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Ed Webb

Israel's army and schools work hand in hand, say teachers - 2 views

  • officers from a military intelligence unit called Telem design much of the Arabic language curriculum
  • “The military are part and parcel of the education system. The goal of Arabic teaching is to educate the children to be useful components in the military system, to train them to become intelligence officers.”
  • Mendel said Arabic was taught “without sentiment”, an aim established in the state’s earliest years.“The fear was that, if students had a good relationship with the language and saw Arabs as potential friends, they might cross over to the other side and they would be of no use to the Israeli security system. That was the reason the field of Arabic studies was made free of Arabs.”
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  • many fear that the situation will only get worse under the new education minister, Naftali Bennett, who heads Jewish Home, the settler movement’s far-right party
  • Nearly 300 schools have been encouraged to join an IDF-education ministry programme called “Path of Values”, whose official goal is to “strengthen the ties and cooperation between schools and the army”.
  • “Militarism is in every aspect of our society, so it is not surprising it is prominent in schools too,” said Amit Shilo, an activist with New Profile, an organisation opposed to the influence of the army on Israeli public life.“We are taught violence is the first and best solution to every problem, and that it is the way to solve our conflict with our neighbours.”
  • Each school is now graded annually by the education ministry not only on its academic excellence but also on the draft rate among pupils and the percentages qualifying for elite units, especially in combat or intelligence roles.
  • Zeev Dagani, head teacher of a leading Tel Aviv school who opted out of the programme at its launch in 2010, faced death threats and was called before a parliamentary committee to explain his actions.
  • Adam Verete, a Jewish philosophy teacher at a school in Tivon, near Haifa, was sacked last year after he hosted a class debate on whether the IDF could justifiably claim to be the world’s most moral army.
  • Revital, an Arabic language teacher, said the army’s lesson plans were popular with pupils. “I don’t approve of them, but the students like them. They celebrate and laugh when they kill the terrorists.”Revital said she had been disciplined for speaking her mind in class and was now much more cautious.“You end up hesitating before saying anything that isn’t what everyone else is saying. I find myself hesitating a lot more than I did 20 years ago. There is a lot more fascism and racism around in the wider society,” she said.
  • “You have to watch yourself because the pupils are getting more nationalistic, more religious all the time. The society, the media and the education system are all moving to the right.”A 2010 survey found that 56 per cent of Jewish pupils believed their fellow Palestinian citizens should be stripped of the vote, and 21 per cent thought it was legitimate to call out “Death to the Arabs”.
Ed Webb

Fears over education's gender gap - The National Newspaper - 1 views

  • Emirati boys are posting lower examination scores and dropping out of high school at a much greater rate than Emirati girls, newly released research shows.It also found that among pupils who complete secondary schooling, many fewer boys go on to a university education.
  • although 70 per cent of Emirati girls enrol at university after high school, the figure for boys is only 27 per cent.
  • The drop-out rates are highest in Grade 10, the first non-compulsory year of school, when many boys abandon their education to pursue jobs in the public sector.
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  • “By no means does this study imply that girls have an outstanding quality of education either,” she said. “I would say that neither boys nor girls are receiving the best education that they could in government schools.”
  • Dr Ridge recommended that the Ministry of Education should look at improving the quality of its expatriate teaching force, getting more Emirati men to become teachers, and making schools more attractive to pupils.
  • The Armed Forces and police were a “very attractive” career choice for some because they required minimal education
  • Emiratis make up only one per cent of the UAE’s private sector workforce. The public workforce is 85 per cent Emirati.
Ed Webb

What drives the radicalization of foreign terrorist recruits? - 0 views

  • aspiring Daesh recruits have not less but more education than the average for men in their country of origin
  • those who choose to be administrators are relatively more likely to have a tertiary education, suicide fighters are relatively more likely to have a secondary education, and fighters are relatively more likely to have a primary education only. In addition, religious knowledge is low overall among the recruits and associated with higher levels of education
  • analysis suggests that higher unemployment rates are a push factor toward radicalization, especially in countries at a shorter distance from Syria; an increase of one percentage point in the unemployment rate leads to 42 additional Daesh recruits. This is a strong effect that is found to be restricted to countries at a relatively short distance from Syria. In countries farther away, unemployment may still lead to radicalization, with radicalized individuals engaging in local acts of violence rather than traveling to far-away Syria or Iraq
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  • domestic socioeconomic policies have an impact on global security because disgruntled youth are susceptible to radicalization into violent extremism at home or abroad. Cross-border terrorism has turned security into a global public good
Erin Gold

