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TUESDAY 23 MAY 2017,
Of all the hard jobs around, one of the hardest
is being a good teacher.
It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken
joy in creative expression and knowledge.
Albert Einstein (1879-1955)
Trump’s important visit
to the Kingdom
was not for nothing that President Donald Trump chose
Saudi Arabia as his first foreign destination and it was
not for nothing that his key concern was the fight against
terrorism, a fight in which the Kingdom has been a deadly
spearhead since Al-Qaeda and Daesh (the so-called IS)
reared their ugly heads.
Much of value has come out of the US president’s
visit. The Joint Strategic Declaration which establishes a Saudi-US
Joint Consultative Group consolidates the cooperation that already
exists between Riyadh and Washington and promises yet greater
success against the international scourge of terrorism.
There can be little doubt that in his private talks with Custodian
of the Two Holy Mosques and other top Saudi officials Trump put
more flesh on the bones of his address to the Arab Islamic American
Summit. And his tone was notably positive, majoring on partnership
in the pursuit a peace through the destruction of Daesh. He said he
wanted to strengthen America’s oldest friendships in the region, of
which that with the Kingdom is clearly preeminent.
Moreover, in sharp contrast to the Obama administration, he
did not seek to hector nor did he set out the sort of “reset” agenda
that Obama promised so emptily in his Cairo speech. Here instead
was a president who, perhaps surprisingly to some, demonstrated
a genuine grasp of the bitter realities confronting the Middle East
and displayed the resolution to help tackle them.
And “help” is surely the operative word. He made it clear
that he thought it right for leaders in the Muslim world to head
the campaign against terror, not the least of the reasons being
that the great majority of the victims of the terrorists a Muslims.
The United States would be right behind them offering all
necessary support. And that support sounded very much as if
it were going to come with no strings attached. He insisted that
his administration would not try to impose America’s way of life
on others. Trump voiced none of the neo-con sentiments that
led President George W. Bush to destroy Iraq in a tragically ill-
informed attempt to make the country safe for democracy.
It was important that the president made it clear the fight
against terrorism was not a battle between different faiths, sects or
civilizations. It was rather a clear conflict between good and evil,
as he put it, between those who sought to obliterate human life
and those who sought to protect it.
This was not the candidate Trump on the campaign trail
with his startling statements that caused such concern among
America’s friends, not least in the Muslim world. This was a
statesmanlike appraisal of the still deadly threat of international
terror and America’s role along with its Muslim partners in
It has to be a cause for great hope that the issue of terror
formed the core of Trump’s first foreign policy address and a
source of pride that he chose to come and deliver it here in the
Kingdom. After eight years of White House dither, the world
appears to have a man in the Oval Office who is prepared to stand
up to Iran and prepared to join in genuine partnership with the
Kingdom, his most constant friend and ally in the region. This was
a highly encouraging beginning.
Riyadh summits... Iran’s elections!
ING Abdulaziz Al
Saud, the found-
er of the modern
Saudi state, once
explained to his
advisers: Britain is a friendly
country, America is a partner,
and in the balance of national
interests, a partner weighs
more than a friend.
True! International relations
are based on a win-win formu-
la. There is no lasting friend-
ship or permanent adversary,
but permanent interests. Those
whose best products are dema-
gogic slogans either have no
more valuable goods to trade, or
it is a way to justify their fail-
ure in building partnerships, or
because they covet hegemony
without sharing an inch of in-
terest with their counterparts.
The Gulf relationship with
the world has always been
based on the principle of mutu-
al benefits. Britain and America
had discovered and extracted
our oil and shared the benefits
with us. We used the income to
buy products and bring in ex-
pertise that helped us achieve
unprecedented levels of devel-
opment in such a short period
of time. Security and military
cooperation was necessary to
preserve common gains. Our
security became part of their
own. Together we confronted
the communist tide and the rev-
olutionary deluge. Together we
fight terrorism and the forces of
darkness. Together, we prevail.
I told Al-Mayadeen host,
Kamal Khalaf, in response to an
Iranian guest: We have a histori-
cal partnership with the West,
especially the United States, the
United Kingdom and France.
They help us maintain security
to protect their own interests, as
much as ours. This is a concept
the non-pragmatic revolution-
ary regimes cannot understand.
The Rouhani government tried
to deal with the US based on
the logic of interest. It did win
the nuclear agreement, but lost
many associated benefits. In in-
ternational relationships, you
cannot be both a militia and a
Yes, you may fool all people
some time and some people all
the time, but you cannot fool all
people all the time.
You can fool all the people
some of the time, and some of
the people all the time, but you
cannot fool all the people all
Iran fooled us for sometime,
presenting a friendly face and
hiding an ugly reality. It made
some of us believe that there are
really good cops and bad cops
in Tehran. And that if we sup-
ported the so-called “moderate”
branch of government, it would
overcome the “extremists.” We
eventually were hit by the fact
that there is only one ideologi-
cal regime, obsessed with a mis-
sion to rebuild an empire and
concur the world.
