Anti-Government Protests Rock Iran

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Strengthening Saudi-German Energy Partnership

A Weekly Political News Magazine

What Mobilization Means for Russia

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Anti-Government Protests Rock Iran www.majalla.com


Editorial After almost two weeks of protests triggered by the death of the Kurdish Iranian girl Mahsa Amini, a nationwide uprising is persisting in spite of the crackdown of the Tehran’s regime and the rising toll of its victims. Suzan Quitaz highlights the first spark of the anti-government protests which initially demanded justice for the deceased girl and an end to violence against women by regime forces, but have since turned into a call for regime change and an end to the mullahs’ rule. Although these are not the first series of protests to rock the country in the past two decades, this time the protestors are bolder and are showing unprecedented displays of defiance to the regime, all with an increasing female participation. The victory of far-right Giorgia Meloni in the Italian elections held last week has raised many questions about the return of fascism. Sama Mamdouh El-Sheikh explores the implications of the rise of the Far-Right in Europe and the problems of democratic practices over the past decades. Drawing similarities with old European communism, Sama suggests following a realistic approach of “democratizing” far-right parties. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz went on a landmark visit to Saudi Arabia and other GCC countries last week to strengthen ties, discuss the global energy crisis and the international political challenges the world is facing. Jassim Mohammed writes about the history of SaudiGerman economic and energy partnership that is set to expand as Berlin diversifies its energy resources given the ongoing economic sanctions on Russian imports. In the Arts section, Mohammed Rouda hails women directors who have been making prominent contributions to recent international film festivals and to box office. Rouda outlines the history of women’s roles behind the camera which date back to the era of silent cinema, while raising questions about the main features that make women present productions distinctive from films created by male directors. This week, we also feature a portrait of the Swiss tennis legend Roger Federer, who paid a very emotional farewell to the court, shared by honest tears from long-time rivals and worldwide fans. Read these articles and more on our website eng.majalla. com. As always, we welcome and value our readers’ feedback and we invite you to take the opportunity to leave your comments on our website.

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A Weekly Political News Magazine


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A Weekly Political News Magazine

54 Schools, the Past and the Present

Issue 1924- September- 30/09/2022

30 EU Official Highlights Brussels Policy on Assad Regime

The Rise of the

32 European Right

40 Postwar Foreign Tourism Flourishes in Syria

50 The History behind the Authentic Walls of Krujë Castle

The Sun Never sets 44 on Female Directors 5

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58 Curbing the Nation’s Deadliest Cancer


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Egypt World Tourism Day Tourists visit the Giza Pyramids and the Sphinx, in Giza, Egypt, on World Tourism Day 27 September 2022. Egypt has opened its museums and archaeological sites for free visits on the occasion of World Tourism Day and the 200th anniversary of Egyptology. The United Nation World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) celebrates World Tourism Day since 1980 with this year›s theme being ‹Rethinking Tourism› aimed at putting people at the center of key discussions on where Tourism was going. EPA

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European Heritage Days People visit the National Art Gallery on the occasion of the European The European .2022 September 23 ,Heritage Days, in Athens, Greece Heritage Days (EHD) is a joint action of the Council of Europe and the signatory states of the European 50 European Commission involving all Cultural Convention, allowing people to enjoy free visits in monuments, museums and archaeological sites. EPA

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SAU

LEBANON The Lebanese parliament failed to elect a new head of state on Thursday to replace President Michel Aoun when his term ends on Oct. 31, signalling the likelihood of the post being left vacant as the country grapples with a financial crisis. Shi'ite Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri said he would only call a new session once he saw there was consensus on a candidate for the post, which is reserved for a Maronite Christian in Lebanon's sectarian system. The election rules mean no one party or alliance can impose their choice, requiring a two-thirds quorum in the politically fractured parliament.

EGYPT Egypt is planning to apply to host the 2036 Olympic Games, sports minister Ashraf Sobhi said on Saturday during a reception for IOC president Thomas Bach in Cairo. “President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi has given his permission for Egypt to put itself forward as host for the 2036 Olympics,” Sobhi said. If successful with its bid, Egypt would become the first African or Arab nation to host the Olympics. “Egypt has solid sporting infrastructures and if it can host the Olympic Games, it will be historic,” Bach said during a joint press conference with Sobhi. An Egyptian official announced earlier in the month that Egypt, Greece, and Saudi Arabia were in talks to jointly host the 2030 World Cup.

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Saudi Arabia named Crow as the kingd Khalid as de showed on T The reshuffl Salman, as e royal decree Foreign Min Saud, Financ and Investm in their posi

T S G a p s E A a g th a S W


UDI ARABIA

a's King Salman bin Abdulaziz wn Prince Mohammed bin Salman dom's prime minister and Prince efence minister, a royal decree Tuesday. ffle kept, Prince Abdulaziz bin energy minister, the king said in the e, carried by state news agency SPA. nister Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al ce Minister Mohammed al-Jadaan ment Minister Khalid al-Falih remain itions, the decree showed.

UAE

The United Arab Emirates agreed Sunday an "energy security" deal with Germany to supply liquefied natural gas and diesel as Berlin searches for new power sources to replace Russian supplies. Emirati industry minister Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber called it a "landmark new agreement" that "reinforces the rapidly growing energy partnership between he UAE and Germany", at a signing attended by German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, the UAE's state news agency WAM reported.

IRAQ Iran was accused of killing seven people and wounding 28 in cross-border strikes Wednesday against Kurdish factions in Iraq that have deplored an ongoing protest crackdown in the Islamic republic. Strikes blamed on Iran have hit districts of autonomous Iraqi Kurdistan repeatedly in recent days as Tehran has ramped up its domestic crackdown against protests over the death of Kurdish woman Mahsa Amini in the custody of morality police. The regional health ministry in Arbil, the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan, said in a statement that the latest strikes killed four people and wounded 14 in the Koysinjaq region, and three were killed and 14 wounded in Sherawa.

IRAN The son of the late shah hailed Iran's mass protests as a landmark revolution by women and urged the world to add to the pressure on the clerical leadership. Reza Pahlavi, whose father was toppled in the Islamic Revolution of 1979, called for greater preparation for a future Iranian system that is secular and democratic. "It is truly in modern times, in my opinion, the first revolution for the women, by the women -- with the support of the Iranian men, sons, brothers and fathers," Pahlavi, who lives in exile in the Washington area, told AFP. "It has come to the point, as the Spaniards would say, basta -- we've had enough."

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A WEEK ACROS BRAZIL.

U.S. A weakened but still formidable Hurricane Ian chugged across Florida toward the Atlantic seaboard on Thursday after thrashing the state's Gulf Coast with fierce winds, torrential downpours and raging surf that flooded oceanside communities. Ian blasted ashore with catastrophic force on Wednesday afternoon as a Category 4 hurricane, packing maximum sustained winds of 150 miles per hour (241 kph), and quickly plunged the region's flat, low-lying landscape into a scene of devastation. Ian's winds, making it one of the most intense storms to strike the U.S. mainland in recent years, diminished significantly after nightfall. Within eight hours of its arrival, Ian was downgraded to Category 1 on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale, with top sustained winds of 90 mph (150 kmh), the National Hurricane Center (NHC) reported. However, the sprawling, slow-moving hurricane continued to unleash drenching rains as it crept farther inland, threatening to trigger extensive additional flooding.

Up to 15 people are missing and three are confirmed dead after a bridge collapsed in the northern Brazilian state of Amazonas on Wednesday, firefighters and local media said. The Amazonas Fire Department said it was looking for as many as 15 people after the collapse of a bridge on the BR-319 highway in the city of Careiro, about 100 kilometers (62 miles) from the capital Manaus. It added that another 14 people were injured in the collapse that occurred as some vehicles were crossing the bridge. Local media outlet G1 quoted multiple witnesses as saying the bridge had a crack that had caused a traffic jam before the collapse. The state government did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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ITALY. Giorgia Meloni, widely expected to be named Italy's first woman prime minister after Sunday's elections, will have to tackle a raft of pressing economic problems as soon as her government takes office. The country's laborious institutional proceedings mean that will not happen for at least a month, during which outgoing Prime Minister Mario Draghi remains in charge. This week he will issue new economic forecasts expected to show a darkening outlook, sources said. The first task for Meloni, leader of the far-right Brothers of Italy, will be finding billions of euros to keep her election pledges to soften energy costs, cut taxes and block a hike in the retirement age due to kick in from January. The energy crisis "will be the first test for the new government", League leader Matteo Salvini, her main coalition ally, told reporters.

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SS THE WORLD UKRAINE. Russia was poised to annex a swath of Ukraine within days, releasing what it called vote tallies showing overwhelming support in four provinces to join it, after what Ukraine and the West denounced as illegal sham referendums held at gunpoint. On Moscow's Red Square, a stage with giant video screens has been set up, with billboards proclaiming "Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia, Kherson Russia!" The head of the upper house of the Russian parliament said it could consider the incorporation of the four partially occupied regions on Oct. 4, three days before President Vladimir Putin's 70th birthday. The Russian-installed administrations of the four provinces have formally asked Putin to incorporate them into Russia, which Russian officials have suggested is a formality. "This should happen within a week," Rodion Miroshnik, the Russia-installed ambassador to Moscow of the self-proclaimed Luhansk People's Republic, told the RIA state news agency.

CHINA. A Chinese scientific ship bristling with surveillance equipment docked in a Sri Lankan port. Hundreds of fishing boats anchored for months at a time among disputed islands in the South China Sea. And ocean-going ferries, built to be capable of carrying heavy vehicles and large loads of people. All are ostensibly civilian ships, but experts and uneasy regional governments say they are part of a Chinese civil-military fusion strategy, little concealed by Beijing, that enhances its maritime capabilities. China’s navy is already the world’s largest by ship count, and has been rapidly building new warships as part of a wider military expansion. It launched its first domestically designed and built aircraft carrier in June, and at least five new destroyers are on the way soon.

INDIA. India's main opposition Congress party is likely to elect a new party president from outside the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty for the first time in nearly 25 years, as it looks for a reset ahead of the next election to compete with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

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Anti-Government Protests Rock Iran

The Kurdish Woman Who Became the Face of Iran’s Uprising By Suzan Quitaz On Monday 26 September, about 500 people were arrested in Mazandaran, a northern province of Iran. Amnesty International reported at least four children among those killed by the security forces since the start of nationwide protests over a young woman’s death. Mahsa Amini’s death has unleashed a flood of

protests that have escalated amid anger over state control and patriarchy, religious rules, a rock-bottom economy and decades of human rights abuses. To her family and friends, Mahsa was known by her Kurdish name, Jina. She was a 22-year old young woman from Saqqez in the north western region of Kurdistan in Iran.

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On September 13, she had travelled to the Iranian capital Tehran with her family to visit relatives when she was arrested by Morality Patrol Officers, who enforce strict rules in the Islamic Republic requiring women to cover their hair and wear loose fitting clothes in public. It is known as the Hijab Law, which went into in full effect after the Islamic revolution in 1981. Amini was arrested on an accusation of violating the hijab law. She was taken into police custody at the Vozara police station and referred to a “re-education center” in the station. She died three days after falling into a coma. Iran’s security forces issued a statement saying that Ms. Amini had collapsed from a heart attack at the detention center while receiving training on hijab rules. According to human rights organizations, family statements and witness testimonies, Amini was beaten by the arresting officers in the police van and later at the police station. People participate in a protest against the Islamic regime of Iran and the death of Mahsa Amini in New York City, New York, U.S., September 2022 ,27. REUTERS/Stephanie Keith

On Monday the 26th, the official death toll for the unrest was 41 with over 1200 people detained by the authorities. However, human rights groups say the true number of deaths is more than 100 and estimated that thousands of people have been arrested. Heba Morayef, Amnesty’s Middle East and North Africa Director, said: “The rising death toll is an alarming indication of just how ruthless the authorities’ assault on human life has been under the darkness of the internet shutdown.” Morayef described the Iranian heavy handed approach as a “harrowing pattern of deliberate and unlawful firing of live ammunition at protesters.”

