The Downfall of Crown Prince Kushner

March 7, 2018


The Downfall of Crown Prince Kushner

by Daniel B. Shapiro

It was always folly that Jared Kushner, a key example of Trump’s terrible, nepotistic distortion of American government, monopolized the U.S.-Israel relationship. Now he’s going down, how much further will critical decision-making deteriorate?

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The Downfall of President-in-Law Jared Kushner seen with his wife, First Daughter Ivanka Trump

Not since the November 1, 1973 meeting between Prime Minister Golda Meir, under fire for the failures that led to the Yom Kippur War, and President Richard Nixon, already deep into the Watergate scandal, have American and Israeli leaders met at a time of such internal political turmoil in both countries.

As thousands of advocates for a strong U.S.-Israel relationship gather in Washington for the annual AIPAC Policy Conference this week, the fraught situation in both governments raises the question of how to manage the U.S.-Israel relationship through choppy waters and bumpy roads.

There is no denying that President Trump is very friendly toward Israel. But more than good feelings are necessary to make the relationship as productive as it can be. Serious, professional work by well-organized governments makes a difference, too.

Already I can hear readers spitting out their coffee. What??! A representative of the Obama Administration will give lectures on how to manage the U.S.-Israel relationship? Wasn’t that a period of major bilateral tensions? Give me break!

The criticism is fair, up to a point, considering the far-too-frequent public disputes, which both sides contributed to, during those years. But it is also not the whole picture

During the same period that we had serious policy disagreements, most prominently over the Iran nuclear deal and the issue of West Bank settlements, the bilateral relationship grew significantly stronger in numerous ways.

It grew stronger in the area of security cooperation, which resulted in more frequent and more sophisticated joint military exercises, and culminated in the $38 billion military assistance Memorandum of Understanding, which will enable Israel to purchase at least 50 F-35 aircraft and maintain its qualitative military edge for decades.

An Iron Dome launcher fires an interceptor rocket in this Israeli Defence Force (IDF) handout image received on November 28, 2017
An Iron Dome launcher fires an interceptor rocket in this Israeli Defence Force (IDF) handout image received on November 28, 2017 IDF Spokesperson Unit/Handout via REUTERS


It grew stronger in intelligence cooperation, upgrading the partnership to a level of intimacy the United States enjoys with few other countries, and enabling more real-time sharing of information and strategic deployment of our assets against common threats.

It grew stronger in the area of technology development, especially in missile defense, leading to the full deployment of Iron Dome and breakthroughs in the development of David’s Sling and Arrow 3. Israel’s recent successes in detecting and destroying Hamas’s terrorist tunnels have also been enabled by a joint U.S.-Israeli research and development program launched in 2015.

It grew stronger in diplomatic coordination, as the two countries worked together week in and week out for eight years to snuff out or counter attempts to delegitimize Israel in international organizations, notwithstanding our disagreement on U.N. Security Council Resolution 2334 in December 2016.

It grew stronger in responding to disasters, such as when the entire U.S. interagency mobilized to help provide assistance to Israel during the 2010 Carmel fires.

And it grew stronger in the economic and commercial sphere, where the two governments advanced efforts to support the vibrant private sector partnership, by lowering barriers and increasing opportunities for investors and entrepreneurs in both countries to meet and work together.

What all these advances had in common was that they resulted from an effort, at least on the U.S. side, to ensure that the bilateral relationship, and the policy that guided it, were spread across all parts of our government.

The National Security Council at the White House provided the connective tissue between disparate initiatives, but there was a broad understanding across the government of what we were trying to achieve – a stronger, deeper partnership in all realms, and how each department could contribute.

