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Let us start quickly innovating and

creating our own content and use

whatever positivity comes from it

to improve our country’s image by

discussing our own real problems and

finding ways to solve them.

EDITORIAL

Some people call this artificial intelligence,

but the reality is this technology will enhance

us. So instead of artificial intelligence, I think we’ll

augment our intelligence.

Ginni Rometty

American businesswoman

Technology is a useful servant but a

dangerous master.

Christian Lous Lange (1869-1938)

Norwegian politician

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Mahmoud

Ahmad

HARD

Hussein

Shobokshi

An occupier against an occupier in Syria!

10

OPINION

MONDAY 28 MAY 2018,

SAUDI GAZETTE

7

Libya: A model for chaos

L

IBYA

is located a long 6,000 miles away from the Korean

Peninsula. Still, this North African country figures in

all discussions about the cancellation of the planned

summit between US President Donald Trump and North

Korea’s Kim Jong Un. The reason is the developments

leading to the cancellation began with a mention by

Trump’s National Security Adviser Joh Bolton of “the

Libyan model.” He was referring to the 2004 negotiations that led to the

shipping of Libya’s nuclear components to the US.

No link has been established between Muammar Qaddafi’s

renunciation of his nuclear ambitions and the 2011 uprising that led

to the tragic end of the long-time Libyan strongman. But nobody can

deny the link between the US-led military intervention that Barack

Obama called the “worst mistake” of his presidency and the chaotic

conditions prevailing in Libya since 2011.

Two recent developments show how perilous the situation is.

At least seven people were killed by an explosion in Benghazi on

Thursday night. The bomb that exploded close to the Tibesti hotel,

the city’s biggest, also left several people injured. Earlier this month,

at least 11 people were reported dead after armed men attacked the

headquarters of Libya›s Electoral Commission in Tripoli.

Also on Thursday, the United Nations drew world’s attention to how

escalating conflict in Derna are starving civilians with humanitarian

workers denied access to deliver life-saving assistance. Derna, home

to 150,000 people, is the only part of eastern Libya outside the control

of Khalifa Haftar, commander of the self-styled Libyan National Army

(LNA). LNA forces have besieged Derna since 2016 in an effort to drive

out fighters belonging to other groups. Their campaign had previously

been limited to occasional air strikes and bombardments. Now there are

land and air operations adding to the miseries of the besieged population.

LNA is one of a number of factions that has vied for power in Libya

after the end of Qaddafi’s four-decade rule. The absence of a strong

central government imposing its authority on the whole of Libya’s

territory, including its borders, has resulted in a dangerous security

vacuum. The internationally recognized government sitting in the capital

Tripoli is yet to make its presence felt. Armed groups, some affiliated

with one of the two “competing governments”, attack civilians and

civilian properties, abduct people, and seize homes of civilians in reprisal

for alleged affiliations with armed groups. There have been scores of

extra judicial executions of fighters and civilians in 2017, notably in

eastern Libya. Over 160.000 people remain internally displaced.

The fact is that Libya has become a haven for all kinds of extremist

groups, organized crime and illegal arms trafficking, which in turn

poses a major threat to neighboring countries. This country has six

direct neighbors — Egypt, Sudan, Chad, Niger, Algeria and Tunisia —

with common borders totaling around 4,500 km. Unfortunately, some

of these neighbors have also been contributing, directly or indirectly,

to the instability and raging conflict in that country.

This is one reason why after six years of direct involvement, with

six consecutive special envoys, the UN has not been able to end the

scourge of violence and help stabilize this North African country.

But the most important is Libyan factions’ unwillingness for any sort

of compromise for the common good. They continue to indulge in a

catastrophic self-destructive course in which they all believe that one

side can win and achieve hegemony over the rest.

Will Ghassan Salame, UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative

and head of the UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL), succeed where

his five predecessors failed? Everything depends on how far he succeeds

in bringing about a genuine national reconciliation in Libya. This means

no faction should feel excluded in case of a political settlement. Only

this will pave the way for the constitutional referendum and national

elections, which will complete the UN’s plan for peace and stability.

When media is used as a weapon

against us

W

HILE I was

r e c e n t l y

browsing the

Internet,

I

came across

an article written by Saudi col-

umnist Muhammad Al-Sulami

from ‘An7a’ news website titled

‘A letter to the Information

Minister’. It perked my interest

in what he wanted to say, and I

took time out to read it.

In his letter, he questioned

the true message of our media

production, which influences

and shapes the image of persons

and personalities in the minds of

the receivers. He asked, “Why

are we engraving the image of a

police officer, who is protecting

and serving us, in the minds of

the future generation, as a back-

ward, illiterate person who was

born in the past century, even if

the production was a comedy?”

He said that police officers

are smart and intelligent and

because of these acumen along

with the inherent characteristics

of courage and honor and a will

to serve humanity with valor

that were in the forefront in de-

feating the devious thoughts of

Al-Qaeda and Daesh (so-called

IS) group in their wars against

terrorist organizations and the

day-to-day criminal gangs in

keeping the society safe.

