Global Platform with National Vision
A Weekly Political News Magazine
For the First Time Egypt Debuts Islamic Finance Market
A Weekly Political News Magazine
Issue 1857- June- 18/06/2021
Queen Elizabeth II: The Longest-Reigning Monarch in the History of the UK
Issue 1857- June- 18/06/2021
The NATO Summit in Brussels: Implications for Russia
A Weekly Political News Magazine
www.majalla.com/eng In his trip to Europe last week, U.S. President Joe Biden had the opportunity to show the world that “America is back on the world stage” to restore its pre-Trump status. As Biden confirm his full support to the NATO, the alliance was preparing to move forward with its 2030 initiative focused on reinforcing the Alliance’s unity aimed at broadening its “approach to security and contribute to safeguarding the rules-based international order.” The member-countries issued the “Strengthened Resilience Commitment” highlighting key decisions taken to address the Alliance’s main challenges, with the Russian “pattern of aggressive behavior” at their center. In this week’s cover story, Maia Otarashvili writes about the summit’s outcomes, as its communique explains the NATO’s approach to Russia, and reveals that the Alliance language towards Moscow remains unchanged, while its policy toolkit has yet to be enhanced, all while Putin keeps his grip on the Black Sea and the Baltic Sea regions. The corruption phenomenon is a very old scourge that dates back to the establishment of regimes and governments. It threatened many economies through its traditional methods, including theft and bribery. However, the developments seen by the world due to globalization, the intertwining of ties and the convergence of distances have facilitated ways for the corrupt to circumvent and bypass laws. Ahmed Taher writes about the Saudi Arabia Initiative to fight corruption, that is The Global Network of AntiCorruption Law Enforcement Authorities (GlobE). The Riyadh initiative has been established to enable relevant law enforcement authorities in different countries to expand their legal processes through unofficial crossborder cooperation. 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
A Weekly Political News Magazine
Bitcoin from Terrorism
34 to El Salvador
Issue 1857- June- 18/06/2021
Betrayed: Is The World Abandoning Helpful Afghans ?
38 Stranded, Stateless, Imprisoned
A Story of »Patience and Faith«
54 High-tech Socialization
Price of Fame
“Places of Mind: A Life of Edward Said”
U.S. President Biden and first lady meet Britain’s Queen Elizabeth U.S. President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden stand next to Britain’s Queen Elizabeth, at Windsor Castle in Windsor, Britain, June 13, 2021 )Reuters Photos(
France Culture Versailles Attendees dressed in baroque period costumes pose in front of the Bassin de Latone, one of the fountains of the Royal Palace of Versailles park, southwest of Paris, on June 12, 2021, during the reopening of the “Night Fountains Show” (“Grandes Eaux Nocturnes”) and the “Royal Serenade” events Versailles, Yvelines, France )AFP Photos(
A WEEK IN THE MIDDLE EAST SAUDI ARABIA Saudi Arabia has restricted the annual Haj pilgrimage to its own citizens and residents for the second year running in response to the coronavirus pandemic, the state Saudi Press Agency (SPA)reported on Saturday. Only people aged between 18 and 65 who have been vaccinated or immunised against the virus, and are free of chronic diseases, will be able to take part, the ministry that manages the Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca said in a statement carried by SPA. It also set a maximum of 60,000 participants. "The decision (was made) to guarantee the safety of haj amid uncertainty over the coronavirus," the kingdom's health minister Tawfiq al-Rabiah said in a televised press conference carried by SPA. The minister said only approved COVID vaccines from Pfizer, Astrazeneca, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson will be valid for the haj. Sources told Reuters in May a plan was being considered to bar overseas pilgrims from performing Haj, a once in a lifetime duty for every able-bodied Muslim who can afford it.
EGYPT Arab states are calling on the U.N. Security Council to discuss the dispute over Ethiopia's plan to fill a giant dam it is building on the Blue Nile, Arab League Secretary General Ahmed Aboul Gheit said on Tuesday after a foreign ministers' meeting. Ethiopia is pinning its hopes of economic development and power generation on the dam. Egypt relies on the river for as much as 90% of its fresh water and sees the dam as an existential threat. Sudan is concerned about the operation of its own Nile dams and water stations. The ministers, meeting in Qatar, agreed on "steps to be taken gradually" to support Egypt and Sudan in the dispute, Qatari Foreign Minister Mohammed Bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani told a news conference, without giving details.
Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi announced on Wednesday transforming the site of ISIS’ 2014 “Camp Speicher” massacre in the northeastern governorate of Saladin into a landmark, blaming the policies adopted by previous governments for the heinous crime. “Corruption, mismanagement, and lawless policies are the causes of these tragedies; we must remember that our unity, institutions, and national affiliation will prevent the recurrence of such massacres,” said Kadhimi said during a visit to the site. The mass killing, in which an estimated 1,700 unarmed, predominantly Shiite soldiers from Camp Speicher - a former US base outside the city of Tikrit were killed, became a symbol of ISIS’s brutality against Iraqis. The camp had “witnessed one of the most heinous massacres of humanity, and the innocent blood that fell here awakened the Iraqi conscience,” said the prime minister.
Saudi Arabia's air defences intercepted a drone launched by Yemen's Iran-aligned Houthi group on Thursday toward Khamis Mushait, home to the main Saudi air base in the border region, Saudi state TV reported. A Houthi spokesman said on Twitter his group launched two drones at military positions inside the Abha International Airport, west of Khamis Mushait. A Saudi-led military coalition intervened in Yemen in 2015 after the Houthis ousted the country's internationally-recognized government from Sanaa, the capital. Oman, which has a border with Saudi Arabia and Yemen, recently stepped up efforts to persuade the parties to agree on a ceasefire deal.
UAE Some members of Abu Dhabi's ruling family are participating in a trial administering China's Sinopharm (1099.HK) COVID-19 vaccine to children aged 3-17, the emirate's media office said. The trial will monitor the immune response of 900 children "in preparation to vaccinate children in the near future", Abu Dhabi Media Office said in a Twitter post on Wednesday. Sheikh Theyab bin Mohammed, a son of the United Arab Emirate's de facto ruler and Abu Dhabi's crown prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, accompanied his children, nieces and nephews to participate in the immune bridge study, it said. The UAE in May approved the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for emergency use in children aged 12-15. Dubai, the second-largest member of the UAE federation, started inoculating that age group this month.
SUDAN Sudan's prime minister warned on Tuesday of the risk of chaos and civil war fomented by loyalists of the previous regime as he sought to defend reforms meant to pull the country out of a deep economic crisis and stabilise a political transition. Abdalla Hamdok made the comments in a televised address days after young men carrying clubs and sticks blocked roads in the capital Khartoum following the removal of fuel subsidies. Hamdok's government serves under a fragile military-civilian power-sharing deal struck after a popular uprising spurred the army to overthrow veteran leader Omar al-Bashir in April 2019.
OMAN Doctors in Oman, a small nation on the Arabian Peninsula, have encountered at least three COVID-19 patients with "black fungus," the AP reported. The fungal infection, known as mucorymycosis, can be fatal. The news comes as Oman faces a surge in coronavirus cases brought about, in part, by the fact that more than 90% of its population has not yet been vaccinated, according to the AP report. According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people with severe cases of COVID-19 "are particularly vulnerable to bacterial and fungal infections." The use of "high-dose corticosteroids and tocilizumab," a monoclonal antibody, can also predispose patients to infection from fungal spores.
IRAN Gulf Arab states said this week it would be dangerous to separate global powers' nuclear deal with Iran from Tehran's missile program and destabilizing behavior, and reiterated a call that they be included in the dialogue. World powers and Iran entered a sixth round of talks in Vienna on Saturday to revive the 2015 nuclear pact which Saudi Arabia and its allies opposed for not tackling their concerns, and which the United States abandoned in 2018. Tehran has opposed any attempt to add other issues to the deal, under which it agreed to curbs on its nuclear program in return for the lifting of international sanctions. US President Joe Biden wants to restore the deal abandoned by his predecessor Donald Trump.
A WEEK ACROSS THE WORLD
China said on Tuesday that radiation levels around the Taisha province of Guangdong remained normal, following media re French utility EDF, one of the project's owners, said on Mon reports that abnormal levels of radioactive gas had leaked fr CNN had reported that Framatome, the EDF unit that desig an "imminent radiological threat" at the project following a b Zhao Lijian, a spokesman for China's foreign ministry, told a compliant with all requirements and there were no signs of "So far China's nuclear power plants have maintained a good affecting the environment and public health," Zhao said.
U.S. U.S. President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin agreed at their first summit on Wednesday to resume arms control talks and to return ambassadors to each other's capitals after they were withdrawn earlier this year. The summit at the lakeside Villa La Grange in Geneva lasted less than four hours - far less than Biden's advisers had said they expected. The scheduling of separate news conferences meant there was none of the joviality that accompanied a 2018 meeting between Putin and Biden's predecessor, Donald Trump. There was also no joint meal. Putin, 68, who was first to brief reporters, said the meeting had been constructive, without hostility, and had showed the leaders' desire to understand each other.
INDIA As India continues to grapple with its second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, the country’s military has stepped up efforts to assist the government by transporting oxygen containers and medical supplies. Hospitals across the country are reeling under a severe shortage of medical oxygen and beds in view of the drastic spike in the number of COVID-19 cases. The Indian Air Force (IAF) has been airlifting oxygen containers and tankers from abroad to various filling stations in the country to expedite the distribution of medical oxygen for the treatment of the patients. Many deaths have been reported across the country as a result of a lack of oxygen, with the situation in the capital city of New Delhi among the worst in the country. As of May 12, the total number of coronavirus cases in the country was 2,33,40,938, out of which 37,04,099 were active cases; 2,54,197 people had died while 1,93,82,642 had recovered.
The COVID-19 pandemic is spiralling out of control in Afghanistan, with cases rising 2,400% in the past month, hospitals filling up and medical resources quickly running out, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies said on Thursday. More than a third of tests last week came back positive, the IFRC said. "Afghanistan is at a crisis point in the battle to contain COVID-19 as hospital beds are full to capacity in the capital Kabul and in many areas," said Nilab Mobarez, Acting President of the Afghan Red Crescent Society, in a statement released by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. The surge was putting intense strain on a country where millions already live in poverty and health resources are scarce. Health authorities on Thursday registered 2,313 positive cases and a record 101 deaths from COVID-19 in the last 24 hours. Officials and experts have said low testing means those official figures are probably a dramatic undercount.
The Group of Seven riche Saturday sought to count by offering developing nat that would rival President multi-trillion-dollar Belt a The G7, whose leaders ar England and who discusse with Beijing, has been sea response to the growing China's surging economic past 40 years. U.S. President Joe Biden a the plan, known as the Bu (B3W) initiative, will prov nations by 2035, the Whit
an nuclear project in the southeastern eports of a leak at one of its reactors. nday that it was investigating media rom the plant. gned Taishan's reactors, was warning of build-up of krypton and xenon. news briefing that the plant was fully abnormalities in its vicinity. d operating record, with no incidents
ETHIOPIA The northern highlands of Ethiopia became a global byword for famine in the mid-1980s, when drought and conflict combined to create a disaster that killed as many as one million people. Now hunger is stalking the Tigray region again, and a senior UN official alleges that starvation is being used as a weapon of war. More than 350,000 of Tigray's nearly 6 million people are living in famine conditions, according to an analysis by United Nations agencies and global aid groups first reported by Reuters on Thursday. Nearly 2 million others are one step away from such dire deprivation, they said. Ethiopia has disputed these estimates.