Memo From Cairo - Egypt Ponders Failed Drive for Unesco - NYTimes.com - 1 views

  • after Egypt’s culture minister, Farouk Hosny, failed in his bid to lead the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, Egyptian newspapers and government officials presented the defeat as a sign of Western prejudice against Islam and the Arab world,
  • For days after Egypt’s culture minister, Farouk Hosny, failed in his bid to lead the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, Egyptian newspapers and government officials presented the defeat as a sign of Western prejudice against Islam and the Arab world, the product of an international Jewish conspiracy.
  • “America, Europe and the Jewish lobby brought down Farouk Hosni,” read a headline
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  • Mr. Hosny himself helped stoke those sentiments, saying, “There was a group of the world’s Jews who had a major influence in the elections who were a serious threat to Egypt taking this position.”
  • All of Egypt, indeed all of the Arab world, was talking with one voice of outrage and insult.
  • While no one here would argue that Israel and its supporters played no role in Mr. Hosny’s defeat to a Bulgarian diplomat, many people said that his failure was at least as much a sign of Egypt’s long, slow slide as the center of Arab culture, thought and influence. They said the defeat might represent a rejection of Muslims and Arabs, but perhaps more importantly a rejection of their authoritarian leaders.
  • Mr. Hosny, a favorite of President Hosni Mubarak, was roundly despised by many members of the nation’s cultural elite
  • pan-Arab daily newspaper Al Quds Al Arabi wrote that Mr. Hosny’s loss “comes as yet another confirmation of the Arab world’s — and Egypt’s in particular — backslide on the international arena,
  • considering the charges of anti-Semitism that derailed his candidacy, he has never been known as a strong opponent of normalizing ties with Israel.
  • Throughout his candidacy, Mr. Hosny struggled to mute the charges of anti-Semitism, efforts that caused many people in Egypt to wince as they watched a stalwart of the state apologize, to Israel no less. And they winced again, when he blamed a Jewish-Zionist conspiracy for his loss.
  • “The moment he lost he came back and started saying some of the most foul anti-Semitic statements against the Jews, confirming what the West had said about him.”
  • Mr. Hosny lost his bid for Unesco, but tried to turn that into a victory at home, returning as a victim, and for the state-run media a hero.
  • When it comes to domestic politics, she said, Egyptian officials often try to present themselves as anti-Israeli, even while serving as a mediator between Israel and the Palestinians.
  • Writing in the English-language Daily News, the chief editor, Rania al-Malky, suggested that Mr. Hosny might have done as well as he did because he was Arab and Muslim, not because he was qualified. His defeat, she wrote, should not surprise anyone.
  • she wrote, “you must admit that the Egyptian administration did not deserve to win this bid. How can a 22-year minister of a country where culture, education, health and science have regressed to the Dark Ages become the head of Unesco?”
Ed Webb

The Fight Against Terror Needs Better Data - Foreign Policy - 0 views

  • Using a leaked database from 2016 on Islamic State recruits, we were able to geographically locate where almost 600 recruits originated from in Tunisia—one of the highest exporters of foreign fighters to Syria. We then used socio-economic data from Tunisian delegations (the equivalent of a district or a county—the smallest geographic unit that could be measured) to try to find what was driving foreign fighters to go to Syria. Surprisingly, our research suggests that absolute indicators of well-being, which are intuitively linked to terrorism by many policymakers, are not related to a higher probability of joining a violent extremist group.
  • higher rates of radicalization seem to be linked to relative deprivation—the perception of being disadvantaged or not achieving the expectations one feels entitled to. This builds on previous research including Ted Robert Gurr’s seminal book, Why Men Rebel, and supports the conclusions of recent work such as Kartika Bhatia and Hafez Ghanem’s study on the linkage between economic development and violent extremism across the Middle East
  • districts with high levels of unemployment among university-educated men produced higher numbers of men joining violent extremist groups
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  • districts with high inflows of domestic migrants in search of better living conditions exported more foreign fighters
  • the problem is not one of poverty or unemployment per se but rather the unmet expectations of highly educated youth who feel the country’s social contract has failed them
  • even policies that advance the right agenda items—such as increasing employment for well-educated youths—may not make any impact in addressing radicalization if they are too broadly based or target districts with low numbers of foreign fighters
Ed Webb

Deterrence, Mass Atrocity, and Samantha Power's "The Education of an Idealist" - 0 views

