- See more at: http://www.elaph.com/Web/opinion/2015/1/973983.html#sthash.CkjQGq0l.dpuf
Wednesday, January 14, 2015
Tuesday, January 13, 2015
Six years into the Obama presidency, his administration continues to struggle with responding appropriately to world events. The calm levelheaded nature he is embodying makes him come across as aloof and uninterested. The latest example is the lack of high-level U.S. representation at the Paris rally on Sunday where heads of states and dignitaries flocked to show solidarity with the French people and stand united against the Charlie Hebdo massacre. To correct the criticism Secretary of State Kerry will visit France Thursday. “The president and our administration have been coordinating very, very closely with the French on F.B.I. matters, intel, law enforcement, across the board,” Kerry said; too little too late. The message the world is getting is that the U.S. is not terribly interested, which terrorists’ interpret as an opportunity to keep advancing their barbaric destructive agenda. The same agenda that flies in the face of their own holy scriptures they falsely proclaim.
Al-Qaeda, ISIS, and freelance terrorists carrying out bombings, beheadings, and lastly the massacre at Charles Hebdo are all committing their atrocities in the name of Islam nullifying its message of mercy and peace. This is a problem for Muslims who proclaim the hijacking of their religion by extremists. It is also a problem for the global community as it adds fuel to the fire.
The Arab and Muslim worlds bear the responsibility of future global terror recruitsWalid Jawad
The Arab and Muslim worlds bear the responsibility of future global terror recruits. They must empower their citizens with tools to effect change in their respective environments and by helping them understand the essence of Islam, an Islam that lives up to its name (Islam is from the root word “peace”). Are Arab leaders willing and able to restructure their rigid and vengeful hierarchical societies to inclusive ones? I don’t think the current crop of leaders in the Arab world are capable of adjusting to a world where a thuggish violent ISIS group provides that bright spot many Muslim-Arab youths are longing for. If Arab governments don’t take this phenomenon seriously enough to change their set ways, they will perish holding on to a mirage reflecting an elusive past of absolute power they have once held over helpless societies; those days are gone and are never coming back.
International Coalition against ISIS
The global response is focused on addressing the destruction caused by terrorist members on two levels: one, internationally by waging a multinational war against extremists in Iraq and Syria; two, locally by taking security measures to quell threats targeting each of their societies. The war in Iraq and Syria, in reality, is a PR campaign helping ISIS recruit more expendable fighters. All the while, each country’s security procedures are resulting in a continuously shrinking public space peppered with unreasonable and many times ineffective measures. Limiting freedoms under the guise of homeland security is akin to ceding to terrorists.
Members of these societies are not only inconvenienced, but also losing their values by turning open societies into guarded prisons where freedoms are stripped from their citizens. Obviously this dual pronged military-security strategy is lacking. There is a pressing need to expand counter terrorism beyond this shortsighted approach. The international community must refocus on stopping the steady stream of recruits from joining “global Jihad.” Three strategic concepts must be tackled: pursuing justice, preserving dignity and empowering Arab youth to become responsible citizens.
Justice, dignity and empowerment
The most pressing and most consuming issue for aggrieved Arabs and Muslims is Palestinian suffering and the injustice they’re still reeling from. Whether the U.S. likes to hear it or not - whether the administration agrees with it, the reality of the matter is that Arab and Muslim youth are enraged by U.S. policies toward the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as a litmus test for America’s intentions. The dominant narrative points to the symbiotic relation between the U.S. and Israel. The narrative posits that the U.S. is either “controlled” by Israel or that it is hell bent on advancing Israeli interest no matter the injustice befalling the indigence people of the land. Either narrative, they point, is confirmed by U.S. policy announcements. The latest “No” vote rejecting a Palestinian draft proposal for statehood through the Security Council only bolsters this narrative.
If there were ever a way for the U.S. to justify its position to oppose the Palestinian draft resolution it is impossible to excuse the administration’s threat to cut off aid if the Palestinians pursue a membership to the International Criminal Court. Now, and after Palestine have been admitted to the International Criminal Court (starting April 1st), the U.S. must rethink the blowback of cutting off aide to the Palestinians as well as the ensuing PR, which will promote the narrative that the U.S. is insisting on preventing the right of the occupied people of Palestine for armed resistance and from fighting Israel legally by demanding justice through the Security Council and/or the International Criminal Court. Although legal steps taken by the Palestinians for justice will not guarantee them that illusive justice they seek, it will provide them and the rest of the Arab world with a sense of saving face and the preservation of their dignity.