U.S. United Nations ambassador Nikki Haley, White House senior adviser Jared Kushner and Middle East Envoy Jason Greenblatt wait for a meeting of the UN Security Council at UN headquarters in New York on February 20, 2018.
U.S. United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley, White House senior adviser Jared Kushner and Middle East Envoy Jason Greenblatt wait for a meeting of the UN Security Council at UN headquarters in New York\ LUCAS JACKSON/ REUTERS




There will always be a few key, high-level individuals managing the relationship and making decisions on the most sensitive matters, but others in the government need to be involved, informed, and coordinated.

Lately, one has the impression that the relationship has been shrunk down to three or four people on each side. Trump White House paranoia about the loyalty of career officials, whom they deride as the “deep state”, surely contributes. So does the failure to fill many senior State Department posts. Israeli coalition politics, with cabinet portfolios spread across multiple parties and no foreign minister, are a factor as well.

A structure like this one creates problems that benefit neither country. First, it makes it difficult for officials below the top level of government to follow-up on decisions made by their seniors. If a decision is made by the inner circle, but is not communicated to the working level, it may never be implemented. A poorly staffed government, as exists on the U.S. side, compounds the problem.

Israeli officials these days often have no counterpart to call, or only much more junior officials, clearly cut off from the decision-making level, which has clearly contributed to misunderstandings on sensitive issues, like the arrangements in southern Syria intended to keep Iranian forces and proxies away from the Israeli border.

Second, this structure weakens the United States in other ways, harming our ability to effectively support Israel in various arenas.

King Abdullah of Jordan, left, looks on as Jared Kushner talks with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and his wife during the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington D.C. Feb. 2, 2017
King Abdullah of Jordan, left, looks on as Jared Kushner talks with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and his wife during the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington D.C. Feb. 2, 2017Evan Vucci / AP



There has never been a Secretary of State as excluded from the U.S.-Israel relationship as Rex Tillerson. He has never made his own visit to Israel, and his regional tour, with no stop in Jerusalem, following the Iranian drone incursion on February 10, made him look irrelevant. Why would other governments take him seriously when he raises Israel’s concerns?

The absence of confirmed U.S. Aambassadors in Cairo, Amman, Riyadh, Doha, and Ankara underscores the department’s weakness and inhibits U.S. assistance to Israel in regional coordination against common threats, like Iran’s growing military entrenchment in Syria.

Finally, this structure injects chaos when someone leaves or gets in trouble. If all the eggs of the U.S.-Israel relationship are in Jared Kushner’s basket, what happens when that basket self-immolates, as is going on now? Over-investment in one or two individuals, no matter how supportive, actually weakens the structures that the bilateral relationship needs.

Other governments, particularly in the Gulf, have made a similar mistake, leaning far too heavily on Jared Kushner as the be-all and end-all of their relationships with the United States.

Ivanka Trump participates in a presentation ceremony of The Collar of Abdulaziz Al Saud Medal to President Donald Trump at the Royal Court Palace, Saturday, May 20, 2017, in Riyadh.
Ivanka Trump participates in a presentation ceremony of The Collar of Abdulaziz Al Saud Medal to President Donald Trump at the Royal Court Palace, Saturday, May 20, 2017, in Riyadh. Evan Vucci/AP


That’s because of the terrible distortion of the U.S. government under the Trump Administration – from a collection of professional departments to a family-run business, complete with a crown prince and blatant misuse of government positions to advance private commercial interests.

As Kushner goes down, those governments must ask themselves, now what?

During the Obama Administration, I sometimes heard it said that we were relentlessly on-message, that Israeli officials would hear the same thing from whoever they talked to on the U.S. side. I considered that to be a major compliment in the management of the administration.

That kind of coordination, which integrates all departments of government, actually gets more done. It enables serious follow-up and implementation of decisions. It avoids creating confusion and illusions about U.S. policy, by hearing different things from different people, both on issues where we agree and those where we differ. It ultimately makes for a healthier and stronger relationship, one that can weather even serious policy disagreements.

President Obama used to say that government officials are like runners in a relay race, carrying the baton for a while and then handing it off to the next runner. That is true across administrations, but it is also true during a single administration, when most people only serve in their posts for about two years.