MEDIEVAL ATTITUDE TOWARDS IRANIAN WOMEN TAKES CENTRAL STAGE On Friday 23 September, Amini died after falling into a coma from a concussion. This Kurdish woman had no idea that her death would spark anti-government protests that

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Mahsa Amini’s death has unleashed a flood of protests that have escalated amid anger over state control and patriarchy, religious rules, a rock-bottom economy and decades of human rights abuses. have erupted in at least 50 cities nationwide nor could she have known that she would be the symbol of an uprising against the theocratic state of Iran. Her death has sparked demonstrations from the Kurdish region in the northwest, to Tehran, Yazd, Isfahan, and Bushehr and even in more traditionally conservative religious cities like Mashhad in the northwest. People are protesting even in Amini’s hometown despite a heavy military and police presence there. There are also reports that university students at three universities in Tehran were refusing to attend classes. Amini’s death quickly struck a national nerve and gave a human face to the public’s long suffering under the oppressive and corrupt regime. Jina’s death ignited protests with initial demands calling for justice for Jina and calling for the end of violence and discrimination against women (e.g., the compulsory Hijab wearing) but the demands were to get broader and people started calling for a regime change and an end of the political repression that took hold of Iran since 1979. The fear factor has been broken and many Iranians have directed their anger towards the heart of the country’s system of government, chanting “Death to the dictator” and “Death to the oppressor,” in reference to the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Protesters were tearing down portraits of


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Khamenei. In Khamenei’s birthplace in the city of Mashhad, protesters set fire to his statues. Women were ripping off and burning their headscarves to protest the hijab law.

AN UPRISING LIKE NO OTHER – “THE WOMEN-LED REVOLUTION” Indeed, this is not the first time Iran was rocked by anti-government protests. In 2009, The Green Movement, which was led by the middle class and university students, turned out on the streets to denounce the fraudulent re-election of the conservative president at the time, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The re-

gime cracked down hard, with the Revolutionary Guards and the much feared Basij militia sent in to arrest, beat and kill protesters. And again in 2019, Iran was shaken by protests sparked by a rise in fuel prices which were led by poor Iranians. Here also, the regime launched a brutal crackdown, hundreds of people were killed, thousands were injured and many were detained.

According to the Norwegian Human Rights Group, Hengaw, at least 733 people have been injured and more than 600 people arrested in the Kurdish region (figures from 25 Sept). 16

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Credit: (Getty Images)

A photo of Mahsa Amini is pictured at a condolence meeting organised by students and activists from Delhi University in support of anti-regime protests in Iran following the death of Mahsa Amini


Protestors stand in solidarity with Iranian women after the death of Mahsa Amini, in London, Britain September 24, 2022. REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne

However, this time protests are different, they are bolder and braver: from setting fire to the statues of Khamenei to women reclaiming the public space and in rare displays of defiance of the government’s hijab law, they took their hijab off setting them on fire in front of a roaring crowd, these are imageries were unthinkable for many years. This year’s protests were also driven by women as a result of the death of a woman. Female participation is high. The protesters are young and despite diverse socio-economic and ethnic backgrounds, they all came together calling for an end of decades of the theocratic dictatorship. Evan Siegel, an academic who has co-published books on Iranian history, said: “Driven by their fury of decades of repression and humiliation, they [referring to the protesters] have held their own in street fighting with the repressive organs, particularly the hated para-police. For the first time I can recall, the regime’s medieval attitudes towards women has become a central issue in mass resistance to the regime.” The world is witnessing some extraordi-

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There are many reports of security forces firing on unarmed protesters and the number of casualties is going up for every hour. nary scenes of bravery and defiance. More and more Iranians from all walks of life and ethnic backgrounds are joining the protests, turning the crisis into an outlet for broader anger and frustration with the government. Ordinary Iranians are struggling to make ends meet after years of economic decline due to the U.S.-led sanctions and the aftermath of coronavirus crisis, as well as widespread corruption, economic mismanagement, religious and political repression.

“AN ENTIRE GENERATION IS CALLING FOR THE END OF THE ISLAMIC REPUBLIC” There is no doubt these protests are posing real challenges to the government but like


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previous anti-government protests the regime has once again resorted to a brutal and systematic crackdown. In the past few days, the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), Iran’s most powerful security force, issued a statement describing what was occurring as “sedition” and saying that protesters must be crushed to teach other people a lesson. There are many reports of security forces firing on unarmed protesters and the number of casualties is going up for every hour. Plainclothes officers from Basij militia have also been deployed. Cell phone and internet usage has

More Iranians from all walks of life and ethnic backgrounds are joining the protests, turning the crisis into an outlet for broader anger and frustration with the government.

been drastically restricted. The regime has also called on its supporters to report on protesters known to them. The deadliest unrest has taken place in the Kurdish region. The Iranian government has employed more brutal and systemic crackdown measures: there are reports that the IRGC is sending troops to the Kurdish region (Rojhelat) and bombing Peshmerga forces in the Kurdistan region both in Iran and Iraq. According to the Norwegian Human Rights Group, Hengaw, at least 733 people have been injured and more than 600 people arrested in the Kurdish region (figures from 25 Sept). Dr Sanam Vakil, the Deputy Director and Senior Research Fellow, at Chatham House Think-Tank, said the protests ignited by Jina’s death, have “shed light on the groundswell of issues that ordinary Iranians face every day related to security, freedom. (…) I don’t think this is an existential challenge to the regime because the system in Iran has a monopoly of force, a well-honed security strategy that it is already implement-

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Women carry flags and pictures during a protest over the death of 22-year-old Kurdish woman Mahsa Amini in Iran, in the Kurdishcontrolled city of Qamishli, northeastern Syria September 26, 2022. REUTERS/Orhan Qereman


People attend a protest over the death of Mahsa Amini, a woman who died after being arrested by the Islamic republic’s “morality police”, in Tehran, Iran September 21, 2022. WANA (West Asia News Agency) via REUTERS

ing,” she said. Most analysts would agree that, like previous protests, the government will brutally crackdown on the protesters. But differently from previous uprisings, the government now has a bigger challenge and that is the rise of a new young Iranian generation who is rejecting the entire project of “Velayat Al Faqih.”

The Iranian Revolutionary Guards (IRGC), Iran’s most powerful security force, issued a statement describing what was occurring as “sedition”. Professor Roham Alvandi, an Iran historian at the London School of Economics, on his Twitter called the protesters the “Mahsa Amini’s generation” and writes, “the anger is palpable. The demands are far beyond anything we’ve ever seen before. This is an entire generation that is calling not just for reform, not just for their votes to be counted, not just for an end to compulsory veiling, but the end of this Islamic Republic.”

A woman cuts her hair during a protest against the Islamic regime of Iran and the death of Mahsa Amini in New York City, New York, U.S., September 27, 2022. REUTERS

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The Iranian regime will once again brutally crush this uprising like the ones before, but one thing is for sure this time – this is not the end of the Mahsa Amini’s story or the political movement of Iran’s young generation.


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Strengthening SaudiGerman Energy Partnership

Implications of German Chancellor’s Visit to KSA Amid Global Crisis By Jassim Mohammed – Bonn On September 24, 2022, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz visited Saudi Arabia and met with its Crown Prince as part of a Gulf tour, concluding

new energy deals. Scholz travelled to Jeddah with a large industrial delegation, where he met His Highness, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. The German Chancellor was successful in reaching an agreement with Saudi Arabia and establish-

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ing a new energy partnership. The visit is significant in light of the global energy crisis and the international political challenges the world is facing, most notably the Ukraine war and failure to reach an agreement with Iran on the nuclear issue, possibly the most serious since World War II. Scholz travelled from Saudi Arabia to Abu Dhabi and then to Doha, his final Gulf stop, to discuss energy, bilateral relations, and regional issues such as tensions with Iran. German officials stated that all energy deals would take into account the country’s plans to become carbon neutral by 2045, which would necessitate a transition from natural gas to hydrogen produced using renewable energy over the next several decades. The Germans claim also that Saudi Arabia, which has vast areas suitable for cheap solar power generation, is a particularly suitable hydrogen supplier.

A LONG HISTORY OF BILATERAL RELATIONS

(R to L) Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman receives Germany’s Chancellor Olaf Scholz at al-Salam Palace in the Red Sea coastal city of Jeddah September 2022 ,24. (AFP)

Bilateral relations between Germany and Saudi Arabia date back to 1929, when the two countries signed the Treaty of Friendship. Since 1954, the Federal Republic of Germany has maintained diplomatic relations with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The governments of the two countries hold regular consultations. After the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia is Germany’s second most important Arab trading partner. Germany, for its part, is Saudi Arabia’s third largest supplier of goods. The Vision 2030 program and Saudi Arabia’s desire to diversify its economy provide promising prospects for the future development of German-Saudi economic cooperation. The program’s main goals include promoting economic diversification, encouraging small and medium-sized businesses, and further developing public tourism, as well as the culture and mining sectors.

“On September 2022 ,24, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz visited Saudi Arabia and met with its Crown Prince as part of a Gulf tour, concluding new energy deals.” were present at every stage of Saudi Arabia’s economic development. In turn, Saudi Arabia supplied Germany with oil and its derivatives. Today, Saudi Arabia is the region’s second largest trading partner after Germany, and Germany is Saudi Arabia’s third largest importer. In light of Vision 2030, both Saudi Arabia and Germany have expressed a strong interest in expanding bilateral trade and promoting knowledge and advanced technology transfer. The Saudi Vision offers numerous starting points for strengthening economic and cultural ties, thereby ushering in a new chapter in Saudi-German relations.

A QUANTUM LEAP IN BILATERAL RELATIONS After Russia launched its war against Ukraine on February 24, 2022, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz announced a quantum leap in German foreign, defense, and security policy. Following the energy shortages in Germany and other European countries, Berlin appears to be shifting its focus to the Arab Gulf region. Along with the United Arab Emirates and Qatar, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is a major source of liquefied natural gas in the world. These countries are regarded as the most important oil producers, and their prices are competitive in the global energy market. Furthermore, all three Gulf nations are on track to become major hydrogen producers.

KSA IS GERMANY’S 2nd LARGEST TRADING PARTNER

DOUBLING GAS OUTPUT

For decades, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Federal Republic of Germany have had excellent bilateral economic relations. German companies

Saudi Arabia intends to double its gas output. Riyadh has set a goal of doubling gas production by 2030 in order to become a major gas exporter, and it can provide a critical resource to help the Euro-

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pean Union meet its net zero carbon targets. Another possible collaboration would be with Saudi Arabia on green hydrogen, which Germany regards as critical to keeping its industrial economy fully supported during its clean energy transition. The Kingdom has a large desert area suitable for large solar farms. German assistance to the Kingdom in the field of green hydrogen could be extremely beneficial. Following the imposition of a more severe ban on Russian energy sources in 2023, Germany and some European countries are

“Despite Russia’s plans to sell its oil at a lower price to India and China as part of a competitive policy with Gulf exporters, the three Gulf countries remain the best source of energy for Germany and Europe.”

likely to become more reliant on Saudi oil. Despite Russia’s plans to sell its oil at a lower price to India and China as part of a competitive policy with Gulf exporters, the three Gulf countries remain the best source of energy for Germany and Europe. In this context, Simon Engelkes, policy advisor for the Middle East department at the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung in Berlin, stated that Germany has something to offer its Middle Eastern partners. He explained that because the US has withdrawn from the region to some extent, Germany is turning toward KSA, in addition to other eastern and western countries. Saudi Arabia is willing to collaborate with Europe, particularly Germany. Saudis have an ambitious Vision 2030 program that includes the construction of entire cities, highways, and train systems. This will necessitate collaboration with Western countries.

