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Putin’s Game Plan in Ukraine

Bahrain’s Minister of Education: «We Cherish our Educational Cooperation with Saudi Arabia»

A Weekly Political News Magazine

A Weekly Political News Magazine

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Issue 1735 - February 15/02/2019

Issue 1735 - February 15/02/2019

Raya Al Hassan: Lebanon’s New Interior Minister Sets a New Precedent for the Arab World www.majalla.com

Forty Years After Shah’s Fall, Khamenei’s Regime Collapses www.majalla.com


Editorial On February 1979 ,11 the Islamic Revolution in Iran finally culminated after weeks of mass protests, replacing the Pahlavi dynasty with an Islamic theocracy headed by Ayatollah Khomeini. Weeks before the incident, Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi left for the US to seek cancer treatment leaving behind a caretaker government, which eventually crumbled as the proPahlavi military eventually switched alliances and sided with Khomeini. The rise of Khomeini and his allies dashed any hopes that middle class liberals had of a secular liberal democracy in Iran, as the Khomeini regime proved to be authoritarian and forceful. This week’s issue of Majalla explores the 40th anniversary of the Iranian Revolution and the after effects it has had on Iran and the wider Middle East. Fayrouz Ramadan Zada did a field report in which she interviewed many Iranians across all walks of life and from different generational periods and asked them on their feelings toward the Iranian regime and the Ten Days of Dawn celebrations. The Ten Days of Dawn is an annual celebration organised by the Iranian regime from February 1 to February 11, which commemorates the days since Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini returned to Iran (February 1) to the fall of the Pahlavi government (February 11). Resentment and anger toward the regime are common sentiments that the interviewees shared. Many were frustrated with the fact that the regime keeps spending money on the celebrations, while many common citizens are struggling to cope with inflation and the government’s economic mismanagement. Joseph Braude writes on other ways in which the Iranian regime has chosen to commemorate the 40th anniversary, particular its show of nuclear force. Braude argues that the regime’s ballistic missile tests and public displays of weaponry is a message toward the West. These displays of power come amid rising tensions between Iran and Western powers, particularly the US, which for its part has imposed sanctions on Iran due to its destabilising actions and policies. The writer also insists that there is evidence to believe that Iran has always intended on carrying out its nuclear program, even from the start of the P1+5 nuclear negotiation. In other news pieces, Konstantin Skorkin writes on the upcoming Ukrainian elections and how it is another battleground of the MoscowKiev conflict. The writer reflects how Ukraine has had eras in which it had either pro-Russia governments, or anti-Russia, and in some cases, pro-EU governments. However, the upcoming presidential election in Ukraine is a concern for Russia, as there aren’t any strong pro-Moscow candidates running. Omar G. Encarnacion writes on the recent parliamentary election in Andalusia which saw the far right Vox Party win 10 per cent of the vote and gain 12 seats in the Andalusian parliament. Since its founding in 2014, the party has been seen as a laughing stock, but its recent gains might indicate a rise of far right populism in Spain, a country that until this period has been seen as a safe haven from the rest of Europe’s far right surge.

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A Weekly Political News Magazine

Muscat Festival: Experience the Beauty and

42 Traditions of Omani Culture

Issue 1735 - February 15/02/2019

22 Putin’s Game Plan in Ukraine

32 20 Tehran Celebrates Four Decades of Revolution

32 26 Is Far-Right Populism Gaining Ground in Spain?

36 Ripple Effects fromChina’s Economy

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Insecurities Are Loud and Confidence Is Silent 3

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50 What’s Causing those Swollen Feet?


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Men who have fled fighting in Bagouz wait in the desert after being screened by members of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) at a makeshift screening point in the desert on February 2019 ,9 in Bagouz, Syria. After weeks of fighting the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) announced the start of a final operation to oust ISIS from Bagouz the last village held by the extremist group (Getty)

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A dog is seen at a snow covered path during cold weather at Ovacik district of Tunceli, Turkey on February 2019 ,6. (Getty)

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Bloody Battle for Last ISIS Territory Iran Suicide Bombing 'Kills 20 Nears End in Syria Revolutionary Guards' The US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) announced the beginning of a “final battle” on Saturday to capture the small ISIS-held village of Baghouz, which would effectively bring an end to the group’s territorial ambitions in Iraq and Syria. Some 600 Isis fighters are thought to be holed up in Baghouz, and have been stopping civilians from leaving in order to use them as human shields, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

At least 20 Revlutionary Guards have been killed in a suicide bomb attack in south-eastern Iran, state media said. The bomber targeted a bus transporting personnel on the road between the cities of Zahedan and Khash, which is near the border with Pakistan. Twenty Guards were also wounded in the attack, the official Irna news agency cited an informed souce as saying. The Sunni Muslim militant group, Jaish al-Adl (Army of Justice), has said it was behind the bombing. Jaish-ul Adl took up arms in 2012 to fight for what it says are the rights of Iranian Sunnis, who complain of discrimination by the Shia establishment.

El Chapo Faces Life in Infamous Prison ‘Worse Than Guantanamo’ Mexican drug lord, Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, was found guilty in a US court on Tuesday of running a criminal enterprise that smuggled drugs into the US. . Guzman, 61, the leader of the Sinaloa Cartel who escaped twice from maximum-security Mexican prisons before his most recent capture in 2016, faces a possible life prison sentence at a hearing scheduled for June 25 in New York. He is likely to be headed to a ‘supermax’ prison in Florence, Colorado where repeating his past escapes would be nearly impossible as no one has broken out of it since it opened in 1994.

Militant Iran Taunts US on Revolution’s 40th Birthday

Hundreds of thousands of Iranians marched and some burned U.S. flags to mark the revolution’s 40th anniversary on Monday as Tehran showed off ballistic missiles in defiance of U.S. efforts to curb its military power. The Islamic Republic has vowed to increase its military strength despite mounting pressure from Western countries to curtail its ballistic missile program. U.S. President Donald Trump tweeted on Monday that the Iranian government had let down its people. “40 years of corruption. 40 years of repression. 40 years of terror. The regime in Iran has produced only 40#YearsofFailure. The long-suffering Iranian people deserve a much brighter future,” he posted in both English and Farsi.

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May Rejects Pivot Towards Brexit Customs Union Compromise British Prime Minister Theresa May has rejected the idea of targeting a customs union with the European Union. Last week, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn set out the conditions under which

Conflict Erupts for Control of Libya's Largest Oil Field

Fighting has broken out over the future of Libya’s largest oil field, as forces loyal to the UN-recognised Tripoli-based government battle Libyan National Army (LNA) forces led by Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar, the leading figure in fractured Libya’s east. Al-Sharara field, 560 miles south of Tripoli, is capable of producing 315,000 barrels of crude a day – about a third of Libya’s total current output. But it has been closed by the Libyan National Oil Corporation (NOC) since December when the installation was seized by local tribes demanding the Tripoli government did more to lift the area out of poverty. The fighting has the potential to disrupt the UN’s long prepared plans to convene a national conference, possibly next month, that is supposed to lead to either parliamentary or presidential elections and a new constitution.

he would instruct his party to support an exit deal in parliament. Foremost was a demand that May seek a “permanent and comprehensive UK-wide customs union”. The EU has urged May to grasp Labour’s compromise offer but May’s office published her reply to Corbyn late on Sunday, showing little appetite for a U-turn which would risk splitting her fractious party by ruling out the scope for Britain to strike its own trade deals around the world.

U.S. Seeks to Increase Pressure on Iran at Warsaw Meeting

Foreign ministers and senior officials from 60 nations gathered in the Polish capital Warsaw on Wednesday where the United States hoped to ratchet

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up pressure against Iran despite concerns among major European countries about heightened tensions with Tehran. The absence of foreign ministers from major European powers, Germany and France, highlights festering tensions with the European Union over U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision last year to withdraw from a 2015 nuclear deal with Iran and reimpose sanctions.

Thai King Ends Princess’s Bid to be Prime Minister

Twenty-four hours of high drama in Thai politics ended abruptly on Saturday when a party that nominated a princess to run for prime minister ended her brief candidacy. The move came after her brother, Thailand’s king, attacked the candidacy as unconstitutional. The Thai Raksa Chart (Save the Nation) party swore loyalty to King Maha Vajiralongkorn in a statement issued after his late-night intervention. It also expressed gratitude to Princess Ubolratana Mahidol for her kindness toward the party. Ubolratana’s vanishingly brief political career electrified Thailand. She would have represented a party allied to

the exiled tycoon and former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, and the combination of his vast popular support and her royal pedigree made her an instant frontrunner.


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Forty Years After Shah’s Fall, Khamenei’s Regime Collapses A View Inside Iran by Fayrouz Ramadan Zada Iranian authorities have launched "Dahe-ye Fajr" (10 days of Dawn) to commemorate the anniversary of Khomeini's return to Iran on

February 1979 1 until the revolution's victory on February 1979 ,11. Khomeini, a, returned to Iran on an Air France flight after spending 15 years in exile in Paris. The Shah's army surrendered on February 1979 11, leading to the establishment of

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the Islamic Republic. Every year, the Iranian authorities, including public sector organizations and institutions, spend 10 days celebrating the anniversary of the Islamic Republic’s founding through a variety of advertising programs in all cities. The programs and celebrations cost a fortune as they include lighting the streets, placing many signs at the entrances of schools and government institutions, displaying theatrical performances, films, music, pictures, videos and TV programs, organizing marches for the regime's supporters on February 11 and distributing juices and sweets on the streets.

People walk on portraits of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani (bottom) and Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei (up) during a demonstration of the exiled Iranian opposition to protest against the celebration in Iran of the 40th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution, on February 2019 ,8 in Paris. (Getty)

“Wherever you go you find people upset with economic problems. Nobody wants the current regime to survive. The proof is the slogans uttered by people like ‘Death to Khamenei and death to the dictator’"

Iran has organized 10 Days of Dawn celebrations for many years now.

generations after the Iranian revolution are still committed to the Islamic Republic’s objective.

“Celebrate the 10 Days of Dawn and light the streets,” said Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei in February 2018 on the 39th anniversary of the revolution.

A university professor said the country is on the verge of collapsing because of the irresponsible officials, mismanagement of the country and the authorities’ loss of competence in running the country’s economic and social affairs.

“If you don’t want to consume too much electricity and light the streets, then use art and make creative crafts such as setting up paper and flags at the entrances of houses so that the Islamic Republic’s flag waves across the country and all cities and villages. Show the world that the Iranians celebrate this cherished anniversary,” he said.

The professor pointed to political activist Faezeh Hashemi’s interview in “Mostaghel” newspaper. Hashemi, who is a former MP and renowned daughter of one of the Islamic Republic founders, Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, said that the Iranian regime has literally collapsed, and what’s left is only its apparent and structural collapse.