Needless to say, dignity has a profound meaning in the Arab ethos, it is what Arabs live and die for. This is precisely why an increasing number of youth are willing to strap explosives to their chests and blow themselves up. True, they act under a religious banner, but none of their actions follow Islam’s main principles of mercy, peace and battling one’s inner demons. In fact, some of the perpetrators of 9/11 were reportedly spending their last days in bars and strip clubs. That group found an option to exercise power over their feeble existence. Erroneously thinking that by using airplanes as missiles they can die with dignity. Still in this post Arab Spring era, Arab youth are frustrated with an environment that strips them from any practical tools to effect real change, which brings me to empowerment.
Empowerment is not something the U.S. or the international community can ever bestow onto Arab masses. Empowerment lies within the domain of Arab governments. Nevertheless, as long as U.S. national interest is jeopardized the American administration must employ its political powers to nudge these governments to take concrete steps toward reforming educational systems, political inclusion and freedoms. Unfortunately, turning the tide will not be smooth. In fact, this strategy will be long and chaotic. Keep in mind that the current situation on the ground in the Arab world is already disastrous. Instead of the U.S. along with the international community expending blood and treasure on feudal attempts to control the side effects (ISIS), it would be wiser to invest their resources on an honorable outcome; justice, dignity and empowerment for Arabs and Muslims.
The tragedy of Charlie Hebdo where two Muslim gunmen shouting “Allahu Akbar” killed 12 members of the satirical weekly magazine in Paris in what appears to be an act of avenging Prophet Mohammad is providing clues to the nature of the conflict. There is nothing in Islam that demands Muslims to defend the Prophet’s person. On the contrary, there are verses that clearly say that God will defend Islam and his prophet. The prophet of Islam is the most significant identity symbol shared by 1.5 billion people around the world. The saliency of this identity in not equal among these masses, rather it is proportional to individual frustrations, lack of dignity and limited options to make a difference, which answers some of the puzzling questions around the type of people who join global jihad. The common denominator here regardless of persuasion (Islamic or nationalistic) is the quest for dignity. At this juncture dignity is achievable through the pursuit of justice for the Palestinian and by addressing the litany of Arab grievances including American boots on Arab soil, American hegemony and the perceived war on Islam. The takeaway here is that forging a strategy to fight violent extremists based on a religious premise is futile; dignity is the answer.
Walid Jawad is a former Senior Policy Analyst at U.S. Department of State and a former Washington, DC correspondent. He covered American politics for a number of TV outlets since 1997. Walid holds an undergraduate degree (B.A) in Decision Science and Management Information Systems and a Masters in Conflict Analysis and Resolution. You can follow him @walidaj
This article was published first by Al-Arabiya http://goo.gl/KaHHZl
Saturday, January 10, 2015
أنا البراء من إله هؤلاء المكفرين
أنا البراء من هؤلاء القاذفين
أنا البراء من هؤلاء الجاهليين
فالحق اليوم يصرخ رائفيا
وإلى المحكمة إقتادوني
حول عنقي الأكبال
رجاحة عقلي استهانوا
وإن كان همّهم الإذلال
فكلمتي ستبقى حتى بعد أن يَفْنوا
أنا صاحب كلمة حق ولن أضنوا
أن الأفكار لا تحتويها الأصفاد
فالمنطق لن يتأثر بضربات الجلاد
يبقى لنا ولكم في الحقوق والحرية ميعاد
Tuesday, January 6, 2015
Sunday, January 4, 2015
It was a hot summer day, god only knows what possessed me to go to my storage unit in Warrenton, VA, 50 miles away from where I live in the suburbs of Washington, DC, but there I was in a garage sized tin can unit baking in 93 sweltering degrees, moving boxes and examining content dating back to 1997. By 3pm I was absolutely sweaty, grumpy and hungry. Although I didn’t know why I was there that day, I knew I could relieve my hunger even though I couldn’t satisfy my stubbornness.