CONCLUSION The German-Saudi relationship is improving, particularly in the fields of energy and economy. According to reports, the KSA is Germany’s second

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Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman welcomes Germany’s delegation led by Chancellor Scholz in Jeddah, September ,24 2022. (SPA)


In this photo released by Saudi Press Agency, SPA, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman talks to German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, Saturday, Sept 2022 ,24. (SPA)

largest economic partner. Relations between the two countries date back to the early twentieth century, to 1929, and they are long and very strong, which is why they have lasted for decades. The visit of German Chancellor Scholz to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia resulted from Berlin’s realization that the KSA and some Gulf countries, particularly the UAE and Qatar, are likely to be dependable partners in energy and other fields. The debate here is not about oil and gas, but about clean energy, Green Hydrogen, which Germany shares with the Saudi Vision for Clean Energy 2030.

“Riyadh has set a goal of doubling gas production by 2030 in order to become a major gas exporter, and it can provide a critical resource to help the European Union meet its net zero carbon targets.”

Germany’s openness to the Kingdom comes as a result of the sanctions imposed by Berlin on Russian energy and gas resources, which were unanimously supported by the European Union and the United States. Without a doubt, Berlin’s orientation toward Jeddah is not limited to the period of economic sanctions against Moscow and a lack of energy, as much as it is a real consequence of previous German policies, aimed at multiple energy sources and overcoming dependence on Russian energy. Many experts regard as one of the mistakes of previous German governments’ policies that they did not adopt the basic rules for energy security and Germany’s national security.

Through direct bilateral meetings between Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and German Chancellor Scholz, the German Chancellor’s visit was a success that exceeded many expectations. The German Chancellor was accompanied by a large industrial and economic delegation, and held a number of lengthy meetings with senior officials in the Kingdom in order to find economic partnerships that are not limited to energy, but also extend beyond it into the fields of industry and economy. German-Saudi relations are changing, and the two countries’ relations are likely to broaden in the fields of economy, energy, and at all levels.

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What Mobilization Means for Russia

The End of Putin’s Bargain With the People By Michael Kimmage, Maria Lipman Last week, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a “partial mobilization” intended to shore up his faltering war against Ukraine. The pretense that there is anything partial about this move, however, is about as convincing as Putin’s claim that Russia is merely carrying out a “special military operation” in Ukraine. After Putin’s announcement,

Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said that 300,000 men with military backgrounds would be drafted. But some reports indicate that is not the number stated in official documents authorizing the mobilization, and the parts of Putin’s decree that were made public do not include any restrictions on the Defense Ministry’s authorization to draft people. According to some reports, as many as one million men might be conscripted, and some military commissariats

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already appear to be drafting men indiscriminately. The conscription represents a dramatic turning point in the war, and in Putin’s rule. The Kremlin expected the war to be brief. When it did not end quickly, Putin found a way of waging it that was consistent with the political style he has employed since coming to power in 2000. The few Russians who thrilled to the war’s imperial promises could wave the flag and display the letter “z,” the official symbol of the war. Those who were apprehensive or disturbed by the war could quietly harbor their uncertainties. Those voicing discontent in public were invariably punished: thousands were arrested for marching or holding signs that read, among other things, net vojne (“no to war”) or the phrase dva slova—“two words,” a euphemism for net vojne. Nobody could come out against the government or give voice to their dissent in the public sphere. Any organizing against the war was strictly prohibited, and violators have been harshly punished.

A woman says goodbye to a reservist drafted during partial mobilisation, before his departure for a military base, in the city of Bataysk, in the Rostov region, Russia September 2022 ,26. REUTERS/Sergey Pivovarov

This response was not fascism, despite the common application of that term to describe Putin’s rule. It was, instead, the preservation of an atomized and compliant society, one that was securely apolitical and that would not disrupt the Kremlin’s actions. For this atomization to stay in effect, the war had to remain far away. It had to be a mutable abstraction onto which Russians’ subjective attitudes could be projected, whether they were pro-war or antiwar. Polling data suggest that, prior to the mobilization, the war retained the support of more than 75 percent of Russians. Such acquiescence was the best possible public response from the Kremlin’s point of view. Indifference was a close second. But the war did not go as planned, and Putin has run out of options. Were Putin to pull back, Ukraine would grow in military strength and become further integrated into European and transatlantic institutions, an outcome that would make the war perfectly counterproductive and therefore unacceptable to Putin; it would be a Russian defeat. At the same time, Russia cannot win the war with the instruments it currently has. That was demonstrated on September 10, when Ukrainian forces retook immense amounts of territory. Russia’s military is exhausted, and it is too small to hold all the land it has taken since February. Without an alteration in the status quo, Ukraine will likely go on to make further gains, perhaps even moving on to Crimea, the territory that Russia annexed in 2014 and that is intimately bound up with Putin’s legacy. Russia has had many setbacks in Ukraine, but it is not a defeated country. It has the wealth and the population and the industrial capacity to keep the war going—but only if it mobilizes. It bears emphasis that calling for mobilization is much simpler than carrying it out, something Russia has

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Mobilization will make the domestic landscape vastly more difficult for Putin to navigate. He has fought many wars as Russia’s president, but he has never been a wartime president. not done for decades. Even if the military can master the logistics—and the experience of the first days suggests that the likelihood of this is slim—mobilization will be only as good as the strategy behind it. Mobilization for the sake of a losing strategy will create more problems for Putin than it will solve. It could even undermine Putin’s ability to govern. At the very least, mobilization will bring politics back to Russia. It will eat away at the public indifference that has long been crucial to Putinism. Already, Russia has witnessed a wave of protests in response to Putin’s announcement last week, and huge numbers of draft-eligible Russians rushed to the borders immediately after Putin announced the plan. Political pressure will come to the Kremlin not just from opponents of the war but also from those dismayed by the military’s startling incompetence and seeming lack of determination. The first group has almost no political power. The second, however, has the potential to coalesce into a challenge to Putin. In the past week, some of the most ardent supporters of Putin and the war have expressed concern that the mobilization campaign seems poorly planned. To steer clear of that risk to Putin’s power and the threat of large-scale resistance, the Kremlin will have to repress the Russian population much more than it has previously done. According to OVD-Info, a Russian human rights organization, over 2,300 antiwar protesters were detained across Russia in the five days after the mobilization was announced. But repression can take on a chaotic momentum of its own. It can generate disgust and outrage. Augmenting repression in the midst of a chaotic mobilization has already generated unrest in some places, including the burning of mobilization points. Such incidents could well multiply and become difficult for the Russian government to manage. Rather than expecting a revolution or a palace coup,


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however, the world should gird itself for a long war in Ukraine. Repression will not necessarily speed up or streamline the mobilization, but it will keep the streets quiet and allow Putin to continue his aggression.

THE WAR COMES HOME Putin’s decision to invade Ukraine in February startled much of the Russian population. There had been a monthslong buildup of forces in border regions, and by January, something was clearly in the works. Yet it was not as if a majority or even a vocal cross section of Russians wanted their country to wage war against a neighbor that obviously had no intention of attacking Russia. The war was not willed from below. It was hardly unpopular, however. The war serves the primary foreign-policy goal that Putin has pursued for more than two decades: the assertion of Russian sovereignty (as he sees it), especially in the territories of the former Soviet Union. And none of those territories is more pivotal than Ukraine. Russian sovereignty does not

Putin now faces a punishing timeline. He cannot win the war quickly and may be incapable of winning it at all.

necessarily imply military action or the colonization of Ukraine. But it does require keeping Ukraine in Russia’s sphere of influence. Russia would like to write the rules in Ukraine, preferably from a distance, as Moscow tried to do before the Maidan Revolution of 14–2013. One way or another, Russia wants to be the decisive voice on Ukrainian matters that Putin deems essential for Russia. To the extent that the 2022 war is popular, it is popular as an expression of Russian sovereignty. Supporters see it as a defensive war against a hostile West that had come right up to Russia’s borders, threatening to destroy it. They also see it as a war against “Nazi” Ukrainian nationalist forces menacing Russian speakers in Ukraine. Such convictions have not been confined to the far right or to extreme nationalists in Russia; they are widespread. According to this view, the West had overstepped in Ukraine. It had ignored Russian interests. The United States in particular had damaged Russian pride by allocating to itself such a large role in Ukraine: Washington was not content to dominate most of Europe, it seemed; it had to dominate all of Europe. This alleged American excess allowed the Kremlin to cast the war in Ukraine as a good war. For the first seven months, the Kremlin mostly asked Russians to support their country in the war, and the vast majority of Russians obliged. That was sufficient. And, unlike in Soviet times, there is—for now—a release valve for any dissent: the possibility of leaving Russia. Several hundred thousand Russians did exactly that in the wake of the invasion. Taking their antiwar sentiments

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A reservist drafted during partial mobilisation says goodbye to his relatives as he departs for a military base, in the city of Bataysk, in the Rostov region, Russia September 2022 ,26. REUTERS/Sergey Pivovarov


A woman reacts as she says goodbye to a reservist drafted during partial mobilisation, before his departure for a military base, in the city of Bataysk, in the Rostov region, Russia September 2022 ,26. REUTERS/Sergey Pivovarov

with them, they departed Russia for professional reasons, for moral reasons, and for fear of what the war might do to Russia. Those who left were almost all educated professionals from urban centers. They had the resources to leave: money, skills, foreign contacts. Some of them, however, eventually had to return because they found themselves jobless and broke. Outside of Russia, they could say and write what they wanted. They could be vociferously against the war. By having left, however, they were no longer a political presence in Russia. The Kremlin could easily dismiss their criticisms as unpatriotic. It was an elegant solution to the problem of the war’s popularity. The Kremlin did not have to manufacture consent so much as it had to curate it. Dissent was punished—but would-be dissenters could simply absent themselves. Putin’s coup de grâce was the barrier he built between the war and everyday life. For the vast majority of Russians, the war in Ukraine remained an abstraction, akin to a reality TV show. Over the summer, most Russians could continue to enjoy good weather and the routines of civilian life. The perfect illustration of this dynamic was the celebration of “city day” in Moscow on September 10, which occurred as it might have in peacetime. And why not? Moscow was at peace. Why not have a good time? Putin appeared in public, opening an enormous Ferris wheel, the largest in Europe, for the enjoyment of Muscovites. But the war violated the terms of this soothing narrative. As Putin smiled and Moscow celebrated, Russian forces were suffering a

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The Kremlin will have to repress the Russian population much more than it has previously done. massive and humiliating defeat around Kharkiv in Ukraine. (And the Ferris wheel broke down almost as soon as it began operating.)

ENEMIES WITHIN? Putin now faces a punishing timeline. He cannot win the war quickly and may be incapable of winning it at all. He may be able to maneuver toward an outcome he and his country can accept, but that might be a multiyear project. For ordinary Russians, that time will be marked by pain, loss, and suffering. The war will smother the pleasures of peace. Wars of choice are especially prone to diminishing public enthusiasm. In this regard, Putin might benefit from studying the history of the Soviet war in Afghanistan. It alone did not cause the Soviet Union to fall, but as more and more families saw their sons returned in body bags, the awareness of the losses stoked discontent. The war sapped the government’s legitimacy. Together with many other catalysts, it precipitated the fall of the Soviet Union.


