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Libya and the Case of the Smuggled Funds Abroad

A Weekly Political News Magazine

Carla Haddad: Media Personalities Declared War On Me, I Responded With Love

A Weekly Political News Magazine

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Fez, Morocco: An Oasis Amid the Bedlam of the Ancient Medina

Issue 1742 - April - 05/04/2019

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What We Know So Far About Trump’s “Deal of the Century” www.majalla.com


Editorial The Arab-Israeli conflict has been the focal point of Middle East affairs for the past 70 years. Over the decades, there has been a distinct lack of progress on creating a lasting peace between Palestine and Israel. While there were high hopes for a considerable breakthrough between Palestine and Israel in the 1990s, things eventually went back to square one by the start of the 2000s. This week’s issue of Majalla explores current developments regarding Israel and Palestine such as the recent General Elections in Israel and the proposed “Deal of the Century” from the Trump administration which aims to usher in a comprehensive peace process. This week’s cover story by Yasmine El Geressi is on the Trump administration’s proposed “Deal of the Century” which aims to finally initiate a lasting peace between Israel and Palestine. Thus far, the details of the deal have not been made public, but judging from various interviews of Trump cabinet members the deal will be economically based as it will aim to increase investment into Palestine. Interviews have also indicated the goal of eliminating borders as to ease the flow of goods and people thus increasing opportunities for the Palestinians.

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Editor-in-Chief

Ghassan Charbel Editorial secretary Mostafa El-Dessouki HH Saudi Research and Marketing (UK) Ltd

This week’s issue also features a report on the latest Israeli elections in which incumbent Prime Minister Netanyahu of the Likud Party faced off against Benny Gantz of the newly formed Blue and White Party. The report notes the controversies and corruption allegations that Netanyahu faced and how he used them to his advantage. The report also focuses on the factors that lead to Netanyahu’s victory and how he narrowly succeeded in this referendum on his premiership.

10th Floor Building 7 Chiswick Business Park 566 Chiswick High Road London W4 5YG

Salem Abu Dhahir explores the scandal in which extraordinary amounts of funds meant for Libyan reconstruction that were/are being smuggled out of the country. The writer gives the historical background of this issue as it started during Gaddafi’s time as ruler became exponentially worse after the fall of his regime. Today, Libyan funds and assets have been smuggled all across the world and are found in unexpected places like South Africa. The writer also tells us about both the legal and illegal means in which the current Libyan government has been trying to get back its embezzled assets.

‫الوكيل اإلعالني‬ ،www.alkhaleejiah.com :‫موقع إلكتروني‬ hq@alkhaleejiah.com :‫بريد إلكتروني‬ + 9714 3 914440 :‫ دبي‬،920 000 417 : ‫من داخل اململكة‬ +44 207 404 6950 :‫ لندن‬+00764 537 331 :‫باريس‬ +966 11 441 1444 : ‫ومن مختلف الدول‬

Maia Otarashvili writes on the current Ukrainian presidential elections, the second round of which is meant to take place on April 21. The writer explores the reasons behind the incumbent president’s, Petro Poroshenko, electoral shortcomings noting that while he is a good wartime president who ensured that his conflict with Russia is prioritized in global security agendas, he is an economic failure that caused Ukraine to become the poorest country in Europe.

- ‫ طريق مكة‬- ‫ حي املؤتمرات‬- ‫مرخص لها الرياض‬ ‫تقاطع التخصصى‬ +44 207 831 8181 :‫ لندن‬- 4419933 ‫ هاتف‬:‫الرياض‬

Joseph Braude writes on how the Moroccan state has uniquely used TV broadcasting and radio stations to brand moderate Islamic teachings. Unlike other Arab states that have attempted to do the same, Morocco state media has embraced the unique aspects of Moroccan Islamic teachings and has allowed a myriad of broadcasters to have their say rather than relying on a single cult of personality.

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Tel : +44 207 831 8181 Fax: +44 207 831 2310


A Weekly Political News Magazine

24 The President Vs The Comedian

Issue 1743 - April- 12/04/2019

20 Are Russia and China Really Forming an Alliance?

16 The Fight Against Extremism on Arab Airwaves

32 12 Netanyahu Wins His Referendum

28 Has Brexit Broken British Politics?

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Omar al-Bashir’s 30 -Year Reign Over Sudan 3

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48 What's Causing Your Shaky Hands?


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Elderly Druze men gather during a protest against U.S. President Donald Trump›s recognition of Israel›s annexation of the Golan Heights, in the Druze village of Buqata, on March 30. JALAA MAREY/AFP/Getty Images

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Villagers work to rescue a young elephant, one of three, from the deep mud on the shores of the seasonal Lake Kapnarok, part of the Kenyan Rift Valley›s ecosystem in Baringo County, on April 1. EVANS KIMAIYO/AFP/Getty Images 7

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in the city was evacuated on Monday. Floods described by officials as the worst since the 1940s have hit some 1,900 cities and villages across Iran after exceptionally heavy rain since March 19. Western and southwestern areas of the country are suffering the worst.

Israeli PM Netanyahu Wins National Election

Southwest Iran Hit Hard by Flooding

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has won the Israeli national election, securing a record fifth term in office, TV Channel 12 said on Wednesday. With 96 percent of the votes counted, Netanyahu’s right-wing Likud won 37 of Knesset seats, against 36 for centrist Blue and White, headed by Netanyahu’s rival, former general Benny Gantz. Though neither party captured a ruling majority in the -120member Knesset, the results, published eight hours after voting ended on Tuesday, put Netanyahu in a strong position to form a coalition government with right-wing factions.

Iran evacuated residents from inundated areas of the southwestern city of Ahvaz on Wednesday as the nationwide death toll from the worst flooding in 70 years reached 77, state media reported. The state news agency IRNA said more than 200 villages were also evacuated in the oilrich southwestern province of Khuzestan, and 46,000 people were housed in emergency shelters provided by the government. Further districts of Ahvaz were put on flood alert, the provincial governor said, as more torrential rain was forecast in coming days. A hospital

Libyan Crisis Escalates as Eastern Libyan Forces Conduct Air Strikes on Tripoli Eastern Libyan forces carried out air strikes on the southern part of Tripoli on Sunday and made progress towards the city centre, residents said, escalating an operation to take the capital as the United Nations failed to achieve a truce. The Libyan National Army (LNA) force of Khalifa Haftar, which backs a parallel administration in the east, last week launched an advance on Tripoli in the west, home to the internationally recognised government. The offensive intensifies a power struggle that has fractured the oil and gas producer since the 2011 overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi. The United Nations has been forced to postpone a carefully planned and potentially watershed national conference on Libya’s political future, a blow to Libya’s democratic forces, who had hoped it might open a path to presidential and parliamentary elections by the end of this year.

Thousands of Protesters Reject Algerian Interim President Thousands of protesters rejected the Algerian

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the EU defer Friday’s exit until June 30 but in Brussels a “flextension” until the end of the year or until March 2020 was being discussed, EU diplomats said.

New Zealand Votes to Amend Gun Laws After Christchurch Attack

parliament’s choice of an interim president on Tuesday after the resignation of Abdelaziz Bouteflika, demanding radical change after decades of domination by the ailing leader’s inner circle. The appointment of upper house chairman Abdelkader Bensalah accords with Algeria’s constitution but many people oppose him because he is part of a ruling caste that has dominated Algeria since independence from France in 1962. The choice of Bensalah angered many as protests grew in central Algiers

EU to Grant May a Brexit Delay, With Conditions The European Union will grant Prime Minister Theresa May a second delay to Brexit at an emergency summit on Wednesday but leaders will debate a longer extension with conditions to prevent any future British leader jeopardising the bloc. In what was cast in London as a national humiliation, May dashed to Berlin and Paris on the eve of the summit to ask Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron to allow her to postpone a divorce that was supposed to have been Britain’s ‘liberation’ May had requested

Lawmakers in New Zealand voted almost unanimously on Wednesday to change gun laws, less than a month after its worst peacetime mass shooting, in which 50 people were killed in attacks on two mosques in Christchurch. Parliament passed the gun reform bill, the first substantial changes to New Zealand’s gun laws in decades, by 119 to 1. It must now receive royal assent from the governor general to become law. “There have been very few occasions when I have seen parliament come together in this way, and I can’t imagine circumstances when it is more necessary,” Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said in presenting the legislation. Ardern banned the sale of all military style semi-automatics (MSSA) and assault rifles just six days after the March 15 shooting, and announced plans to tighten gun laws.

U.S. Attorney General Says Mueller Report Will Be Released Within a Week U.S. Attorney General William Barr told lawmakers on Tuesday that he intends to release “within a week” a redacted version of the long-awaited report on Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election from Special Counsel Robert Mueller. During a congressional hearing, Barr was repeatedly

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challenged by Democrats who raised suspicions that he may have misrepresented Mueller’s report to paint the Republican president in a better light. Barr, an appointee of Trump who last month announced what he said were the main findings of the report, said he would be as open as possible about redactions of sensitive information when he hands over the full document.

Image of Black Hole Released in Astrophysics Breakthrough An international scientific team on Wednesday announced a milestone in astrophysics - the first-ever photo of a black hole - using a global network of telescopes to gain insight into celestial objects with gravitational fields so strong no matter or light can escape. The research was conducted by the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) project, an international collaboration begun in 2012 to try to directly observe the immediate environment of a black hole using a global network of Earthbased telescopes. The announcement was made in simultaneous news conferences in Washington, Brussels, Santiago, Shanghai, Taipei and Tokyo.


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What We Know So Far About Trump’s “Deal of the Century” With the Release of the Deal Just Around the Corner, Little is Known About Its Details by Yasmine El-Geressi T The Trump administration is beginning to prepare its allies for a spring release of its long-awaited “ultimate deal” for Middle East peace. President Donald Trump’s senior adviser and son-in-law, Jared Kushner, has outlined

that his plan is focused on four principles: Freedom, respect, opportunity and security, but despite working on the plan for close to two years, scant information is known about the contours of the initiative. White House officials have also kept mostly silent about the “deal of the century”.

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Here is what we know so far. White House officials say that the peace plan will be detailed and have identified areas in which it differs from past attempts by previous US administrations to broker a peace deal. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has said that the administration is trying a new approach, away from the old parameters of failed blueprints that have yielded little results. The new plan is said to bring the benefits of an agreement between both parties to the forefront. In January this year, Kushner visited Oman, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE in a one week tour aimed at gauging the level of support for the economic dimensions of the plan. While in Abu Dhabi, Kushner was interviewed by Sky News Arabia and said that the peace plan is focused on economic opportunity. It’s about “what’s holding back the Palestinian people from achieving their full potential and what’s holding back the Israeli people from being able to properly integrate with the whole region.” He expressed hope that the plan’s economic impact will “be felt throughout the entire region” as his initiative is aimed at bringing about commercial opportunities to improve the living standards for the people in the Middle East—including Palestinians and Israelis— which have remained sluggish due to continuous conflict throughout the region.

US President Donald J Trump (L) and White House senior adviser Jared Kushner meet with Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) at the King David Hotel May 2017 ,22 in Jerusalem, Israel. (Getty)

The plan promises billions of dollars for economic development through international funding in the impoverished Palestinian areas, the West Bank and Gaza, as well as in the neighbouring Arab countries, particularly Jordan, Egypt and Lebanon. “The economic plan only works if the region supports it,” said one official who briefed a small group of reporters ahead of Kushner’s visit. “This is a very important part of the overall equation. The scope of the economic investments are new to the peacemaking efforts, but experts say that whether it will materialise is dependent on attracting enough donors to deliver on the economic targets, particularly as Trump has demonstrated throughout his presidency that he is not prepared to provide serious American dollars in foreign assistance. In his Sky News Arabia interview, Kushner said that the political dimension of the plan would focus on “resolving the border issue.” “The goal of resolving these borders is really to eliminate the borders,” he said. “If you can eliminate borders and have peace and less fear of terror, you could have freer flow of goods, freer flow of people and that would create a lot more opportunities.” Kushner also expressed the need for unified rule over the West

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Kushner has said that «the final status issues will be addressed in our plan» but still little is known about key deal-breaker issues. Bank and the Gaza Strip, which are currently split between the internationally recognized Palestinian Authority and Hamas respectively. “We would like to see is them unified under one leadership and come together. There has been a lot of discussion between Hamas and through Fatah, but I think what the people want is a government that doesn’t have corruption,” he said. The Middle East envoy also said the peace deal is focusing on freedom and respect as the key to put an end to the decades-old Palestinian-Israeli conflict. “The first principle is to have freedom. We want people to be able to have the freedom of opportunity, the freedom of religion, the freedom to worship, regardless of your faith. Respect: we want all people to have dignity and to respect each other. Opportunity: we want people to be able to better their lives and not allow their grandfather’s conflict to hijack their children’s future. And the final one is security.” While sharing his deal with the stakeholders in the Middle East, Kusher apologised for not being willing to reveal significant details about its contents, which he insisted are based on two years of consultations with various parties to the conflict. Kushner highlighted the importance of maintaining the confidentiality of many details of the peace deal. He claimed that the deal’s provisions are more practical and fairer than previous attempts at peacemaking which is why it is required that they are kept secret - to prevent their premature leaking which could lead to its failure. “We have examined the previous negotiations and we found that the details are unveiled even before the maturity of the peace deal, forcing politicians to abandon the plan,” he said. Kushner has said that "the final status issues will be addressed in our plan" but still little is known about key deal-breaker issues such as the issue of Jerusalem, the refugee question, the future of Jewish settlements, security arrangements, bilateral relations, and the parameters of the final borders. While the plan is said to be detailed and therefore less is left to interpretation, this does not mean that an agreement would emerge soon after the deal is finally released as there is no avoiding what each side sees as essential on these core issues. No doubt each side will evaluate and discuss each sentence, necessitating lengthy negotiations.