  • In Power’s Pulitzer Prize-winning A Problem from Hell, American force is one of many foreign policy tools that can and should be bent toward civilian protection and atrocity prevention globally; for many of her critics from the left, American force is to be dismantled; for many of her critics from the right, American force should serve core national security interests and nothing more.
  • In A Problem from Hell, Power argues that US policymakers did not act to stop genocide because they did not want to; in her memoir, she relates how a room full of civil servants whose thinking had been shaped by her first book found themselves in a years-long limbo over complex human disasters in Syria and Libya. Together, these cases constitute a real-time test of the “toolbox” of interventions Power first proposed at the end of A Problem from Hell; together, they reveal both the problem at the heart of her theory of foreign policy, and the still all-too-slender slate of effective policy alternatives to force across the political spectrum.
  • Libya and Syria serve as parallel cases through which questions about the US’s role in the world are refracted. The standard narrative is as follows: the US intervened in Libya under the guise of preventing mass atrocities, this intervention ended first in regime change and then in a failed state, and Libyans now live in enduring danger; the US did not intervene to protect civilians during the Syrian Civil War, war snarled the full region into conflict, and today Syrian civilians continue to die in unspeakable ways and uncounted numbers. At each stage, the narrative is in fact more complicated, particularly if we begin by asking whether the US did in fact prevent mass atrocity in Libya and end by noting the U.S. did in fact intervene in Syria in multiple ways, but the broad lines are still instructive for understanding public debate. Would Libyans have been better off in the absence of an American-led intervention, or would they have been worse off? Would Syrians have been better off for U.S. intervention, or would they have been worse off for it?
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  • the implicit promise of force underlies each alternative set of policies Power proposes. Actors who are willing to abandon mass atrocity campaigns voluntarily may be easily deterred — but actors committed to a mass atrocity campaign could find themselves diplomatically isolated, operating under economic sanction, or threatened by prosecution, and still continue to wage campaigns of death. “Stop this or else” undergirds threats when a powerful actor makes them. The toolbox’s logic is ultimately escalatory as a result: force is a tool of last resort, but no other tool works without the latent presence of American military force.
  • confronting ongoing or imminent atrocities can require quickly shifting perpetrators’ incentives. In the immediate aftermath of the Libyan protests, for instance, Power argues rapid, joint Security Council and American action “was probably the best example in history of governments hastily using a vast array of “tools in the toolbox” to try to deter atrocities.” But this proved insufficient: “The pressures that the United States and other countries were imposing on Qaddafi’s regime would take months to reach their full effect, and we had run out of further nonmilitary steps to take to try to affect the Libyan leader’s near-term calculus.”
  • “While administration officials could say they had imposed consequences on Assad’s regime for crossing the red line, they could not specific the nature of these consequences in any detail,” she writes. “Since even Assad didn’t know the particulars of the cost he would be bearing, he seemed unlikely to be deterred from carrying out further attacks.”
  • American military force underwrites other dimensions of statecraft, and mobilizes when other deterrent measures have failed. But the problem, then, is not simply, as her critics allege, that Samantha Power is a hawk, or that she doesn’t understand which conflicts constitute core American interests — the problem is that all deterrent models of atrocity prevention rest on the threat of force.
  • UN peacekeepers are the largest deployed force in conflict zones today; UN peacekeeping constitutes an enormous part of the Security Council’s agenda; the UN peacekeeping budget is separate from and larger than the UN’s operational budget; and a heated debate on the use of force by UN peacekeepers has now been running over twenty years. Peacekeeping is an effective tool that works best when it is all carrots and few sticks — but peacekeepers today are usually charged with protecting civilians under threat of imminent violence, as well. They rarely use force, and while they seem to protect civilians from rebels well, they struggle more to protect civilians from government forces.
  • Historically, when deterrence fails, the UN Security Council has outsourced this work — instead of sending in the Marines, for example, the UN instead turns to the French, as they did in the Central African Republic, or British Special forces, as they did in Sierra Leone, or — yes — NATO, as they did in the former Yugoslavia and then Libya.
  • discussions about US restraint are nearly entirely divorced from these extremely active debates about the use of force in UN peacekeeping — and considering the two together is instructive
  • a military with stunningly excess capability demands we continually interrogate its purpose; people who live under imminent threat of violence are not marginal to US foreign policy interests unless we define them that way; and the US outsources most conflict management to the UN system, which then relies on the military might of its member states to wield force in the places most dangerous for civilians
  • If unwilling actors cannot be swayed save by the use of force, and we are reluctant to use force for practical or ethical reasons, then we are left with two options: we can address the root causes of conflict, and we can help those refugees and internally displaced people who manage to escape violence. The first set of options requires reimagining the fundamental structures of foreign policy; the second set of options is currently so politically unpopular that it is remaking domestic politics across refugee-receiving countries
Ed Webb

Parents protest as dream of bilingual education in Israel turns sour | Middle East Eye - 0 views