For years, ordinary citizens have been using the "10 Days of Woes" against the government expression, “10 Days of Dawn.” Majalla interviewed a number of Iranian citizens from various social strata and education backgrounds, ranging from high school diplomas to doctorates. It asked the citizens what they think about the Islamic Republic’s regime while it was preparing to celebrate its 40th anniversary. “Do Iranians support their regime’s spending of massive amounts of money on advertisement and promotion of its revolution while the rate of inflation, poverty and unemployment has increased after the second phase of imposed sanctions?” Majalla asked, wondering if the second and third

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The university professor also referred to the repeated warnings by Hassan Khomeini, the grandson of founder of the Islamic Republic Ruhollah Khomeini, about the collapse of the regime. “Failure to meet the people’s nonpolitical demands may lead to the collapse of the regime,” Hassan Khomeini had warned. “I remember the celebrations to commemorate the revolution's victory were much bigger in the 1980s and 1990s compared those organized nowadays," said a resident in Isfahan. “Back then, celebrations were made at universities, schools and state media. I remember when I was


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a junior high school student in the eighties, we used to memorize and chant the anthems and revolutionary plays, and the school administration used to decorate the classes.” “We don’t see any of these songs and plays in schools today, and the authorities focus on organizing demonstrations and rallies on the anniversary of the revolution on February 11,” he added. People are fed up with the price hike and deteriorating living conditions. Commenting on these issues, Tehran’s Prosecutor Jafari Dolatabadi warned against popular resentment of the price hike. “There is a state of resentment among Iranians because of the unprecedented hike in prices since the revolution took place 40 years ago,” Dolatabadi stressed. "There is a state of anger and resentment due to poverty and unemployment in small towns and villages," said a young unemployed graduate based in Kerman. “Problems such as the hike in prices and unemployment have left people with no other option other than revolting and storming the

“The poor, deprived and weak, whom the regime claims to be supporting, are cursing the Iranian regime and the officials during 10 Days of Dawn. They are also remembering the Shah’s ruling period and what they enjoyed back then.”

streets.” “Wherever you go you find people upset with economic problems. Nobody wants the current regime to survive. The proof is the slogans uttered by people like ‘Death to Khamenei and death to the dictator,’ and so on, indicating that people are demanding the change of the Iranian regime,” he explained. A retired teacher based in Mashhad city said that he has participated in a number of gatherings and protest rallies for teachers because the middle class is going through tragic and deteriorating economic conditions. “People feel tired and have been waiting for a miracle that would change the current conditions,” he said. He noted that all society sectors are fed up with

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and oil in their homes," said a resident in Mashhad, who is worried about the risk of future famine. I also asked one of the employees in Shiraz what he thinks about the 10 Days of Dawn. He responded mockingly and said this “sacred regime did not fulfill its promise during the revolution to support the disadvantaged and vulnerable.” “Poor people have lived in poverty and problems for many years and the situation is getting worse with time,” he stressed. “The poor, deprived and weak, whom the regime claims to be supporting, are cursing the Iranian regime and the officials during 10 Days of Dawn. They are also remembering the Shah’s ruling period and what they enjoyed back then,” he added. Moreover, a soldier, who did not want to be identified and expressed deep dissatisfaction with his monthly salary, said there is “discontent with the current economic conditions among retirees, workers and teachers.”

Iranian children visit a weaponry and military equipment exhibition in the capital Tehran on Febraury 2019 ,2, organised on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the Isranian revolution. - Iran announced the succesful test of a new cruise missile with a range of over 1,350 kilometres on today, state TV reported. (Getty)

the living conditions, starting from nurses and teachers to workers and retirees and millions of unemployed young graduates. "They announced a few days ago that the poverty threshold for a family of four is 2.7 million toman. Imagine that I am retired and my salary is one million toman. How can I secure the livelihood of a family of five?” In this context, a single girl who lives with her aging mother in northern Iran said that everyone is worried about their future.

Police and army officials complain about economic conditions, the soldier stressed. He also questioned expressed that he wondered the reason why the salary of an employee in the Iranian army would be one third of that of a soldier in the Revolutionary Guards Corps. “This revolution has produced nothing but dreadful deterioration in conditions for 40 years, disconnection from the Western world and severance of relations with countries like the United States and Israel, which enjoyed good political relations with the Iranian regime during the Shah ruling period,” he said.

“People feel resentful and angry because of widespread unemployment and price hikes. What did they do to deserve all the inflation, problems and crises?” She wondered.

“The price of oil per liter was 10 riyals and the dollar exchange rate was 70 riyals in 1979,” said one university graduate, who works as a taxi driver to earn his living.

"Fear and anxiety about famine in the country has reached a level in which most people stock rice

“Oil price has risen a thousand times, and the national currency has fallen by 600 times compared to 1979.”

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“What have we achieved in the past 40 years?” He asked. “We have made remarkable progress in theft, embezzlement, rationalism, monopoly and expensiveness.” "The price of one kilogram of Lamb meat is now 130,000 tomans, while a one kilogram of calf meat is 83,000 tomans and one chicken costs today 15,000 tomans," complains a housewife with three children. “If you visit the real estate office you will notice that the rental price of an apartment that is located in a middle class neighborhood has doubled,” she added, expressing disillusionment toward the 10 Days of Dawn’s occasion. One journalist said he was born in the 1980s and believes that people who were born in this period are from a lost generation because they spent the best years of their life in the Iran-Iraq war and with economic and cultural pressures. "Not only did the 1980s’ generation lose hope to live a bright future but the same goes for those born in the 1990s as most of them are young people who have graduated from universities but remained unemployed with no source of income,” the journalist explained.

Authorities are doing everything they can to stay in power, but we have had enough. The government can’t force the people to participate in marches celebrating the victory of the revolution,” he noted.

He added that everyone feels tired and confused waiting for a miracle to be able to change their living conditions.

A -40year old man who lives south Tehran said he suffers heart problems, yet he works on his motorcycle to deliver food in Tehran’s Bazaar district.

“The current generation, unlike the previous one, does not adhere to sectarian beliefs and abandons the ideology promoted by the authorities.” “My wife has recently showed me the monthly electricity bill, which was high, and they wrote on it that there is a 30 percent discount on the occasion of the 10 Days of Dawn,” said a resident of Karaj. “They then tell us to join the rallies on the revolution’s anniversary. People are no longer deceived by such propaganda and discounts.

“What do you know about the problems facing us, the families who live in Tehran’s poor neighborhoods? My family consists of six members. My father used to work in construction, but he fell on the ladder several years ago and hurt his spinal cord. He doesn’t leave the house now, so my brother and I are responsible for providing the family's livelihood. We haven’t eaten meat for four years now. We also used to eat eggs for dinner until three months ago, and that was a royal dinner for us.” “The price of Eggs has risen to between 550 to

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A woman shows her right hand reading 'Free Iran' during a demonstration of the exiled Iranian opposition to protest against the celebration in Iran of the 40th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution, on February 2019 ,8 in Paris. (Getty)


“The price of eggs price has risen to between 550 to 700 toman. The price of low-fat yogurt was 1,500 toman 10 days ago, but it rose to 5,800 toman few days ago.” 700 toman. The price of low-fat yogurt was 1,500 toman 10 days ago, but it rose to 5,800 toman few days ago,” he said. “Moreover, the price of 100 grams of cream was 1,100 toman, but it rose to 2,500 toman in a few days. Not to mention the water and electricity’s bill which is considered a nightmare for us. How can I celebrate the 10 Days of Dawn while my family and I live in this condition?” the delivery man asked. People protest against the death penalty in Iran opposite Downing Street as a march to demand a people's vote against Brexit passes by on October 2018 ,20 in London, England. (Getty)

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Tehran Celebrates Four Decades of Revolution Forty Years Since the Iranian Revolution, U.S.-Iranian Tensions Grow Further

by Joseph Braude As the fortieth anniversary of the Iranian revolution approached, American media and policymakers reflected on the continuing enmity between the U.S. and Tehran’s rulers. National Public Radio, for example, aired a retrospective on the 1953 CIA-backed coup against Iran’s elected prime minister, Mohammad Mossadegh.

“The 1953 coup was later invoked by students and the political class in Iran as a justification for overthrowing the Shah,” the report observed, “… [It] forever changed the relationship between the country and the U.S.” The Tehran government, for its part, is celebrated its fortieth with a show of self-confidence. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei Tweeted

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“The 1953 coup was later invoked by students and the political class in Iran as a justification for overthrowing the shah,” the report observed, “… [It] forever changed the relationship between the country and the U.S.”

Mohammad Mossadegh former Prime Minister of Iran CIRCA 1951. (Getty)

on February 7th that some 50,000 prisoners in the country would receive pardons, which he dubbed “Islamic clemency.” It is not clear at this writing whether the beneficiaries will include political prisoners, or any of the dual nationals from the U.S. UK, Austria, Canada, and France who are also behind bars. Another focus of festivity appears to have been a series of military tests in Iran, some designed to

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send a message to the international community. On February 7, Iran launched a ballistic missile with a range of 621 miles, despite international calls for it to end its missile program. The semiofficial Fars news agency released images of an underground missile production facility, and boasted its missiles could reach America military bases in the region as well as the state of Israel. In the same week, Iran aired a flippant cartoon video in which one of its submarines sinks a U.S. navy aircraft-carrier strike group. Military affairs experts in the U.S. noted that Washington has neglected to invest in new initiatives to protect carriers from torpedoes, but opined that Iran still does not pose a serious threat to the American vessels. At the same time, for all Tehran’s bluster, evidence also surfaced that some of its military efforts have come to naught. According to the Jerusalem Post, two space imaging companies — DigitalGlobe and Planet — released pictures showing scorch marks from a blast on an Iranian air base, suggesting a failed attempt to launch a satellite into space. The State Department, reacting to the report, called on Tehran to halt space vehicle launches, as they were “inconsistent with the United Nations Security Council Resolution 2231.” On February 5, President Trump referred to Iran in his State of the Union address, crediting his administration with having “acted decisively to confront the world’s leading state sponsor of terror, the radical regime in Iran. . . . To ensure this corrupt dictatorship never acquires nuclear weapons …” Critics of the president, for their part, warn that beyond backing out of the nuclear


Iranians visit a weaponry and military equipment exhibition in the capital Tehran on Febraury 2019 ,2, organised on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the Isranian revolution. (Getty)

deal, the possibility of American military action against Tehran may be growing. A Washington Post opinion piece published on February 7 pointed significantly to the replacement of national security adviser H.R. McMaster and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis — both of whom

On February 7, Iran launched a ballistic missile with a range of 621 miles, despite international calls for it to end its missile program.

had cautioned against withdrawing from the nuclear deal — with Iran hawk John Bolton at NSC and Patrick Shanahan as acting Defense Secretary. Shanahan, the article noted, has signaled that the Pentagon will no longer strive to block the president’s instincts on military matters. On the other hand, the Wall Street Journal’s editorial board argued that Trump’s tough line on Iran had come none too soon. The article quoted Ali Akbar Salehi, the head of Tehran’s nuclear agency, in a television interview last month in which he asserted in substance that Iran had been preparing for a nuclear “breakout” capacity from the start of the P1+5 nuclear negotiations. In other words, the government had never intended to honor its commitment not to build a nuclear weapons program.

