorities across the region have variously impacted on Lebanon over the last few years. Filling the power vacuum of the last two years in Lebanon is likely to have a positive effect on many of its neighbors. It has also encouraged the political players in Lebanon to isolate and insulate them from regional and international influence into the future.

For many years the Lebanese people have found that Syria, Iran Saudi Arabia, France and the US have shaped the domestic political landscape in Lebanon from the outside. There has been a belief that a stable government in Lebanon required a difficult consensus amongst those powers.

The change this week appears to have thrown all of the Lebanese political parties into crisis so they all need to stake thinking about how to progress Lebanon. The election of Michel Aoun doesn’t represent a victory for any group, but rather the need to find internal consensus.

For Hezbollah, the coming years will bring various challenges especially after the Syrian crisis that will inevitably result in some kind of change especially in the cooperation they have enjoyed previously. The same could be said with Iran after the signing of the nuclear agreement and its commitment to the international community, which will limit its support for the group, beside the financial restrictions applied recently in Lebanon. So Hezbollah will have to rethink its strategy to grow political influence and power.

Christianity in Lebanon is also enjoying a unity that it has not seen for many years. Samir Geagea, the leader of the “Lebanese Force” was one of the key players in nominating Aoun for President, and tactically has joined Aoun as a defender of Christians from the “Takfiri” terrorist groups. Moreover, by supporting Michael Aoun, Samir Geagea has made himself more viable as a future candidate for the Presidency in the future.

The Presidency of Michel Aoun is an important opportunity to put Lebanon back on track, but as President he cannot adopt the same language and positions that he used to. The same applies to Sa’d al Hariri as Prime Minister. He needs to show political flexibility, as the main challenge for Lebanon is not just internal economic, security and development but also the challenge of restoring relations with other countries.

Dr. Amer Al Sabaileh

amersabaileh@yahoo.com

Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton

Report elezioni USA

Trump - Clinton

Trump se vuole vincere le elezioni deve conquistare, in queste ultime ore, con certezza lo Utah, l’Arizona.

Forse lo Utah e la Georgia sono già nelle sue mani ,ma l ‘Arizona è più difficile ed il suo vantaggio ad oggi nello stato è troppo sottile.

Se Trump riuscisse ad avere già domani la maggioranza in Utah, Georgia, Arizona, Carolina del Sud, Florida ed Ohio arriverebbe  quasi a 253 punti e gliene mancherebbero ancora una ventina per vincere.

Servirebbe allora vincere in Pennsylvania. Questo stato è in bilico anche per la Clinton, ma proprio qui la Clinton concluderà la campagna elettorale con tutti i super big  insieme al marito ed ad Obama.

Questa circostanza oltre alla scia del Presidente uscente ed alla recente dichiarazione dell’FBI che la scagiona in modo definitivo ed infine alla comunità ispanica a suo favore faranno vincere la Clinton.

Perdendo la Pennsylvania Trump ha come ultima chance quella di puntare su altri piccoli stati Lowa, Nevada, Maine e NewHampshire ma le informazioni sui dati reali sono troppo altalenanti e le incertezze dal punto di vista mediatico e concreto favoriscono la Clinton, che comunque ha già deciso di fare una ribattuta in questi paesi.

Ultimissima possibilità per Trump è quella di strappare voti in Michigan, Wisconsin , Colorado, Virginia , New Mexico.

Ma è tutto troppo tardi,  i finanziatori delle campagne elettorali dei due contendenti sono in larga maggioranza gli stessi ed hanno già deciso di far eleggere il cosiddetto  candidato “meno peggio “ ed a loro più congeniale.

Per questo nonostante tutto e nonostante tutti vincerà la Clinton.  

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