TUNISIA Tunisian President Kais Saied called on Tuesday for a dialogue with political parties on creating a new political system and amending the 2014 constitution, which he described as “with locks everywhere”, in an effort to ease the ongoing political crisis. Saied's comments could pave the way for an end to a months-long political standoff with Prime Minister Hichem Mechichi, who is backed by parliament Speaker Rached Ghannouchi, leader of the moderate Islamist Ennahda party, over powers and political alliances. The Tunisian constitution, approved following the 2011 revolution, has been widely praised as a modernist constitution. But many politicians admit that it includes many controversial chapters and needs amendment.
MYANMAR South Korea has provided $900,000 to a U.N.-led humanitarian aid initiative for Myanmar, U.N. data showed on Thursday. A spokesman for the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said earlier data on its financial tracking service showing a contribution of $300,000 by North Korea was wrong and it has since been corrected. The contribution on May 24 to the Myanmar Humanitarian Fund came from South Korea in addition to a separate contribution of $600,000, Asia Pacific head of communications for the Office Pierre Peron said. The fund calls for some $276 million to help Myanmar, where hundreds of people have died since the military ousted the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi in February and began a bloody crackdown on pro-democracy protests, adding to the country's struggle with the coronavirus pandemic.
est democracies on ter China's growing influence tions an infrastructure plan t Xi Jinping's and Road initiative. re meeting in southwestern ed strategic competition arching for a coherent assertiveness of Xi after c and military rise over the
and other G7 leaders hope uild Back Better World vide a transparent infrastructure partnership to help narrow the $40 trillion needed by developing te House said.
The NATO Summit in Brussels: Implications for Russia Lack of Change Makes Putin Tighten Black Sea Grip Maia Otarashvili On June 14th NATO held its 31st summit in Brussels. On the surface, at least, it looks like the transatlantic community is back on the same page, to its pre-Trump posture of “unity, solidarity, and cohesion,” but at the same time “open a new chapter in transatlantic relations, at a time when the security environment we face is increasingly complex.” Major emphasis was put on the member nations’ commitment to strengthened resilience. U.S. President, Joe Biden, has been working hard to convince America’s allies that the U.S. is back on the world stage and is ready to reassert its leadership, and the NATO framework
has offered him a great opportunity to keep promoting this point. Thus Mr. Biden’s firm statements at the summit regarding his full support for NATO came as no surprise. With this fully buy-in from the United States, NATO is set to move forward with its 2030 initiative focused on reinforcing the Alliance’s unity aimed at broadening its “approach to security and contribute to safeguarding the rules-based international order.” Russia’s “pattern of aggressive behavior” appeared front and center on the list of NATO’s “challenges of today and tomorrow” where “terrorism, cyber-attacks, and disruptive technologies, the rise of China, and the security implications of climate change” also appeared as major themes.
A general view of a plenary session of NATO summit as leaders of member countries attend at the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) headquarters in Brussels, on June 14, 2021. (Getty)
The official text listing key decisions made at the summit is titled “Strengthened Resilience Commitment” and speaks of an increasingly complex security environment which requires greater individual and collective resilience from the member states and allies: “Under NATO 2030, we have agreed today to enhance our resilience. Noting that resilience remains a national responsibility, we will adopt a more integrated and better coordinated approach, consistent with our collective commitment under Article 3 of the North Atlantic Treaty, to reduce vulnerabilities and ensure our militaries can effectively operate in peace, crisis and conflict. Allies will develop a proposal to establish, assess, review and monitor resilience objectives to guide nationally-developed resilience goals and implementation plans. It will be up to each individual Ally to determine how to establish and meet national resilience goals and implementation plans, allowing them to do so in a manner that is compatible with respective national competences, structures, processes and obligations, and where applicable those of the EU.” The formal Summit Communique first explains how “NATO is a defensive Alliance and will continue to strive for peace, security, and stability in the whole of the EuroAtlantic area.” The communique also reaffirms members’ commitment to the Article 5: “an attack against one Ally shall be considered an attack against us all” and promises the Alliance will “continue to pursue a 360-degree approach to protect and defend our indivisible security and to fulfil NATO’s three core tasks of collective defence, crisis management, and cooperative security.” Very early on, in the third paragraph, the communique puts Russia on alert and lists it first in a list of key challenges facing the Alliance: “Russia’s aggressive actions constitute a threat to EuroAtlantic security; terrorism in all its forms and manifestations remains a persistent threat to us all. State and nonstate actors challenge the rules-based international order and seek to undermine democracy across the globe. Instability beyond our borders is also contributing to irregular migration and human trafficking. China’s growing influence and international policies can present challenges that we need to address together as an Alliance.” The list of NATO member state grievances towards Russia is long. Under Putin’s leadership Moscow has managed to establish itself as an aggressor on a global scale. From its aggression in Ukraine to its support of the Assad regime in Syria, to waging cyber-attacks and disinformation campaigns on the United States and Europe, NATO’s concern is well-merited. “While NATO stands by its international commitments, Russia continues to breach the values, principles, trust, and commitments outlined in agreed documents that underpin the NATO-Russia relationship. We reaffirm our decisions towards Russia agreed at the 2014 Wales Sum-
The communique explains how as part of its approach to Russia, NATO “will continue to respond to the deteriorating security environment by enhancing (its) deterrence and defense posture. mit and all our subsequent NATO meetings. We have suspended all practical civilian and military cooperation with Russia, while remaining open to political dialogue. Until Russia demonstrates compliance with international law and its international obligations and responsibilities, there can be no return to ‘business as usual’.” The Brussels summit offered the opportunity to address more openly yet another problem area in NATO’s backyard – Belarus. Lithuania’s president Nauseda told the summit leaders that Russia is trying to swallow Belarus and the Alliance must do more to deter Russia’s efforts there. Moscow’s recent designation of the United States and Czech Republic as “unfriendly countries” has also added fuel to the fire. “We call on Russia to rescind the designation of the Czech Republic and the United States as ‘unfriendly countries’ and to refrain from taking any other steps inconsistent with the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations. Russia’s growing multi-domain military build-up, more assertive posture, novel military capabilities, and provocative activities, including near NATO borders, as well as its large-scale no-notice and snap exercises, the continued military build-up in Crimea, the deployment of modern dual-capable missiles in Kaliningrad, military integration with Belarus, and repeated violations of NATO Allied airspace, increasingly threaten the security of the EuroAtlantic area and contribute to instability along NATO borders and beyond.” The communique explains how as part of its approach to Russia, NATO “will continue to respond to the deteriorating security environment by enhancing (its) deterrence and defense posture, including by a forward presence in the eastern part of the Alliance.” But what does this mean? Afterall, NATO posture clearly explains that the Alliance does not seek confrontation and poses no threat to Russia: “Decisions we have taken are fully consistent with our international commitments, and therefore cannot be regarded by anyone as contradicting the
NATO-Russia Founding Act.” So, what are NATO’s options if it is truly committed to curbing the Russian threat? So far we have seen that the Alliance very clearly grasps Russia’s malicious actions and is capable of keeping track of the growing list of Moscow’s assaults on the international rules-based order. But the communique falls short in setting this summit apart from all the previous ones where the list of Moscow’s offenses is regularly followed with “calls on Russia” to stop doing these things. There is also a lot of “standing in solidarity” with member-states like the Czech Republic: “In addition to its military activities, Russia has also intensified its hybrid actions against NATO Allies and partners, including through proxies. This includes attempted interference in Allied elections and democratic processes; political and economic pressure and intimidation; widespread disinformation campaigns; malicious cyber activities; and turning a blind eye to cyber criminals operating from its territory, including those
Under Putin’s leadership Moscow has managed to establish itself as an aggressor on a global scale.
who target and disrupt critical infrastructure in NATO countries. It also includes illegal and destructive activities by Russian Intelligence Services on Allied territory, some of which have claimed lives of citizens and caused widespread material damage. We stand in full solidarity with the Czech Republic and other Allies that have been affected in this way.” The communique is also rich with “reiteration of support” for non-member, partner states like Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine who are reaching a breaking point under Russian pressure: “We reiterate our support for the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine, Georgia, and the Republic of Moldova within their internationally recognised borders. In accordance with its international commitments, we call on Russia to withdraw the forces it has stationed in all three countries without their consent. We strongly condemn and will not recognise Russia’s illegal and illegitimate annexation of Crimea, and denounce its temporary occupation.” In rare cases there is also mention of working closely together with Russia: “Russia’s nuclear strategy and comprehensive nuclear weapon systems modernisation, diversification, and expansion, including the qualitative and quantitative increase of Russian non-strategic nuclear weapons, increasingly support a more aggressive posture of strategic intimidation. We will continue to work closely together to address all the threats and challenges posed by Russia.” The communique concludes that that Allies “remain open
US President Joe Biden speaks during a press conference after the NATO summit at the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) headquarters in Brussels, on June 2021 ,14. (Getty)
Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during his press conference after his talks with President of USA Joe Biden at the US - Russia Summit 2021 at the La Grange Villa near the Geneva Lake on June 16, 2021 in Geneva, Switzerland. U.S.President Joe Biden is meeting Russian President Putin in Geneva for the first time as presidents, on Wednesday. (Getty)
to a periodic, focused, and meaningful dialogue with a Russia willing to engage on the basis of reciprocity in the NRC, with a view to avoiding misunderstanding, miscalculation, and unintended escalation, and to increase transparency and predictability. NRC meetings have helped us communicate clearly our positions, and we are ready for the next meeting of the NRC. We will continue to focus our dialogue with Russia on the critical issues we face. The conflict in and around Ukraine is, in current circumstances, the first topic on our agenda. NATO remains committed to making good use of the existing military lines of communication between both sides to promote predictability and transparency, and to reduce risks, and calls on Russia to do so as well. We continue to aspire to a constructive relationship with Russia when its actions make that possible.” For years now these summits yield excellent summaries of Russia’s wrongdoings and document an increasing aggressive foreign policy of Vladimir Putin’s regime. The “calls” remain the same – NATO allies call on Russia to stop and reverse its aggressive policies. For years now the NATO-Russia council remains defunct, and the list of Moscow’s offenses grows with every communique. The Alliance has experienced major setbacks over the recent years – the Trump administration’s assaults and continued questioning of the purpose and viability of NATO deepened the previously existing identity crisis within this vast organization. If President Biden’s leadership implies the return of confidence and unity within NATO, that still cannot happen overnight. In the mean-
For years now these summits yield excellent summaries of Russia’s wrongdoings and document an increasing aggressive foreign policy of Vladimir Putin’s regime. time, NATO’s eastern members and partners are losing precious time as with every year Russia’s hold on the Black Sea region deepens and its hunger for dominance over the Baltic Sea region grows more insatiable. NATO has not changed its language towards Russia, and has done nothing to enhance its policy toolkit to actually influence Moscow. Vladimir Putin, in return, uses this language to justify his decisions to keep enhancing Moscow’s increasingly militaristic, aggressive foreign policy – especially in the Black Sea and the Baltic Sea regions, in the name of deterrence. Maia Otarashvili is a Research Fellow and Deputy Director of the Eurasia Program. Maia also serves as the Deputy Director of Research at FPRI. Her research interests include geopolitics and security of the Black Sea-Caucasus region, Russian foreign policy, and the post-Soviet “frozen” conflicts.