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Putin’s Game Plan in Ukraine How Moscow Aims to Force Concessions Out of Kiev

By Konstantin Skorkin* At the end of 2013, Viktor Yanukovych, Ukraine’s president, postponed signing an association agreement with the European Union, choosing instead to pursue closer ties with Russia. Protesters began massing on Kiev’s central square, known as the Maidan. Weeks of tension spilling into violence culminated with Yanukovych’s ouster on February 22. Russian President Vladimir Putin looked on with anger and alarm. Suppose that what had happened on the Maidan sparked similar protests in Russia? Putin began to refer to the Ukrainian government as a “junta” in speeches. The term belonged to the Soviet propaganda lexicon:

the Kremlin used it to describe the Latin American dictatorships the United States supported during the Cold War. Putin’s revival of this language marked a steep downturn in relations between Moscow and Kiev. Russian state-controlled media took up a propagandistic narrative, in which the new Ukrainian authorities were illegitimate and Russia would not hesitate to “protect” the Russian-speaking citizens of Ukraine from these “fascist usurpers.” The actions Russia took after Yanukovych’s ouster—the annexation of Crimea and the aggressive military support for pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine—are wellknown. For Putin, such moves signaled Russia’s rebirth as a great power, ready to ignore world opinion in the pursuit of

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Putin achieved a near record high of 86 percent approval in the months after annexing Crimea. As a result, he considers any concession on Crimea a redline he cannot cross without jeopardizing his hold on power. wants to take advantage of the sharp political divide in Ukraine and, in case of a possible change of power, force Kiev to make concessions. Donbas, the separatist region in Ukraine’s east that is totally controlled by Moscow, will remain Russia’s main bargaining chip in this game.

A CHANGING POLITICAL LANDSCAPE

Clear symbol in one of Donetsk's park of DPR's inclination toward Russia. (Getty)

its national interests. And Putin’s Ukraine policy was at first extremely well received domestically, benefiting from a sophisticated television propaganda campaign as well as a rise in popular revanchist sentiment. Putin achieved a near record high of 86 percent approval in the months after annexing Crimea. As a result, he considers any concession on Crimea a redline he cannot cross without jeopardizing his hold on power. This position forecloses the possibility of reconciliation with Kiev for the foreseeable future, since the majority of Ukrainians will not accept the loss of the peninsula. Moreover, with presidential and parliamentary elections fast approaching in Ukraine, Russia sees a chance to return the country to its sphere of influence. The Kremlin

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Moscow views Ukraine’s upcoming presidential elections in late March as an opportunity to change the political course in Kiev. Russian optimism dates to 2004, when Ukrainians had displaced a different Moscow-friendly government through street protests known as the Orange Revolution. The pro-Western beneficiary of that movement, President Viktor Yushchenko, governed for just five years before Ukrainians grew disenchanted with the pace of reform and went on to elect Yanukovych in 2010. The situation today is remarkably similar. The current Ukrainian president, Petro Poroshenko, has failed to deliver on voters’ hopes. Many Ukrainians believe he has done little to fight corruption or raise living standards, his approval ratings have been disastrously low at least since 2016 if not before, and he polls well behind the other two leading candidates for president. Poroshenko has desperately tried to regain lost ground, for example by pressing for pressing for an autonomous Orthodox Church of Ukraine, independent from the Moscow Patriarchate, but his popularity remains low. Openly pro-Russian candidates, however, are also unpopular in Ukraine since the events of 2014. At the moment, one of the front-runners for the presidency is Yulia Tymoshenko, a seasoned and charismatic veteran of the Ukrainian political scene who currently channels both populist and pro-European tendencies and has been highly critical of Poroshenko. The Kremlin treats her more favorably than it does the incumbent president, despite the fact that she publicly criticizes Poroshenko’s policy toward Russia as insufficiently rigorous. Putin knows her well from her role in negotiating a 2009 Russian-Ukrainian gas contract that turned out to be beneficial for Moscow. In Putin’s eyes, Tymoshenko’s cynicism and willingness to negotiate behind the scenes make her a good


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potential partner despite her anti-Russia rhetoric. Indeed, she has expressed willingness to hold talks with Russia mediated by the United States and the United Kingdom. But Tymoshenko is not the only serious contender. Volodymyr Zelenskiy, a comic actor and young populist, announced last month that he will also seek the presidency, injecting a degree of chance and unpredictability into the election. Zelenskiy took the lead in January polls and could well find himself in a secondround runoff with Tymoshenko. He has declared that he is ready to start direct negotiations with Russia to end the conflict, and both his personal and his business background make him a likely favorite among Russian speakers in the country’s southeast. He comes from the eastern region of Dnipro, and his television studio produces programming in Russian. His image recently suffered a blow, however, when Ukrainian journalists discovered that he holds a financial stake in the Russian film business. For Russia, the long game requires paying attention not just to the Ukrainian presidency but to the Verkhovna Rada, or the parliament. Yanukovych had belonged to the Party of Regions, a pro-Russian bloc rooted in the east of Ukraine. Since 2014, that party has been disbanded, its remnants swept into the much smaller and less effectual Opposition Bloc. Now Viktor Medvedchuk, a well-known pro-Russian politician closely associated with Putin, plans to create a coalition of former Party of Regions members to correct the country’s pro-Western course and try to reconcile with Russia. The Ukrainian political landscape, however, has changed, and not all former Party of Regions members are willing to cooperate with someone who is believed to be Putin’s friend. Indeed, for the first time since Ukraine’s independence, national elections will not feature a powerful, pro-Russian force capable of winning. Given the strong anti-Russian sentiments in Ukraine, open support from Moscow does candidates more harm than good. And so the Kremlin will likely try to enact its will by manipulating information and fomenting propaganda narratives that stoke division within Ukrainian society. Russian pro-government media outlets, for example, describe the newly independent Orthodox Church of Ukraine as a tool for the persecution of those who still look to the Moscow Patriarchate. These outlets predict a “religious war” over Orthodox shrines.

THE CONFLICT CONTINUES Ukraine’s elections take place within the context of continuing conflict in the country’s east. In Donbas, the eastern region over which the Ukrainian government exercises little if any control, the Ukrainian army still skirmishes with pro-Russian separatists who enjoy Russia’s full support. The Minsk process, which includes agreements concluded by Ukraine and Russia with the participation of Germany and France, has reached a dead end. In the autumn of 2018, the self-proclaimed people’s republics of

the cities of Donetsk and Luhansk held elections that were not recognized by Ukraine. The two countries have little to offer each other in possible negotiations. Ukraine fears that the reintegration of Donbas and its pro-Russian population will destabilize the country and that the separatists’ supporters would then be elected to the parliament. The continuation of the war in the east has also furnished Kiev’s politicians with an excuse to drag out reforms while asking for additional aid from the West. For Russia, Donbas serves as an instrument through which to exert pressure on Ukraine. The authorities in the unrecognized republics are completely under Kremlin control, ready to fulfill any instructions—whether to return to Ukraine as advocates of the “Russian world,” the sprawling sphere of Russian cultural and political dominance that Moscow seeks to build, or to carry on as the leaders of unrecognized republics, or even to formally integrate their territories with Russia. Moscow floats the economies of the Donbas republics and provides many of the social programs that Ukraine withdrew when it declared these territories a zone of Russian occupation. Regardless of who wins the upcoming elections, confrontation between the two countries is likely to continue. The situation in the Sea of Azov is a good example of what the next standoff could look like. Russia considers the Azov to be a part of its territorial waters, and the zone of the Kerch

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Former Prime Minister Yuliya Tymoshenko speaks to activists of the Ukrainian oppositon Batkivshchyna party during a rally outside the presidency in Kiev on October 2018 ,24 with a demand to call off a decision to raise gas prices. (Getty)


At the moment, one of the front-runners for the presidency is Yulia Tymoshenko, a seasoned and charismatic veteran of the Ukrainian political scene who currently channels both populist and pro-European tendencies…

Strait has become particularly important since Moscow built a bridge across it connecting Crimea with continental Russia. But Ukraine sees Russian control of the Sea of Azov as a threat to its national interests, not least because Russia could then block access to Ukrainian ports that are crucial to the country’s economy. Ukraine suspects that Putin plans to seize these ports and their adjacent territories in order to both establish a land corridor to Crimea and ensure the supply of water to the peninsula. (There is practically no drinking water in Crimea.) Russia, in turn, is concerned about NATO’s military presence in the Black Sea and the construction of a new Ukrainian military base in Berdyansk, one of the ports of Azov. The Azov conflict has led to the rapid militarization of the region. On November 25, Russiafired on and captured three Ukrainian naval ships passing through the Kerch Strait. The two militaries collided openly for the first time. Poroshenko declared martial law throughout the border areas and banned Russian men from entering Ukraine. The danger of a full-scale conflict remains, in part because of Putin’s impulsive leadership style—it would not be out of character for him to initiate a military operation to counter a decline in his domestic approval ratings—and in part because of Kiev’s unbalanced policy. Continuing on his confrontational course, Putin is likely to

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seek to use support for Ukraine as a wedge to divide Western democracies. Putin’s favorite thesis is that the countries that have imposed sanctions on his regime suffer far more from them than Russia does, because Russia can easily compensate for all losses thanks to financial reserves accumulated from years of oil profits. He is thus likely to try to persuade European governments interested in renewing economic ties to buck Washington and abandon sanctions. Donbas, meanwhile, remains Putin’s main bargaining chip with Kiev. There are two possible paths forward for Russia. It could choose to maintain the status quo, with the Luhansk and Donetskpeople’s republics remaining quasi-independent states. In this scenario, Moscow would continue to control the territory’s elites and would keep up its curent policy of pressure on Kiev. It may eventually move to return Donbas to Ukraine, under the condition that the territory retain a special status (the plan envisaged by the Minsk agreements) that is technically autonomous but functionally under Russian political control. This option is unacceptable for the Ukrainian government, which would shoulder all the costs for the recovery of an enclave over which it would exercise no political control. Alternatively, Russia could annex Donbas as it did Crimea, which would almost certainly result in new Western sanctions and a major escalation in the conflict. Since uncertainty and chaos are the main instruments of Putin’s policy, he will most likely choose to maintain the status quo, as this allows him to take unexpected steps on the Ukrainian chessboard.

