GOP Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has made his priorities clear during the last several months of the Covid-19 crisis: Rush to confirm conservative judges, but take his sweet time when it comes to helping the millions of unemployed Americans about to lose federal unemployment benefits. And given how closely President Donald Trump and McConnell work together, this appears to be Trump s agenda as well.The federal government s $600 weekly unemployment payment --- a lifeline for more than 20 million Americans that was created as part of the massive aid package passed in March -- is slated to end July 31. In response to these benefits ending, McConnell calmly stated on Friday, "Hopefully in the next two to three weeks we ll be able to come together and pass something that we can send over to the House and down to the President for signature." "Hopefully," McConnell and his GOP colleagues who control the Senate can come up with something in a few weeks?! When you re a multi-millionaire like McConnell—in fact he s one of the wealthiest members of the US Senate -- waiting a few weeks with little to no income is no big deal. But back in the real world, a 2019 study by the Federal Reserve found that 40% of American adults couldn t cover a $400 emergency with cash or savings. That s hardly likely to have improved in a time of pandemic and mass unemployment. Of course, when it came to confirming federal judges, McConnell had no problem rushing them through in the midst of the Covid-19 crisis. Indeed, between February through late June, McConnell ushered through the confirmation of 13 judges to the federal bench, bringing the total to 200 judges confirmed during the Trump presidency. But when it comes to helping Americans, McConnell "hopes" a bill can be cobbled together in the next few weeks!In contrast, the House Democrats in mid-May -- while McConnell was laser focused on confirming judges -- drafted and approved a new relief bill to help Americans in need called the HEROES ACT. This measure calls for extending the $600 weekly unemployment benefits through January as well providing additional direct cash payments to Americans, funding for Covid-19 testing and much more. (McConnell slammed the bill as the Democrats unrealistic wish list.) Our nation is in pain -- and despite Trump s numerous predictions, the Covid-19 crisis will not be "disappearing" any time soon. In fact, in the past week we saw an uptick in deaths from the virus with a loss of one thousand Americans per day for four straight days. Alarmingly, new models published by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) predicts that by August 15, the US could reach 175,000 deaths from the virus, up from the current death toll of 146,460. Common sense tells us that the worse the health crisis, the worse the economic crisis, with businesses having to re-close in an effort to contain the virus. That helps explains why on Thursday more than 1.4 million workers filed new claims for state unemployment benefits -- the first time since March that the weekly claims have gone up. Worse, a new Census Bureau survey found that four million fewer people were employed last week than the prior week--the fourth straight weekly decline in Americans having jobs, which experts suggests means all the job gains since mid-May have been erased.The lack of Senate action will likely mean the end of the weekly $600 federal unemployment benefits on July 31. In fact, CNN reported Sunday that top Trump administration officials stated that the GOP Senators would unveil a new relief bill on Monday that would provide another $1200 check to "many" Americans -- but would not extend the weekly $600 federal unemployment benefits. There s still a chance that they may offer a lesser amount, but the uncertainty alone is the very definition of heartless -- especially during a recession with so many out of work. The $600 a week benefit might have allowed many workers to make more from unemployment than their regular paychecks, but food banks across the nation nonetheless were seeing 50% more people being served than last July and more than 26% of Americans recently reported being unable to pay rent last month or having no confidence they can pay rent next month. Take away this $600 weekly assistance and the number of families going hungry and at risk of losing their homes whenever any extension of the eviction moratorium inevitably ends will skyrocket. While many of those receiving this federal unemployment will likely be eligible for state unemployment benefits, the average amount of these payments are $378 a week. States like Florida, which is hard hit by the virus, pay a maximum per week of $275 per week. It s hard to see how anyone can afford to pay for rent, car payment, food, medical care and other expenses on that amount of money. Get our free weekly newsletter Sign up for CNN Opinion s new newsletter. Join us on Twitter and Facebook Yet McConnell is in no rush. And apparently neither is Trump, who played spent time on Saturday playing golf with former NFL star Brett Favre Saturday at Trump s country club in New Jersey. Usually when Trump wants something to be addressed quickly, we all know it. Maybe if McConnell just pretended the Americans who needed help were right-wingers nominated to be federal judges, he would move quicker. At this point, McConnell should take up the HEROES Act passed by the House in May and use that as the road map to craft legislation that will aid the millions of Americans desperate for help. The time for multi-millionaires in the Senate to play political games is over. Too many Americans back in the real world desperately need help, and they need it now.
“We will render war not merely unthinkable, but materially impossible”, French Foreign Minister Robert Schuman declared at the end of World War II. The plan was to establish economic cooperation among European countries that would lead to the cohesion and interdependence of their economic interests, and make warfare a highly unlikely option; the result of such was the Treaty of Paris (formally the treaty establishing the European Coal and Steel Community) on April 18, 1951, with the following objectives: • Remove obstacles and open borders for coal and steel trade between the signatory countries. • Apply a consolidated policy towards countries that remained outside the group. • Provide freedom of workforce rotation among signatory countries. The group evolved to a common market with a unified currency established in 1965 and later into the European Union, which included giving up some powers of the national state to the union s institution as one of its most important principles. The union has continued to develop at all levels up to now. With this, the Europeans succeeded in establishing a political economic project through which they managed to overcome their centuries-old differences. When interests converge ties deepen, relations get stronger, and narrow ambitions therefore fade away. Indeed, with true will, the impossible becomes possible. Now a question comes to mind: Why did the Europeans succeed while we failed? Although the idea of joint Arab action, represented by establishing the Arab League as a confederation entity in 1945, had preceded the European Union, it failed to meet the aspirations of our peoples. We were able to develop a confederal institutional entity, yet it did not lead to achieving deep and effective cooperation and partnership among Arab countries. Consequently, disputes and conflicts continue to tear apart our region, pushing it towards a tunnel with no light at the end so far. Rather than discussing all the experiences of joint action that we have done and failed, I will discuss in depth the political and cultural views that have resulted in shaping our collective mind and thus made us “prisoners” to a system of values belonging to a realm of chaos and fragmentation, thus leading to the disintegration of most of our unitary endeavors. It makes us wonder: Do the peoples of our region suffer from a “masochism” that makes them cling to the roles of the oppressed and repressed victim? The law of conflict and us Although conflict as a concept involves a contradiction of interests or values between two or more parties, indicating that it is a “curse, not a blessing,” the world has managed to make it a creative product. Conflict by the interaction of an idea and its opposite is the law of the universe, the controversy that leads to the emergence of a new idea and carries development forward, just as Hegel said: “The course of history and ideas runs by the existence of the thesis, then the antithesis, then the synthesis between them”. Remaining prisoners of history has led to our continued absence from the scene of influential political action, both in our region and the world. This made us lose the ability to manage our conflicts in a practical way thereby contributing to political or even historical settlements, as others have done. Centuries ago, the Europeans succeeded in carrying out a historic reconciliation that put an end to the religious wars that lasted for around three decades: I refer here to the “Treaty of Westphalia” in 1648. They succeeded in stopping the wheel of violence and absurd wars which brought nothing but ruin and destruction, while we still wallow in the mud of our futile wars! In my opinion, managing integration or effective coordination on the model of the EU or other experiences requires us to dismantle the values that have settled in our political mind s structure, which have led to deepening the Arab world s divide and fragmentation , so that we can overcome the obstacles in operating our political thought. Then we can agree on a set of creative political values which will lead us to fruitful cooperation for the benefit of our peoples, fulfilling Darwin s saying: “Survival is not for the strongest, nor the most intelligent, but rather for the most adaptable to change”. Since its inception, the Arab League was subject to violent and harsh attacks by partisan currents and ideologies, as is the way of our region s societies which views every new idea as a conspiracy targeting identity, history and religion. Therefore, we are not surprised when any project, even if unfulfilled, fails due to this mindset of continuous rejection and doubting everything for no reason at all! A spirit that fears the slightest change or anything new undermines the possibilities of advancement with our own hands, just as the verse in the Holy Quran says: “They destroy their homes with their own hands”. It seems to me that we enjoy torturing ourselves, and therefore we ignite wars based on extremely miserable political values such as the “zero-sum conflict” theory which most nations have already overcome after having gone through its costs and tragedies. Yet we do not study history, therefore it repeats itself in our region in tragic and ironic ways! Many visions and ideas have been proposed about the ways for the success of establishing unity or a union among Arab countries. However, all of them – in my view- have not, and will not, succeed, because our history shows that we are still clinging to conquests of the past when tribes used to operate. Therefore, I urge modesty by making practical proposals as a first step on the road that may move us from idealistic dreams into reality. For all of that, I previously proposed the necessity of establishing an ambitious project (an Arab Marshall Plan) based on the economy as one of the pillars of comprehensive development in our region. So that we can overlook political differences based on outdated narcissism, and think in a pragmatic, practical way that prioritizes general interest over narrow selfishness. This way, through the economy, we can crown our efforts by building institutions that contribute to the development of our region just as Europe has done, and save ourselves from the clutches of the monster of political misery, so that we rise from a passive mind to an active one. It is time for us to negotiate common interests, and there is nothing wrong with giving up some of the national state s power for the sake of integrated development. This is achievable if we succeed in managing our differences, and give up the illusions of individual success, because our era is the age of blocs and alliances. On the other hand, ignoring the higher interests of our region will keep us in this circle of unproductive political inaction placing us on the sidelines of history. However, there is still hope in establishing an entity or a project that will benefit from the Arab League s institutions to overcome difficulties and obstacles, given its long experience in dealing with various Arab issues. Therefore, success can be ours, especially in light of the current difficult circumstances that call for the region s wise to adopt constructive dialogue to get it out of its impasse, and to succeed in changing our current practice s slogan of “The way of everyone against everyone” to “Everyone needs everyone”.
