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OPINION

TUESDAY 23 MAY 2017,

SAUDI GAZETTE

10

Of all the hard jobs around, one of the hardest

is being a good teacher.

Maggie Gallagher

American writer

It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken

joy in creative expression and knowledge.

Albert Einstein (1879-1955)

German physicist

Dr. Khaled

M. Batarfi

Aijaz

ZakaSyed

Trump’s important visit

to the Kingdom

I

T

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

destroying it.

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!

K

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

government.

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

the time.

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

message!

Dr. Khaled M. Batarfi is a Saudi

writer based in Jeddah. He can be

reached at

kbatarfi@gmail.com

.

Follow him at

Twitter:@kbatarfi

Trump base extends

unflinching support

W

HILE

many

see

Donald

Trump’s presi-

dency as a

slow-motion

car crash, the core voters who

elected him are standing by their

man, shrugging off the scandals

and thrilled he is sticking it to

Washington’s establishment.

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

White House.

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

done.”

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.”

— AFP

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

like animals.

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

so tragic.

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

intolerant nature.

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

fascist policies.

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

entrenched now.

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

late.

Aijaz Zaka Syed is an award-

winning journalist. Email: Aijaz.

syed@hotmail.com

A

LL politics is local,

said US politician

Tip O’Neil. Under

Narendra

Modi,

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

mere mortals.

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