NO END IN SIGHT As Russians and Ukrainians tire of the constant tension between their countries, the calls for reconciliation will grow. Unfortunately, both Moscow and Kiev have pursued policies since 2014 that have encouraged each public to blame the opposite side for all sins. Until the two countries reconcile, they will continue to find sources of conflict all around them, whether in elections to parliament or in the Sea of Azov. This article was originally published on ForeignAffairs.com. *KONSTANTIN SKORKIN is a freelance journalist based in Russia


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Is Far-Right Populism Gaining Ground in Spain? What Vox’s Rise in Andalusia Means for Madrid by Omar G. Encarnación Spain’s immunity to the right-wing populist fever sweeping Europe is often touted as a glimmer of hope in an otherwise bleak European political landscape. “Unlike elsewhere in Europe, the far right in Spain stays on the fringe,” NPR noted in 2017. Recent developments, however, cast doubt on Spain’s capacity to keep populism at bay. In last December’s Andalusian regional elections, Vox, a far-right party and until that point the laughingstock of Spanish politicians, garnered some 400,000 votes, or 10.9 percent of the vote, enough to earn the party twelve

seats in the Andalusian parliament. As the international news media reported, this was the first time a far-right party had won at the ballot box in Spain since the return of democracy in 1977. El País, Spain’s paper of record, captured the shock of the nation when it concluded that “the hard right is no longer a ghost that walks by every time Spaniards go to the polls.” Founded only in 2014, Vox is the creation of Santiago Abascal, a -42year-old former parliamentarian from the Basque Country who credits his entry into politics, as well as his political conservatism, to the hazing that his family endured at the hands of ETA, the Basque terrorist organization. Baptized by the

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Vox’s manifesto includes the anti-immigrant and xenophobic fare typical of European farright parties: Vox’s manifesto includes the anti-immigrant and xenophobic fare typical of European far-right parties: it calls for the deportation of undocumented immigrants, the erection of walls (in this case, around the Spanish enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla in northern Africa), and the banning of mosque-building and of teaching Islam in state schools. But the manifesto also reflects some distinctly Spanish domestic issues—advocating Spain’s return to fully centralized government (a reaction to the separatist crisis in Catalonia) and seeking the revocation of the 2007 Law of Historical Memory, which extended reparations to the victims of the Spanish Civil War and the Franco dictatorship. In a notso-hidden attack on political correctness, the manifesto promotes state protection for hunting and bullfighting. Curiously, the only explicitly economic component of the manifesto is a call for lower taxes. A post-election poll by the conservative paper El Mundo showed that in the next general elections Vox could get as many as 45 deputies in Spain’s -350seat parliament, enough to become a key player in national politics. But the party would still face an uphill struggle to establish itself as a political force along the lines of Italy’s Five Star Movement, France’s National Rally, or even the United Kingdom Independence Party. This struggle goes beyond having to overcome Spain’s long history with authoritarianism under the Francisco Franco dictatorship (75–1939). Vox’s success in Andalusia is rooted in an unusual set of circumstances unlikely to be re-created in other regions; the party’s nationalist agenda is toxic in the separatist-minded and electorally significant regions of Catalonia and the Basque Country; and the populist energy in Spain is located on the left rather than on the right.

THE ANDALUSIAN MIRAGE The president of VOX, Santiago Abascal, takes part in a public act from the party in Pamplona on February 2019 ,07 in February, Spain. (Getty)

American press as the “Trump of Spain,” Abascal is famous for his publicity stunts, nationalist fervor, and anti-Islamic rhetoric. In June of 2016, Vox unfurled a -200square-meter Spanish flag over the Rock of Gibraltar, part of the British territory on Spain’s southern tip, in a bid to fuel Spanish nationalist sentiment. A Vox political ad during the Andalusian elections featured Abascal, an avid horseman, riding through the countryside of Andalusia to the theme music from the Lord of the Rings films. The ad was part of a campaign that Abascal cast as a reconquest of Andalusia from Muslim immigrants, a historical reference to Catholic Spain’s conquest of Andalusia from the Moors in the fifteenth century.

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For all that has been made of Vox’s performance in the Andalusian elections, it is not the political earthquake that many claim it to be. For one thing, it is not as if the far right in Spainbecame extinct with Franco’s passing. In the post-Franco democracy, the extreme right has been hiding in plain sight as part of the conservative Popular Party, or PP, which in the postFranco era has served as an umbrella for all the factions of the Spanish right, from mainstream conservatives to neofascists. Little wonder that many of Vox’s leaders, including Abascal, are former PP officials, and that there is significant overlap between Vox’s agenda and that of the PP. Most notable is the reluctance by both parties to unambiguously reject Spain’s fascist past. Just


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last June, the PP stood alone among the major political parties in opposing the exhumation and removal of Franco’s remains from the Valley of the Fallen, Franco’s one-sided Civil War memorial. Vox is also far from having seized control of Andalusia. The Spanish Socialist Party, or PSOE, remains the largest party in the Andalusian parliament, with 33 seats, down from the 47 seats the party won in 2015. Indeed, four parties won more votes than Vox: the PSOE, the PP, the populist-leftist Podemos, and the centrist Ciudadanos. And while Vox’s entry into the coalition governing Andalusia does suggest a newly conservative direction for a region known as a bastion of Spanish socialism, it is not a wholesale radicalization. The final accord that the PP and Ciudadanos signed with Vox to form the ruling government includes none of the more extreme demands that the latter had raised during the electoral campaign, such as rescinding laws promoting gender equality or those protecting women against domestic violence and the LGBT community against discrimination. Other radical demands, including repealing the Law of Historical Memory and protecting Andalusia from “Islamic threat,” were given only lip service in the text of the agreement. More importantly, Vox’s anti-immigration message, which is actually new for a right-wing party in Spain, found resonance in Andalusia for a very specific reason. As the southernmost region of the country, Andalusia has been the point of contact for illegal immigration to Spain from northern Africa, across the Strait of Gibraltar. Although Madrid and Brussels have provided some help to the region to alleviate the crisis, Andalusia, which has one of Europe’s highest rates of unemployment and is one of Spain’s poorest regions, has ultimately been left to shoulder responsibility for it. Last year alone, some 50,000 immigrants entered Spain illegally, more than triple the number from previous years, and more than the number that entered all of Italy and Greece. Vox capitalized not only on the region’s immigration-related anxiety but on its voters’ fatigue with the PSOE, the party that ruled Andalusia uninterruptedly for nearly 40 years. A long trail of corruption scandals involving the Andalusian branch of the PSOE exacerbated this fatigue. In particular, the ongoing corruption investigations of two former presidents of the Andalusian government, Manuel Chavez and José Antonio Griñán, who together ruled Andalusia for more than two decades,

Baptized by the American press as the “Trump of Spain,” Abascal is famous for his publicity stunts, nationalist fervor, and antiIslamic rhetoric.

boosted Vox’s argument that it was time to end the Socialists’ oligarchical control of the region and sowed considerable disillusionment among left-wing voters. This helps explain the record low turnout in the elections: 46.4 percent of 6.5 million eligible voters (some five points lower than in the 2015 elections).

GROWING PAINS Vox’s success in Andalusia will be hard to re-create elsewhere, and not only because of the peculiarities of the region’s politics. Politicians from across the ideological spectrum are working feverishly to prevent Vox from infiltrating their regions. This effort is centered on depicting any compromise with Vox as unacceptable. A case in point is Manuel Valls, the former French prime minister who is now running as an independent to be Barcelona’s next mayor. (Valls holds dual Spanish and French citizenship.) Seeking to enhance his appeal among Catalan voters, Valls said in a radio interview, “There’s no room for an agreement with Vox.” Vox also faces a more crowded political landscape outside of Andalusia. In regions that have long and entrenched histories of separatist-nationalism (which Andalusia does not), such as the Basque Country, Catalonia, and Galicia, powerful regionalnationalist parties dominate local politics. This makes it harder for Vox to enter the political fray and inhibits the party’s growth given the electoral weight of the separatist regions in national elections. Catalonia is home to Barcelona, Spain’s second-largest city and its historic economic engine. And on the national stage,

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Spanish far-right Vox party leader Santiago Abascal delivers a speech during a demonstration in Madrid by right-wing parties on February ,10 2019. (Getty)


With Vox in the mix, the prospects for more political stalemate and turmoil have exponentially increased. A THREAT TO RIGHT AND LEFT?

a mixture of historical and structural factors makes it unlikely that Vox’s right-wing populism will land with the same force that similar agendas have elsewhere in Europe. Because of the legacy of the Franco regime, a regime notorious for imposing upon the Spanish territory a homogenous cultural identity, Vox is limited in its capacity to use nationalist themes and symbols, such as the Spanish flag, to mobilize voters. The bashing of the European Union, a staple of right-wing populist movements in Europe, has no resonance in Spain given the positive memory that ordinary Spaniards have about the constructive role that the organization played in the consolidation of democracy in the post-Franco era. This positive view explains why Vox’s program does not call for Spain’s withdrawal from the EU. Last but not least, Spain’s populist energy comes from the left rather than the right. Upstart leftist parties, such as Podemos (We Can), which grew out of the economic crisis that erupted in 2011, are the ones bashing the establishment, questioning the value of globalization, and calling for draining the swamp. At the same time, the politics of nationalist separatism are uniquely important in Spain, especially since the eruption of the Catalan separatist crisis. Not surprisingly, national integration, rather than the wobbly economy, is expected to dominate the general elections. So far, Vox has failed to propose a solution to the Catalan crisis, other than to abolish Spain’s system of regional autonomy and to ban parties and movements that espouse a separatist agenda. Such extreme measures would require altering the Spanish Constitution, which opened the way for the creation of 17 autonomous regions after Franco’s death.

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The obstacles that Vox’s right-wing populist agenda faces do not mean that its emergence will not be felt nationally. Vox is shaking up the Spanish right at a time when the right can least afford it. Although the PP governs Andalusia for the first time, its control over voters there and elsewhere has never been more tenuous. Ciudadanos was already challenging the party from the leftmost flank of the right—especially in Catalonia, Ciudadanos’ home base, where support for the PP has collapsed following the crackdown on Catalan separatists by PP Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, and Vox is now challenging the PP from the right. So far, the PP has sought to co-opt Ciudadanos voters while isolating Vox by painting it as extreme. But if Vox succeeds in gaining a national footing, as Ciudadanos has done, it could push the PP farther to the right on such issues as immigration and Catalan independence. All of this upheaval on the right would seem to improve the chances that the Socialists will remain in power in Madrid. As he contemplates calling for new elections later this year, Socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez is using Vox as a foil to unify the left. Indeed, Sánchez’s response to Vox suggests that he intends to position himself as Spain’s best defense against a rising right: “The results in Andalusia strengthen our commitment to defending democracy and the constitution in the face of fear,” he told reporters. It would be a mistake, however, to think that Vox poses no problems for the left. For the first time in the democratic period, a sitting Socialist prime minister will go into a general election without controlling Andalusia, the nation’s biggest basket of votes. Clearly, no political party is immune to Vox’s threat. Vox’s biggest impact, however, is to further fracture the political landscape. If Vox succeeds in going national, it will join the PSOE, the PP, Ciudadanos, and Podemos in seeking to govern the nation. This picture is a radically different one from just a few years ago, when the PSOE and the PP were the sole national contenders, virtually guaranteeing continuous political stability. More political fragmentation means more political gridlock, especially at election time. In 2016, for example, Spainwas without a government in Madrid for close to a year, because no single party won enough seats in the national parliament to form a government. With Vox in the mix, the prospects for more political stalemate and turmoil have exponentially increased. This article was originally published on ForeignAffairs.com.


