Libyan Elections – Blight or Promise for Future?

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A UK Blow to Hamas

A Weekly Political News Magazine

How Egyptians Revered Their Late “Exalted Spirits”

A Weekly Political News Magazine

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Issue 1880- November- 26/11/2021

C Priti Patel: Home Secretary of the United Kingdom

Issue 1880- November- 26/11/2021 www.majalla.com

Libyan Elections – Blight or Promise for Future?

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Editorial A Weekly Political News Magazine

On November 24, the Secretary-General›s Special Envoy and head of the UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL), Jan Kubis, submitted his resignation to the Secretary-General, leaving an international monitoring gap in a very critical time in the transitional process. On the same day, Kubis presented his monthly briefing on Libya to the Security Council, where he called on all parties to commit to holding the elections that is scheduled on December 25, and expressed concern over the presence of foreign mercenaries in the country. In this week’s cover story, Dalia Ziada explores the possible scenarios of the upcoming elections, in light of the first short-list of accepted election applicants, against the backdrop of Libya’s complicated internal conflicts and divisions. In an analysis of the U.K.’s most recent announcement that it would ban the political wing of the Palestinian Hamas movement, Jassim Mohamed discusses the reasons, reactions and implications of the draft bill that is “almost certain to be approved” by the British parliament, particularly as the new terrorism threat level is raised to “highly likely” in the country. Moving to the sustainability of urban transportation in Saudi Arabia, Motasem Al Felou writes about the emerging startup sector of micro-mobility in the Kingdom. He addresses the challenges and possibilities faced by entrepreneurs in a business that is much needed for Saudi future cities such as NEOM as well as major cities. Ancient Egyptians were well-known for revering their dead and that tradition was passed on to their successors throughout different eras; Pharaonic, Coptic and Islamic. Covering an exhibition entitled “Exalted Spirits: The Veneration of the Dead in Egypt through the Ages,” Salwa Samir shows us various aspects of Egyptians’ honoring their dead, with photos of artefacts testifying to practices that have been living for thousands of years ago. Read these articles and more on our website eng.majalla.com. As always, we welcome and value our readers’ feedback and we invite you to take the opportunity to leave your comments on our website.

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A Weekly Political News Magazine


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A Weekly Political News Magazine

52 One Year to Go

Issue 1880- November- 26/11/2021

24 Xi’s Confidence Game

30 A Greek Tragedy in Chios

36 Micro-mobility a Growing Trend in Saudi Arabia

56 Taking control

Ahmed Nabil: The Pioneer of 46 Pantomime Art in Egypt 5

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34 Instruments from Dustbins to Concerts


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Lebanon Independence Day Lebanese parade in the capital Beirut marking the 78th anniversary of Lebanon›s Independence Day, on November 22, 2021 )Reuters Photos(

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Robot Waiter at the «White Fox» Restaurant in Iraq Children pose for a picture next to a robot waiter at the «White Fox» restaurant in the eastern part (left bank of the Tigris river) of Iraq’s northern city of Mosul on November 17, 2021. From the rubble of Iraq›s war-ravaged Mosul arises the strange sight of androids gliding back and forth in a restaurant to serve their amused clientele )AFP Photos(

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LEBANON More than half of families in Lebanon had at least one child who skipped a meal by October 2021 amid a "dramatic deterioration of living conditions", the UN's children's fund said in a report released on Tuesday. Children have been hit hard by the country's deep economic crisis exacerbated by the global coronavirus pandemic which has left about eight in 10 people poor and threatens the education of some 700,000 children including 260,000 Lebanese, the report said.

EGYPT Mavys Alvarez, a Cuban woman who had a relationship with late soccer star Diego Maradona two decades ago, told a news conference on Monday that the Argentine player had raped her when she was a teenager and "stolen her childhood." Alvarez, now 37, gave testimony last week to an Argentine Ministry of Justice court that is investigating her allegations of trafficking against Maradona's former entourage, linked to events when she was 16. Maradona, widely considered one of the greatest ever soccer stars, died a year ago on Nov. 25, 2020.

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UDI ARABIA

ducers Saudi Arabia and Russia are g a move to pause their planned oil n increases, the Wall Street Journal n Wednesday, citing people familiar scussions. mbers of the OPEC+ group, including Arab Emirates, aren’t convinced a ecessary, the report added. administration announced Tuesday it e millions of barrels of oil from eserves in coordination with China, h Korea, Japan and Britain, to try to after OPEC+ producers repeatedly lls for more crude.

YEMEN Hasan Jafar Hasan fled his home at night in a crowded truck after a sudden withdrawal of Yemeni forces under a Saudi-led coalition from around the port city of Hodeidah shifted long-standing frontlines.

QATAR Oman and Qatar on Monday signed agreements on military cooperation, taxation, tourism, ports, labor, and investment as Oman seeks to invigorate its debt-burdened economy, the state news agencies of both the Gulf states said. Oman is among the weakest financially of the Gulf oil producers. It has been pursuing wide-ranging reforms and austerity measures since Sultan Haitham bin Tariq al-Said took power almost two years ago following the death of his predecessor who ruled for half a century.

IRAN Iran and the UAE agreed to open a new chapter in bilateral relations, Iran's deputy foreign minister tweeted on Wednesday. Ali Bagheri Kani visited Dubai to meet the diplomatic advisor to the UAE president, Anwar Gargash, and Emirati minister of state for foreign affairs Khalifa Shaheen.

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A WEEK ACROS CUBA. Mavys Alvarez, a Cuban woman who had a relationship with late soccer star Diego Maradona two decades ago, told a news conference on Monday that the Argentine player had raped her when she was a teenager and "stolen her childhood." Alvarez, now 37, gave testimony last week to an Argentine Ministry of Justice court that is investigating her allegations of trafficking against Maradona's former entourage, linked to events when she was 16. Maradona, widely considered one of the greatest ever soccer stars, died a year ago on Nov. 25, 2020. The complaint relates to a

U.S. The Biden administration has invited Taiwan to its "Summit for Democracy" next month, according to a list of participants published on Tuesday, a move likely to infuriate China, which views the democratically governed island as its territory. The first-of-its-kind gathering is a test of President Joe Biden's assertion, announced in his first foreign policy address in office in February, that he would return the United States to global leadership to face down authoritarian forces led by China and Russia.

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LIBYA.

Libya's interim Prime Minister Abdulhamid al-Dbeibah registered as a candidate for the presidency on Sunday despite having vowed not to do so as a condition of taking his current post and despite contested election rules that may prevent him from standing. Dbeibah's entry into a race that now features many of Libya's main players of the past decade of chaos adds to the turmoil over a vote that is due to take place within five weeks, but for which rules have not yet been agreed.


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AUSTRIA. Austria entered its fourth national lockdown on Monday after tens of thousands of people, many of them far-right supporters, protested in Vienna against renewed curbs on movement as Europe again becomes the epicentre of the coronavirus pandemic. The Austrian government also announced it would make it compulsory to get vaccinated as of Feb. 1 in a country where many are deeply sceptical about inoculations, a view encouraged by the far-right Freedom Party, the third biggest in parliament. The streets of Vienna were quieter than usual on Monday as cafe terraces stood empty and most shops remained closed.

CHINA.

INDIA. Iran and the UAE agreed to open a new chapter in bilateral relations, Iran's deputy foreign minister tweeted on Wednesday. Ali Bagheri Kani visited Dubai to meet the diplomatic advisor to the UAE president, Anwar Gargash, and Emirati minister of state for foreign affairs Khalifa Shaheen.

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China's market regulator on Saturday said it was fining companies including Alibaba, Baidu, and JD.com for failing to declare 43 deals that date as far back as 2012 to authorities, saying that they violated anti-monopoly legislation. Enterprises involved in the cases would be fined 500,000 yuan ($78,000) each, it said, the maximum under China's 2008 Anti-Monopoly Law. Alibaba, Baidu, JD.com, and Geely did not immediately respond to requests for comment.


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over story

Libyan Elections – Blight or Promise for Future ? No Guarantee of a Peaceful Aftermath By Dalia Ziada It is impressive how the war-torn Libya is still insisting on standing again on its feet as a strong sovereign state, despite the severe internal divisions and hefty external interventions. In about one month, on the 24th of December, a number slightly more than 2.5 million Libyan voters, in 75 electoral centers spread over 13 electoral districts, are expected to line up before ballot stations to vote on a new president of state. One month later, the same voters will be mobilized to elect their representatives to a fresh new parliament; thus, laying the foundation stone

of their new state. Yet, they have to be wary of the many hands warming up to destroy their dream and bring the country back to the point of civil war.

DEMOCRACY BRIGHT The presidential elections scheduled to take place in December will be the first ever democratic practice of such a kind, in the entire political history of Libya. In itself, that is an issue worth celebration. The main goal of the elections is to bring the long-aspired sense of security and stability to Libya, the North African country that has been

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suffering from civil war, armed militia, and terrorism for almost a decade. However, the indirect, but greater, goal of stabilizing Libya through a democratic process is to bring the regions influenced by Libya’s turmoil back to sanity under the international law and norms. That includes northern Africa, central Africa, and the eastern Mediterranean. However, all these remain flowery wishes, as long as the deep divisions among the Libyan tribes, political factions, and military factions in eastern and western territories, are not resolved. Elections and voting are democratic practices that cannot stand still on the shaking ground of the extremely divided political scene in Libya. One lesson learnt from the post Arab Spring transitions is that pushing for elections as a pre-step to instating security and stability is not a working solution. On the contrary, in certain cases this method negatively backfired. The type of democracy, which is dependent on ballot boxes, is a political practice that requires a tough ground of social unity and national security to sit upon. Otherwise, it may fail in a way that destroys the whole political solution process and magnifies the many existing tragedies of Libya.

In this file photo taken on September 13, 2021 UN special envoy for Libya Jan Kubis gives a press conference after his meeting with the Moroccan foreign minister in Rabat. The UN special envoy for Libya, Jan Kubis of Slovakia, has quit less than a year after taking on the role, diplomatic sources at the United Nations said November 23, 2021 (Photo by AFP)

Nevertheless, there still a probability that the presidential elections may not be successfully convened. Despite huge pressures from the international community to make the elections happen on due time, several internal voices, especially in Tripoli, have been calling for postponing elections due to clear flaws in the Elections Law that may further enhance the internal divisions and hinder the political solution process. The most prominent of these voices is Khalid Al-Meshri, the Chairman of the High Council of State, and a leading member of the Muslim Brotherhood group in Libya. But most involved actors, inside and outside Libya, are not seriously taking his appeals. Some local media accused him of trying to obstruct the political solution process because his Islamist group, with shrinking popularity, has very little of a chance to be part of the future state. Yet, the shockingly abrupt resignation of Jan Kubis from leading the United Nations mission in Libya, exactly one month before the due date for elections, raises serious concerns about the potential of these elections to succeed.