  • Hand in Hand operates four bilingual schools across Israel and two kindergartens. Jaffa’s primary school classes are the most recent addition.The idea of children from different cultural backgrounds learning together and speaking each other’s language may seem uncontroversial. But it has prompted a fierce backlash from right-wing Jewish groups in Israel.In late 2014 Hand in Hand’s flagship school in Jerusalem was torched by activists from Lehava, an organisation that opposes integration between Jewish and Palestinian citizens. Graffiti daubed on the walls read “Death to the Arabs” and “There can be no coexistence with cancer”.Three of the group’s members were jailed last year. In January Israel’s high court increased the sentences of two brothers involved in the arson attack.Although Lehava is a fringe group, it draws on ideas that have found favour with much larger numbers of Israeli Jews, especially over the past 15 years as the country has lurched to the right.A survey by the Pew polling organisation this month found that half of Israeli Jews wanted Arabs expelled from the state, and 79 percent believed Jews should have more rights than their Palestinian compatriots.
  • 1,350 children are currently in bilingual education, out of a total Israeli school population of some 1.5 million children.
  • The Jaffa parents argue that their coastal city of 50,000 residents, which is incorporated into the Tel Aviv municipal area, is the natural location for a bilingual school.A third of Jaffa’s residents are Palestinian, reflecting the fact that, before Israel’s creation in 1948, it was Palestine’s commercial centre.Although Israelis mostly live in separate communities, based on their ethnicity, Jaffa is one of half a dozen urban areas where Jewish and Palestinian citizens live close to each other.
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  • Within days of the bilingual first-grade classes opening last year, parents hit a crisis when school administrators refused to let the children take off the Muslim feast of Eid al-Adha.When the parents rebelled and kept their children home, the management “flipped out”, said Ronel. “Now the trust has gone and we are demanding that they make commitments in writing that things will be different.”
  • Ronel, an Israeli Jewish journalist, said he had long been pessimistic about the region’s future and had contemplated leaving Israel with his family, taking advantage of his wife’s German passport. But that changed once his daughter, Ruth, began at the bilingual kindergarten.“I have become evangelical about it,” he said. “I see how her knowledge of Palestinian identity and the Arabic language has made her own identity much stronger.”He said knowing the other side was essential to strengthening Israelis’ sense of security and reducing their fears. “This is the model for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict too. I am sure this is what a solution will look like.”
  • bilingual schools are proving particularly popular in Israel’s mixed cities. Next year Hand in Hand will open the first bilingual elementary school in Haifa, Israel’s third largest city, following the success of a bilingual kindergarten there
  • Far-right Jewish religious groups, ideologically close to the settlers, have set up seminaries and exclusive housing areas in Jaffa and other mixed cities. “They are going the other way: they want even deeper segregation,” said Dichter.Hassan Agbaria, principal of the only bilingual school in a Palestinian community in Israel, located in the northern town of Kafr Karia, said there were problems in more rural areas too. This month the gated Jewish community of Katzir, close to his school, refused to allow Hand in Hand organisers in for a parents’ registration meeting, accusing the group of “political activity”.“It is a big psychological hurdle for some of them,” he told MEE. “Some think you must be crazy to send your young children into an Arab community every day.”
Ed Webb

Education Ministry bans use of text book that offers Palestinian narrative - Haaretz Da... - 2 views

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    Qn for discussion: What is there to fear? Why do both the Israeli government and Palestinian Authority seek to control the history curriculum so tightly?
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    *noting in the mean time: a.Ha'aretz's earlier article: http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/news/swedish-mayors-head-to-negev-to-promote-coexistence-program-1.306622 and b.just for fun, the Sha'ar Hanegev community website (most obvious connection to current situation: "security" section and the very last sentence on the page) : http://www.sng.org.il/english-site/first.htm
Ed Webb

University blasts in Pakistan and the future of Islam - Yahoo! News - 0 views

  • Mark LeVine
  • When the Taliban attacked the International Islamic University in Pakistan this week, many were shocked that militants were targeting an Islamic school. In fact, the double suicide bombers were going after a university that is at the forefront of changing the way Islamic and Western knowledge are brought together in the Muslim world.
  • when I delivered my second lecture on globalization early on a Saturday morning, the room was filled with students, more women than men (upward of half the student body at the University are women), who grilled me about the assumptions underlying my research and methodologies. Would that most of my students back home were as interested in what I was teaching as were they.
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  • The University was carving out a much-needed space in Muslim intellectual, and through it political, life through its bringing Muslim and Western traditions into dialogue. Yet it was receiving, and continues to receive far less attention from scholars, commentators, or policymakers than the fully American-style universities being opened across the Persian Gulf.
  • the singular focus of KAUST on hard sciences is ultimately myopic and will likely produce little in the way of the larger societal change in Saudi Arabia predicted by the new university's boosters. Such changes come only with a robust public sphere where citizens who are educated broadly and humanistically are equipped with the social knowledge and skills to challenge the dominant political and social-religious discourses. Building such an active Pakistani citizenry was and – I imagine despite the bombing – remains a major goal of the IIU. Sadly, it's just such a goal that probably made it a "legitimate" target for the Taliban, for whom a healthy public sphere populated by educated citizens willing and able to challenge, potentially democratize, and clean up their government would pose at least as big threat to its position in the country as the army they are now fighting in the country's northwest.
Michael Fisher

A Saudi Gamble to See if Seeds of Change Will Grow - NYTimes.com - 0 views

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    The stated goal is to take a country that consistently ranks among the poorest performing nations in education and, with all the brain power and high-tech equipment oil money can buy, build a world-class research center and university.
Ed Webb

The West is playing an old game with the minorities of the Orient | Middle East Eye - 0 views

