Opinion: Jibran – The Message of the Saudi People to the World

It was not a Hollywood scene and maybe if it was part of a film it would have been considered to exaggerate a lot. The video showing the Saudi Arabian security services confronting terrorists in the Al-Yasmine neighbourhood in Riyadh has summed up hundreds of stories and confrontations that have taken place for more than two decades.

History does not narrate this with sound and image because such events are impossible to follow and document except in rare cases. In the latest incident, it was a coincidence that the whole world came to know of the reality of Saudi confrontation of terrorism and terrorists. The perpetrators of these attacks were, unfortunately, also Saudis, and they are portrayed as if they represent a large percentage of Saudis even though they are targeting their own country and their fellow citizens in the first instance.

The confrontation between Sergeant Jibran Awaji who dazzled the world with his courage, prowess and bravery, and the terrorists, clearly summed up the battle against terrorism in the kingdom. Terrorists want to kill society, running away from death but to their deaths. A Saudi police man does not fear death in order to save lives. For a long time the battle was portrayed incorrectly. The Saudis are not divided with regards to combating terrorism – they support right as opposed to wrong as is the nature of human beings. Jibran Awaji represents them in their fight against the terrorist group that announces and executes operations against its enemy, Saudi Arabia. Despite this, it is expected that the country, the biggest victim of this terrorism, takes responsibility for it. How wonderful!

As Saudis are not used to sticking the pictures of their martyrs on the walls of history or recording the heroism of its forces in their huge war against terrorism, the media in general mostly circulates pictures of Saudis who choose bombing and destruction in the name of Islam – Saudis who seek to destroy their country and kill their own people, and then act as if they represent 20 million Saudis.

Terrorists choose to have a black image of themselves in their lives and after their deaths. Jibran’s case is a solid and real picture of Saudi Arabia’s battle against terrorism that will not be forgotten, not because the world saw what it usually doesn’t see, but because those terrorists that Jibran killed are the distorted part of a truthful image of the Saudi people.

There is no doubt that in Saudi Arabia, as in Egypt, France and Britain, there are extremists, and that the natural role of the state is to besiege them and eradicate them. Most of the time, an extremist does not announce that he is one unless the law allows him to. Countries are blamed or and even held accountable if they allow terrorists to penetrate into them, support them or turn a blind eye to them.

For example, there are those who manipulate laws and finance terrorists. This happens in Gulf countries, Europe and elsewhere in the world. In this case, it is the task of governments to tighten the noose and develop systems so that there does not remain an opportunity to fund terrorism, however small the amount. However, is it possible to make unsubstantiated accusations against governments and say that they allowed the financing of terrorism while their laws criminalise it and their actions confirm their disapproval?

Militants are waiting for the opportunity to spread their venom and extremism, not through money alone, but also through ideology. The role of states here is to trap extremists whenever they find a weak point to exploit.

Jibran’s heroism is not isolated from hundreds of untold stories of the fight against terrorism or the fighting on the southern front against the Yemeni rebels. The difference this time is that it reminded observers in Saudi Arabia and abroad of the truthful image of the Saudi citizen whose image has been distorted in an unjust and systematic way. Who knows, perhaps the shots that Jibran Awaji fired at the ISIS terrorists will rectify something, even if that is a little.

Mosul, Chances of Iran Being The ‘Biggest Winner’

Members of the Shi'ite Badr Organisation undergo training before the upcoming battle to recapture Mosul in Diyala province

It has been twelve weeks since the Mosul offensive to drive ISIS hardliners out of their Iraq stronghold launched– the whole world awaits good news on the decisive battle. Iraqi forces, backed by an international coalition, currently are the chief the power combating ISIS in the northern Iraqi city, Mosul.

The capacities of Iraqi forces to retake the city and defeat the extremist group ISIS are undoubted. It is only a matter of time. However, what remains a considerable distress is that Iran would turn out to be the greatest beneficiary of the Mosul operation. The United States’ President-elect Donald Trump, when asked about the ongoing U.S.-backed offensive to retake the Iraqi city of Mosul from ISIS during the final presidential debate, said terror-sponsor of terrorism Iran will ultimately “benefit” from the operation.