Saudi Arabia and the Arabian
Gulf states have had a different
concept and goals. By sharing
gains, they negotiated their way
with others to develop their coun-
tries and improve the lives of their
people. Such peaceful project is
what the Iranian masses were call-
ing for in the Green Revolution
(the outcome of 2009-2010 Iranian
protests against the rigging of the
presidential elections). Beside the
slogan “Where is my vote,” they
were also chanting “No Gaza, no
Lebanon … my soul is dedicated
to Iran.” Their peaceful protests
were put down … with a thunder-
ous, ruthless force!
Our dear Iranian brothers
and sisters hear today of the
huge deals Saudi Arabia and the
Gulf Cooperation countries are
making with the United Sates, in
manufacturing, education, train-
ing and trade, to provide quality
jobs, development and prosper-
ity. They would wonder why on
earth they cannot have the same.
Why wasn’t their great nation in-
vited to the party? How come all
Muslim nations are represented
in the summit with the US presi-
dent, except theirs?
They would hear and believe
the answer to these questions:
Their government is so isolated,
disapproved and confronted be-
cause of its systematic policies
of aggression, intervention and
revolution exportation. Their
resources are so wasted in cru-
sades of hate, war and destruc-
tion. Their old-new President,
Hassan Rouhani, is powerless to
change any of that, because he is
only a tool in the overwhelming
machine of an ideological regime.
The Riyadh summits were
a monumental historic celebra-
tion that would not have been
possible without the insistence
of Saudi Arabia and the Gulf
states on the option of develop-
ment, international cooperation
and Arab and Islamic solidar-
ity. In their unity, solidarity and
betting on the development of
its countries and the welfare of
their people, they have present-
ed a successful model, not only
to its ideological neighbors, but
to the whole world.
Saudi Arabia is a member of
the world’s largest economies
(G20). The United Arab Emirates
and Qatar compete with Singa-
pore and Hong Kong in interna-
tional logistics and trade. Bahrain
is the capital of Islamic banking.
Kuwait and Oman are major des-
tinations for tourism, trade and
culture. Three Gulf airlines are
among the world top five.
The international community
has witnessed in 48 hours the
rise of the Arabian Gulf, its good
governance and the solidarity of
the Arab and Islamic nations. Our
message also reads that our gains
will be protected by our souls
and blood. Our bullying neigh-
bors should improve their read-
ing skills ... This might be the last
Dr. Khaled M. Batarfi is a Saudi
writer based in Jeddah. He can be
Follow him at
Trump base extends
dency as a
car crash, the core voters who
elected him are standing by their
man, shrugging off the scandals
and thrilled he is sticking it to
That was a common view at
the auto races at Ace Speedway
in rural North Carolina, where
America’s stock car racing tradi-
tion was born.
“I think the Democrats are
trying to make things hard for
him,” Robin Hall said as she sat
in the grandstands on Friday.
The 53-year-old daycare
worker dismissed the chaos cas-
cading into the White House
in recent weeks as sour grapes
from critics still shocked that
Trump›s populist revolt thrust
him into the top job.
Exactly four months into his
administration, Trump is by most
accounts a leader under siege.
Democrats accuse him of ob-
structing justice by urging FBI
director James Comey to halt an
investigation into an adviser, then
firing Comey — the very person
overseeing an investigation into
his team’s possible collusion with
Russian meddling during last
year’s election campaign.
Reports have since emerged
that the president passed secret
intelligence to Russian officials
during a recent meeting, and that
the FBI has identified a senior
White House official as a “sig-
nificant person of interest” in its
probe into Russian interference.
The grass roots Republicans
in conservative regions of the
country are collectively swat-
ting away the scandals, proudly
defending their hero and in-
sisting they care little or noth-
ing about accusations that have
sent reverberations through the
Although several Trump sup-
porters said they acknowledge
some of Trump’s missteps, they
expressed confidence he would
grow into the job.
“I think he’ll be alright,” said
Cassidy Cloer, a 21-year-old uni-
versity student in Raleigh.
“I’m not worried” about the
scandals, she added. “They’re go-
ing to throw things at him.”
North Carolina voted for
Barack Obama in 2008, but
flipped Republican in 2012.
Trump carried the state last year
and, notably, four other states
that voted twice for Obama.
Core supporters say they love
the non-politician’s brash and
unapologetic style even though it
gets him in trouble.
“I love to see somebody that’s
not politically correct,” said
Brenda Murphy as she scored
one of the Friday night races
from the tower booth.
“I’m personally impressed
with many of the things he’s
Matt Keye, 39, a warehouse
employee attending a state fair-
grounds festival on Saturday in
Raleigh, said the Russia probes
are unfairly hamstringing Trump.
“I just want to get on with his
agenda,” he said of Trump’s plans
to repeal Obamacare and over-
haul the tax code.
“Just put the Russian collu-
sion behind him. They’re just
upset that Hillary lost,” he added
about Trump’s Democratic rival.
“Suck it up andmove on. We’ve
got a new president.”
India heading for one-party rule?
as brilliant, visionary ideas.