Just when you thought Mike Pompeo s reputation couldn t sink any lower, along comes the blatantly ideological and highly politicized report of his Commission on Unalienable Rights. A secretary of state who talks about grounding American diplomacy in our founding principles while directly attacking freedom of speech at home and cavorting with the likes of Mohammed bin Salman, Saudi Arabia s repressive monarch in waiting, strains credibility beyond the breaking point. In only two short years, Mike Pompeo -- with an eye on the possibility of the presidential sweepstakes in 2024 and the base of support he presumably hopes to inherit from President Donald Trump -- has become not only the worst secretary of state in US history but also the most partisan. Pompeo, the pol It was common in the 19th century to view secretaries of state as akin to presidents in waiting (see Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, James Monroe, John Quincy Adams and Martin Van Buren).After World War II, and particularly in recent years, with America s expanding role in the world and the changing nature of American politics, presidents seeking to fill the secretary of state role by and large looked for men and women who were disengaged from electoral politics and without strong presidential ambitions. There were exceptions, of course, such as Hillary Clinton who, despite her obvious political ambitions, was an able and experienced secretary of state. But Cabinet posts, including that of secretary of state, were not launch pads for the presidency. It s striking that, with the exception of the five early secretaries of state, only three Cabinet secretaries -- James Buchanan, William Howard Taft and Herbert Hoover -- ever made it to the White House.But Mike Pompeo, a former GOP congressman from Kansas, who has barely concealed his overweening political ambitions, has clearly broken the mold. Last year, there were credible reports he was thinking of running for a Kansas Senate seat; and in response to a 2019 question of whether he had considered running for president, he actually replied, "I have." Then, last Friday, using State Department resources, Pompeo attended the Family Leadership Summit in Iowa, a traditional event for putative Republican presidential candidates. Pompeo, the culture warrior Nowhere were Pompeo s political ambitions and ideological biases more on display than last year in the creation of his Commission on Unalienable Rights, the draft report of which Pompeo announced earlier this month. Seemingly untethered from Pompeo s charge of taking care of the nation s interests abroad, the commission appears to double down on his warrior status in the domestic culture wars and boost his political ambitions in the 2024 presidential sweepstakes.In a follow-up op-ed in the Washington Post, Pompeo asserted that never before have America s "founding principles been under such relentless assault." Among the offenders, he called out the Chinese Communist Party and The New York Times 1619 Project. What any of this has to do with Pompeo s mandate of carrying out US foreign policy is mystifying, especially given the administration s hypocritical and checkered record when it comes to making human rights a priority. Yes, the administration has sanctioned both Russia and China. But the President -- if John Bolton is to be believed -- gave Chinese President Xi Jinping an open invitation to build detention camps for the Uyghur Muslims and has created a safe zone for Russian President Vladimir Putin. (Trump signed a bill aimed at punishing China for the human rights violation the same day that Bolton made his allegations). As for Pompeo, the picture of him smiling with MBS in his first meeting after the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi speaks for itself. One can be forgiven for concluding that the whole commission -- greeted with shock and anger from some at the State Department -- might be a thinly veiled effort to give Pompeo a platform to bash the media and curry favor with a conservative Republican base, especially evangelical Christians, for a future presidential bid. As far as we know, no secretary of state has ever engaged in this kind of partisan warfare to feather a possible political nest. The President s (right) wingman Pompeo s most enduring legacy -- and it s nothing to be proud of -- will be the unconscionable way in which he has politicized the office of secretary of state and debased the institution he runs, all to advance his personal political agenda and to protect Donald Trump from accountability and the rule of law.In the service of these objectives, he was apparently willing to cover for the President s lies about blackmailing the President of Ukraine; throw State Department officials under a bus for their cooperation with Congress in getting to the bottom of Ukraine-gate; and hinder the Hill in exercising its legitimate oversight role of the executive branch and fulfilling its constitutional duties to bring impeachment charges against the President. He also seemingly tried to stay one step ahead of Steve A. Linick, the inspector general of the State Department who was looking into various allegations of abuse of power by Pompeo and some of his political underlings. Pompeo has denied allegations of abuse of power. Ultimately, President Trump fired the IG, Pompeo s critics say at his request. Having worked for a total of nine secretaries between us, we are stunned by just how far outside the norms and values of the office Pompeo has operated. Indeed, it s a remarkable fall for an office traditionally seen as above much of the political fray and representative abroad of American unity and national resolve. And we can only be hope that what Mr. Pompeo represents is just a passing headline and not a trend that any of his successors will follow.
A delegation of Libyan tribal chiefs paid a high-profile visit to Cairo Thursday, 16 July, where they conferred with Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi to discuss the present situation in Libya. Many of them took to the floor to speak about the historical bonds between the Libyan and the Egyptian people, and “mandated” Egypt to intervene in Libya to safeguard its independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity. They highlighted the dangers of a permanent Turkish presence in their country, and drew parallels between the present and the past when the Libyans suffered under the Ottomans. They vowed to fight the Turks. The Egyptian president reiterated that the Libyans themselves should be the masters of their own destiny without any interference from outside powers, and that the sole objective of Egypt is a united Libya and a strong national army. He left no doubt that Egypt will not tolerate the permanent presence of armed militias, nor would it accept their presence near its western borders with Libya. In such a case, he added, Cairo would not hesitate to intervene militarily. The meeting was an occasion for the Egyptian president to elaborate on his previous remarks, during a visit last month to a military base, not far from the joint borders with Libya, in which he drew a line in the sand in the Libyan desert, a “red line” from the strategic city of Sirte in the north to Al-Jafra Airbase, south of Sirte. At the time, he affirmed that an attack by the forces of Libya’s Government of National Accord (GNA) would be deterred by Egypt. Last Thursday, he finetuned these remarks, stressing that the message has been a message of peace, essentially, and with the aim of bringing the Libyan conflict to an end. He added that the reference to a “red line” was never intended as a call to divide Libya into two parts — one to the west and the other to the east. Moreover, he explained that this line is meant to be respected by the two warring parties in Libya; namely, the Libyan National Army (LNA) under the command of Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar, and the Tripoli forces under the command of Fayez Al-Sarraj, president of the Presidential Council. In other words, it is meant to be a ceasefire line. Thus, Cairo discourages Haftar from crossing this line to the west, if he plans, by any chance, to counter attack. Earlier, the Tripoli government was afraid that Haftar might think of launching a counterattack to recapture the towns and positions he lost earlier this year in the western part of Libya. On the other hand, President Al-Sisi said that Egypt is not an enemy to the western region of Libya — probably a reference to the GNA. These two messages should be reassuring for the Tripoli rulers. In the meantime, it aligns Egypt, to an extent, with the positions of Algeria and Tunisia regarding the Libyan conflict. This alignment is necessary as well as important if the three countries would weigh on future negotiations by the Libyans to carry out UN Security Council Resolution 2510, adopted on 12 February 2020, that supported the Berlin Process. It was obvious from the extensive remarks by the Egyptian leader that he wanted to make clear the limited objectives of Egypt in Libya, mainly the defence of our borders with Libya against infiltration by armed militias and terrorist groups in the future. It was the first time in a long while that Egypt has shown, at least publicly, such goodwill towards the Tripoli government, but it is a step in the right direction, albeit in a very indirect way and without naming it. However, the message should not be lost on the rulers in Tripoli. Some would argue, maybe, it is too little too late. But still, I find it relevant and important. I have no doubt that sane voices in Tripoli would find it both encouraging and promising. Needless to say, the present stalemate on the battlefield is fraught with dangers unless the international community, and mainly the United States and Russia, to step in and send a clear message to Turkey and the Tripoli government that time is up for resorting to military force in Libya. Lately, senior Turkish officials have insisted that recapturing Sirte and Al-Jafra is a precondition for a permanent ceasefire in Libya. And they have called on Haftar’s forces to retreat or else the order to launch an attack on the two strategic objectives will be given. The Tripoli government should think twice before jumping into the unknown by ordering its troops to advance in an attempt to control Sirte and Al-Jafra, thereby putting North Africa and the Eastern Mediterranean on the brink.
In presidential politics, it s hard to measure greatness. There is a general sense of the size of a president measured alongside his accomplishments and set in the context of his challenges. We have a general sense that Abraham Lincoln, John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan were great, not only in temperament and tone but in rising to the considerable circumstances in which they governed.It is much, much easier to measure weakness, smallness and failure. And in the case of President Donald Trump, we can tragically measure his failure in American lives lost during this pandemic. The cost of Trump s pathological insecurity, his overweening ego and his rank incompetence is a failure to provide the national leadership that could have prevented at least some of the roughly 140,000 Covid-19 deaths in the US. That s because it took that many people — and months of talk — for the President to finally, publicly and unequivocally promote the lifesaving practice of wearing a mask in public places. Monday night he tweeted — as if he d just heard about the idea over golf — and seemingly without any irony: "We are United in our effort to defeat the Invisible China Virus, and many people say that it is Patriotic to wear a face mask when you can t socially distance. There is nobody more Patriotic than me, your favorite President!" The black-and-white photo accompanying the tweet showed Trump wearing a face mask with the presidential seal in the corner.Setting aside the myriad polls that show he certainly is not our favorite President — not by a long shot — this is a bandwagon we all wish he d hopped on much, much sooner. Instead, we watched him constantly and petulantly resist doctors orders — even his own — to wear a mask in public, refusing while touring businesses big and small, while holding press conferences, while meeting veterans, while speaking to hundreds of people at his rallies. He spent months feigning a kind of macho ambivalence toward masks, saying at one time, "this is voluntary — I don t think I m going to be doing it." He bizarrely insisted he was refusing to wear one in public simply to stick it to the media: "I wore one in this back area but I didn t want to give the press the pleasure of seeing it," he said after touring a Ford plant in Michigan. Risking your life to "own" the press is a weird flex. He even went so far as to discourage mask-wearing, calling them "double-edged swords" and mocking former Vice President Joe Biden for wearing one, because real men get their friends, family and co-workers sick, I suppose.Now, suddenly, Trump is suggesting that wearing a mask means caring about the country — something Biden, Democrats and most congressional Republicans have known for months. Of course, Trump could still walk it back. He wore a mask for the first time in public when he visited ailing service members at the Walter Reed hospital earlier this month, but rejected the idea of a national mandate for masks in an interview with Fox News Chris Wallace that aired Sunday. "I don t agree with the statement that if everybody wore a mask, everything disappears," Trump said. Still, as lame and late as Trump s attempt at lifting his standing in the polls is, Monday s tweet and the gesture are much more than just empty symbolism. What Trump says, his most loyal supporters will do, no matter how impolitic, deleterious or deranged, as he himself noted in his famed "Fifth Avenue" shooting hypothetical.If he s now behind wearing a mask and that encourages voters to wear them in states like Texas, Florida and Georgia, where the virus is spiking, this is very, very good news for the rest of us. Because he was ultimately responsible for turning mask-wearing into a culture war, and one of the dumbest, counterproductive, downright embarrassing ones of our lifetimes, he s ultimately the only one who can break that fever and knock some sense back into the mask-refusers. I, for one hope, he tweets it every hour of every day. I hope he pimps that mask, with its gaudy presidential seal, all over the airwaves. I hope he sells branded masks at every rally and at the GOP convention. Because, finally, though it took far too long, he can do something to help save lives.
