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Does the Coronavirus become a Divine punishment?

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No talk these days rises above the Corona outbreak. This deadly virus has put the globe into a worrisome phobia, due to its speed increase and transmission from one state to another in a way that almost labeled uncontrollable disease. And after the World Health Organization’s (WTO) decision to consider Corona COVID-19 as a global epidemic, it seems that dealing with the virus has turned into an international concern and priority that needs more severe precautions and preventive standards, pending a vaccine to weeding out the disease.

Therefore, the state of panic experienced by a number of states that know a high number of infected people is justified, and it is imperative that “Corona Disease” will shift many of the daily habits in several states of the world because of the affirmed state of alertness to defy the virus. And since we are concerned in the Kingdom of Morocco, like other states that the coronavirus epidemic has reached (thirty-eight confirmed cases were recorded up to the evening of March 17, 2020), some of the recorded statistics and attitudes through Corona epidemic in Morocco and in North Africa and the Middle East, in general, need a layoff for consideration and mediation.

No doubt, When the Corona disease commences spreading in China, particularly in Wu Han city, some Islamists and Salafi wording and voices came to social media in the Islamic Arab world and also in the Kingdom of Morocco. It talks about deduced punishment and grievance maltreatment of the Uighur Muslim people at the hands of the Chinese authorities, which is an irrational perception and understanding that finds fruitful context in the ignorance and naivety of society And his eagerness to trust and admit these bias ideas and makes the moral conception driven by nonsensical, unreasonable thoughts and interpretations that are senseless or irrational from real-world aspects.

This states that such closed cogitative and thinking builds between us and the globe a fence that makes us uninvolved about what is going on around us as if we are protected and immune from these unexpected circumstances and diseases … As for the matter has turned into a universal epidemic, pointless speech issued by the closed and defeated mindset that uses biased justifications and interpretations due to setting up a conspiracy pattern because of interests.

To that extent, the voices of some Islamist experts in Arab World and Middle East countries have announced in current days, calling on Muslims to perform prayer to Allah to lift the plague {scourge}; but these experts callings overlook that they facilitate to the high spread of the Corona disease, because this prayer indicates a full gathering of large numbers of worshipers, at a time when most of the states of the globe particularly China have taken strict measures to reduce The “COVID-19” epidemic as safety and preventative standards.

Accordingly, Social media and mobile network have turned into platforms for disease analysis, interpretation, medical issue examination, and even suggest prescriptions for cure and treatment, even though specialized medical laboratories in the worldwide are still struggling against time to come up with antiserums and vaccines for this deadly COVID -19 virus. The whole world is induced to respond to the epidemic, and only some Arab Muslims face it with an unserious preventive rule, indifference, and irresponsibility throughout invisible enemy. Thus, preachers, herbalists, and quacks have become specialists in the Corona epidemic at a time when doctors and scientists and pharmaceutical researchers are supposed to be more present than others in this pandemic situation.

Yet, The deterioration of our social life reality is inseparable from this pandemic crisis of the mindset, which unworkable long ago. And in no way can be changed or achieved only except through a real alternative perception and consciousness in building scientific discourse and rational thinking. While Western experiences have proven that the unification of scientific building blocks in the mindsets is the backer of sending moral concepts and thought in proper manners. Human history is proved the connection of concepts of thought and behavior, but it still a matter of human nature in terms of moral presence in people’s conscience. Therefore, well-being needs a collective desire to work together preventing pandemic COVID -19 Coronavirus.

Our crisis value is belonged to our being ruled by a metaphysical standard for morality and conscious, that is, our thoughts, conceptions, and actions are guided by metaphysical incentives; which means the subordination of person to forces he cannot resist, that is, the human being is governed by a specific system of the world that is usually expressed in the sense of ” divine or destiny “, and it results from moral Interpretations and approaches. As J.R.R. Tolkien points out “A divine ‘punishment’ is also a divine ‘gift’ if accepted, since its object is the ultimate blessing, and the supreme inventiveness of the Creator will make ‘punishments’ (that is changes of design) produce a good not otherwise to be attained”.

Additionally, It also implicates that the meaning of a person is determined so far by what surrounds him, not by himself. Thus, The lack of moral responsibility and the dumping of it on the system of the universe like luck, faith, or conspiracy in different aspects; rational actions and manners are influencing our choices and determinations. Thus, we observe a number of practices that perpetuate this fact, such as combining natural phenomena with divine punishment or spiritual favor.