Intolerance is the order of the
day. Muslims and other minorities
and Dalits live in constant fear
and are being hunted and killed
The forces of darkness are
on the march and become more
powerful and uncontrollable by
the day. The law is helpless be-
fore them; therefore it often joins
them, penalizing the victims.
Even those who have lost their
lives and aren’t around to defend
themselves, as has been the case
with Mohammed Akhlaq of Dadri
and Pehlu Khan of Haryana. Even
Kafka and Orwell couldn’t have
ever divined such a scenario. All
this would be funny if the circum-
stances and outcome hadn’t been
Meanwhile those in power
pretend all is well in the new
India as the government marks
three years in power with mega,
unprecedented celebrations, as if
this is the first government in his-
tory to turn three.
But then the BJP and its pari-
var have all the reasons to cel-
ebrate. The secular and demo-
cratic republic built over the past
seven decades with enormous
sacrifices and hard work has un-
dergone a transformation that is
both scary and sobering.
After three years of the BJP,
the country that we inherited
looks unrecognizable. And given
the state of Indian politics and the
utter disarray and chaos in the op-
position ranks, you can bet your
life that they are here to stay for a
long time to come.
Until and unless the oppo-
sition, especially the Congress,
which boasts national presence
and most representative of all par-
ties, gets its act together and goes
back to the people with a clear
strategy and plan to expose the
harm that is being inflicted on the
body-politic and the very founda-
tions of an inclusive, democratic
India, there is really little hope.
The way the regime is going
after prominent opposition faces
who have had the courage to con-
front it or may pose a challenge in
the future is yet another sign of its
Sonia and Rahul Gandhi
have been dragged to the court.
All those old cases against Bihar
strongman Lalu Yadav, who beat
the BJP at its own game in the as-
sembly polls, in the fodder scam
have been resurrected.
The CBI, which is now more
than ever a handmaiden of the
government, has also been target-
ing Bengal chief minister Mamata
Banerjee for confronting the BJP’s
Another CBI target has been
the soft-spoken Chidambaram.
The former interior and finance
minister of many terms has been
speaking out against the rising
intolerance in the country, the
crackdown in Kashmir and Hin-
dutva’s war on the pluralist ethos
of the nation.
There is a method in the mad-
ness as the government launches
an all-out war to neutralize op-
position. If they do not unite even
now, opposition parties would be
mauled and thrown by the way-
side, one by one.
And it can no longer be a
short marriage of convenience
and temporary alliance. If the BJP
is to be defeated, secular parties
must strike at the ideology of hate
that inspires and sustains it. This
requires long-term strategy, com-
mitment and hard work. The BJP
is in power today because of the
insidious groundwork done by
the RSS over the past 91 years.
Half-hearted attempts to counter
it will not work. It’s dangerously
The time to unite for the sake
of India is now. For by the time
Modi is done with India or India
is done with Modi, it may be too
Aijaz Zaka Syed is an award-
winning journalist. Email: Aijaz.firstname.lastname@example.org
LL politics is local,
said US politician
Tip O’Neil. Under
nothing is local any-
more. Writing for Aljazeera, Prof.
Apoorvanand of Delhi University
explains how India is permanent-
ly in election mode these days
and insurrectionary politics is
keeping the nation in a perpetual
state of agitation. “BJP is trying
to convert all elections, be they
for rural, municipal or district
administrative bodies, into na-
tional elections,” he argues.
The party achieves this by
harping on emotive issues like
nationalism, security and perpet-
ual tensions with Pakistan even
in local body polls, and conflat-
ing support for the BJP and Modi
with the support for the country.
With the explosion of social
media and TV channels, local
election campaigns have started
reaching every nook and cranny
of the country, becoming a part
of debate at the national level.
There’s always an election
going on somewhere in India. So
with some help from the friendly
media, the BJP keeps the pot boil-
ing and the country permanently
in election mode, notes the don.
This gives the governing
party, already enjoying brute ma-
jority in parliament and for the
first time boasts governments in
most parts of the country, an ex-
cuse and opportunity to whip up
political and religious passions
by demonizing “the enemy” and
portraying nearly 200-million
strong Muslim minority as the
fifth column of Pakistan.
Today, with the grand old
party, the Congress, implod-
ing across India, the BJP has
replaced it as the country’s
largest political party. How-
ever, the BJP’s ambition is not
just to replace the Congress as
the natural party of power. Its
goal is to grow at the expense
of everyone else, making India
a single-party autocracy like
China and North Korea, in sync
with Hindutva parivar’s agenda
of forcing one culture-one faith
uniformity on everyone else.
Already, there are enough
signs to suggest that we are fast
turning into a one-party state
— the all-pervasive personality
cult portraying Modi into some
kind of deity with superhuman
powers. Someone who couldn’t
be questioned and judged by
The once vibrant, fiercely in-
dependent Indian media acts and
behaves more and more like that
figure on old HMV records — ea-
ger to please and speak what its
masters would like to hear.
Even hasty, harebrained
schemes like the recent rupee
demonetization that caused un-
precedented misery and chaos
across the country, depriving
millions and millions of jobs and
livelihoods and crushing small
businesses are being portrayed