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Bahrain’s Minister of Education: «We Cherish our Educational Cooperation with Saudi Arabia» Dr. Majed al-Nuaimi: ‹National Action Charter’ is a Milestone in Bahrain’s History Interview by: Nadia al-Turki Manama- On February 14, the Kingdom of Bahrain will celebrate on the 18th anniversary of its National Action Charter. The document reflects the Bahraini King’s vision in various fields of development, especially education. 2019 will also mark 100th anniversary of the first public school in Bahrain as the Al-Hidaya AlKhalifa School officially opened its doors to the public in 1919. The school has since been a leading educational institution in the Gulf region. As such, the Kingdom will also be celebrating 100 years of formal education in Bahrain. Throughout this century, Bahrain has made tremendous leaps and carried out unprecedented initiatives toward modernizing and improving education and the quality of educational services. As a result, regional and international organizations such as UNESCO commended Bahrain’s efforts toward educational modernization. Bahrain’s efforts would further be recognized on January

2019 ,30 when it was awarded the Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (ISESCO)’s Prize for Open Digital Educational Resources for 2018. The fact that this was the first time ISESCO gave out this award, thus making Bahrain its first ever recipient, made the occasion even more special. The award aims toward encouraging digital educational innovations within ISESCO’s member states. The award also inspires states to be scientifically competitive as they strive to highlight their innovative capabilities in the field of educational technology. Furthermore, the award encourages states to introduce, support and disseminate leading digital educational projects. These targets support the international community’s efforts towards achieving the fourth objective of its sustainable development goals for 2030, namely “ensuring inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.” Al-Majalla with Bahrain’s Minister of Education Dr. Majed al-Nuaimi in Manama, and he spoke to us about

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Bahrain’s vision for its educational future: * On February 14, the Kingdom of Bahrain will celebrate the anniversary of issuing the National Action Charter. How has the Charter affected Bahrain’s educational system?

ISESCO Award affirms Bahrain’s excellence in e-learning.

- Voting on the National Action Charter was a milestone in the history of the Kingdom of Bahrain as its citizens unanimously agreed to vote "yes" to the Charter. The Charter, for its part, reflects the vision of King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, who launched a new stage of development and prosperity in various sectors, especially in education at its various levels.

schools’ performance and develop the use of information and communication technology (ICT) in the education sector, thus further developing general and vocational training.

Since then there have been many breakthroughs in Bahrain’s educational system. Furthermore, the launch of the National project for the development of education and training presented an important development for our educational innovation since it included five qualitative initiatives. First, it established Bahrain’s Teachers College, which contributed to providing the educational field with qualified teachers who work in accordance to the highest international standards. Second, it also implemented a project to improve the

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Third, it established the Education and Training Quality Authority (BQA), which externally evaluates and assesses educational bodies. Fourth, it launched an initiative to develop the higher education sector; including the establishment of Bahrain Technical College aka Bahrain Polytechnic. This constituted a distinctive addition to institutions of higher education as it includes new academic programs that meet the requirements of the labor market. Fifth, it launched the Teachers’ Cadre Project, which has made a qualitative leap for those working in the educational field. The Project provides more facilities in the field of investment in private education in


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accordance with laws and regulations on the quality of services. It also aimed at providing more educational opportunities for citizens, that was until the recent increase of private schools in Bahrain (which presently amount to 73) and as well as private higher education institutions (of which there are 13 in total). Education in Bahrain also witnessed a remarkable boom in many aspects, for example we recently established a new infrastructural model for public schools, and moreover this model is based on international standards. As such, these schools are equipped with the latest education requirements and are environmentally friendly and energy-efficient. * What can you tell us about your experience in promoting the integration of technology into education and making the most of ICT in the educational field? - The Kingdom of Bahrain's schools have moved to an advanced level of e-learning through the initiation of the 2005 King Hamad Schools of the Future project, which became standard in all schools since 2009. The project achieved all its quantitative and qualitative goals in the field of integrating technology in education. In this context, Bahrain moved to a more advanced level in 2015, when it followed royal orders and launched the Digital Empowerment in Education Project. This project aimed for enhancing our students and teachers’ capacity in the field digital educational content production instead of just using the ones provided to us.

Education in Bahrain also witnessed a remarkable boom in many aspects, for example we recently established a new infrastructural model for public schools, and moreover this model is based on international standards.

Before implementing this project, we reviewed a number of successful international experiments with similar initiatives, such as those in the United States, South Korea and Singapore. We then provided schools with the necessary digital devices and applications and gave teachers qualitative training. The project is based on several pillars, including digital educational content, the e-learning portal that provides advanced communication features for students, teachers and parents, safe use of technology, specialized training and technical guidance. Field follow-up and scientific evaluation proved the success of the project as it encouraged students and teachers to move from consuming digital educational content to producing high quality digital content. The students and teachers also proved their creativity. There were many schools that made a myriad of digital educational content, such as interactive lessons, games and interactive digital competitions. Such creations were in turn presented in more than one event and received

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the award’s contests and submitted high-level projects for evaluation. Such a high turnout from qualified scientists and innovators around the world reflects the event’s success. Finally, in cooperation with UNESCO, the Regional Centre for the Information and Communication Technology (RCICT) was launched and provides qualitative training programs in the field of e-learning, benefiting educators both locally and regionally. * The Kingdom of Bahrain has followed the growing global interest in technical and vocational education. What are your most important achievements in these areas? - The Ministry of Education has launched an advanced system of technical and vocational education, which provides many new qualitative education majors for boys and girls to meet the labor market’s requirements and contribute to the realization of the Kingdom’s development aspirations. To do this we learned from other countries’ successful technical/vocational training programs and received consultancy from leading global vocational experts. It should also be noted that the Ministry has expanded the vocational and technical majors directed toward girls, thus encouraging higher female participation in such fields.

praise from many Bahraini and foreign experts. The students' motivation for academic achievement also clearly grew as the project provided them with interesting and varied educational techniques that took into consideration their different needs and learning abilities. Bahrain's efforts have had a positive impact on the international level. The most recent of its achievements was being awarded the Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (ISESCO)’s Prize for Open Digital Educational Resources in its first edition in 2018. Bahrain received the award for launching the “MaktabatyAr-Raqmia” (My E-Library) initiative. Additionally, Bahrain's local efforts reached the whole world when it launched, under the directive of King Hamad, the UNESCO King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa Prize for the Use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) in Education. The Prize had a lot global interest as many scientists and researchers from around the world competed in many of

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This step has achieved remarkable success, especially in the two majors, namely medical device maintenance and computer technologies. Both majors had mostly female applicants; this is mostly due to the numerous opportunities that such fields can give them throughout both their university and career lives. Moreover, the Ministry also had a distinct experience of cooperation with UNESCO. Both bodies cooperated to develop this sector’s curriculum, which was subsequently disseminated by the UN to many countries, including Nigeria and a number of African countries. They also established the Bahrain Centre of Excellence for Technical and Vocational Education, which provides training for educational staff working in this sector. The Education Ministry has taken another major step in implementing the field training program “Takween” in cooperation with labor market institutions. This program is one of the prerequisites for graduating from this educational system. The program aims to enhance the curriculum with related skills and practical experience to ensure students master the basic professional competencies needed for the labor market. The program


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also adds to the students’ educational knowledge as it enables them to excel in university studies. Thousands of students apply to this training program on a yearly basis. The Ministry also implemented a vocational guidance project for high school students. To do this the program encourages a number of instructors to continuously provide guidance for students in schools and persuade them to apply to vocational majors. This has contributed to the rise in the number of students enrolled in this sector, as now 37 per cent of high school students go into vocational programs. * Tell us about the Ministry’s experience in implementing a community service course in high schools. - We started implementing this curriculum during the 2006-2005 academic year within the framework of the Ministry's vision to enhance the students’ belonging to his or her society and consolidate his or her citizen values. Taking this course is a prerequisite for high school graduation. The course constitutes a total of 60 hours of study. Thirty of which are spent in school as students participate in educational activities, they then spend the remaining 30 hours volunteering for public and private institutions such as public libraries, health centers and care centers for the elderly and people with special needs. Today it is considered a unifying pillar throughout all the country’s high schools, and it has succeeded in developing students’ skills, abilities, positive attitudes and behaviors towards their country and society. The number of students benefiting from this curriculum increased to 9,000; furthermore the number of institutions taking in student volunteers has increased to 165. * When the Kingdom established it Higher Education Council (HEC) in 2005, its higher education sector witnessed a new phase of development. Can you tell us more about it? - Indeed, the education sector has witnessed great development in all levels since the establishment of the Higher Education Council in accordance with law number 3 under the 2005 decree.

Investment in private higher education was encouraged by granting local and foreign investors facilitations to establish educational institutions, especially after they met all the necessary requirements. This step aimed to keep Bahrain up to date with global and specialized academic developments and make Bahrain a regional center for higher education. The Kingdom has succeeded in attracting many foreign universities, including the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI), the British University and Vatel International Hospitality Management School, which is one of the most important international institutions in the field of hospitality management. Our higher education institutions have also been encouraged to host academic programs in cooperation with prestigious universities. The HEC and its General Secretariat are responsible for following up with the higher education institutions and monitoring their programs, supporting services, quality

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The Kingdom has succeeded in attracting many foreign universities, including the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI), the British University and Vatel International Hospitality Management School. efforts, three higher education institutions obtained this accreditation, and four others are in the process of obtaining it. * What can you tell us on the educational cooperation between the Kingdom of Bahrain and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia? - We cherish this educational cooperation with Saudi Arabia and look forward toward enhancing it, as it benefits the two countries’ educational field. This cooperation has had many benefits for Bahrain’s education sector. First and foremost our cooperation has encouraged a number of Saudi educational staff to come here to work in our Education Ministry and public schools, their presence has had a clear imprint in all the Ministry's development projects.

of performance, outputs and financial conditions. It also launched the National Higher Education Strategy 24-2014 and the National Scientific Research Strategy 19-2014. Its General Secretariat, for its part, prepared plans to achieve the two strategies’ goals. As a result of confidence in the level of higher education in the Kingdom, Bahrain's higher education institutions have seen an increasing number of foreign students from many countries, especially those from the GCC states. During the 18-2017 academic year alone, there were more than 6,000 foreign students in Bahraini universities. In order to attract more of these students, the HEC called on all higher education institutions to obtain academic accreditation. It is for this reason that the HEC has been cooperating with the British Accreditation Council to obtain such accreditation. As a result of these

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Both Kingdoms have also shared and exchanged math and science curriculums thus enriching the national education system of both countries. I should also mention Saudi Arabia’s willingness to provide scholarships for our outstanding students, who in turn benefit from learning at prestigious Saudi universities. Work is also underway toward establishing the King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud Medical City, which is currently under construction in the Kingdom of Bahrain., representing another outstanding example of the bilateral and historic brotherly relations. This medical city, which is scheduled to be inaugurated soon, aims to enhance the educational services offered by the Arabian Gulf University through a number of areas, mainly the medical education service. It will consist of an educational hospital, a medical school building, a research center and training center as well as special accommodations for hospital staff and students and support services.