Global Platform with National Vision Riyadh Anti-Corruption Initiative Ahmed Taher - Baku Saudi Arabia has contributed $10 million to establish the Global Network of Anti-corruption Law Enforcement Authorities (GlobE), said Head of the Saudi Oversight and Anti-Corruption Authority (Nazaha)
Mazin al-Kahmous. The Kingdom “understands that overcoming the challenges of cross-border corruption crimes requires close interaction between the relevant law enforcement authorities,” he added. His remarks were made to announce launching the Ri-
Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz.
yadh Initiative, which is aimed at establishing the law enforcement network, which marked the beginning of a new international cooperation in the field of anticorruption. The initiative was launched by the Kingdom under its presidency of the Group of Twenty (G20) in 2020. It was inaugurated in the UN headquarters in Vienna on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly’s first special session against corruption that was held in early June 2021. It is important to mention two major ideas before tackling the international network and its significance: First, the corruption phenomenon is a very old scourge that dates back to the establishment of regimes and governments. It threatened many economies through its traditional methods, including theft and bribery. However, the developments seen by the world due to globalization, the intertwining of ties and the convergence of distances have facilitated ways for the corrupt to circumvent and bypass laws. In fact, many of these crimes have become committed in the cyberspace away from supervision, follow-up and scrutiny. This has led to an expansion of its geographical operations on the one hand and of the networks of those involved in its crimes on the other hand, which requires international cross-border cooperation to fight corruption. Second, corruption, which affects and threatens societies and their stability, has increased dramatically with the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic. Executive Director of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime Ghada Waly said almost $3 trillion is lost annually to global corruption, noting that the pandemic turned from a health crisis into several major social and humanitarian crises, in which crime gangs have been active. Her statements came in line with comments by the CEO of Transparency International, Daniel Eriksson, who stressed that the pandemic represented a golden opportunity for corrupt governments. The influential corrupt people did not hesitate to embezzle money and accumulate it in their personal accounts without legal or moral deterrence. It is now possible to highlight the importance of the Initiative in establishing a global network that would provide the funds required to face the repercussions of the pandemic. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres expressed his appreciation to Saudi Arabia for its funding of the Riyadh Initiative. “Corruption is not only immoral, but is a serious crime. It is often organized, and crosses borders,” he said. This report is divided into two sections to highlight the importance of launching this network, its objectives and guarantees of its success.
Cooperation among different countries remains the most effective guarantee in curbing and confronting corruption. This will positively reflect on societies that will in turn enjoy sustainable development in integral and transparent environments. FIRST: THE RIYADH INITIATIVE NETWORK SPECIFIC GOALS AND MANDATORY GUARANTEES The Kingdom is keen to ensure the success of its global anti-corruption initiative. It has precisely defined the objectives it aims to achieve by establishing this network. These may be summarized as follows: 1- Develop a rapid and effective tool to combat crossborder corruption crimes; 2- Enhance cooperation between the relevant anti-corruption authorities; 3- Establish a secure global platform to facilitate the exchange of information between anti-corruption law enforcement authorities and to promote the recovery of stolen funds; and, 4- Launch a capacity-building program for employees within the network. In order to achieve these goals, a set of guarantees or procedures should be followed at the local and international levels. On the local level, citizens and resident should report crimes of bribery, financial and administrative corruption and other corrupt acts. For their part, relevant local authorities should provide the necessary means and tools that enable citizens to report these crimes. They should also protect them and maintain the confidentiality of their data to prevent any harm for reporting corruption crimes. On the international level, it is important to enhance the active participation of various countries in establishing the GlobE network. Kahmous called on the international community to actively participate in the establishment of the network, provide the necessary support for the success of this initiative and follow up on its development, in a manner that serves the common interests of all countries. Cooperation among different countries remains the
most effective guarantee in curbing and confronting corruption. This will positively reflect on societies that will in turn enjoy sustainable development in integral and transparent environments. Guterres stressed this point by affirming that the “UN system will continue to provide technical assistance to fight corruption, backed by the UN Common Position on Corruption agreed in the run up to the Special Session and based on the UN Convention against Corruption.” The success of this Initiative also requires consolidating its cooperation with existing platforms and networks in the field of unofficial international cooperation. These include the Global Law Enforcement Network (GLEN) and the Law Enforcement Officers Network (LEOs) of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, and Interpol.
The initiative was launched by Saudi Arabia under its presidency of the Group of Twenty (G20) to complement the future vision begun by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in 2016.
SECOND: RIYADH INITIATIVE AND 2030 KINGDOM’S VISION Saudi Arabia’s launching of the Riyadh Initiative under its presidency of the Group of Twenty (G20) complemented the future vision launched in 2016 by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense. The Saudi leadership realized that in order to attain the objectives of its Vision 2030 and improve the living standards of Saudi citizens, it should have a clear and integrated system to fight corruption. This is based on its understanding of the extent of the danger posed by corruption at the political, economic, social, security and cultural levels. The Crown Prince said that corruption had “spread like a cancer” over the last decades to the extent that it was depleting around five to 15 percent of the state budget. “The phenomenon perpetuated for not only one or two years but accumulated for 30 years... Truly, I consider this scourge an enemy that is endangering development and prosperity.” Therefore, the Kingdom has taken all the measures to fight corruption in line with its Vision 2030 and provided support to the competent national authorities and committees for this aim. With the implementation of reforms aimed at ensuring transparency at every level, corruption is becoming “a thing of the past,” Prince Mohammed stressed, noting that all corrupt people will be held
Head of the Saudi Oversight and AntiCorruption Authority (Nazaha) Mazin alKahmous.
The GlobE Network was officially launched on 3 June 2021, in a special event in the margins of the UN General Assembly special session against corruption (UNGASS). From L-R, Head of the Saudi Oversight and AntiCorruption Authority Mazin al-Kahmous, Executive Director of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime Ghada Waly, and Moderator: Mr. Jonathan Tirone, Bloomberg. (Website of UN Office on Drugs and Crime)
accountable. He further pointed to the outcomes of the anti-corruption campaign launched by Saudi Arabia, noting that the total amount collected from the settlements stood at SR247 billion over the last three years (20172020), representing 20 percent of the total non-oil income in addition to tens of billions of other assets. The Kingdom has achieved outstanding success in fighting corruption locally, in line with its development vision which sought to reduce complex bureaucratic procedures, expand the variety of e-services, adopt transparency and immediate accountability, as well as other goals aimed at fighting corruption by attaining 17 scientific and methodological requirements. Saudi Arabia is also aware of the difficulty of eliminating corruption alone, since the phenomenon is one of the threats that require international solidarity and global cooperation to be addressed. The GlobE network complements the Kingdom’s efforts to cooperate with the international community in the fight against corruption. Saudi Arabia signed relevant international conventions, such as the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime in November 2000 and its complementary protocols which addressed (in articles 8 and 9) the criminalization of corruption and measures to fight it, in addition to the Riyadh Arab Agreement for Judicial Cooperation (1999) and the Arab Anti-Corruption Convention (2010). The Kingdom presented further various regional and international initiatives aimed at fighting and rooting
Establishing the GlobE network represents a significant step in the fight against corruption. It enables relevant law enforcement authorities in different countries to expand their legal processes through unofficial cross-border cooperation. out corruption. In short, establishing the GlobE network represents a significant step in the fight against corruption. It enables relevant law enforcement authorities in different countries to expand their legal processes through unofficial cross-border cooperation, which contributes to bringing the corrupt to justice. This network also helps various countries reach practical solutions and actual steps to track and investigate corrupt practices and prosecute the perpetrators. “Turning the tide against corruption is essential if we are to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, promote peace and protect human rights,” explained Guterres.
Betrayed: Is The World Abandoning Helpful Afghans? Their Track Record of Serving Foreign Troops and Agencies Has Put Them in The Taliban’s Line Of Fire 22
The Taliban has said ominously that Afghans who assisted foreign forces in the country over the last 20 years would “not be in any danger” as long as they show “remorse.” An attack by the Taliban is a nightmare facing many Afghans who have been working in different capacities with foreign troops and aid agencies even since the Biden administration began formally withdrawing its troops from Afghanistan, opening the final chapter in America’s longest-ever war. Since then, there has been a marked increase in violence in Afghanistan where the Taliban are fighting government troops in 26 out of 34 provinces. Addressing the Afghan translators, interpreters, de-mining technicians and security guards who worked with foreign governments and agencies, the Taliban has said ominously that Afghans who assisted foreign forces in the country over the last 20 years would “not be in any danger” as long as they show “remorse.” Afghan former interpreters for the US and NATO forces gather during a demonstration in downtown Kabul on April 30, 2021, on the eve of the beginning of Washington’s formal troop withdrawal -although forces have been drawn down for months. (Getty)
However the ground reality shows that these workers and their families face harassment and MEERA RAVI threats almost daily. Aid workers, particularly On June 8, gunmen shot dead 10 Afghans work- women, are facing increased attacks and harassing for the international demining organization ment as they go about their work. The more than the Halo Trust in an attack on their camp in the 17,000 Afghans who worked with U.S. forces north of the country. While Halo did not offi- and their family members, are petitioning the cially blame the Taliban, Afghan officials say U.S. government to fast-track their immigration that the attack had all the hallmarks of a Taliban under the U.S. Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) killing. The attack left 16 more Halo workers in- program. Many have waited for years after going through security checks with practically jured. every U.S. government agency imaginable, ofThe Halo Trust is the largest demining organi- ten at their own expense for health screenings sation in Afghanistan. The Taliban often attack and other requirements. The situation has only demining workers because, government officials become more dire of late with the U.S. Embassy say, the workers often help to defuse roadside in Kabul halting visa applicant interviews because of an escalating COVID-19 outbreak in bombs that the insurgents have planted.
Afghanistan. Translators who worked for U.S.-led coalition forces in Afghanistan have been holding demonstrations across Afghanistan, demanding asylum and the right to escape Taliban revenge, after Washington announced all American troops would be withdrawn by September. The US, UK, Germany and Belgium have announced plans to provide asylum for these workers but red tape and the COVID-19 pandemic have slowed the process considerably. Of these countries, Afghans who worked for Germany say they feel the most abandoned. “We have been identified by the Taliban militants and we have a lot of concerns. We fear for our lives,” says former translator to German troops, Wahid Abdul, adding, “We cannot go anywhere, we cannot go outside.” Another former frontline translator to the Germans, Shohaib Ahmad Samadi, said bitterly, “The embassy told me to stop calling. They have completely closed the door on my case. I have been working more than nine years with them. I have experienced the toughest situation that each brave German soldier felt in Afghanistan. And they know I still have contact with a lot of German mentors and they say ‘Hey Samadi, I can’t
The US, UK, Germany and Belgium have announced plans to provide asylum for these workers but red tape and the COVID19- pandemic have slowed the process considerably.
do anything for you right now.’” Afghans who worked for Belgium are now looking at easier immigration procedures after Belgium’s defence minister Ludivine Dedonder said the country could take in around 30 Afghans who had worked with its military during the NATO mission, as the alliance wraps up a two-decade deployment.