Psychologist Mary L. Trump says her elderly uncle Donald is a "psychologically damaged man" who "without question is going to get worse." In another circumstance, someone might intervene to aid the old fellow and protect everyone else (think of family members who lovingly take the keys from a dangerous senior driver). But in this case, Uncle Donald happens to be President of the United States, and the people around him are "enablers," per his niece, eager to allow him to act out his worst impulses. No one here is going to hide the keys. "There are too many enablers who are -- for whatever reason -- continuing to enable him," says Mary Trump. "Bill Barr has gutted the Justice Department. Mike Pompeo has gutted the State Department. We are in serious danger here." The danger was on display last week when video footage surfaced of officers in military gear swooping in to capture a Portland protester on a city sidewalk. They hustled the individual into an unmarked van and drove away. This incident, called "political theater" by Oregon s governor, represented a new phase in the Trump administration s heavy-handed response to demonstrations sparked by police killings of Black citizens, including George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Rayshard Brooks and others. The President and his administration began setting conditions for a political theater road show many weeks ago. On June 1, federal officers commanded by Attorney General William Barr used tear gas, horses, and batons to clear Lafayette Square, a park across from the White House where protestors had gathered. Barr justified this display of federal force, including officers from the department of Homeland Security, by saying the officers had been deployed to protect federal property. (After Trump signed an executive order late last month to protect federal property, the same justification for an aggressive federal response to protests has been used in other parts of the country like Portland, as recently as last week.) The acting secretary of DHS, Chad Wolf, touched on themes that would likely please the President in his remarks, as he said, "DHS and its partners will not allow anarchists, disrupters and opportunists to exploit the ongoing civil unrest to loot and destroy our communities," As federal forces were deployed in Buffalo, San Diego and Las Vegas, Barr and Wolf helped create images that matched Trump s obvious desire to be perceived as, "Your President of law and order." Anyone who didn t notice that the President seemed bent on recreating the 1960s culture war over civil unrest missed Trump s use of the phrase, "When the looting starts the shooting starts." This threat was first used by Miami s police chief in response to violence in the city in 1967, and was later echoed by Alabama s racist Governor George Wallace on the campaign trail. Today s protests, which involve diverse groups of people rallying behind the Black Lives Matter banner, have been relatively peaceful compared to the sixties, when major cities suffered large scale rioting. However, the facts on the ground haven t prevented Barr and Wolf from doing what they can to support the President s fantasy. Why do they do it? They may be acting to please the boss who controls whatever power they wield and can yank it away on a whim. They may actually share Trump s dystopian views of the country they are supposed to serve. Or they are, indeed, the enablers Mary Trump fears? As used by Mary Trump s profession, enablers amplify the dysfunction of a troubled person out of fear or perhaps because they think there s something to be gained by going along. In Donald Trump s case, his niece has written, family members and others "consistently normalized" his "aberrant behavior." In his business he was surrounded by people "who propped him up and lied for him." President Donald Trump has fired or driven away many members of his administration who were known for expressing their honest opinions. Long gone are Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Chief of Staff John Kelly, economic advisor Gary Cohn, Secretary of State James Mattis, National Security Advisor John Bolton and many others who had the courage and character to speak truth to power. Their replacements have been notably more compliant. Many remain acting officials who don t enjoy the respect that comes with Senate confirmation. The President seems to see value in keeping members of his team insecure. "I like acting," he once said, "because I can move so quickly. It gives me more flexibility." One top official who enjoys permanent status, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, happens to be among the more obsequious officials in the administration. Once a stern Trump critic who believed Russia attacked the 2016 election, he has become a staunch defender of the President who downplayed Russia s election meddling. As Secretary of State, he has served the President s cause with his conservative Evangelical base by neglecting the cause of equal rights for the LGBTQ community -- a recent report he released spoke of same sex marriage rights as "divisive social and political controversies." Pompeo downgraded LGBTQ rights presumably because a good enabler knows what to do without being told. Count economic advisor Peter Navarro in this category too. When he penned an article in USA Today attacking the President s top pandemic advisor Anthony Fauci, Navarro likely thought it would win him points with Trump. When Navarro s attack failed, Trump disavowed it, but in meek terms that did no real damage. Navarro is safe on the Trump team, thanks to his enabling of the President in his outbursts against China, even suggesting that a Chinese lab created the coronavirus now raging across the country. The pandemic, of course, is a leading cause for the President s struggle in polls, which show his bid for reelection to be in trouble. Faced with the prospect of defeat, Trump has suggested the upcoming election could be rigged and recently refused to say he would accept the outcome. Expect to see this position, which casts doubt on the validity of the American system for transferring power, to be echoed by his enablers. And when the president says or does the next outrageous thing, they ll support that too. To do otherwise would require courage and character they just don t seem to have.
The year was 1991.I remember the day we returned to Amman from the Gulf with many other Jordanian families, all of us sensing the coming war after Saddam Hussein s occupation of Kuwait. The conversation on everyone s lips was about the horror and threat of the imminent battle ahead, the mobilization of global armies in the region, and the weapons, planes and warships accompanying them. Implications of this revolved around America s powerful ascent to the top and its domination of the international decision-making process. At that time, America was the ultimate role model for us teenagers. Back then, I looked up to Bruce Lee. But soon, that shifted and Rambo became my idol. To me, he represented resilience and strength. My generation sought to be like Rambo, to get the latest brand of “jeans” from his country and to wear Nike “kicks” like those sported by Michael Jordan. However getting those things was difficult, as they were not sold in Jordan. Back then, our only means of acquiring those little luxuries was when expatriates would bring them over as gifts, or sometimes sell them at twice their original price. America s presence in the region at the time was not just militaristic, it was cultural. The American way of life began to gradually invade the marketplace, restaurants, and the arts (music and film). The first day a McDonald s branch opened in Amman thousands of Jordanians swarmed it, hoping to try an authentic American burger and with it get a taste of the American dream. The lines were so long that many were turned away and returned the next day to savor that famous meal. As the world entered the third millennium, America solidified its role as the undisputed superpower; a model for life, work and success, and an aspirational oasis that occupied the imagination and minds of youth at the time. Then, in 2005, fate took me to the “promised land” where I was able to experience the American “miracle” first-hand. But something changed. My exaggerated admiration for America decreased and the rose-colored glasses through which I had seen the states was replaced by an objective lens, through which I tried to understand the sources of America s dominance and its powerful position globally. In 2008, I met Mr. John Sununu. We discussed American policy in the Middle East. I ll admit my naivete about international politics and world powers back then as I had judged American policy and its projects in the Middle East as failures. However, Mr. Sununu s words woke me up to the truth of the matter. He told me: “If you have any doubt that the United States now has the upper hand in the Middle East and the world, you should read the international politics and its events and tools again.” I will never forget these words nor their impact. My eyes were finally open. The collapse of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s represented the greatest turning point in international relations. It ended the “bipolar” balance of power, and with it the Cold War era, making America the unipolar power globally, without any potential competition. The collapse of the USSR not only helped propel America s hegemonic superiority and leadership on the international stage, but it also resulted in European and Asian countries accepting America s new hegemony; they indicated their willingness to follow America s lead as a competitor to leftist Communist ideology. In just a few years, the US –along with its European allies– became gatekeepers ensuring the world s security and stability. However, the vanity inherent in the belief that the triumph of western hegemony had achieved eternal victory has led the US to lose sight of its competitors returning to the international power paradigm. Now, China and Russia appear ready and able to regain the power of influence in global politics. Russia and China no longer hide their coordination with the United Nations and its Security Council against American political and military interventions, specifically in projects related to Iran, Syria and Libya; all places where Russia and China have a vested interest. Today, in light of major global political and economic changes and challenges, only further exasperated due to the COVID-19 pandemic, America is threatened with losing its leadership role in the world unless the current administration renews its commitment to strengthening the international liberal order. However, this won t be achieved using traditional methods. America s military superiority cannot be used as a crutch in the era of coronavirus, because military options are narrow and ineffective against this contagion. Now, Washington is called upon to renew its commitment to its global role. America must turn away from its inward-facing, America First policy and shift its focus towards strengthening US sovereignty, securing its leadership position in the world order, and managing the conflict over influence with forces opposing the Western democratic system. If this change does not occur, America will not be able to successfully face and overcome the Russian-Chinese challenge for global dominance and power. Finally, I can say that in spite of American s weakened hegemony, its alliances in the region are still deep and effective. Dealing with the United States is still the preferred option for most political and economic actors. The ball is in Washington DC s court and in the hands of the upcoming administration. Whether it be a second term for President Trump or a first-term for Joe Biden, America along with the support of its European allies, must renew its political role in the Middle East and reactivate democratic values, especially in the context of human rights and the economy. The Middle East is experiencing serious conflicts and unrest that will not remain confined to its borders or the broader region And the Middle East will remain the center of conflicts the world over. After all, it is the birthplace of civilization and the divine Abrahamic faiths: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.
Last month, like many Black executives, I wrestled with the emotional and psychological toll of leading an organization during the height of the Black Lives Matter movement. My emotions ranged from despair to anger. During that period, I wrote a public post on LinkedIn that used a medical metaphor to examine how systemic racism in this country has failed us. Black people have long said to doctors -- metaphorically the American people and American leadership -- that we are in pain. Far too often we have been misdiagnosed and dismissed as if our pain wasn t real. Expanding on this metaphor, the killing of George Floyd has been like a heart attack, and the urgent response has shown that not only was our pain real, but this was a moment when we could no longer be silent about it. Paradoxically, this, in fact, is a moment for some leaders to be silent and do the work of processing some of the pain of the past. Pressure is mounting on leaders to say something, but too many allies are doing so without really understanding what they are speaking up for. Many people and organizations seem only to be taking a stand to relieve the uncomfortable tension they re feeling from realizing they ve turned a blind eye on racism for years. Moreover, some of these same organizations are being called out by their own workforce for saying Black Lives Matter publicly, but not caring about, promoting, or hiring Black employees. It s a moment of awakening that s unnerving for many. Their first thoughts may be, "How can I solve this quickly?" It s a well-meaning reaction -- but misplaced. t s also a moment when Black people across the country are once again bearing the burden. By being asked to serve on newly founded diversity committee or doing outreach to diversify their company s network, they are being asked to give hundreds of hours of unpaid labor in the name of inclusion. It s a moment of endless questions on how to be a better ally or anti-racist -- well-meaning yet overwhelming. Last week, three other black executives and I launched Texts to Table, where we brought our private text conversations to life on YouTube. We shared our experiences and different walks of life as we have processed and responded to the events of Black Lives Matter. We also discussed what it means to be a Black person and CEO in 2020. My co-host Shawn Boynes, Executive Director, American Association of Anatomy, made this point: Allies, instead of asking your Black colleagues, "How can I do better?" reframe it and declare, "I will do better." Here is how that might look. Doing better means internalizing and acknowledging that systemic racism is real. You don t need to hear another story of another Black person s trauma to get this. As I processed the response to Georgie Floyd s death, I realized that part of the anger I was feeling came from knowing systemic racism was real -- from personal experience -- but seeing it brushed aside in the workplace. I had actually begun to doubt myself, wondering if certain experiences were, in fact, real. I had made excuses for microaggressions or unintentional offenses. The simple act of acknowledging systemic racism will go a long way with your Black friends and colleagues. Doing better means reckoning with how your own network of Black friends and colleagues, if you have one, may have perceived you or your past actions, big or small. Here s the thing that many people don t understand in their rush to be anti-racists: It doesn t matter how many Black Lives Matter posters you have in your yard if even one Black person has experienced any form of racism from you -- intentional or not. Doing better means recognizing you ve likely done a racist action even if you didn t mean to. Doing better means cleaning up your own house. Racism is both systemic and personal. For organizations, it means talking to your Black employees first, before that Black Lives Matter press release goes public. You can t combat the system if you haven t addressed matters within your own network. Most of the outrage right now is within organizations that had diversity and inclusion statements and practices. However, while they proudly proclaimed Black Lives Matter publicly, their employees reminded them that they didn t practice what they preached. We must move beyond blanket statements. And, just so you know, we always notice when we re the only Black person in the room Doing better means recognizing white fragility. Resist the urge to solve this problem right away to ease your guilt. Ask yourself, why do you care now? Can you see yourself still supporting Black Lives Matter in five years? Why were you silent before? This is a moment to be sure you know your authentic attitude toward racism. Listen to your own voice. If you re faking it, people will know. If you still don t believe any of the above, you re better off just staying silent. In fact, doing better might mean that you need to step back -- a lot. This is a moment to lift other voices, particularly Black voices. It s a moment when we must not center whiteness. Rather than making this moment about your feelings and reactions to the Black Lives Moment, listen to and believe the experiences of Black people in America -- without judgment. This might not be a problem you re equipped to solve in the short term. The best thing you can do is find and support someone who is. Most importantly, this is not a game you can win. Doing better means actively enjoying the process of learning how to be better. There s no finish line. You must fall in love with the process of becoming anti-racist. It s a journey, not a race.