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Netanyahu Wins His Referendum How One of Israel’s Most Contested Elections Turned Out 12

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Given the circumstances of the elections, it was largely a referendum on Netanyahu’s premiership which he won even if it’s on a technicality. willing to join Likud and form a ruling coalition.

REFERENDUM ON NETANYAHU

Prime Minster of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu greets supporters as he attending his after vote speech on April 2019 ,10 in Tel Aviv, Israel. (Getty)

By Majalla-London The latest general election was one of the most highly contested in Israeli history. As of the writing of this article, both Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud Party and opposition leader Benny Gantz’s Blue and White Party gained 35 Knesset seats each. Despite the tied number of seats, Netanyahu is set to remain Prime Minister and become the country’s longest-serving leader, overtaking Israel’s founder and first Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion. This is mostly due to the high number of right-wing parties getting elected into Knesset, which would be more than

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Prior to the election, Netanyahu had been mired with corruption allegations and Avichai Mandelblit, Israel’s Attorney General, announced his intention to press charges against the Prime Minister on cases that range from bribery to breach of trust. What’s significant about Netanyahu is that the allegations against him did not persuade him to leave office; rather the charges seemed to have motivated him to go further. Indeed, he and his party have painted these charges as falsified allegations as a witch hunt propagated by the left wing media. Other Israeli senior officials in the past have resigned when similar charges were pressed by the Attorney General, for example back in 2008 Prime Minister Ehud Olmert was faced with corruption charges which led to his resignation. Despite his supposed efforts to protect his name, he was still convicted of bribery and was sentenced to 27 months in prison. He was, however, released on July 2017 ,2, after serving just 16 months of his sentence. But, Netanyahu has used such charges to his advantage, as such he appealing to his voter base, who will feel that he is being unfairly charged. Moreover, now that he will remain Prime Minister he will most likely paint the election victory as a hardwon battle against the liberal media. Given the circumstances of the elections, it was largely a referendum on Netanyahu’s premiership which he won even if it’s on a technicality.

BENNY GANTZ: THE “ANTINETANYAHU” CANDIDATE Former IDF chief of staff, Benny Gantz, was the incumbent prime minister’s main opponent in the election. He had previously set his sights on becoming the new Defense Minister, but he became more ambitious as he became more


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popular opinion polls. In December 2018, he formed the Israel Resilience party, which aimed to oust Netanyahu from power. Gantz attempted to brand himself as a centrist candidate, but his public opinions on various issues raged from right-leaning to vaguely centrist. For example, on the issue of the Palestinian conflict, he rejected a two-state solution and instead called for a “separation from the Palestinians” without really explaining what he meant. Gantz’s biggest campaign platform was that he is the “anti-Netanyahu” candidate, who would seek to improve several sectors, such as education. Many of his policies are similar to that of Netanyahu’s, as such his campaign was aimed mostly at opposing Netanyahu, for instance, he had criticized alleged efforts from the government to avoid any of the charges that Netanyahu is facing, “i.e. the so-called French Laws” which would prevent the sitting Prime Minister from being indicted while in office. Netanyahu has denied any intention to introduce such laws and claimed it as another effort by the media to smear him. Moreover, Gantz had promised to introduce term limits, another dig at Netanyahu as he is now set to win a historic fifth premiership term. Gantz attempted to form a more powerful coalition as he allied with Yesh Atid (one of Likud’s former allies) and formed the Blue and White Party. His efforts did not die in vain as he successfully gained the same number of seats as Likud, but will most likely not be able to form a successful coalition that would take him to Beit Aghion.

The most expected outcome so far is that the US Trump administration will soon reveal the “deal of the century”, which would most likely not have happened had Gantz won the election.

EMPHASIS ON SECURITY Netanyahu has previously run platforms based on security and has shown his willingness to go head to head with the biggest threats to Israel’s security, namely Iran and its allies and Hamas. Having served as IDF chief of staff, Gantz also ran a platform that focused on security. However, after Gantz’s personal smartphone was allegedly hacked by Iran, Netanyahu had questioned his opponent’s capacity to provide security for the country when he can’t even protect his private information. While security is still an important issue that Israeli voters care about, it can be inferred that Gantz’s seat gains indicate that many voters have grown tired of Netanyahu’s excessive focus on security. Gantz’s campaign that also centered on improving agriculture and education, however vague the promises were, might have

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Benny Gantz, Blue and White leader leaves a polling station in Rosh Ha'ayin after casting his vote for the parliamentary election on April 2019 ,9 in Rosh Ha'ayin, Israel. (Getty)


Gantz’s biggest campaign platform was that he is the “anti-Netanyahu” candidate, who would seek to improve several sectors, such as education. been a breath of fresh air for some voters.

IMPLICATIONS ON THE PEACE PROCESS It is still too soon to predict what another Netanyahu term would mean for the peace process. The most expected outcome so far is that the US Trump administration will soon reveal the “deal of the century”, which would most likely not have happened had Gantz won the election. The details of the deal are not clear, but judging various interviews from Trump cabinet members the deal will be economically based and is set to pave the way for more economic investments towards the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. Only time will tell what will come out of the deal of the century, and how it might differ from previously brokered peace deals that never came into fruition.

A man casts his vote during the Israeli general elections in Tel Aviv, Israel on April 2019 ,9. Israeli voters on April 2019 ,9 began to cast ballot to elect members of Knesset (Israel's parliament). (Getty)

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The Fight Against Extremism on Arab Airwaves Lessons From the Moroccan Model

By Joseph Braude The past decade has seen the proliferation of largely extremist and sectarian -24hour religious television channels throughout the Middle East and North Africa. Numbering in the hundreds, they reach a collective viewership estimated in the tens of millions and play an outsize role in stoking violent conflict region-wide. Most efforts to counter the broadcasts, including the production of alternative religious programming, are still in a fledgling stage. One experiment worth highlighting is the Kingdom of Morocco’s creation, via its Islamic affairs ministry, of roundthe-clock Islamic broadcasting on radio and television: an

Islamic satellite channel called Al-Sadisa (The Sixth, as in King Muhammad VI) and a national radio network, Idha’at al-Qur’an al-Karim (The Holy Qur’an Broadcast). Since its launch in 2005, the latter has attracted more than 19 percent of all radio listeners in Morocco — by far the most popular broadcast in the country. As for Al-Sadisa, it has been estimated to garner 85 percent of the Moroccan audience for religious television broadcasts, with the remaining 15 percent divided among the network’s -120odd competitors. Conveying a carefully constructed, disciplined message of civility and tolerance through faith, it is widely credited inside the country for reviving and building on indigenous Moroccan religious traditions that extremists, for two generations, had

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Kairaouine mosque in Fez, Morocco. (Getty)

worked to undermine. The Moroccan Islamic broadcasting experience is no panacea for the problems of jihadist indoctrination and recruitment which have drawn some young Moroccans to the ranks of ISIS and the like. Nor can it be evaluated in isolation, in a complex Arab Muslim society in which the state spreads “official Islam” not only through the media but also via schools and mosques — and family, friends, political parties, private media, and a range of other elements exercise a powerful influence too. Nonetheless, the broadcasts offer important lessons for other Arab countries as well as their Western allies as they mull their own responses to jihadist media. And if some of the finer points of the “Moroccan model,” peculiar to the country, do not lend themselves to emulation, they at least serve to challenge the kingdom’s Arab neighbors to think more creatively about approaches that may uniquely suit their own, particular environments.

and second-generation Moroccan immigrants in France, additional programming would be delivered in Tashelhit, a Berber vernacular; and French.

I. A HOLISTIC RESPONSE TO EXTREMISM

II. A DISTINCTIVE SET OF THEMES

Morocco’s two Islamic broadcasting initiatives predate ISIS by over a decade: Planning for the ventures began in 2003, as part of a broader, aggressive response to a triple suicide bombing in Casablanca perpetrated by Al-Qaeda affiliates which claimed 45 lives. King Mohammed VI pledged in a landmark speech to take staunch security measures against jihadists, eradicate the machinery of indoctrination that steers them, and address the underlying conditions in which extremist politics fester. In a thinly veiled reference to Salafi Jihadist indoctrination through Moroccan mosques backed by foreign clerical endowments, the king vowed to counter ideologies “from the East.” He pledged to purge the country’s mosques of outside influence and resuscitate Morocco’s tolerant, indigenous Islamic traditions which had begun to fade. But whatever actions the state might take to reassert control over organized religion within its borders could not address the problem of incursions from the air: the pervasive influence of militant Islamist broadcasts “from the East” needed somehow to be counteracted as well. And so the kingdom vowed to accompany its ground campaign with an air campaign. According to Hisham al-Halimi, now a fixture on both the radio network Idha’at al-Qur’an al-Karim and the TV channel Al-Sadisa, planning for the broadcasts began shortly after the king’s speech. A newly installed Islamic affairs minister recruited 12 employees of the ministry deemed to be especially talented writers and public speakers, to form the core team behind all broadcasting. They underwent a year of training by a combination of Moroccan and French experts in media communications. With support from university professors of Islamic studies and a cadre of imams, they began to develop the programming — on the basis of directives on how to drive home specific messages repeatedly. Most of the content was to be in Arabic, Morocco’s official language. Additionally, to reach deep into rural and mountain areas, the Francophone stream of urban elites, and the large population of first-

Both broadcast networks — sharing content, hosts, and guests — were consciously designed to differ radically from the many rival religious stations beamed in from outside the country. Programming ranges in subject matter and format from sermons and fatwas to Western-style academic lectures; from Qur’an recitation and lessons in Islamic history to current affairs and arts and culture shows. This array of content, by and large, shares five related themes:

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One experiment worth highlighting is the Kingdom of Morocco’s creation, via its Islamic affairs ministry, of round-theclock Islamic broadcasting on radio and television:.