Wounded people receive treatments at a hospital following an attack by masked gunmen which killed 10 people working for the HALO Trust mineclearing organisation, at Pol-e-Khomri in Baghlan Province on June 9, 2021. (Getty)
She added that decisions would be taken on a “case-by-case” basis and one man considered to be at risk was already being moved to Belgium with his family.
Britain, meanwhile, has set up an official repatriation system to ensure all former Afghan translators with a year of frontline experience are resettled in the UK.
“His arrival will of necessity be rapid since there is a danger to this person. It will happen around the same time as our troops, with his partner and his child,” Dedonder told broadcaster RTBF.
For now, Afghans are aware that their frontline track record, their letters of commendation and their might not be enough to save their lives.
Washington’s Dangerous New Consensus on China
A Mutually Beneficial Relationship with China Can Do Better Than a New Cold War Bernie Sanders The unprecedented global challenges that the United States faces today—climate change, pandemics, nuclear proliferation, massive economic inequality, terrorism, corruption, authoritarianism—are shared global challenges. They cannot be solved by any one country acting alone. They require increased international cooperation—including with China, the
most populous country on earth. It is distressing and dangerous, therefore, that a fast-growing consensus is emerging in Washington that views the U.S.Chinese relationship as a zero-sum economic and military struggle. The prevalence of this view will create a political environment in which the cooperation that the world desperately needs will be increasingly difficult to achieve. It is quite remarkable how quickly conventional wisdom on
Senator Bernie Sanders, an Independent from Vermont and chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, speaks during a hearing in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Tuesday, June 8, 2021. The hearing is titled “The President’s Fiscal Year 2022 Budget Proposal.” (Getty)
this issue has changed. Just over two decades ago, in September 2000, corporate America and the leadership of both political parties strongly supported granting China “permanent normal trade relations” status, or PNTR. At that time, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Manufacturers, the corporate media, and virtually every establishment foreign policy pundit in Washington insisted that PNTR was necessary to keep U.S. companies competitive by giving them access to China’s growing market, and that the liberalization of China’s economy would be accompanied by the liberalization of China’s government with regard to democracy and human rights. This position was seen as obviously and unassailably correct. Granting PNTR, the economist Nicholas Lardy of the centrist Brookings Institution argued in the spring of 2000, would “provide an important boost to China’s leadership, that is taking significant economic and political risks in order to meet the demands of the international community for substantial additional economic reforms.” The denial of PNTR, on the other hand, “would mean that U.S. companies would not benefit from the most important commitments China has made to become a member” of the World Trade Organization (WTO). Writing around the same time, the political scientist Norman Ornstein of the conservative American Enterprise Institute put it more bluntly. “American trade with China is a good thing, for America and for the expansion of freedom in China,” he asserted. “That seems, or should seem, obvious.” Well, it wasn’t obvious to me, which is why I helped lead the opposition to that disastrous trade agreement. What I knew then, and what many working people knew, was that allowing American companies to move to China and hire workers there at starvation wages would spur a race to the bottom, resulting in the loss of good-paying union jobs in the United States and lower wages for American workers. And that’s exactly what happened. In the roughly two decades that followed, around two million American jobs were lost, more than 40,000 factories shut down, and American workers experienced wage stagnation—even while corporations made billions and executives were richly rewarded. In 2016, Donald Trump won the presidential election in part by campaigning against U.S. trade policies, tapping into the real economic struggles of many voters with his phony and divisive populism. Meanwhile, needless to say, freedom, democracy, and human rights in China have not expanded. They have been severely curtailed as China has moved in a more authoritarian direction, and China has become increasingly aggressive on the global stage. The pendulum of conventional wisdom in Washington has now swung from being far too optimistic about the opportunities presented by unfettered trade with China to being far too hawkish about the threats posed by the richer, stronger, more authoritarian China that has been one result of that increased trade. In February 2020, the Brookings analyst Bruce Jones wrote that “China’s rise—to the position of the world’s second-larg-
It is distressing and dangerous that a fast-growing consensus is emerging in Washington that views the U.S.Chinese relationship as a zero-sum economic and military struggle. est economy, its largest energy consumer, and its number two defense spender—has unsettled global affairs” and that mobilizing “to confront the new realities of great power rivalry is the challenge for American statecraft in the period ahead.” A few months ago, my conservative colleague Senator Tom Cotton, Republican of Arkansas, compared the threat from China to the one posed by the Soviet Union during the Cold War: “Once again, America confronts a powerful totalitarian adversary that seeks to dominate Eurasia and remake the world order,” he argued. And just as Washington reorganized the U.S. national security architecture after World War II to prepare for conflict with Moscow, Cotton wrote, “today, America’s longterm economic, industrial, and technological efforts need to be updated to reflect the growing threat posed by Communist China.” And just last month, Kurt Campbell, the U.S. National Security Council’s top Asia policy official, said that “the period that was broadly described as engagement [with China] has come to an end” and that going forward, “the dominant paradigm is going to be competition.”
DON’T BELIEVE THE HYPE Twenty years ago, the American economic and political establishment was wrong about China. Today, the consensus view has changed, but it is once again wrong. Now, instead of extolling the virtues of free trade and openness toward China, the establishment beats the drums for a new Cold War, casting China as an existential threat to the United States. We are already hearing politicians and representatives of the militaryindustrial complex using this as the latest pretext for larger and larger defense budgets. I believe it is important to challenge this new consensus—just as it was important to challenge the old one. The Chinese government is surely guilty of many policies and practices that I oppose and that all Americans should oppose: the theft of technology, the suppression of workers’ rights and the press, the repression taking place in Tibet and Hong Kong, Beijing’s threatening behavior toward Taiwan, and the Chinese government’s atrocious policies toward the Uyghur people. The United States should also be concerned about China’s aggressive global ambitions. The United States should continue to press these issues in bilateral talks with the Chinese govern-
ment and in multilateral institutions such as the UN Human Rights Council. That approach would be far more credible and effective if the United States upholds a consistent position on human rights toward its own allies and partners. Organizing our foreign policy around a zero-sum global confrontation with China, however, will fail to produce better Chinese behavior and be politically dangerous and strategically counterproductive. The rush to confront China has a very recent precedent: the global “war on terror.” In the wake of the 9/11 attacks, the American political establishment quickly concluded that antiterrorism had to become the overriding focus of U.S. foreign policy. Almost two decades and $6 trillion later, it’s become clear that national unity was exploited to launch a series of endless wars that proved enormously costly in human, economic, and strategic terms and that gave rise to xenophobia and bigotry in U.S. politics—the brunt of it borne by American Muslim and Arab communities. It is no surprise
Instead of extolling the virtues of free trade and openness toward China, the establishment beats the drums for a new Cold War, casting China as an existential threat to the United States.
that today, in a climate of relentless fearmongering about China, the country is experiencing an increase in anti-Asian hate crimes. Right now, the United States is more divided than it has been in recent history. But the experience of the last two decades should have shown us that Americans must resist the temptation to try to forge national unity through hostility and fear.
A BETTER WAY FORWARD The administration of U.S. President Joe Biden has rightly recognized the rise of authoritarianism as a major threat to democracy. The primary conflict between democracy and authoritarianism, however, is taking place not between countries but within them—including in the United States. And if democracy is going to win out, it will do so not on a traditional battlefield but by demonstrating that democracy can actually deliver a better quality of life for people than authoritarianism can. That is why we must revitalize American democracy, restoring people’s faith in government by addressing the longneglected needs of working families. We must create millions of good-paying jobs rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure and combating climate change. We must address the crises we face in health care, housing, education, criminal justice, immigration, and so many other areas. We must do this not only because it will make us more competitive with China or any other country but because it will better serve the needs of the American people. Although the primary concern of the U.S. government is the security and prosperity of the American people, we should also recognize that in our deeply interconnected world, our security
Concept photo for ChinaUSA trade war conflict. (Getty)
Chinese dissidents shout slogans as they gather at a rally to mark the 32nd anniversary of the June 4th Tiananmen Square massacre near the U.S. Capitol on June 3, 2021 in Washington, DC. Chinese troops armed with assault rifles and tanks advanced into Tiananmen Square in Beijing, China, on the evening of June 3, 1989, opened fire on participants and ended the 89’ Democracy Movement. Human rights groups believe that hundreds to thousands of people were killed during the military crackdown. (Getty)
and prosperity are connected to people everywhere. To that end, it is in our interest to work with other wealthy nations to raise living standards around the world and diminish the grotesque economic inequality that authoritarian forces everywhere exploit to build their own political power and undermine democracy. The Biden administration has pushed for a global minimum corporate tax. This is a good step toward ending the race to the bottom. But we must think even bigger: a global minimum wage, which would strengthen the rights of workers around the world, providing millions more with the chance for a decent, dignified life and diminishing the ability of multinational corporations to exploit the world’s neediest populations. To help poor countries raise their living standards as they integrate into the global economy, the United States and other rich countries should significantly increase their investments in sustainable development. For the American people to thrive, others around the world need to believe that the United States is their ally and that their successes are our successes. Biden is doing exactly the right thing by providing $4 billion in support for the global vaccine initiative known as COVAX, by sharing 500 million vaccine doses with the world, and by backing a WTO intellectual property waiver that would enable poorer countries to produce vaccines themselves. China deserves acknowledgment for the steps it has taken to provide vaccines, but the United States can do even more. When people around the world see the American flag, it should be attached to packages of lifesaving aid, not drones and bombs. Creating true security and prosperity for working people in the United States and China alike demands building a more
The Chinese government is surely guilty of many policies and practices that I oppose and that all Americans should oppose. equitable global system that prioritizes human needs over corporate greed and militarism. In the United States, handing billions more in taxpayer dollars to corporations and the Pentagon while inflaming bigotry will not serve these goals. Americans must not be naive about China’s repression, disregard for human rights, and global ambitions. I strongly believe that the American people have an interest in strengthening global norms that respect the rights and dignity of all people— in the United States, in China, and around the world. I fear, however, that the growing bipartisan push for a confrontation with China will set back those goals and risks empowering authoritarian, ultranationalistic forces in both countries. It will also deflect attention from the shared common interests the two countries have in combating truly existential threats such as climate change, pandemics, and the destruction that a nuclear war would bring. Developing a mutually beneficial relationship with China will not be easy. But we can do better than a new Cold War. This article was originally published on ForeignAffairs.com.
For the First Time - Egypt Debuts Islamic Finance Market
Sovereign Sukuks to Help Attract New Local, Foreign Investors 30
Menna A. Farouk As the Egyptian parliament has approved a sovereign sukuk law this month, Egypt is now officially entering the Islamic finance market for the first time, with the volume of sukuk issuances reaching 2.7$ trillion. These sukuk issuances are made in accordance with the principles of Islamic Sharia, according to Minister of Finance Mohamed Maait. In a statement on June 7, Maait said that the “sovereign sukuk” will help attract new Egyptian and foreign investors who will pump investments with both local and hard currency in accordance with the principles of Islamic Sharia, provided that the sukuk issued in the local market are listed in the stock exchange. The minister added that sukuk issued in international markets and in foreign currencies will be listed on international stock exchanges in accordance with the rules followed for intergovernmental issuances.
Egypt›s Minister of Finance Mohamed Maait at the 2019 RussiaAfrica Summit and Economic Forum, at the Sirius Park of Science and Art. (Getty)
“That would contribute to providing additional cash to the Egyptian economy and reducing the cost of financing investments, especially since these sukuk are issued in accordance with formulas compatible with the principles of Islamic Sharia,” the minister said in the statement.