The parameters of Egyptian involvement in the Libyan crisis have been clear since President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi s address to the armed forces in the Western Military Zone on 20 June. Underlining that these parameters are informed by the need to defend Egypt s national security, he identified a “red line” from Sirte to Al-Jafra as the boundaries of Egypt s vital sphere. He instructed Egypt s troops to be prepared for “military action abroad” in the event of a hostile action intended to breach that sphere. In keeping with this outlook, the Jarbub Airbase was inaugurated in the Western Zone, qualitative military drills were held to focus on potential threats emanating from the West and, just last week, the Hasm (Resolve) 2020 land and maritime manoeuvres were carried out near the Libyan border to demonstrate Egypt s readiness to take on a potential advance of the Turkish-backed terrorist and mercenary militias in Libya into Egypt s vital sphere. Egypt s concept of “calibrated involvement” in Libya reflects its awareness of the magnitude of the threat in Libya and the intricate dynamics of that crisis which has been exacerbated by attempts on the part of regional powers such as Turkey to exploit it. Turkey s tactical aim in Libya is to engineer a shift in the balances of power on the ground and to restructure Libyan political/military dynamics in a manner overtly hostile to Egypt. If Turkey instructs its mercenaries and militias to breach the red line, Egypt will be forced to act and its actions will unquestionably fall within the exercise of its right to self-defence which is a primary tenet of Egypt s defence creed and strategy. Despite the multiple lines of engagement in the Libyan conflict, Egypt has remained determined from the outset to propel the stakeholders towards a political process leading to a transitional phase that would enable the restoration of stability to our neighbour. This is why Egypt sponsored the “Cairo Declaration”, an initiative to promote a return to the negotiating table, welcomed by a majority of the international community as an important contribution to the Berlin Process. Unfortunately, certain regional powers are working to sabotage the prospects of negotiations. Turkey, in particular, is bent on reproducing the current Government of National Accord (GNA) entity, which is a mutation from the consensual transitional body intended by the Skhirat Agreement, into an Ankara puppet. Not only is Cairo disinclined to offensive strategies and military options, it continues to work to strike a balance between the need to take necessary precautions against precipitous belligerent powers working to complicate the Libyan situation and the need to focus on advancing the agreed upon political process despite all counterproductive parties. Egypt s military preparations still remain within its own borders, even if it has had to address certain targets abroad in the framework of a limited strike that did not constitute a military offensive in the proper sense and that clearly fell under the heading of self-defence. Egypt will not intervene militarily in Libya outside this framework, as President Al-Sisi stressed when discussing Egyptian military creed in his speech in the Western Zone. Egypt s army is a “sensible” army, Al-Sisi said. Ankara s behaviour, on the other hand, remains inexplicably contradictory. On the one hand, it calls for an end to mercenaries in Libya and commits to this principle in Berlin. On the other, it trains mercenaries from Syria and sends them into Libya by the plane load. The number of mercenaries in Libya on the Turkish payroll now exceed 15,000 and they together with GNA militias have been transformed into the Libyan equivalent of the Turkish-backed “Free Syrian Army” (now Ankara s proxy “Syrian National Army”) which is advancing Turkey s territorial and political aims in Syria. Turkey, itself, now operates out of three military bases in western Libya (Watiya, Matiga and Misrata) and it has set its sights on occupying Ghardabiya and Al-Jafra bases and the petroleum facilities in Sirte. Contrary to its pledge in Berlin, Turkey continues its flagrant violation of the UN arms embargo to Libya and its justification could not rest on a flimsier pretext. It claims to be supporting the internationally recognised GNA whereas the House of Representatives is the only popularly elected governing body and the only body authorised to ratify agreements with foreign powers. But Ankara has an agenda and, in Libya, it is to secure control over Libyan oil behind a GNA facade in order to revive the Turkish economy and to fund the Libyan militias in order to advance Ankara s hegemonic aims abroad. Unlike Turkey, Egypt will not embark on an offensive war that would further aggravate the situation in Libya. This is consistent with its long-held policy of avoiding involvement in similar regional conflicts that have caused the collapse of states and killed and displaced millions. Therefore, Egypt will continue to work with other peace-seeking nations towards the realisation of political solutions. At the same time, it reserves its right to intervene in Libya in the defence of Egypt s national security. Egypt s national security is non-negotiable and Egypt will never compromise it in backroom deals or sacrifice it to material and megalomaniac ambitions, unlike certain other parties.
Since 1984, scientist and physician Anthony Fauci has led America s response to infectious disease, saving countless lives and gaining the world s gratitude as he advised five prior presidents. Now, as America s coronavirus pandemic death toll passes 135,000, a sixth president needs Dr. Fauci and his expertise. Instead, aides to President Donald Trump are trashing Fauci, apparently setting him up for bureaucratic assassination. In another time, press reports on the plot against Fauci would spark incredulity. Who would order officials to talk smack about America s top germ-fighter when we need him most? On this day, as the Washington Post reports that its count of Trump s false and misleading statement passed the 20,000 mark, the logical answer is: The President, of course. As anyone who watched Trump closely understands, he has a habit of attacking those who have tried to serve ethically in tough federal jobs or setting them up to be blamed at an opportune moment. He has done it to former Attorney General Jeff Sessions, former Defense Secretary James Mattis, former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, former Chief of Staff John Kelly and others. In every case the Trump s goal seems to be to avoid responsibility and explain away a failure. The campaign against Fauci is following the Sessions model. Sessions, you will recall, tried to deal with the investigation of Russia s attack on the 2016 election, which benefited Trump, in a straightforward way by recusing himself from the inquiry. This caused the President to criticize him openly, and repeatedly, until eventually firing him. Like Sessions, Fauci has tried to do his job as a scientist, elevating his discipline above his self-interest. The trouble here is that when science has contradicted the President, Fauci has kept faith with science. Whether it s testing, over-hyped treatments, or the country s response to the pandemic to date, he hasn t been afraid to speak truth to power. Having chosen a life-saving mission over the President s happy talk, Fauci has found himself marginalized. No longer a regular presence when the administration briefs the press, he said he hasn t briefed the president in two months. Last Friday, Trump seemed to signal a campaign to discredit Fauci when he told Fox News talk host Sean Hannity, "Dr. Fauci s a nice man but he s made a lot of mistakes." After Trump s dig, his aides went to the media with a list of statements that the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease had made and later revised. For example, in March, when the US had recorded few cases, Fauci said the virus was "not a major threat" and that "people should not be walking around with masks." The catalogue of "sins" circulated to journalists was offered anonymously, and resembled the kind of opposition research used to frame political attacks (The White House insisted on Monday that it was not trying to discredit Fauci, while Trump stated that the two had a very good relationship). Missing from the whisper campaign is the fact that Fauci s statements were made long before much was known about the virus. He would soon change his position, warning that coronavirus was a major threat to public health and urging Americans to adopt a series of practices, like mask-wearing and social isolation, to slow the spread of the virus. In the meantime, the President who had refused to be seen wearing a mask until recently, spoke of the virus magically disappearing and advocated for unproven treatments and gathered thousands at a campaign rally in defiance of public health advice. Note the difference between Fauci and Trump: One man, a dedicated public servant, offered his best analysis and, when new data emerged, corrected himself without hesitation so that lives might be saved. The other dug in to a don t-worry-about it position and has refused to budge as the passing months have led the US to become the leading global hotspot. Just as the pandemic has revealed Trump s tragic limitations, his abuse of Fauci confirms the President s deep character flaws. Fauci s lifelong devotion to science has been guided by a commitment to facts and a focus on helping others. Trump s lifelong devotion, on the other hand, has been to himself. This has led him to consistently deny facts that conflict with his ends, while he seeks credit for all that is good and blames others for everything that goes wrong. Along the way he keeps a mental scoresheet, noting who places Trump above all else, and who might value, say, human life more. On the day when Trump spoke to Fox News host Sean Hannity about Fauci s "mistakes" the President used his constitutional power to commute the prison sentence of his longtime buddy Roger Stone. Convicted of felonies then committed to protect Trump, Stone s crimes included obstruction of justice, witness tampering, and lying to protect his friend. That Stone was protected by the President while Fauci is being undermined says all you need to know about Trump s priorities, values, and character. PAID CONTENT
A satellite channel conducted a funny, yet bitter experiment. A young man dressed himself up in loose women s clothing and a wig, and then took to Cairo s streets during broad daylight. The camera captured every moment he was verbally and sexually harassed, which did not change even after he covered his hair with a scarf to become a “veiled girl”. Back at the studio, the man shed off his costume and discussed his experiences while in the “body of a woman.” He said: Oh, I had no idea about the suffering women face just walking down the street! As a man, I ve never thought that walking through a street could bring these problems. But once I dressed as a woman, I discovered that even a small walk is a journey of real annoyance. Note, dears, how this young man described “the practical suffering” women recount while commuting from one place to another in a society that does not respect women. But it would be impossible for him to describe the “psychological torment” that only a woman herself could experience. A bitter mixture of feeling insulted, cheap, fearful, humiliated, the desire to slap the harasser and the horror of his reaction, and the fear of complaining to your family or the police. Because the inevitable answers will be: “Ok, stay at home, and never go out again. Didn t we say not to go out?! No more going out. Women have to stay at home. It s your mistake, why did you go out by yourself?! No more outings afterwards unless you have your brother with you.” It is rare for a woman to ever expect words of support from her family such as: “Walk proudly and confidently like a princess, let the dogs bark!” She is condemned by her family and her community, just as she is condemned by those who harassed her and by those so-called religious preachers who fill the minds of young people with cheap crap. This nonsense, like: “the girl provoked my masculinity with her clothes!” Then how do the Niqab-veiled women and children provoke your masculinity, those instincts that can t be restrained except through castration, mental hospitals and jail?! When will you learn to be a “gentleman”, not a “male” so easily provoked?! How can you claim “stewardship” over women, when you can t even restrain yourself?! Football player Amr al-Sulaya, posted a photo of him with his daughter, Laila, three-years-old. Frenzied comments poured over the body of this little girl, still in the early days of her life. Curses and obscenities undermined the honor of the man and the little girl, all because her skinny shoulder was visible from her top! And some comments lusted over her body, not even mature! Her father vowed to legally pursuit these harassers. I do not know how the little girl received that weird scene, and how it will affect her awareness to know what a sick world she lives in after she grows up and looks back at this incident. This dangerous phenomenon in our society is not just caused by the absence of values or a confusion of morality in the minds of those harassers, but we also accuse those “delusional Sheikhs” who lead the youth astray and teach them that the woman “wants to seduce the man”, that she is a “moving seduction center”, and that “the poor man is helpless in front of a woman s playful temptation”?! There are many other harmful things these false Imams teach to young men, with heads empty of any science or religion, causing them to out in public to chase girls and lower their societies. Sexual harassment is an issue of “national security.” The forces of civil society as a whole must join together to confront it decisively. Education, media, cinema, television, the family, the judiciary, the police, and the Egyptian streets, which we dream of returning to its former clean, pleasant, and safe era, must join together to return society as it was before the poison of the Wahhabi invasion, which reduced religion to “women s clothing” and created a hypocritical culture that ignores the “essence” of hygiene, piety, urbanization and the behavioral and verbal politeness all religions encourage. Our book, the Quran tells us: “Say to the believing men that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty,” (Surah An-Nur 30). The Bible affirms that a person s fall begins and ends from his eyes, and not from the others: “And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee,” (Matthew 5:29). Virtue is found in “the virtuous”, not in “women s clothing”, and high morals inhabit those who have “morals”, not dependent on what women wear. We should feel shame when remembering our forefathers who knew virtue and respected women, whatever they wore. In that better time, my mother used to go outside with high heels, elegant European clothes and fur around her shoulders, without hungry eyes lusting over her body, without obscene tongues lashing at her with indecent words, without fear of harassment, rape or indecent words. At that time spirits were unsullied, gazes were not disgusting, ears were not repelled with bad words and women did not fear, because society was clean in soul, mind, and body. Religion is for God, and the homeland is for those who respect the nation.