  • This is the big door through which we may penetrate into the affairs of the East …. In addition to the big door there is a smaller one. Syria, and the Christian population of Lebanon in particular, have the right to obtain from the Sultan, by virtue of a European intervention, guarantees, and in particular an administrative regulation, which may provide them with protection from the abuse they suffered under different rulers and that may secure Syria against sliding once more into chaos … We believe that it is the duty of the Christian powers, even their honour, to support this approach and push forward toward accomplishing a positive practical outcome
  • Guizot thought that obtaining the consent of Russia and Austria would neutralise Britain and make it less able to hinder the implementation of his project. Russia had been pursuing an expansionist approach within the Ottoman sphere of influence. It had close links with the Orthodox and Armenians of the Sultanate, who – and not the Catholics – constituted the majority of the Christians of the Orient.
  • The new entity would include the Christians of the East, foremost among them the Catholics of Lebanon, and would be placed under the protection of the European powers, particularly France, Russia and Austria
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  • he was seeking to establish an independent, or semi-independent, administrative status in the district of Jerusalem, which was at the time part of the Damascus governorate
  • What is astonishing is that Guizot did not ask if the Christians of the Orient, who were scattered all over the Orient, would agree to emigrate from their historic homelands to live in such a European protectorate. He did not even ask if the Muslims, who were the majority of the inhabitants of the Jerusalem Province and who also sanctified the city, would accept his project.
  • Reflecting the French Revolution’s legacy, and the spirit of state hegemony over its people, Guizot – throughout his long years in the Ministry of Education in the 1830s – endeavoured to spread public education across the country and establish at least one primary school in every community.In the meantime, the French colonial administration had started to secularise management and education in Algeria, which France had been occupying since 1830. If there is a degree of peculiarity in the Christian foreign policy of a secular and liberal minister, it is even more peculiar that Guizot was not a Catholic but a Protestant.
  • Guizot’s policy was not in any way religiously motivated. Nor was it Catholic. Guizot policy in essence was the policy of supporting minorities and using them to reinforce the status of the European powers in the confrontation with the majorities.
Ed Webb

Scholars, Spies and the Gulf Military Industrial Complex | MERIP - 0 views

  • Until recently, there was little practical knowledge about what it meant for an academic to analyze the military activities of the Gulf states because there wasn’t much to study, other than some symbolic joint training exercises, sociological inquiry about the composition of the region’s armed forces, and limited Emirati participation in non-combat operations in places like Kosovo. The bulk of scholarship examined the Gulf in the context of petrodollar recycling (the exchange of the Gulf’s surplus oil capital for expensive Western military equipment) or the Gulf as the object of military intervention, but never as its agent.
  • Academic research is not espionage—but many parties (notably US and European governments) are implicated in the process that has allowed them to be conflated
  • The history of the United States and European states undermining regional governments—including its only democratically-elected ones—using covert agents posing as scholars, bureaucrats and businessmen is well-documented. Its legacy is clear in the region’s contemporary politics, where authoritarians and reactionary nationalists frequently paint democratic opposition forces as foreign agents and provocateurs. It’s also visible in the political staying power of religious conservatives, who were actively supported by the US and its allies in order to undermine leftist forces that threatened to nationalize oil fields and expropriate Western corporate property.
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  • Another element of this legacy is the paranoia that makes it difficult for regional governments to distinguish between academic researchers and spies
  • Imagine if Syria had imprisoned a British PhD student and kept them in solitary confinement for seven months with one consular visit—or if Iran covered up the brutal murder of an Italian PhD student by their police forces, as happened in Egypt in 2016. The double standards pertaining to academic freedom and the rule of law in countries formally allied with the United States and Europe and those characterized as rogue actors is so obvious it barely merits pointing out. The Emirati authorities certainly recognize this, and will continue to exploit this double standard so long as it remains intact.
  • Oil money, along with a new generation of rulers eager to use military intervention to demonstrate their power to domestic and foreign audiences, has made the Gulf not just a major weapons customer but an industry partner. The story of the UAE today is no longer Dubai’s position as a global finance hub, but Abu Dhabi’s position as an emerging player in high-tech weapons development.
  • it is no coincidence that two decades of research and funding for domestic weapons development in the UAE is now manifested in armed interventions in Yemen, Libya and the horn of Africa
  • Matt’s arrest and detention, therefore, is a clear message from UAE authorities that research into the country’s growing arms industry is off-limits, in much the same way that researchers and activists working on labor rights have found themselves surveilled, intimidated and imprisoned
  • The slow erosion of public funding for universities has bled dry the resources reserved to support PhD students, meanwhile trustees and consultants urge the adoption of for-profit business practices that generate return on investment, including partnering with defense technology firms for research grants.[3] The fact that educational institutions must go begging—hat in hand—to billionaire philanthropists and weapons conglomerates reflects both the growing share of defense industry involvement in industrial and research activities as well as the failure of our political system to levy sufficient taxes on the ultra-rich to directly fund basic investments in public education.
  • what does the weakening of US and European governments vis-à-vis their Gulf counterparts mean for the protection of students and scholars conducting overseas research?
  • Before my research on the Gulf, my focus was on the role of regional militaries (primarily Egypt and Jordan) in their domestic economies. The more I studied these cases the more I realized their military economies are not some peculiarity of third world political development, but a legacy of colonial militarization, the obstacles facing newly-independent states trying to industrialize their economies, and the extraordinary organizational and financial resources that weapons producers dedicate to proliferating their products all over the globe.
  • I do not know of any studies estimating the total number of academics and non-government researchers working on security and military-related issues across the globe, but I expect it is in the tens of thousands at the very least. At my home institution alone—The George Washington University—there are maybe a dozen faculty working on everything from the psychology of drone operators to the role gender plays in government defense contracting—and I’m pretty sure none of these people are spies. This kind of security studies—which examines topics like defense technology, the global arms industry and government contracting—is a growing field, not least due to the proliferation of information about these issues coming from the booming private sector. And as multinational defense firms and their complementary industry partners continue to chase investment shifting from the core capitalist countries to emerging regional powers like the Gulf States these latter sites will become increasingly important targets for such research.
  • Matt’s case should make us question not only the safety of Western researchers and our students but, more importantly, the continued harassment, intimidation and imprisonment of academics and democratic activists across the Middle East.
Ed Webb