?WHAT IS SOVEREIGN SUKUK Along with bonds and treasury bills, sukuk is one of the recognized types of government securities to finance the needs of the general budget. The issuance of sovereign sukuk is based on the usufruct of state-owned assets as private property, by selling or leasing the
Experts say that the issuance of the Sovereign Sukuk Law would help Egypt achieve its financial, economic and developmental goals by diversifying the sources of financing the state›s general budget deficit and providing the necessary financial allocations for investment projects. usufruct of these assets, or by any other method consistent with the issuance contract and the guarantee of the owner’s share of the instrument in accordanc e with the principles of Islamic Sharia. Sovereign sukuk is defined as nominal government securities of equal and negotiable value, issued for a specific period, not exceeding thirty years. Sovereign sukuk differ from other government securities such as bonds and treasury bills in that they are subject to speculation and are subject to loss or profit. Sukuk have common shares in the usufruct rights of assets owned by the state privately as the investor is a partner in the usufruct rights of the said assets. Bonds and treasury bills are fixed-term securities that are guaranteed with an additional interest return for their value that is disbursed at the end of their term. The sovereign sukuk issuances are
similar to ordinary securities in their their high percentage of risk. tradability in the stock market, but sukuk is characterized by a high return due to With bonds and bills, the low interest rate is the distinguishing element as there is no risk in their trading.
Egypt has been attaching great importance to investing in major national developmental projects in various sectors, with the aim of creating job opportunities for young people and reducing unemployment rates, which contributes to raising economic growth rates.
ECONOMISTS WELCOME MOVE Ahmed el-Shami, an economist and a professor teaching feasibility studies at Ain Shams University, said that the issuance of the Sovereign Sukuk Law would help Egypt achieve its financial, economic and developmental goals by diversifying the sources of financing the state›s general budget deficit and providing the necessary financial allocations for investment projects. “It would also help the state reduce its debt service bill and stimulate demand for
Compiled photos of major Egyptian national project of medical facilities inaugurated recently. (Courtesy of Presidency website).
Compiled photos of major Egyptian national project of highway constructions inaugurated recently. (Courtesy of Presidency website).
government issuances of securities and debt instruments issued in local currency and in foreign currencies as well,” elShami told Majalla. Egypt has been attaching great importance to investing in major national developmental projects in various sectors, with the aim of creating job opportunities for young people and reducing unemployment rates, which contributes to raising economic growth rates. Ahmed Samir, a member of the Egyptian senate, said that these sukuk issuances will be a key tool that provides flexibility for financing national projects. “They have important dimensions for Egypt’s economic reform process and are considered a new tool for foreign
investors and will be available to individuals, unlike bonds,” he added. Samir also described sukuk as one of the instruments that are in great demand in several countries such as Malaysia, Britain, Saudi Arabia and the UAE. “Therefore, Egypt is targeting this market with a new law that aims to achieve several things, including attracting foreign investors to sovereign instruments,” he added. According to data released by the Central Bank of Egypt, net foreign direct investments decreased by 31.8 percent to stand at 1.6$ billion, during the first quarter of the current fiscal year (July/September 2020), compared to 2.4$ billion in the corresponding period.
Bitcoin from Terrorism to El Salvador US Should Shuffle Influence Cards Globally Hala Nasrallah World Bank has rejected El Salvador’s decision to adopt Bitcoin as legal tender, noting that it would have dire economic consequences. It refused to provide any kind of assistance for the country’s flexible transition to Bitcoin.
Salvadorans, however, do not seem to take into consideration the positions of international financial organizations. According to cryptocurrency analyst Joe Saz, Salvadorans are “indifferent.” Meanwhile, Bitcoin fundamentalists insisted on encouraging Salvadorans to achieve their financial freedom without being
affected by the media hype surrounding their unusual and unconventional move. Many questions revolving around the Bitcoin cryptocurrency have been recently raised. Can the United States seriously prevent any terrorist activity within the network? How does the US view El Salvador’s recent decision to adopt Bitcoin as legal tender? Also, what if other countries suffering from economic inflation follow El Salvador’s embrace of Bitcoin? Attention now turns to Nigeria and Panama, which are known for their money laundering activities. There are also some indications that Argentina and several Latin and South American and African countries would embrace Bitcoin. What if Venezuela does so to circumvent US sanctions!
THE US AND COUNTER-TERRORISM
A person scans a QR code at a bitcoin ATM on June 2021 ,16 in Chiltuipan, El Salvador. Playa El Zonte has been named as the Bitcoin capital, around 500 families promote the use of the cryptocurrency to help the economy of a place with poverty issues. (Getty)
The world of cryptocurrency is getting harder to figure out with time. It is fortified by the Secure Hash Algorithm3(SHA3-). This type of cryptography requires tens of billions of computational hypotheses to break a single arithmetic equation, which is impossible given the current technical capacities. In 2014, the US Department of Defense declared virtual currencies to be subject to oversight, in light of the increasing danger of using Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies for terrorist aims. In 2020, the US said it seized Bitcoin and other types of cryptocurrency from accounts that had sent or received funds using alleged financing schemes for organizations placed on its terror list. ISIS possessed the largest amount of the Bitcoins seized. It is noteworthy that the US authorities couldn’t breach Bitcoin’s network, but instead controlled its storage areas, most of which were in centralized trading platforms. Authorities were able to communicate with these platforms to confiscate cryptocurrencies and freeze them. However, what about free and open trading within decentralized platforms, such as the “Uniswap” platform, the “DEXTools” platform, and the “PancakeSwap” platform, that do not not need to authenticate accounts and run over the “web3” network without the possibility of third party intervention?
DECENTRALIZED PLATFORMS... HARDEST OBSTACLE Whoever possesses a digital dollar can open an account on “Binance” or “Coinbase” platforms to buy Bitcoin. In return, the platform can suspend and confiscate the account. However, there is a new type of platform that operate according to the completely opposite principle of the centralized platforms. Centralized Platforms require: - Registering the email or phone number
In 2020, the US said it seized Bitcoin and other types of cryptocurrency from accounts that had sent or received funds using alleged financing schemes for organizations placed on its terror list. - Real username The platform determines the user’s IP. On the other hand, decentralized platforms do not require: - An email address - Information about the user of the trading network They also do not save the user’s location and have no authority over him. Decentralized platforms constitute a huge obstacle for the authorities and are continuously developing. In 2019, there was only the Uniswap platform, while there are now more than 30 decentralized trading platforms. They give users superior power that cannot be curbed, and without a third party intervention. Most of these platforms run on the Ethereum network that supports the “metamask” wallet, which in turn also gives full power to the users. The wallet provides all means of protection for users, as it gives them the authority to control the wallets’ keys, in addition to a huge collection of randomly created passwords that are hard to predict. Users who prefer decentralized platforms may link the metamask portfolio to their platform to be able to trade freely and without supervision. The emergence of decentralized platforms makes it more difficult and nearly impossible for governments to pursue criminal acts that occur on cryptocurrency networks. Despite the obstacles, specialized counter-terrorism authorities can pursue criminal acts in several ways. In case authorities were able to find out a specific wallet number that is active in terrorist acts, they can monitor its digital terrorist activity by tracking the flow of funds among the wallets. The Ethereum network and the Binance Smart Chain allow assigning a wallet number on the blockchain and tagging it with a logo specified for terrorist activities. China, for instance, has its own Ethereum blockchain site to track the flow of digital money from China to platforms abroad and vice versa. In order to regulate the flow of digital money, the US and European authorities forced the centralized platforms to specify their wallet numbers within the digital currency
networks. This method allows authorities to track and arrest the users and suspend the accounts.
of the device from which the transaction was made, such as a phone or a computer.
MONERO: SOURCE OF TERRORISM AND FREEDOM
SALVADORAN RIOT… DISTURBING
A few months ago, the “Decrypt” website reported that ISIS and other terrorist organizations have just switched from using Bitcoin to Monero. Why did they do so? The Monero is highly fortified and has about 20 network developers, only two of whom are known. Monitoring the transaction using Monero cryptocurrency is the most difficult because its blockchain does not track money and means of their transfer from one user to another. The network uses an encryption algorithm known as the “noninteractive zero-knowledge proofs.” Monero is also based on the cryptonote protocol, which publishes the signatures of financial transactions for one time only, thus holders of the Monero currency cannot detect the movement between the wallets. Unlike the Ethereum network, the Monero does not allow determining the value of the users’ wallets. For example, if user (A) wants to transfer Monero to user (B), he may check if the transfer process is completed but can’t know to which party user (B) will transfer his money. Users of the Monero network may also benefit from the “subaddress” feature, which allows them to change their public keys after each financial transaction. The network uses an encryption method to hide the IP address
The US has not yet declared its official position on El Salvador’s bitcoin move, while the International Monetary Fund (IMF) described it as “reckless.” Several international reports were issued and expressed regret at El Salvador’s adoption of bitcoin as legal tender. Salvadoran President Nayib Bukele did not seem cautious in his move, which some consider “incomplete.” News headlines on the topic were somehow superficial. Journalists were keen to remind El Salvador of its small population and space compared to other world countries, especially that its economy accounts for less than 0.05 percent of the global GDP. In response, Bukele said he does not want to be a global influencer but rather transform the lives of his people. “Bitcoin has a market cap of 680$ billion dollars,” he tweeted, noting that if one percent of it is invested in El Salvador, that would increase the GDP by 25 percent. Bukele worked on bitcoin adoption with several developers, including American Jack Mallers, CEO of Zap, which has created an app called Strike, a digital wallet that uses the
The emergence of decentralized platforms makes it more difficult and nearly impossible for governments to pursue criminal acts that occur on cryptocurrency networks. 36
A photo illustration of the digital Cryptocurrency, Litecoin (LTC), Monero (XMR), Bitcoin (BTC), Ethereum (ETH), Ripple (XRP) and Dash are seen on September 2018 13 in Hong Kong, Hong Kong. (Getty)
An image showing that the official centralized platforms are authorized on their public keys on the network, which facilitates tracking money laundering activities. (Supplied)
Women gather outside a business that accepts bitcoin transaction on June 2021 ,16 in Chiltuipan, El Salvador. (Getty)
Lightning Network to enable small payments in Bitcoin at a very low commission. Mallers has promised to distribute the app in countries suffering from inflation they will never recover from anytime soon. Several countries have rushed to acquire the Bitcoin, which may reshuffle all the global papers. All international parties are cautiously anticipating the outcomes of El Salvador’s move. India is expected to follow the Salvadoran lead. According to analysts, the world’s sixth largest economy, estimated at about 10$ trillion dollars, will most probably adopt Bitcoin as legal tender and allow its trade within the country and in external commercial transactions. This would force India to re-arrange its taxation mechanism, especially that it imposes a 13 percent tax on profits obtained from trading in cryptocurrencies.
IN MEXICO - BITCOIN IS IMMIGRANTS’ OPTION Several reports have indicated that Mexico would most probably follow El Salvador’s embrace of Bitcoin. Many articles report on Mexicans’ experiences with cryptocurrencies. In the US, the Mexican community trades in Bitcoin the most. Mexican immigrants in the US were the reason behind the extension of the cryptocurrency wave to their homeland. Mexicans, who constitute a wide range of the working class in the US, receive the minimum wage and are mostly immigrants. They use the Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies to avoid paying high taxes and commission to transfer their money to their families in Mexico. The high commission imposed by banks and financial intermediaries, such as “Western Union,” pushes more categories to find radical solutions in managing their funds.