Egypt has always been known for its diverse soft power resources. Throughout history, Egyptian civilization, culture, heritage, values, media and foreign policy have been the most effective resources and tools of Egypt s soft power. Indeed, Egypt has been called “the Hollywood of the Arab World” due to its pioneering role in the field of creating and producing media content. This can also be regarded as the main reason for the prevalence of the Egyptian dialect across the Arab World. In fact, no one can deny the historical role played by Egyptian radio, specifically the Voice of the Arabs radio station, in promoting the concepts of “Arab Nationalism” and “Arab Unity,” and in supporting other Arab countries in their bids for independence from various occupying powers. In Africa, the Egyptian Directed Transnational Radio Network played a significant role in supporting African nations struggles against colonialism, which resulted in Egypt being portrayed as an African effective leader. Over the past few years, Egypt, under the leadership of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, has courageously confronted terrorism, made considerable economic reforms, improved its educational and health care systems, and developed its infrastructure by implementing a tremendous number of mega-projects. However, the country is still facing internal and external challenges, such as the continued fight to eliminate terrorism at its roots, working to achieve sustainable development goals based on its Egypt Vision 2030 program, enhancing its leading role regionally, continentally and globally, preserving its historical rights over the waters of the Nile, and protecting its national security from all threats coming from its western borders. In fact, Egypt s story, with all its achievements and challenges, should be told to the whole world. It is Egypt s right to show the world how great the Egyptian nation is, how firm Egyptian leadership is when defending national interests, and how honorable the Egyptian state is, even when dealing with its enemies. Egypt s voice will not be well-heard, however, except through its own international broadcasting system. It will not make an impact when broadcasted by any other regional platforms. At the moment, Egypt s international broadcasting system comprises the Directed Transnational Radio Network and Nile TV International channel. While the Directed Transnational Radio Network contains 35 radio stations providing their services in 23 languages to different parts of the world, Nile TV only offers its services in English & French, to foreigners living inside and outside Egypt. Egypt s international broadcasting system is currently suffering from many financial and technical problems, which have negatively affected its performance and thus, its impact. The two services, however, need to be seen by the Egyptian government as one of the most effective tools of Egypt s soft power, tools that can make Egypt more visible and powerful by carrying its messages to the whole world. The world s superpowers pay special attention to their soft power capabilities, as well as their hard power ones, and seek to combine both hard and soft power resources into effective strategies to finally become smart powers. Egypt should therefore remain as smart as it always has been and invest in these capabilities now and for the future.
The murder of George Floyd, an African American, has polarised the upcoming US presidential elections. It appears that Democrats and Republicans are going to battle over the past, rather than the present and future. On Independence Day, presumptive Democratic candidate Joe Biden said: “We have a chance to rip the roots of systemic racism out of this country.” Biden did not overtly declare support for the protests that have destroyed confederate statues and monuments, which demonstrators view as shameful and must be torn down. By not condemning these acts, however, Biden is implicitly endorsing them in the hope that black voters will choose him in the race to the White House. US President Donald Trump responded to Biden by pandering to white Americans who are indirectly targeted by Trump’s opponents. These white citizens differentiate between their pride in their heritage and country, and their position on the issue of racism today. They believe the current anti-racism campaign by Democrats intrinsically includes indirect incitement against them, to shame them of their race and not just the history of their ancestors. Trump tweeted about his decision to protect all statues and monuments on 26 June: “I just had the privilege of signing a very strong Executive Order protecting American Monuments, Memorials and Statues — and combating recent Criminal Violence. Long prison terms for these lawless acts against our Great Country!” In his 4 July address, Trump said some on the political left hope to “defame our heroes, erase our values and indoctrinate our children”, adding that Americans should speak proudly of their heritage and shouldn’t have to apologise for America’s history. The ongoing battle over history and the past will serve neither Trump nor Biden. The US public need a president who can solve the dire economic crisis caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. Trump is counting on the economy recovering, especially since last month’s employment figures show a noticeable increase in jobs. Also, concerns that the pandemic will continue until autumn give credence to Trump’s logic of opening up the country while taking personal safety measures. Scientific and medical institutions in the US admit they are unable to conclude with any certainty that shutting down the economy had any tangible impact on curbing the pandemic. Meaning that social distancing in public may have lessened the spread of infection, but these measures do not necessarily require people not to go to work or entertainment venues as long as they take safety measures. While Trump is generating ideas to relieve the economic crisis, his rival Biden is avoiding any open confrontation with Trump on the issue. Democrats do not have a viable plan to address economic conditions if Biden wins, especially if the pandemic continues at its current rate. A return to welfare state policies, which Democrats revere, is impossible due to the economic crisis and the strain it puts on the budget, federal debt and possible inflation (the nemesis of a robust economy). The Democrats slogan,“People’s lives are more important than the health of the economy” is absurd, since those who lose their jobs due to the economic shutdown will suffer psychologically, socially and economically. Those who buy into the Democrats’ slogans will end up like the man who in 2011 heckled an economist who bragged that the US economy is doing well judging by the sale of iPads. “I can’t eat an iPad!” the man shouted. Put otherwise, the slogan of Democrats may be very humane, but in the future the public might retort, “we stayed alive but we are dying of hunger and depression due to your ideas and slogans.” At the same time, Democrats are not even remotely considering the possibility that scientists will find a vaccine before autumn, which would boost Trump’s chances at the polls even if only a few weeks before the elections, since it would mean steady improvement in the economy. By then, Democrats’ focus on anti-racism will not have the same impact as it does today, so soon after Floyd’s murder, since voters are likely to focus on recovering their losses during the pandemic and not waste their energy on anti-racist protests, which Democrats and their radical left and anarchist allies would like. Democrats are mistaken to make promises via Biden that they will uproot racism in the US if they win the elections. Racism will not be eradicated by issuing laws and purging US heritage. Racism has a long history and different manifestations in different eras; it is part of human culture and society that could be regulated or mitigated by issuing laws and legislation but impossible to uproot completely from any society no matter how it progresses. Democrats should remember what Robert Bork wrote in his 2003 book Slouching Towards Gomorrah: Modern Liberalism and American Decline, warning about the end of American liberalism because it is moving towards radical left ideology which will try to destroy American values under false humanitarian and ethical pretexts. And in the end, they will certainly become a threat to the very existence of the American nation. By adopting an anarchist agenda today that promotes the removal of historic American symbols, Democrats are implementing what Bork warned against 14 years ago. But there is hope, as Bork mentioned, that the transformation of liberalism into anarchism, which is already an integral part of its nature, can be slowed due to current events amid Covid-19. Catastrophic events in the West, including two world wars and the Great Depression in the late 1920s, slowed down the transformation of liberalism into anarchism at the time. Today’s calamity could revive conservative ideology among the public around the world, and in the US especially. The power of these ideas could halt the deterioration of American liberalism and force Democrats to move away from an alliance with those calling for anarchy, as we see today, especially if they lose the race to the White House.
After nine years of Ethiopian intransigence and evasiveness Egypt was forced to turn to the UN Security Council (UNSC) in an attempt to check Addis Ababa’s bid to begin filling the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam reservoir unilaterally, without a prior agreement with Sudan and Egypt. Ethiopia, which recently thumbed its nose at a US-World Bank brokered draft agreement based on the input of the three principles, rushed to the arms of Pretoria, in its capacity as chair of the African Union, crying that African problems require African solutions. Evidently, Africa was born yesterday: clearly Ethiopia did not think it existed last year when Egypt chaired the AU, or during the eight years of negotiations before that. Ethiopia believes that by confining the management of this dispute to AU headquarters in Addis Ababa it can keep its behaviour hidden from the world as it continues to procrastinate and evade accountability. Meanwhile, let’s not forget that Ethiopia, which now touts its African affiliation and wants to keep the negotiations African, is the same Ethiopia that contracted an Italian firm to build the dam, a Chinese firm to build its electricity grid and zero African firms for any construction or engineering works related to the dam. To Ethiopia, Africa is only good as a negotiating shield, which is why Egypt was right to give the AU talks two weeks and to ensure that the UNSC was abreast of this process, especially since it is still the UNSC’s role to resolve disputes that threaten international peace and security. While the Egyptian president’s statements following the meeting of the AU Bureau attended by the heads of state of Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia were balanced and consistent with Egypt’s diplomatic heritage, those of the Ethiopian prime minister were tendentious and intransigent. Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed clung tenaciously to his African solutions only routine, despite how dependant his country is on the World Food Programme, World Bank assistance and loans, the UN Food and Agricultural Organisation’s food security and irrigation development programme, and other UN organisations. As for the Ethiopian water resources minister, his tack was to unleash a vicious attack on Egypt based entirely on falsehoods and misinformation. Describing the 1959 Nile Waters agreement as a “colonialist” document despite the fact that both Egypt and Sudan were fully independent sovereign states at the time, the minister claimed that Egypt obtained 87 per cent of Nile water, Sudan only 13 per cent and Ethiopia, the source of 85 per cent of Nile water, “zero per cent”. If he is going to try to drive a wedge between Sudan and Egypt, which appears to be one aim here, he should be less fanciful with the facts. The truth is that Ethiopia obtains the largest share of Nile water, mostly from Lake Tana, the source of the Blue Nile. The 55 billion m3 of water from this it uses to generate electricity at the Chara Dam. Around the lake it has constructed numerous freshwater stations, factories and farms, including fish farms which yield more than 100,000 tons of fish a year. In addition, Ethiopia has nine billion m3 from the Takezi Reservoir which it uses to generate electricity and produce drinking water. Ethiopia thus has 64 billion m3 from Lake Tana and the Takezi Reservoir, while Egypt and Sudan obtain 60 billion m3 from the Blue Nile and Atbara. This, alone, betrays the fiction being marketed by the Water Tower of Africa, as Ethiopia has been dubbed. It claims that it does not get a drop of water from the Nile whereas, in fact, it gets the lion’s share. By contrast, the countries at the headwaters of the White Nile — the other tributary to the River Nile — have no problem with acknowledging that they receive most of the waters of this branch of the Nile, whether from Lake Victoria, the second largest freshwater lake in the world, or Lakes Kayoga, George, Edward and Albert, through which the Nile proceeds to South Sudan. Similarly, South Sudan acknowledges that it sits atop some 40 billion m3 of water in the Sudd, the largest freshwater marsh in the world. Ethiopia wants to throw dust in everyone’s eyes with its fiction about the Blue Nile and by ignoring the nine other river basins it possesses. Ethiopia has 10 river systems, complete with lakes and tributaries, all fed by abundant rainfall. Egypt has only a single river, the Nile, that cleaves its way through the desert which covers 93 per cent of the country. Ethiopia receives 937 billion m3 of rainfall. Egypt receives about 18 billion m3. Compared to Ethiopia’s 1650 m3 of water per capita, Egyptians obtain only 500 m3 of water per person per year, which is below international water scarcity levels. The Ethiopian minister deliberately overlooks such facts and continues to weave his fictions. He claims that GERD will help Sudan access more than seven billion m3 of the Blue Nile which goes to Egypt but is actually a part of Sudan’s quota. He does not bother to explain how this will work. He also overlooked the fact that the Roseires, Sennar and Khashm Al-Girba dams ensure that Sudan does receive its full quota of Blue Nile waters. In fact, the latter dam was constructed after the 1959 Nile Water agreement precisely for this purpose. Sudan also has the Jebal Aulia dam on the White Nile and the Merowe Dam north of the confluence of the White and Blue Nile. Nor does the Ethiopian minister mention the fact his government will deduct 15 billion m3 from Sudan and Egypt’s quotas during the seven years it will take for the first filling of the GERD reservoir or that it intends to deduct 17 billion m3 more on a permanent basis. If GERD is supposed to be for electricity production, as Ethiopia claims, why does it need to retain such a large amount of water. And by what mathematic feat will Sudan’s quota increase? The Ethiopian water minister is unconcerned by such inconsistencies as he proceeds to toss in red herrings. Ethiopia does not recognise Egypt’s “historic rights” to the Nile. If anything, we should