When Jared Kushner has the baton pulled from his hand, who is going to carry it for the U.S.-Israel relationship in the coming years?

Daniel B. Shapiro is Distinguished Visiting Fellow at the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv. He served as U.S. Ambassador to Israel, and Senior Director for the Middle East and North Africa, in the Obama Administration. Twitter: @DanielBShapiro


Modi’s Gulf Diplomacy: Signs of a changing world

February 26, 2018

Modi’s Gulf Diplomacy: Signs of a changing world

by  Balbur Puni

Modi’s upholding of the two-nation solution in Palestine was timely not only to rebalance India’s  diplomacy in the most turbulent region of the world but also to silence his critics back home

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While the national media is naturally focused on banking scams adding to thousands of crores, a major development with far reaching consequences for the country has passed unnoticed. Laying of a foundation stone for a Hindu temple in Abu Dhabi at the hands of visiting Prime Minister Narendra Modi signals that the winds of change are beginning to blow even in the arid region of the Gulf. This event  in the Islam’s conservative cauldron has more than a symbolic value both for the hosts and the distinguished guest.

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Prime Minister Modi and Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu

Consider also the other highlights of Modi’s recent Gulf foray. One, it comes right against the background of his rolling out the red carpet for  Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu —one of the most die-hard Jew whom the world perceives as the obdurate obstructionist in the  establishment of an enduring peace in the region.

Despite the impression this red carpet carried for the international community, Modi was in Palestine soon after reinforcing the Indian stand all these years that the two state arrangement is the only enduring solution to the Palestine problem-the soaring  gangrene of the Gulf.

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The Indian Prime Minister’s upholding of the two nation theory in Palestine was timely not only to rebalance India’s  diplomacy in the most turbulent region in the world but also to demonstrate to his critics back home, that their Prime Minister is a deft player in international diplomacy in dealing with a tough Isareli counterpart or in assuaging wounded pride of the Islamic two third of the Gulf and even in winning and retaining their confidence in him as much as in gaining new military and industrial ties with Israel.  Not just the Jewish nation but the upholders of Islam’s dominance of the region are also counting on India’s growing role in adding to the peace process there.

On two counts Modi’s diplomacy has placed India in a beneficial position in the region. One is in supporting Israel as a growth agent of the area that needs the great talent of technology that the Jewish nation has which is so vital for a whole region that will now have to address itself to a de-cremental role of its most major source of wealth and well being-that is the oil.

It is obvious that oil is losing it’s pre-eminent position as a major source of energy in the world. There is emerging a shift from dependence on oil and gas as source of energy to solar based energy. There are clear signals of this shift the world over, including India.

Modi’s commitment of his Government to this shift in domestic energy policies, in modernising a traditional society into the digital era is also a point of criticism for his domestic opponents. But by standing abreast with global leaders in reversing climate change, in taking big strides in using solar energy and in awakening his own people to pollution whether in dealing with human waste to becoming a people aligned to digital transformation, there is this leadership role closely working with each change agent as a do or die transformation.

The Prime Minister’s Gulf tour was also well timed and well-paying for his country. The way he was received and country after country from Jordan to Iran have sought and got a wide ranging Memorandum of Understandings (MoUs) from him must have silenced his domestic critics now made to eat their words questioning the “chaiwala’s” diplomatic capability.

The Gulf tour comes also in the wake of an ASEAN Summit held in New Delhi where South-east Asian nations were not hesitant to express their apprehensions about China’s growing hegemonic rule.  Their determination to resist such hegemony whether in the South China Sea or in Indian Ocean island countries was evident as the Malé political crisis broke out as the world perceived China as using economic leverage gained through large scale “loosening of its purse” as diplomatic correspondents put it in Malé or Pakistan to push forward its policy of encircling India.