In order to regulate the flow of digital money, the US and European authorities forced the centralized platforms to specify their wallet numbers within the digital currency networks. VENEZUELA: SANCTIONS AND MORE Venezuela is one of the countries that falls under the US sanctions list. The bitcoin mining appeared there in 2019, and the country seems to be very active in this field since then. The Iranian scenario appears to take place in Venezuela. In Iran, the Revolutionary Guards Corps and China control the mining process. But this doesn’t rule out Iranians’ involvement. A video had been recently released showing men in Venezuelan military uniforms mining Bitcoin, but it is know that civilians also take part in the process. The economically deteriorated country suffers an annual inflation of 6500 percent, yet its people resort to bitcoin mining. It is the world’s third country to trade in bitcoin. President Nicolas Maduro seeks to acquire the hardest currency in the world, to which the dollar lost 99 percent of its value, in order to maintain his rule. Venezuelans, however, are resorting to the cryptocurrency option after falling victims to Maduro and the US sanctions.
Stranded, Stateless, Imprisoned How Asia is Failing Rohingya Children Hassan Noor Sixteen-year-old Abul* has lived most of his life in fear. As a Rohingya child growing up in Rakhine State in Myanmar, he was routinely harassed, tormented, and abused. He saw his mother and sister get beaten up, and he and his friends were arrested and tortured by police. Just over 18 months ago, at the age of just 15, Abul left his family behind and escaped to Malaysia in
the hope of building a better life. But Malaysia does not recognize Rohingya or other people fleeing to the country as refugees, and, without documents and forbidden from going to school or working, he lives in constant fear of being arrested. “Ever since I arrived, I’ve been afraid,” he said. “I don’t go outside of the house if I don’t need to… I’m afraid of police and of being arrested.” Abul has good reason to feel afraid. Just this week,
With the magnitude of atrocities they have faced, Rohingya children are among the most persecuted in the world. Some are so desperate that they risk deadly sea journeys to build a better life elsewhere.
Volunteers distributes food items to Rohingya refugee childrens who wait in line at their camp, fire broke out at their camp in New Delhi, India on June 13, 2021. (Getty)
human rights groups condemned a poster by Malaysia’s immigration department that portrayed Rohingya refugees as a national security threat. It came shortly after the government announced that it would detain undocumented refugees. It’s a story that is familiar to hundreds of thousands of Rohingya children across Asia, who are forced to live on the fringes of society – a situation that can and should not continue. As long as they cannot safely return to their homes in Myanmar, their safety must be protected by the authorities in their countries of refuge. There are at least 700,000 Rohingya children across the continent, the majority of whom live outside their home country, Myanmar. Most notable are the half a million children living in refugee camps in Bangladesh, where hundreds of thousands of Rohingya people fled to from Myanmar to escape violence by the Myanmar military in 2017. This was just the latest chapter in a long story of abuse:
for decades, large numbers of Rohingya have sought refuge in other Asian countries. A new report by Save the Children highlights the plight of Rohingya children in five countries across Asia: Myanmar, Bangladesh, Malaysia, Thailand, and Indonesia. All of these children have one thing in common: Wherever they are and wherever they go, they live on the margins, at constant risk of arrest, abuse, and exploitation. With the magnitude of atrocities they have faced, Rohingya children are among the most persecuted in the world. Some are so desperate that they risk deadly sea journeys to build a better life elsewhere. At least 2,400 Rohingya people took to boats last year, according to the U.N. Refugee Agency. At least 200 are thought to have died at sea, while more than a third of the survivors were children. Children rescued from boats tell us they’ve spent months at sea with hardly any food or water, or saw their families beaten or thrown overboard. One -11year-old girl, whose boat arrived in Indonesia in September last year, told us: “We were at sea for months. I wanted to drink but there was not enough water. There was no food. I couldn’t move because the boat was so small. I was sad and exhausted.” Tragically, even those who make it to neighboring countries face a bleak future. Our report finds that countries that should be safe havens for Rohingya children often fail to protect them. The problems for Rohingya children start in Myanmar, even if they have never set foot on their home soil. Myanmar does not recognize the Rohingya as citizens, and none of the other four countries in practice grant citizenship to Rohingya children born on their shores; nor are they officially recognized as refugees.
With nowhere to call home, and unwelcome in the countries where they seek refuge, Rohingya children face injustice at every turn. They are more often than not denied their most basic rights to quality education and healthcare. In many places they are demonized or treated as criminals, afraid to leave their homes in case they are detained and deported as “illegal immigrants.” Rohingya children tell us that, more than anything else, they want the chance to go to school and build a better future. Yet nearly everywhere they go, Rohingya children are blocked from education, either because of discriminatory rules or because policies that
Myanmar does not recognize the Rohingya as citizens, and none of the other four countries in practice grant citizenship to Rohingya children born on their shores; nor are they officially recognized as refugees.
should allow them to go to school are not enforced. In Thailand and Indonesia, for example, refugee children have the right to go to school, but enforcement of the rules can be patchy and Rohingya children continue to slip through the net.
THIS CANNOT CONTINUE The world can – and must – do more to help Rohingya children. The military coup in Myanmar in February has added to an already precarious situation for children in the country. Governments everywhere – in Asia and beyond – must push Myanmar to end the root causes of the abuse against Rohingya. One key place to start is to support international justice processes: those who have committed atrocities against Rohingya boys, girls, and their families must be held to account. The international community must also step up and provide funding to support Rohingya refugees everywhere. And governments in the region also have the responsibility to guarantee the rights, safety, dignity, and humanity of Rohingya children living within their borders, to ensure that they are able to survive and thrive as a community. Because no child, wherever they are, should grow up living in fear. *Name changed to protect identity. This article was originally published by The Diplomat.
A Rohingya refugee woman with her son sit on a Bangladesh navy vessel relocating Rohingya refugees to the Bhasan Char island in Noakhali district, Bangladesh on December 20, 2020 (Getty)
A Weekly Political News Magazine
Issue 1857- June- 18/06/2021
Queen Elizabeth II: The Longest-Reigning Monarch in the History of the UK www.majalla.com
A Story of “Patience and Faith”
“In the Heights” Knows the Second-Generation American’s Dilemma By Carlos Aguilar This article contains spoilers for “In the Heights”. “In The Heights”, the director Jon M. Chu’s Hollywood adaptation of the groundbreaking
Broadway musical, is ostensibly a tale about the aspirational young. Its focus stays mostly on some dreamers (and a “Dreamer”) living in the Upper Manhattan neighborhood of Washington Heights. They form an ensemble cast of working-
class Latino characters—immigrants and American-born—chasing far-fetched but not entirely implausible sueñitos, or “little dreams.” There’s Nina (played by Leslie Grace), a student back from Stanford University who is afraid of betraying her values; the businesswoman Daniela (Daphne Rubin-Vega), who has been priced out of her storefront; Vanessa (Melissa Barrera), a fashion visionary trying and failing to lease a downtown apartment. Usnavi (Anthony Ramos), the entrepreneurial -20something owner of a corner bodega eager to return to his childhood home in the Dominican Republic, narrates their triumphs and tribulations. But one character who’s key to understanding “In The Heights” is not a young adult with bold plans: Abuela Claudia is the community matriarch and emotional lighthouse of the film. She is portrayed by Olga Merediz, the same remarkable Cuban American actor who played the role in the Broadway version of the musical, created by Lin-Manuel Miranda and Quiara Alegría Hudes. Her singing is potent and sorrowful, with a hint of desperation in every word; her movements are tender. Abuela means “grandma,” although Abuela Claudia is no one’s relative by blood. Instead, she is the cheerleader and caretaker for everyone in the film’s vivid barrio.
Anthony Ramos, left, and Melissa Barrera in Jon M. Chu’s “In the Heights,» based on Lin-Manuel Miranda›s hit Broadway musical. (TNS)
And the neighborhood’s strivers need Abuela Claudia’s guidance, because a contradiction plagues them. They foster a fierce yearning for things to stay the same. They want the local piragüero to keep doing his rounds, the beautysalon ladies to remain gossip savants, and the bodega coffee to stay sweet; they want the reliable fixtures that make a home. Yet they also have their life plans. They want to evolve, to become fashion designers or lauded college graduates, while still holding on to their multicultural identity. They want to escape. The classic peril of assimilation in America is that a perceived greater belonging demands a partial loss of self. What “In the Heights” endearingly suggests, through Abuela Claudia, is that you can become who you want to be by being who you already are. In recent years, grandmothers have been
As in traditional Hollywood musicals, lyrics and choreography become a magnifying glass that translates characters’ innermost thoughts into visible, exuberant spectacle. In Chu’s film, dashes of magical realism occasionally even liberate the story from the physical world. prominent dramatic engines for stories centered on migrant families. In Lulu Wang’s The Farewell and Lee Isaac Chung’s Minari, which earned the seasoned South Korean star Youn Yuh-jung an Academy Award this year, the grandmothers’ charming personalities veer between unabashed impertinence and hard-earned wisdom. In films like these, grandparents personify an American-raised child’s connection to their heritage outside the U.S.; they are a bridge to languages, religious customs, and culinary traditions left behind. Abuela Claudia has no relatives, but she serves a similar purpose, seemingly for an entire neighborhood. As an immigrant herself, she draws on her personal struggles to console and encourage. She understands alienation. During In The Heights’ stirring, ethereal number “Paciencia y Fe” (“Patience and Faith”), we find out that, when Abuela Claudia was a kid, her mother took her from La Vibora—“the Washington Heights of Havana” as she describes it—to the harsh grit of Nueva York. She sings of her journey, of the pressure to learn English, of missing the heat of the Caribbean in the immobilizing cold of the Northeast, and of her mother cleaning houses to support her. Her experience is far from singular among immigrants. Yet the memories she paints are newly validated by their precise articulation in song. As in traditional Hollywood musicals, lyrics
and choreography become a magnifying glass that translates characters’ innermost thoughts into visible, exuberant spectacle. In Chu’s film, dashes of magical realism occasionally even liberate the story from the physical world. “Paciencia y Fe” unfurls in a liminal realm between life and death that takes the form of an underground subway station. The viewer is transported from mid19-th-century Havana to modern-day New York City inside the same train cars. We are given access to the turmoil in Abuela Claudia’s mind as she grapples with pain, regret, and remnants of hope.
But for all that the film celebrates the specificity and beauty of Washington Heights, it also telegraphs that the neighborhood’s precious, incubated culture hinges on not the physical space itself but the people who inhabit it.