1. An Independent Narrative: Ideas and ideals conveyed on the channels are not defined in opposition to an extremist ideology. That is, rather than devote considerable airtime to refuting the narrative and ideological tenets of ISIS, for example — the so-called “counter-narrative” approach — programs articulate an independent, positive reading of Islam, the role of religion in society and state, and what it means for an individual to live according to Islamic principles. The worldview is not a child of yesterday, but rather rooted in longstanding Islamic traditions as historically practiced in Morocco, combining the quietist traditions of Maliki Islamic law with Moroccan-style Sufism, the mystical strand in Islam; together with reverence for the personage of the king — formally designated as “Amir al-Mu’minin“ (Commander of the Faithful), the country’s supreme religious authority. 2. Localization: In style as well as substance, programming makes maximal use of the inherent competitive advantage of a Moroccan network targeting an overwhelmingly Moroccan audience: the appeal of local guests, local landscapes, and the indigenous traditions and folklore that bind Moroccans together. Rather than communicate in Modern Standard Arabic, all discussions are conducted in Darija, the Moroccan Arabic vernacular. Moroccans find the localization of Islamic programming to be novel and refreshing after two generations in which ideologically inflected glosses on Islam from


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outside Morocco dominated the local landscape. In reviving the religious cultural practices that make Morocco distinct, the “localization” agenda also supports the effort to connect Islamic culture and Moroccan nationalism — a potential antidote to the expansionist, transnational ideologies of extremist groups. One manifestation of “localization” is a program called “Qari’at Min al-Maghrib” — a talent competition in which young women from cities and towns across the kingdom chant excerpts from the Qur’an before a panel of judges. They do so exclusively in the time-honored style of recitation peculiar to Morocco. Moreover, in remarks by one of the judges following a reading by a talented -12year-old, repeated emphasis is placed on the nurturing role of the Moroccan family, itself a pillar of the struggle against extremism. 3. The embodiment of progressive Islamic values: In defiance of the more strident interpretations of Islamic law, programming features women. (Qari’at min al-Maghreb, described above, provides one of the many obvious illustrations.) Some shows promote visual arts and musical traditions of praise to God — both firmly rejected as “bid’a” (forbidden innovations) by hardline ideologues. And in hosting civic actors and university professors from non-Islamic fields, programs manifest openness to learning and knowledge beyond the Islamic canon. One memorable example highlighting some of these principles is an episode of the weekly program Tarbiya wa Funun (Education and Arts), which celebrates the creative spirit of pious Moroccans for whom artistic excellence goes hand in hand with their love of Islam. The host, secular in appearance, visits a devout civil servant who prunes trees in the country’s public parks. Amid an array of ferns which he has trimmed to look like animals, he proudly displays a bush molded in the shape of an airplane. Along the body of the plane, he has twisted a vine to spell out the Arabic proverb, “Knowledge is light and ignorance is disgrace (Al-‘Ilmu Nur

After decades in which various transnational ideological tendencies sought to homogenize Islamic tenets and cultural norms, programming promotes Morocco’s own religious heritage instead

wa-‘l Jahlu ‘Ar).” 4. An institutional approach rather than a cult of personality: Most extremist networks with which Al-Sadisa competes feature either one or a handful of clerics — or the leader of an Islamist militia. They use their television platform to propagate not only an ideology but also their own cult of personality. By contrast, Al-Sadisa features a seemingly endless parade of imams, scholars, and other functionaries of the country’s Islamic affairs ministry. The ministry’s vast human infrastructure, ideologically unified, spans the entire country — and reaches even beyond the kingdom’s borders to include mosques in Europe serving the Moroccan diaspora. Illustrative of the breadth of religious leadership are the camera pans of the audience during the lecture on “Moroccan Salafism” described above: Scores of imams in training, alongside an equal number of women, appear to be following the lecture earnestly. (The latter group of women are training to serve as Murshidat [Guides] — a new Moroccan designation — who partner with male clerics in the leadership of mosques.) The pageantry of personalities has the effect of training the focus on the ideas conveyed more than the individuals who espouse them. This “show of force” — a phalanx of religious and lay leaders sharing one message — implicitly overwhelms the viewer, making alternative Islamic programming seem weak, almost fly-bynight by comparison. 5. Personal responsibility: Extremist channels routinely paint a picture of Islam and Muslims under siege — targets of a global conspiracy to wipe them out. By contrast, Moroccan Islamic broadcasting calls on Muslims to take personal responsibility to improve their lives, accept doctrinal differences within the faith, and prepare the next generation to interact civilly with one another as well as their non Muslim neighbors.

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Al-Sadisa channel broadcasts Morocco’s unique style of Qur’an recitation in the country’s distinctive dialect.

This principle was poignantly illustrated in one broadcast from a Moroccan-controlled mosque in Frankfurt, Germany, where concerns about the radicalization of Muslim youth run high. The scene was a conference of local worshippers and visiting imams titled “The Critical Situation of Muslims in the West: Whose Responsibility?” Lecturers came together around a clear answer: “I think Islamophobia is a reflection of the extremism of some Muslims,” one lecturer says, “especially youth who haven’t had an adequate opportunity to learn Islam’s true principles, origins, purposes, and rich heritage.” A cleric added, “Muslims shouldn’t pin responsibility on others. They should bear responsibility themselves. They should labor and struggle in order to improve the state of the Muslim community. Even if part of the responsibility falls on non-Muslims, the greater responsibility falls on the shoulders of the Muslim community...to change this critical situation for the better.” JavaScript if it is disabled in your browser.

LESSONS FOR OTHERS? As noted earlier, the twin radio and television broadcasts have won exceptionally high ratings kingdom-wide: With its audience of 6.3 million in a country of 33 million, the radio station far eclipses news, pop music, and sports broadcasts, while the TV network has siphoned away 85 percent of the Moroccan audience for rival satellite channels pouring in from elsewhere. Moroccan information ministry officials, judging the two broadcasts worthy of further investment, credit them for helping to restore a tolerant Islamic ethos in the country which had been under assault for decades by hardline Islamist ideologies “from the East.” They also believe that the networks have lightened the load on the Moroccan security sector by making terrorist overtures less appealing to young

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people, and, along the way, bolstered the legitimacy of the monarchy itself. As noted above, it is not possible to assess the impact of the broadcasts in isolation, given a complex Arab Muslim society in which the state spreads “official Islam” not only through the media but also via schools and mosques — and family, friends, political parties, private media, and a range of other elements exercise a powerful influence too. Moreover, the broadcasts may be as much a driver of moderate Islamic sensibilities as they are a reflection of sensibilities already ensconced in the country and many of its religious institutions. Nor have all the government’s efforts combined managed to rid the country of its jihadist strain: Terror plots continue, albeit mostly thwarted by police, and scores of Moroccan youth join ISIS and AlQaeda each year. Nonetheless, the kingdom remains the most stable and secure oil-poor country in its region, home to the largest surviving Jewish community in the Arab world, and a welcoming environment to people of all faiths who visit the country. The Islamic broadcasts, pervasive and captivating, clearly deserve some of the credit. As other Arab countries and their Western allies seek their own solutions to the challenge of countering extremism on the airwaves, they can draw some lessons from the Moroccan model: The power of an independent narrative: The programming does not fall into the trap of defining itself explicitly in opposition to a militant ideology, whether ISIS or any other. Instead, Al-Sadisa and its sister radio broadcast lay out a rich, independent narrative of Islamic practice on its own terms. The power of localization: After decades in which various transnational ideological tendencies sought to homogenize Islamic tenets and cultural norms, programming promotes Morocco’s own religious heritage instead — such as its centuries-old legal and spiritual traditions and unique style of Qur’an recitation, all conveyed through the country’s distinctive Arabic dialect. “Localization” attracts viewers and listeners away from the regional channels and strengthens the bond between Islam and Moroccan nationalism — a bulwark against trans-state jihadism. The power of “state Islam“: Most extremist TV channels propagate not only a hardline ideology but also the cult of personality of a given cleric who espouses it. By contrast, Al-Sadisa‘s programming and hosts are embedded within a larger framework of “state Islam”- built around an Islamic affairs ministry - that includes its own mosques, seminaries, and university faculties. Because these religious and lay leaders share a unified positive message that is well grounded in Islamic law and Moroccan tradition, the channel presents a compelling vision for the viewer that makes alternative Islamic programming seem weak, almost fly-by-night by comparison. In many Arab countries, state Islam may offer the only mechanism for religious inculcation of sufficient size and scope to sustain an organized challenge to the well-oiled networks of trans-state jihadism.


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Are Russia and China Really Forming an Alliance?

The Evidence Is Less Than Impressive By Leon Aron* In March of 1969, Chinese troops ambushed and killed a Soviet border patrol on an island near the Chinese-Russian border. Fighting on and near the island lasted for months and ended with hundreds of casualties. Fifty years later, the ferocity of the skirmish between Mao Zedong’s China and Leonid Brezhnev’s Soviet Union seems to belong to a very distant past—so distant,

indeed, that many foreign-policy experts are convinced that an anti-U.S. alliance between the two countries is emerging. Yet even half a century on, such an assessment stretches the evidence beyond what it can bear. On closer inspection, Chinese-Russian economic, foreign policy, and military cooperation is less than impressive. The history of relations between the two countries is fraught, and they play vastly different roles in the world economy, making a divergence in their objectives all but unavoidable. In

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short, reports of a Russian-Chinese alliance have been greatly exaggerated.

THE ECONOMIC REALITY

Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) shakes hands with President Xi Jinping of China (L) during their bilateral meeting at the G20 Summit on November 2018 ,30 in Buenos Aires, Argentina. (Getty)

Economic relations between Russia and China are rapidly expanding, and some experts have cited these ties as evidence of a growing closeness between the two countries. Indeed, just last year, bilateral trade increased by at least 15 percent compared to 2017 and reached a record 100$ billion. Yet asymmetries in the scale and structure of bilateral commerce suggest caution: although China is Russia’s second-largest trading partner (after the EU) and Russia’s largest individual partner in both exports and imports, for China the Russian market is at best second-rate. Russia ranks tenth in Chinese exports and does not make it into the top ten in either imports or total trade. The structure of the trade is similarly skewed. More than three-quarters of Russia’s exports to China are raw materials, specifically crude oil, wood, and coal. China’s sales to Russia are 45 percent consumer goods and 38 percent electronics and machinery. The completion this year of the Power of Siberia natural gas pipeline will further widen the disparity by facilitating the export of 400$ billion worth of Russian raw materials to China over the next 30 years. The nature of this exchange corresponds quite closely to Karl Marx’s and Vladimir Lenin’s description of colonial trade, in which one country becomes a raw material appendage of another. It is rare for metropolises to ally themselves with their colonies. Russia’s and China’s efforts at joint economic development and investment do not look much like cooperation between two eager allies. Even after Moscow’s so-called pivot to the east, spurred by post-Crimea sanctions, from 2014 through 2018 China directly invested no more than 24$ billion into its northern neighbor’s economy. During the same period, China invested 148$ billion in sub-Saharan Africa (including 31$ billion in Nigeria alone), and 88$ billion in South America (including 34$ billion just in Brazil). Or consider the Program of Cooperation in the regions of Far East, Russian Eastern Siberia, and Chinese North-East in 2018–2009, signed in 2009 by Chinese President Hu Jintao and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev. The initiative included 91 joint investment projects. Six years into the program, China had financed only 11 of these, while the rest were delayed, in the words of the Carnegie Moscow Center’s Ivan Zuenko, by “bureaucratic hassles.” China’s parsimony is evident in both the private and public sectors. A much-heralded plan for the CEFC China Energy company to purchase a 14 percent stake in Russia’s largest, and majority state-owned, oil company, Rosneft, fell through. So did a Chinese government pledge to invest 25$ billion in the Power of Siberia pipeline, which cost Russia 55$ billion. Moscow has celebrated its projected annual delivery of 38 billion cubic meters of natural gas to China via Power of Siberia as a big step toward economic interdependence. But to China, the pipeline is no more than a diversification of the country’s energy sources. In 2017, it imported over 90 billion cubic meters of natural gas, mostly from

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For its part, Russia periodically flirts with China’s foe, Japan, by dangling the return of the four Kuril Islands, which the Soviet Union seized from Japan at the end of World War II. Australia, Qatar, and Turkmenistan.