be talking about “accepted rights”, a principle recognised under international law and that refers to the amount of water that Egypt received from the Nile as the result of its natural flow for thousands of years. But even this is beside the point, because Egypt did not bring up the 1959 Nile Water agreement in the negotiations. That agreement grants Egypt a quota of 55.5 billion m3 of the waters of the entire Nile system to which the Blue Nile contributes only 49 billion. There is no connection between Egypt’s quota and negotiations over the dam. The Ethiopian minister has indulged in familiar appeals to pity. The majority of Ethiopians have to carry wood on their backs for fuel and lighting because they have no electricity, whereas all Egyptians have electricity, he said. What about the Sudanese? Moreover, what about the Nile River Basin Initiative (NRBI) report last year that found that 100 per cent of Ethiopia’s urban inhabitants and 60 per cent of rural inhabitants have electricity. Apart from this, is it fair to equate the right to electricity with the right to life, which is at stake for the Egyptian people. It is hard to make up for lost lives, whereas electricity can be produced from a number of alternative sources which Ethiopia also possesses in abundance: wind on the Ethiopian plateau and sunshine. Meanwhile, while millions of Ethiopians are carrying wood on their backs, according to their minister’s narrative, their government is selling the power generated from the three dams on the Omo River to Kenya and Djibouti. They will probably have to go on carrying wood on their backs in order to sustain their ministers’ ad misericordiam appeals for future dams. Turning back to Egypt, the minister argues that Egypt loses 10 billion m3 of water due to evaporation from Lake Nasser. Before the High Dam, Egypt lost 22 billion m3 of water to the Mediterranean which means that dam has made at least 12 billion m3 available to the people if we factor in that 10 billion m3 ostensibly lost through evaporation. Evidently, he would rather Egyptians not have that extra water at all, because he makes no mention of the 45 billion m3 lost through evaporation and transpiration in the Sudanese marshlands in the Sudd and Sobat. He also overlooks the approximately five billion m3 that will be lost to evaporation from the GERD reservoir, not to mention the equal quantity of water lost due seepage. On its official webpage, Addis Ababa claims that Egypt exports water in the form of $5 billion worth of agricultural products, yet claims water poverty. Ethiopia exports five times that amount, but it felt no need to add this on its website, or the fact that Egypt imports 65 per cent of its basic foodstuffs at a cost of $15 billion a year, precisely because of its water scarcity. Instead, the Ethiopian misinformation campaign bills GERD as a “Sudanese dam” because it will enable Sudan to cultivate the area around Roseires and other areas three times a year instead of twice. It does not mention that GERD will withhold the fertile silt from the water that reaches the Roseires and Sannar dams, which may never refill after Ethiopia completes its dam from which Addis Ababa will dispense judicious amounts like a parent giving his children a daily allowance for a school lunch. If, indeed, Sudan plans to keep that land under cultivation after Ethiopia closes the taps to a trickle it will have to construct an enormous irrigation network to the tune of billions of dollars. It will also have to use tons of chemical fertilisers to compensate for the loss of Nile silt, and incalculable quantities of insecticides and other products to fight the insects and diseases that will infest Sudanese soil as it succumbs to salinisation due to the lack of annual replenishment from Nile floods. Is Ethiopia going to fork out some money to help the Sudanese make the necessary readjustments to their agricultural economy? Not very likely. More in keeping with the current Ethiopian government’s thinking is the conclusion, drawn by the German Strategic Studies Institute, that Addis Ababa plans to aggravate Egypt’s water poverty in order to force Egypt to purchase water from Ethiopia. Such realities should help the international community to appreciate the true nature of Ethiopia’s intentions.
On May 25, a video went viral of a White woman calling the police on a Black man in Central Park after he asked her to follow the rules and leash her dog. On her call to 911, she allegedly lied, claiming he was threatening her, and specifically emphasized his race as part of her report. In the days and weeks that followed, the name Amy Cooper became synonymous with the kind of racist, false 911 call often made by White women that can have catastrophic consequences for the Black person on the other end. Within 24 hours, Cooper faced swift retribution online and lost her job. (Amy Cooper later apologized for her action and the birder, Christian Cooper, told CNN "if it s genuine and if she plans on keeping her dog on a leash in the Ramble going forward, then we have no issues with each other.") But until Monday, when Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance announced that Amy Cooper was being charged with falsely reporting an incident in the third degree, the one repercussion she avoided was criminal prosecution. It s been more than six weeks since Amy Cooper cried wolf. Why is she only now being charged for what appeared to be a very public crime? Making a false report to 911 is a crime in New York and most states. It s also against New York s civil rights law and comes with penalties. Over the past few years, we have become increasingly familiar with this specific kind of false reporting. Whether it s a Black person birding in Central Park, enjoying a barbecue, getting coffee at a Starbucks, working as a home inspector, shopping at Nordstrom Rack, or sleeping in the common room of their own dorm. The list is endless. What we see is a disturbing trend, and not one that typically ends with the caller facing criminal prosecution for putting a Black person in harm s way. Writing as a Black man, it is obvious that these calls are racially motivated. And writing as a White woman, it must be said that it is our responsibility to stop using the state as our personal security force. But where is the incentive for that when there s seldom any consequence? The White woman who accused 14-year-old Emmett Till of whistling at her in 1955 -- resulting in a famously brutal lynching -- recanted her testimony two years ago and no one was ever brought to justice. It s not just White women, though. In Georgia, two White men (who happened to be connected with law enforcement) called 911 and then hunted down Ahmaud Arbery. Authorities say they shot and killed a man in broad daylight for essentially jogging while Black, yet it took prosecutors 74 days and immense public pressure to finally charge them. If we truly want to stop White people from calling the police on Black people for just going about their lives, district attorneys need to start by actually prosecuting this kind of crime when it occurs, not six weeks later. The existing penal code is already clear, but New York and California lawmakers have also introduced legislation that would allow prosecutors to classify race-based, false reporting calls as a hate crime. As a former prosecutor and a practicing defense attorney, we both understand the likely reality of justice delayed in Amy Cooper s case. Our justice system has a long history of ignoring or downplaying the crimes of White people, from bailing out the heads of the financial industry who brought about the 2008 housing crash to the so-called "Karens" who police public space. At the same time, as we have both seen firsthand, our system often aggressively punishes and trumps up charges against Black and brown people. While we need sweeping changes to address these inequalities, district attorneys -- because of their power and prosecutorial discretion -- have the power, right now, to start leveling the scales. At its core, the job of district attorneys is to prosecute cases on behalf of their county. They decide which charges to bring and what evidence to provide in those cases. This means the DAs have incredible power to shape what reform looks like. We need progressive district attorneys across the country who are willing to institute policies to protect Black and brown people from mass incarceration. District attorneys who will decline to prosecute low-level offenses against people of color and end cash bail that poorer people cannot pay; who will replace laws and practices rooted in racism with effective reforms that can reverse some of the most damaging effects of the past few decades of tough-on-crime policies. But at the same time, it is the job of those same district attorneys to take seriously the crimes that stem directly from the racism in our system. Crimes that may seem minor, like calling the police on a man in the park, can have disastrous consequences. As we well know, calling 911 can result in the loss of innocent Black lives like Rayshard Brooks in Atlanta, and could have ended Central Park birder Christian Cooper s, too. It s time to stop giving the Karens of the world a pass.
Breathe easy, America. President Donald Trump s got this. A deadly pandemic is tearing through the country, but the statues are going to be all right. Trump swooped into the heartland on Friday and delivered this news, along with a message of rage at the foot of Mt. Rushmore in South Dakota. Ignoring the fact that nearly 130,000 Americans have already died from Covid-19, with new cases topping 50,000 a day, he stoked fears of an "angry mob" engaged in "a merciless campaign to wipe out our history." In an address that could be called "American Carnage II" for following the emotional blueprint he laid out in his inaugural address, Trump declared that federal officers would be dispatched to protect monuments and statues wherever they were threatened. Yes. You read that correctly. The President is moving quickly and decisively "to protect our monuments, arrest the rioters, and prosecute offenders to the fullest extent of the law." As a matter of fact, he said with pride, "yesterday federal agents arrested the suspected ringleader of the attack on the statue of the great Andrew Jackson in Washington, D.C." Last week, protesters tried in vain to topple the bronze statue of Jackson in Lafayette Park, which faces the White House. (Four men were charged with destruction of federal property. Only one of the four has been apprehended so far, according to the Justice Department, and it s unclear whether he led the effort to topple the statue). The statue was just one of many that have been targeted in recent weeks as the country reconsiders the value in memorializing important historical figures who supported slavery or white supremacy. The renewed fervor around this debate is part of a nationwide reckoning with racism after the police killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Rayshard Brooks sparked mass protests calling for reform under the slogan "Black Lives Matter." While substantial change in the justice system will take time, the removal of monuments honoring Stonewall Jackson, Jefferson Davis and others who are readily identified with racism provides the country with a sense of symbolic progress. In South Dakota, Trump tried to cast the anti-racist protest movement as a terrifying enemy. "Our nation is witnessing a merciless campaign to wipe out our history, defame our heroes, erase our values and indoctrinate our children," he said. "They think the American people are weak and soft and submissive, but no, the American people are strong and proud and they will not allow our country and all of its values, history and culture to be taken from them." Trump s 40-minute speech was a master class in rhetorical deception. He lumped together the racists of the Confederacy with the figures on Mt. Rushmore, insisting they are all being reconsidered in the same way. Several elected officials have ordered the removal of Confederate monuments in an effort to recognize the painful legacy of slavery, while the debate over monuments of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and Theodore Roosevelt is more nuanced, given their positive contributions to the nation. No sweeping effort is being made to remove all of these monuments and to suggest one exists amounts to sounding a false alarm. In his speech, Trump appeared to want to associate himself with the more admired figures of the past; as he spoke of Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln and others, Trump sounded like a fifth-grader reading random pages of a history book. There was Washington crossing the Delaware, Jefferson dispatching Lewis and Clark and Roosevelt overseeing the construction of the Panama Canal. In the simpleton s view of history offered by Trump, there is no room for the slaves owned by Washington and Jefferson or for Roosevelt s white supremacy. According to this perspective, sins and flaws must be denied; otherwise the greats of history cannot be honored. This is, of course, what a child might think upon learning that his or her parents are not quite perfect. But with maturity, children, like citizens, can both revere their heroes for their strengths and criticize them for their failings -- and judge who, in the end, deserves to be on a pedestal. While Native Americans have long sought the removal of Mt. Rushmore, arguing that it is carved on sacred land, this is an old conflict unlikely to be resolved. By suggesting there s a new national drive to destroy this well-known monument, and that some inflated enemy threatens all that is holy, Trump was playing a political cartoonist on Friday, exaggerating grotesquely for effect in an attempt to energize his reelection campaign. He summoned his followers to fight yet another culture war by dividing the nation he supposedly leads into patriots and traitors. "Here tonight," he said, "before the eyes of our forefathers, Americans declare again, as we did 244 years ago, that we will not be tyrannized, we will not be demeaned and we will not be intimidated by bad, evil people. It will not happen." This declaration, like so many of the disjointed passages in Trump s speech, would make a perfect soundbite for a campaign ad. Always eager to be seen as a fighter and a champion, Trump left out the real battle he is losing -- to the coronavirus-- and invented another so that he could pose as a valiant defender of this country. To satisfy Trump s selfish vanity, he had brought together more than 7,000 people, packed in tight to hear the speech. The gathering flouted the federal government s public health guidance on social distancing and very few in attendance wore the face masks recommended to slow the spread of the deadly coronavirus. As the band played at Mt. Rushmore, news broke that Kimberly Guilfoyle, a Trump campaign official and Donald Trump Jr. s girlfriend, tested positive for the virus. The absurdity of Donald Trump s night in South Dakota might be merely laughable if the country weren t staring in the face of death and suffering. In days, or perhaps weeks, we ll likely learn whether the gathering facilitated the spread of the coronavirus. By then, pollsters may also be able to tell us whether Trump s political pathogens -- anger, distortion, misinformation -- are spreading as widely or rapidly.