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Mobilization will make the domestic landscape vastly more difficult for Putin to navigate. He has fought many wars as Russia’s president, but he has never been a wartime president. He will have to coerce hundreds of thousands of young men into uniform. The general morale problems associated with conscripts will intersect with the specific morale problems the Russian military faces in Ukraine: slipshod organization, poor performance, heavy losses, and exhaustion. Putin will also have to mobilize public opinion. Russians will no longer be permitted to keep their distance from the state, granting it impunity and receiving privacy in return. Putin has breached the terms of his bargain with the people. They will be required to display their enthusiasm for the war. Incentivizing support for the war and disincentivizing opposition to it will be government projects. The Kremlin will not approach that task with a light touch, and it

Rather than expecting a revolution or a palace coup, however, the world should gird itself for a long war in Ukraine.

will put Putin’s ideological bona fides to the test. The ingredients that have made up Russian political culture during the Putin era—a complex blend of Soviet, postSoviet, imperial Russian, and modern Russian elements— will have to be replaced by a cruder, more overt Russian jingoism. Meanwhile, growing numbers will try to flee the country, bribe their way out of military services, or desert the military. Mobilization will entail clamping down on emigration. Before the end of September, it is likely that the borders will close to those eligible for the draft. Antiwar Russians, and those who previously thought they could ignore the war, will be stuck at home. The government will use threats or violence to compel their silence. A nervous government will have to contend with the possibly combustible, though disorganized, force of protest. The Kremlin might also have to open up other fronts of repression, directed at the nationalist circles that for months have been calling for mobilization and that can be appeased only by battlefield victories, which mobilization may not deliver. Some of these warmongers are prominent political figures; Putin may have to repress not only street protests and opposition movements but also cadres who might be ready to contemplate sidelining him.

NO TURNING BACK Engineering a workable outcome in Ukraine is probably beyond Putin’s grasp at this point. The Ukrainian military is too strong for the government in Kyiv to make concessions

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Russian President Vladimir Putin chairs a meeting on agriculture issues via video link in Sochi, Russia September 2022 ,27. Sputnik/ Gavriil Grigorov/Pool via REUTERS


A Russian serviceman addresses reservists at a gathering point in the course of partial mobilization of troops, aimed to support the country›s military campaign in Ukraine, in the town of Volzhsky in the Volgograd region, Russia September ,28 2022. REUTERS/ Stringer

to Moscow, even if it wanted to negotiate an end to the fighting. The war has been too brutal for Ukrainians to forgive and forget. Yet Putin will also not back down. He will seek ways to prolong the war, which is by no means impossible for him. Mobilization will allow him to cycle new soldiers into the war and perhaps to mount surprise attacks. He can defer the worst consequences of a disastrous war, even though a disorganized mobilization may end up burdening the Russian military. The longer the war, the more likely it becomes that economic collapse in Ukraine or political upheaval in Europe or in the United States might open opportunities for Russia. It is a grim strategy, and in many ways a low-probability strategy, but it is a strategy proportional to Russia’s capabilities. Precipitously stepping up repression is hard for authoritarian regimes. There exists a mysterious point at which increased repression generates increased unrest, and an unknowable point at which revolution begins. Putin is a student of Russian history, however, and understands that the Russian tendency to revolution comes not when the state wields power but when it yields power. Tsar Nicholas II abdicated during World War I after launching a war of choice against Japan that weakened the Russian empire. The Provisional Government that followed did not have the cohesion or the will to subdue the Bolshevik Revolution. The Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev would be the more vivid example to Putin. Gorbachev did not deny Soviet backwardness. He acknowledged certain

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errors and withdrew from Afghanistan. He handed agency to the peoples of the Soviet Union through glasnost and perestroika. But loosening the Communist Party’s control precipitated a bloodless revolution that toppled the regime. The Soviet Union lacked the cohesion and the will to keep itself alive. Putin is not going to make that mistake. He will turn instead to the examples of Tsars Nicholas I and Alexander III, and to the Soviet leaders Joseph Stalin, Nikita Khrushchev, and Leonid Brezhnev, all of whom were able to suppress dissent at home, keep their subjects in line, and pursue hard-line policies without letting the dissent crystallize into meaningful movements. Putin has available to him to an immense architecture of repression. Numerous media have been serving as government mouthpieces for the past two decades. And since the beginning of the war in Ukraine, the remaining nongovernmental outlets have been shut down or forced out of Russia. Putin himself came from the security services, as have many of his colleagues in the Kremlin. He has every resource he needs to transform Russia into a brutal police state, far more repressive than it is at the present moment. That will win him no sincere support for the war, and it may give him no new advantage in the war. But it will grant him a means of corralling Russians into the war effort and severely punishing anyone who stands in his way. In prosecuting his war in Ukraine, Putin will be relentless. In prosecuting his war at home, he will be ruthless. This article was originally published by Foreign Affairs.


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EU Official Highlights Brussels Policy on Assad Regime No Normalization, Lifting of Sanctions, nor Reconstruction – EU Spokesperson By Jiwan Soz – Beirut

revealed that the trip by some EU officials to three Syrian cities in early August was for other A European official in Beirut denies any at - purposes and didn’t imply Brussels’ agreement tempts by the European Union to normalize ties to participate in Syria’s reconstruction efforts. with Syrian President Bashar Assad. He also The visit is the first by European officials since

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Luis Miguel Bueno, EU Spokesperson for the Mid.dle East and North Africa

the outbreak of the Syrian war that has been raging for more than a decade. Luis Miguel Bueno, EU Spokesperson for the Middle East and North Africa, confirmed that “the EU delegation to Syria” only held a joint field visit with the UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator to Aleppo, Hama and Homs, pointing out that “the goal of the visit was not to normalize ties with Assad regime.” Weeks ago, the United Nations sent a humanitarian aid convoy of 14 trucks loaded with food for 43,000 persons in rural areas of Idlib, in the northwest of Syria which is controlled by Tahrir al-Sham (formerly alNusra Front). The United Nations said that the humanitarian needs of peoples in the northwest areas are rapidly increasing and that assisting them is necessary to overcome the living difficulties resulting from the military escalation and the suffocating economic crisis over the past years. The EU delegation to Syria is working from Beirut, while a number of its officials visited the Syrian lands for the first time in 11 years. The visit had no political goals, but only humanitarian purposes, according to the EU spokesperson who is also based in Beirut where he had the following short interview with Majalla. Q. You said that the goal of the visit by the head of the EU delegation to Syria along with other officials was not to normalize ties with Assad. So what was its goal? A. The EU Delegation to Syria had a field trip in Aleppo, Hamah and Homs along with the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Syria, after Syrians’ access to livelihood and basic needs have significantly diminished. The EU, the UN and other partners are exerting huge efforts in the context of early recovery interventions. Thus, early recovery projects and fostering resilience don’t mean normalization with Assad or permission for reconstruction efforts. So the main goal of the visit, that came after a decade of conflict, is to improve daily lives of Syrians and finding better future opportunities for them.

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“The main goal of the EU delegation visit, that came after a decade of conflict, is to improve daily lives of Syrians and finding better future opportunities for them.” Q. Does this mean that the European Union is supporting projects implemented in Assadcontrolled regions, particularly that your officials visited three cities that are controlled by Assad forces? A. Since the onset of the Syrian crisis, the EU has been supporting projects that indiscriminately serve all Syrians, including regions under the government control or out of its control. This comes in line with the EU policy represented in no normalization, no lifting of sanctions, and no reconstruction, which will not be possible unless Damascus is involved in a political transition and full implementation of the Security Council’s resolution no. 2245. Q. What are the projects supported by the EU on the Syrian territories? A. The EU supports the continuous work and assessment of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Syria, which is fully authorized to protect refugees and enhance sustainable solutions for their cause, including their voluntary return whenever appropriate. Q. Is returning to Syria safe for Syrian refugees now? A. All Syrians have the right to return to their homeland, but circumstances are not ready for this. First, conditions should be suitable for safe, voluntary, and dignified return of refugees and internally displaced people alike, according to international laws and the nonrefoulment principle. Therefore, the EU will support return facilitated by the UN at the suitable time under favorable circumstances.


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The Rise of the European Right Has Liberal Extremism Played a Role in the Rise of Populism? By Sama Mamdouh El-Sheikh When Polish President Andrzej Duda on June 14, 2020 referred to LGBT rights as an “ideology” more destructive than communism, he sounded a historic warning, but it went unheeded. Legalization has continued, and ultra-liberal policies have pushed conservative social forces into a more active political role, while globalized capitalist economic policies have marginalized millions of rural

and small-town residents, creating a fertile ground for resentment that nationalist and patriotic calls have nurtured. Today, in the country that gave birth to fascism, the Far-Right is back in power, and the Italian general elections produced the expected result: victory for the nationalist Brothers of Italy. Although there is near-universal agreement that the party’s success represents a watershed moment not only for Europe, but for all Western liberal democracies,

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some are betting on the ability of “reality” to erode electoral claims and promises. On the other hand, others insist on reproducing the “stereotype” and recalling history as it really happened. Most analyses, for example, repeat the Italian right-wing leader’s pledge to “defend God, the homeland, and the family,” which was the motto of Mussolini’s party. Despite the fact that right-wing nationalists are winning elections across Europe, some centrist European politicians are calling for a “quarantine” to combat the pandemic! If there is one story that has dominated Western politics over the last decade, it is that the Far-Right has not thrived. It has taken hold of the scene in many countries, perhaps the most important of which are America and France, where the Far-Right has long been the main opposition force. It is also gaining traction in Spain. In Sweden the party founded by neo-Nazis and other right-wing extremists has become the second largest party in parliament. In addition, far-right parties are in power in Hungary and Poland.

Giorgia Meloni, leader of Italian far-right party Fratelli d’Italia (Brothers of Italy), delivers a speech on September 23, 2022 at the Arenile di Bagnoli beachfront location in Naples, southern Italy, during a rally closing her party’s campaign for the September 25 general election. Andreas Solaro/AFP via Getty Images

Brothers of Italy’s party’s success represents a watershed moment not only for Europe, but for all Western liberal democracies, but some are betting on the ability of “reality” to erode electoral claims and promises.

Tobias Billström, Sweden’s Minister for Migration and Asylum Policy, expressed his surprise at the time by saying: “I find it odd that a referendum is used to make this decision.” The issue of “the limits of democracy” has manifested itself in various forms throughout the European Union since this referendum, and at the end of the process, a heated debate erupted in America as a result of the US Supreme Court’s decision to abolish the “right to abortion,” with opponents of the ruling questioning whether the Court’s unelected judges had the authority to SLAUGHTER WITH THE DEMO“change American society.” CRATIC KNIFE When the Polish government announced its Today, the implications of election results in intention to withdraw from the “Istanbul Conseveral European countries, particularly Italy, as vention,” which aims to strengthen women’s well as various types of opinion polls confirm protection from violence, many European MPs that the inextricable link between liberalism expressed concern, and Dacian Cioloș, inau(particularly radical liberalism) and democracy gural chairman of the liberal “Renew Europe” has become deeply suspect in Europe, America, group, called it “a pathetic and miserable new and a number of Latin American democracies. move.” In 2011, the Council of Europe, a EuroAs a result, dealing with the “global right-wing pean human rights organization based in Strasturn” necessitates different approaches that go bourg, adopted the “Istanbul Convention” as the beyond the stereotypical image of right-wing first “supranational” mechanism for establishing forces and their sources of power, as well as the legally binding standards. problems of democratic practices over the last Poland signed the agreement in 2012, and the Polish Minister of Justice at the time, Zbigniew few decades. In 2009, Europe learned one of the most im- Ziobro, described it in 2020 as “a heresy, a femportant lessons about “the limits of democracy” inist invention aimed at justifying the ideology when Switzerland decided to hold a referendum of homosexuality.” on allowing Muslims to build “minarets” for mosques. The European Union was most aware Far-right parties (and ideas) have been “part of of the danger and considered that resorting to a the European political mainstream for at least vote on the right of a religious minority to prac- two decades now,” according to one prominent tice its rituals is - regardless of the outcome of Western academic. the vote - an inappropriate use of democracy. The Far-Right is commonly portrayed as a so-

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cial and political movement that rejects equality and pluralism and thus is hostile to democracy. Its organizations strive to create a hierarchically organized society in which certain groups of people wield greater political, social, and economic power than others. It is “authoritarian and reactionary,” sometimes conspiratorial, racist, and nationalist. Not all far-right groups and individuals hold the same beliefs or pursue the same political strategies. However, the majority of the right wing promotes an exclusionary societal viewpoint and, in general, targets people of color, women,

Dealing with the “global rightwing turn” necessitates different approaches that go beyond the stereotypical image of right-wing and its source of power, as well as the problems of democratic practices over the last few decades.

gays, bisexuals, transgender people, religious minorities, immigrants, and people who are not Christians.