A FOREIGN POLICY MISMATCH Russia and China are hardly any closer in foreign policy than they are in trade. To be sure, the two countries stand together in their declared opposition to U.S. primacy in world affairs. Both advocate a multipolar world and swear to resist the perceived threat of U.S. intrusion into their spheres of influence. Beijing and Moscow also see eye to eye with respect to the threat posed to their regimes by what they see as U.S.-inspired, if not U.S.engineered, pro-democracy “color revolutions.” They vote almost in unison at the United Nations. Yet away from the global limelight and closer to their shared Eurasian home, the two countries are hardly aligned. They poach in each other’s spheres of influence, contest each other’s clients, and reach for each other’s economic and geopolitical assets. China has failed to support Russia in matters of great geopolitical importance to Moscow. Beijing refused to recognize the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia after the RussianGeorgian war in 2008. It abstained from, instead of voting against, the UN resolution condemning Russia’s 2014 seizure of Crimea. In another symbolic display that could not have pleased Moscow, President Xi Jinping chose to inaugurate the 2013 Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) in Astana, the capital of Kazakhstan. By choosing to flex Chinese power in the largest of the former Soviet Central Asian republics—the one that shares the world’s second-longest border with Russia, at 4,250 miles, and is home to the greatest proportion of ethnic Russians in Central Asia— Xi flagrantly intruded on Russia’s sphere of influence. (A year later, Putin mused about the fragility of Kazakhstan’s statehood during a question and answer session at Russia’s National Youth Forum.) Xi and Putin later agreed to “coordinat[e] cooperation” between the Russia-led Eurasian Economic Union and Belt and Road. But although some of the subsequent Chinese- and Kazakh-led infrastructure projects have been completed, many Russian-led projects have stalled due to financing and negotiation problems. For its part, Russia periodically flirts with China’s foe, Japan, by dangling the return of the four Kuril Islands, which the Soviet Union seized from Japan at the end of World War II and which remain the main obstacle to a peace treaty between Moscow and


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Tokyo. In the latest round of that game, during Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s visit this past January to Moscow, Putin, yet again, held out the possibility of normalizing relations by giving Japan back at least two of the islands, a gesture that Beijing likely resented, even though it did not lead to a breakthrough. Russia also exposed tensions with China within the Shanghai Cooperation Organization—an international body founded by Moscow and Beijing to promote economic and security cooperation among its members—when it invited another Chinese rival, India, to join the group. China tied the score by inviting India’s archrival (and the largest customer for Chinese weapons), Pakistan, to join. Chinese-Russian military cooperation in particular is often held up as evidence of a growing closeness. Much has been made of the fact that Russia has sold China the latest version of its most advanced antiaircraft S400- missile defense system. But India, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey are next in line for the same equipment. And although China was the first to buy Russia’s most advanced Su35- jet fighter, it will not be the last. Indonesia has contracted for 11 jets, Egypt has purchased dozens more, and India has reportedly considered buying 114 jets. Overall, from 2013 to 2017, India was a far likelier destination for Russian defense hardware than China, with 35 percent of Russian arms exports going to Delhi, compared with 12 percent to Beijing. Last year’s first joint Russian-Chinese land exercise, Vostok2018-, pointed to an imbalance in military cooperation not unlike the one in the two countries’ bilateral trade. Russia fielded between 75,000 and 100,000 soldiers and 1,000 aircraft; China contributed just 3,200 soldiers and six planes. Mathieu Boulègue of Chatham House argued that China was invited to participate not so much to bolster an alliance as to allay any Chinese concerns about the demonstration of force so close to its borders. Indeed, the need for strengthening mutual trust between the putative allies was evident three years before Vostok2018-, during the Kremlin’s search for Internet policing technology. Following a series of high-level internal consultations, the Kremlin decided to buy data storage and servers from the telecom giant Huawei.

China’s economy, on the other hand, is the world’s second largest-more than seven times the size of Russia’swith exports that include advanced communication technologies, cell phones, computers, and cars.

Then, suddenly, the deal was off. The security services became so alarmed by the likelihood of Chinese espionage that they dared to challenge the Kremlin’s decision—and, even more surprisingly, managed to reverse it.

THE PUTIN-XI BROMANCE In the end, the most promising portent of an alliance might be the personal relationship between the rulers of the two countries. The Putin-Xi bonhomie extends beyond surface pleasantries. They have met more than 25 times, far more frequently than either has with any other head of state. Xi recently called Putin his “best friend,” and his first visit as president was to Moscow. Putin has extolled his relations with Xi as the finest personal rapport he has with a foreign leader and fondly recalled celebrating his sixty-first birthday with Xi, over slices of sausage and shots of vodka, during the Asian-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Bali in 2013. Xi presented Putin with China’s very first Order of Friendship, designed to reward foreigners who contributed “personally to the PRC’s cooperation with the world community.” Putin hung a gold chain of the Order of St. Andrew, Russia’s highest civilian award, on Xi’s neck. Sustained mutual affinities between the leaders of great powers almost always reflect not only overlap in geopolitical objectives but regime similarities. Both Putin and Xi preside over versions of state capitalism. Putin’s attraction to Xi is not hard to fathom: the Chinese leader is a fellow authoritarian who controls an enormous economy, which even in today’s downturn posts rates of growth of which Russia can only dream of. And China does this even while importing huge quantities of oil and gas. Xi’s alleged respect for Putin likely stems from the Russian president’s deft defusing of several potentially explosive domestic political problems similar to ones Xi himself has faced. After taking office, Putin recentralized power within the Russian state, taming the oligarchs and wiping out the political strongholds of elected governors and presidents. Then, early in Putin’s third term in 2012, as he faced bleak economic prospects and rapidly

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A view of the Malokurilskaya Bay off Shikotan Island, one of the Kuril Islands, in the Pacific Ocean. (Getty)


Putin had done, Xi transformed his country’s foreign policy from assertive to aggressively expansionist. The Chinese leader has militarized territorial disputes in the South and East China Seas and fortified Chinese-constructed artificial island chains with missile batteries and aircraft bases.

STILL PREMATURE

declining approval ratings, he rejected the liberalizing reforms that his minister of finance suggested. Instead, Putin began to shift the foundation of his regime’s legitimacy from economic progress and income growth to the Kremlin as a defender of Russia against U.S. aggression and restorer of its past glory as a global superpower—a formula that the leading Russian political sociologist Igor Klyamkin has labeled “militarized patriotism.” Concomitantly, Putin cracked down on public displays of dissent, called for the “patriotic upbringing of the youth,” and further intimidated civil society by signing a law designating many NGOs as “foreign agents,” rendering them social pariahs subject to harassment by the security and tax authorities. He made the Orthodox Church the guardian of national mores, and he personally guided the politicization of history textbooks, which began to whitewash the Soviet experience and rehabilitate Stalin. On the road to his own chairmanship—and presidency for life— Xi has reprised Putin’s choices, in spirit if not always letter. He concentrated policymaking in the office of the party chairman, broke the baronies of regional party secretaries, and instigated a widespread “anti-corruption” campaign aimed at eliminating, or intimidating, potential critics and rivals. He abolished the de facto term limits for top party and government positions and tightened controls over media and book publishing. As Chinese growth rates began to decline, Xi, like his “best friend,” spurned pro-market reforms and instead opted for his own version of Putin’s militarized patriotism: the reassertion of the Communist Party’s supremacy, the merger of “core socialist values” with “traditions of Chinese culture,” and a war on “spiritual pollution” that has led to heightened repression in Tibet and Xinjiang. Similarly, “national rejuvenation” and the pursuit of the “Chinese dream” became central to the regime’s foreign policy discourse. In Xi’s words, China was facing “the most complicated … external factors in [its] history.” Admiral Sun Jianguo, a deputy chief of the General Staff of the People’s Liberation Army, described these factors as “invasion, subversion,” “undermining … stability,” and “interrupting socialist development.” Much as

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Putin’s and Xi’s kinship is real and formidable, but even it may not be enough to overcome the obstacles to a genuine alliance. One such obstacle is aptly described by a Russian expression, “istoriya s geografiey.” Literally “a history with geography,” the collocation refers to a seemingly straightforward matter suddenly turned into something involved and complicated. History and geography militate against an entente cordiale between the two Eurasian giants. Authoritarian states sharing a -2,600mile border, with much of that boundary first imposed by imperial Russia on a weaker neighbor, are hardly ideally set up to build mutual trust. Reinforcing that barrier are very significant structural differences between the two countries’ economies, which result in their holding divergent stakes in the present world economic order. Confined largely to exporting oil and gas, Russia’s integration in the world economy is at once quite secure and quite limited. Moscow can afford to rock the boat and to seek from Beijing a pointedly anti-Western, active, and committed military-political partnership. China’s economy, on the other hand, is the world’s second largest—more than seven times the size of Russia’s—with exports that include advanced communication technologies, cell phones, computers, and cars. The country’s trade with the United States and the European Union comes to at least five times the value of its Russian account. Because of its greater interdependence with other leading world economies, China’s system is also far more vulnerable to geopolitical disruptions than Russia’s. And as a greater beneficiary of the liberal international economic order than Russia, China is warier of antagonizing that order’s ultimate guarantor, the United States. Skillfully promoted optics notwithstanding, China is not likely to follow Russia into an anti-Western geopolitical crusade, preferring to cooperate with its alleged ally on a more modest scale economically and especially militarily. When I was living in Moscow in the fall of 1969, a rumor circulated that, returning from the funeral of Vietnamese leader Ho Chi Minh’s funeral, Chairman of the Council of Ministers Alexei Kosygin stopped over in the Beijing airport for talks with his Chinese counterpart, Zhou Enlai. When the Chinese premier moved to embrace him, Kosygin drew back, saying, “This is premature.” Apocryphal or not, Kosygin’s injunction seems applicable today. Despite claims to the contrary, the notion of a Chinese-Russian alliance is still premature. This article was originally published on ForeignAffairs.com. * LEON ARON is the Director of Russian Studies at the American Enterprise Institute.


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The President Vs The Comedian

Poroshenko Promises Change, But Will That Be Enough to Beat Ukraine’s Political Wildcard? by Maia Otarashvili On April 21 Ukraine will hold the second round of presidential elections. The voters will have to decide between giving their current president a second chance, or entrusting their favorite TV president with the real job, off-screen. The first round of the elections was held on March 31, with 39 presidential hopefuls on the ballot. A comedian actor, Volodymyr Zelenskiy received 30.24 percent of the votes, while the current president of Ukraine, Petro Poroshenko,

received 15.95 percent of the votes. Former prime minister of Ukraine, Yulia Tymoshenko, who ended up in third place with 13.40 percent of the votes, claimed the results were “falsified”, but did not challenge the results in the end. The weeks leading up to the runoff vote have been described at times as “political theater” played out between Zelenskiy and Poroshenko. Afterall, Mr. Zelenskiy is no stranger to acting – the -41year-old comedian gained popularity through his satirical TV show “Servant of the People.” In the sitcom, he plays an average Ukrainian citizen, a high school history

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teacher, who lives with his parents. Zelenskiy’s character becomes president after a video recording of him, ranting about the corrupt political system in Ukraine, goes viral online. The charismatic celebrity has garnered nation-wide support by appealing to young voters, masterfully using social media (he has 3.5 million followers on Instagram), and calling out the Ukrainian political establishment for corruption and injustice.

A REFERENDUM ON POROSHENKO Atlantic Council’s Melinda Haring has argued that the first round of elections was “a referendum on Poroshenko, who was elected on an anti-graft platform following the 14–2013 Euromaidan protests that resulted in the ouster of President Viktor Yanukovych.” Indeed, the Ukrainian voters have been frustrated by the lack of progress since Poroshenko took office amid the freshly broken out civil war in Donbas back in 2015. While Poroshenko has proven to be a strong war-time president – ensuring Western support for the embattled nation, keeping Ukraine at the top of regional and global security agendas, and attaining visa-free travel regime with the EU - his domestic policies have left much to be desired. Under his presidency, Ukraine has become the poorest country in Europe – a title previously held by Moldova for many years. A wealthy oligarch himself, Poroshenko has been unwilling to fully commit to uprooting the systemic corruption in Ukraine, and has not managed to end the deeply entrenched oligarchic influences in the country – a pressing issue for the Ukrainian voters. Moreover, the war in Ukraine’s east still rages five years on, and Crimea is still under Russian de facto control. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko participates in Christmas Liturgy at St. Sophia›s Cathedral on January 2019 ,07 in Kiev, Ukraine. (Getty)

Thus, a candidate like Zelenskiy offers hope for a fresh start to the people of Ukraine, who tirelessly demand economic prosperity and Western integration from their leaders. They have already overthrown two governments since 2005 through peaceful protests (Orange revolution and Euromaidan), and aren’t afraid to vote out an ineffective president. As Christopher Miller, a Kiev-based RFERL correspondent recently put it, “Zelenskiy's savvy path of essentially providing a divided country with a blank political canvas, allowing voters to paint their own picture of what he is and what he could be as head of state. For those who see the past five years as a series of blunders and missed opportunities, that represents a reverse image of incumbent Petro Poroshenko.” Zelenskiy has been able to tap into the Ukrainian society’s frustrations, and eloquently articulate the failures of the political establishment. However, his lack of experience has most Ukraine-watchers alarmed. According to Miller “there is much uncertainty about the front-runner” and while he is heavy on charisma, his plan is “light on specifics.” Although Zelenskiy has shared some of his plans, they’ve been criticized as appearing more like a wishlist than a specific set of policies. According to BMB Ukraine’s Fabrice Deprez, “it’s still quite

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A candidate like Zelenskiy offers hope for a fresh start to the people of Ukraine, who tirelessly demand economic prosperity and Western integration from their leaders. curious that the ‘demands’ made by Zelenskiy’s team to Petro Poroshenko last week were actually much more detailed and specific than this plan.” There is also a rising concern that Zelenskiy might be influenced by Ihor Kolomoisky, a Ukrainian oligarch living in self-imposed exile (reportedly in Israel). Kolomoisky owns the TV channel where Zelenskiy’s show airs and is said to be providing the presidential candidate’s security and transportation. Kolomoisky faces numerous investigations in Ukraine into his business dealings, and his questionable reputation could pose a challenge to Zelenskiy’s chances of winning the election, but Zelenskiy insists that he is independent and cannot be influenced by any special interests.