Over the last few months and especially due to the exceptional and emergency circumstances that the world has been going through as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, the number of disputes and conflicts arising out of contractual obligations has increased enormously, particularly those related to cross-border transactions, employment, rental and construction services. In parallel, traditional methods of dispute settlement have faced numerous challenges, and e-litigation has been the subject of long debates and negotiations. On the other hand, the importance of mediation as an alternative means of resolving conflicts has been underlined by dispute-resolution institutions, as well as several countries legislators. These have recommended, more than ever before, the use of mediation and raised awareness of its importance. Mediation is a process in which a neutral and independent third party, called a mediator, assists the parties involved in a dispute to settle their differences and reach a mutual agreement. This method differs from other dispute-settlement methods in that the parties are in full control of the process. They draft the terms of the settlement agreement by themselves, since the role of the mediator is limited to identifying the points of disagreement, and the agreement between the parties reaches the best solutions that maintain the continuity of their relationship. The mediator creates an appropriate atmosphere for the negotiations without having the authority to impose a solution or a settlement during the process. This dispute-settlement mechanism may be conducted between two contracting parties or by one contracting party and a state, known as investor-state mediation. Given the importance of mediation as an amicable means of settling disputes that may resolve investment, commercial, labour and other disputes, it has been codified in national legislations. For instance, the Irish legislature issued its Mediation Act of 2017 that placed an obligation on all solicitors to advise their clients to consider mediation as a means of attempting to resolve a dispute prior to proceeding to litigation and to clearly outline to their clients the benefits of mediation that include cost and time efficiencies. Likewise, the Chinese Civil Procedure Law includes a special chapter on mediation, which is conducted by a court in which judges sit as mediators. Similarly, in Egypt the Economic Courts Law 120 of 2008 was amended last August to establish a Preparation and Mediation Committee. The law gives authority to the judges on the committee to advise litigants or their representatives to resolve their dispute through mediation before referring it to litigation. If the parties reach a settlement agreement, this will have enforceable legal effect, and the law represents noticeable progress in the field of alternative dispute resolution. The aforementioned type of mediation, that conducted by judges in civil proceedings, is called court-connected mediation, which is codified in legislation in most cases and not always subject to enforcement difficulties if it occurs inside borders. The other type of mediation, which is mainly conducted outside of courts through lawyers, experts or others, is commonly known as out-of-court mediation and is in many cases not codified by national laws. It also faces several problems at the time of the enforcement of a settlement agreement either inside or outside the borders of a country. In other words, despite its importance, the main problems faced by mediation processes conducted outside of the courts are usually the enforcement of settlement agreements, especially if foreign parties are involved and the agreement is to be enforced abroad. To this end, the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNICTRAL) has adopted the United Nations Convention on International Settlement Agreements resulting from Mediation, also known as the Singapore Convention on Mediation. The aim of this convention is to draw up a legal framework that enhances the cross-border enforceability of mediated settlements concluded in writing by parties that have their places of business in different states and want to resolve a commercial dispute. In 2019, 46 countries had signed the convention, which will enter into force on 12 September 2020, and these have included the world s two largest economies, the United States and China. Among the Arab countries, only three have signed the convention – Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Qatar. It is vitally important that Egypt and the Middle East and North Africa region (MENA) countries join the Singapore Convention on Mediation to enhance the enforceability of international settlement agreements resulting from mediation, as it represents an efficient way for parties, particularly investors, to solve their disputes in short periods of time and preserve their funds and assets, as well as their commercial relationships. In brief, the businesses of any signatory country will find it valuable to resort to mediation when a settlement agreement is enforceable in their country, as well as in that of their counterparty abroad.
As the Syria crisis enters its 10th year, the situation is especially dire for women and girls, with the effects of COVID-19 compounding the risks and hardships for millions of people inside the country and for refugees around the region. Today nearly 12 million people in Syria require urgent humanitarian assistance and around 4 million depend on cross-border aid. Some 5.7 million Syrians have fled and are now residing in countries throughout the region. Of those who need humanitarian aid, half are women and girls. Syrian women have higher rates of poverty than men; they face increased risk of gender-based violence; and they shoulder the responsibility of caring for their children and other family members. The rapid spread of COVID-19 is further increasing the risks faced by women. It is estimated that more than half a million women inside Syria and in host communities throughout the region are pregnant. In some places, pregnant women are refraining from visiting health facilities due to movement restrictions or fears about exposure to the virus. This is putting the lives of women and newborns at risk. Perhaps most egregiously, the crisis has exposed a shadow pandemic of violence against women, one that has spiked in the face of lockdowns and quarantine measures. UNFPA projects that the pandemic could result in millions more cases of gender-based violence around the world. COVID-19 is not only a health and protection crisis, it is also a socio-economic crisis threatening the most vulnerable populations and their precarious livelihoods. The impact of COVID-19 on the Arab States economies is likely to be tremendous, with 1.7 million jobs expected to be lost in 2020, including 700,000 jobs for women. Even before the pandemic, the economic situation of Syrian refugee women was already extremely precarious, with jobs hard to come by and women making up almost 62% of those working in the informal sector, such as daily and agriculture workers. A UN Women study found that the majority of Syrian refugee women said that finding income to support their families was their main concern. In Lebanon, only 1% of the women in the study had a work permit. In Iraq, while 78% of surveyed refugee women were entitled to legal employment, only 4% had found employment. In Jordan, women got only 5% of the work permits issued to refugees so far. Despite significant risks and challenges, Syrian women and women s organizations continue to play a central role in the response to the Syria crisis—in humanitarian assistance and peacemaking efforts, healthcare and education, and in other sectors in their own communities. Humanitarian actors are working together to advocate, scale up and adapt service delivery to address urgent needs. Since January 2020, UNFPA has provided life-saving sexual and reproductive health services to nearly one million people in need in countries affected by the Syria crisis, and delivered essential gender-based violence services to more than 420,000 people. In light of COVID-19, UNFPA and partners are providing personal protective equipment to protect health workers, distributing dignity kits that contain essential hygiene and sanitary supplies, and systemizing the use of telemedicine to ensure continued access to reproductive health services. As donors meet at the Brussels IV Conference on Syria, the needs and rights of women and girls should be front and centre. Let us work together to strengthen their resilience by increasing their livelihood and employment opportunities and including them in all measures to mitigate the economic shocks of COVID-19. Funding for women s leadership, economic empowerment, gender-based violence programmes and essential sexual and reproductive health services must match the increased needs we are seeing in Syria and neighbouring countries, including those brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. More than ever, global solidarity, urgency, and predictable and sustained international support is needed for the Syria response. The international community must continue to support local communities as we collectively work for a better Syria during and after the coronavirus pandemic. After years of conflict, women, girls and all the people of Syria need a future that they can believe in — a future of peace, democracy and equality that we can build together.