Her candid recollections are at once a heartrending prayer and a protest. With this number, the parallels between Abuela Claudia and the film’s younger characters become clear. The latter’s pursuit of socioeconomic advancement, the film suggests, sprouted from the older generation’s. Abuela Claudia and her mother sought a similar chance to improve their circumstances, but in the far less inclusive society of decades past. Still, underlying Abuela Claudia’s motto, “Paciencia y fe,” is a bittersweet resignation. She has carried on, storm after storm, holding on to a divine optimism contained in the infallible combination of patience and faith. But despite her conviction that miracles come to those who wait, when we learn that hers is the winning lottery ticket that caused an uproar earlier in the film—the song “96,000” is about everyone in the Heights who sees winning as a fast track to their endgame—we understand that Abuela Claudia doesn’t know what to do when her fantasy materializes. Over time, Abuela Claudia has turned her sueñito into an amalgamation of all those around her— her wishing has been on behalf of others. In a final moment of clarity, she looks to her adopted family and knows that whatever ambitions her
Olga Merediz attends the opening night premiere of ‹In The Heights› during 2021 Tribeca Festival at United Palace Theater on June 2021 ,09 in New York City. (Getty)
From left: Dascha Polanco as Cuca, Daphne RubinVega as Daniela and Stephanie Beatriz as Carla in Warner Bros. Pictures› «In the Heights.» (TNS)
newfound fortune enables are, by proxy, her own. That selflessness, of living vicariously through a new generation’s triumphs, is shared by Nina’s father, Kevin Rosario (Jimmy Smits), who sacrifices his lifelong business to put his daughter through school, and Usnavi, who pays to help his younger cousin Sonny (Gregory Diaz IV) obtain legal status. This is the lesson the film’s younger characters come to learn: The question of whether to stay with your community or escape it is misguided. In The Heights presents a distinct and diverse version of Latino culture in the United States. Washington Heights is a tapestry of its residents’ homelands: a bit Vega Alta, a bit Santo Domingo, and a mélange of other locations. Miranda and Hudes have captured a beautifully fragmented community that clings to what its members have in common while cognizant that they are not a monolith. But for all that the film celebrates the specificity and beauty of Washington Heights, it also telegraphs that the neighborhood’s precious, incubated culture hinges on not the physical space itself but the people who inhabit it. Immigrants and their children—ni de aquí, ni de allá, “neither
At the intersection of what the elders envision as success and what the young adults want for themselves is the film’s ultimate realization: Everyone’s little dreams are only partly their own. from here nor there”—make wherever they go an enclave of their own. Within this constantly reinvented community, pursuing one’s aspirations affects the group. Nina’s song “Breathe” highlights the weight of responsibility borne by those who have “made it out” of the Heights. At the intersection of what the elders envision as success and what the young adults want for themselves is the film’s ultimate realization: Everyone’s little dreams are only partly their own. This article was originally published on The Atlantic Online.
Price of Fame Naomi Osaka’s Protest Will Succeed Because Celebrity is Changing Fast Chris Jones
works in the talent business. “It’s so nice of him to do that,” I said. “He must be so tired.” One night before the pandemic, I watched a fa- She shrugged. “He has no choice,” she said. mous Broadway star generously spend a half- “It’s part of his contract.” hour or so greeting fans outside the theater. As we stood on the sidewalk, I remarked upon the That scene came to mind this week when Naowarm post-show scene to a friend of mine who mi Osaka, one of the most successful tennis
players in the world, announced that she was not willing to fulfill part of her contract as a competitor in the French Open: to make herself available to the press after her matches. Osaka cited her battles with depression and her consequent feelings of anxiety at those high-pressure encounters, especially after shattering losses, as well as a need, going forward, to protect her own mental health. Like so many things these days, the reaction to Osaka’s statement, which first triggered a fine and then later her withdrawal from the tournament (and possibly more to come), generally divided among generational and political lines. Young progressives overwhelming supported the activist, 23-year-old player’s decision, heralding it as a revolutionary statement of self-determination by a young woman of color against the oppressive tennis establishment. “When the system hasn’t historically stood for you,” wrote Lindsay Crouse in the New York Times, interpreting Osaka’s $50 million in annual earnings as no contradiction to that statement, “why sacrifice yourself to uphold it? Especially when you have the power to change it instead.” Naomi Osaka of Japan in action against Patricia Maria Tig of Romania in the first round of the Women’s Singles competition on Court Philippe-Chatrier at the 2021 French Open Tennis Tournament at Roland Garros on May 30th 2021 in Paris, France. (Getty)
Older people of all political stripes, and several veteran players who had seen their own fame fall away, argued that super-rich tennis superstars had an obligation to speak to the media (a proxy for the public) that prop up the sport and could always control what and how they were willing to answer. Some also noted that lesser players could not afford to be fined nor make such easy headlines, so notions of equity and privilege were, as always, considerably more complex than the ubiquitous binary narrative of vulnerable individual versus oppressive institution. “Here was an athlete on top of the world, with her sport at her feet,” wrote Oliver Brown in Britain’s Daily Telegraph, “and in the space of four days it has all unraveled, after she articulated a stance that the tournaments who prop up her wealth could not possibly accept.
Naomi Osaka, one of the most successful tennis players in the world, announced that she was not willing to fulfill part of her contract as a competitor in the French Open: to make herself available to the press after her matches. The fault lies less with them than with Team Naomi for picking a fight she could never win.” I think Brown is wrong in that last statement. Osaka absolutely can win. She is winning and will continue to win. She has taken a position with which many people (including me) who don’t make Osaka’s kind of money can identify. She is taking a stand for mental health. She has aligned herself with the forces of change and even though this flap is about access for the press, she still has plenty of journalists and columnists on her side. Even her sponsors can’t say anything critical of her decision, lest they look mercenary in a way no corporation can afford to appear now. A decade ago, that would not have been the case. But the world is changing fast. In the world of celebrities, and Osaka is already a huge star, we’re witnessing a huge transfer of power from fusty, historically patriarchal institutions, be they Broadway Leagues, awards committees, movie studios or governing bodies of sports, to individuals, especially those who have allied themselves with the struggles of their fans. Like Taylor Swift, Osaka does not need to hold news conferences: she can reach more
than a million followers on Twitter and other social-media platforms where she can control the conversation without risk to herself. Osaka clearly figured out that there was little point in running a gantlet while anxious and vulnerable when she was never among the beneficiaries of the event. Frankly, the media doesn’t really need those things either. News is rarely made at such events and both the questions and answers tend to be repetitive and superficial. They don’t represent socially useful journalism so much as easy content-creation designed for quick hits; the best reporting rarely flows from press conferences. So who does need them? The institutions. They have products to sell. That’s why the tennis establishment was thrown into such chaos by what on the surface looked like an easy problem to handle. Osaka clearly needed a break and some kindness. The obvious solution was to say, we understand, look after yourself and skip the presser this time. But the tournaments saw this is a slippery slope leading to, well, a transfer of power to individuals and away from them. Which makes them nervous. You can support Osaka and still under-
Young progressives overwhelming supported the activist, -23year-old player’s decision, heralding it as a revolutionary statement of selfdetermination by a young woman of color against the oppressive tennis establishment.
stand why. Take, for example, the longtime reliance of Hollywood on the movie junket. Some years ago, I watched Tom Hanks move from table to table at once of those affairs, answering the same couple of dumb questions literally scores of times. His smile never cracked for a second but, as those things piled up over a lifetime, it must have sucked away a part of his soul. On another occasion, at the peak of the fame of “The Sopranos,” I watched Lorraine Bracco do a series of TV interviews in Florida, answering repeated questions about her own mental health and experience with psychologists, for goodness sake. She just laughed her way through, mocking her unimaginative interlocutors in ways they could not discern. Bracco was of a different generation. Tough as nails, she gained her power in subtly subversive ways. Hanks and Lorraine put up with that because the people who sell sports or entertainment have relied on these rituals and thus have written them into their very lucrative contracts. And for the stars themselves, there was the fringe benefit of the kind of exposure they could only get from this alignment. That’s all changed now. Younger celebrities and their apologists don’t see their level of compensation of coming with any such obligations. And they are less likely to view the institutions signing their checks with warmth. Understandably. Over this last couple of years, we’ve seen a lot of evidence of the rot within. How will all this shake out? It will be fascinating to watch. Perhaps the wildly uneven financial compensation within tennis will become more equitable, with less difference between superstar winners and rank-and-file players. Based on her statements to date, Osaka would likely be OK
Naomi Osaka of Japan in action against Patricia Maria Tig of Romania in the first round of the Women’s Singles competition on Court Philippe-Chatrier at the 2021 French Open Tennis Tournament at Roland Garros on May 30th 2021 in Paris, France. (Getty)
with more of a revenue share. And if the media glare was widened, surely the pressure would lessen on single individuals. On the other hand, competition for fame has not evaporated. On the contrary, it has increased. In a recent New Yorker article, Rachel Syme rightly argued that the process of becoming and maintaining celebrity has been upended. “Fame always took work,” Symes wrote, “But, historically, stars went to great lengths to obscure their exertions. Most were ... idealized figures whose everyday doings — Brad Pitt goes to the grocery store! Jennifer Lopez rents a film at Blockbuster! — we cared about because they otherwise seemed unreal. Today, though, we constantly encounter people who are trying, hard and transparently, to become famous, not through distance but
News is rarely made at such events …They don’t represent socially useful journalism so much as easy content-creation designed for quick hits; the best reporting rarely flows from press conferences. through aggressive proximity.” Those people are the eminently likable Osaka’s new competition. Although maybe she’ll just play tennis and eclipse them all. This was originally published on Chicago Tribune.
Queen Elizabeth II: The Longest-Reigning Monarch in the History of the UK Majalla Illustration by Ali Mandalawi Queen Elizabeth II is the current monarch of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, as well as the current Head of State of sixteen Commonwealth realms. Her Majesty is also the current Head of the House of Windsor, the reigning royal house of the UK which was founded in 1917 by her grandfather King George. Born on April 21, 1926, as the first child of Albert Frederick Arthur George and Elizabeth Angela Marguerite Bowes-Lyon who were then the Duke and Duchess of York. Prince Albert was the second child of King George V and was second in line to the throne after his elder brother Prince Edward. When King George V passed away in 1936, Prince Edward became King Edward VIII and as he had no children, Prince Albert became first in line for the throne while Princess Elizabeth became second in line. Less than a year passed before Edward VIII abdicated the throne and Prince Albert was crowned as the new monarch. He ascended the throne as King George VI with his daughter Princess Elizabeth becoming first in line to the throne. Princess Elizabeth and her younger sister Princess Margaret were educated at home. They had a governess who gave them lessons on history,
literature and language. During the Second World War, King George wanted to send his daughters to Canada to escape the dangers of German aerial bombing. However, their mother Elizabeth refused and the family stuck together as a unit in Britain. Instead, the princesses were moved to and from several castles in the country, before finally settling at Windsor Castle. Princess Elizabeth played her part to support the war effort in several ways. She performed pantomimes to help the Queen’s Wool Fund, and she made her first radio broadcast in 1940 at age 14 via the BBC’s Children’s Hour to address the children evacuated from the cities of Britain. The Princess first met Prince Philip of Greece and Denmark at a royal wedding in 1934. The pair met again in 1939 and starting to exchange letters. They became engaged in 1947 after which the Prince then abandoned his Greek and Danish royal titles and became British so that they could marry. Phillip was named the Duke of Edinburgh before the wedding which took place on November 20, 1947. They had four children, Prince Charles, Princess Anne, Prince Andrew and Prince Edward. With the start of the pandemic, the Queen gave a rare televised statement where she thanked the workers who selflessly go outside to do their jobs and those following government rules to curb the spread of COVID-19. On April 9, 2021, Prince Philip died at 99, af-
ter more than 70 years of their marriage. The Queen received a lot of love from many people but described being left with a “huge void in her life”. On April 17, at Windsor Castle, a royal ceremonial funeral was held for the Prince. The 94-year-old monarch stood alone due to COVID-19 restrictions as her husband’s coffin was lowered into the Royal Vault of the ancient chapel. The Queen has two birthdays — her actual birthday, April 21, which she celebrates privately, and her “official” one, held in June, called Trooping the Colour, which is a dazzling military parade that culminates with a gaggle of royals on the balcony of Buckingham Palace. Last January, Prince Harry announced that he and his wife Meghan had separated from the British royal family. This was followed by their appearance in a TV interview with Oprah Winfrey in which Meghan accused the royal family of raising concerns about how dark their son Archie’s skin might be and ignoring her pleas for help while she felt suicidal. Queen Elizabeth commented that the royal family was saddened by the challenges of her grandson Prince Harry and his wife Meghan and she promised to address revelations about racism in the royal family. On June 13, 2021, at the G7 summit, the Queen met U.S. President Biden and other world leaders by the seaside in Cornwall in southwest England.
