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Volume III, Number 3:
January 22, 2016

The Jerusalem Report: Mideast Monitor

"Riyadh and Tehran on a Collision Course" by Bruce Maddy-Weitzman
Dr. Maddy-Weitzman, Principal Research Fellow at the TAU Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies, discusses the ebb and flow of Riyadh-Tehran relations since the 1960s and argues that the execution of Saudi Shi'ite cleric Nimr al-Nimr this month highlights the Saudi government's deep insecurities over the collapse of oil prices, internal jihadism and the US-Saudi alliance.
Source: Mideast Monitor Column/The Jerusalem Report — February 8, 2016

Middle East News Brief

Nigeria — Editorial: Lassa Fever outbreak
More than 40 Nigerians recently died from Lassa Fever, a highly contagious viral hemorrhagic fever. Likened to the Ebola virus, the fever has spread like wildfire across several states in Nigeria. Symptoms can escalate quickly from mild headaches and fever to fatal respiratory and neurological impairments. If the virus is not swiftly contained, it could be cataclysmic to the health and welfare of Nigeria's citizens. It is therefore imperative that the Nigerian government seek to protect its people by being proactive in the battle against the disease while promoting proper sanitation habits, spreading awareness, and funding areas affected by the disease.
Source: Vanguard (Lagos) — January 14, 2016

Tanzania — Grace Kaiso and Ahmed R. Ragab: Religious leaders' duty to family planning
The lack of basic family planning services and poor access to modern contraceptive methods have become an acute problem in many places. In Tanzania, more than 30 percent of married women who have expressed a desire to prevent or to postpone pregnancy are not using contraceptives. It seems that the power to make a difference in Tanzania lies in the hands of local religious leaders and organizations. Being major providers of healthcare services on the local level, faith-based organizations should take a leading role in promoting better family planning. As has been demonstrated in the Middle East and other African countries, modern family planning can and should co-exist with the core beliefs of various religious faiths.
Source: The Citizen (Dar es Salaam) — January 17, 2016

Egypt — Walaa Gad Elkarim: The adversity of Hesham Geneina
Hesham Geneina, the head of Egypt's Central Auditing Organization, claimed that corruption within the Egyptian government resulted in a net loss of more than 60 billion Egyptian pounds (about $7.5 billion US) in 2015. He later qualified this statement by noting that the loss of funds was the result of four years of governmental malfeasance. Though the president and others spoke against corruption and formed a committee to investigate it, the committee declared that Geneina had presented faulty numbers. He was subsequently castigated by both the government and the media. Such criticism obfuscates the fact that Egypt without question suffers from significant corruption that has only recently begun to be confronted, and the politicization of the issue has shown that there is much yet to be done to solve such problems.
Source: Daily News Egypt (Cairo) — January 18, 2016

Saudi Arabia — Faisal J. Abbas: An unshackled Iran can only be countered by a firm Saudi Arabia
Following the lifting of nuclear sanctions on Iran this week, it is unclear whether the country will use its newfound freedom to pursue peace or to continue to foment regional conflict. The quixotic hope that renewed cultural and economic exposure to the West will cause Iran to reject extremism and adopt Western values is unlikely to be realized. Indeed, it is possible that the country will further promulgate radical Islam in the Middle East if sanctions are not available to prevent this. This question is evidenced in the dual dealings projected by Iran — arresting US sailors who briefly and accidentally crossed into Iranian waters, but failing to officially condemn the mob that recently attacked the Saudi embassy. Saudi Arabia is left in a quagmire; it is encouraged by the US and other powers to engage in regional conflicts in order to preserve stability, but such encouragement has not been reinforced by practical action.
Source: al-Arabiya (Dubai) — January 18, 2016

Jordan — Daoud Kuttab: When tribal law supersedes civil law
Jordan has often found methods to incorporate tribal law into civil court proceedings. But it is intrinsically problematic for civil law to be ignored altogether in favor of tribal law, as occurred in a recent murder case. Deputy Prime Minister Mohammad Thneibat declared the alleged perpetrator guilty without a trial of any kind, approved his execution, and ordered the deportation of his extended family. In exchange, the tribe of the victim agreed not to exact revenge on the tribe of the perpetrator. While such arrangements were usual before the advent of the rule of law in Jordan, it is unacceptable in modern Jordan. Jordan's citizens should be reassured that their constitutional and individual rights will be protected, and that the criminal justice system of Jordan will be the sole party able to enforce the law.
Source: Jordan Times (Amman) — January 21, 2016