WILL THE EUROPEAN COMMUNIST SCENARIO BE REPEATED?

One approach that was missing amid the condemnation and denunciation accompanying the rise of European far-right parties was that European democracy had previously succeeded in containing European communist movements and pushing them to transform into parties that accept the democratic transfer of power. It was a success whose most important condition was the disengagement of democracy with liberalism, so that former revolutionaries met with their opponents in almost all European countries to accept the transfer of power and access to state funds. The two cases are not identical, but the similarities are striking. It may be too late to warn voters against voting for right-wing forces, and it may be more realistic to focus on “democratizing” the far-right parties. One of the most effective considerations in any effort to contain the Right would be to ensure that its access to power—whether unilaterally or in alliance with others—would be impossible without the establishment’s tolerance, and that the democracy that allowed it to exist should

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Supporters of far-right, anti-EU Casapound movement wave flags during the electoral meeting in Rome/ EPA-EFE/ANGELO CARCON


FILE - Italian Fascist leader Benito Mussolini, center, hands on hips, with members of the Fascist Party, in Rome, Italy, Oct. 28, 1922, following their March on Rome. The Brothers of Italy party, the biggest vote-getter in Italy’s national election, has its roots in the post-World War II neofascist Italian Social Movement and proudly kept its symbol the tricolor flame as the visible and symbolic proof of its inheritance as it went from a fringe farright group to the biggest party in Italian politics. (AP Photo, File)

be respected for its foundations and values. In this regard, David Broder, author of Mussolini’s Grandchildren: Fascism in Contemporary Italy, claims that: “Meloni owes a great deal to more moderate forces. They have provided her with the opportunity to present herself as a member of the mainstream.” With the transformations witnessed by the international communist movement, the European communist movements began their path of change. Mao Zedong, the Chinese Communist leader, declared his rejection of peaceful coexistence with capitalism and his acceptance of parliamentary and non-violent means of achieving socialism beginning in 1957. The Soviet Union, according to Maoist China, was no longer a truly revolutionary country. Some Western communist parties, including those in Italy, Sweden, and Norway, took advantage of the Sino-Soviet split to assert their independence. Western European communism had no reason to support Mao because he rejected the post-1956 strategies of the peaceful path to socialism and peaceful coexistence that had become the foundation of Western European communist strategy. Calls for each communist party’s independence began to emerge more clearly. In the mid-1960s,

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It may be too late to warn voters against voting for right-wing forces, and it may be more realistic to focus on “democratizing” the far-right parties. the communist parties in Western Europe intensified their contacts with one another and began to function as an informal pressure group within the international communist movement’s structures. Many academics argue that the communist parties in Western Europe converged because they recognized a bare minimum of shared interests. A state of detente has existed on the European continent since the mid-1960s, as a result of changes in the security models adopted by the Soviet Union and the United States following the Cuban missile crisis in 1962. The fact that the two superpowers diverted their attention away from the old continent also contributed to European détente. After the democratic revolutions of 1989, almost all communist parties in Eastern Europe transformed into so-


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cial democratic parties, and European communism became the norm. Although right-wing parties all operate under a nationalist (or national) political umbrella that rejects “supranational” forms of political organization, whether European or global, this may be due to the radical liberal content of perceptions supported by the European Union and some United Nations institutions. That is, if the “European voice” becomes more conciliatory, it may be less fearful and conservative.

example of Brazil reflects, involves potential risks that vary according to the degree of entrenchment of democratic traditions, as reflected in one of the Brazilian Right’s slogans: “Without military intervention, nothing will change in this country!”

Perhaps helping to contextualize the political rise of the Italian Right in the context of what is reflected in the “Donald Trump phenomenon,” Texas Republicans, including US Senator Ted Cruz, tweeted their support for Giorgia Meloni, A LOOK BEYOND EUROPE and a former senator said Meloni was fighting a culture war and compared her to Hungarian desAccording to Italian essayist Roberto Saviano, pot Viktor Orbán, a favorite of American conthe Italian Right can succeed because, “the left, servatives. There is a warning about a dominant like in most parts of the world, has failed to of- “global elite” that is scared of the rise of the fer credible insights or strategies.” When dis- Right in speech which celebrates the advancecussing the Right outside of Europe, the Brazil- ment of the Right. ian example becomes a very important lesson, and researchers warn that the Russian commu- FROM LEADERS TO BALCONY nication app Telegram has become a center for ORATORS the country’s far-right, which calls for a military coup or a violent uprising similar to the US One of the main changes in the rise of the FarCapitol attack on January 6, 2021, if President Right in Europe and beyond is the end of the era of great theorists and the rise of “balcony Jair Bolsonaro is defeated. The most obvious possibilities for containing orators,” as well as a shift in the tools of influthe European Right within a power-dealing ma- ence that have been centered on TV channels chine are evident here. This approach derives its and traditional media institutions since the end strength from the consolidation of democratic of World War II. Social media can be seen as a traditions and its capability which has already symbol, not only of tools to disseminate politibeen indicated in the experience of “democratiz- cal discourse, but also to produce it. ing” European communist parties. Accordingly, the rise of the Far-Right outside Europe, as the The comprehensive theoretical conceptions that the West used as political programs with specific features have given way to populist discourse that addresses the broad masses. After more than a century of elitist moods that emerged from the minds of men like Winston Churchill, Franklin Roosevelt, Charles de Gaulle, or other personalities who are able to produce inspiring ideas that are primarily consumed by the elite, the scene is now led by orators who are able to communicate directly with large audiences, and their merchandise spreads fears, not hopes. In a world once filled with calls of a universal horizon, there are calls for a less open and plu-

In a world once filled with calls of a universal horizon, there are calls for a less open and pluralistic world, and dreams like “global citizen” and “little universal village” have lost their luster.

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Photo: Alexander Becher/EPA


ralistic world, and dreams like “global citizen” and “little universal village” have lost their luster. In terms of democracy, it no longer entails more liberalism or pluralism. Instead, it is rapidly evolving into a procedural form used to construct fences - political, economic, and security - separate from values that have failed to sustain the upward path of progress and prosperity. Even if the problem is not in these values themselves, as it may be for large masses in the West, it has become a door through which dangers that threaten cultural identity and globalized economic relations have entered. This has caused many national economies to lose some of the foundations of their prosperity, while it has benefited political and economic elites around the world. As for those who have been marginal-

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The comprehensive theoretical conceptions that the West used as political programs with specific features have given way to populist discourse that addresses the broad masses. ized by liberal democracy and a changed world in general, they are looking for a less liberal democracy, a less open economy, conservative social policies, and a less pluralistic identity by voting for the hard Right.


A Weekly Political News Magazine

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Issue 1924- September- 30/09/2022

Thank you King of Tennis !

www.majalla.com



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Postwar Foreign Tourism Flourishes in Syria Western Sanctions Gave Rise to a “Parallel World” to Provide Tourist Needs By Motasem Al Felou – Damascus “After my Lebanese driver dropped me at the Syrian-Lebanese border crossing point, the Syrian driver’s first question was ‘Why did you come to Syria alone?’ I laughed because no one would keep me company. My friends don’t consider Syria safe enough to travel and that’s why I was alone!” Xie

Yarui, a France-based Chinese tourist, told Majalla, when I met her in a traditional boutique hotel at the heart of the old Christian quarter in the Syrian capital, Damascus. After the Syrian government restored its control over major areas in the countryside of the southern and middle parts of the war-torn country around

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the spring of 2018, the security situation was normalized to a great extent. Despite the shaky truce between Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), which controls the Governorate of Idlib in northwestern Syria (designated by the US as a terrorist organization in 2018), and the Syrian Democratic Forces, which is the key power in northeastern Syria, foreign tourists started to flock to Syria in the past two years, according to industry sources. Foreign tourism is now concentrated in governmentcontrolled areas with different motives for exploring postwar Syria after the suspension of major military confrontations. Workers in the tourism industry are pretty optimistic about the tourists’ comeback and their contribution in pumping hard currency into the weak Syrian economy!

POSITIVE SIGNS, POWER CHALLENGES

Chinese Tourist XIE YARUI in Palmyra. (Credit: Motasem Al Felou)

When I asked Mayar Baydoun, a Syrian tourism expert, about his insights on the resumption of foreign tourism to Syria, he said: “I see hope! We all know, at one point, Syria was considered one of the most dangerous places to visit. Seeing foreign tourists is a good sign for us Syrians because it makes us realize that the war is over and that it’s time to re-build the country.” “To be honest, we have noticed the growth in numbers of foreign tourists in the past three years,” he added. The regime is suffering from Western sanctions, which are making it difficult for the government to provide basic services such as electricity and fuel for citizens. According to a report by Reuters published last January, 60% of the Syria’s electricity sources were damaged over the past ten years. “We are having problems with bringing in Western experts to fix the power plants. They are afraid of being sanctioned themselves. We are facing huge obstacles when it comes to importing fuel to power electricity plants as the Syrian Central Bank cannot transfer money to fuel sellers. Generating electricity for 3 to 4 hours every day is costing us a lot of effort and money,” a source in the Ministry of Electricity told Majalla. Thus comes the need for what is called “The Parallel World” for tourists!

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The Syrian Parallel World refers to the world of the elite, where electricity, water, Internet and car fuel are available 7/24. Even luxury goods are available upon request with higher expenses. THE PARALLEL WORLD The Syrian “Parallel World” refers to the world of the elite, where electricity, water, Internet and car fuel are available 24/7. Even luxury goods are available upon request with higher expenses that can only be afforded by foreign tourists, rich expats and higher classes. This world exists in 5-star hotels and restaurants, touristic places and rich neighborhoods! “I remember there was a lady, who works in a hotel where I stayed in for a week. When she finishes her shift, she stays for another couple of hours instead of going home due to the severe electricity shortage at her home. She told me she would rather stay in the hotel talking to foreigners. So, when the lights go off, the Syrian lady can imagine the world outside Syria,” commented the Chinese tourist, Xie Yarui, who prefers to be called Miya when travelling! “I think most of us are in shortage of certain things – it could be money, love, health or something else!” Miya added.

ATTRACTIONS, LIKES and DISLIKES When asked about what the postwar Syria has to offer to tourists, expert Baydoun replies, “Syria is offering a lot of history, culture and beautiful nature. We have two of the oldest cities in the world, Damascus and Aleppo. Many civilizations lived on this land. Syria offers something that no other country can offer, which is the cultural and ethnic diversity.” In a recent visit to the coastal city of Latakia, I met a couple of Indian business people in resort. They were in a business in Syria, but they didn’t give details. They expressed their comfort and told me about their visit to the Latakia countryside, where nature is still


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virgin and the mountains are lush. “What I liked the most in Syria are the people. They are easier to talk to as I found them curious about others, maybe because they see us, foreigners, as a window to the world. What I didn’t like the most was that I simply don’t know how to cross the street without looking at the traffic lights as there are not any,” answered Xie Yarui on a question about likes

and dislikes. A German tourist called Johann told me he liked food the most. “The Syrian cuisine is amazing, but I could not experience and enjoy Damascus, the city, in the evening time due to power shortage. Maybe next time when things get better” he said. “I loved Palmyra, an ancient site in the middle of the Syrian desert near the Governorate of Homs,” he added.

Around 100,000 non-Arab tourists and 629,000 Arab tourists visited Syria between January and July 2022. This number of tourists is far below the one registered in the year that preceded the Syrian Crisis in 2011.