SECURITY BLIGHT On the 24th of November, the United Nations’ spokesperson, Stephane Dujarric, confirmed that the SecretaryGeneral›s Special Envoy and head of the UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL), Jan Kubis, has submitted

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Most observers are concerned that the High National Elections Commission decision to exclude some ineligible candidates from the presidential race may stir violence to a degree that will be hard to control. his resignation to the Secretary-General, who accepted it with regret. Kubis has not provided a clear reason why he decided to resign at this critical timing. On the evening of the same day of his resignation, Kubis presented the monthly briefing on the situation in Libya to the UN Security Council. In the speech, Kubis called on all Libyan parties to show commitment to holding the elections on time and to accept the election results however they turn out to be. He, also, warned of a potential dispute that may escalate to a violent conflict, if the elections are postponed. Kubis asserted that the parties rejecting the holding of the elections, at the time being, are questioning the authenticity and legality of the Elections Law. This raises fears of erupting a new war in light of the polarization witnessed in the western region, and the capital in particular, which may affect the electoral process. Finally, Kubis expressed concern about the presence of foreign mercenaries in Libya, who pose a threat to Libya and all neighboring countries. Whatever the real reason for Kubis’ swift quit is, his withdrawal may open a gap that may further complicate the political scene in Libya. Replacing him will take at least a week, until a new representative is selected and then unanimously approved by the UN Security Council. During this period, the preparations for elections will continue, but without proper international supervision. That means increased potential of fraud and forgery, voter manipulation, and even violent clashes between the militias supporting certain candidates. Most observers are concerned that the High National Elections Commission (HNEC) decision to exclude some ineligible candidates from the presidential race may stir violence to a degree that will be hard to control. On the morning of Kubis’ resignation, the embassies of


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over story

France, Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom, and the United States in Libya issued a joint statement urging the Libyan people to actively participate in the coming elections in December. The five embassies expressed their full support for the authorities responsible for the judicial review of the potential presidential candidates, and called on all actors to respect the HNEC’s decisions, in that regard. The five embassies called on all Libyan parties to commit to holding free, fair, inclusive and credible presidential and parliamentary elections on December 24, and urged all international actors to encourage and support the democratic transition.

democratic as the international community desires it to be. But, realistically speaking, the initial list of the names of the potential presidential candidates, who registered themselves with the High National Elections Commission (HNEC) in the past week, is a clear indicator that this election is going to be a mess. In only one week, 98 people, including two women, submitted their papers to HNEC to join the presidential race. The very stretchy provisions for presidential candidates in the Elections Law allowed almost any person, above 40 years-old, to run for elections.

A SURFEIT OF CANDIDATES

Among the 98 potential candidates, only one name stands out as an actual political leader, who can truly help Libya navigate to a more stable future. That is Abdul Hamid Dbeibeh, the current Prime Minister of the interim Government of National Unity (GNU). During only seven months of ruling Libya, Dbeibeh managed to create internal and external balances that brought a sense of stability to his war-torn country.

Let’s hope the voting process will be as peaceful and

There is no guarantee that either side will peacefully accept the voting results without starting a dispute that may eventually escalate into scenes of ugly violence or even another civil war.

On the domestic level, Dbeibeh successfully blocked the security threats coming from Hafter forces in the east, as well as overcoming the obstacles thrown in his way by the Parliament in Tobruk, in the form of challenging his budget and spending policies. At the same time, he kept open communications with the opposing tribes in the south, while keeping good relations with the tribes that are already supporting to him in the west. On the foreign policy level, he managed to create balanced relations with

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Libya›s eastern commander Khalifa Haftar speaks to the media after submitting his candidacy papers for the December presidential election, in Benghazi, Libya, November 16, 2021. (REUTERS/Esam Omran Al-Fetori/File Photo)


Libyan Prime Minister Abdulhamid al-Dbeibah arrives to submit his candidacy papers for the upcoming presidential election at the headquarters of the electoral commission in Tripoli, Libya November 21, 2021. (REUTERS/ Hazem Ahmed)

all foreign actors, who has an influence over Libya. That includes Turkey, Qatar camp as well as Egypt, UAE, France camp. So far, he seems to be the right man for the job. Other than that, while the potential candidates’ list includes a comedian actor and several unemployed citizens with no political experience, the list also includes the biggest and most dangerous troublemakers in Libyan politics. One of them is warlord Khalifa Hafter, the commander of the Libyan National Army (LNA), who enjoys a strong hold on eastern and southern territories. For years, Hafter has been sponsoring militia and thousands of African mercenaries who did a lot of harm to Libya. He has posed a continuous threat on the interim governments that ruled from Tripoli, in the past five years. But, above all that, he is accused of committing mass murders against hundreds of Libyans during the civil war. Despite that, the elastic Election Law did not prevent him from running. The same thing could be said about Saif Al-Islam Gaddafi, who appeared at the candidates’ registration station, on the 14th of November, wearing the iconic gown and turban of his father, former president Muammar Gaddafi, who was removed from power and killed by rebels during Libya’s Arab Spring revolution, in 2011. Gaddafi is very popular among the southern tribes, who are still mostly nostalgic about his father’s era. If he were given the approval to run, he would have cut a big portion of Hafter’s

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One lesson learnt from the post Arab Spring transitions is that pushing for elections as a prestep to instating security and stability is not a working solution. voter base in the south for himself. However, the HNEC excluded him along with other 24 unqualified applicants from the presidential race. The same reasons that led to Gaddafi’s exclusion from the presidential race are applicable to Hafter. On the 23rd of November, the Military Prosecutor in Tripoli officially asked the Criminal Investigations Department to include Khalifa Haftar on the Wanted List, because he violated the military law by seeking a political position. At the same time, Hafter is already accused of committing war crimes, and should not practice any political right until the court makes a final decision about him being guilty or not. This should have prevented Hafter from joining the presidential elections. However, for some reason the electoral committee decided to keep him as a presidential candidate.


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On the first short-list of accepted applicants for presidential elections, announced on the night of 24th November, some interesting names stand out. One of them is Aguila Saleh, the Speaker of the Parliament in Tobruk, eastern Libya. Saleh is a close ally to Hafter and he, allegedly, tailored the Elections Law, to increase Hafter chances to run and win against other presidential candidates.

ister of Interior. Most likely, such candidates are not running for presidential elections with the hope to win. Rather, they are probably planning to use their candidacy status to show off their popularity and political power, so they can negotiate prestigious positions under the future government.

Similarly, an exclamation mark could be stroke on the names of prominent figures from the former Government of National Accord (GNA), such as Ahmed Maiteeq, the Vice President of the Presidential Council under Fayez Al-Sarraj, and Fathi Bashagah, the former GNA’s Min-

With a flawed and flaccid electoral law and such huge number of candidates, that include problematic names, we can hardly expect that these elections will be able to achieve the end goal of the political solution process. Keeping in mind that the actual competition in this election is between Dbeibeh and Hafter, there are only a handful number of possible scenarios. Unfortunately, none of them seems to be ideal or even promises a peaceful aftermath.

That the UNSC and all concerned parties in the international community should focus on is protecting Libya from the fights that are expected to happen after the election results are announced.

FUTURE BRIGHT OR BLIGHT?

In the best case scenario, these elections could create a system of governance similar to the current one under the interim Government of National Unity. In other words, there will be a president and a government ruling from Tripoli, with limited or no control over the eastern territories which will continue to remain under Hafter’s strong grip. The scenario of hiring Hafter a Minister of Defense under the future government is still unrealistic, especially if Dbeibeh wins the elections and became the president. As a result, Hafter will mobilize the eastern militia, under his control, to shake the security and stability of the new

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Aguila Saleh, Speaker of the eastern-based Libyan parliament is pictured at the office of the High National Election Commission while submitting his candidacy papers for the presidential elections, in Benghazi, Libya November 2021 ,20. REUTERS/Esam Omran Al-Fetori


A Libyan man registers to vote inside a polling station in Tripoli, on November ,8 2021. - Libya today opened registration for candidates in presidential and parliamentary elections, as the country seeks to move on from a decade of war. (Photo by Mahmud TURKIA / AFP)

government and thus expose the country to a new civil war. In worst case scenario, Hafter could win the presidency. As soon as this happens, Hafter will get busy with his top priority task of dissolving the military command in Tripoli and taking revenge at his long-time opponents in western territories. This will further increase the political polarization among militia in Tripoli and turn the country into a space of war, once again. The Tripoli militia leaders have already threatened to ignite hell, when Hafter announced that he is running for elections. Now you can imagine what they would do if he becomes the president. Long story short, there is no guarantee that either side will peacefully accept the voting results without starting a dispute that may eventually escalate into scenes of ugly violence or even another civil war. Iraq is one of the most recent examples on how militias can turn a country’s democratic practice into a piece of hell, when the elections results does not serve them. In that sense, there is no guarantee that these elections will not defy the main goal of the political process, which is bringing long-term security and stability to Libya. Nonetheless, that is not a call to halt the elections. That is a reminder for the international community not to take their hands out of Libya as soon as the elections are convened. The international community needs to prepare Libya to what may happen after the elections, including positive and negative scenarios. The UN Security

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During only seven months of ruling Libya, Dbeibeh managed to create internal and external balances that brought a sense of stability to his war-torn country. Council promised, on its monthly session on Libya in November, that those who try to obstruct the elections will be punished. Well! It is not clear what type of punishment that is, and if the UNSC has the power to actually punish any party inside Libya. Yet, what the UNSC and all concerned parties in the international community should focus on is protecting Libya from the fights that are expected to happen after the election results are announced. Democracy is more than a ballot box or voting practice. For democracy to succeed in yielding its bright results on a country with complicated history of divisions and internal conflicts like Libya, long-term protection is a necessity. Dalia Ziada is an Egyptian author and Director of the Liberal Democracy Institute. Her work covers military affairs, political Islamism, and geopolitics in the Middle East and North Africa. Tweets at @daliaziada.


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A UK Blow to Hamas

Implications of Designating Hamas as a Terrorist Organization by Britain By Jassim Mohamad - Bonn The British government announced on November 19, 2021 that it will present a draft bill before parliament declaring the political wing of the Palestinian group Hamas to be a terrorist organization. The proposals would outlaw flying Hamas’ flag, arranging to meet its members or wearing clothing supporting the group. According to the proposed law, showing support for Hamas in Britain could be punishable with 14 years in prison. Politically, it could force Britain’s Labour party to take a position on Hamas, given the strong pro-Palestinian support on the left of the main opposition party. Earlier this month, a man appeared in court for wearing T-shirts supporting Hamas’ military wing and Pal-

estinian Islamic Jihad, which was banned in Britain in 2005. On three occasions in June, Feras Al Jayoosi, 34, wore the garments in the Golders Green area of north London, which has a large Jewish population. The threat level has been increased from “substantial to severe,” said Home Secretary Priti Patel, because the November 15, 2021 blast was “the second incident in a month.” The new threat level means an attack is “highly likely.” The U.K. government is set to proscribe Hamas under the country’s Terrorism Act, according to plans that will be announced by Home Secretary Priti Patel on November 19, 2021. Anyone who “recklessly” supports the Palestinian group, arranges meetings to back it, invites people to endorse it or is a member will face up to 10 years in prison under new laws to be tabled

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in the U.K. parliament. “Hamas is fundamentally and rabidly anti-Semitic,” Patel will say during a speech in Washington on Friday, according to multiple media reports. “Anti-Semitism is an enduring evil which I will never tolerate. Jewish people routinely feel unsafe — at school, in the streets, when they worship, in their homes, and online.” According to the AFP report on November 19, 2021, Home Secretary Priti Patel said “that Hamas has significant terrorist capability, including access to extensive and sophisticated weaponry, as well as terrorist facilities, and it has long been involved in significant terrorist violence.”

Britain designated the Hamas military wing as terrorist in 2001, but not the political wing. It had previously relied on the EU designation of the movement in its entirety. Post-Brexit, that is no longer possible.

HAMAS MOVEMENT

Britain’s Home Secretary Priti Patel speaks at the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester, England, Tuesday, Oct. 2021 ,5. (AP Photo/Jon Super, File)

Hamas was founded in 1987, soon after the First Intifada broke out, as an offshoot of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood which in its Gaza branch had previously been non-confrontational toward Israel and hostile to the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). Canada, the European Union, Israel, Japan and the United States have designated Hamas as a terrorist organization. Australia, New Zealand, Paraguay and the United Kingdom have designated only its military wing as a terrorist organization.