Syria — Ali Mamouri: Was Zahran Alloush really a moderate leader?
On December 25, 2015, Zahran Alloush, the military head of the pro-opposition Syrian Islamic Front, was killed in an airstrike believed to have been carried out by Russia. Described as a moderate by the likes of Robert Ford, the former US ambassador to Syria, Alloush was supported by both Saudi Arabia and Turkey, and visited the latter several times for meetings. But, in truth, Alloush's behavior and decision-making style relied heavily on religious prophecies and visions. In 2013, he called for a reestablishment of the Umayyad caliphate in both the Levant and other Muslim countries. While Alloush made his opposition to democratic systems and republics clear, he was not afraid to cooperate with Western regimes, and for this reason was considered to be moderate. However, this label is misleading and should not obscure the ultimate goal of Salafi Jihadism: to establish an Islamic Caliphate.
Source: al-Monitor (Washington, DC) — January 14, 2016

Syria and Iraq — Nawar Fakhry Ezzi: Why does Daesh recruit women?
Daesh has a legitimate need for women, both to fulfill traditional roles as wives and mothers, but also to spread propaganda and conduct vital enforcement roles. This need has led to the development of a recruitment process no different from that used to recruit for other criminal gangs. The rise of Islamophobia has provided impetus for isolated Western Muslim women to join Daesh, in the hope of finding community and empowerment. In reality, they find themselves passed between men and exercise no control or independence. Their recruitment also serves to attract men to the organization as well. However, female recruits should not be held accountable in the same way as men are, as many of them are vulnerable teenage girls and victims of human trafficking.
Source: Saudi Gazette (Jeddah) — January 14, 2016

Turkey — Lale Kemal: Legitimizing corruption
Auditors must be able to inspect public money used by government officials in order to prevent corruption. In fact, corruption, along with endemic infringement on freedom of speech and press, has caused Turkey to descend on the Transparency International Index. Moreover, despite acknowledgements from senior government officials, no steps have been taken to punish the guilty. The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) passed laws in 2014 that prevented sanctioning politicians for their role in the corruption scandal of 2013. In October 2015, a deputy of the opposition National Movement Party (MHP) claimed that the 2013 scandal was only a fraction of the total corruption in the ruling party. These allegations are borne out by the legislative behavior of the ruling party which seems to have every intention of continuing its corrupt practices.
Source: Today's Zaman (Istanbul) — January 18, 2016

Turkey — Nuray Mert: Another banal expression of authoritarianism in Turkey
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has recently attacked academics as traitors or terrorists for their petition denouncing government operations in Kurdish cities. Erdoğan's call for action against so-called traitors has led to the detention and improper investigation of outspoken critics of the government. Journalists and members of academia are themselves under pressure to comply with government directives in this matter, or face the loss of employment or other consequences. Many in Turkey who claim to share liberal, democratic values have instead surrendered such principles in exchange for the privileges of those who unquestioningly support the regime.
Source: Hurriyet Daily News (Istanbul) — January 18, 2016

Kurdistan Region — Bashdar Pusho Ismaeel: The allies must help Iraqi Kurdistan in economic downturn
Iraqi Kurdistan is not facing a normal economic downturn but a severe economic crisis that necessitates international assistance. The drastic fall in oil prices along with the payments to petroleum companies who pump oil for the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) are making it impossible for the KRG to pay the salaries of government workers and Peshmerga security forces. Compounding the crisis, the Kurds must also fight the Islamic State, while simultaneously supporting 1.8 million refugees who are being sheltered in Kurdish territory. Economic reforms are essential, but the international community must give aid commensurate with the role that Kurdistan plays in the battle against the Islamic State.
Source: Ekurd (Erbil) — January 18, 2016


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