A LESSON FOR POROSHENKO? After losing the first round of elections to Zelenskiy by a margin of nearly 50 percent, Poroshenko said he had learned his lesson: "I heard both those who voted for me and those who did not vote for me. And this was probably one of the hardest lessons in my life. This is a very strong incentive for me to analyze all five years, including all the mistakes that have been made. And for the next five years, I have learned this lesson very well.” Indeed, the Poroshenko camp has shown no sign of giving up after the initial defeat. He has met all of Zelenskiy’s demands so far, and even plans to debate him on April 19 at the Kiev sports stadium – the country’s largest sports venue, a location chosen by Zelenskiy. The latter also demanded a public drug test, to which Poroshenko also complied. However, the most serious step Poroshenko has taken so far, in order to show that he takes the voters’ demands seriously, is the one regarding anti-corruption. On April 6 he met with civil society representatives for a two-hour dialogue, admitting that he made a mistake of not closely engaging with them before, and offering to address their demands. According to Daria Kaleniuk, the director of the Anti-Corruption Action Center in Kyiv, “Poroshenko [now] supports the necessity of relaunching the National Agency for Corruption Prevention and the Specialized Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office. In the near future, we will send him a draft law with our vision of such a relaunch on behalf of the coalition of civic organizations.” After the meeting, Kaleniuk said that she respects Poroshenko’s


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admission of his mistakes and shared a list of key justice and anti-corruption issues and corresponding actionable items supported by Poroshenko as a result of the meeting. “How beneficial such dialogue would have been for the president, for civic activists, and for Ukraine, in general, had it taken place sooner” - added Kaleniuk. She concluded that - “at the same time, I highly respect the president for admitting his mistakes. This is a powerful step. Mistakes can be fixed by real actions. Some may happen in the coming days.”

DISCOURAGING REGIONAL TRENDS Poroshenko’s promise to finally implement anti-corruption and justice reforms could be genuine. Moreover, Zelenskiy might be given a fair chance to compete in the second round of elections. However, what is currently unfolding in Ukraine is ominously reminiscent of its close neighbor - Georgia’s presidential election from this past fall. The ruling Georgian Dream (GD) party-endorsed (yet formally independent) presidential candidate, Salome Zurabishvili, lost the first round of elections to an opposition candidate. The event widely seen as the voters’ effort to hold the ruling party accountable for its many failures. The ruling party chairman, Bidzina Ivanishvili, issued messages of shock and dismay, apologizing to the people of Georgia, claiming he had learned a lesson, and promising to do better. A flurry of fantastic political promises followed during the weeks leading up to the runoff vote. Among some of the boldest moves to appease the voters was GD’s pledge to forgive almost 570$ million in unpaid bank loans for over 600,000 Georgians (approximately a quarter of the population). The opposition candidate, Grigol Vashadze, led in the pre-election polls by a wide margin, but the combined effects of this unrealistic promise, vote-buying, and a flurry of election irregularities, ultimately secured a surprising win for Ivanishvili’s candidate. The momentous debt-forgiveness pledge was never discussed again, and GD resumed its business as usual, remaining in charge of both – the parliament and the presidency. There are some variations regarding the key actors in these two cases. The opposition candidate in Georgia, albeit popular, was

However, the most serious step Poroshenko has taken so far, in order to show that he takes the voters’ demands seriously, is the one regarding anti-corruption.

not a political wildcard like Zelenskiy. He was a boring career diplomat turned politician, but nevertheless, most observers anticipated that he would win the runoff vote. Unlike Petro Poroshenko, Bidzina Ivanishvili - the billionaire oligarch in Georgia - runs the show unofficially form the shadows, and only holds one formal political position; he is the chairman of the ruling Georgian Dream (GD) party. He remains out of the public eye – not formally accountable to Georgians, and only steps into the limelight at his own convenience. Yet many of the broad brushstrokes tend to be similar between the two countries: color revolutions, wars with Russia and subsequent Russian occupation of disputed territories, and long-term oligarchic rule. Ukraine and Georgia have even shared politicians - Georgia’s former president Mikheil Saakashvili later became the governor of Ukraine’s Odessa region. At one

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Ukrainian presidential candidate Volodymyr Zelenskiy attends the rehearsal of his comedy show Liga Smeha (League of Laughter) on March 2019 ,19 in Kiev, Ukraine. (Getty)


point Saakashvili was stripped of his Georgian citizenship and fled the country, later he was stripped of his Ukrainian citizenship and was forced to move to the Netherlands. Moreover, Ukraine’s other neighbor – Moldova, another postCommunist country often grouped with Georgia and Ukraine as a “hybrid regime”, is experiencing similar developments. Moldova’s February parliamentary election resulted in favor of Moldova’s own billionaire oligarch-in-charge thanks to massive political and electoral manipulation.

It’s not easy to unsettle an oligarch ruler through democratic means, and we are yet to see one capable of change.

The regional trends in favor of stable, sustained oligarchic forms of governance don’t offer much hope for progress in Ukraine. On the other hand, past experience shows that Ukraine is capable of charting its own path irrespective of the similarities with its struggling neighbors. Georgia’s and

Moldova’s recent experiences with elections gone wrong should simply serve as a cautionary tale for the Ukrainian voters: it’s not easy to unsettle an oligarch ruler through democratic means, and we are yet to see one capable of change.

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Has Brexit Broken British Politics? The UK’s Departure from the EU Has Caused a Major Shock to the Political System 28

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However the crisis ends, the verdict on parliament’s performance will be damaging. and a half years as the government has scrambled to deliver on the results of the 2016 referendum has exposed cracks in the British model of democracy that has for generations prided itself in the stability it provides. Ever since the referendum put the UK on course to leave the EU, both Prime Minister Theresa May and opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn have tried to manage the deep divides on Europe in their own parties over Brexit and it has become clear that neither party can offer comfortable homes for Brexit or Remain voters. It seems that the two-party system, which has for a couple of centuries ensured that party unity is retained and that governments can deliver their policies while operating with a unified message, is on the verge of collapse. Theresa May’s 600 page Brexit deal which she negotiated with European Union over 18 months has been voted down three times by lawmakers, leaving her policy in ruins. Parliament rejected her plan the first time by 432 votes to 202, a historic margin of defeat for a Prime Minister’s bill. Meanwhile, Parliament took control of the process away from the government in order to hold a series of votes to find an alternative way forward. Two rounds of Parliament’s so-called indicative votes failed to find a Brexit option that is capable of commanding a majority, with none of the options even coming close to getting a majority of the whole house or a sizable chunk of the governing Conservatives. As a result of these failures, May has been forced to postpone Brexit twice from the original date of 29 March. In her letter to President of the European Council by Yasmine El-Geressi Donald Turk requesting the EU gift the UK a second The British political system has never looked more postponement of the Brexit deadline from April 12 to broken. While the Iraq war, the 2008 financial crisis, June 30, May said the impasse over her Brexit deal in and the 2009 MP›s expenses scandal were all major the commons “cannot be allowed to continue”. With shocks to the system, the damage they did to undermine May unable to secure the backing from the commons, public trust in politicians pales in comparison to she reached out to Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn to the damage currently unravelling as the UK spirals shake the political deadlock and see if a consensus deeper and deeper into the Brexit crisis. The turmoil could be found on a way forward that would ensure that has been engulfing the country over the last two the UK left the EU with an agreement. Conservative

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Eurosceptics have attacked May for her decision to seek Jeremy Corbyn’s help to get the Brexit deal through parliament and deliver Brexit, warning that her approach “threatens to damage the Conservatives for years”. They fear the outcome of the cross-party talks will be a soft Brexit or a second referendum. At this stage, even the most committed observer would struggle to predict a clear path through the current chaos towards a solution. Meanwhile, the public is also in disarray. Brexiters cite the 17.4 million who voted to leave the EU, insisting that most of them want a hard Brexit and that the “will of the people” should be upheld no matter what. Remainers claim that public opinion is changing, pointing to a march for a “people’s vote” in London on March 23 that drew a purported 1 million people, and a petition to revoke Article 50 which has attracted over 6 million signatories.

was 52 percent to 48 percent in favour of exit, while nearly 75 percent of today’s MPs voted remain. The The problems that have led to the current impasse referendum was the first time that Britain’s electorate run deep and can be traced back to 2013 when Prime had voted for an outcome with which it›s MPs Minister David Cameron, succumbing to pressure disagreed. In the only other UK-wide plebiscites that from within his own Conservative Party, promised have been held, one in 1975 on the membership of the British people an in/out referendum on EU the EU, and the other in 2011 on changing the voting membership if he were to win the upcoming election. system for MPs, both MPs and voters agreed. This is When the June 23 referendum was held, neither only half the issue. The other is that most of the 25 Cameron nor the government had a plan on what Brexit percent of MPs who did vote leave disagreed with would look like. Usually, when referendums on big how the government led by a former Remainer would political decisions with far-reaching consequences interpret and deliver on the vote. This demonstrated are held, a turnout threshold or special majority that parliamentary democracy and direct democracy requirement is decided, but Cameron legislated for had become incompatible. The division between a referendum without such safeguards. The result parliament and the public developed into an impasse between parliament and the executive - illustrated by the worst defeat in the commons ever recorded over May’s Brexit deal.

The crisis has caused a blockage in British politics, and a deadlock within and between the two parties, while forcing both parties to maintain their squabbling political family units which contain within them people whose views diverge radically from each other.

But it is not just that parliament, the government and the cabinet are divided on Europe, it is that the way the UK politics has traditionally been conducted – through adversarial debate, and the winner takes all – is not conducive with the give and take that the Prime Minister’s deal needs to pass. The current status could have been avoided. A few days after the referendum, a group of defeated Labour MPs approached the then Cabinet Office minister Oliver Letwin with a proposal that said the

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Labour Party Leader Jeremy Corbyn (L) and Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May (R)


The referendum was the first time that Britain’s electorate had voted for an outcome with which its MP's disagreed. towards MPs have become the norm. After the MPs rejected May’s deal for a second time, the front page of the Daily Mail denounced “The House of Fools”. When asked if parliament is emerging from Brexit in good light, only 6 percent of people said yes. A new study by the respected Hansard Society found that an alarming 72 percent of people felt that the UK’s democratic system needed “quiet a lot” or “a great deal” of improvement. Growing dissatisfaction with MPs is also leading people to entertain “radical solutions” which challenge the core tenets of democracy, the charity warned. government should form a cross-party group to agree Hansard Society director Dr Ruth Fox said the on a Brexit deal, but the Europe-inspired idea was anti-system sentiment, pessimism about the future not welcomed by Theresa May. Under a cross-party and strong feeling the system favours the rich and approach, a middle ground could have been found powerful was creating a “potentially toxic recipe” within the competing mandates, particularly as at the for the future of British politics. Another recent time, May had command over her party before she study by the campaign group Hope Not Hate found that more than two thirds of the British public feel lost her majority in the 2017 snap general election. Instead, since Cameron’s gamble, Theresa May’s they are not represented by the main political government approach to Brexit- from her premature parties. The research found that disconnect had decision to trigger article 50 to ignoring the 48 increased from 60 percent to 67 percent over the percent that voted remain by refusing to hold cross- last six months as Theresa May negotiated her party talks to keep her pro-Brexit party members on withdrawal agreement. her side – have resulted in a deepening of divisions. Her decisions have sown the seeds of rebellion and For decades, people have spoken of the breakdown suggest that she is more interested in keeping her of the current political system, but Brexit may just do it. The extent of the institutional breakdown over party together over national interest. the past two and a half years has elicited scenes in Labour’s strategy has also been driven by party parliament without precedent. MPs from both parties interest. Jeremy Corbyn, a lifelong Eurosceptic have regularly crossed the floor and whips have been leading a mainly Remain-leaning party has kept an defied. On one crucial vote, several cabinet ministers ambiguous position by sitting on the fence for as abstained. The crisis has caused a blockage in British long as possible to avoid alienating any of his party politics, and a deadlock within and between the two or his voters. Corbyn has maintained that a Labour parties, while forcing both parties to maintain their government could deliver a Brexit deal that provides squabbling political family units which contain within all the benefits of EU membership but with none of them people whose views diverge radically from each the costs. The shadow cabinet is also split on the other. This experience could inspire the UK to take a new look at how it is governed and move towards issue of a second referendum on any Brexit deal. a system where the executive, the political parties However the crisis ends, the verdict on parliament’s and parliament reflect this multifarious country better performance will be damaging. Death threats than they currently do.