Arab public opinion has held to a large extent the Arab League politically and morally responsible for the disastrous fate that befell Libya in 2011. The League in a hurried way adopted a decision in March 2011 concerning the popular uprising against late Colonel Muammar Gaddafi. The UN Security Council, at the request of France, followed suit and passed a resolution that was used as a pretext by NATO to intervene. The pretext was that the Libyan army was advancing towards Benghazi to annihilate the popular uprising. An unrelentless and senseless bombing campaign followed that decimated the Libyan army. After the mission was accomplished, NATO left the country in complete disarray, without recognised state institutions to manage the situation, and the political transition towards a modern and a democratic state. On the contrary, Libya descended into insecurity and almost near anarchy with unattended stocks of arms that were taken by renegade and armed groups. In the last nine years, neither the international community nor Arab nor African countries have succeeded in restoring political normalcy in Libya, despite several Security Council resolutions from March 2011 till February 2020. The former imposed an arms embargo on Libya that has never been seriously enforced, and the latter, recalling the said resolutions, gave an international and official seal of approval to the Berlin Declaration of 19 January 2020. At the end of 2015, the Security Council had passed a resolution in support of what is known as the Skhirat Accord that established a “Government of National Accord” in Libya, bypassing — strangely enough — the only elected legislative body in Libya, the House of Representatives, that had been elected in fair and free elections the year before. The Libyan Muslim Brotherhood, through their control over the Supreme Court, invalidated the elections. The reason is that they lost the 2014 elections after their failed attempt at governance from the end of 2011 till the legislative elections of 2014. This background explains why Libya has two governments and two legislatures, and two warring military forces. A government in Tripoli, called the “internationally-recognised government”, and another temporary government in Benghazi that few countries have recognised and dealt with. The United Nations, through various envoys, tried to mediate and negotiate a political framework that could, hopefully, put the country on the road of reconciliation and reconstruction. However, these attempts and plans always failed because the international community and the Arab world had other strategic priorities, till the Turkish wolf entered the arena and turned a local military conflict into a regional one, and almost an international one. The Syrian example was about to replicate itself in Libya. Turkey and Russia, supporting opposing sides in the Libyan conflict, in the meantime are trying to share the pie without getting involved in a direct conflict. All the while, the Arab League was paying lip service to UN efforts as well as to the Berlin Declaration. Its secretary general participated in its sessions. Turkish intervention in the conflict was a strategic surprise for the region and the world. It allowed the Tripoli forces to push back the forces of the government in the East, led by Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar. The retreat of his forces led to an escalation on the ground that could torpedo any chances for the resumption of political talks between the two Libyan governments. The pro-Tripoli forces want to regain control of all of Libya; that is, to advance eastward, getting closer to the Egyptian borders. On 23 June, visiting a military base not far away from these borders, Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi made it clear, in no uncertain terms, that the Egyptian army would intervene directly in the Libyan conflict in the case that pro-Tripoli forces, backed by the Turks, advance towards Sirte and Al-Jafra. The two are almost 1,000 kilometres from the Libyan borders with Egypt. Of course, the Egyptian president talked about such an intervention in the context of a blueprint for the restoration of security and stability in Libya, in accordance with Security Council resolutions, on the one hand, and the Berlin Declaration, on the other hand. He enumerated the objectives of such an intervention, and most of the elements he mentioned do conform with UN resolutions. He stressed the importance of unifying state institutions, in addition to bringing all economic agencies and the oil industry under one command. The Egyptian position was seconded by a resolution adopted 23 June through an emergency meeting of Arab foreign ministers, via video conference, that Egypt requested after the announcement of the Cairo Declaration on Libya on 6 June. The resolution reflected an Arab consensus — save a few reservations on certain paragraphs by Qatar, Tunisia, Somalia and the Libyan delegation to the Arab League. Most of the clauses are in conformity with the Berlin Declaration and resolutions adopted by the United Nations related to Libya. So far, these developments led to a pause in military preparations by forces loyal to the Tripoli government. In the meantime, the Turkish government is still sending reinforcements as well as Syrian mercenaries. The spectre of a major military confrontation between Egypt and Turkey has raised alarm bells in Europe and the United States, pushing them to reiterate their demands for an immediate and total ceasefire, and the resumption of political talks in Libya. The US State Department called — on 26 June — on the warring parties in Libya to cease fire forthwith and resume talks, while condemning foreign intervention, without singling out any country in particular. Moreover, the US administration warned the Tripoli government that the United States is against launching an attack on Sirte and Al-Jafra. This statement came two days after the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, accused Washington of lacking decisiveness in dealing with the situation in Libya. It remains to be seen if the US administration will push hard for an immediate ceasefire on the part of the Tripoli government and its Turkish backers. If both the US and the European Union act in concert in this respect, that could be a turning point in Libya that opens the way for launching a diplomatic and political process that would save Libya from disintegration and avoid a repeat of the Syrian scenario in Libya. Egypt and most Arab countries have learned the lessons of the fateful years of the “Arab Spring”. Consequently, they have decided to confront Turkey in Libya. They should not back down, whatever the cost.
This title has been published thousands of times on social media, as an expression of gratitude towards the efforts of doctors during the coronavirus pandemic, and in protest of a statement made by the Prime Minister that has angered Egyptians everywhere. The medical profession is one of the oldest professions in our dear country, with its history beginning with the ancient Egyptians and onward to the Alexandria school, where ancient Egyptian and Greek medicine mixed. In the modern era, Mohamed Ali asked Clot Bey to establish a medical school which moved from Abu Zaabal to Qasr al-Aini on the Nile bank. The first mission dispatched to study medicine to France after graduation, after which they came back to teach in the medical school, thus making Egypt the first country in the region to practice modern medicine through diagnosis and treatment of all kinds. When modern devices, microscopic surgeries and sophisticated drugs entered the world of modern medicine, Egypt s doctors were at the forefront of the world in receiving these tools and training with them. Because of the difficult economic conditions Egypt has faced following a critical period in its history, no modern hospitals had been built to keep up with the times, though the government and the private sector have remedied the matter and built modern teaching and private hospitals on international standards. Egyptian doctors have spread across the world, achieving great success in Europe and America, and for many years they have efficiently led the health system in Arab countries, particularly in the Gulf region. Some people may think that these doctors are all very wealthy, but this is not true, because the vast majority of doctors and all young doctors suffer greatly in life due to poor salaries and incentives, so most of them try to travel abroad, which has already happened, and is why half of Egypt s doctors now work outside. As we all know, studying medicine in addition to the residency period lasts seven years, followed by three to seven years of training to start practicing the profession, and if a doctor wishes to train and obtain a certificate in a specific field then they ll need to study for another five years. Doctors all over the world receive distinguished treatment and get paid well. The Medical Syndicate is a long-established and distinguished union that provides distinguished union services for its members. This was the first union in Egypt that rose up at the beginning of the Muslim Brotherhood era and brought them down from its council. I recount here the great day when the voting queue in the committee for over 60-year-olds during the union s elections reached nearly one a kilometer, even when it was a rainy day. Before 1952, doctors participated in the 1946 uprising against the dictatorship, and against the British occupation, and participated with the guerrillas in the Canal Zone against the British aggression. Many of them died during the October war. And this year, doctors performed admirably when the world was invaded by the coronavirus pandemic, which so far has killed nearly half a million people. In third world countries, including Egypt, it is difficult to know the numbers of those killed by the virus, because an unknown amount died in their homes, villages and hospitals without undertaking an analysis. We also have, as is well known, a very weak health budget and the efficiency of the Ministry of Health is limited. Doctors, nursing stuff and medical workers struggled under difficult conditions, as their protective equipment was insufficient, and therefore the death rate among physicians was very high. Around 100 doctors died, and more than 2,000 were infected with the coronavirus, and many of the ones who died were young doctors from difficult financial conditions. In light of the coronavirus and the possibility of its continuation or the emergence of a second wave globally, which is expected until a vaccine is prepared, we need everyone in the medical staff, and we should encourage them, raise their spirits and compensate the families of those who fell to the virus. On the ground, it has become natural for the families of patients to attack doctors, break hospital equipment, and the government does nothing to defend them. There is no law issued or firm stance to stop this chaos, which has become a routine thing happening every day. The relationship between the Health Ministry and the Medical Syndicate must be one of of cooperation and understanding, and relations between the minister and doctors should be good, with the minister making the utmost effort to cooperate and make decisions after consulting with doctors and the medical syndicate in the interest of patients, the profession and the ministry as well. In a major crisis such as the coronavirus, we must all stand together to fight the pandemic. A while ago, the Prime Minister attempted to defuse the crisis. He received the head of the Medical Syndicate and issued reassuring statements. However everyone was shocked when the Prime Minister issued a controversial statement, angering physicians and citizens alike, when he announced that the Health Minister had said that the cause of the coronavirus pandemic was a lack of commitment by some doctors to their duty. The Prime Minister has forgotten the martyred doctors and the thousands of medical workers keeping watch every night on the sick across all of Egypt, and he knows very well how weak the health system is and how weak the Health Ministry s plan is in confronting this disease. The minister should avoid upsetting doctors, instead encouraging their work and cooperating with them, because relations between the ministry and the people during a pandemic must be good. I think that this statement has severely shaken public opinion of the Prime Minister throughout social media, which is used by about 50 million citizens. I was waiting for an apology from him to resolve this issue, as this is a normal practice in first world countries, but in the third world things are different. The government is always right and the people are wrong. Rise, Egyptians! Egypt is always calling you.
Shortly after COVID-19 was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organisation (WHO), Ghadeer, a woman from Homs, Syria, told humanitarian actors of the violence she witnessed against the backdrop of the lockdowns that came in response to the pandemic. “I met many women who also face violence at the hands of their husbands, violence has clearly increased. A friend told me that she is constantly suffering from domestic abuse since her husband lost his job." Ghadeer once witnessed a wife being beaten in front of her children. These stories paint a painful picture of the stark reality that women and girls continue to face in Syria. In March, the crisis in the country officially entered its 10th year, effectively marking one of the most protracted and complex crises our world is facing today. A decade later, Syria continues to experience an array of instabilities and challenges that continue to put the lives of innocent people at risk. With COVID-19 creating a crisis within a crisis, the consequences of insufficient action can be dire. Today, of the estimated 11.7 million people in need inside Syria, 5.9 million are women and girls, exposed to an array of increased risks that include greater restrictions on movement for women and girls, family violence, forced and early marriage, and sexual and domestic violence. Meanwhile, an additional 5.7 million Syrians are refugees throughout the region and beyond. And even as parts of Syria appear to be stabilising, the situation is far from stable, particularly given the ongoing conflicts and mass displacements in the country s northern region as well as increasing instability in parts of the south. Meanwhile, the socioeconomic ramifications of COVID-19 will inevitably produce further protection concerns and other challenges, including socio-economic, for a significant portion of the Syrian population. This month, the international community convenes during the Brussels IV Conference on supporting the future of Syria and the region. In the run-up to this dialogue taking place, it is critical to understand the various dimensions of vulnerability from a needs perspective. The situation in Syria not only remains critical but has arguably become even more volatile due to the advent of COVID-19, which presents a myriad of health and socioeconomic challenges for the country and its people, both inside Syria and in host communities region-wide. Moreover, the cumulative effects of 10 years of instability have created a number of far-reaching structural challenges, including disruptions in community networks and safety nets that complicate the delivery of life-saving services. This situation is further compounded by a rapidly deteriorating socio-economic situation, increasing food insecurity and poverty across the country. The risks or deprioritisation of women s health and protection in the given context is very real and needs to be addressed hands-on. The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) -- the United Nations sexual and reproductive health agency -- firmly believes in a world where every pregnancy is wanted, every childbirth is safe, and every young person s potential is fulfilled. This is precisely why UNFPA has continuously advocated for the fundamental right of every woman and girl to access quality sexual and reproductive health services and to be protected from gender-based violence (GBV). Today, it is estimated that more than half a million women inside Syria and female refugees throughout the region are pregnant. Providing them with medicines, equipment, midwives and doctors support, and working collectively to support basic rehabilitation of healthcare facilities in devastated communities, should remain a key priority for the global response to this crisis. Failing to do so will mean that more mothers and their infants will die, particularly in the time of COVID-19. In 2019, UNFPA provided life-saving sexual and reproductive health services to nearly 2.4 million individuals in Syria crisis countries throughout the region. Maintaining and even expanding this life-saving work will require the continued collaboration of the international community, including through the maintenance and increase of flexible, multi-year funding to allow actors to respond effectively to the multifaceted challenges on the ground. Meanwhile, responding to GBV in 2020 will require taking the challenges presented by COVID-19 in perspective, and ensuring that any response takes gender, gender inequality, and the restrictions of movement that have accompanied this pandemic into consideration. These programmes must be made even more accessible to adolescent girls, who continue to be the most at-risk segment to GBV and life-threatening early pregnancies. UNFPA has updated its 2020 regional Syria response to include funds required to respond to COVID-19, with an estimated total appeal of $137 million. This includes $6.5 million geared towards responding to the pandemic and its ramifications for women, girls and young people throughout the region. Ensuring that gender issues, gender equality, and women s rights are consistently considered when tailoring resilience programmes is of paramount importance, particularly those that attempt to stave off the worst impacts of both the crisis itself and the COVID-19 pandemic. Such programmes are not only effective at delivering short-term support to people in need, but also stand to address many of the long-term structural challenges and socioeconomic ramifications of this crisis.
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