Due to this close mindset, we are not astonished by some of the outputs that describe the Corona epidemic as “a Divine Punishment”, and that it is a scourge and a message from God because of peoples sins, misdeed or immorality because the loss is the one that generates such illogical interpretations and understandings that we hear frequently whenever we observe natural disasters such as earthquakes, droughts, and floods. Devotion to the speech of “divine punishment” indicates an ideological concept of religion that would maintain a culture of abandonment or “Giving up” and does not allow the use of critical thinking that gains over science and rationality and deny illusion and myth.

It can be perceived that first, if we and the entire globe are designate to worry about the future in light of the rising severity of the epidemic, then, this concern should be multiplied by us in the sense of the dominance of deception thinking that positioned us beyond the history because the victory of “person” or well-being over “Corona Virus” will only come with specialized science and advanced medical laboratories. Second, We can only pray for Western well -trained doctors and well scientific research scholars to help and reconcile as long as our minds manage their powerlessness by miracles.

To sum up, it is fully true that the Corona epidemic virus becomes a worldwide enemy due to the fact that COVID-19 doesn’t respect any borders in the current days. Northern African and Arab countries must actively cooperate and share true inputs with the World Health Organization and its neighboring countries in order to prevent the hasty of the Coronavirus which is characterized as an invisible pandemic foe. 

Dr. Jamal Ait Laadam, Specialist in North African and Western Sahara Issue, at Jilin University School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA).

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Middle East

Iraq: Three Years of Drastic Changes (2019-2022)

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When the wave of the protests broke out at the beginning of October 2019 in Iraq, the Iraqi politicians did not realize the size of the gap between the demands of the protesters which were accumulated more than seventeen years, and the isolation of the politicians from the needs of the people. The waves of the protests began in a small range of different areas in Iraq. Rapidly, it expanded as if it were a rolling snowball in many regions of Iraqi governorates. Moreover, the platforms of social media and the influencers had a great impact on unifying the people against the government and enhancing the protest movement.

Al Tarir Square was the region where most protesters and demonstrators were based there. At that time, they stayed all day in this region and set up their tents to protest and demonstrate against the public situation of their life.

The protesters demanded their looted rights and asked for making economic reforms, finding job opportunities, changing the authority, and toppling the government presided by Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi. The protest stayed between ebb and tide, pressuring the political authority in Iraq.

A new period began in the history of Iraq where clashes between the protesters and the riot forces broke out in Al Tahrir Square and many governorates in the south of Iraq. Tear gas and ductile bullets were used against the protesters to compel them to retreat and disperse them. But the protesters insisted on continuing their demands. Many protesters were killed and wounded due to the intensive violence against them. The strong pressure with falling many martyrs gave its fruit when the Iraqi representatives of the Parliament endeavored to achieve the protesters’ demands by changing the election law into a new one. On 24 December 2019, the Iraqi Parliament approved of changing the unfair Saint Leigo election law into the open districts. The new law divided Iraq into 83 electoral districts.

Moreover, this violent protest led to the collapse of the Iraqi government presided by Prime Minister Adil Abdul Mahdi. He was compelled to resign by the end of 2019. Many political names were nominated by the Iraqi politicians but the protesters refused them all because they were connected with different political parties.

Finally, Mustafa Al-Kadhimi, who worked in the Iraqi Intelligence Service and had no party, was nominated by the politicians to be the new Prime Minister. He was well-known for ambiguity and far from the lights of media.

Mustafa Al-Kadhimi has become the Prime Minister in March 2020. The protests were over at the beginning of April 2020. With the taking of responsibility of helping Iraq, Mustafa Al-Kadhimi promised the protesters, who were called “Octoberians”, to hold a premature election, and the election was fixed on 10 June 2020.

Many politicians tried to postpone or cancel the premature election. Under their pressure, the premature election was postponed and fixed on 10 October 2020. During Mustafa Al-Kadhimi’s period as a Prime Minister, he opened new channels with the Arab states to enhance the cooperation and held many summits to support Iraq in the next stage.

Attempts to postpone the premature election by the Iraqi politicians were on equal foot, but all these attempts failed and the election occurred on the due time.

Before the election, many Octoberians and influencers encouraged the people not to participate in the election. On the day of the election, it witnessed low participation, and people were convinced of not happening any change. These calls gave their fruits in the process of elections in Iraq where the election witnessed very low participation, and most Iraqis refused to participate and vote to the nominees even though there was a new election law. When the elections were over, the Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC) in Iraq announced that the results would be within two days. After announcing the results of the election partially and defeating many political factions in the Iraqi arena, many convictions were directed to the commission, and it was convicted by fraud and manipulation with the results. This aspect affected the activity of the Commission and led to put great pressure on it. After two weeks of pressure and convictions, the final results of the elections were announced and many political elite Iraqi leaders were defeated gravely.