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Libya and the Case of the Smuggled Funds Abroad How the North African Country is Trying to Recover its Assets 32

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By: Salem Abu Dhahir Tripoli- Libya’s smuggled or frozen funds, which include billions of dollars in cash, bonds, deposits, large hotels, lands, yachts, luxury cars and private planes, are all owned by Libyans who can’t benefit from them. Libyan authorities don’t know the sum of the funds that were “looted and smuggled” abroad. Furthermore, the authorities don’t announce total of smuggled assets published on official reports. This report will cover Libyan-state owned liquid funds, consisting of money, deposits, gold and precious stones, of which only the Central Bank of Libya in Tripoli is allowed to handle. It will also follow up on funds in the form of investments that are owned and handled by the Libyan Investment Corporation (LIC), which includes five affiliated institutions, collectively comprising the large Libyan investment portfolio. These institutions are: The Libyan Arab Foreign Investment Company (LAFICO), Long Term Investment Portfolio (LTP), OilInvest Group, Libyan Local Investment and Development Fund (LLIDF) and Libyan Africa Investment Portfolio (LAP, LAIP).

INDICATIONS OF FINANCIAL CORRUPTION AFTER 2011

Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi listens to his private secretary Bashir Al Shrkawi also known as Bashir Saleh at the opening session of the Arab summit in Sharm el-Sheikh on the southern tip of Egypt›s Sinai peninsula 01 March 2003. (Getty)

The years of intense chaos and corruption has caused United Nations special envoy to Libya, Ghassan Salame, to describe this rampant financial corruption in Libya and confirm its existence. “There is a new millionaire every day in Libya, and the middle class is shrinking day by day” Salame noted in March 27. The political class, he added, is shamefully corrupt and fortunes collected from political ranks are being invested abroad. “Politicians in Libya seize public money and invest it overseas.” Salame didn’t only describe the situation but also threatened (in an implicit diplomatic way) political figures and others who have been looting Libya’s money. “Time has come for all parties to stop holding on to a position that will enable them to acquire wealth,” he said. Before Salame’s diplomatic rhetoric, former finance minister Hassan Ziglam warned in February 2012 of this situation. “The ban on the frozen funds has been lifted,” he said in a televised interview. “These funds were brought to Libya and smuggled overseas through all land, sea and airports.” He threatened back then to resign, and he addressed Libyans with much regret to make things clear. “The total amount of frozen Libyan assets smuggled abroad amounted to more than 100$ billion.”

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In March 2003, the Libyan government embarked on real and serious steps to achieve comprehensive economic reforms in the country. “These funds were supposed to be primarily allocated to the reconstruction program and contracting with a number of companies. As such the funds would go towards the maintenance and rebuilding of schools, hospitals, universities, police headquarters, departments and state institutions , which were vandalized and destroyed during the revolution, in addition to completing some projects, especially airports,” Ziglam explained, adding that they were, however, smuggled out through airports, sea ports and land ports. “Libyan people’s money is being smuggled abroad, and Libyans should demand freezing them again,” he concluded. Ziglam’s disappointing remarks were confirmed by former head of the executive board of the National Transitional Council Mahmoud Jibril. “The amount of money looted after February 17 exceeds what has been looted over the past 42 years,” he said in an appearance on one of the TV channels. Former Minister of Health Fatima Hamroush, for her part, told Irish Times Newspaper she has documents that prove 1.5$ billion have been embezzled out of the country. At the international level, “there is a significant increase in the level of corruption in Libya, which was ranked 172 among the 177 most corrupt countries,” said a report issued by Transparency International late March 2013. At the local level, however, Head of the Libyan Audit Bureau, Khalid Shakshak, affirmed in a voice recording from late 2014 that Libya has gone beyond the corruption phase and is now underestimating allocation of public money. “The budget for 2013 amounted to more than 70$ billion, yet there was no remarkable improvement in the country.” “Sick Libyans receive treatments abroad despite the seven billion dollars spent on the health sector, and the state is unable to protect its borders and facilities despite spending seven billion dollars on the Ministry of Defense,” explained Shakshak. In humble attempts to reduce corruption and tampering with Libyan millions, Shakshak issued urgent decisions to prevent officials from pursuing their work in certain banks and ordered concerned authorities not to assign them any future leadership work.


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Among these officials are the general manager of the Republic Bank and director of credit risk management department at the same bank. He also fired deputy director of the Republic Bank’s branch in al-Fallah along with director of the North Africa Bank at Zliten’s branch. Shakshak later issued an urgent decision to freeze the bank account s of 38 companies and 62 individuals for being involved in the smuggling of foreign exchange currencies and falsification of official documents.

HISTORICAL BACKROUND OF FUND SMUGGLING The first chapters of smuggling of Libyan funds began outside its borders in the early 1980s when the Libyan government establishing the Libyan Arab Foreign Investment Company (LAFICO). LAFCO served as the regime’s powerful arm after an economic and air blockade were imposed on it, and its funds were frozen following a decision by the Security Council, which accused it of being involved in a number of international terrorist acts. Other companies and economic entities were established after LAFCO and became a parallel financial system, substituting the Central Bank of Libya. This parallel system included billions of dollars invested by Libyans in more than 45 countries in Europe, Africa and the rest of the world. It put funds in foreign banks either publically or secretly. The regime sold oil, bought arms, invested its money and smuggled it overseas through this virtual system without

All in all, Libyans’ conditions began to change internally, and they started dreaming of a different Libya. This dream would never come into fruition as 2011 arrived and with it came the Arab Spring revolutions.

being exposed because these operations weren’t part of the recognized official framework. After bitter patience on a nearly -10year economic siege, former Muammar Gaddafi’s regime succeeded in resolving many of the outstanding issues between it and the West, the latter of which had imposed an air embargo, economic sanctions on the former. The West had also frozen Libyan funds in foreign banks and stressed a ban on exporting Libyan oil. In March 2003, the Libyan government embarked on real and serious steps to achieve comprehensive economic reforms in the country. This started with the appointment of Dr. Shukri Mohammed Ghanem as Prime Minister to lead and oversee the implementation of these reforms. To some extent, he did succeed in said tasks. Before the end of 2003, the Libyan regime fully implemented the West’s demands and seemed to be on a path of renewed relations with the international community. During that short period of time, Libya had paid the compensation demanded, gave up its nuclear program and promised political and economic reforms. Previous conditions in Libya helped it establish the Libyan sovereign investment fund in the same year at a rate of 60 billion dollars with the purpose of moving Libya from its bitter reality to a better one. Sources pointed out that in the beginning of 2010, the

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Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi arrives at Ciampino airport on August ,29 2010 in Rome, Italy. (Getty)


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decides further that all . In other words, any foreign assets belonging to people listed in Annex II, should be frozen by the respective Member States should any of said assets exist within their jurisdictions. The people listed in Annex II included Ayesha Gaddafi, Hannibal Muammar Gaddafi, Khamis Gaddafi, Muammar Gaddafi, Mutassim Gaddafi and Saif al-Islam Gaddafi. In March 2011, resolution 1973 was issued to affirm all what was stipulated in resolution 1970, adding an article through which assets of Gaddafi’s sons Mohammed and Saadi Gaddafi shall be frozen in addition to assets belonging to Colonel Abdullah al-Senussi, Abu Bakr Yunis Jabir, Abu Zayd Umar Dorda and Matuq Mohammed Matuq. It also stipulated freezing assets of five Libyan institutions and financial entities, which are Central Bank of Libya, Libyan Investment Authority, Libyan Foreign Bank, Libyan Africa Investment Portfolio and Libyan National Oil Corporation. In response to these harsh measures, Gaddafi told a French journalist in his tent in Tripoli on March 2011 ,5 he doesn’t have money abroad and challenged the world to prove the A copy of the letter dated to the Head of the Asset Recovery Committee to Tunisian lawyer Ramzi Mubarak asking him to represent Libya in court cases regarding Libyan money smuggled to Tunisia.

A copy of President of the General National Congress’s, Mohamed al-Magriaf, speech which he gave in February 2013, regarding his plans on forming technical commitees which would search for smuggled funds abroad.

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Banks in Canada have $ 2.3 billion worth in Libyan funds while those in France have 6.7 billion euros and more than seven billion euros are in Germany, according to the Reuters’ report. funds outside Libya, being the last governor of its Central Bank during Muammar Gaddafi's rule from 2006 to March 2011 ,12. “Libyan assets are estimated at 168.425 billion, of which about 104 billion are to the central bank. These 104 billion are distributed as following: about 40$ billion in cash, about 30$ billion as US Treasury bonds and bonds in European governments, and the rest are distributed on loans given to foreign countries and some investment portfolios managed by others serving the interest of the Central Bank. In addition, about 64$ billion are given to the Libyan Investment Corporation,” explained Bengdara in an interview with a TV station. A letter dated 2015/11/25 from the Libyan Central Bank to the UN Sanctions Committee requesting the liquidation of frozen Libyan assets and bonds.

opposite. When the regime was overthrown and before Gaddafi’s death, the National Transitional Council and the Executive Council governed Libya temporarily until democratic elections were held and a new Libyan government was formed. Before holding the elections and forming the awaited government, both bodies’ main concern was restoring Libya’s frozen funds and assets that were owned by Gaddafi. Both councils were persistent and urgently demanded that the Security Council release these funds as to ensure payment of Libyan worker salaries and to activate basic services in the country. They requested the release of five billion dinars, but the Security Council released only LYD1.5 billion. In exchange for a promise of democratic transition, the Security Council released 15$ billion in early September 2011. This amount is small compared to Libya’s frozen billions that are officially registered to Libya’s Central Bank and its Investment Corporation. It should also be noted that the fictitious accounts registered to Gaddafi’s family and those close to his tent and are still unknown. Farhat Bengdara was the first Libyan leader to explain to Libyans about the size and reality of frozen and smuggled

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Reuters news agency, for its part, published in August 2011 ,31 a detailed report on Bengdara’s remarks. It showed that a number of foreign governments have frozen Libyan sovereign funds, which is estimated to be at 150$ billion and 144 tons of gold, as well as 1.2 billion euros deposited in Austrian banks and 12 billion pounds in Britain. Of said funds, Saif al-Islam Gaddafi owns 10$ billion alone. Banks in Canada have 2.3$ billion worth in Libyan funds while those in France have 6.7 billion euros and more than seven billion euros are in Germany, according to the Reuters’ report. The report also added that Italy has eight billion dollars while Switzerland has 827$ million and the United States has about 34$ billion worth in frozen funds in its banks. After the fall of Muammar Gaddafi's regime, these funds and assets were requested by Libya’s officials throughout the country’s successive governments. They tried all possible legal and illegal means to recover these funds and unfreeze them. Attempts started with the two councils, which repeatedly appealed to the Security Council and requested the release of these funds, followed by secret visits to some countries having billions of dollars in frozen in their banks. Additionally, a large number of committees have been


Banks in Canada have $ 2.3 billion worth in Libyan funds while those in France have 6.7 billion euros and more than seven billion euros are in Germany, according to the Reuters’ report. funds outside Libya, being the last governor of its Central Bank during Muammar Gaddafi's rule from 2006 to March 2011 ,12. “Libyan assets are estimated at 168.425 billion, of which about 104 billion are to the central bank. These 104 billion are distributed as following: about 40$ billion in cash, about 30$ billion as US Treasury bonds and bonds in European governments, and the rest are distributed on loans given to foreign countries and some investment portfolios managed by others serving the interest of the Central Bank. In addition, about 64$ billion are given to the Libyan Investment Corporation,” explained Bengdara in an interview with a TV station. A letter dated 2015/11/25 from the Libyan Central Bank to the UN Sanctions Committee requesting the liquidation of frozen Libyan assets and bonds.

opposite. When the regime was overthrown and before Gaddafi’s death, the National Transitional Council and the Executive Council governed Libya temporarily until democratic elections were held and a new Libyan government was formed. Before holding the elections and forming the awaited government, both bodies’ main concern was restoring Libya’s frozen funds and assets that were owned by Gaddafi. Both councils were persistent and urgently demanded that the Security Council release these funds as to ensure payment of Libyan worker salaries and to activate basic services in the country. They requested the release of five billion dinars, but the Security Council released only LYD1.5 billion. In exchange for a promise of democratic transition, the Security Council released 15$ billion in early September 2011. This amount is small compared to Libya’s frozen billions that are officially registered to Libya’s Central Bank and its Investment Corporation. It should also be noted that the fictitious accounts registered to Gaddafi’s family and those close to his tent and are still unknown. Farhat Bengdara was the first Libyan leader to explain to Libyans about the size and reality of frozen and smuggled