IZZ AD-DIN AL-QASSAM BRIGADES

military wing as terrorist in 2001, but not the political wing. It had previously relied on the EU designation of the movement in its entirety. Post-Brexit, that is no longer possible. The move is almost certain to be approved by parliament, given the government’s majority in the House of Commons.

HAMAS CONSTITUTES A SECURITY THREAT The British Home Secretary also stressed that Hamas constitutes a security threat against British society in general and British Jews in particular. “If we tolerate extremism, it will erode the rock of security. This is an important step, especially for the Jewish community. Hamas is fundamentally and rabidly anti-Semitic. Anti-Semitism is an enduring evil which I will never tolerate.” Patel stated. “Hamas does not differentiate between its military and political wings when it indiscriminately targets civilian populations with rockets, uses human shields, recruits children and conducts hostage-taking. Nor does it differentiate when it oppresses Christians and other minorities,” said CUFI UK’s executive director Des Starritt. He added, “full proscription ends the dangerous loophole via which Hamas can spread its extremist poison here, and raise funds and support in the U.K. We thank the Prime Minister, the Home Secretary and the Government for this decisive action in tackling extremism.”

Hamas’ military wing, the cornerstone of the movement, is a manifestation of the ideology of resistance (Muqawama). During its brief history, the military wing, called the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, has carried out hundreds of terror attacks against Israeli civilians. In a terror campaign it led in the 1990’s, Hamas carried out suicide bombings at restaurants, buses and public venues, killing hundreds of Israelis and derailing the fragile peace process. “Hamas commits, participates, prepares for and promotes and encourages terrorism,” stated press release issued by the British Home Office. In the wake of that Patel’s announcement, Hamas spokesman Hazem Qassem said the move was a crime against “our Palestinian people and all their history of struggle, as well as a condemnation of the legitimate struggles of all free peoples against colonialism.” The proposal by British Home Secretary Priti Patel TONY BLAIR’S WARNING to designate the political wing of Hamas as a terrorist organisation will be submitted for parliamentary The west still faces the threat of 9/11-style attacks by approval this week. Britain designated the Hamas radical Islamist groups but this time using bio-terror-

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in the UK in the past four years, the head of MI5 has said. Director General Ken McCallum, who revealed in October there had been 27 attacks thwarted since 2017, said there had been six during the pandemic. The terror threat would not change overnight but there could be a “morale boost” for extremists, he said. “The terrorist threat to the UK, I am sorry to say, is a real and enduring thing…Of course there are likely to be terrorist attacks on UK soil on my watch.” The ruling Conservative government in Britain has already recently passed legislation ending early release for anyone convicted of a serious terror offense. And MI5: THE TERROR THREAT WOULD it is considering new measures to make it easier to NOT CHANGE prosecute British jihadists returning from overseas, A total of 31 late-stage terror plots have been foiled who, if convicted, would serve long jail terms and possible life imprisonment. Ministers say they are planning to overhaul the treason laws to cover membership or support of non-state actors who seek to harm Britain - that would include terrorist groups and hackers. ism, Tony Blair has warned. Blair also challenged the US president, Joe Biden, by urging democratic governments not to lose confidence in using military force to defend and export their values. In a speech to the defense think tank Rusi marking the 20th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 al-Qaida terrorist attacks on the US, Blair, who was British prime minister at the time and supported military interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan, insisted the terrorist threat remained a first order issue.

This step is a strong and important preparation for the legal treatment and prosecution of the Muslim Brotherhood in Britain, given that Hamas is part of the international organization.

CONTEST OBJECTIVES In 2003, the Government introduced its counterterrorism strategy, CONTEST. Now in its fourth iteration, CONTEST aims to reduce the risk to the UK from Terrorism with four objectives: • Pursue: to stop terrorist attacks • Prevent: to stop people becoming terrorists or sup-

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20 November 2021, Palestinian Territories, Gaza City: Members of several Palestinian factions attend a meeting and a press conference on UK Home Secretary Priti Patel’s decision to ban Hamas as a terrorist organisation. (Photo: Ashraf Amra/ APA Images via ZUMA Press Wire/dpa)


Men hold up signs depicting a map of historical Palestine wrapped in the Palestinian flags next to the Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock, and urging British parliament to impeach Home Secretary Priti Patel, during rally for Palestinian factions against Britain’s possible designation of Hamas as a terror group, in Gaza City on November 23, 2021. (Photo by MAHMUD HAMS / AFP)

porting terrorism • Protect: to strengthen protection against a terrorist attack • Prepare: to mitigate the impact of a terrorist attack

CONCLUSION The decision to outlaw Hamas may lead to more restrictions on extremist organisations such as the Muslim Brotherhood in Britain. Although channels of communication between the Muslim Brotherhood and the British government do not exist under Patel, the move closes all possibilities of engagement. The ban on Hamas came with the U.K.’s raising its terror threat to “severe” after an explosion outside a hospital in Liverpool on November 15, 2021. This step is a strong and important preparation for the legal treatment and prosecution of the Muslim Brotherhood in Britain, given that Hamas is part of the international organization. The Brotherhood is in the eye of the storm, as the British government will work to limit the organization’s political and media activities in light of the growing threat it poses to European and British identity. Banning Hamas, affiliated with the Brotherhood, sends a clear message to the organization and to all extremist organizations that the government will impose strict policies, and will not allow the

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Putting Hamas, with its political and military wings, on the ban list may encourage other European countries to put the organization on the ban lists. spread of extremism and terrorism, especially since the country suffers from terrorism. That the British Home Office took this step of limiting their activities was also a message to political Islam and especially to the Muslim Brotherhood. On the Brotherhood’s future activities after the Hamas ban, the organization will deal with extreme caution at the level of its political and media discourse, especially if it comes to the issue of anti-Semitism, because the organization is keen not to lose Britain as the largest haven and incubator for the organization. Putting Hamas, with its political and military wings, on the ban list makes it easier for the British government to follow up and limit its activities, and this British move may encourage other European countries to put the organization on the ban lists.


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Xi’s Confidence Game

Understanding China›s Strength and Resilience Will Direct U.S. Indo-Pacific Strategy By Jude Blanchette In recent months and weeks, Chinese leader Xi Jinping has displayed a growing sense of urgency. He has launched an unprecedented crackdown on domestic technology giants, stepped up military activities in the Taiwan Strait, and bullied countries that have crossed Beijing’s shifting redlines. Some analysts and experts argue that this behavior marks an increasingly desperate leader trying to stave off the country’s all-but-inevitable decline, perhaps even the coming collapse of Communist Party rule. Yet if Xi is feeling truly anxious about his grip on power, he’s doing a remarkably effective job of hiding it. Despite far-

reaching domestic challenges, the Chinese leader exudes confidence about China’s political system, its position vis-à-vis the United States, and the long-term stability of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). Xi has also eradicated all possible opposition within the regime, as evidenced at this month’s Sixth Plenum of the party’s Central Committee, where a bold “history resolution” enshrined his political position alongside Mao Zedong, all but guaranteeing him a third term in power at next year’s 20th Party Congress. Rather than reflecting insecurity, Xi’s recent impatience is better understood as driven by the view that China has a temporary window to address domestic headwinds and bolster its position and power in the international order. It is not fear of

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In this photo released by Xinhua News Agency, Chinese President Xi Jinping waves as he chairs the ASEAN-China Special Summit to commemorate the 30th Anniversary of ASEAN-China Dialogue Relations via video link from Beijing, China on Monday, Nov. 22, 2021. (Huang Jingwen/Xinhua via AP)

the party’s collapse that motivates him but a determination to see China claim its rightful global position at a time when it increasingly has the economic and military resources to do so. If China is to become a “modern socialist nation” by 2035, Xi believes bold action must be taken now. This is not to say that the path forward for Xi or the party will be smooth. Far from it. Just as collapse is unlikely in the near term, so too is a seamless path to superpower status. China faces significant legacy and emerging challenges, many of which will be exacerbated by Xi’s tightening grip on power and his overconfidence in his ability to shape the country’s future. But understanding Xi as determined rather than desperate has enormous implications for the United States’ approach to the bilateral relationship. Beijing’s recent moves suggest genuine self-assurance and yes, in some measure, even self-delusion. Like it or not, though, the United States and its allies should expect to deal with a confident China led by Xi for the foreseeable future. The “Collapsing China” Syndrome Since the death of Mao nearly 50 years ago, the track record of U.S. assessments of China’s capabilities and intentions has been poor. Following the Great Helmsman’s demise in 1976, many American observers expected the CCP regime to collapse. It did not. The June 4, 1989, Tiananmen Square crackdown, followed by the demise of the Soviet Union less than two years later, convinced some of the most eminent China specialists that the end was nigh for the CCP. Yet within just a few years, China’s economy was growing at double digits. After the global financial crisis in 2008, many analysts depicted the party as having perfected a new model of governance and economic management, one capable of impressive feats of long-term planning and strategic calculation. Yet these estimates also proved to be overstated, as the recent turmoil surrounding the Chinese technology and real estate sectors have shown. Now, some have resurrected the view that the party’s days are numbered. According to the new doomsayers, a rapidly aging population combined with growing debt, a retreat from market reforms, and growing international pushback will soon cause China to stall. As Michael Beckley and Hal Brands argued recently in Foreign Affairs, “China is tracing an arc that often ends in tragedy: a dizzying rise followed by the specter of a hard fall.” But this latest iteration of the “China decline” argument suffers from the same basic shortcoming as previous versions: Beijing’s perceived weaknesses are not weighed against its potential and actual strengths. In the same way that a company cannot be judged by looking at only

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China faces significant legacy and emerging challenges, many of which will be exacerbated by Xi’s tightening grip on power and his overconfidence in his ability to shape the country’s future. one side of its balance sheet, so, too, are assessments of China’s vulnerabilities incomplete without factoring in the tools and resources the country can throw at them. When the well-known list of problems—from debt to demographics—are viewed more closely, they portend a slowing economy, not a collapsing one. For example, China’s efforts to rein in its real estate sector will be complicated and potentially disruptive, as the unraveling of the giant property developer Evergrande has shown. Yet it is already clear that this is not China’s “Lehman Brothers moment.” Although the country’s aggregate debt continues to rise in nominal terms, it is largely denominated in the local currency, and the balance sheets of the major banks remain strong. Debt certainly matters, and China’s economy appears to be increasingly under strain, but a more realistic assessment suggests deceleration, not disintegration. Similarly, the social and economic effects of China’s aging population are more complicated than they appear. The demographic picture is indeed bleak: some recent predictions suggest that China’s population will peak as soon as 2025, and the Chinese government itself has predicted that the country will lose 35 million workers in the next five years. Aware of the implications, Beijing has belatedly initiated a panoply of reforms, from longoverdue liberalizations to its draconian population control policies to increased investments in technology that it hopes will blunt the impact of a shrinking workforce. Without a doubt, these actions have come far too late, and China’s demographic outlook is unlikely to change anytime soon. Unless Beijing is able to find new sources of productivity to compensate for a graying and shrinking workforce, growth will suffer. But this is largely a long-term dynamic rather than a short-term one. What is more, Beijing no longer sees low growth as a threat to social and political stability, as was the case for most of the 1990s and the early years of this century. For one thing, at a time when the country had a surge of


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new workers entering the labor force, it was imperative to maintain rapid growth. With fewer workers, however, the country doesn’t need breakneck growth. This shift was reflected in the official rhetoric of the 19th Party Congress in 2017, which stressed that, henceforth, the quality of growth would matter more than its quantity. As the recent history resolution at the Sixth Plenum put it, GDP growth is no longer “the sole yardstick of success for development.”