'We Misled You': How the Saudis Are Coming Clean on Funding Terrorism - POLITICO Magazine - 1 views

  • one top Saudi official admitted to me, “We misled you.” He explained that Saudi support for Islamic extremism started in the early 1960s as a counter to Nasserism—the socialist political ideology that came out of the thinking of Egypt’s Gamal Abdel Nasser—which threatened Saudi Arabia and led to war between the two countries along the Yemen border. This tactic allowed them to successfully contain Nasserism, and the Saudis concluded that Islamism could be a powerful tool with broader utility.
  • their support for extremism was a way of resisting the Soviet Union, often in cooperation with the United States, in places like Afghanistan in the 1980s
  • Later it was deployed against Iranian-supported Shiite movements in the geopolitical competition between the two countries.
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  • The new leadership, like their predecessors, blames Iran for regional instability and the many conflicts going on.
  • as the Saudis described it to me, this new approach to grappling with their past is part of the leadership’s effort to make a new future for their country, including a broad-based economic reform program
  • “We did not own up to it after 9/11 because we feared you would abandon or treat us as the enemy,” the Saudi senior official conceded. “And we were in denial.”
  • it is an open question as to whether the Saudi people have been sufficiently prepared at all relevant levels in terms of education and skills to compete in the world economy, as they will need to do in a modernized economy. If not, social tensions and unrest may arise among those who are not prepared to compete.
  • For many years, I was accustomed to Saudi officials being vague and ambiguous. Now, our interlocutors were straightforward and business-like in discussing their past and their future plans. In past decades, my impression had been that the Saudis did not work hard. Now a team of highly educated, young ministers works 16- to 18-hour days on refining and implementing a plan to transform the country. The plan is the brainchild of Mohammad bin Salman and focuses both on domestic and regional fronts. Salman and his ministers exude commitment and energy.
  • Riyadh views modernization as the vehicle through which the Saudi state, at long last, can confront and defeat extremism, foster a dynamic private sector and master the looming economic challenges
  • Their Vision 2030 and National Transformation Program 2020 focus on shrinking the country's enormous bureaucracy, reducing and ultimately removing subsidies, expanding the private sector including attracting investment from abroad by becoming more transparent and accountable and by removing red tape.
  • Israel and Saudi Arabia share a similar threat perception regarding Iran and ISIL, and that old hostility need not preclude greater cooperation between the two states going forward
  • On some levels, the prospects for planned reforms are more promising in Saudi Arabia than they are in most other parts of the Middle East. Saudi Arabia has oil reserves and is not roiled in conflict: two important advantages
  • if the reform effort does work, Saudi Arabia is poised to become more powerful than before, enabling it to play a bigger role in regional dynamics including in balancing Iran and perhaps negotiating about ending the civil wars in the region. A true change in Saudi Arabia’s policy of supporting Islamist extremists would be a turning point in the effort to defeat them
Ed Webb

Saudi Arabia Pleased With Morsi's Fall - Al-Monitor: the Pulse of the Middle East - 0 views