Communalism was an old theme. It got a boost when his Government backed the apex court taking up the issue of human rights in the battle it launched against the Muslim practice of triple talaq.  But wherever elections were held Muslim women appeared to back the Government rather than the orthodox mullahs who sought to give a religious backing to a simple  human rights violation issue. That even as Narendra Modi touched several Muslim majority countries no one mentioned the campaign against triple talaq as anti-Islamic.

In these very countries there other signs of change. Like in Saudi Arabia women being given the privilege of driving the family car and relaxation is the rigid stand in the name of religion that women cannot go out without being accompanied by a male close relative.

Behind the curtain of black cloth women in Islamic majority countries might have read Modi’s campaign against triple talaq as a word of hope for them though there may not have been any opening for them to give expression to their feeling. Within the country itself more and more signs are there of Muslim women breaking the barriers and asserting their rights. For instance, in Kerala Muslim women are attending Friday prayers and here and there even asserting their right to lead them.

At the same time the threat to world peace from the violence breathing Islamic States (IS) and terrorism spewing Pakistan are getting isolated day by day. If Pakistan had assumed that by playing Beijing’s puppet it would corner India, Modi has by getting Oman to voluntarily give India access to Oman port of  Duqm for  military purposes also with this port within sight of the Iranian port Chabahar on the Iranian coast developed by India with a clear security angle for Indian access to Afghanistan and central Asia

What is mystery in this great diplomatic achievement is not so much India’s quiet diplomatic triumph in now having a naval presence at the mouth of the Red Sea and the vital maritime route from Indian Ocean to Mediterranean through the Gulf of Aden and Red Sea but also big blow to China’s move to encircle India by infiltrating into Maldives’ political  power structure. The mystery is why the Indian Press failed to highlight this diplomatic triumph of Narendra Modi in an area of bitter inter-Islam conflict and IS influence.

(The writer is a political commentator and a former BJP Rajya Sabha MP) 

The Palestine Issue gives UMNO-BN the edge in GE-14

February 2018

The Palestine Issue gives UMNO-BN the edge in  GE-14

Author: Mohd Azizuddin Mohd Sani, Universiti Utara Malaysia


For the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition (BN), the Palestine issue is an opportunity to unite Malaysians ahead of the 14th general election, which will be held by July 2018 at the latest.

Concerns about Palestine bring out solidarity and sympathy among most Malaysians — Muslims and non-Muslims alike. Malaysian Muslims see the Palestinians as their brothers and sisters who they must help liberate from Israeli occupation. Jerusalem is particularly important to Malaysian Muslims since it is Islam’s third holy city after Mecca and Medina. Malaysian non-Muslims call for humanitarian efforts to assist the Palestinians, who they see as the victims of Israeli ‘apartheid’ and illegal occupation.

Image result for Mahathir and The Palestinian QuestionWe fiercely protest the proposal to make Jerusalem the capital of Israel,” said  Prime Minister Najib Razak to UMNO members

But solidarity on Palestine does not mean that there are no other divisions within the Muslim-Malay community. There are at least five parties representing Malays in Malaysia. The most dominant is the ruling party — the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO). A splinter group of UMNO that is led by former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad and former Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin formed an opposition party called Parti Peribumi Bersatu Malaysia. This party formed a coalition called Pakatan Harapan in 2015 with other Malay-dominated parties such as Parti Keadilan Rakyat, the Democratic Action Party and Parti Amanah Negara. Parti Amanah Negara is a splinter group of the Pan-Islamic Party (PAS) — a party with the long-term goal of creating an Islamic state in Malaysia.

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Pakatan Harapan’s Presumptive Prime Minister Dr. Mahathir Mohamad refuses to be outdone on relations with Israel

Muslims constitute more than 60 per cent of the Malaysian population (approximately 32 million people) and over 80 per cent of Malaysian Muslims are ethnic Malays. As shown by the 2008 and 2013 general elections, Islam is a major issue that can sway votes needed to form a ruling coalition. Many Malaysian Muslims see Palestinian issues as religious issues, so the ruling Barisan Nasional government is presenting itself as the protector of Islam (as it has done in the past).