EFFECTIVE AUTHORITARIANISM Perhaps the most effective tool Beijing has in its management of the country is its ability to achieve rapid results via targeted political, ideological, and regulatory campaigns. By ruling by authoritarian fiat, the party

The latest iteration of the “China decline” argument suffers from the same basic shortcoming as previous versions: Beijing’s perceived weaknesses are not weighed against its potential and actual strengths.

can mobilize and channel resources with remarkable speed. Such an approach may disregard the rights and freedoms of Chinese citizens and almost always creates vast amounts of waste. Yet time and again, the CCP has been able to surmount a difficult challenge simply by unleashing the full force of the party-state. During the COVID-19 outbreak, for example, despite initial bungling, Xi ordered a “whole of society” effort that not only kept deaths to a minimum but also helped engineer a rapid economic recovery by the end of 2020, even as the rest of the global economy languished. Campaigns often come at the expense of structural reforms, but their frequent, if temporary, success should not be discounted when assessing the resiliency of the regime. Even if one remains skeptical of the results of CCP rule, it is clear that Chinese policymaking circles view the country’s unique political system not as a source of weakness but rather with increasing pride when compared with the United States and other democracies. When senior officials declare “the East is rising, the West is declining,” this is both propaganda and their actual assessment. Yes, problems in China’s system abound, and Beijing is worryingly underestimating the resiliency of American democracy. But it is hard to deny that the CCP in 2021 has been stronger, more capable, and in command of more resources than at any other time in its 100-year history. Many predictions of the CCP’s decline rest on the view that the party faces growing disaffection within China itself. Among the indications of this are the vast amount of resources Beijing expends on internal security, including its repressive policies in Xinjiang and Tibet and the

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A visitor looks at photos with Chinese President Xi Jinping, at the Museum of the Communist Party of China, in Beijing, China, 23 November 2021. EPA/ ROMAN PILIPEY


A screen shows Chinese President Xi Jinping attending a virtual meeting with U.S. President Joe Biden via video link, at a restaurant in Beijing, China November ,16 2021. REUTERS/Tingshu Wang/File Photo

sweeping system of state surveillance that now exists in almost every Chinese city and town. The party’s increasing sensitivity to any perceived slight has also led some to argue that were it not for its monopoly on violence, the party’s hold on power would crumble. Of course, any attempt to assess popular opinion in an authoritarian system is difficult and imperfect even when polling and survey data exist. But the limited evidence that does exist belies such claims.

POWER WITHOUT CONTROL After decades of unimpeded economic and military development, Beijing has reached an inflection point. To maintain stability and prosperity in the decade ahead, the party will have to make a significant shift in its growth model and learn to maneuver in an increasingly hostile global order. China will confront difficult, even painful, strategic tradeoffs—between, for example, increased social spending as a result of a demographic graying and its ongoing military modernization—that it has until now been able to avoid. Obsessed with avoiding the fate of the Soviet Union, Xi likely sees the continuation of his own rule as critical for dealing with these challenges. Unlike his immediate predecessors, who were limited to two terms, Xi is preparing to extend his rule for years to come. At the recent party plenum, Xi’s status within the party was elevated yet again, with the official rewriting of China’s communist history to position him as the country’s modern savior, laying the foundation for a certain third term as

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Xi’s sense of urgency and focus, built on a perception of domestic strength and fleeting opportunity, have proven to be his most important assets. party leader after next fall’s 20th Party Congress. Xi’s accumulation of power is, of course, not without controversy. His totalitarian impulses have led to increased, if low-key, grumbling even within the party. His cultural policies, which include purifying entertainment content and enforcing traditional notions of masculinity, sit uneasily with a population that is increasingly exposed to and connected with the outside world. And his growing intervention in the economy has caused frustration and concern in the Chinese business community, as large companies such as Alibaba and Tencent have come under intense political scrutiny. Xi’s actions to crush political opposition and civil society in Hong Kong have induced significant anxiety in the region, including in Taiwan, where polls demonstrate almost no desire for unification under the “one country, two systems” framework that Xi has proposed. But Xi has built a power structure around him in which any challenge to his authority would be extremely difficult to mount. A lifelong student of elite party poli-


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tics, Xi knows firsthand that China’s political system is a blood sport that demands constant displays of power and domination. It is thus no surprise that his anticorruption campaign continues to steam along, an omnipresent reminder to all party cadres that the feared investigation squads of the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection might well knock on their door if they don’t toe the official line. But even if his own position remains unchallenged, Xi’s blueprint to transform China into a modern socialist nation by 2035 is far from assured. The domestic response to his policy agenda, the fundamental laws of economics, and the reaction of the global community will arguably shape China’s future as much if not more than Xi’s paper aspirations. Xi may be in power, but he’s not in control. This is a lesson all dictators learn at some point. Perhaps more important, Xi’s unchecked determina-

Unless U.S. policymakers and analysts develop their own sense of urgency and focus based on an accurate assessment of China’s strengths and capabilities, that lead may not last.

tion and growing sense of urgency is leading Beijing to adopt actions and policies that are clearly working against China’s long-term interests. Pressure campaigns against Australia and Taiwan are not in fact cowing the local populations but rather instilling resolve. In reaction to Xi’s increasingly aggressive approach to other countries and his crackdown on Hong Kong, the United Kingdom has gone from a “golden era” of bilateral relations with China to a more hardened posture, as evidenced by the recent Australia–United Kingdom–United States (AUKUS) security pact. Similarly, relations with India have entered a new and more hostile period after violent skirmishes along the Chinese-Indian border. Indeed, there seems to be a direct correlation between the amount of authority Xi has over foreign policy and the number of international setbacks China faces.

THE NEW CONFIDENCE GAME If the United States wants to forge an effective and enduring approach to its China policy, analysts and policymakers must begin with an accurate, objective assessment of China’s national power. Underestimating the party’s resiliency will lead to unrealistic expectations of how much the United States can shape China’s domestic environment. Overestimating the CCP’s strength distorts priorities and leads to the misallocation of scarce strategic resources. Neither “collapsing China” nor the opposite, “indomitable China,” is a good starting position for developing a strategy. Over the next decade, even with a decelerating growth rate and in the face of rising

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People walk on Jinli Ancient Street, following the coronavirus disease (COVID19-) outbreak, in Chengdu, Sichuan province, China September 2020 ,8. REUTERS/Tingshu Wang/File Photo


This file photo taken on May 11, 2021 shows a medical staff member taking care of a newborn baby at a hospital in Danzhai, in China’s southwestern Guizhou province. China’s birthrate plummeted to a record low in 2020, highlighting a looming demographic crisis for Beijing. (Photo by AFP)

international skepticism, China will likely continue to be a powerful actor on the global stage. Given this reality, there are clear limits to what the United States can do to shape China’s trajectory. Pressure on Beijing to make domestic reforms will yield little. The party elite have concluded that their political system has been largely optimized to face the country’s growing challenges, and the events of the past several years have only confirmed for Xi that a rigorously party-guided economic system is the only path to achieve socialist modernization by 2035. But the United States does have significant leverage in shaping the strategic environment in the Indo-Pacific. Xi will likely emerge supercharged from next year’s 20th non–Anglo Saxon nations, Japan being the most imParty Congress, and it is easy to predict that his multi- portant, that represent the future leadership of the Indoyear pause from major state visits abroad will end with a Pacific. Of course, no strategy on China can exist if the diplomatic blitz around the region. Washington can blunt U.S. homeland is weak and divided. Any and all efforts the effectiveness of this push by immediately applying to to strengthen the fundamental resiliency of the United join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for States are a blow to Xi’s view that China’s political sysTrans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), the trade agreement tem can bury liberal democracies. that emerged after U.S. President Donald Trump walked Xi’s sense of urgency and focus, built on a perception of away from an earlier iteration. Such a move would re- domestic strength and fleeting opportunity, have proven quire real political guts, but it would also bring immedi- to be his most important assets. For now, the United States still possesses a sizeable aggregate advantage over ate and long-lasting strategic benefits. The United States should also work to expand the China in military, diplomatic, and economic strength. Quad—its partnership with Australia, India, and Ja- But unless U.S. policymakers and analysts develop their pan—to include a wider range of security and economic own sense of urgency and focus based on an accurate asactivities. A Quad leaders’ summit timed for just after sessment of China’s strengths and capabilities, that lead the 20th Party Congress would deny Xi some of his post- may not last. congress glow. AUKUS should fulfill its stated mission by expanding to include additional partners, preferably This article was originally published by ForeignAffairs.com

If the United States wants to forge an effective and enduring approach to its China policy, analysts and policymakers must begin with an accurate, objective assessment of China’s national power.

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A Greek Tragedy in Chios Migrants are Being Framed as Human Smugglers and Sentenced to Prison Terms of Over 50 Years By Meera Ravi How far the world has come since we all wept for Baby Aylan Kurdi, the little Syrian

toddler whose body was washed ashore in September 2015 on the beach near Bodrum, Turkey. Since then, war, natural disasters and economic upheaval has fuelled large-scale

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migration of humans from perceived disaster zones to safe havens. According to the UNHCR, the UN Refugees Agency, the number of forcibly displaced persons, had touched 84 million by mid-2021 driven mainly by the Syrian conflict along with other conflicts in the region such as in Iraq and Yemen, as well as in sub-Saharan Africa including Burundi, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, South Sudan, and Sudan as well as the Rohingya crisis in Myanmar. Unfortunately, migrants are not always welcome in most so-called safe harbors and with sickening frequency, the world is jolted by the news of deaths of hapless migrants at sea or stuffed into airless containers by human smugglers to travel illegally and at huge financial cost across borders.

In this UNHCR photo of 2015, a group of Syrian refugees arrive on the island of Lesbos after traveling in an inflatable raft from Turkey, near Skala Sykaminias, Greece. (UNHCR/A. McConnell)

For many displaced persons trying to reach Europe, the three more porous entry points used to be Turkey (mainly by land), Italy and Greece (both by sea). Just a fortnight ago, in a bid to signal their ‘intolerance’ of human smuggling, the Greek government handed down draconian sentences to three young men accused of the act of smuggling migrants to the Greek island of Chios: 50 years each for two of them, Afghans Amir Zaheri and Akif Rasouli, both in their 20s and a staggering 142 years for Hanad Abdi Mohammad, 28, a soft-spoken Somali. But all three say their crimes were nothing more than finding themselves forced to take over the steering of floundering migrant boats (inflatable dinghies with no proper steering equipment) after smugglers abandoned them in the Aegean Sea between Turkey and Greece. Speaking to Elena Becatoros of Associated Press, Hanad Abdi Mohammed, who was charged as a smuggler after arriving in Greece last December, said, “I didn’t think saving people is a crime. I would do it again, as long as I am saving lives.” Mohammad told AP and European Parliament

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A lawyer for the three men in Chios, thinks criminal prosecutions or threats of prosecution are partly designed to deter NGOs from documenting practices such as the illegal summary deportation of migrants before they can apply for asylum. lawmakers visiting the three men in prison in the second week of November, that he had no choice but to drive the boat. The smuggler forced him to take over, hitting him in the face and threatening him with a gun before abandoning the dinghy in rough seas, putting people’s lives at stake. The short but often perilous sea crossing from Turkey to nearby Greek islands is a popular route into Europe. To crack down on smuggling, Greece introduced a law in 2014 imposing severe penalties on people smugglers: 10 years imprisonment for each smuggled person, or 15 years per person if there was danger to life, and life imprisonment if someone died. But the smugglers found a loophole quickly - they took to the dangerous practice of abandoning the dinghies mid-journey, forcing their passengers to drive the boats, something borne out by numerous testimonies of arriving asylum seekers. The result has been the convictions of migrants as smugglers. In Mohammad’s case, fearing for their lives after the smuggler fled, the nearly three dozen panicked passengers abandoned their quest to reach Greece. Mohammad says he called the Turkish coast guard repeatedly, begging for a rescue. But when it arrived, the Turkish patrol boat circled the migrants’ vessel sharply, sending water into the dinghy and gradually pushing it toward Greece. In the chaos, two women fell overboard and drowned.