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Ripple Effects from China’s Economy

As China’s economy gets the chills, some California firms catch a cold 36

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China’s rapid economic development and expansion of its middle class in recent years turned it into a key player in California’s economy.

A Chinese young boy carries his pet, a pure breed British Shorthair cat, on his shoulder, strolling with his friends on the downtown street. More and more Chinese young people, who grow up in a middle class family, pursuit more freedom and personality in lifestyle. (Getty)

By James F. Peltz* and Andrew Khouri* Los Angeles Times Apple Inc. isn’t the only California company with a China problem. From Barbie dolls to bottles of Merlot, the slowdown in China’s massive economy and the U.S.-China trade dispute are impeding sales growth for some other California companies doing business in China, serving Chinese tourists or pulling in Chinese investment. That’s sending disquieting ripples through California’s economy, which has grown more reliant on those cross-Pacific ties. Apple was the latest to cite China’s decelerating economy, a pullback in Chinese consumer spending, shifting product

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preferences and the trade fight when the Cupertino company last week issued a rare cut to its sales forecast. Although some analysts partly blamed Apple and its lofty iPhone prices for the electronics giant’s lowered projections, other companies and industries also said in recent weeks that their business in China has been hurt by the slower growth in the Chinese economy and the heightening of U.S. and Chinese tariffs on goods imported into their countries. The dollar value of California wine exports to China, for instance, was down nearly 15 percent, to about 50$ million, through the first 10 months of 2018, after showing gains earlier in the year, according to the Wine Institute trade group in San Francisco. One culprit was the additional 10 percent tariff that China levied in September, which lifted the overall tariff on California wines to 25 percent. It was one in a series of retaliatory tariff increases between the United States and China on thousands of traded goods. A range of California companies have cited China problems over the last two months: —Ynon Kreiz, chief executive of Barbie maker Mattel Inc., told analysts in late October, “We are seeing a slowdown in our China business.” The El Segundo toymaker expected the slowdown “to persist for the remainder of 2018.” —Avery Dennison Corp. reported disappointing third-quarter sales in its industrial and healthcare materials division, which makes fasteners and other products for the automotive industry, largely because of “greater-than-expected declines” in China. “We would expect a softer China automotive market in the fourth quarter as well,” Gregory Lovins, chief financial officer of the Glendale company, told analysts last fall. —Electric-car maker Tesla Inc. has suffered sales declines in China amid the tariff battle, and the Palo Alto company responded by reducing prices of its Model S and Model X vehicles by 12 percent to 26 percent to help offset the duties. The Chinese “are concerned about the future and so they have cut back their spending,” said Craig Allen, president of the U.S.-China Business Council, which represents 213 U.S. companies doing business with China. A 25 percent plunge in the Chinese stock market last year and the strong U.S. dollar relative to the Chinese yuan also are weighing on consumer spending, Allen said. China’s retail sales were up 8.1 percent in November, but that was the smallest increase in 15 years. The overall economy,


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which was growing at a remarkable 8 percent or more annually a few years ago, now has slowed to about 6.5 percent. China’s rapid economic development and expansion of its middle class in recent years turned it into a key player in California’s economy. California exports to China jumped 46 percent from 2008 to 2017, compared with a 16 percent gain in the state’s exports to the rest of the world, the council said. China now ranks third among export markets for California goods, behind Mexico and Canada, with a total export value of 15.6$ billion in 2017. Bids by Chinese buyers, many of them all-cash, provided rocket fuel when Southern California home prices started surging in 2012, especially in places such as the San Gabriel Valley and Irvine. “The foreign buyer most impacted our Orange County communities,” Douglas Yearley, chief executive of luxury home builder Toll Bros., said on a recent earnings call, referring to people from China. “It certainly had a significant impact there.” China’s slowdown isn’t being felt across the board, however. Manhattan Beach sneaker maker Skechers USA Inc. said it has not been hurt. “We haven’t seen anything pronounced in the consumer behavior in China,” John Vandemore, Skechers’ chief financial officer, told analysts in November. “We’re obviously cognizant of the situation and we monitor it. But right now it’s still a pretty decent time.” One of Skechers’ big rivals, Nike Inc., said in December that its latest quarterly sales to China actually jumped 26 percent from a year earlier. Guess Inc., the Los Angeles apparel maker, also said thirdquarter results in China were strong. Guess Chief Executive Victor Herrero told analysts in November that the company opened 13 stores in China during the quarter and that its online business “continues to grow at terrific speed.” Conversely, upscale jeweler Tiffany & Co., whose locations

Although some analysts partly blamed Apple and its lofty iPhone prices for the electronics giant’s lowered projections, other companies and industries also said in recent weeks that their business in China has been hurt by the slower growth in the Chinese economy…..

include a store on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills, said in late November that weaker spending by Chinese tourists contributed to disappointing overall third-quarter sales, even though sales in mainland China remained strong. Tiffany’s stock plunged 12 percent that day. The pullback in Chinese consumer spending isn’t tied strictly to whether a product is relatively expensive, such as Tiffany earrings or an Apple phone, said Stanley Chao, managing director of All in Consulting in Torrance and author of the book “Selling to China: A Guide for Small and Medium-Sized Businesses.” The spending patterns also reveal “seeping antiU.S. sentiment” in China because of the trade fight, with more Chinese opting to buy non-U.S. goods if there are comparable options available, he said. “They’re saying that with an Apple phone, for instance, ‘I can get the equivalent functions and bells and whistles on a (Chinese) Huawei phone or some other phone,’” Chao said. “Add on that anti-U.S. sentiment, and they’re saying, ‘I don’t really want to buy American.’ “Wine is another example, you have tons of choices. The

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Customers gather as they take part in a class to learn how to use their iPhones at an Apple Store on January 2019 ,7 in Beijing, China. (Getty)


Chinese are saying, ‘Yeah, I love Napa wine, but I’m not so keen on buying something U.S.’” Home builders and real estate agents say they are seeing fewer buyers from China these days. But the downshifting Chinese economy isn’t likely to completely shut off that stream of cash, experts say. That’s because much of the investment in California comes from China’s upper-middle class and ultrawealthy, who have built up vast capital reserves over the years as their economy and real estate market swelled. That cash isn’t necessarily at risk from a slowing economy and a downshift would probably give people more of an incentive to park it elsewhere, said William Yu, a UCLA economist. The slowdown in commercial investment is more pronounced. In recent years, the Chinese government has imposed tighter controls on moving money out of the country. In 2017, Chinese investment in U.S. commercial real estate plunged 55 percent from a year earlier, according to a report from real estate brokerage Cushman & Wakefield. In the Los Angeles metropolitan region, acquisitions by

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Chinese investors fell 67 percent. The slowing Chinese economy was one reason the government tightened the outflow of capital, said Clayton Dube, director of the U.S.-China Institute at USC. So a further tapering of growth could cause the Chinese government to tighten limits further, leading to more declines in U.S. investment. But Dube said the “major hit has already happened” to commercial investment. Dube said it’s easier for individual home buyers to avoid limitations on moving money to the U.S. given the much smaller amounts needed to purchase a home. “I don’t see it falling off a cliff,” he said. What could prove much more threatening to Chinese residential investment, he said, is if the current slowdown in Southern California home sales turns into an outright collapse. This article was originally published in the Los Angeles Times. *James L. Peltz is business writer for The Los Angeles Times. * Andrew Khouri covers the housing market for the Los Angeles Times.


A Weekly Political News Magazine

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Issue 1735 - February 15/02/2019

Raya Al Hassan: Lebanon’s New Interior Minister Sets a New Precedent for the Arab World www.majalla.com


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Muscat Festival: Experience the Beauty and Traditions of Omani Culture 42

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Every year, Muscat invites locals and tourists to experience this variety and diversity that gives each part of the Sultanate its own unique flavour during the vibrant month long Muscat festival. battles, ideologies, and personalities that helped mould this distinctive part of the Middle East. Most of these architectural treasures receive visitors all year round and are among the most remarkable remnants of the premodern Islamic world. Within its historic cities, many astounding archaeological sites dot the country. Their origins exhibit Oman’s broad range of influences and layers of history, with some dating as far back as the Sassanid Empire, the last kingdom of the Persian Empire before the rise of Islam. No less than five sites in Oman have earned a place on the Unesco Heritage List. Despite the remarkable developments that have taken place in Oman since its leader, Sultan Qaboos bin Said Al Said came to power in 1970, the country has maintained strong roots to its traditional arts and crafts. A long list of customs – ranging from music and dances that vary from region to region – continue to be strongly practised today. Oman’s diversity extends to its people: while the ancient ritual of bullfighting is still along the Batinah coast, the people of Sur further south possess a strong musical heritage that pays homage to their maritime past. Every year, Muscat invites locals and tourists to experience this variety and diversity that gives each part of the Sultanate its own unique flavour during the vibrant month long Muscat festival.

by Yasmine El-Geressi While much of the Gulf region might be dominated by a panorama of towering skyscrapers and some of the most opulent five-star hotels, there remains one Arabian gem that can reconnect you with the rich and diverse heritage and traditions of a civilization that stretches back thousands of years - Oman - home to some of the Gulf’s most historic cities. Ancient mosques, forts, and tombs tell a story about the

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The festival, which takes place during January and February, offers a unique chance to dance in the rhythms of traditional Omani music, fill your tummies with the delicious local delicacies, discover the country’s oldest professions and experience true Omani hospitality while going on an interactive learning experience. Muscat festival began in 1998 and was designed as place


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to keep children entertained during the school holidays but over the years it has evolved. Today, the lure of this festival is equally as strong for all devout seekers of culture, history and family fun as the programme now encompass “culture, heritage, sports, entertainment, fashion and more�, Khaled bin Mohammed Bahram, Deputy Chief of Muscat Municipality, told Majalla. “Heritage is the most important part of our Sultanate and collectively we take care to preserve and highlight it. We also try to develop it to keep up with the next ages," explained Bahram. Countries from all over the world also take part in the festival with dance and acrobatic shows, allowing visitors

Amerat Park, the two locations where the festival is to explore how diversity unites us all and strengthens the held, the powerful and pleasant aromas of the burning Luban (Omani Frankinscence) tantalised my nostrils. fabric of our society. A precious substance revered through the ages and a This year, Muscat festival recorded just under 1,000,000 hallmark of Omani life, Luban is deeply entrenched in visitors according to Muscat Municipality, the festival the culture, burned as incense in homes and offices and added to perfumes. The Luban makers I spoke to at the organiser. festival explained that to me that the aromatic resin is As I walked through the Naseem Gardens and the also used for healing purposes to ease everything from