Don’t even ask “why,” but I finally got on my motorcycle heading to the main strip hunting for something to eat. I pulled into a Wendy’s parking lot with conviction, as if I was craving their square patties on those round buns, what is that all about anyways? As soon as I walked in and placed my order I reach for my smart phone and start texting my girlfriend. We’ve been having a prolonged back and forth since I got to Warrenton earlier that morning talking about her rough day at work. A warning message interrupted the flow saying “Low Battery 10%” which means I barely had another 15 minutes of texting before the phone turns from smart to dead. I sent her a text saying that I might not be available for much longer. She understood, but I knew better.
I asked the server if he has an iPhone 5 charger to lend me. Sure enough he reached into his pocket and pulls out the charger; who keeps a charger in their pocket? I plug the phone into the only outlet by the counter and and place it on the floor hoping no one would notice and borrow it indefinitely. I find a seat. Three minutes later there was nothing but crumbled wrappers left on the otherwise empty tray. Now, what do I do with myself until the phone is charged?
A young couple, maybe in their early 20s, sat a table away. My guess was wrong it turns out they were high school students apparently attending summer school, which explains the next thing I hear coming out of the girls mouth “what is that guy doing there by himself doing nothing?” she said in a snarky tone. Her male companion dismisses her observation saying “he’s a biker, who knows,” but followed up quickly by saying “if I were him I would pretend to be cool and text someone.” I was feeling the heat, my eyes were looking every which way further making myself uncool to the rest of the patrons, like a creepy middle-aged man without a child at an elementary school picnic. I racked my brain thinking of what to do with myself without a device.
I came up with one thing to do, and that is to come up with a good idea to think about. It was harder than I expected in the absence of my entertaining device prompting me of things to do and think about. My smart phone kept me busy responding to emails, texting my girlfriend, reading the news, or, when all is quite on the instant communications front, playing a mindless game. I couldn’t believe it, after all I am a prolific daydreamer. I am constantly consumed by ideas despite my best efforts. I typically find myself lost in thoughts without noticing, especially when I am supposed to be paying attention. This happens without fail when I’m driving or in a work meetings or when listing to a family member talking to me about their day’s experience, you know those other parts of life when caressing the device is frowned upon.
It seems that as devices get smarter I get dumber. I can’t remember anything anymore because I rely on the phone’s calendar to remind me of what to do that day and on yelp to tell me where my favorite Indian restaurant is located. I don’t even need to know anyone’s phone number anymore as long as I can remember their names, and even this simple task of remembering names is challenging at times. Nor do I need to know how to get anywhere because I use google maps to navigate the city. When I have a question I simply ask Siri and, voilà, the answer is revealed. I insisted that my device empowers me, but in reality it makes me, for better or worse, dependent on it.
I am shamed as an adult who experienced a pre-Internet world that I was unable to figure out what to do with myself for half an hour without a cell phone. That wasn’t the half of it. It got worse as I realized that I had separation anxiety. My fingers twitching in a repetitive jab as to type on an imaginary keyboard and my left hand was frozen cupping an invisible smart phone. I was calming myself with breathing exercises; time passed. I was there for a very long time, but was unable to gage how long. Surely it was at least 30 minutes if not more. I walked up to my makeshift charging station turning on my trusted lifeline only to find out that it was a mere 8 minutes since I plugged in the device and it got up to 19% battery charge; what a disappointment. So, I did what any sane person would do, I stood in line again only this time to order a shake. I go back to my table to sit down moving the jacket from the back of the seat I was sitting in across to the seat in front of me and placing the helmet on the seat next to me hoping that it makes me look as if I belong to a pack and not a “deviceless” lonely guy.
Another couple walked up the isle and sat on the opposite table. The boy and girl had a similar comment about me. This time around the guy explained to his female companion “he must be taking a breather to cool down.” I was relieved by his comment and found myself smiling at my milkshake miming the words “thank you.” By the time I was done with my shake it was time to unplug the charger to finally get back online. Happy to be reachable, excited to have access to my world again, and thrilled to be able to support my girlfriend. But that joyful anticipation disappeared once I held the device in my hand and I became doubtful if my girlfriend was in fact deriving comfort from her device rather than from my typed words of support.