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The Greek coast guard then rescued the survivors, and Mohammad helped other passengers onto the rescue boat. He admitted to having driven the boat after the smuggler left. It didn’t cross his mind that would lead to him being prosecuted as a smuggler. The two Afghans, Zaheri, accompanied by his pregnant wife and young child, and Rasouli arrived in the same boat about two years ago. From different parts of Afghanistan, they had never met before. As in Mohammad’s case,

According to the FRA, Germany, Italy, Malta, the Netherlands, Spain and Greece have initiated 58 investigations and legal proceedings since 2016 against private entities involved in search and rescue.

the smuggler abandoned their dinghy and the passengers took turns steering, they said. “It’s not possible that someone who comes to claim asylum in Greece is threatened with such heavy sentences simply because they were forced, by circumstances or pressure, to take over handling a boat,” said Alexandros Georgoulis, one of the lawyers representing the three imprisoned in Chios. Greek authorities, Georgoulis said, “are essentially baptizing the smuggled as the smuggler.” AP’s Becatoros spoke to critics who told her that the men’s cases, as well as prosecutions or threats of criminal proceedings against aid workers, illustrate the expanding arsenal of techniques authorities in Greece and other countries are using to deter asylum-seekers. Greek officials strenuously deny the country performs illegal pushbacks despite mounting indications to the contrary. Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis dismissed such claims again last Tuesday, saying his government follows a “tough but fair” migration policy. However, Greece is not the only erring party

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Hanad Abdi Mohammad, from Somalia, rescued 31 people after smugglers abandoned the inflatable dinghy full of escaping migrants. His heroics have resulted in a 142 year prison sentence by Greek authorities. (undated photo/ Associated Press)


A 2019 photo shows migrants waiting on a stony beach in the island of Lesbos, Greece. (EPA/ STRATIS BALASKAS)

- according to the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA), Germany, Italy, Malta, the Netherlands, Spain and Greece have initiated 58 investigations and legal proceedings since 2016 against private entities involved in search and rescue. Dimitris Choulis, a lawyer on the island of Samos who frequently represents asylumseekers including the three men in Chios, thinks criminal prosecutions or threats of prosecution are partly designed to deter nongovernmental organizations from documenting practices such as the illegal summary deportation of migrants before they can apply for asylum. “Our prisons are full of asylum-seekers who drove a boat,” Choulis said. “This is absurd.” Greeks supporting the tough sentences say that the three men can expect to be released in eight years since actual time servable under Greek law is capped at 20 years, reducible to 12 with good behavior and additional sentence reduction for prison work. Rasouli recounted the horror he felt when he heard that he had been sentenced to 50 years

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The judge examining the case of Afghans Zaheri and Rasouli took just a minute to hand them their -50year prison sentence. “For one minute, 50 years,” Rasouli said. “I cried for one month.” in prison. The trial, he said, was a farce. Both Afghans saw their court-appointed lawyer for the first time at their trial, which lasted just a few minutes. The judge spent a minute each asking them questions, Rasouli said. “For one minute, 50 years,” he said. “I cried for one month.” With new lawyers now representing them, Zaheri and Rasouli have an appeal hearing set for March. No appeal hearing date has yet been set for Mohammad.


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nvironment

Instruments from Dustbins to Concerts

Turkish Groups Make Music & Toys with Trash to Save Environment By Jiwan Soz – Istanbul

ally, one of the band members told Majalla. The idea of reproducing materials that were thrown In the Turkish city of Istanbul, three musicians col- into the trash came to the band more than two years lect what they can from the waste dumped in the city, ago, and they have already started recycling disposwhich is one of the largest cities in the country, to use ables in 2019. The team has since been aiming to “get what they can to make musical instruments. Their ef- string instruments that make sounds by recycling some fort aims to encourage recycling in a country suffer- wood, plastic and iron materials as well.” ing from a severe economic crisis coinciding with the The main band includes only 3 members, but their idea continuous decline of the Turkish lira against foreign of recycling and making musical instruments spread to other places in Turkey, where other groups started currencies. The members of the music band “Fungistanbul” mainly making toys for children through recycling and offercollect empty cans, old lamps and some ropes, to be ing them to children of families with limited income used later to make musical instruments after being re- across Turkey. cycled, something the group has been working on for Other groups also make models and materials used in years to urge residents to take advantage of things that decoration, such as “Al-Islah” club, which comprises are thrown in the trash and can be reproduced manu- different teams who try to provide a civilized product,

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Fungistanbul’s band encourages recycling through music.

as Onaranlar Kulübü, one of the founders of the Turkish club, describes. Kulübü explains to Majalla about his project, saying: “It is basically a volunteer community that aims to do urban-oriented creative projects related to repairing, producing, and sharing. We motivate people to produce something good for their environment.” “We launched an open call and gather motivated people around a problem that we want to solve by using their skills and tools, and share our experiences with society,” he added. The owners of this project designed a cat house in 2020, and placed it in a garden in Kadıköy district in Istanbul. Al-Islah also has dozens of other collective initiatives, most of which took place in Istanbul. The members of the first musical band called “Fungistanbul” also have a studio in Istanbul, where they use multiple instruments. Turkish media quoted another member as saying that they were surprised by the sound produced by an instrument made from materials that had been dumped in the dustbin. “Fungistanbul” defines its music as a mixture of traditional music and funk, also known as “Trash Oriental”. The group’s activities coincide with the growing environmental concerns among the Turkish population, especially the youth, in addition to some “civil society” organizations, over Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s insistence on implementing the “Istanbul Canal” project. Opposition parties, civil society activists and Istanbul Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu see the Canal as “a threat to environment and nature.” Turkish society’s awareness of environmental issues has increased this year due to deadly floods and wild fires that turned 200,000 hectares of forests into ashes. The Turkish government, led by the Justice and Development Party, in alliance with the far-right Nationalist Movement Party, was unable to control the fires that broke out in the forests in the southwest and east of the country, in addition to other areas to the center and the north. The members of the musical band are professionals who want, through their music and performance, to promote recycling and give a second chance to mostly plastic materials as well as clothes that have been thrown into landfills. Up-cycling these materials and turning them into musical instruments takes a lot of time and imagination, Turkish media quoted one of the group’s members as saying. The trio’s focus on recycling trash has resonated espe-

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The band’s idea of recycling and making musical instruments spread to other places in Turkey, where other groups started making toys for children through recycling and offering them to children of families with limited income across Turkey. cially in Istanbul, a city of 16 million people which is bordered on the south by the Sea of Marmara, of which large areas were covered by a thick layer of marine mucilage or what is known as “sea snot” during last spring. This pollution, in addition to the wildfires and floods that hit the country during summer and which caused the loss of nearly 100 lives, prompted Erdogan’s government to impose the implementation of the Paris climate agreement that Turkey signed in early October 2016. The Turkish parliament ratified that agreement last October, after rejecting it for more than four years. Since then, the Turkish opposition parties have warned against keeping this agreement as “a dead letter” and called on the government to adhere to and fully implement all of its provisions. This call was repeatedly emphasized by the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) and the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP). The music band released two video clips, and is currently working on a third video clip in which they will use only scrap metal. A source in the band revealed to Majalla that they intend to create a video clip in which the musicians will use instruments made of metal only, just like those which they made from plastic and wood earlier this year. The band holds periodic concerts and musical evenings in which newly made instruments made from consumable materials are played, but these instruments sometimes lose their musical balance during the concert as a result of playing on them for extended hours, one of the band players revealed. These resulting discordant sounds indicate that more efforts are still required to develop these instruments and make the up-cycling process more professional.


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conomy

Micro-mobility a Growing Trend in Saudi Arabia

Challenges and Possibilities for Newly Founded Startups By Motasem Al Felou – Jeddah

more sustainable urban transportation systems.

When a video showing a driverless, solar-powered e-bus roaming the streets of NEOM, a USD 500 billion cognitive city-state being developed northwest of Saudi Arabia, was posted on social media a few weeks ago, some people in Saudi started to ask if the Kingdom is paving the way for

Saudi entrepreneurs with interest in micro-mobility have launched many micro-mobility startups over the past three years. Those companies include Gazal, Hop On, Dabeeb, and many more. They aim to transform the way people move from one place to another. We will discuss the chal-

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lenges, possibilities and future of micro-mobility in the Kingdom.

INFRASTRUCTURE CHALLENGES “Our streets are designed for the easy movement of cars. Modern Saudi cities were designed post the first Oil Boom in the 1970’s with big streets and no bike lanes. The urban designs were not dedicated to accommodate pedestrians or bikers”, said Abduljabbar Mohammed, a retired Arab municipality assistant engineer when asked by Majalla on the difficulties of micro-mobility in Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states. Micro-mobility is defined as transportation over short distances provided by lightweight vehicles that are designed for personal use and to operate under 25 kilometers. The vehicles include dockless bikes, e-scooter, e-buses, e-bikes and other forms of micro-mobility. “Some streets can be re-imagined and humanized to accommodate micro-mobility devices. However, this needs a national strategy and a lot of money to be invested to create micro-mobility spaces such as bike lanes, parking stations, charging stations and legislations or modifications to the traffic laws”, he added. The newly founded micro-mobility startups are actively operating in public and amusement parks, corniches and beaches, special residential compounds, NEOM, King Abdulla Economic City, and new entertainment complexes. The shared e-scooters and e-bikes industry is booming with more Saudi investors showing interest in creating a new trend for micromobility. (Photo by Terry Jaskiw on Unsplash)

“It could fit the lifestyle of a small percentage of the population; however, e-bikes can be used in the existing streets, giving an eco-friendly transport option”, said Abduljabbar Mohammed, who believes micro-mobility will be the only means of transportation in Saudi future cities such as The Line, Red Sea Resorts, King Mohammed bin Salman City, Oxagon, etc.

OPPORTUNITIES AND POSSIBILITIES Food delivery is one of the growing applications of micromobility worldwide. The shared e-scooters and e-bikes industry is booming with more Saudi investors showing interest in creating a new trend for micro-mobility. For example, Gazal, a Saudi-based micro-mobility startup founded in 2020, raised USD 2 million in its first seed funding round by business angels last April. This shows that micromobility is an attractive industry taking into consideration that the global micro-mobility market size was estimated at USD 25 billion in 2020 with expectations of a double-digit growth from 2021-2028 according to various reports. Solar-powered charging stations are an increasingly im-

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The newly founded micro-mobility startups are actively operating in public and amusement parks, corniches and beaches, special residential compounds, NEOM, King Abdulla Economic City, and new entertainment complexes. portant source for powering micro-mobility. It is an opportunity for renewable energy companies to produce solar-powered charging stations for e-scooters, e-buses and e-bikes. Despite the lockdown and restrictions on public transport, micro-mobility vehicles are the safest because most of them are designed to be used by one person.

WHAT ABOUT THE FUTURE? Major cities in Saudi Arabia are facing the challenges of traffic congestion with more than 400,000 cars being imported annually. This huge number poses a challenge to the infrastructure that needs to accommodate a growing number of cars every day. Micromobility can help in dealing with congestions, knowing that 60% of car trips are less than 8 kilometers in major cities according to a study by McKinsey, which applies to a great extent to Saudi Arabia’s major cities that are home to millions of people living and working in them. “Riyadh plans to doubles its resident from 7.5 million today to 15-20 million in 2030 to make Riyadh one of the world’s 10 largest city economies according to the Vision of Riyadh, which was launched last January. The urban design of the new expansions of the capital city is expected to take micro-mobility into consideration by creating the suitable infrastructure for micro-mobility”, said Mohammed Abduljabbar. “Saudi Arabia’s new generations are more open to new lifestyles. They form more than 60% of the population. They can lead the transportation transformation in the Kingdom with micro-mobility solutions. How soon would people go to work using an e-scooter or e-bike? It won’t take long, I believe”, he concluded.