COMING TO SYRIA According to the latest statistics of the Syrian Ministry of Tourism, around 100,000 non-Arab tourists and 629,000 Arab tourists visited Syria between January and July 2022. This number of tourists is far below the one registered in the year that preceded the Syrian Crisis in 2011. Lamia Assi, then Minister of Tourism, told me in an old interview that 10 million visitors came to Syria in 2010 including expats, Arabs and non-Arabs, and spent around USD 10 billion that year. Nowadays, tourists come to Syria through Lebanon as international and Arab airlines have stopped running fights to the Syrian airports since 2011. Euro-

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The Village of Mashqita in the Latakian Countryside. (Credit: Motasem Al Felou)


Syria Tourism Expert Mayar Baydoun (Right) with two Two Foreign Tourists in Damascus. (Credit: Motasem Al Felou)

pean tour makers offer trips to the postwar Syria at the cost of USD 1700-2000 including stay and tours for a period of 10-14 days. The Syrian authorities have resumed granting tourist visas since 2018 to help the economy. “I came to Syria from Lebanon. I booked a tour with

Chinese Tourist XIE YARUI. (Credit: Motasem Al Felou)

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a local agency that offers pickup service from Beirut to Damascus. The agency also prepared the visa for me and it was not difficult at all,” explained Xie Yarui about how she came to Syria. “I will visit Syria again in another season. I miss the people here,” she concluded.


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The Sun Never sets on Female Directors

How Women Compete Against Men for this Difficult Job By Mohammed Rouda – London Since the call for equal opportunity for women in film direction prevailed for Western filmmaking, the number of films shown in theaters, festivals, and streaming services that are actually directed by women has increased. In 2020, the number of American feature films directed by women reached 84 (fiction and non-fiction). In the following year, 2021, 326 films were directed by women from around the world. While the current year of 2022 is not yet over, the number announced thus far is 269 films. Film festivals have increased the number of films produced by women. Two years ago, the London Film Festival announced that 70 percent of its screenings were directed by women. Furthermore, the top three festivals, Berlin, Cannes, and Venice, all of which take place during the same time period, presented an average of 35-40 percent of films directed by women.

less than 20% of the mainstream audience would care. What the average audience cares about is how much they are willing to pay for what they want, and they just want to have a good time and don’t care much about who produces it. However, the reason for this rise in women-directed productions is due to the popular call for equality which is, in principle, an unassailable call. Still, there is something to be said about this surge being imposed rather occurring naturally.

Attempts by film festivals to please their audiences push them to select women’s films, even if these films are unsuitable for festival screening and - often - at the expense of better “men’s” films which are rejected so that women’s works could be shown. It is remarkable that good female directors, such as Ireland’s Andrea Arnold, Angelina Jolie, Jodie Foster, Julie Deply, Julie Taymour, Kathryn Bigelow, Kelly Reichardt, and Kimberly Pierce,

FILMS OF WOMEN ACTION The public audience does not care whether a film’s director is a man or a woman, nor care about their color or beliefs. Only the intellectuals and scholars making up

Kathryn Bigelow, the director, during filming.

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and Mary Harron, are only occasionally mentioned. On the other hand, the movies based on male leads or comic books seemed to be exclusive for men like James Cameron, Ridley Scott, Woo, Joss Whedon, and others. In fact, only one woman was addicted to making action and thriller films with intricate plots, namely, Kathryn Bigelow, who made all of her films in this genre, from Near Dark 1987, Blue Steel (1990), and Strange Days (1995) to The Hurt Locker (2008) and Zero Dark Thirty (2012). Not that she was an outsider to the “profession,” as she approached it with a great deal of experience and skill. Similarly, Mimi Leder directed two films, the first was an action movie titled The Peacemaker in 1987, and the second was the apocalyptic film Deep Impact in 1998. As for Mary Harron, she directed one of the best horror films of the last thirty years, American Psycho in 2000. But times have changed, and female directors are increasingly taking on the roles of producing non-female, nonromantic, or social films. Patty Jenkins, who directed two Wonder Woman films (plus a TV movie of the same series), Anna Boden, who directed Captain Marvel three years earlier, and Lynn Ramsay,

Absentee Director Jolie Deply.

who has moved from social to horror the nascent medium was still silent. films such as You Were Never Really Going back in time shows that cinema Here, are just a few examples. had real female pioneers in the second decade of the last century (1910-1919). They were assigned to roles which later FEMALE DIRECTORS OF became most often exclusive to men. SILENT ERA It should be noted that we are not disIt would be incorrect to believe that cussing actresses, who dazzled the screen women directors first appeared behind since the first decade (1900-1909), but the camera in the last few decades. Fe- those who worked behind the camera male direction is an innovation neither in as writers, directors, or producers. They Hollywood nor in France. Rather, it dates excelled for several years before history back to the early days of cinema, when turned against them and men prevailed in these fields, so that filmmaking appeared to many as an industry run by men only. One of the female pioneers was the French-born Lois Weber, who led the film industry when she directed films for Rex, one of the many New York companies founded in the early 1900s. Prior to that, she worked for the Gaumont Film Company, which established an American branch in 1904. The Universal Company (still one of the major Hollywood corporations today) asked her to be one of its first employees in 1912. Her films were notable among the first social dramas, as they addressed issues such as religious persecution and poverty, as well as topics such as abortion and the death penalty. She wrote, directed and A still from Patty Jenkins’ Wonder Woman 1984. produced over 160 films, including 138

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A rare photograph of Alice Guy, one of the leading silent film directors.

movies directed by her, the first of which was A Heroine of ‘76 in 1911 and the last one was White Heat in 1934. From France to New York and then to Hollywood, another female director named Alice Guy is regarded as one of the pioneers, given her significant achievements in cinema. She was born in France and worked at Gaumont’s headquarters in Paris until the mid-1910s, when she moved to the United States. By that time, she founded Solax and promptly began her production. Alice Guy’s first film in America was A Child’s Sacrifice. Solax released 325 films between 1910 and 1913, 35 of which were directed by Alice Guy herself. She made two opera genre (silent) movies (cinematography and subscripting of songs): Mignon, which was premiered on French theaters in 1866, and Fra Diavolo, which was also a nineteenth century production. Guy’s last two films were The Great Ad-

venture (1918) and Tarnished Reputations (1920). There were many female directors during the same period, not only in Hollywood, but also around the world. Such a brief examination of women’s role in the birth of cinema is not limited to American cinema, but also included many overseas cinema industries in those early days. International cinema outside Hollywood witnessed a similar women’s involvement in early cinematic history. Several female directors and writers emerged in Tsarist and post-revolutionary Russia, including Nutia Danilova, Vera Ily, Olga Vishnevskaya, and Tatiana Tolstaya. Olga Rakhmonova, who was born in 1871 and died on December 23, 1943, was the most prominent of them in terms of work and impact. She directed, wrote scripts, acted, and taught acting. She also applied her talents in these areas to the theater, as she wrote and directed several shows.

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Many others followed in her footsteps.

DISTINCTIVE FEATURES Now there is a larger network of activities and we are living in an age of multiple technical, knowledge, and media sources. All of this has been reflected in a number of festivals, most recently the Canadian Toronto Film Festival, which saw an unprecedented (at least for the festival) turnout of female directors. We watched a variety of films, including Nan Gold’s documentary All The Beauty And The Bloodshed which was also featured in Venice, and Louis Armstrong’s Black & Blues by Sasha Jenkins. Saint Omer, by French director Alice Diop, is a drama that is a semi-documentary about the actual trial of an African woman accused of causing the death of her young daughter when she left her alone on the beach. Emily, about the life of Emily Bron-


Taken from the French film Saint Omer.

te, was directed by actress Francis O’Connor. On the other hand, Sarah Polley, who returned to directing after a tenyear absence, made a good (as usual) film called Women Talking. This is not only a female-directed film, but it also features 13 actresses, including Frances McDor-

mand, Rooney Mara, and Emily Mitchell. Some female directors have achieved commercial and artistic success, such as Chloé Zhao, who directed the modest Nomadland, which was highly rated by Western critics. Last year, Zhao transitioned to comics via The Eternals.

Taken from Sarah Polley’s Women Talking.

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For many years, New Zealander Jane Campion was highly rated by critics and the media and this continued with her latest film, The Power of the Dog last year. Last week’s box office shows that female directors are willing to take on filmmaking assignments usually done by men. The Woman King, directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood, stars Viola Davis who takes the role of a man in fighting white colonialism in Africa. That said, one must wonder if there are any distinctive features or characteristics to films produced by women. Can they be considered feminine? Are they better (or worse) than the films made by men? Do we evaluate differently movies directed by women? The answers to these questions are not emphatically negative. That is, there are exceptions in which a woman’s film has treatment characteristics that a man would not address. However, a film reflects the capability the ability of its director, regardless of their gender.


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NEW MOVIES

By Mohammed Rouda

A weekly roundup of screenings at movie theaters around the world The Woman King ★★★

◆ Directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood ◆ Genre: Action [US] ◆ Leading roles: Viola Davis, Thuse Mhedu, Sheila Atim, Lashana Lynch

Production of this film was accompanied by many challenges faced by its team, who unsuccessfully tried to emphasize the uniqueness of the movie at every administrative meeting with various production companies until Sony finally agreed to finance the film and was ready to face the consequences. When the film premiered at the Toronto Film Festival, everyone realized they had a golden egg in their hands, although The Woman King did not easily reach the top of the box office last week. It’s a good entertaining movie by a major studio, but its significance runs deeper. It’s about a group of female warriors in the Republic of Benin before independence, and their conflict with an enemy tribe. There is a prelude conveying the facts of life in the kingdom of Dahomey, followed by the film’s series of battles. The first part is interesting, and the second is intriguing due to the entertainment factors. The film’s dramatic events are not novel. It follows the expected events and concludes as hoped. It is the female response to The Black Panther, produced four years ago on one hand and on the other it had to deal with a traditional Hollywood with its wariness in film selection and investment.

◆ Final Note: Viola Davis’ performance may earn her a second Oscar nomination. She was nominated four times.

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Pearl ★★★

◆ Directed by Ti West ◆ Genre: Horror [US] ◆ Leading roles: Mia Goth, Matthew Sunderland, David Corenswet

A new horror film about a young girl (Mia Goth) who lives on a farm in Central America with her parents. A caring young lady observes her sick father’s illness and her mother’s difficulties. Her only option is to fantasize about becoming a famous actress. But there is a huge gap between reality and fantasy waiting for the girl to fall into. The film shifts from serenity to a field full of mysterious events and possibilities, then into the den of desire to extract our fears over the horror scenes. Director Ti West produces the movie with a keen insight. The film features the sources of tension that the world has been witnessing for years: COVID-19 on the one hand, and the insecurity of cities, on the other.

◆ Final Note: The film is a sequel to the director’s previous film, X.

Hanging Gardens ★★

◆ Directed by Ahmed Yassin Aldaradji ◆ Genre: Social Drama (Iraq) ◆ Leading roles: Jawad Al-Shakarji, Akram Mazen Ali, Wissam Diyaa This film, like many “serious” Arab films, falls into a deep chasm between a good idea with multiple dramatic possibilities and an execution that frequently carries nothing more than a desire to tell the story as it is. As a result, numerous opportunities are missed to put the level of presentation on a par with the importance of the subject matter. It is a story about a boy and his brother who collect what they can sell from the trash piles carried by trucks to landfills. The boy discovers a woman-shaped doll and, along with another one, presents it to lustseekers and dispossessed people. The social environment is difficult and rough, and a gang wants to possess the doll or kill whoever owns it. There is a talent in directing the 30/09/22


actors, but what comes out of their mouths is repeated without any noticeable enhancement. The film needs to break free from the traditional narrative box of serious Arab cinema.

◆ Final Note: The film had its world premiere at the Venice Film Festival before traveling to South Korea for the Busan Film Festival.