The results of the election gave a new start through new leaders who were supporting the October revolution that happened in 2019. And most names of these winning movements and alliances were inspired by the October Movement. Those, who represented October Revolution, were also convicted by other Octoberians that Octoberian winners in the election deviated from the aims of the October Revolution.

A new struggle has begun between the losers in the election and the new winners who will have the right to be in the next term of the Iraqi Council Parliament of Representatives. Moreover, many independent individuals won in the election, and the conflict would deepen the scope of dissidence between the losers and winners. Finally, all raised claims of election fraud have not changed the political situation.

The final results of the election had been announced, and the date of holding the first session of the Iraqi Parliament of Representatives was fixed to nominate and elect the spokesman of the Iraqi Parliament of Representatives.  The Shiite Sadrist movement, which represents 73 seats, has wiped out its competitors. This aspect has compelled the losing Shiite competitors to establish an alliance called “Coordination Framework” to face the Sadrist movement, represented by the cleric Sayyed Muqtada al-Sader. On the other hand, Al-Takadum Movement (Progress Party), represented by the spokesman of the Iraqi Parliament of Representatives, Mohamed Al-Halbousi, has taken the second rank with 37 seats.

The final results of the election had been announced, and the date of holding the first session of the Iraqi Parliament of Representatives was fixed to nominate and elect the spokesman of the Iraqi Parliament of Representatives.

Finally, the first session of the Iraqi Council Parliament of Council was held. Mohamed Al-Halbousi has been elected as the spokesman of the Iraqi Council Parliament of Council. During the next fifteen days, the president of the republic will be elected.

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China-US and the Iran nuclear deal

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Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi told his Iranian counterpart Hossein Amirabdollahian that Beijing would firmly support a resumption of negotiations on a nuclear pact [China Media Group-CCTV via Reuters]

Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian met with  Chinese Foreign Minister, Wang Yi on Friday, January 14, 2022 in the city of Wuxi, in China’s Jiangsu province.  Both of them discussed a gamut of issues pertaining to the Iran-China relationship, as well as the security situation in the Middle East.

A summary of the meeting published by the Chinese Foreign Ministry underscored the point, that Foreign Ministers of Iran and China agreed on the need for  strengthening bilateral cooperation in a number of areas under the umbrella of the 25 year Agreement known as ‘Comprehensive Cooperation between the Islamic Republic of Iran and the People’s Republic of China’. This agreement had been signed between both countries in March 2021 during the Presidency of Hassan Rouhani, but the Iranian Foreign Minister announced the launch of the agreement on January 14, 2022.

During the meeting between Wang Yi and Hossein Amir Abdollahian there was a realization of the fact, that cooperation between both countries needed to be enhanced not only in areas like energy and infrastructure (the focus of the 25 year comprehensive cooperation was on infrastructure and energy), but also in other spheres like education, people to people contacts, medicine and agriculture. Iran also praised the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and said that it firmly supported the One China policy.

The timing of this visit is interesting, Iran is in talks with other signatories (including China) to the JCPOA/Iran nuclear deal 2015 for the revival of the 2015 agreement. While Iran has asked for removal of economic sanctions which were imposed by the US after it withdrew from the JCPOA in 2018, the US has said that time is running out, and it is important for Iran to return to full compliance to the 2015 agreement.  US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in an interview said

‘Iran is getting closer and closer to the point where they could produce on very, very short order enough fissile material for a nuclear weapon’

The US Secretary of State also indicated, that if the negotiations were not successful, then US would explore other options along with other allies.

During the course of the meeting on January 14, 2022 Wang Yi is supposed to have told his Chinese counterpart, that while China supported negotiations for the revival of the Iran nuclear deal 2015, the onus for revival was on the US since it had withdrawn in 2018.

The visit of the Iranian Foreign Minister to China was also significant, because Foreign Ministers of four Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries – Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman and Bahrain — and Secretary General of GCC,  Nayef Falah Mubarak Al-Hajraf were in China from January 10-14, 2022 with the aim of expanding bilateral ties – especially with regard to energy cooperation and trade. According to many analysts, the visit of GCC officials to China was driven not just by economic factors, but also the growing proximity between Iran and Beijing.

In conclusion, China is important for Iran from an economic perspective. Iran has repeatedly stated, that if US does not remove the economic sanctions it had imposed in 2018, it will focus on strengthening economic links with China (significantly, China has been purchasing oil from Iran over the past three years in spite of the sanctions imposed by the US. The Ebrahim Raisi administration has repeatedly referred to an ‘Asia centric’ policy which prioritises ties with China.