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Where Are the Headlines ?

By Saif Al-Abri

The Paris climate agreement global warming target is “well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5 degrees Celsius.” Over 190 states, including the European Union, have signed the Paris climate agreement and pledged to reduce climate warming. However, as seen by the figure (climate action tracker), the gap between credibility, action and commitment is massive. Even if we look at the Paris agreement’s highly optimistic goal, it will limit global warming to two degrees which will still cause high species extinction and sea-level rise. Limiting it to three degrees, which is expected, would mean that today’s coastlines will largely be gone, leading to high frequency and severity of floods - there will also be extreme heatwaves, drought and storms.

pages, with case trackers? If you see a storm in front of you, the very first thing you’ll do is take action to remove yourself from harm’s way. Yet humanity is facing its greatest storm, and no pledges are being followed through; the media, which formulates public opinions, prefers to put Johnson decisions, rape cases on the front page rather than what is of great urgency. Not only that, but particular media outlets ignore basic scientific literature and state things like it›s too complicated, disheartening or controversial.

The climate emergent statement issued by CCnow states that “It is time for journalism to recognize that the climate emergency is here”. The statement has referenced multiple reliable sources. A lot of media outlets have signed that statement; however, according to The Guardian major private outlets have rejected signing it. Apparently the phrase “climate emergency” sounded like Yet why is it? Although climate activism, they said; endorsing it change is the greatest threat might make them look biased. to terrestrial life, the topic has relatively low coverage in media. This dilemma shows us the nature Shouldn’t the media present things of modern news, which is that of great urgency like it did with of private ownership. Firstly, it Covid19-, presenting it on main prefers to cover information based 38

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As seen in the figure (Climate Action tracker), the gap between credibility, action and commitment is massive

Although climate change is the greatest threat to terrestrial life, the topic has relatively low coverage in media. Shouldn’t the media present things of great urgency like it did with Covid-19, presenting it on main pages, with case trackers ? on what it will look like to its reader to sustain readership. Secondly, it presents information in a way that aligns with the interests of its financiers. This debilitates it from doing its main function of sending and sharing objective information,

which shapes public opinion. This is because most media outlets are private rather than public, and as such, they are influenced by financial sustainability, which can sometimes contradict their main function. 39

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A Weekly Political News Magazine

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C Priti Patel: Home Secretary of the United Kingdom

www.majalla.com



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How Egyptians Revered Their Late “Exalted Spirits”

An Exhibit Reveals Relation Between Living and Dead in Egypt Through History By Salwa Samir Whether kings, revered individuals, or family members, the dead in Egypt have been venerated in some way throughout its history. These exalted spirits were venerated not only as semi-divinities, but also because they could intercede with the gods on behalf of the living. In Islamic Egypt, the spirits of the dead were seen as the figures closest to God. Their special status implied that prayers made through them were

more effective. The above is the theme of an exhibition entitled “Exalted Spirits: The Veneration of the Dead in Egypt through the Ages.” It is being held at a hall inside the Egyptian Museum in downtown Cairo. Yasmin El Shazly, Deputy Director for Research and Programs at American Research Center in Egypt, told Majalla that the exhibition covers the veneration of deceased figures in Egypt from the Pharaonic era up to modern Egypt, using available diverse evidence such as texts, images as well as the

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living traditions. “As a researcher, I would like to highlight the idea of continuity of beliefs as I see that ancient Egypt is still living in modern Egypt. It is important to emphasize that Egyptians are influenced by their ancient ancestors and that the ancient beliefs still exist as between them,” El Shazly added. The exhibition, which was open on November 9 and runs until February 9, is organized by the American Research Center in Egypt, The American University in Cairo and the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities. “Of course in Islam there is no worshipping of persons in the same way as the ancient Egyptians did, but the feelings and the relationship between the living and the dead are the same, that is, the living asking for intercession by the dead,” El Shazly added.

An exhibition entitled “Exalted Spirits: The Veneration of the Dead in Egypt through the Ages” is being held at the Egyptian Museum in downtown Cairo. It runs until February 2022 ,9. (Photo by Salwa Samir)

A statue of the architect Imhotep, who designed the first pyramid, the Step Pyramid of Djoser at Saqqara in Giza and was revered principally by architects, doctors, engineers, craftspeople, scholars and inventors. (Photo by Salwa Samir)

In ancient Egypt, all kings were divine. But some were especially venerated, particularly after their death. A few, along with their families, became patrons of entire regions, acting as intercessors for its people

sion continued into the Coptic era with the Holy Family’s Journey to Egypt. The Virgin Mary was particularly honored. Although in Islam there is no rule of intercession, Muslims hold the Prophet Mohamed, his family and the Awliya (saintly men and KINGS, QUEENS AND PROPHETS women) in high esteem. In ancient Egypt, all kings were divine. But some A limestone stela was dedicated to King Amenhowere especially venerated, particularly after their tep I (c. 1549-1524 BC) and his mother, Ahmosedeath. A few, along with their families, became Nefertari. Both were particularly revered by the patrons of entire regions, acting as intercessors for workers and artisans who lived at Deir el-Medina, its people. This tradition of veneration and interces- part of the Theban Cemetery in the north of the Valley of the Kings in Luxor, on the western bank of the Nile. The title of Ramses IV, who lived long after Amenhotep’s death, appears on the stela’s edge. “This stela is supposed to be presented as a vow by an unknown person using the name of Ramses IV as a mediator between him and the deified king Amenhotep I,” Eman Abdel Hamid, the coordinator of the exhibition, told Majalla. She added that the 50 artifacts displayed in the exhibition were collected from the Egyptian Museum, the Museum of Islamic Art, and the Coptic Museum during different periods of Egyptian history. “The artifacts are not exhibited according to chronological order,” she said. “Work from the Pharaonic era is put inside the same vitrine with artifacts from the Coptic and Islamic periods to let the visitors observe the continuity and similarities in thought of Egyptians regarding the topic of asking for intercession.” Another artifact shows cloth from the Prophet’s tomb or Kaaba which dates back to Ottoman period. The silk piece reveals how monarchs of Islamic Egypt competed to send coverings for the Prophet Mohamed’s tomb and the Kaaba to link themselves to the prophet as well as to show their devotion and

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receive blessings. The artifact highlights how they embellished the tomb with textiles, inscribed it with the shahada (proclamation of faith) in thuluth script. On display also is part of the psalmody - the book of religious glorification of the Virgin Mary – which includes her biography with a focus on her virtues of modesty and love, especially for people in need. “These manuscripts show how people honor the Virgin Mary and how they believe that she can intercede for them,” Abdel Hamid said about this 18th-century work.

THE ADORED: SAINTS AND CELEBRITIES The most common intercessors are individuals with saintly powers who feature prominently in the life

“Until this day, some Egyptians are still putting letters to revered people at their mausoleums, asking them for blessings. This is the same thing which ancient Egyptians did.”

of every village, town and city. During their lives, these individuals were celebrated for their accomplishments, religiosity and miraculous powers, which persisted after their death. An example from the Pharaonic period is the architect Imhotep, who designed the first pyramid, the Step Pyramid of Djoser at Saqqara in Giza. He lived around 2700 BC and was defied in the beginning of the New Kingdom (c. 1570 BC). His cult reached its height in approximately 500 BC and continued into the early Roman era (30 BC – 641 AD). He was revered principally by architects, doctors, engineers, craftspeople, scholars and inventors. A statue of him made of bronze, gold, silver is adorning the hall. The tradition continued with the advent of Christianity and its many saints being established throughout Egypt. An icon of Saint Theodore is decorated on both sides. On one side is the figure of St. Theodore holding a lance and a shield. Venerated from early times by Copts, his name means the gift of God. On the other side is the Archangel Gabriel, with traces of wings visible behind his back. Gabriel is famous as a guardian angel and the deliverer of good news. For Muslims, Ahl Al-Beit (Prophet Mohamed’s family) are chief amongst Egypt’s patron saints followed by the Awliya. Egypt is rich in shrines commemorating and celebrating them, including that of Sayeda Zeinab and Hussein.

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Work from the Pharaonic era is put inside the same vitrine with artifacts from the Coptic and Islamic periods to observe the continuous thought of asking for intercession throughout history. (Photo by Salwa Samir)


Work from the Pharaonic era is put inside the same vitrine with artifacts from the Coptic and Islamic periods. (Photo by Salwa Samir)

On display is an embroidered green silk textile which is a cover of the tomb of Sayed Ahmed elBadawi, founder of the Badawiyya Sufi order. He was born in the Moroccan city of Fez in 1200. He travelled to Egypt and lived in Tanta, 94 km north of Cairo, until his death in 1276. He became an

important sheikh in the city. His karamat (miracles associated with him) were quickly manifested, gaining him many followers. The green textile on display was given by Khushyar Hanem, mother of Khedive Ismail (ruled between 1863 –1879), in order to be put on El-Badawi tomb in 1866. A stunning ostrich egg dating back to the 19th century is on display with an inscription on it that reads “knowledge is the light of God.” It highlights how Muslims and Christians commonly hung such eggs inscribed with apotropaic phrases in sacred places. “It is the first time for the public to see this masterpiece,” Abdel Hamid said.

HOW WERE ANCESTOR CULTS CELEBRATED? The rituals of veneration vary, encompassing shrines in houses, public shrines, festivals (mawlid) and cemetery visits. The most common way of veneration through Egyptian history has been at shrines which are sometimes attached to tombs. Rituals connected with shrines include pilgrimages, prayers, letters to the dead, making offerings, celebrating festivals, and consulting the exalted spirits as oracles. “Until this day, some Egyptians are still putting letters to revered people at their mausoleums, asking them for blessings. This is the same thing which ancient Egyptians did,” El Shazly said.

A stunning ostrich egg dating back to the 19th century is on display with an inscription on it that reads “knowledge is the light of God.” (Photo by Salwa Samir)

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Ahmed Nabil: The Pioneer of Pantomime Art in Egypt Nabil to Majalla: “When I was young, I imitated Charlie Chaplin but had my special style.” By Salma Adham – Cairo

ten understood to mean miming rather than the theatrical form. The Egyptian artist Ahmed Nabil was It is a participatory form of theatre, born on April 23, 1943, in the Kar- in which the audience is encouraged mouz neighborhood in Alexandria. and expected to sing along with cerKnown as the pioneer of pantomime tain parts of the music and shout out art in Egypt, he is one of the most fa- phrases to the performers. mous representatives of pantomime in Modern pantomime includes songs, gags, slapstick comedy and dancthe world. Before talking about Ahmed Nabil as ing. It combines topical humor with an actor of a rare and unique type of a story more or less based on a wellart, let’s first explore the pantomime. known fairy tale, fable or folk tale. Pantomime is a type of musical comedy stage production designed for family entertainment. It was developed in England and is performed throughout the United Kingdom, Ireland and (to a lesser extent) in other English-speaking countries, especially during the Christmas and New Year seasons.