BN believes that if the party champions Islam, it will always have Muslim Malays’ support. This is why the ruling party works closely with the Islamic bureaucracy. In the 2018 national budget, the government provided additional financial resources to empower Islam and Islamic institutions. Senator Asyraf Wajdi Dusuki (Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department in charge of Islamic affairs) said on 1 December 2017 that ‘[in 2018] alone, the Department of Islamic Development Malaysia received an additional allocation of almost 1 billion Malaysian ringgit’ (approximately US$257 million).

The Deputy Minister further argued that the BN government was not shirking its responsibility of transforming Malaysia into an Islamic state. This statement of responsibility lured the support of PAS, which has openly showed interest in collaborating with the Barisan Nasional and UMNO in the upcoming general election. PAS’s intention is to have UMNO support the enactment of the hudud (Islamic criminal code) bill. The bill seeks to incorporate parts of Islamic law (such as stoning) into Malaysia’s existing legal system. It has yet to be passed by the Parliament, but regardless of its passage, UMNO and PAS will both favour a stricter interpretation of Islam.

Malaysia already has a national Islamisation policy with four objectives. The first is to make Islam a special religion with state sponsorship. The second is to make Sunni Islamic teaching — the dominant sect of Islam in the world — the teaching for all Muslims in Malaysia. The third is the empowerment of the Islamic bureaucracy through the Administration of Islamic Law Act. The final is to give legitimacy to the ruling Barisan Nasional party for championing Islamic issues such as constitutionally protecting Islam as the religion of the Federation in Malaysia.

So long as Najib favours a stricter interpretation of Islam, he keeps conservative Muslims and PAS on the same side as the Barisan Nasional and UMNO.

The opposition Pakatan Harapan has no clear agenda on Islamisation and although many Muslims want to see the coalition clinch power, it must be able to champion and protect Islam to gain popularity. So far, Pakatan Harapan has failed to show that they can uphold an Islamic agenda (let alone fight for Malay rights) and it has thereby failed to become an alternative to the Barisan Nasional.

If Pakatan Harapan fails to take such measures, the upcoming general election will see the majority of Muslims — particularly Muslim Malays — continue to vote for the Barisan Nasional and UMNO. As such, having no Islamic agenda means fewer votes for Pakatan Harapan and a win for the Barisan Nasional in Malaysia’s next general election.

Professor Dr Mohd Azizuddin Mohd Sani is a Professor of Politics and International Relations at the School of International Studies, Universiti Utara Malaysia.


Donald Trump’s big-power bullying diplomacy

December 22, 2017

Donald Trump’s big-power bullying diplomacy

by Dennis Ignatius

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COMMENT | The United States Ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, warned recently, in what can only be described as the height of arrogance, that the US “will be taking names” during an upcoming vote in the UN General Assembly on the status of Jerusalem. In a letter to dozens of member states, including our own I suppose, she put them on notice that “the President and the US take this vote personally.”

She also warned that she had been instructed to send the names of all countries that vote against the US directly to President Trump, presumably for further action.

In other words, there will be consequences –  retaliation or punishment – if countries do not support the US on this issue.

Trump himself has complained that other countries “take hundreds of millions of dollars and even billions of dollars [from us], and then they vote against us.” Clearly, Trump intends to link foreign assistance with how countries vote on issues important to the US.

The US aid budget currently amounts to more than US$48 billion annually – US$31 billion in economic assistance and US$17 billion in military assistance. US aid, however, is mostly tied to US agricultural products and US military equipment and training. The five largest recipients of US aid are Israel (US$3.1 billion), Egypt (US$1.5 billion), Afghanistan (US$1.1 billion), Jordan (US$1 billion) and Pakistan (US$933 million). Malaysia receives about US$10 million annually, mostly in military assistance.