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Reuters news agency, for its part, published in August 2011 ,31 a detailed report on Bengdara’s remarks. It showed that a number of foreign governments have frozen Libyan sovereign funds, which is estimated to be at 150$ billion and 144 tons of gold, as well as 1.2 billion euros deposited in Austrian banks and 12 billion pounds in Britain. Of said funds, Saif al-Islam Gaddafi owns 10$ billion alone. Banks in Canada have 2.3$ billion worth in Libyan funds while those in France have 6.7 billion euros and more than seven billion euros are in Germany, according to the Reuters’ report. The report also added that Italy has eight billion dollars while Switzerland has 827$ million and the United States has about 34$ billion worth in frozen funds in its banks. After the fall of Muammar Gaddafi's regime, these funds and assets were requested by Libya’s officials throughout the country’s successive governments. They tried all possible legal and illegal means to recover these funds and unfreeze them. Attempts started with the two councils, which repeatedly appealed to the Security Council and requested the release of these funds, followed by secret visits to some countries having billions of dollars in frozen in their banks. Additionally, a large number of committees have been


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established since the Transitional Council took over, all intended to retrieve frozen funds from banks abroad. President of the General National Congress (GNC), Mohamed al-Magariaf established one of the more farfetched means for fund recovery. He called for the forming of technical committees which would search for these smuggled funds abroad. Any individual within the committee that recovered the funds would be awarded 10 per cent of the retrieved assets. For instance, if a person within the committee or the entire committee would recover 10 billion dollars’ worth of funds; he or the committee would be rewarded 10 per cent of those 10 billion dollars, which would equate to a billion dollars. The policy was met with some criticism as many observers of Libyan affairs considered this decision a means of legalizing corruption by the country’s top legislative authority.

SOUTH AFRICA: THE TREASURE CHEST OF LIBYAN FUNDS? Reporting on the Libyan assets smuggled into South African provinces is quite complex since there is a lot of conflicting information on the exact amount of funds hidden within Libya’s continental neighbor. However, most experts agree that Bashir Saleh Bashir is the key to finding theses hidden funds, since he owns a large share of the assets. After Gaddafi’s death, his secret-keeper, Bashir, was arrested. But those who wanted the recovery of the funds knew that Bashir would only give information if he was freed. For this reason, he was released from the Elysee Palace and from there he was meant to head directly to Tripoli. However, after spending two nights at the finest Champs-Elysées’ hotel he travelled to Johannesburg and settled there with his smuggled money. He was subjected

to an assassination attempt which was thwarted as his death meant the evaporation of Libya’s billions in South Africa. Bashir was Gaddafi’s secret keeper and director of his office since late 1990s. He then became head of Africa’s Libyan Investment Fund until 2011. Despite all this speculation, the only person who could confirm the true figure of the embezzled funds in South Africa was their former president Jacob Zuma.

Head of the Libyan Audit Bureau: Libya has gone beyond the corruption phase and is now underestimating allocation of it public money.

Former South African President Jacob Zuma gestures as he delivers a speech during a rally in his support outside the High Court, in Durban on June ,8 2018. (Getty)

Head of the Libyan Audit Bureau, Khalid Shakshak.

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Responding to questions by members of his government's parliament about Gaddafi's hidden funds, Zuma told the whole world on July 2013 ,8 that none of the Libyan officials has provided South Africa with evidence on the transfer of these assets and funds to South Africa. “Those who have evidence should hand them over to the relevant Libyan authorities or the United Nations ... We have not found any funds, and if any of those Libyan funds or assets were found in South Africa, we will immediately inform the United Nations through the Department of International Relations and Cooperation,” he said. Zuma’s message was over, and Libya’s billions are still buried in his country, which is a clear sign that they may not return to the Central Bank of Libya any time soon, or ever for that matter. le, however a recent article in the Sunday Times revealed that before his death, Gaddafi smuggled 30 million US dollars to former President Jacob Zuma’s bunker at his home Nkandla. The funds were discovered recently as the president was moving them out of South Africa to Estwani. Jacob Zuma had previously denied the existence of embezzled Libyan money in South Africa, but it appears now that the disgraced former president will have another scandal to answer for.

Embezzled cash seized by Libyan authorities at Benina International Airport. The arrested smuggler was planning on taking the money to Istanbul, Turkey.

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Transparency International: There is a significant increase in the level of corruption in Libya, which was ranked 172 among the 177 most corrupt countries. As much as he tried to hide the assets, many in the international community had known about his possession of Libyan funds for years. For instance, the Guardian reported that since 2011 former US Secretary of State, Hilary Clinton, had known about Gaddaffi and Zuma’s plans to smuggle the former’s funds out of Libya. Clearly, the issue of embezzled funds from Libya is a complex one that will only be resolved with a coordinated effort from the international community, but as it stands the Libyan government will have to find ways to improvise the reconstruction process.


A Weekly Political News Magazine

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Issue 1743 - April - 12/04/2019

Fez, Morocco: An Oasis Amid the Bedlam of the Ancient Medina

www.majalla.com


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Omar al-Bashir’s 30 -Year Reign Over Sudan Majalla - London Omar al-Bashir was born on 1 January 1944 into a peasant family in Hosh Bannaga, north of the capital, Khartoum Sudan, which until independence in 1955 was part of the Kingdom of Egypt and Sudan. He enrolled at the Egyptian Military Academy in Cairo and then at the Sudan Military Academy in Khartoum from where he graduated in 1966. He joined the Egyptian army as a young man and quickly rose through the ranks, fighting in the Egyptian army in the Arab-Israeli war in October 1973. When he returned to Sudan, Bashir received rapid promotion and assumed the leading role in the Sudanese army’s campaign against the rebels of the southern Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) in the mid1980-s. During this time, Sudan was at risk of entering a famine. Frustrated with the leadership, Bashir led a bloodless coup on 30 June 1989 to oust the unstable coalition government of Prime Minister Sadiq al-Mahdi, and took over the leadership of the country. He dissolved parliament, banned political parties, and strictly controlled the press. With the support of Hasan al-Turabi, a Muslim extremist and leader of the National Islamic Front, he began instituting Sharia (Islamic law) in March 1991, further emphasising the division between the north and the mainly animist and

Christian south and intensifying the decadeslong north-south civil conflict. In 1993, he dissolved the military junta which brought him to power and appointed himself civilian president. He was confirmed president by an election in 1996 where he ran completely unopposed. He eventually legalised the registration of political parties in 1999. Later that year, Bashir ousted Turabi, who he believed was plotting against him and had him imprisoned. In 2000 he was re-elected for a five-year term in Presidential Elections. In 2003, several ethnic groups in Darfur launched a rebellion against the Sudanese government. The United Nations and human rights groups say Khartoum used militias known as the janjaweed as a proxy force to crush the revolt. Khartoum denies the claims. Bashir was criticised for not cracking down on the Janjaweed militia. Following international pressure for Bashir to end Africa’s longest civil war, Bashir agreed a north-south peace pact with the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement in 2005. Under the terms of the agreement with the southern rebels, a referendum for southern Sudanese citizens was held in January 2011 to determine whether the south would remain part of Sudan or secede. The results overwhelmingly indicated a preference to secede, and an independent South Sudan was declared six months later on July 2011 ,9.

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The United States referred to the Darfur conflict as genocide in 2004. The UN Security Council referred the Darfur case to the ICC in 2005, giving them the mandate to investigate the claims. The United Nations says the longrunning conflict killed 300,000 people and uprooted 2.7 million. Bashir put the death toll at 10,000 people. In March 2009, the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued an arrest warrant against him and charged him with war crimes and crimes against humanity. In 2010, the ICC issued a second arrest warrant against him, this time charging him with genocide. Omar al-Bashir stated that since Sudan is not a party to the ICC treaty which established the court in 1998, it should not be expected to abide by its provisions. Despite the international arrest warrant, he won consecutive elections in 2010 and 2015. However, his last victory was marred by a boycott from the main opposition parties. In December 2018, following a government announcement that prices for fuel and bread would rise, the Sudanese people took to the streets over harsh economic conditions and poor living standards. What began as small a scale protest in the northern town of Atbara, quickly transformed into large-scale, organised anti-government marches and demonstrations in towns and cities across Sudan. The demonstrations changed from an economic agenda to demanding that Bashir step down.


On February 22, Bashir declared a state of emergency, replacing civilian governors and other high officials with army officers. Bashir said that he would stay in office until his term expires in 2020 but his promises carried little

credibility with the Sudanese people. The crisis escalated in early April when thousands of demonstrators began camping outside the defence ministry compound, where Bashir's residence is located. Following four

months of almost entirely non-violent protests, Bashir was removed as president on April 11 and arrested by the military. Tens of thousands of Sudanese marched through Khartoum in celebration.


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Carla Haddad: Media Personalities Declared War On Me, I Responded With Love Distinguished Lebanese TV Host Talks to Majalla About Her New Show «Fi-Male» by Nour al-Huda Buhlok Carla Haddad is best known for hosting popular TV shows ‹Nojoom Bila Houdoud› and ‹The Comedy› and recently dazzled audiences when she co-presented the Arab world›s version of ‹Dancing with the Stars›. Her humour, spontaneity and strong morals have helped propel her to become one of the most popular entertainers in Lebanon. The outstanding media personality spoke to Majalla about her new show ‹Fi-Male›. Q- How have people reacted to your new show which has been widely attacked? People’s reactions have been more than great and encouraging. My audience loved the show a lot, and this was clear from the ratings of the first few episodes. This pushes us forward as a team to work

I bring several years of experience to a show I have always dreamt of and I have worked hard to bring it to light.

harder and present the best for our audience, which is largely my responsibility. Q- Tell us about your show Fi-Male. The show reflects my character. It is spontaneous, fun and genuine. The idea itself, from the way it is presented to the style of conversation, is different. What distinguishes it from the rest of the TV shows is the sense of comfort and spontaneity that allows the guest to show their real personality and brings them closer to their audience. Q- Do you feel more responsible today? This isn’t the first time I present a show on my own. I previously hosted ‹Nojoom Bila Houdoud› and ‹The Comedy› I have also succeeded in copresenting several shows such as ‹Dancing with the Stars› and ‹Ya Leil Ya Ein› with my husband, Tony Abou Jaoudeh. Today, I bring several years of experience to a show I have always dreamt of and I have worked hard to bring it to light. It is out of the ordinary. Audiences are fed up with traditional presenters and need someone that they can feel close to who presents quality work with simplicity. This is what distinguishes me and my show. Q- Many media personalities and shows on rival

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TV stations have launched a war on your show. Why do you think that is? I don’t know. I have succeeded in my latest venture and viewing figures prove this. I turn a blind eye to negative things. What I care about the most is presenting the best to my audience, living in peace with myself and others and feeling happy with what I do. It is difficult to satisfy the public, and I’ve achieved that. I don’t listen to negative comments and feedback, but I listen to constructive criticism. I discovered in the end that this propaganda has inadvertently served me and promoted my show. They didn’t do this willingly of course, but I treat all people

with sincerity and love. What I care about is people’s positive feedback and this pushes me forward to achieve success. Q- Do you take feedback from your audience into consideration to make improvements to the show? Of course, I do. I always take people’s comments into consideration and I am known for this. I respond objectively to their comments, and this is proven by the great difference between the first and second episodes. Usually, shows don’t get high ratings from the first episode, but mine did, and this pleases me. I promise my audience that every episode will be different from the one before as it will be adapted to the guest. An episode with an artist will differ from one that features a politician or an athlete as each one will be prepared differently. Q- How do you deal with rumours, particularly as they involve your marriage and divorce? As I said earlier, I don’t care about negativity. However, this subject honestly saddens and bothers me, but I have decided not to care anymore. I decided to focus on my career and life. If I were to comment on what is negative, I will stand still instead of moving forward in my work. Their negative comments about me prove that I am bothering them. Q- Are you a hot topic of discussion in the media? Honestly, yes I am, especially lately with the start of my new show. I am happy with that because it proves I am successful and that I have a strong presence in the media. Q- What do you promise your audience? I promise to always be successful, to present strong and distinctive episodes, and to always meet my audience’s expectations.