Saturday, January 3, 2015
يستلهموك باسم القدسية
ويصلون عليك وعلى آلك وصحبك صباحا وعشية
إلى عرشه تقف الملائكة صفوفا
متباهي الخطوة يراك المؤمنون أفرادا وألوفا
يومك هو الميلاد ،، باسم الخالق كان الميعاد
يقرأون القرآن ويلْحَنوا
يتغاضون عن التناقضات، فلإيمانهم ُيمْتَحَنوا
أكاد أراك في السماء
متسائلا: "أمازال البشر بهذا الغباء"؟
يومك هو الميلاد ،، ومن لم يصلي عليك له الجلاد
استعاضوا عن العقلانية
بـ "نبيٍ" تحنطّت كلماته على عتبات الجاهلية
يومك هو الميلاد ،، ثقافة الرعيان لها بلاد
Thursday, January 1, 2015
To resolve or not to resolve that is the New Year dilemma. we are used to announce our new year resolution to whoever is willing to indulge us. I think it’s part of the funner things to talk about toward the end of the holiday season. Sometimes we have an idea of what our close family and friends might answer; loose weight, stop smoking (you know who you are). The announcement might help them feel obligated now that they will be judged if they fail and/or it will offer us an opportunity to help them stay the course as they struggle and suffer for the first few months before they call it quits shelving the resolution to the next year.
Although most of us “know” that our New Year resolutions are impossible to achieve, we give in knowing that there is no way for us to avoid answering the inevitable question “what is your New Year resolution?” If you’re not forthcoming then you’re obviously a grinch who can't see the joy in commemorating the new year with a resolution even if it were just a fib. True, the new year it is an opportunity to renew one's commitment to a better, healthier and happier future. It is our annual opportunity to chart a roadmap for a hopeful goal or two - assessable goals.
I would like to share with you a New Year's resolutions, but I would never commit to a “resolution” unless I am sure that I will achieve it. Definitely, I will never commit to a resolution with a definite timeline because it is more practical to think about starting something than to be obsessed with conquering a “goal.” Think about it, taking a first step toward a general goal is much more inviting than taking the first “dreaded” step toward an impossible goal. I have a better chance to becoming a better climber than if I “resolve” to climb Mount Everest (just thinking of conditioning my breathing to survive in thin air is reason for me to have a panic attack).
The problem is not in indulging in a New Year resolution, rather its in setting a an ambitious goal that will require a “steep climb” making it overwhelming. People fail, I’ve failed, you’ve failed in achieving our New Year resolutions over the years. I don't know what the studies would show if I looked into it, but I’m sure the success rate of people committing to and achieving their New Year's resolution is dismal. We always think in terms of achieving goals when life itself as well the concept of happiness is all about the "journey." Such should be, in my opinion, or New Year's resolutions. We shouldn’t overwhelm ourselves by putting impossible goals becuase that is a sure way for us to fail. On the other hand, to resolve to “start” something that might lead to an otherwise "goal," that is something I can sign up for.
To be honest, I do not think that you should wait until January 1 to start a journey for achieving a goal to begin with. Nor should wait till the Holiday Season to start thinking of things to do to better yourself. For the life of me, I don’t understand why we should hold off on working on positive steps toward positive outcomes until the new year. I have resolved many years ago not to commit myself to a New Year's resolution, because it seems to me that I will have to delay embarking on my journey toward a happy thing until January 1st. I realized that I am actually suspending my life until I am prompted by an annual custom to formulate a resolution. Instead, I have resolved to make a daily resolution to start something new or to at least take a step towards an idea of something that will make my life better. Since then I found myself achieving more that I’m not hindered by an arbitrary deadline to start a journey toward a positive end; i.e. I was treating everyday as an opportunity to make a New Year resolutions to live life to the fullest, to be optimistic, to be energetic, and to be a human being that will not yield his fleeting minutes until society tells him when to start living my choices.
Life is not a race. I should not wait for signal at the starting line to work on getting to the finish line. You see, a race mentality is consumed with getting to the finish line. Life is lived by experiencing it. Now that I have pontificate on this philosophical issue I will tell you what my New Year resolution; to write more thoughts down and share them on social media at least once a day. Had you going there for a minute with “at least once a day.” Seriously I will try to share more and respond to feedback without any timelines or minimum number of postings, and without an unhealthy obsession for spelling and grammar. What is your New Year resolution?
P.S. I will reread this and future writings and make the necessary fixes so please help me by sending me your edits :)