The US warning comes after a vote earlier this week on a resolution in the UN Security Council which overwhelmingly condemned Trump’s decision to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Fourteen out of the 15 members of the Council voted for the resolution. Although the US vetoed the resolution, the message from the international community was clear enough.

Stung by the vote in the council, Ambassador Haley is now trying to forestall a similar rebuke in the UN General Assembly where the Permanent Five do not enjoy veto powers. The 193-member UN General Assembly will hold a rare emergency special session on Thursday at the request of Arab and Muslim states to discuss the US decision on Jerusalem.

If precedent is anything to go by, the US will very likely suffer a crushing defeat on this issue when the Assembly votes.

Self-appointed class monitor

Whichever way you look at it, Ambassador Haley’s letter is nothing less than big-power bullying. After insisting in the UN Security Council that the US will not be bullied into deciding where to locate its embassy in Israel, she is now proceeding to bully the rest of the world into acquiescing in the US decision.

While big powers often indulge in high-powered lobbying to gain support on critical issues, they rarely resort to such threatening and demeaning language, behaving like some self-appointed class monitor taking names of unruly students to report to the headmaster for punishment.

Even in far more critical situations before – on the eve of the first Iraq War, for example – when the US was desperately trying to obtain international consensus, the US never resorted to threats. I recall a meeting in early 1990 between our then Foreign Minister Abu Hassan Omar and US Secretary of State James Baker in Los Angeles, when the US laid out its case for the invasion of Iraq and the liberation of Kuwait.

Malaysia was on the Security Council that year and Baker appealed for our support. There was never any hint of threats or retaliation, just a sincere plea for support, as it should be between friendly nations. Malaysia eventually voted in favour of the US-led intervention.

Trump and his team now appear to be bringing the proverbial big stick to the table of international diplomacy, hoping to bully and cajole their way in international affairs. If Trump thinks this is the way to enhance US power and prestige, he is going to be disappointed. Threats might work in limited circumstances but it is no substitute for diplomacy and consensus building.

As the continuing standoff with North Korea aptly demonstrates, the US needs international support and consensus to help resolve important security issues.

Besides, as the world returns once again to a more multipolar global architecture, thanks to the rise of China, bullying might just prove to be counterproductive.

As for Jerusalem, whether the US likes it or not, its status is going to have to be decided at some future time as part of a peace agreement between Israel and Palestine. Moving the US embassy might make for popular politics at home but that does not make it the right thing to do for other nations.

I hope the General Assembly will send a resounding message to President Trump that the world will not be bullied this way, and that Malaysia’s name will be on that list that Ambassador Haley sends to the White House. I, for one, will consider it a badge of honour.


The Hellish War in Yemen–Is Malaysia Complicit?

December 20, 2017

The Hellish War in Yemen–Is Malaysia Complicit?

By  Dennis Ignatius

Image result for Yemen A Hellish War

There’s a war – a murderous, savage, barbaric, hellish war – raging in Yemen. Images of the suffering and carnage there crop up in our newspapers and on television from time to time but it’s been going on for so long that we are becoming inured to it.

It began as a domestic power struggle and quickly spiralled into a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran, the latest sideshow in their ongoing struggle for power and influence in the Middle East. And, as usual, taking advantage of the instability and chaos, terrorist groups like Al-Qaeda have moved in, further complicating the situation.

To snuff out Iranian influence, the Saudi-led coalition has launched a relentless and merciless bombing campaign against Yemen, hitting not just military targets but infrastructure, hospitals, schools and residential areas. International observers believe war crimes are being committed. A Saudi naval blockade, in the meantime, has made it difficult for food, medical and other assistance to get through.

Carnage and catastrophe

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Already, some 10,000 people have been killed, more than 50,000 wounded. Seven million are on the brink of famine. One hundred and thirty children die every day in Yemen from extreme hunger and disease. Twenty million people (over 70% of the population) are in need of humanitarian assistance. The United Nations has warned that we might be witnessing “the largest famine the world has seen for many decades.”