Broad Peak ★★★

◆ Directed by Leszek Dawid ◆ Genre: Adventures [Poland] ◆ Leading Roles: Ireneusz Czop, Maja Ostaszewska, Piotr Glowacki

she is a refugee who wishes to accompany her parents. He is in Texas, and her parents are in Alabama, so the trip is necessary, but the police suspect that he kidnapped the girl. The story depicts a conflict between humanitarian duty and compliance with the law which does not care what the girl will suffer if the police catch her and deport her to Mexico with an unknown fate at the border. There is a clear political and humanitarian tone that the viewer grudgingly bears and could have tolerated better had it not been for the naivety of the execution and the lack of its resourcefulness.

◆ Final Note: Poverty Row Pictures is named after the studios of the 1930s and 1940s known as Poverty Row because they produced films on low budgets.

Don’t Worry Darling ★★

◆ Directed by Olivia Wilde ◆ Genre: Science Fiction [US] ◆ Leading Roles: Chris Pine, Florence Pugh, Harry Styles

It is based on a real story and the film’s hero, a mountaineer, is among those who don’t fear challenges. We get to know him as he climbs Poland’s most difficult mountain, despite the dangers and blizzards. He isn’t discouraged by any warning from the team in charge of the operation. About 11 meters before the summit, the team informs him that he has arrived and he believes them, but the goal was to save his life. When he discovers what happened, he abandons climbing and promises his wife that he will not return, but he breaks his promise after 25 years and faces the same difficulties. A well-executed film (based on true events) with a shaky middle section, but it is worth seeing.

◆ Final Note: It is available on Netflix with a good translation.

No Man’s Law ★

◆ Directed by Richard Douglas Jensen ◆ [US] ◆ Leading Roles: Richard Douglas Jensen, Natalia Bilbao, Kelly Reno

This is the kind of movie that you’d like to be better so you can give better rating. But No Man’s Law suffers from unprofessional directing by Richard Douglas Jensen, who is also the leading actor. A horse ranch owner discovers a young Mexican girl in his car. He realizes

A loving couple lives in the shadow of an obscure scientific institution. The man works there and the woman is the contented wife who enjoys the luxurious lifestyle that this institution provides. This is until you realize that all of this comfort and happiness come at a high cost because the institution is working on a secret invention directed against humanity. The real problems emerge quickly. The narration is chaotic, there is an unsuccessful transition towards suspense, and the plot borrows various threads from science fiction films. Olivia Wilde creates a work that is at half-distance from being important and inspiring. On the one hand, it begs the question of what large institutions are doing that we don’t know about and what they have in store for us, and on the other, it inspires what it cannot achieve.

◆ Final Note: This is the second film directed by the actress after Booksmart (2019).

Ratings: ★ Weak or average | ★★: Mediocre with merits| ★★★: Good | ★★★★: Excellent | ★★★★★: A masterpiece 49

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The History behind the Authentic Walls of Krujë Castle The Castle is associated with the most memorable period of Albanian National Hero Skanderbeg

By Sarah Gamal Albania, which spent nearly half of the twentieth century isolated from the rest of the world, remains a mysterious land, only recently making its way onto European travel itineraries as an offbeat and budget-friendly destination. While the Land of the Eagles is known for its turbulent communist past (with 750,000 concrete bunkers scattered around to prove it), it also has a rich and diverse historical and cultural heritage. Krujë, a small Albanian town, has a lot to offer. The Krujë Castle and the relatively new Skanderbeg National Museum housed within it are two of the town’s main attractions. The Castle is associated with the most memorable period in the life of Albanian National Hero Skanderbeg. To date, several excavations have been carried out with the goal of exposing the interior of the Krujë Castle and the clock tower. This introduction is at the Krujë Skanderbeg Museum: “The national museum “GJ. K. Scanderbeg” was inaugurated on 1 November 1982, and built in Krujë castle on the left side of its entrance. The architects of the museum are Pranvera Hoxha and Pirro Vaso.

The museum is built in Krujë because it was the center of the Albanian peoples in the XV century during the war against the Ottomans and its name became known in all of Europe. Three sieges

Krujë Castle in Albania – (Photo Credit: Sarah Gamal)

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“Krujë, a small Albanian town, has a lot to offer. The Krujë Castle and the relatively new Skanderbeg National Museum housed within it are two of the town’s main attractions.”

Krujë Castle in Albania – (Photo Credit: Sarah Gamal)

(1450, 1466, 1467) failed and the Ottoman conquered the castle only in the year 1478. The building characterizes a memorial. In the external architectural area are distinguished two main parts, the outstretching horizontal part with the main big rooms and the part with vertical ascent, regarded as the north Albanian towers. The internal spaces are designed a way that their environments are interweaved by creating an uninterrupted space, as is even the history presented in this museum. History, architecture and art are linked as one. There are used historic architectural elements like heavy pillars and stone arches. Art compositions, stone and wood engravings, wrought iron as well as maps, graphics, glass paintings have value as historic auxiliary material.” Krujë Castle, located in the northern central Albanian city of Krujë, is one of Albania’s most popular historical sites. The Skanderbeg Museum and the Ethnographic Museum are among the museums on the grounds of Krujë Castle.

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For the last fifteen centuries, Krujë Castle has stood on a rocky cliff high above the town. It has been a witness to this town’s turbulent history as the capital of Arbria (Albania’s ancient name). Krujë Castle was built in the fifth or sixth century, perched above the town of the same name. During the 15th century, as the powerful Ottoman Empire gradually took over much of Europe, one modest ancient fortress in Albania remained out of its range. Ottoman armies that conquered large regions such as Constantinople and the Balkans were unable to breach the castle’s defenses. It was the headquarters of Gjergj Kastriot Skënderbeu, the “Dragon of Albania,” an Albanian nobleman, royal, and military leader, during the Ottoman threat. The Ottoman Turks named him Iskender bey. The fortress fell to Sultan Mehmed II ten years after Skanderbeg’s death. Among the ruins within the fortress walls is the ancient Clock Tower, which bears the same bell that previously announced Skanderbeg’s death. This clock, made by artisans from Krujë’s Old Bazaar, used to keep track of the city’s time: the opening and closing hours of the workshops, as well as the times of prayer. Near the Clock Tower is the National Museum “Gjergj Kastriot Skënderbeu,” which was built in the early 1980s. This recognizable structure, which crowns the castle defenses, has become a symbol of the city’s skyline. The exhibitions inside the museum depict Skanderbeg’s history, historical triumphs, and achievements, as well as replicas of Skanderbeg’s armaments: the legendary helmet topped with a goat’s head and his sword. The first building on the site of Krujë Castle


Krujë Castle in Albania – (Photo Credit: Sarah Gamal)

was most likely built in the early Middle Ages. It was under Ottoman control by the time of the Albanian Revolt in 1432-1436. Andrea Thopia led an unsuccessful siege of the castle during the revolt, which was motivated by the replacement of local nobility with Ottoman landowners and the implementation of Ottoman governance and taxation. Within a decade, Krujë Castle became the epicenter of Skanderbeg’s rebellion against the Ottomans. Gjergj Kastrioti Skënderbeu, also known as Skanderbeg, was educated as a hostage in the Ottoman court. He was eventually appointed gov-

Ruins of Fethiye Mosque - Krujë, Albania – (Photo Credit: Sarah Gamal)

ernor of the Sanjak of Dibra, part of which is now in Albania. Skanderbeg deserted the Ottomans with 300 loyal Albanians during the Battle of Niš (1443), in which Christian crusaders defeated three Ottoman armies in Serbia. He took control of Krujë Castle and launched a 25-year rebellion against Ottoman rule. Skanderbeg appears to have taken the castle with the help of a forged letter from the Sultan. Krujë

“Skanderbeg is regarded as a national hero in Albania as a result of his resistance. The Skanderbeg Museum, one of Albania’s most popular museums, is housed in the castle. The castle is depicted on the back of the 5000 lekë banknote.” 52

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National Museum Gjergj Kastrioti Skënderbeu (Krujë, Albania) – (Photo Credit: Sarah Gamal)


National Museum Gjergj Kastrioti Skënderbeu (Krujë, Albania) – (Photo Credit: Sarah Gamal)

National Museum Gjergj Kastrioti Skënderbeu (Krujë, Albania) – (Photo Credit: Sarah Gamal)

National Museum Gjergj Kastrioti Skënderbeu (Krujë, Albania) – (Photo Credit: Sarah Gamal)

Castle withstood three major sieges by Ottoman forces while under Skanderbeg’s command. Ottomans failed to seize control in 1450, 1466, and 1467. Skanderbeg is regarded as a national hero in Albania as a result of his resistance. The Skanderbeg Museum, one of Albania’s most popular museums, is housed in the castle. The castle is depicted on the back of the 5000 lekë banknote. The minaret and lower walls of the Sultan Me-

“The fortress fell to Sultan Mehmed II ten years after Skanderbeg’s death. Among the ruins within the fortress walls is the ancient Clock Tower, which bears the same bell that previously announced Skanderbeg’s death.” hmed Fethiye Mosque of Krujë, which was built before 1481, still stand on the castle grounds. The remains of the Dollma Tekke, a Bektashi place of worship that was demolished during the Communist dictatorship, can also be found at Krujë Castle. On the path leading up to the palace is a section of a 450-year-old bazaar, where more than 150 merchants traded their wares with castle visitors and citizens. It now sells handicrafts and artefacts from the region. Krujë’s old bazaar appears to be a fairy tale setting, with modest wooden boutiques, small cobblestoned paths, and multicolored textiles.

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Schools, the Past and the Present

By Saif Al-Abri

The madrasa played a significant role in keeping morality and constraining politics. However, it slowly disintegrated as it became formalized and centralized, until it became somewhat of a political tool .

Throughout history, the education system has been one of the most important social institutions. It is the system that develops humans to what the government sees as fit for the functioning of society. In modern times the education system mostly follows western reforms which emphasize the hard sciences and marginalize the study of logic and religion. This article will mainly focus on Islamic schools known as madrasa, their role, and what differentiates them from the modern form of the madrasa. In the Islamic world, the madrasa institution was a continuation of an earlier tradition known as halaqa, which translates to a loop or a circle, meaning a circle of people. This is how earlier Islamic Ulama (the learned ones) transmitted their knowledge. The halaqa involved a close relationship between the students and the ulama. Such halaqas were informal, although upon completion students sometimes received accreditation which permitted them to go on and teach. These halaqas involved qur’anic commentaries (tafsir), Prophetic transmission (hadith), logic, mathematics, medicine, astronomy, etc. Such tradition continues to this day, however, it›s restricted to Islamic sciences and plays a minor role in society. During the eighth century, the second form of education which would play a crucial political and moral role came into existence: the madrasa. The madrasa involved a waqf which would pay for the tuition, salaries and all other expenses. The waqf is a religious concept consisting of the donation of land for the sake of God. These lands were used for hospitals, food kitchens, water fountains, madrasa and much more. Such financing methods allowed madrasas to be relatively independent of the state, although the ruling dynasties did provide some waqfs. The madrasa, which operated like a school, would

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produce the legal jurist as well as the scientist. It taught grammar, astronomy, math, etc. The madrasa even provided primary education. We must remember that in premodernity, the rulers could not penetrate society as they lacked the modern bureaucratic apparatus. This is because of several factors such as that usually the ruling dynasty were foreigners, didn’t speak the language, their reign was short term, etc. As such, they had to gain people›s loyalty by appealing to the ulama, who were linked to the madrasas. They would fund them with waqfs and try to abide by their sharia/legal rulings. This created an equilibrium. As Wael Halaq states, “an equilibrium did exist between the men of the sword and those of the law: the ruling elite received the cooperation of the scholars and their promotion of its legitimacy, while the scholars received a salary, protection, and the full right to apply the law as they saw fit.” Unlike the modern education system, the curriculum wasn’t developed by the state nor unified. Instead, most madrasa organically grew by assimilating the Islamic and ancient sciences. However, it must be noted that the ruling class did emphasize a particular sect over the other, but as all are Islamic, they shared the same spirit. The madrasa played a significant role in keeping morality and constraining politics. However, it slowly disintegrated as it became formalized and centralized, until it became somewhat of a political tool. However, it never reached the intrusiveness of modern education, which involved complete centrality and the production of a loyal citizen with morning national anthems, heroic history, and many other methods. For a more thorough exposition of the madrasa, refer to the book “Sharī›a: Theory, Practice, Transformations” by Wael Hallaq.