Beijing is seeking to enhance its clout in the Middle East as US ties with certain members of the GCC, especially UAE and Saudi Arabia have witnessed a clear downward spiral in recent months (US has been uncomfortable with the use of China’s 5G technology by UAE and the growing security linkages between Beijing and Saudi Arabia). One of the major economic reasons for the GCC gravitating towards China is Washington’s thrust on reducing its dependence upon GCC for fulfilling its oil needs. Beijing can utilize its good ties with Iran and GCC and play a role in improving links between both.

The geopolitical landscape of the Middle East is likely to become more complex, and while there is not an iota of doubt, that the US influence in the Middle East is likely to remain intact, China is fast catching up.

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Egypt vis-à-vis the UAE: Who is Driving Whom?

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Image source: atalayar.com

“Being a big fish in a small pond is better than being a little fish in a large pond” is a maxim that aptly summarizes Egyptian regional foreign policy over the past few decades. However, the blow dealt to the Egyptian State in the course of the 2011 uprising continues to distort its domestic and regional politics and it has also prompted the United Arab Emirates to become heavily engaged in Middle East politics, resulting in the waning of Egypt’s dominant role in the region!

The United Arab Emirates is truly an aspirational, entrepreneurial nation! In fact, the word “entrepreneurship” could have been invented to define the flourishing city of Dubai. The UAE has often declared that as a small nation, it needs to establish alliances to pursue its regional political agenda while Egypt is universally recognized for its regional leadership, has one of the best regional military forces, and has always charmed the Arab world with its soft power. Nonetheless, collaboration between the two nations would not necessarily give rise to an entrepreneurial supremacy force! 

Egypt and the UAE share a common enemy: political Islamists. Yet each nation has its own distinct dynamic and the size of the political Islamist element in each of the two countries is different. The UAE is a politically stable nation and an economic pioneer with a small population – a combination of factors that naturally immunize the nation against the spread of political Islamists across the region. In contrast, Egypt’s economic difficulties, overpopulation, intensifying political repression, along with its high illiteracy rate, constitute an accumulation of elements that serves to intensify the magnitude of the secreted, deep-rooted, Egyptian political Islamists.

The alliance formed between the two nations following the inauguration of Egypt’s President Al Sisi was based on UAE money and Egyptian power. It supported and helped expand the domestic political power of a number of unsubstantiated Arab politicians, such as Libya’s General Khalifa Haftar, Tunisia’s President Kais Saied and the Chairman of Sudan’s Transitional Sovereignty Council, Lieutenant-General Abdel-Fattah Al-Burhan. The common denominator among these politicians is that they are all fundamentally opposed to political Islamists.

Although distancing political Islamists from ruling their nations may constitute a temporary success, it certainly is not enough to strengthen the power of the alliance’s affiliates. The absence of true democracy, intensified repression by Arab rulers and the natural evolution of Arab citizens towards freedom will, for better or for worse, lead to the re-emergence of political Islamists. Meanwhile, Emirati wealth will always attract Arab hustlers ready to offer illusory political promises to cash in the money.   

The UAE has generously injected substantial amounts of money into the Egyptian economy and consequently the Egyptian State has exclusively privileged Emirati enterprises with numerous business opportunities, yet the UAE has not helped Egypt with the most critical regional threat it is confronting: the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam. Meanwhile, Egyptian President Abdel Fatah El Sisi’s exaggerated fascination with UAE modernization has prompted him to duplicate many Emirati projects – building the tallest tower in Africa is one example.

The UAE’s regional foreign policy that hinges upon exploiting its wealth to confront the political Islamist threat is neither comprehensible nor viable. The Emirates, in essence, doesn’t have the capacity to be a regional political player, even given the overriding of Egypt’s waning power. Meanwhile, Al Sisi has been working to depoliticize Egypt completely, perceiving Egypt as an encumbrance rather than a resource-rich nation – a policy that has resulted in narrowing Egypt’s economic and political aspirations, limiting them to the constant seeking of financial aid from wealthy neighbors.

The regional mediating role that Egypt used to play prior to the Arab uprising has been taken over by European nations such France, Germany and Italy, in addition of course to the essential and ongoing role of the United States. Profound bureaucracy and rampant corruption will always keep Egypt from becoming a second UAE! Irrespective of which nation is in the driver’s seat, this partnership has proven to be unsuccessful. Egypt is definitely better off withdrawing from the alliance, even at the expense of forgoing Emirati financial support.

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