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What's Causing Your Shaky Hands? Not Necessarily a Sign of Parkinson’s 48

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“They’re not life-threatening, but people with severe tremors may have a hard time feeding themselves, dressing, or driving.” Dr. Chizoba Umeh affiliated Brigham and Women’s hospital. “They’re not life-threatening, but people with severe tremors may have a hard time feeding themselves, dressing, or driving.”

TREMOR SYMPTOMS Hand tremors may occur at rest (such as in Parkinson’s disease) or they may occur with activity. Most resting hand tremors look like you’re rolling a pill between your thumb and index finger. When you do something, the tremor disappears. Hand tremors that occur with activity are described based on when they appear: • Postural tremor “occurs when your hands are outstretched, and gravity is pulling them down. You can’t keep the hands completely steady while they’re outstretched,” Dr. Umeh says. • Intention tremor starts when you’re reaching for a target, like a keyhole as you unlock your door. • Task-specific tremor occurs when performing an activity, such as when you’re writing.

CAUSES A close-up of an old lady pouring a cup of coffee into an enamel cup. (Getty)

Harvard Health Tremors may be nothing to worry about or something more serious. But don’t let them go unchecked. Do you ever notice that you can’t seem to hold a coffee cup still? Or that your hands sometimes tremble so much it interferes with daily chores? Those involuntary hand movements are called tremors. “They’re common in middle and older age,” says Dr. Chizoba Umeh, a neurologist who specializes in movement disorders at Harvard-

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We all have a little bit of tremor called a physiologic tremor; it’s natural and not usually noticeable. Tremors that aren’t natural include these types: Enhanced physiologic tremor. Caffeine use, an overactive thyroid, stress, fatigue, or sleep deprivation can intensify physiologic tremor. This tremor may show up as a postural tremor. Medication-induced tremor. Some medications can cause tremors, such as the antidepressant bupropion (Wellbutrin) and the anti-arrhythmic drug amiodarone (Cordarone). The resulting


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tremor is often postural. Parkinsonian tremor. This resting, pill-rolling tremor can occur with or without the degenerative neurological condition Parkinson’s disease. Essential tremor. This is a benign tremor that causes involuntary shaking in various body parts, including the hands, head, and voice box. “A person with essential tremor may have a postural hand tremor or an intention tremor,” Dr. Umeh says. Cerebellar tremor. This is an intention tremor caused by damage to the cerebellum in the back of the brain, often from a stroke or multiple sclerosis. “The cerebellum helps coordinate movement, like reaching out to grasp a doorknob. Cerebellar damage can cause your hand to miss the doorknob,” Dr. Umeh says. Post-stroke tremor. After a stroke, a person can have a variety of tremors. “If there’s damage to the cerebellum there can be an intention tremor. If the damage is in the basal ganglia, the person can have a resting tremor,” Dr. Umeh explains. Withdrawal tremor. People suffering alcohol withdrawal can experience postural tremors.

DIAGNOSIS Diagnosing a tremor requires a physical exam and a careful analysis of your medical history. “I want to know what it looks like and if there are any associated features. Is there balance impairment, stiffness, or slowness of movement as in Parkinson’s disease? Was there a stroke? Is there a brain lesion? Is the person taking a certain kind of medication? Does the person consume a lot of caffeine or have any other underlying conditions?” asks Dr. Umeh. She says it may be necessary to order lab work to check for thyroid disease or get an image of the brain to check for signs of a past stroke.

TREATMENT Some tremors can be eliminated or dramatically reduced. For enhanced physiologic tremor, you may just need to cut back on caffeine or manage stress. Tremors caused by thyroid disorder or alcohol withdrawal may be reduced by treating those conditions. Medication-induced tremors may be resolved by switching to a different type of medication. Essential tremor is often treated with medications such as the beta blocker propranolol (Inderal) or the antiseizure drug primidone (Mysoline). Parkinsonian tremors may be reduced with antiparkinsonian medications or a procedure called deep brain stimulation, in which electrodes are implanted in the brain to stimulate areas regulating

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We all have a little bit of tremor called a physiologic tremor; it’s natural and not usually noticeable.

movements such as tremors. “Tremors from multiple sclerosis, strokes, and brain tumors are not typically reversible,” Dr. Umeh says.

OTHER WAYS TO COPE Because hand tremors can interfere with eating and other tasks, it may help to use weighted eating utensils and to work with an occupational therapist for help with fine motor skills, such as buttoning clothes. “Take heart,” Dr. Umeh says. “Tremors can be very frustrating, but you can learn to live with them.” Originally published in the Harvard Health Newsletter

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Fez, Morocco: An Oasis Amid the Bedlam of the Ancient Medina The Medieval City Remains a Place of Magic 52

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Camel caravans once crossed the desert to bring sugar, salt and gold to Fez from Timbuktu and beyond. Now, Chinese tour groups arrive by bus.

by Bob Drogin The sun was low over the souks, reflecting off the rust-colored hills, and my wife and I were enjoying a rose-dappled sky from chairs on our rooftop. Suddenly, the call to evening prayer boomed from a nearby mosque. Within seconds, dozens more muezzins echoed from other minarets, a wave of sound that washed over and around us. It was an unmistakable reminder we were in the Fez medina, the cultural and religious center of Morocco and, once, of

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much of the Muslim world. Moments later, the sounds of life resumed, the tap-tap-tapping at fiery forges in the copper and brass market, the braying of donkeys (the only nonhuman transport allowed in the medina) as they clattered down stone steps, the cries of hagglers in the herb and spice stalls, and the honking horns outside the 14 arched gates and 15 miles of ramparts that long have kept the modern world at bay. Lights twinkled from the tower of Al Quaraouiyine, founded in 859 and now the world’s oldest degree-granting university. The first French pope, Sylvester II, attended in 998 and supposedly brought Arabic numerals to Europe. The Jewish philosopher known as Maimonides studied here in the 12th century. A plaque marks the alley where he supposedly lived, as does a tiny Chinese restaurant named in his honor. We had arrived in Fez that day. A man had grabbed our bags from the taxi and led us at a half-run through the first gate, then another, over a small footbridge and deep into the labyrinth of 9,600 narrow lanes inside the ancient walled city. Most have no names, but our guesthouse turned out to be three blind turns down a dark passage called Lane of Seven Twists. Dar Seffarine, named for the nearby brass market, was an ideal oasis in the middle of the hustle and bustle in the medina. A dar is a traditional large Moroccan home, generally two floors around an open courtyard flanked by columns and corridors, all lined with an ornate mosaic of tiles known as zellij and intricately carved and painted stucco called tadelakt. This dar had seven guest rooms, and each had been extravagantly restored. Our two-room suite was downright palatial.


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Past an arch with towering wooden doors, a multicolored riot of zellij lined the floor and part way up the walls. Above that, intricate calligraphy and a sculpted frieze circled the room. Worn Berber carpets lay underfoot, and a magnificent inlaid cedar ceiling soared into a dome 20 feet high. Stained-glass windows near the top sent shafts of blue, red and yellow light bouncing around us. We had no TV, no door locks and spotty Wi-Fi. That was the point. A lavish breakfast was served family-style so guests could meet, and dinners were offered the same way. We never had a moment’s concern during our four nights here, thanks to the solicitude of owners Alaa Said and his wife, Kate Kvalvik, enterprising Norwegians who have made their home here. Said was an Iraqi conscript in Saddam Hussein’s war against Iran in the 1980s, and after escaping an Iranian prison, he fled to Oslo, Norway, where he was accepted as a refugee and became an architect. After a professor suggested he specialize in Arabic architecture, he and Kate settled on Fez in 2003. They bought the dar — thought to be 600 years old, but no one is certain — and hired 80 craftsmen to restore it, plus add electricity, toilets and the rest. It had been abandoned for decades, so it took three years — and tens of thousands of donkey loads — to make it livable. It was a bold move. The medina was an impoverished and forbidding place then, and their dar was only the third guest house in it. There are about 200 today, thanks to a boom in tourism. Camel caravans once crossed the desert to bring sugar, salt and gold to Fez from Timbuktu and

beyond. Now, Chinese tour groups arrive by bus. But the medieval city remains a place of magic, especially in the early morning and after midafternoon, when the crowds thin. For our first day, we hired an excellent guide, Khlafa El Asefar (feztourguide.com, khlafa82@ gmail.com), to help us navigate the maze and show us the historic tombs, palaces, fountains and museums. The medina has two adjoining quarters — 9th century Fez el Bali (or Old Fez)

The profuse ornamentation in the homes and public spaces throughout the ancient city featured only repeating geometric or floral patterns - all done by hand. 54

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and 13th century Fez el Djedid (or New Fez), which once included a thriving Jewish enclave. One of our first stops was a recently restored small synagogue, the last of 17 that once existed here. Asefar was immensely proud of how the medina had retained its roots and vibrant life. “We have 11 madrassas,” or Islamic schools, he told me. “Ten of them date back to the 14th century.” Another sign of how little has changed: The Chouara leather tannery operates much as it did 800 years ago, using pigeon poop and pomegranates to help soften cow, sheep, goat and

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camel hides. They then are washed and dyed in round wells with the brilliant colors that dominate Islamic art — jasmine white, poppy red, mint green, kohl black, indigo blue, saffron yellow. “All spices, flowers and minerals,” Asefar pointed out. For lunch, we ducked into the Nejjarine II, another lavishly restored dar. Every inch seemed covered with glazed terracotta tile, carved cedar or stenciled brass. Waiters swooped in with our mezzo — 15 separate plates of salads, olives, beets, lentils and the like. We staggered out after a steaming tagine of lemon chicken and couscous, a flaky pastry filled with shredded pigeon and dusted with cinnamon, and heaping plates of fresh fruit and sweets. It was clear that the tourist boom and a UNESCO designation as a World Heritage site have helped the medina reclaim some of its long-lost glory. Ragged stone alleys have been repaired, and garbage is swept up each night and hauled out by donkey. Police have reduced crime substantially, and the air smells of spices, not smoke, after thousands of kilns, bakeries and forges were converted from wood to gas. Residents have used government grants to restore scores of homes, some with lush gardens, and shops have replaced sliding steel doors with traditional wooden shutters. As we were exploring on our own the next day, my wife and I found that a polite “Salaam Alaikum!” — peace be upon you — disarmed pesky salesmen and touts. We were served mint tea and shown hospitality as we got lost in the bedlam. “I feel like I’m in a video game,” my wife


remarked as we somehow returned to the same noisy square three times in error. Once, a man in a hooded djellaba abruptly pulled my arm. When I yanked it back in alarm, he pointed behind me. He had saved me from being run down by a donkey with a load of bricks on its back. Back at the dar, I sat with Said under a tangerine tree in the garden and asked him to tell me about the ancient walled city. The medina seemed pure chaos. The -57year-old architect urged me to see it through his eyes. “This is a pure Islamic city,” he began. “They cover the women. And they cover the houses as well. It’s closed architecture. All the windows are to the inside. All the decoration is in the inside.” The medina is home to about 150 mosques, and each anchors a communal bread oven, a public bathhouse and a fountain, the mainstays of Islamic life. Behind them are the souks, or markets, and then the houses with their heavy doors. “It’s urban planning by function,” Said said. “It’s very organic, with the mosque as the tree, and everything growing from it.” The high walls along the narrow alleys create

cooling shadows for the baking summer heat, and the intermittent reed or wooden roofs create a natural breeze, he said. The lanes snake this way and that as protection from the direct sun and occasional sandstorms. The houses are similarly designed for the desert — and for Islam. During summer, families live on the lowest level, where the floors are marble and glazed tile and thus cool to the touch. In the winter, they move to the cedar-lined and carpeted

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The houses are similarly designed for the desert - and for Islam.

rooms above, which retain the heat. Our room was up a steep, twisting staircase; halfway up was a passage to a hidden alcove with an iron grill, a place for a prospective bride to view her suitor down below. The profuse ornamentation in the homes and public spaces throughout the ancient city featured only repeating geometric or floral patterns — all done by hand. Said laughed when I asked if it was Moorish, the design I associate with the Islamic

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period in Spain. “No, it is much more than that,” he said. “Fez is very rich in culture, because it collected art from around the Muslim world when it was the center of that world. The style of wood carving traces back to Egypt. The tiles are from ancient Rome and Persia. The flowers in the stucco are lotus blossoms from India. The calligraphy and the arches are from Iraq.” Said is driven by that remarkable history, little understood or appreciated in the West. He said he isn’t finished with Dar Seffarine “This is a piece of art,” he said. “I’m not changing it. I’m just restoring it.” This article was originally published in the Los Angeles Times.


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