He asks, why is there not a

single work done about the he-

roic soldiers, who are standing

in the frontline, as the first line

of defense while defending our

borders from the Yemeni outlaw

militia of Al-Houthi? Why aren’t

their heroic stories motivating

producers to write a single story

about them? If this had been Hol-

lywood, or in Europe, then there

would have been a lot of movies

about them and depicting them

in the image of super heroes.

The same goes for the ste-

reotypical painting of an image

that Saudi women have nothing

in their minds except fashion

and make up, while ignoring

the great achievements of Saudi

women in many fields of science

and humanitarian work, which,

ironically, is being recognized

by all, except our media.

Media, he said, is a double-

edged sword, calling on the

minister to improve our media

message before we improve the

technology. He concluded by

saying, “We must develop our

authors. We must develop who

chooses the guests to be present

on our screens. We must create

an information message that ex-

presses our identity and our cul-

ture that is far from extremism.

Then only will we succeed in

creating a strong media industry

that will be our weapon.

This letter has come at the

same time when there is a big

ongoing debate over the TV

serial show ‘Al-Asouf’ that is

being aired at MBC TV chan-

nel. For the record, I have not

watched the series, but am bas-

ing this from what I have heard

from my friends and what was

reported by journalists and in

the social media.

The series talks about life in

Riyadh during the 70s and the

simple life of that city. The se-

ries started with one of the main

characters in the show placing

an illegitimate newborn infant

in front of a mosque, and then

in another segment of the series,

it showed one of the main male

characters of the show sneaking

out from his female neighbor

house that is a married woman.

These portions were reviled by

a section of the society and the

series was condemned by a large

segment of our society who ac-

cused the producers and the

writers of this series of faking

history and painting a negative

image about society’s life.

On the other hand, there

were those who loved it and said

that it was a fictional story and

not necessarily reflecting real

life. Those who are with this se-

ries, simply accused those who

oppose it of standing against any

real drama work and targeting

the host channel specifically. Not

a long time ago, some Kuwaiti

actors criticized current work

broadcasted on their TV saying

that it is painting a negative im-

age of the local society and does

not reflect real life and problems.

Same was said by critics about a

Egyptian TV series and media,

as criticism was leveled by some,

calling the works as not reflect-

ing real life and issues, and pro-

ducing below average content.

One may ask, what is the

point of media when we are dam-

aging our own image with our

own hands? What have we left

for our enemies to do, who are

already faking and creating nega-

tive images about our society in

their media and pushing these

thoughts into a global arena with

their constant barrage while us-

ing compliant partners in differ-

ent parts of the world by luring

them with money or using ones

who share their thoughts.

There is one quick counter

to this. Let’s flip the same mode

of deluging all with a constant

stream of negativity with re-

peated doses of positivity. And

in this day and age with technol-

ogy to the fore, media should

be on the prowl to project just

this in order to present a true

picture of us. There are positive

messages aplenty for the media

to cull. Let us start quickly in-

novating and creating our own

content and use whatever posi-

tivity comes from it to improve

our country’s image by discuss-

ing our own real problems and

finding ways to solve them.

What should go on TV for

viewers should be scrutinized

for its relevance and content and

see if it is fit for public consump-

tion. We all should remember

that while Media TV production

are a mode for entertainment it

is also a very effective defense

tool — that is if it is used prop-

erly. For fakeness and falsehoods

will always founder in front of

truth reinforcing the adage that

“truth will always prevail”.

More importantly, it will

stand as a strong barrier against

the flood of fake media coming

from outside and influencing our

society. Let us wake up and smell

the coffee and become alert to

this fact. Let us use this tool to

shape us and not to destroy us.

The writer can be reached at

mahmad@saudigazette.com.sa

Twitter: @anajeddawi_eng

T

O know the magni-

tude of the tragedy

caused by Bashar

Assad’s regime to

his country, one

must look carefully at the recent

confrontations that took place

between the Iranian and Israel

forces on the Syrian territory.

Israel occupies the Syr-

ian Golan Heights and uses it

to launch rockets into the Syr-

ian territory. On the other hand,

there is an unreasonable pres-

ence of the Iranian army occu-

pying the entire Syrian territory.

Iran has more than ten military

bases and having more than ten

thousand fighters in addition to

thousands of other mercenaries

and militias affiliated to sectar-

ian Hezbollah, the same regime

that boasted about “occupying”

Damascus as well as Baghdad,

Beirut and Sanaa.

It is painful and sad to see an

“occupier” fighting another “oc-

cupier” from and on the terri-

tory of Syria, causing loss of land

and misery for the people at the

hands of an occupying regime.

This is the ground reality and it

is clear description away from

the national and revolutionary

claims. Israel is an occupier so is

Iran and it is very important that

they must be dealt with the same

way and at the same level.