High-tech Socialization Is a Robotic Companion in Your Future ? Heidi Godman
WHAT IS A SOCIAL ROBOT?
Robots that help maintain well-being are on the way. Coming soon to a living room near you: a friendly robot right out of a movie, able to provide companionship and keep tabs on your health. It›s not science fiction; just like artificial intelligence that powers personal assistants in phones and «smart» vacuums in homes, social robots are real and poised to play supporting roles in our lives.
Social robots are assistive devices designed to engage you and enhance your well-being. «A social robot reads your emotions and responds to them. Maybe it reads your facial expression or analyzes your voice pattern to determine if you›re in distress or pain,» says Dr. Samir Tulebaev, a geriatrician and robotics researcher at Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women›s Hospital.
The robots aren›t intended to replace or look like humans. So far, social robots come in the form of a plush toy (like Paro, a baby seal); or a small tabletop buddy (like Jibo or ElliQ) with a tiny body, no limbs, a pivoting head, and a digital face.
ROBOTS USED IN MEDICINE
The ElliQ social robot by Intuition Robotics is seen at the Venetian during CES 2018 in Las Vegas on January 2018 ,10. The robot is a personal assistant aimed at the elderly. (Getty)
We already have robots that assist doctors during surgical procedures, deliver food to hospital wards, and dispense medications. And more robot uses are being tested. When the pandemic struck in 2020, Dr. Peter Chai -- an emergency medicine physician with Harvardaffiliated Brigham and Women›s Hospital -- turned to robots to reduce staff exposure to potential COVID19- patients. Dr. Chai worked with Boston Dynamics, adding an iPad to an existing robot. It walked into exam rooms and allowed doctors to video chat with patients before seeing them in person, if necessary. «Patients were very accepting of the technology. And it minimized the time the doctor and patient were physically close together,» Dr. Chai says. His colleague, Dr. Samir Tulebaev, is currently testing bedside robots that help nurses check on patients. The robots are embedded in teddy bears; every hour they ask patients about comfort (such as pain levels and going to the bathroom). The robot texts a nurse if you need anything. «Studies suggest that checking on patients hourly improves patient satisfaction, decreases falls, and leads to less burnout among nurses. We›re hoping the same will be true using the robot,» says Dr. Tulebaev, a Brigham and Women›s geriatrician and robotics researcher. Experts say the use of robots in medicine is just beginning, especially when it comes to helping older adults. «Imagine being able to send a mobile robot into a patient›s home to provide telemedicine and deliver medications,» Dr. Chai says. «It enables us to think of different ways and places in which we can provide patient care.»
FRIENDS WITH HEALTH BENEFITS Social robots have the potential to help humans in many ways. A plush robot like Paro can move and produce sounds when you stroke it, seeming to develop a personality the more you interact with it. It›s meant to mimic the soothing experience of pet therapy.
We already have robots that assist doctors during surgical procedures, deliver food to hospital wards, and dispense medications. And more robot uses are being tested. Tabletop robots do much more. For example: «ElliQ can help with the social aspect of living alone -noticing when you walk into a room; inquiring about how you›re doing; diving into conversation about your hobbies; playing music you love; or connecting you so you can talk to your family and caregiver,» says Dor Skuler, CEO and co-founder of ElliQ-maker Intuition Robotics. «ElliQ will also focus on wellness, suggesting mindfulness sessions or walking older adults through gentle breathing, cognitive training games, or physical exercises.» A social robot might also remind you to take medicine or connect you to your doctor if it has permission to do so and detects that you›re not feeling well. Will robots help relieve loneliness or keep your memory sharp? «Any conversation is better than silence when you›re living in isolation,» Dr. Tulebaev says. But while anecdotal accounts of benefits are strong, «we›ve only had small scientific studies suggesting robots have the potential to relieve loneliness or improve cognition,» he says.
IS IT IN YOUR FUTURE ? Robot costs may be prohibitive. Paro, at 6,000$, is meant for facility use; less sophisticated robotic pets are available online for less than 150$. Jibo and ElliQ are both in testing and unavailable, with no word on costs. A 2017 (now defunct) version of Jibo was 900$; ElliQ hits the market in 2022. But experts agree we›ll see more social robots within the decade. Will we be comfortable with them? They›re not humans, and not even pets. But many people who have interacted with them say that, perhaps surprisingly, they become companions. This article was published by Harvard Health Letter.
“Places of Mind: A Life of Edward Said” A Full Biography of an Outstanding Palestinian Intellectual Mohammad Ali Salih – Washington This American book, and many of the major American comments about it, seem to still have not figured out the real Edward Said. The deeply rooted spirit of Said, starting from Jerusalem, through Cairo, Beirut, and hovering over the rest of the Arab and Muslim Worlds before landing in the US, has proven to be larger and more lasting than the book›s contents and the comments about them. Said was described as a “dashing, multilingual scholar known for leading theoretical seminars in Savile Row suits” and as a “self-doubting, tender, eloquent advocate of literature’s dramatic effects on politics and civic life.” He was also deemed “a cajoler and strategist, a New York intellectual …” But, at least, the book’s author tried to understand the real Said. Timothy Brennan, the author of “Places of Mind: A Life of Edward Said” was Said’s student and friend. A professor at the University of Minnesota, he had published philosophical books such as: “At Home in the World: Cosmopolitanism Now;” “Wars of Position: The Cultural Politics of Left and Right;” and “Salman
Rushdie and the Third World: Myths of the Nation.” The author benefited from his relation with Said, his family and friends, from Said’s teaching notes that go back to the 1970’s, from opinions by a few of Said’s critics, and from the secret files of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). No one should be surprised to learn about the FBI spying on Said. Long before he became a national and international figure, the mere fact that an Arab student was criticizing Israel, even before he joined Columbia University in 1962, was enough. But the author and a few others tried to give Said his due. The author wrote that “Said’s political work found its basis in literary criticism,” in reference to Said’s translating and editing texts of the Palestinian movement during the 1970s and 1980s, including Yasser Arafat’s first address before the United Nations in 1974. A few other American commentators wrote about Said as “a tireless advocate for Palestinian rights and a frequent guest on television roundtable,” and the “most influential, controversial, and celebrated Palestinian intellectual of the twentieth century.” One critic noted that “his politics, that first shattered the manicured
Palestinian Cultural Mural Honoring Dr. Edward Said. Palestinian Cultural Mural Honoring Dr. Edward Said by Briantrejo.
boundaries of Western academia, opened the doors for a new generation of non-White academics and postcolonial consciousness.” The book follows Said’s life from Jerusalem to Columbia University, with keen interest in his political and intellectual crusade for the sake of the Palestinians, the Arabs and the Muslims. It may surprise Muslims that as a Christian, Said wrote in 1981 a book, “Covering Islam: How the Media and the Experts Determine How We See the Rest of the World.” Most of Said’s contemporary political comments were about the Palestinian Liberation Front (PL0), Chairman Yasser Arafat and the Oslo Accords of 1993. Said’s close relation with, then animosity towards, Arafat has illustrated, not only the complexity of the PalestinianIsraeli conflict, but also the complexity of the conflicts among the Palestinians themselves. Said, himself, switched from one position to another: First, like Arafat, he supported a two-state solution. Second, unlike Arafat, he described the Oslo Accords as a betrayal of an independent Palestine. Third, towards the end of his life, he called for a onestate solution. Although in all the above cases, Said could be described as a pioneer (only recently some Palestinian leaders abandoned the two-state solution and called for a onestate solution), he, nevertheless, was a fighter-in-exile. Arafat himself, during a moment of anger, compared
The book looks to Said as more philosopher than politician, as more a historical critic of the powers of the West than a defender of Palestine. life in New York to that in Gaza, and his kaffiyeh to Said’s bespoke suits. The book presents Said as a secular realist, i.e., neither an emotional dreamer nor a religious jihadist. Said talked about “near-total triumph for Zionism,” and seemed to have given up hope when he returned to the US from the West Bank, writing about the endless settlements and the strategically-built highways. The book looks to Said as more philosopher than politician, as more a historical critic of the powers of the West than a defender of Palestine. Said started from the origin of all the West’s evils -- capitalism, which led to colonialism, which led to imperialism. That the West’s imperialism collaborated with Zionism to establish Israel was a by-product of the major evils. His 1978 landmark book, “Orientalism,” challenged the foundation of the West’s culture, which itself was a by-product of the West’s colonialism and racism. According to Brennan’s book, Said “revived an older ethics of reading based on fidelity to what books say in
their own place and time, part of his lifelong argument that what happened in the past is not hopelessly ambiguous but can be recovered through the work of interpretation.” Said believed that digging into the past looking for fairness and justice was better than feeling victimized. In “The Politics of Knowledge” he wrote that “Victimhood, alas, does not guarantee or necessarily enable an enhanced sense of humanity. To testify to a history of oppression is necessary, but it is not sufficient unless that history is redirected into an intellectual process and universalized to include all sufferers.” But Said was, to some extent, a victim of his own pioneering, as Brennan writes: “Although he let few see it, he lived in agony.” Maybe he shouldn’t have become a Palestinian politician, arguing with Yasser Arafat, George Habash, Nayef Hawatmeh and others. Maybe he should have confined himself to be an international and historical philosopher, particularly, as the events have shown, because the Palestinians could not agree on what to do. Said not only changed his opinions about what to do, but, according to Brennan, brought wrath on himself from within his own family for cooperating with Israelis. Said co-founded a musical orchestra with Daniel Barenboim to bring young Arab and Israeli musicians together but was “criticized by some of his own family members,” his friend Brennan writes.
The book presents Said as a secular realist, i.e., neither an emotional dreamer nor a religious jihadist. Said talked about “near-total triumph for Zionism,” and seemed to have given up hope when he returned to the US from the West Bank.
In 1980, as a new Arab journalist in Washington, I had my first interview with Said, to be followed by more throughout the decades. As much as I was surprised by the mere presence of a strong advocate of Arab and Muslim causes in the US at that early time, Said was surprised by the mere presence of Arab and Muslim media in the US. At the end of the first interview, he put his hand on my shoulder and said “Na’amal ma’a ba’ad” (Let us work together). Strangers in a strange land, but we have come a long way.
Book: “Places of Mind: A Life of Edward Said “ Author: Timothy Brennan Publisher: Farrar, New York Print Pages: 492 Price: Paperback: $21.00; Kindle $ 16.99 58