  • Saudi Arabia hosted Arab Muslim Brotherhood exiles during the repression of the 1950 and 1960s. They came not only from Egypt but also from Syria, Iraq and other Arab countries where they had been prosecuted. Brotherhood cadres played a pivotal role in Saudi educational institutions and later the transnational organizations set up by King Faisal to counter the spread of Arab nationalism and leftist movements. Saudis used the exiled Islamists as tools to weaken such movements and undermine their credibility, while emphasizing their un-Islamic character. During the anti-Soviet jihad in the 1980s, Saudis used the worldwide networks established by the Brotherhood to inflame the imagination of its youth and channel aid and weapons. Yet Saudi Arabia never allowed the Brotherhood to establish branches there as they did in other Arab countries and in the West.
  • Educated urban Saudis were attracted to the Brotherhood discourse and impressed by its ability to form civil society organizations, posing as charitable and welfare services. Individuals frustrated with the Wahhabi-Salafist tradition that forbids political action and unconditionally obeys rulers, found in the Brotherhood an authentic discourse capable of mobilizing society. The ideological vacuum that resulted from the death of Arab nationalism and socialism after 1967 was quickly filled by political Islam. To counter the appeal of the Muslim Brotherhood, the Saudi religious establishment condemned it as a divisive force and accused it of undermining people’s creeds. Saudi Arabia began to curb the activities of the Brotherhood after the latter condemned the Saudis for inviting foreign troops to expel then-Iraqi president Saddam Hussein from Kuwait in 1990.
  • After 9/11, suspicion of the Brotherhood evolved into outright hostility. Prince Nayif accused the Brotherhood of radicalizing Saudi youth and held it responsible for the terrorism wave that swept the country from 2003 to 2008. Such accusations were unfounded, as most jihadis operating in Saudi Arabia grounded their actions in the teachings of Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab, the 18th-century preacher whose tradition has been dominant in Saudi Arabia up to the present.
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  • unlike official Saudi Salafists, who still believe that democracy is a Western import that promises to bring atheists, secularists and leftists to power, the Brotherhood engaged in elections, won seats in parliaments and even came to power in Tunisia and Egypt. Surely, then, Islam and democracy are not so incompatible. This in itself threatens the foundations of Saudi rule, which is still based on absolute kingship, difficult to justify from an Islamic point of view. The Brotherhood therefore exposes Saudi claims to legitimacy and undermines their credibility as lawful Muslim rulers.
  • The competition over the hearts and minds of Muslims in the growing global Muslim society worries Saudi Arabia, which seeks to monopolize these platforms.
  • Saudi Arabia feared that Morsi would make Egypt drift toward Iran, with whom Saudi Arabia competes for hegemony at the regional level.
  • The Muslim Brotherhood had already drifted toward Qatar rather than Iran, thus allowing this small but wealthy Gulf country to undermine Saudi designs for the region and split the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries over the desired outcome of the Arab uprisings.
Ed Webb

Syria Comment » Archives » "Bush White House Wanted to Destroy the Syrian Sta... - 0 views

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anonymous

freedomhouse report on Iran - 0 views

  • assumed political control under a supreme leader, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. Despite massive participation by women in the revolution and a subsequent increase in the
  • assumed political control under a supreme leader, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. Despit
  • Despite massive participation by women in the revolution and a subsequent increase in the levels and forms of women's social presence and educational achievements, the Islam
  • ...31 more annotations...
  • assumed political control under a supreme leader, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. Desp
  • The women's rights movement is reasonably well-organized and surprisingly effective considering the repressive conditions within which it operates.
  • Continuous pressure from women's groups led to government reforms concerning women's education, employ
  • ment, suffrage, and family law under the Pahlavi dynasty, which ruled from 1925 until 1979.
  • The "era of construction" under President Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani (1989–97) ushered in some positive changes to the government's gender policies.
  • a of uneven reform under the presidency of Mohammad Khatami (1997–2005). Women's sociopolitical participation and civic activism increased considerably, while restrictions on personal freedoms and dress were loosened.
  • Iran experienced an er
  • However, attempts by reform-oriented members of the parliament (the Islamic Consultative Assembly, or Majlis) to make progressive changes, including ratification of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Wo
  • men (CEDAW), were blocked by the conservative Guardian Council.
  • The election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in 2005 marked a return to power for hard-liners and negatively affected alm
  • ost all areas of women's social life. Violations of human rights generally an
  • omen's rights in particular have intensified, and censorship has increased. The overall condition of women in Iran has also suffered from revived sociopolitical restrictions on women's dress, freedom of assembly, social advocacy, cultural creativity, and even academic and economic activity.
  • growing globalization
  • ased access to new communications technology, and recent demographic changes have countered some of these negative trends
  • c Republic brought many negative changes to women's rights and personal freedoms.
  • The system explicitly favors men over women
  • Article 19
  • Article 20
  • Article 21
  • Shari'a is the only source of legislation under Article 4 of the constitution. Therefore, any changes or reforms made to women's rights are contingent upon th
  • e political influence of the ulema (Islamic clerics) and their interpretation of Islam.
  • In an effort to protect their members, many women's nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) are depriving themselves of the resources available to similar groups in other countries. Even international awards that include monetary prizes have become a source of tension and political divisions among the activists.[25] While most groups avoid accepting any financial help or even symbolic awards from "Western" sources, some see this as yielding to government pressure in a manner that is contrary to their practical needs and interests.
  • Since the women's NGOs cannot simply wait for or rely on the CEDAW ratification, they should both pursue major campaigns like Change for Equality and continue to create smaller movements focused on individual issues, like
  • equality in inheritance and access to justice for victims of domestic violence.
  • Women in Iran have the right to vote and run for public office but are excluded from holding leadership roles in the main organs of power, such as the office of the supreme leader, the Assembly of Experts, the Guardian Council, the Expediency Council, the judicial branch, and the presidency
  • There has been very little female representation in the executive branch or the diplomatic corps. President Khatami appointed the first woman as one of Iran's several vice presidents, and she also served as head of the Environmental Protection Organization. Another woman was appointed as Khatami's presidential adviser on women's affairs and led the Center for Women's Participation Affairs within the President's Office.[62] Ahmadinejad also chose a woman for this post but changed its name to the Center for Women and Family Affairs. Marzieh Vahid-Dastjerdi, who had held a seat in parliament twice before, was appointed as the Minister of Health in September 2009, becoming Iran's first female cabinet minister. At the same time, two other female minister c
  • andidates nominated by Ahmadinejad were rejected by the conservative parliament
  • While most feminists have maintained their independence from state-sanctioned bodies and organizations, they still collaborate and build coalitions with women's groups that wo
  • rk within the reformist Islamic camp or lobby the state organs for legislative changes.
  • In the run-up to the 2001 presidential election, 47 women nominated themselves as candidates, and in 2005 that number grew to 100, though it fell to 40 in 2009.
  • involvement in city councils as a method of influencing community life and policies.
anonymous