Syria is governed by a re-

gime that is accustomed to ced-

ing control, allowing others to

continue the occupation of its

Privacy and big data

A

MID a global scram-

ble to comply with

new EU data protec-

tions laws, the de-

bate on privacy has

intensified in the United States

with some calling for similar

measures for Americans, and oth-

ers warning the rules could frac-

ture the global internet.

US tech firms, and virtually all

companies with online operations,

will need to comply with the rules if

their sites are used in the European

Union, or face hefty financial penal-

ties. Some American firms, includ-

ing news sites like the Los Angeles

Times and New York Daily News,

blocked access in the EU because

they were unable to comply with

the General Data Protection Regu-

lation, which took effect on Friday.

Other US websites have shut

down entirely, and some have hired

consultants to help shut off access

for any users in Europe. Large US

tech firms have pledged compliance

with the EU rules, and have in many

cases promised to extend the same

protections worldwide.

But legal challenges filed in Eu-

rope accused Google and Facebook

of failing to abide by the new law.

Some US activists argue that

the implementation offers an op-

portunity to give more privacy and

data protection benefits to Ameri-

cans. “We see no reason why US

companies, as they strive to comply

with the new European policies,

cannot extend the GDPR standard

to American consumers,” said

Katharina Kopp of the Center for

Digital Democracy, one of 28 activ-

ist groups endorsing a letter in that

vein to major US and global compa-

nies. Senator Ed Markey and three

fellow lawmakers introduced a res-

olution this week that would call on

firms to offer the same protections

of the European law in the US.

“The American people are go-

ing to wonder why they are getting

second-class privacy protections,”

said Markey. The law establishes

the key principle that individuals

must explicitly grant permission for

their data to be used, and give con-

sumers a right to know who is ac-

cessing their information and what

it will be used for. Companies can

be fined up to 20 million euros ($24

million) or four percent of annual

global turnover for violations.

GDPR critics argue the law is

confusing and cumbersome, and

could lead to unintended effects on

both sides of the Atlantic.

Daniel Castro of the Informa-

tion Technology and Innovation

Foundation, a Washington think

tank, called GDPR “a confusing and

impractical set of rules” that offers

consumers little benefit.

“Instead of hiring engineers,

companies are hiring privacy law-

yers,” Castro said in a blog post with

researcher Alan McQuinn.

Ryan Radia of the Competi-

tive Enterprise Institute said that

although GDPR was aimed at Big

Tech, it is likely to strengthen the

grip of large internet firms.

“This will result in greater mar-

ket concentration, as small firms

and startups will find it difficult to

comply with the increased regula-

tory cost burden,” Radia said.

Amy Webb, a fellow at

Harvard›s Nieman Foundation and

founder of the Future Today Insti-

tute, warned the new law could lead

to a “splinternet” with different

kinds of data available in various

regions of the world, and could be

particularly cumbersome for news

organizations.

— AFP

territory as it is the case with

Israel or the new occupation by

Iran or giving full control to Rus-

sia. What happened in the recent

rocket clashes in Syria between

Israel and Iranian militias is a

new proof of the Syrian regime’s

loss of legitimacy, respect, cred-

ibility and merits, and that all its

power are always directed solely

against its unarmed people.

Qassem Soleimani, a well-

known terrorist who leads the

Iranian Revolutionary Guard

Corps., the terrorist militia arm

of the regime of Iran, is the ulti-

mate commander of the existing

forces supporting the Assad re-

gime. He commands an absolute

authority over a large number of

airports and military bases from

which he carries out terrorist

operations and stores his arsenal

consisting of both conventional

and chemical weapons which

can be used against the Syrian

people and threaten their neigh-

bors. There is no value here to

the presidential decision from

Bashar Assad or from his intelli-

gence services or from the army

Bashar is in-charge of.

Syria has politically stooped

to abysmally low levels in order

to preserve the system of the

family rule, sacrificing Arabism

and brotherhood which were

merely salable and handy slo-

gans. As far as the last scene was

most likely to be the aggressor

and aggressor on the occupied

territories of Syria, but it are nat-

ural consequences of the wrong

situation under the criminal re-

gime overbearing the dignity

of the land and the sovereignty

of the people and thus things

reached what happened today.

Syria has been fully handed

over to a regime that had been

working for more than four de-

cades to separate Syria from its

Arab environment and to pro-

voke its neighbors in various

ways and methods and to “oc-

cupy” it from within in a dicta-

torial manner. A monstrous sys-

tem, pretending to be Arab but a

fervent Persian, claiming to be a

secularist but having a sectarian

goal. This violent conflict be-

tween Israel and Iran is a natu-

ral and realistic result of a bitter

past, a painful present reality that

must be confronted, recognized

and treated as it is, and we do not

make empty slogans blindfolded

and deafening ears and absent

minds to steal the truth from us.

Beyond the wailing of the

nationalism and the revolution-

aries, it must be recognized that

confronting the occupier against

the occupier is caused by a dys-

functional regime, breaking the

pottery as the old Shami says.