If that is not bad enough, Yemen is also caught in the grip of one of the world’s worst cholera outbreaks with more than 900,000 suspected cases and over 2,190 deaths. Diphtheria and other diseases are stalking the land as well.

I suspect that all these statistics, terrible as they are, hardly capture the reality of life in Yemen today. Whichever way you look at it, Yemen, already one of the poorest, least developed countries in the world, is being slowly but surely annihilated before our very eyes.

And yet, there is so little outrage. 

International complicity

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While Saudi Arabia is the main architect of this savage war against Yemen, many others are complicit as well. The UAE, Bahrain, Kuwait, Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, Senegal and Sudan are either active participants in the Saudi-led coalition or support the Saudis in other ways.

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US President Donald Trump and Saudi Deputy Crown Prince and Minister of Defense Mohammed bin Salman enter the State Dining Room of the White House. (photo credit: REUTERS)

The United States, blinded by its implacable hatred of Iran and determined to contain Iranian influence at all costs, has supported the Saudi campaign in Yemen with weapons, logistical support and political cover. France, the United Kingdom, Australia and Germany (to name a few) support the Saudis with weapons sales and training.

Western democracies talk much about liberty and justice but side with despots waging a brutal war on an entire nation. Containing Iran apparently justifies mass starvation and crimes against humanity.

Cowardice & hypocrisy

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Islamic nations, for their part, are quick to work themselves into a frenzy when Muslims in distant lands are persecuted but keep silent when Muslims kill Muslims in their own backyard. They are very brave when it comes to confronting countries like Myanmar over the treatment of its Muslim minorities but cowardly when it comes to standing up to one of their own. They rush to Istanbul to protest President Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel but quietly rely on American support to bomb Yemen’s ancient cities.

If others did to Yemen what the Saudis are doing to it, there would be fiery denunciations and angry demonstrations across the Muslim world instead of silence and indifference.

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OIC Leaders Meet in Istanbul, Turkey to what purpose?

Only Pakistan, to its credit, has refused to go along with this immoral war. Despite their dependence on Saudi aid, they found the courage to say no.

There are, of course, genuine concerns about Iran’s regional ambitions and Arab states have reason to worry about their security but it can never be at the expense of innocent men, women and children, never at the cost of condemning a whole nation to such death and destruction.

Is Malaysia complicit as well? 

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The National Patriot Association (NPA) has revived the issue of Malaysia’s link to the Saudi Arabian-led coalition that is bombing Yemen, questioning the rationale for Malaysia’s participation. In a statement, NPA President Brig Gen (Rtd) Mohamed Arshad Raji said based on a recent report by Qatar-based news broadcaster Al Jazeera, “Malaysia is understood to have sent our military personnel to join the coalition forces”. If the Al Jazeera news report is true, then NPA wants to register its strongest protest against the participation of the armed forces in the Saudi-led coalition forces and the involvement of our military personnel in this Middle-Eastern conflict,” Arshad said.–

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Image result for Malaysian troops in Yemen

Malaysia, too, is apparently complicit in this unfolding humanitarian catastrophe. Our defence ministry insists that some military officers have been deployed to the region but only to assist in the evacuation of Malaysian nationals from Yemen. Other reports, however, suggest that Malaysia is, in fact, part of the Saudi coalition and is working alongside personnel from the UAE, France, Britain and the US at Saudi joint headquarters in Riyadh to coordinate the air campaign against Yemen.

Whatever the level of involvement, Malaysia has no business being there; it is an iniquitous and unjust war that goes against everything we stand for in international affairs.

And even if we are not directly involved, our failure to speak out against war crimes being committed in Yemen makes us complicit. We had many opportunities to speak frankly with the Saudis but we are, it seems, too afraid to offend them.