UNEXPECTED PATH FOR AN EXCEPTIONAL TALENT

Nabil used to imitate famous artists from his childhood, such as Charlie Chaplin, Abbott and Costello, and he presented several performances during school and university. He also studied pantomime and directOutside Britain, “pantomime” is of- ing in Russia and the Republic of

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The artist Ahmed Nabil. (Photo by: Salma Adham

Azerbaijan. “I taught myself for ten years until I received a scholarship in 1972 to learn the art of pantomime in the former USSR.” “When I was young, I was performing in front of the mirror. I loved imitating people with movement without sound. I used to wear Charlie Chaplin’s clothes, but I did my sketches and had my different style,” Nabil said to Majalla. “My beginning was in Alexandria children’s theater, and then I did the first pantomime segment on television; at that time, I did not know that it was pantomime art.” He added, “One day, I was performing at the Balloon Theater in Zamalek, and the Russian ambassador attended the performance and watched me. Af-

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“Through pantomime, the artist has to use the full potential of his body. I used to use every muscle and knowhow to control it. The core of this art is that it activates the imagination of the audience (Nabil stated to Majalla).” ter that, he nominated me to travel to the Soviet Union, although the Ministry of Culture told the ambassador that no Egyptian excels in the art of pantomime, the ambassador insisted that there is one, and it was me,” Nabil said to Majalla. “When I traveled to the Azerbaijan Pantomime Institute, I ranked third


A poster for Pantomime show by artist Ahmed Nabil in Cairo Opera House. (Photo by: Salma Adham)

A poster for Pantomime show by artist Ahmed Nabil in Cairo Opera House. (Photo by: Salma Adham)

out of 42 countries in the world.” Nabil has acted in nearly 100 performing art pieces, including films, series, plays and riddles. He received prizes in pantomime art from the Soviet Union, the University of Geneva, the Literary Union of India, and the University of Sydney, Australia. “Through pantomime, the artist has to use the full potential of his body. I used

“I received awards from Australia, Russia, India, Switzerland and Italy, but the closest awards to my heart are the ones that came from my country, Egypt, (Nabil stated to Majalla).”

to use every muscle and know-how to control it.” Nabil explained, “And the core of this art is that it activates the imagination of the audience.” Nabil also participated in the play “Hawadet” with Tholathy Adwa’a El Masrah, in which he played the role of the dancer’s boy, a character that greatly attracted the audience’s attention to him. He also won the Distinguished Artist Award in the Arab World twice - in 1984 at the Bahrain Festival and the Arab Theater Festival 1990 in Amman and the shield of the Egyptian Ministry of Defense, and the shield of Cairo University. “I received awards from Australia, Russia, India, Switzerland and Italy, but the closest awards to my heart are the ones that came from my country, Egypt,” Nabil stated to Majalla.

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A poster for Pantomime show by artist Ahmed Nabil organized by the Museum of Fine Arts and Cultural Center in Alexandria. (Photo by: Salma Adham)

A poster for Pantomime show by artist Ahmed Nabil organized by Greek Consulate General in Alexandria. (Photo by: Salma Adham)

Nabil said that he retired from the artistic field in 2011, out of respect for himself and his history, for his inability to keep pace with the changes in art and his feeling of being uncomfortable in the field. He contented himself with teaching at Alexandria University in the theater department. “In the past, the cinema industry was different and it took years to choose the story and the actors. Now all is different. So, I couldn’t cope with these changes; for example, I can’t do a character without knowing the whole story and reading the full script. Acting and reading the script, episode by episode is not the art I aspire to do.” Nabil said to Majalla. “After I retired, I made shows and traveled to give workshops around the world. I fully enjoyed my life and lived in the days of the great cinema and worked with giants.”

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“When I was young, I loved imitating people with movement without sound. I used to wear Charlie Chaplin’s clothes, but I did my sketches and had my different style, (Nabil stated to Majalla).” “More than one legendary artist influenced me on the artistic level. The two most influential were the guest Ahmed and Mahmoud El-Meligy. I learned a lot from Mahmoud El-Meligy when I acted in front of him.” “I will not go back to acting again, and when I miss pantomime sketches, I perform for my grandchildren,” he added.


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C Priti Patel: Home Secretary of the United Kingdom By Majalla

Illustration by Jeannette Khouri Priti Sushil Patel is a British politician who has been serving as Home Secretary of the United Kingdom since 2019. She was elected as the first Member of Parliament for the newly created Witham constituency in May 2010 and was subsequently re-elected in May 2015, June 2017 and December 2019. Priti was born in London on March 29, 1972, to an Indian family. Her paternal grandparents were from Gujrat, India. They went to Uganda and established a shop in Kampala. In 1960 her parents migrated to the UK. She was educated at a comprehensive girl’s school in Watford and went on to study economics at Keele University before completing her postgraduate studies at the University of Essex. Patel has been married to Alex Sawyer since 2004. Sawyer is a marketing consultant for the NASDAQ stock exchange. He is also a Conservative councilor and Cabinet Member for Communities on the council of the London Borough of Bexley. Together, they have a son who was born in August 2008. She was involved with the Referendum Party before switching allegiance to the Conservatives and was inspired to get involved in politics by the Conservative Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. After graduation, Priti worked as an intern

at a Conservative Central Office. In 1997, she joined the Conservative Party and started working at a press office for William Hague. She is a grassroots campaigner and prides herself as a longstanding Conservative Party activist and volunteer for over 30 years. She has also supported the Party in several roles, including as an Association Chairman, an elected member of the Conservative Party Board and as a member of the 1922 Committee. From 2003 to 2007, Priti worked for the British multinational alcoholic beverage company, Diago. Later, she joined the Weber Shandwick as the Director of Corporate and Public Affairs practice. She worked in the corporate world for more than ten years. In 2005, she appeared as a candidate for the Conservative Party and participated in the 2005 general election for Nottingham North. Despite her unsuccessful performance in the election, new party leader David Cameron offered a place on the “A-List” of conservative prospective parliamentary candidates (PPC). In 2006, Priti became a PPC for a new constituency called “Witham” in central Essex. She received the majority vote in the election and assumed office on May 6 as a member of parliament for Witham. In 2015, she won a general election and retained her seat as MP with 27,123 votes. She also held roles in government as Minister of State for Employment, Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury and the first UK-

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India Diaspora Champion. Priti has also previously served as Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Small Shops, Co-Chair of the APPG for Victims and Witnesses of Crime, and Vice-Chair of the Indo-British APPG. In November 2013, the Prime Minister appointed Priti as the firstever UK Indian Diaspora Champion. Priti served in the Cabinet as Secretary of State for International Development between July 2016 and November 2017. In that role, she transformed the delivery of overseas assistance programs to focus on aid effectiveness, economic development, trade, and jobs so that countries can stand on their own two feet. Priti also pioneered new levels of accountability and openness in using the aid budget, with reforms and spending controls across the aid sector. In 2019, she was appointed as the Home Secretary in the new cabinet of Prime Minister Boris Johnson. She became the headline when she developed a new points-based immigration system which has been in effect since January 1, 2021. Priti believes in Hinduism and celebrates every Hindu festival such as Diwali, Vaishakhi, and many others. In 2015, she was honored with the “Jewels of Gujarat” award in Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India. Priti is a big fan of Bollywood star Amitabh Bachchan and cricketer Virat Kohli. She is a very popular British politician on social media.



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One Year to Go How Qualifying Works for Arab Teams to Reach Qatar 2022 By Sarah Gamal With the decisive stages approaching in the march to the 2022 World Cup finals, Arab teams in Asia and Africa have a chance to reach the World Cup, but the teams have different chances. What about those chances? Nine Arab teams have varying prospects of qualifying for the World Cup finals, whether through the African qualifiers or the Asian qualifiers. Qatar, as host, became the first nation to qualify for the 2022 World Cup automatically when they won the bid to host the tournament. Qatar aspires to break the record for Arab participation in the World Cup, which occurred in the 2018 Russian edition owing to the participation of four Arab teams for the first

time in the history of the World Cup. In the qualifiers for the African continent, the picture became clear after 10 teams reached the final stage of the qualifiers, including four Arab teams, namely Egypt, Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco, after the exit of Sudan, Libya, Mauritania and Djibouti. The qualification system in the African continent requires dividing the ten teams that top their group into two groups, with five first level teams, Tunisia, Senegal, Morocco, Nigeria and Algeria, and five second level teams, Egypt, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mali, Cameroon and Ghana. The Confederation of African Football (CAF) will hold the draw for the decisive stage of the African qualifiers for the World Cup next December. The draw will

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determine the five matches that will be held in the homeand-away system.

A POSSIBLE DECISIVE ARAB ENCOUNTER

Photo Credit: AFP

It is likely that there will be a great opportunity for a purely Arab encounter in the final stage, where the Egyptian team is likely to face one of the teams from Algeria, Tunisia or Morocco, in addition to the teams of Senegal and Nigeria, which are ranked first. As for the Arab teams in Africa that have greater chances of qualifying for the World Cup, the Moroccan and Tunisian teams top the list of the most participation in the World Cup with five previous entries. The Tunisian team participated in 2006 ,2002 ,1998 ,1978 and 2018, while the Moroccans participated in 1998 ,1994 ,1986 ,1970 and 2018. The Egyptian national team participated in three editions. The Pharaohs were the first Arabs and Africans to participate in the World Cup in the 1934 edition, then the 1990 edition, and finally in 2018. The Algerian team represented the Arabs in four Cups, 2010 ,1986 ,1982 and 2014. Khaled Badra, the former Tunisian professional footballer, told Majalla, “The competition will be very fierce in the last stage of the World Cup qualifiers on the African continent, as all teams have almost equal chances.” “I hope that the Tunisian team will face the Democratic Republic of the Congo, as I see it as the most appropriate and best opponent to deal well with by our national team,” he added. Badra also stated: “I expect the Arab quartet of Egypt, Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco to qualify for the World Cup along with the Senegalese team, which I see as the best team in the continent today, it is a terrifying team in every sense of the word.” “The Tunisian team has been suffering from fluctuations in performance recently, but I see that the character of the Carthage Eagles as a collective team is capable of qualifying, as it is accustomed to brilliance in the decisive confrontations,” Badra explained. The former Tunisian football professional ended his statements by saying: “I do not prefer a purely Arab confrontation by the second-ranked Egyptian team with any of the Arab teams, whether Tunisia or Algeria, so that the confrontation will not be difficult for the Tunisian national team and also none of them would be deprived of reaching the World Cup at the expense of another. I hope that the Arab quartet represents Africa in the World Cup.” History tells us that if the Egyptian team faces Tunisia in the World Cup qualifiers, the likelihood of winning goes to the Pharaohs. The two teams met before in six matches that showed the Pharaohs› superiority in three compared to two wins for Tunisia and a tie in one match. Regarding the possibility of an Egyptian-Algerian

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«The Saudi national team is one of the few Arab teams that has the trinity of success for the world of football, distinguished players, strong and wise management, and an efficient technical director.” confrontation, the language of numbers says that the two teams met in the African qualifiers for the World Cup on seven occasions, which saw three Egyptian victories, two wins for the Algerians and two draws. In the event that the Egyptian team will face Morocco, the historical superiority in the two countries’ confrontations in the African qualifiers for the World Cup in previous sessions goes to the Atlas Lions team, which excelled in three matches out of a total of six confrontations, during which the Pharaohs did not achieve any victories, but tied in three. As for the Arab teams in the Asian continent, six Arab teams are competing in the final stage of the qualifiers to the World Cup 2022 finals, namely the UAE, Lebanon, Iraq and Syria, holding the third, fourth, fifth and sixth places, respectively, in the first group. The Saudi team is the leader of the second group, and Oman is ranked fourth. Tarek Mostafa, former Egyptian professional footballer and former coach of the Egyptian national team, commented to Majalla: «I see that for a long time the Arab teams have performed completely differently in the Asian qualifiers for the World Cup.»