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inflamed joints to congestion and anxiety. Some are mild, others more evident, while some are particularly potent, but each one drew me in with a natural sense of inquisition as I figured out which ones would suit me best. Like the exotic array of scents, the festival’s wideranging stalls, attractions and events beckoned my attention in many different directions. Another treat for my senses came in the form of a sticky, brown concoction made with almonds and farina, caramelised sugar, rose water, saffron and butter. Unquestionably the nation’s favourite sweet treat, Halwa is most often made by men with the recipe handed down from generation to generation and is usually served with a bitter cardamom coffee poured from a brass long-spouted coffee pot into tiny china-cup like bowls. Ahmed Salem el-Habsi, a halwa maker of 22 years from al-Seeb, explained to me that the it takes two and a half

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Muscat festival allowed me to immerse myself into Oman’s vibrant culture, and the more I learnt about the country, the deeper I wanted to dive into into the landscapes and adventures it has to offer. to three hours of constant stirring to make one batch of the beloved sweet. While mixing the tough mass in a huge copper vat over a fire, el-Habsi explained why he cherishes his profession: “I inherited the trade from my grandfather and my uncle and I continued because we have to preserve our heritage


and halwa making is a unique feature of our culture,� explained El-Habsi. While the food, fragrances, rides and atmosphere were all distinct, what really set this festival apart for me was the opportunity to observe traditional artisans practice their inherited skills firsthand. The effortless skill that these artisans display is breathtaking and worth the visit alone. From speaking to several craftsmen and women, it was evident that craftsmanship is a source of national pride for many Omanis. The traditional crafts sector is thriving in-spite of globalisation and modern

While the food, fragrances, rides and atmosphere were all distinct, what really set this festival apart for me was the opportunity to observe traditional artisans practice their inherited skills firsthand.

manufacturing techniques. As technology and machines have crept into every aspect of our lives, from how we communicate to how we work, many of us long for traces of a human touch and delight in handmade. There is a bond between the consumer and the maker - the thumb mark on a Jihal pot (made to carry water), the hammer mark on a silver khanjjar (Omani dagger worn around the waist like a belt and forms part of men’s traditional dress), the chisel mark on a wooden Mandoo (a chest that is made in different sizes and is usually decorated or engraved that is the most famous wooden creation in Oman.) Crafts connect us to our history, strengthen local identity and unity, and empowers us creatively. One such tradition that has not yet completely surrendered to machines is Al Sadu, a traditional form of weaving practised by Bedouin women in rural communities of the Gulf to produce soft furnishings and decorative accessories for camels and horses. Across Oman, textile represents one of the most valuable economic contributions that women made to their society. It also played a central role in the social lives of traditional women. While effortlessly weaving the wool on a floor loom, traditionally made of palm or jujube wood, Sheikha al-Quraini from el-Siweeg explained to

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me that women dominate the industry and are involved in every part of the laborious process from preparing the raw materials to the weaving itself. It takes Al-Quraini, who has been perfecting her art since was 12 years, up to two and a half months to weave a two meter long rug. Traditional colours are black, white, brown, beige and red, with distinctive patterns in the form of narrow bands of geometric designs. “The dyes used are made from local plants such as turmeric, hibiscus and saffron,” al-Quraini explained. Through the General Authority for Craft Industriy, Oman has invested in preserving, developing and boosting the traditional textile industry. The authority established The Training and Production Centre for Textile and Embroidery in the Wilayat of Samail in Al Dakhiliya Governorate, a training centre that works to nurture Omani talents. This is just one of many craft houses set up across Oman to keep the handmade textile industry alive. Muscat festival allowed me to immerse myself into Oman’s vibrant culture, and the more I learnt about the country, the deeper I wanted to dive into into the landscapes and adventures it has to offer.

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The past blends with the present, tradition mingles with modernity, and a sense of enviable balance prevails. Like its neighbours, Oman is famous for its relentless sunshine and golden dunes, but the naturally extraordinary country is endowed with a beautiful landscape that is almost unmatched. From the Straights of Hormuz in the north to evergreen Dhofar in the south, the Sultanate of Oman’s extensive territory stretches over much of the east coast of the Arabian Peninsula and is home to majestic mountains, red dunes, expansive deserts, and over 2,000 km of coastline, offering spectacular natural environments each packed with their own ecosystems. But Oman prefers a more understated and quiet elegance to its more well-known neighbouring countries. Lowrise buildings meet expanses of emptiness, red dunes merge into sharp mountains, the past blends with the present, tradition mingles with modernity, and a sense of enviable balance prevails.


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Raya Al Hassan: Lebanon’s New Interior Minister Sets a New Precedent for the Arab World By: Mansaf El Mazgheny Illustration by Ali Elmandalawi (1) EARLY AND PERSONAL LIFE

After 9 months of political deadlock, Lebanese Prime Minister Saad El Hariri finally formed a government at the tail end of last January. Among the ministers that Hariri appointed was one Raya Mohamed Ali El Hafar aka Raya Al Hassan who became the country’s first female Interior Minister. El Hassan was born in January 1967 in Tripoli, Lebanon. After marrying the physician Dr. Janah Al Hassan she adopted his last name and became known as Raya Al Hassan. Al Hassan is also a mother two three young ladies; Dana, her eldest daughter, was born in 1993, Rama was born in 1995 and Zein, her youngest, was born in 2004.

(2) EDUCATIONAL BACKGROUND

In 1987, at the young age of 20, she received a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from the American University of Beirut. Then in 1990, she gained a master’s in Business Administration from George Washington University.

(3) POLITICAL LEANINGS AND SECTARIAN BACKGROUND

El Hassan is a Sunni Muslim, and like most

Lebanese politicians, her sectarian background influenced her political stances. She joined the Future Movement which is the largest member of the March 14 Alliance. She became a prominent member of both movements and eventually became a member of the March 14 Alliance’s political bureau .

(4) HER RISE TO POLITICAL STARDOM

El Hassan’s hard work and dedication to her country is evident throughout her political career. For instance, she once served as the program specialist at Economic Governance and Pro-Poor portfolio at UNDP Lebanon. El Hassan also worked for the Lebanese Finance ministry in 1992. From 1995 to 1999 she was an assistant to the Finance Minister and supervised the implementation of the ministry’s expenditure management reforms. Between 1999 and 2000, she became an assistant to the director of public relations at Corporate Banking department of Byblos Bank. From 2000 to 2003, she was an advisor to the Minister of Economy and Trade. From 2005 to 2009, she worked in Prime Minister Fouad Siniora’s cabinet and she was responsible for many of the Council of Ministers’ projects. She also took part in the Paris II and Paris III conferences (International Conferences on Lebanon’s Reconstruction), where she

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further developed the Lebanese government’s economic and social programs.

(5) HER FIRST MINISTERIAL OFFICE

From November 2009 to 13 June 2011 she served as Lebanon’s Finance Minister, serving during Saad Hariri’s premiership and Michel Suleiman’s presidency. At the time of her appointment many Lebanese people said: “Our pockets are now in the hands of a woman.”

(6) MAKING HISTORY

Raya Al Hassan’s name will now be entrenched in history as she became the first woman in the Arab world to be appointed Interior Minister. Al Hassan now has a heavy burden to bear as she is presently responsible for her country’s border security and internal security.

(7) PAVING THE WAY FOR FUTURE ARAB WOMEN

Al Hassan is now embarking on a journey of showing the Arab world that a woman can effectively uphold a male dominated office. If she is successful, she will become a role model to millions of girls and women throughout the Arab world and perhaps even set a precedent for other Arab countries to make similar bold ministerial appointments.


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What’s Causing those Swollen Feet?

Perhaps you're just on your feet a lot, but the swelling also could signal a potentially serious condition. Harvard Health Letter Anyone can experience swollen feet from time to time. It's common — especially after walking or standing for long

periods — and it's often remedied by resting and elevating those tired dogs. Sometimes, however, swelling (also called edema) is a red flag for a more serious underlying problem.

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"My approach is to consider potential problems in each of the body's systems, such as the heart and blood vessels, bones, and skin," explains Dr. James Ioli, chief of podiatry services at Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women's Hospital and co-editor of the Harvard Special Health Report Healthy Feet.

VASCULAR CAUSES When you are on your feet a lot, gravity pulls blood into the veins of your legs, and some of the water in the blood enters the tissues of your legs and feet, causing them to swell. But there are also some conditions that can cause similar swelling because they affect the movement of fluids within the body. Venous insufficiency: Valves in the veins of our legs keep blood from being pulled down by gravity and pooling in the leg veins. As we age, those valves age, too, and may function less efficiently. This is a common cause of swollen feet.

Swollen feet. (Getty)

Phlebitis: This painful inflammation of the veins can cause swollen feet and also leg pain. Deep-vein thrombosis: In this condition, blood clots form in the deep veins of the legs. The clots block the return of blood from the legs to the heart, causing swelling of the legs and feet. This can be very serious if it is not diagnosed and treated promptly: the blood clots can break loose and travel in the blood to the lungs, causing a condition called pulmonary embolism. This can cause breathlessness, pain with breathing, and even death. Usually, the clots occur in only one leg, and so just one leg is unusually swollen. While a new swelling of both legs and feet often is not serious, new swelling of just one leg is always something to bring to your doctor. Heart failure: A failing heart does not pump as effectively as it should. As a result, blood in the leg veins that should be pumped back to the heart instead pools in the veins. Liver disease: Some liver diseases can lead to low blood levels of a protein called albumin, which is made in the liver. Low albumin levels cause fluid in the blood to pass into the tissues, producing swelling not only of the legs and feet but also other parts of the body, such as the hands and face. Kidney disease: Fluid can build up in the tissues if disease makes it hard for the kidneys to get rid of excess fluid in the body (one of the main functions of the kidneys). Sometimes, swelling in the feet is the first clue that you have heart failure or liver or kidney disease, and your doctor needs to consider those possibilities. Your doctor will take a medical history and do a thorough physical examination that includes your heart and lungs. The doctor may order

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Sometimes, swelling in the feet is the first clue that you have heart failure or liver or kidney disease, and your doctor needs to consider those possibilities. blood and urine tests, a chest x-ray, an electrocardiogram, or other tests.

OTHER CAUSES Sometimes swollen feet have causes that are not directly related to the flow of body fluids. For example: Bone and tendon conditions: Several problems with the bones and tendons in your feet also can cause swelling, although (in contrast to the vascular causes) they also typically cause pain. Examples include fractures, arthritis, and tendinitis. Problems with the skin and toenails: As we age, our skin thins. That makes skin more vulnerable to cuts, which then can become infected, causing swelling of the area near the wound. A cut on the foot can cause the whole foot to swell. Ingrown toenails that dig into the skin also can lead to sores and swelling. Drug side effects: Some medications, such as calciumchannel blockers to treat high blood pressure, can also be the culprit.