A humanitarian response

It’s time for Malaysia to break with the Saudis, condemn the criminal campaign against Yemen and demand an immediate halt to the bombing. We should also lend our full support to the efforts of the UN Secretary-General to broker a negotiated settlement in Yemen. Most of all, we need to help initiate a major international effort to deliver urgent humanitarian assistance to the people of Yemen.

For a start, let’s take the lead to help save the children of Yemen. Let’s put our heads and hearts together as a nation – government and opposition, Muslim, Christian and others, private and public sector, civil society and NGOs – to structure a national humanitarian assistance mission to help these innocent victims of the war.

Perhaps, the Royal Malaysian Air Force could help medevac seriously injured children and bring them to Malaysia for treatment, with all our hospitals – private and public – chipping in to help. Perhaps groups like Mercy Malaysia and other NGOs can be supported to set up hospitals and provide food and other assistance wherever conditions in Yemen permit. Perhaps we could organize a national fund-raising campaign to help aid groups already in Yemen at great cost to themselves.

To be sure, our ability to influence events in the Middle East is limited but there are many little things that we can do that could make a big difference in Yemen if our hearts are in the right place.

This is a defining moment, our opportunity to make a difference in the world by reaching out to the suffering people of Yemen. Surely to feed the hungry, to shelter the homeless, to help the hurting is to touch the very heart of God. Can a nation which prides itself on its fealty to God do any less?

Dennis Ignatius | 17th December 2017

6.09 GB (40%) of 15 GB used

Hishamuddin Tun Hussein Onn: The Macho Malaysian Minister of Defense

December 18, 2017

Hishamuddin Tun Hussein Onn: The Macho Malaysian Minister of Defense

By Azmi Sharom

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The Big Talker who could be the successor to Najib Razak as 7th Malaysian Prime Minister is a Leader from the Behind. He is prepared to commit Malaysian Troops for Jerusalem to be slaughtered by the Israeli Defence Forces while he sits in the comfort and safety of his air-conditioned office in the Malaysian Ministry of Defence.

Sometimes guys get a bit emotional and they say really macho things like, I will die for such and such a cause. Well, most of the time you just shake your head and look away. Because after all, talk is cheap.

However, when you are a minister, you can’t just say macho things for the sake of it in the heat of the moment. Which is what our defence minister seemed to have done.

He said Malaysian armed forces were ready to go to Jerusalem! For what?

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Why put these well trained warriors in harm’s way when our national security is not threatened? It is just macho posturing by a Malaysian senior ministerWhy not let Erdogan of Turkey do it?

I know that emotions are high, particularly among Muslims, about how Trump has unilaterally declared that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel. Something that no other governments in the world want and something which everybody knows will just be further fuel for chaos.

Also, international law has declared that the status of Jerusalem remains on hold until there are proper negotiations and agreement. But then when has Trump or the Israeli government ever cared about international law that does not serve them?

Anyway, yes, it is a disgusting move by Trump. But to say we are ready to send soldiers to Jerusalem is an emotive response more likely to show the minister’s religious credentials and not his knowledge of the law.

If you are going to send troops to another country, it has to be clearly about your own self defence from imminent threat. Or, it can be as part of a UN sanctioned peace keeping mission. Or, it can be part of a UN Security Council sanctioned invasive force (again for specific purposes like maintaining international law).

You can’t just go somewhere with your military willie nilly. So, does the minister think one of the above is going to happen? I doubt it and I am sure he does too. So, what he is saying is just macho posturing.

I am totally aghast at what Trump has done and if the government is serious about opposing it, let us first identify the culprits. The US and Israel certainly. But what about the allies of the US in the Middle East? The Saudis have been real chummy with Trump. Do they have they any involvement in this foolishness?

If the government is really serious about opposing this despicable move, they best first find out who the true enemies are so that they can take whatever logical measures. This is more sincere and useful than mere macho posturing.

(Azmi Sharom is a law lecturer at Universiti Malaya.)