SAUDIS AND THE GOLDEN OPPORTUNITY The Saudi team has the best chances of qualifying directly for the World Cup after the end of the sixth round and before the remaining and decisive four rounds in the group stage. With the end of the sixth round matches of the final stage of the Asian qualifiers for the World Cup, the Saudi team had a golden opportunity to reach World Cup 2022, where the Green confirmed its lead in the second group with 16 points thanks to its away victory over Vietnam. «I am impressed by the performance of the Saudi national team, and the technical level it has reached, which is more than wonderful. It has a very smart technical director, Hervé Renard, who has vast experience in the world of training,» Tarek Mostafa added.


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The Saudi team is four points ahead of Japan, the closest competitor, with only four rounds to the end of the qualifiers for the 2022 World Cup, in which the Saudis will have matches against Oman, Japan, China and Australia. The Saudis need only three victories to reach the 25th point to qualify directly for the World Cup finals, without looking at the results of the competing teams in the second group, which is the first golden opportunity for the players of the French coach Hervé Renard. «The Saudi national team is one of the few Arab teams that has the trinity of success for the world of football, distinguished players, strong and wise management, and an efficient technical director,» Tarek Mostafa added.

LOW HOPES FOR OMANIS The golden opportunity of the Arabs in the second group is represented by the Saudi team which is close to reaching

the World Cup finals. However, although also in the same group, the Omani team has a dim chance of qualifying for the largest football forums. Oman›s chances became weak after losing the last round against Japan with a clean goal. However, there remains hope for Al-Ahmar to qualify for the World Cup finals by winning the remaining four matches against Saudi Arabia, Australia, Vietnam and China.

Saudi Arabia›s Yasser al-Shahrani celebrates with teammates during the 2022 Qatar football World Cup Asian qualification match between Saudi Arabia and Vietnam. (AFP)

THE LAST HOPE The first group is witnessing an «intensive» Arab struggle between the UAE, Lebanon and Iraq teams to win the third place card qualifying for the playoffs for the World Cup finals. The road has been paved for the teams of Iran and South Korea, which ranked first and second with 16 and 14

It is likely that there will be a great opportunity for a purely Arab encounter in the final stage, where the Egyptian team is likely to face one of the teams from Algeria, Tunisia or Morocco.

Khaled Badra, the former Tunisian professional footballer.

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Egyptian fans carry placards and the national flag ahead of the match between Egypt and Senegal during the Africa Cup of Nations Group G football match at the Cairo International Stadium in the Egyptian capital on November ,15 2014. AFP PHOTO / KHALED DESOUKI

points, to qualify directly for World Cup 2022. The UAE team occupies third place in the standings of the first group with six points, followed by Lebanon in fourth place with five points, and behind it the Iraqi team with four points. The Syrian team lost any hopes of reaching the World Cup finals after remaining at the bottom of the group ranking with only two points. The UAE team needs to beat Syria, Iran, Iraq and South Korea to secure third place with 18 points and qualify for a play-off against the third of Group B to reserve a place in the final playoffs. The UAE’s hopes of qualifying as third in the first group remain in their hands. But a UAE loss of points would move the ball into the court of the Lebanese team, which needs the UAE to lose against Syria. Then the victory of the Men of the Cedars in the seventh round against

Tarek Mostafa, former Egyptian professional footballer and former coach of the Egyptian national team.

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“The fighting spirit of Iraqi, Syrian and Lebanese teams and their struggle to catch up with one of the tickets to the World Cup indicate that the Arab Asian teams are presenting their best qualifiers for a long time.” South Korea will put them in third place, and keep their hope of qualifying for the playoffs if the team wins all its remaining matches. «The UAE national team, despite its technical crises, is expected to win third place and play for the World Cup qualifying play-off,» Tarek Mostafa said to Majalla. As for the Iraqi team, its only hope to grab third place depends on winning the remaining four rounds against Iran, Lebanon, the UAE and Syria, with the UAE team losing in the seventh round against Syria, as well as Lebanon losing against South Korea in the same round in order to reach the seventh point and occupy third place in the next stage. «I am very happy with the fighting spirit with which the teams of Iraq, Syria and Lebanon are playing, and their struggle to catch up with one of the tickets to the World Cup. This indicates that the Arab Asian teams are presenting their best qualifiers for a long time,» Tarek Mostafa concluded.


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Taking control How to Cope When Life Circumstances Are Throwing You for a Loop By Kelly Bilodeau Sometimes you cruise along in life feeling like you’ve got everything under control. And sometimes -- you don’t. In the past year and a half, many people have been struggling amid the pandemic with uncertainty about

what the future will hold. For the human brain, the loss of control creates a particularly potent type of stress and may impair its ability to accurately assess risk. This is why someone might worry more about encountering a shark when swimming than about driving home after drinking -- de-

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It’s unlikely that you’ll ever be able to live in a world that allows you to maintain full control at all times. But there are ways to lessen the uncertainty.

A woman looks anxious as she stares at a screen. (Photo by Niklas Hamann on Unsplash.)

spite the fact that the latter is far riskier, says Andrea Roberts, a senior research scientist in the Department of Environmental Health at Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health. “Even though buzzed driving is super hazardous, they may worry a lot more about a shark encounter because they feel like they have less control over the situation,” she says.

Photo by IrynaDanyliuk/ Getty Images via TNS

While the pandemic is one example of a stressful event that you can’t control, you might experience similar emotions if you’re dealing with illness, such as cancer. Women are at risk for post-traumatic stress disorder after a cancer diagnosis not only from the stress of the experience, but also following treatment, from worrying about a recurrence, says Roberts. Stress from a lack of control may also arise from financial uncertainties or relationship upheaval. “The duration of uncertainty may also play a role,” says Archana Basu, a psychologist at Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital and a research scientist at the T.H. Chan School of Public Health. “For instance, the pandemic has been going on for many months, and there is a sense of ‘decisionmaking fatigue’ for many of us. There has been a prolonged period of uncertainty,

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changes in risk assessments. The pandemic has affected us in numerous other ways, leaving many of us feeling worn out.” It’s unlikely that you’ll ever be able to live in a world that allows you to maintain full control at all times. But there are ways to lessen the uncertainty load. Below are some tips that can help. - Focus on what you can control, instead of what you can’t. You may not be able to stop the COVID-19 pandemic, but you can take action to better protect yourself, such has getting vaccinated and wearing a mask indoors when community spread is elevated. “We can remind ourselves of our personal history of self-efficacy,” says Basu. “We may not have all the answers, but we can figure out some solutions or ways to get more information.” - Simplify, simplify, simplify. When life feels overwhelming, pare down. “Think about what can be defered, reduced, or perhaps even eliminated,” says Basu. “Where can we make things simpler or more streamlined for ourselves? How might we give ourselves the gift of time, rest, or simply the reprieve that comes with even one less decision?” she says. - Set healthy limits. It’s normal to want to seek information when you’re dealing with uncertainty. “It allows us to assess a situation and to make choices,” says Basu. But thinking about something endlessly, spending too much time online searching for information, or “doomscrolling” (relentlessly staying on


H

ealth

social media despite the fact that it’s making you anxious) isn’t helpful. “This might be the case if you often feel that you’d rather be doing something else, but you’re doing this anyway,” says Roberts. - Set limits and boundaries on how much time you devote to this task. To break the pattern, force yourself to step away from the activity, even for a minute. “Remove yourself physically,” says Roberts. “Then assess how you feel.” You can decide to return to the activity, but stepping away forces you to recognize that this is an active decision to continue. - Reframe the situation. Remember, uncertainty doesn’t guarantee bad outcomes, says Basu. “Uncertainty implies that we just don’t

know enough right now. We can remind ourselves that uncertainty can be a catalyst for positive change,” she says. - Accept uncertainty. “There are many elements of the pandemic, and of our lives in general, that are uncertain and out of our control,” says Basu. “Acceptance of uncertainty is a key part of coping.” But keep in mind that this is a learned skill that takes practice. - Take care of your overall mental health. Consider reaching out for professional mental health support, particularly if you have consistent concerns that are affecting your relationships or your ability to work, attend school, or fulfill other responsibilities, says Basu. Speaking to your primary care physician is a helpful first step. This article was originally published by Harvard Women’s Health Watch.

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Photo by Obi Onyeador on Unsplash



o

pinion

Will Eric Zemmour Win French Presidential Elections?

By Elie Fawaz

Eric Zemmour is a renowned French journalist of Algerian origin. He started his career in journalism in 1986 by working as a reporter for the daily, Le Quotidien de Paris. In 1996, he joined the editorial board of Le Figaro and was a chief reporter in the political service until 2009. He participated in cultural shows widely watched by the French public.

He is known for his hardline position on immigration and Islam issues and adopts a provocative style that he believes will allow him to repeat the US ex-president Donald Trump’s experience. He does not have an integrated election campaign, but merely inflammatory actions. These include calling for a ban on “foreign” first names such as Mohammed, denouncing LGBT “propaganda,” railing against the immigration of Muslim Africans and saying Islam doesn’t share France’s core values.

Zemmour is the author of political books and polemical articles. In 2006, he published his first book, dubbed “Le Premier Sexe” (The First Sex), in which he condemned the excessive feminization of the society, leading to intense Zemmour’s many critics accuse him arguments with feminist movements. of trying to rehabilitate France’s wartime Vichy regime, which collaborated He realized there is no such thing as with the Nazis during the World War II bad or good publicity, but instead pub- in persecuting French Jews and sendlishes propaganda that ensures his con- ing them to the Nazi Holocaust. He has tinuous media presence regardless of been sanctioned twice for inciting rathe reason. cial hatred. Although Eric Zemmour hasn’t officially declared his candidacy yet, he has He uses intimidation as a means to desucceeded in sparking a media frenzy. liver his opinion, which resonates widely on social media. He has recently taken advantage of the commemorations marking the Novem- Zemmour is aware of the clash of ideas ber 2015 terrorist attack on the Bataclan in the world in general, and the west theatre in Paris to accuse ex-president in particular, over new trends such as Francois Hollande of “criminal” negli- gay marriage or the racial revolution, in gence, for failing to detect those attack- which white men are accused of being ers who slipped into Europe among a behind all the earth’s calamities, as well huge influx of Syrian migrants. as challenges to traditional concepts of 60

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People participate in an anti-fascist demonstration against French far-right commentator and likely French presidential candidate Eric Zemmour, who is in Geneva to give a speech, in Geneva, Switzerland, 24 November 2021. EPA/MARTIAL TREZZINI

Western societies.

Pen before are highly agreed by a segment of the French populace and among the extremists in Europe in general. France could become like Lebanon in 2050, Zemmour once stated, in reference to a sectarian division that would lead to civil war.

He knows that the world is currently not only facing economic and health crises due to the coronavirus pandemic, but also a social dilemma, represented by the relations among people and with the land, as well as accepting others’ choices no matter how unconventional they are. Ironically, his hate speech, which demonizes the other who is different reliHe also recognizes that rationality to ad- giously, sexually and ethnically, could dress these issues is either absent at this lead France to this fate. stage or is minimal. Many people who do not follow these irrational trends are not Will Zemmour win the 2022 elections? tolerated by their society, and may be ex- It is very unlikely. Regardless of the problems France faces, French patriotpelled from work or socially ostracized. ism overpowers the religious, sectarian The only approved rhetoric for segments or ethnic affiliation. The circumstances from the far-right to the far-left is the one in the European country are completely that uses incitement, which apparently ap- different from those of the United States, so are the conditions that led to Trump’s peals to wide spectrum of enthusiasts. victory. It is noteworthy that Europe had been a hub for fascist and Nazi ideologies in the Zemmour will most probably compete past century. Therefore, the positions tak- against Marine Le Pen to head the faren by Zemmour today and Jean-Marie Le right party. Let us wait and see. 61

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Zemmour’s many critics accuse him of trying to rehabilitate France’s wartime Vichy regime, which collaborated with the Nazis during the World War II in persecuting French Jews and sending them to the Nazi Holocaust