WHAT SHOULD YOU DO? A little foot swelling is probably nothing to worry about. If you get off your feet and prop them up on a footstool, the swelling should disappear over several hours. When should you call the doctor? "Report your symptoms to your doctor if there's so much swelling that it leaves an indentation if you press your finger into it, or if it has developed suddenly, lasts for more than a few days, affects just one foot, or is accompanied by pain or discoloration of the skin," Dr. Ioli advises. Finally, don't make your own diagnosis. With so many potential reasons for swelling, it's important to let your doctor drill down to the cause, prescribe the treatment you need, and help you get back on your feet as soon as possible. Originally published in Harvard Health Letter.


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Insecurities Are Loud and Confidence Is Silent How to Let Go of Your Own Insecurities and Start to Trust Your Own Intuition by Samantha Morris

social circle, professionally or across social media?

Have you ever encountered that person who is a great orator, especially when it comes to highlighting their skills, role or work and personal achievements? Perhaps they advertently or inadvertently compare or contrast themselves to other people or even yourself, making themselves known to be a leader, the successful one or the specialist’? And perhaps they’re even the first to be heard, seen or talked about whether in your own

From afar you might think that this person is extremely confident, successful or ambitious. Whilst it can’t be denied that this may be true, it is also highly likely that excessive personal PR and ego driven actions of words is, in fact, a sign of insecurity, self-doubt, a cry to be heard seen and a protective response against feeling judged or rejected. After all what someone shows to the world isn’t always a true

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Awareness is a powerful tool for self-discovery and the biggest time investment you can afford yourself for self-development and growth. feeling pain or even worse rejection? After all, does sustainable confidence really feel the need to be heard or to be seen? What if true confidence was a feeling of an inner calm within yourself and trusting in your own intuition and gut, rather than looking to gain acknowledgement and positive confirmation from others? To a certain extent on average most people strive to experience this type of confidence that lies in between; to be neither boastful or ego driven, but to also feel calm, content, acknowledged, seen and heard. So what happens when we encounter people or even when you yourself feel the need to promote, to showcase or boost your confidence and to show the others just how much you’ve achieved or are achieving? Within a world where PR rules (especially across social media) it’s no surprise that we sometimes find ourselves in this position. It’s also a sign of survival, of protective instinct and of human nature rather than something to feel ashamed of. However, when you find either yourself or others in this position how can you begin to trust your own intuition and to gain more awareness and control over your responses in a non- judgmental informed way? Here are 6 top tips to help you to trust your own intuition and to experience calm sustainable confidence from within. 1. Forgive, let go, be kind to yourself and know that you and others are only Human.

reflection to show what’s happening behind closed doors or beneath the surface. Often, confidence can be expressed through multiple ways and yes sometimes it can be loud and you may question ‘why shouldn’t it be celebrated?’ Of course, there is nothing wrong with whether confidence is loud or modest (after all its purely subjective). However, what if ego-driven confidence is a protective masquerade against

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It’s very easy to scorn or to be judgmental if you find yourself or anyone you know in a self-promoting position. However, it’s important to remember everyone, at one time or another, experiences the need to search for confidence from others rather than to trust their own gut instinct. After all we are only human! The danger comes when our responses run on autopilot, and we lose all awareness of what our individual triggers are and why we behave or respond in the way we do. First of all it’s important to let go of any judgment and to move forwards towards a journey of self-discovery, starting with small but powerful steps.


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2. Awareness leads to change. Often we won’t be aware of why we, or indeed others, respond or behave in a certain way. Therefore, it’s important not to make quick judgments or assumptions. However, awareness is a powerful tool for self-discovery and the biggest time investment you can afford yourself for self-development and growth. First of all, it’s important to recognise your own story, past attachments, fears and experiences, which can lead to how we feel about ourselves now. Ask yourself: Were you acknowledged or praised for your achievements as a child? Did your parents expect you to cater to their needs rather than focusing on yours? Or alternatively did they smother you with love care or attention, so much so, that you didn’t have the time or space to realise your own potential and so you feel the need to constantly rely on others opinions or to protect yourself by being your best PR person in the hope that others will boost you up? 3. How are your experiences being replayed today? How is your story playing out today? How is it affecting your self-esteem and relationships both with yourself and others? And if you do experience the need to reap confidence from others then ask yourself why is this? 4. Short-lived confidence versus long-term sustainable confidence. Doesn’t it feel great to be complimented, praised, admired, or to be acknowledged?! But what happens when you’re constantly searching for praise or acknowledgement from others? It’s also important to question whether this boost in confidence lasts or is it short-lived? The truth is that whilst being acknowledged or praised by others is incredibly important towards building self-esteem,

For every time you feel the need to seek confirmation of your worth from someone else, ask yourself can you do this for yourself?

it cannot be solely relied upon in the long-term. Only your own inner confidence and other’s acknowledgements can contribute to this! 5. Why not trust yourself? It’s a simple but powerful question! Why not trust yourself? You may know the answer here and now, or alternatively you may need to dig a little deeper perhaps even with some trusted help. However, once you’ve uncovered the truth whether this is because of past or current fears and experiences, then you’ll feel more aware and in control. 6. Re-connect to your own inner needs, values and instincts. It›s important to ask yourself what your true life values are and whether you’re living according to your own values or someone else’s. Reconnect to what you value in life, work and relationships. Reconnect to hobbies, meditation, your health

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and wellbeing, relationships, which you care about, time and space for yourself, and your own positive inner voice and instincts. 7. Reimagine your vision of long-term sustainable confidence. It may be that you already have an idea of what confidence may look like or feel like and there’s nothing wrong with that. However, it’s also important to really be honest with yourself and ask is this your idea of confidence? Or a projected expectation from others about what confidence should look like or feel like? If it’s the latter, its time to afford yourself some space for reconnecting and reimagining what you believe confidence looks like or feel like for you! Try creating a vision board as a starting point. 8. Building and maintaining your own confidence. Then ask yourself what will help you to build and maintain

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your own self-esteem? Will it be regular check-ins with yourself when you actively schedule time and space to reconnect to your values or needs? Or perhaps it›s time to chart every time you feel proud of yourself and your achievements and to treat yourself at the end of every week or every few days as a celebration. For every time you feel the need to seek confirmation of your worth from someone else, ask yourself can you do this for yourself? Finally, for realistic sustainable change to happen, consistency to self-development and wellbeing is key! *Samantha Morris is an Internationally accredited IAPC&M Confidence and Success Coach. She globally coaches people from all walks of life to positively overcome a wide range of professional and personal challenges so that they may live a confident, successful and thriving life!


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Destroying a Nation: The Civil War in Syria by Nikolaos Van Dam Reviewed by John Waterbury This concise guide to Syria’s intractable conflict provides a nuanced analysis of Syrian sectarianism and national identity. It also offers a useful history of the Baath Party’s dominance in Syria since 1966 and the near-total capture of the military and intelligence infrastructure by the minority Alawite sect, which was led first by Hafez al-Assad and since 2000 has been led by his son Bashar. Van Dam chronicles the efforts since 2011 to find a negotiated solution to the civil war, which has claimed at least 450,000 lives and displaced some six million people. He dismisses the possibility of an insider coup against Assad by the Alawites themselves and deplores the excessive idealism and lack of realpolitik displayed by outside forces, especially Western governments’ refusal to include Assad in any negotiated transition. Van Dam sees no way out in the short term, but nor does he feel that Assad can sustain a military victory even if, with Iranian and Russian help, he achieves one.

Islamist Terrorism in Europe by Petter Nesser Reviewed by Andrew Moravcsik This sober and detailed analysis of Islamist terrorism in Europe generalizes not just from the attacks that have succeeded but also from the over two-thirds of planned attacks that have been foiled. Nesser shows that although their basic goals are constant, Islamist terrorists adapt their tactics with the times. In recent years, heightened security has made complex bombings and aircraft hijackings all but impossible— so terrorists have gone minimalist. Attacks today tend to be one-man operations, carried out with vans and knives. Most perpetrators are refugees or European-born jihadists. They are almost always motivated by religion, and they communicate with outside groups through encrypted messaging tools, such as WhatsApp. This form of terrorism is, as Nesser says, “less lethal, but almost impossible to stop.” So although the annual European death toll from terrorism is far below what it was during the 1970s and 1980s, the number of attacks is higher than ever. Nesser concludes that military operations abroad do less to quash terrorism than sound policing at home. Police, he says, should focus on stopping “entrepreneurs”—skilled jihadist activists who assist perpetrators—through aggressive surveillance. He ends on a pessimistic note, but perhaps the striking decline in successful European terrorist attacks over the past year would lead him to reconsider his conclusion

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Talaat Pasha: Father of Modern Turkey, Architect of Genocide by Hans-Lukas Kieser Reviewed by John Waterbury In 1910, Mehmed Talaat, a leader of the Young Turks movement and future grand vizier (essentially, the prime minister) of the Ottoman Empire, began planning the extermination of the empire’s Armenians. In 1915, he began to implement his scheme. Kieser’s portrait of Talaat shows this architect of genocide as a charming monster, brilliant tactician, and fanatical ideologue. Kieser’s prose is sometimes tangled, and his narrative can be confusing, but his tale is gripping and well researched. Talaat traded a wartime alliance with Germany for German silence in the face of an estimated 800,000 Armenian deaths. His actions left Weimar Germany morally blemished, and they scuttled the possibility that the Ottoman Empire might turn in a more liberal direction. After fleeing to exile in Berlin, Talaat was assassinated in 1921 by an Armenian militant. Even in death, Talaat cast a long shadow. Kieser argues that his movement served as “a paradigm” for the Nazi Party. He also debunks the notion that the rise of Kemal Ataturk in the 1920s marked a rupture with the Young Turks; rather, it was a continuation. Likewise, today, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan invokes the Ottoman nationalist themes popularized by Talaat

Food Aid in Sudan: A History of Power, Politics, and Profit by Susanne Jaspars Reviewed by Nicolas van de Walle Jaspars begins this lively history of international food aid in Sudan by noting that the country has received foreign assistance for over 50 years and yet much of its population still has barely enough to eat. According to UN estimates, over six million Sudanese needed emergency help in 2016. Jaspars documents how ideas about food aid have changed over the decades but shows that successive reforms have failed to address key problems. She is particularly scathing about what she describes as the “medicalization” of food aid, under which programs no longer aim to ensure broad, self-sustaining access to food; they are designed merely to help people grow more resilient so that they can survive despite chronic insecurity. Jaspars concedes that donors, aid workers, and governments in Sudan and abroad have learned a lot about how to deliver food aid over the last half century, but she argues that this expertise is often ill used. Much of the food does not go to the most needy because the Sudanese government allows politics to dictate who gets what and donors either acquiesce or partly withdraw from the country in the face of political meddling.

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Forty Years After Shah’s Fall, Khamenei’s Regime Collapses  

Forty Years After Shah’s Fall, Khamenei’s Regime Collapses  

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