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Thank you - King of Tennis ! An emotional goodbye as a professional tennis player By Luisa Markides Illustrated by Jeannette Khouri What does someone feel, when walking for the very last time onto a tennis court, for the final time taking part in a competition? What are the feelings of someone who has the attention for a final time on him, after spending over 26 years in the world’s spotlights? When the lights switch off and he is left with only memories? That moment when what has been expected for a long time, becomes reality. Roger Federer was born in 1981, a Swiss national who started his professional career in 1994 at a tender age of 14. Four years later in 1998, he won both the boys’ singles final in Wimbledon in England. The rest is the history of a Swiss legend: eight-time champion. He won 20 grand slam titles between 2003 and 2018. He won 103 ATP (Association of Tennis Professionals) singles titles. An extraordinary 237 weeks consecutively as world number one tennis player. Federer, a true hero, not only for Swiss nationals - but for the entire world. Roger Federer walked for the final farewell on Friday night the 23rd of September, from what symbolized his entire life, onto the tennis court at the Laver Cup at the O2 Arena in London. Just moments before arriving at the Arena in a taxi shared with Rafael Nadal, he went live on Instagram, sharing this most emotional last time he was driven to a competition as a player. Letting everyone witness it. He appeared in very good spirit, trying to convey happiness and confidence, however, some sadness and agitation could be recognized in the laughter he used to downplay his real emotions. Less than ten days ago, on the 15th of September,

Federer announced through an official statement, that he is retiring as a professional tennis player. It did not come as a surprise given his age of 41 years. However, as everything, when something comes to an end - the emotions are many, especially if it is Roger Federer we are referring to. Federer’s most glorious career ended In London on that September evening in a sea of emotions, from the players as well as from all the fans attending and sharing this historical moment. It was very clear from the moment the match began, that it would be an incredibly emotional evening ending with nothing less than many tears. Federer has shown repeatedly in the past that being emotional was part of who he was. On multiple occasions during his career, he would cry, regardless of the outcome of his match being a defeat or a victory. Perhaps exactly due to this in publicly shown vulnerability, it made him be loved even more. Many moving and unforgettable scenes could be witnessed on his last night on the court in London. Intimate hugs between Federer and Nadal as well as the opposite team. A very long-standing ovation from the crowd who chanted his name. Yet, what stroke right on to someone’s heartstrings, was the image of the two men, once ardently long-time rivals and opponents, fighting for being worlds number 1, Federer and Nadal – who were sitting on a bench next to each other, both sobbing. Those most honest tears of a man who is bidding farewell to his competitive career. It was more than just tennis: it was his life. His passion. His identity. His everything. Little does it matter, that Roger Federer lost his very last match in the double with Rafael Nadal against the American Jack Sock and Frances Tiafoe on the

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Laver Cup. Victory or defeat never mattered less than on that evening. It was simply seen as a joyful and honorable last goodbye to a giant of sport. What mattered was that Federer was able to perform one last time as a professional tennis player, in front of his family, fans, many sports legends, and with Nadal, with whom he shares a deep friendship. A friendship that goes beyond being rivals for a very long time on court. Due to a knee injury, Federer has not been playing competitively for over a year. Only a double game would have been possible as his mobility is still limited. But what counts was that he was there and rewarded the world with his skills of the finest tennis. “I am glad I made it through and the match was great. I could not be happier!” an emotional Federer explains after the game. His family was all there to support him at the match as well as at the after-party. His wife Mirka, their four children and his parents joined Federer on court at the end. Federer in tears said: “Everyone is here, my boys and girls. My wife has been so supportive. She could have stopped me a long, long time ago but she didn’t. She kept me going and allowed me to play, so it’s amazing - Thank you!” Before leaving the court, Federer said “Thank you everybody. I’ve had so many people cheer me on and you guys here tonight mean the world”. A tribute paid by Marin Cilic, a Croatian professional tennis player, following Federer’s retirement: “Humble in victory, gracious in defeat. Even in the toughest moments, always looking out for others, his teammates, opponents, fans, family. The epitome of class. You will be so very missed”. Despite being sorely missed in the world of tennis we can only share Federer own words of hope “This is not the end-end. You know, life goes on.”



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Curbing the Nation’s Deadliest Cancer

Lung Cancer Screenings Could Save Tens of Thousands of Lives Each Year

By Maureen Salamon About 50% more American women die from lung cancer each year than from breast cancer. Screening mammograms to detect the latter are considered routine for

women over 40. So why haven’t lung cancer screenings caught up? If you weren’t aware screening for lung cancer was even possible, that’s part of the problem, Harvard experts say. Nearly a decade after national guidelines led

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to broad screening programs for the nation’s deadliest cancer -- which the American Cancer Society estimates will kill about 130,000 Americans in 2022, including 61,000 women -- an “abysmal” 2% of those eligible for the testing get it, says Dr. Andrea McKee, founder of the CT lung cancer screening program at Harvard-affiliated Lahey Hospital and Medical Center. But tens of thousands of lives each year could be saved if they did, Dr. McKee says. Fewer than 20% of lung cancers are diagnosed at an early stage, when they’re most treatable with surgery or radiation.

Credit: (TNS)

Fewer than %20 of lung cancers are diagnosed at an early stage, when they’re most treatable with surgery or radiation. of the following apply: - You’re 50 to 80 years old. - You currently smoke, or you quit in the past 15 years. - You have a smoking history of at least 20 packyears (meaning you smoked a pack a day for 20 years of your life, or two packs a day for 10 years, or the equivalent).

“It’s really sad that so few people considered at high risk for lung cancer get screened,” says Dr. McKee, who developed the first nationally accredited lung cancer screening center, which remains one of the largest programs in the United States. “It’s a really About 15 million Americans are considered at high incredible, lifesaving tool. We’ve never had any- risk for lung cancer, qualifying them for annual thing this effective to reduce lung cancer mortality.” low-dose CT scans that can reveal tiny abnormalities in the lung that might be cancer, Dr. McKee But many people don’t know that lung cancer has says. If screening catches lung cancer at stage 1, joined the list of malignancies detectable through the cure rate with surgery or radiation treatment can standard screening, which also includes breast, cer- reach 90%. vical, and colorectal cancers. “How long does it take to become household knowledge? That’s what Noninvasive and painless, low-dose CT involves we’re struggling with -- getting that message out,” far less radiation than conventional CT scans, says Dr. Carey Thomson, director of the Multidisciplishe says. nary Thoracic Oncology and Lung Cancer Screening Program at Harvard-affiliated Mount Auburn WHO’S ELIGIBLE, AND WHAT’S Hospital. INVOLVED? Far fewer people in the United States smoke tobacco products today than even 15 years ago, with the smoking rate dropping to 13% in 2020, according to the CDC. Yet smoking accounts for about 85% of all lung cancers. Quitting at any point is beneficial, but even if you quit long ago, that doesn’t eliminate your risk. Screening is meant for certain people who smoke or used to, but don’t show signs of lung cancer -- such as persistent cough, hoarseness, shortness of breath, or chest pain -- which tend to hide until the disease is already advanced. Recommendations vary by medical organization, but you’re eligible for lung cancer screening if all

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LUNG CANCER’S SHRINKING GENDER GAP It’s always been the case that more men than women die from lung cancer. But this gender gap is narrowing in worrisome ways. According to the American Lung Association, lung cancer diagnoses have skyrocketed 84% in women over the past four decades, while dropping more than one-third in men. Moreover, about one in five women diagnosed with lung cancer today has never smoked (compared with one in 12 among men). “We’re definitely seeing that even nonsmoking women are getting lung cancer,” says Dr. Andrea McKee, chief of the Division of Radiation Oncology at Harvard-affiliated Lahey Hospital and Medical Center. “We don’t yet know why, though.”


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The news isn’t all bad. Women appear to benefit more from lung cancer screening, Dr. McKee says, because their tumors tend to grow on the outer edges of the lungs, which are easier to view on CT scans. Also, women often respond better to lung cancer treatments. Part has to do with women being more likely to have non-tobacco-related lung cancers, which tend to have targetable gene mutations. Dr. McKee says. “We can use targeted therapies to treat those cancers, and we’ve seen incredible results.”

over 50 and smoke,” Dr. Thomson says. “But the vast majority are not cancer. We tell people they’re like freckles on the skin until we prove otherwise.”

OBSTACLES TO SCREENING

ANOTHER REASON TO QUIT SMOKING – OR NEVER START

Despite its advantages, low-dose CT cannot find all early-stage lung cancers, and some lesions it reveals won’t be cancer -- which will only be known after repeated imaging or more extensive and possibly invasive tests. Worries over such false-positive results can significantly hamper people’s willingness to undergo the screening and even some doctors’ willingness to recommend it, Dr. McKee and Dr. Thomson say. “We expect people to have lung nodules if they’re

It’s always been the case that more men than women die from lung cancer. But this gender gap is narrowing in worrisome ways.

Another obstacle to more widespread screening is a lingering bias attached to smoking. “Stigma is a big part of it,” Dr. Thomson says. “Some people may not be honest with their doctors about their smoking history. The medical system needs to understand how much you smoked and when you quit.”

Beyond the threat of lung cancer, smoking’s health risks are well documented. Cigarette smoking has consistently topped the list of causes of preventable deaths and disease in the United States, according to the CDC. Now a new study suggests that cigarette smokers are also twice as likely as lifelong nonsmokers to develop heart failure, a weakness of the heart muscle that keeps it from pumping enough blood to meet the body’s needs. The study, published online June 6, 2022, by the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, analyzed long-term records of about 9,300 people (ages 61 to 81) in four U.S. communities. None had heart failure at the study’s start. Smokers were diagnosed with heart failure at twice the rate of never-smokers over the following 13 years. Plus, their risks of developing the condition grew with the number of daily cigarettes

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Lung cancer causes more deaths than any other type of cancer. Credit: (Getty Images)


Lung cancer Screening. Credit: (FS Produc tions/Getty Images)

smoked and years of smoking. Heart failure is typically a progressive condition, in which the heart’s pumping ability diminishes over time. One of the top causes of death and disability, the condition affects more than six million Americans.

A new study suggests that cigarette smokers are also twice as likely as lifelong nonsmokers to develop heart failure.

KEY TAKEAWAYS If your age and smoking history make you eligible for lung cancer screening -- or if you’re concerned about your risks for the disease regardless of those factors -- start a conversation with your primary care doctor. “Doctors are so time-pressed in their practices today that they often don’t have time to wrap this information into a routine checkup,” Dr. Thomson says. Dr. Thomson and Dr. McKee offer this additional advice. Don’t be fooled. Just because your smoking years are long past, that doesn’t necessarily negate your lung cancer risks. “We see a lot of lung cancers occurring years after someone quits,” Dr. Thomson says. Don’t be fatalistic. “Many women tell us they don’t want lung cancer screening because they think they’ll die of it anyway if lung cancer is found,” Dr. Thomson says. “But the point of screening is to find it when it’s very small and not lethal. Lung cancer

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screening saves more lives than any other screening we have for cancer.” Be your own advocate. “Anyone who has lungs can get lung cancer, but rates are much lower in nonsmokers,” Dr. McKee says. “But if you have symptoms suggestive of lung cancer, you need to advocate for yourself and ask about testing -- because some doctors will think they don’t need to look for it since you don’t smoke.” Spread the word. Encourage your friends and loved ones to be screened if they smoke or did in the past. “Screening is the tide that will raise all boats,” Dr. McKee says. “We’re learning so much about lung cancer -- both tobacco-related and not tobaccorelated -- because of screening. And the more we know about it, the more we’ll all benefit.” This article was originally published by Harvard Women’s Health Watch.