Freedomhouse Report: Libya - 0 views

  • al-Qadhafi has sought to promote the status of women and to encourage them to participate in his Jamahiriya project
  • e directly challenged the prevailing conservatism in Libya, though his regime at times has struck a conciliatory tone with the Islamist political opposition and the conservative populace at the expense of women's rights
  • al-Qadhafi has pushed for women to become equal citizens and has introduced legislation aimed at reducing discrimination between the sexes.
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  • provide women with greater access to education and employment
  • These efforts by the state have run against Libya's extremely conservative patriarchal tr
  • ditions and tribal culture, which continue to foster gender discrimination.
  • or example, women still face unequal treatment in many aspects of family law.
  • o not permit any genuinely independent organizations or political groups to exist. Membership in any group or organization that is not sanctioned by the state is punishable by death under Law No. 71 of 1972. There are a number of women's organizations in Libya that purport to be independent, but they are all in fact closely linked to the state. Consequently, their efforts to promote women's emancipation have yielded little progress.
  • promote a greater awareness of domestic violence and the fact that more women are entering the workforce.
  • government temporarily restricted women from leaving the country without their male guardian, a step that the authorities later denied.
  • Libya has no constitution
  • aws and key declarations
  • 1977 Declaration of the Authority of the People and the 1988 Great Green Charter of Human Rights in the Age of the Masses (Great Green Charter).
  • In addition, Article 1 of Law No. 20 of 1991
  • Women have been eligible to become judges since 1981, although they remain underrepresented in the judiciary. The first female judge was appointed in 1991, and currently there are an estimated 50 female judges
  • An adult woman is recognized as a full person before the court and is equal to a man throughout all stages of litigation and legal proceedings. However, in some instances, women are not considered to be as authentic witnesses as men.
  • Libya acceded to the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) in 1989. At that time, it made reservations to Article 2 and Article 16, in relation to rights and responsibilities in marriage, divorce, and parenthood, on the grounds that these articles should be applied without prejudice to Shari'a. Libya made an additional general reservation in 1995, declaring that no aspect of accession can conflict with the laws of personal status derived from Shari'a.[15]
  • In June 2004, Libya became the first country in the Arab region to ratify the Optional Protocol to CEDAW.[16] The protocol allows Libyan groups and individuals to petition the UN CEDAW committee if they believe their rights under the convention have been violated.[17] However, because the committee can only issue nonbinding recommendations to states in response to these petitions, the practical effects of the protocol remain unclea
  • There are no genuinely independent nongovernmental women's rights groups in Libya. Several women's organizations claim to be independent, such as Al-Wafa Association for Human Services, which seeks to improve the status of women and "to further women's education and social standing."[18] However, all such organizations have close ties to the authorities. The charity Al-Wattasimu, for example, organized an international conference on women's rights in Tripoli in April 2007. Participants sought to draft new concepts and principles on women's rights and "to realize a strategic support group project for African women."[19] Al-Wattasimu is run by Aisha al-Qadhafi, the daughter of Muammar al-Qadhafi.
  • zations claim to be independent, such as Al-Wafa Association for Human Services, which seeks to improve the status of
  • has encoura
  • ged women to participate in the workforce and to exercise their economic rights.
  • Society in general still considers women's primary role to be in the home. While more young women in Libya aspire to pursue professional careers, their working lives are often cut short when they marry.
  • Their political rights and civic voice remain extremely limited on account of the nature of the regime and the fact that all political activity must be sanctioned by the authorities. Recent years have brought no real change in this respect, and women continue to play a marginal role in state institutions. For example, just 36 women gained s
  • eats in the 468-seat General People's Congress in the March 2009 indirect elections
  • Women remain underrepresented in the judiciary, with none serving on the Supreme Court
  • nces. For all its discourse on women's rights, the regime clearly remains extremely reluctant to appoint women to senior positions.
  • Women are even less likely to participate in the Basic People's Congresses in rural areas, and in some cases those who do attend choose to do so indirectly on account of conservative social attitudes.
  • Women have gained access to new sources of information in recent years, but the extent to which they can use this information to empower themselves in their civic and pol
  • itical lives remains limited by the general restrictions on independent political activity.
  • gime. Women increasingly use the Internet as a source of information, though satellite television, which is more accessible, is the most influential medium
  • t the same time, social and cultural attitudes are being influenced by growing access to satellite television and the Internet, and by a partial opening in the domestic media, which has led to an increased awareness of women's issues and greater room for discussion. The expansion of mobile telephone access has also give
  • n women a greater degree of freedom, especially in dealings with the opposite sex.
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