To him the greatest fear is that Iran will be at a winner position, and the U.S. will be cut out. “Iran is taking over Iraq,” Trump said. What is more is that it remains a possible scenario, so long that the U.S.-led international coalition has not yet engineered a conclusive clear-cut plan for countering terrorism.

In 2001, when U.S. forces ended the Taliban’s reign over Afghanistan, and then carried on with taking down the Saddam Hussein regime in Iraq, it was oblivious to the disruption caused to regional balance, which Iran found in its favor.

Iran had profited from the eradication of its chief two regional enemies, so will be the case if ISIS is expelled from Mosul. It will exploit vacancy, caused by Washington’s repeated mistake, to its own gains. The more Washington rolls back on its ties with Baghdad, the stronger the Iran-Iraq relations would be, moving Iran a step closer to its expansionist ambitions.

Iran-aligned militias, currently a factor in the Mosul operation, would later overrun and strive in liberated areas, should international forces stick to a mere militarized contribution. Especially that an Iran influential dominance still strains the Iraq government.

All international efforts on eliminating terror group ISIS will then become counter effective on terms of restoring overall balance, enhancing Iran’s position as a regional power, and its presence in both Iraq and Syria.

There is an outspoken global concession on the importance of freeing Iraq’s third largest city from ISIS-hold, but obscurity covers the post-battle phase.

If Iran’s presence in Mosul, for the sake of argument, was a mere advisory one according to its claims, it does not make up for the fact that its proxy Iraqi militia the Popular Mobilization Forces, whose sworn allegiance is given to Tehran, is openly partaking in the offensive secured in the knowledge that who fights in Mosul today gets to be a part of its political future tomorrow.

Iraq faces a grave demographic threat if U.S. interests, Iraqi government aims, and Iran’s end game all translate into keeping Iraq’s Sunni community at bay, and a political minority that rests on the sidelines of Iraqi life. The aftermath of such a situation will extend its harm beyond Iran in a chain effect across the region.

Iran seeks a Mosul victory which can add to the sectarian schism of the Muslim world, pitting Shi’ites against Sunnis, bringing about a political process in which Shi’ites exclude their Sunni counterparts. The same approach will give Iran a greater strategic influence over the region.

Mosul’s offensive is key not only because it fights off terrorist group ISIS, which has managed to occupy entire Iraqi cities, but also because it would outline Iraq’s political makeup and the chances of coexistence among its diverse communities.

It is alarming that the Mosul offensive, despite ridding the world from ISIS, would leave behind the makings of future extremist groups just as dangerous and disturbing as the one we face today.

Opinion: Dialogue With Iran is an Unrealistic Idea

The story is not about the terrorist attack on a prison in Bahrain using pistols and automatic rifles in the style of films that resulted in a police officer being killed and 10 dangerous prisoners to escape. Nor was it about the planning that accompanied the operation which seems more likely to be carried out by intelligence services than members of a gang.

The real story is about Iran’s support for this operation which was exposed to the world when it conveyed an honest message via the satellite channel “Ahl Al-Bayt” encouraging the operation and describing it as “successful”. Although this Iranian admission is not new to the people of the region who are well aware of Iranian strategy, it defeated calls for Gulf- Iranian dialogue that the west and some well-intentioned Arabs make from time to time.

Since the conclusion of the Iranian nuclear deal, there is an idea circulating in western circles that government officials and western ministers are speaking frankly about and promoting. This idea is that the agreement provides an opportunity to take the first step in establishing a new security system in the Arabian Gulf in order to improve relations between Iran and Arab Gulf states. The launch of such a dialogue will provide a platform to address many security challenges and contribute to easing tension, crisis management and conflict prevention.

This is great, the terms are impeccable and the ideas on paper are wonderful and extremely ideal. Unfortunately, however, this is not applicable, and is closer to impossible. It is highly unlikely that Iran will openly declare hostility and carry out terrorism in word and deed. However, this has been overlooked only to ensure the success of the miserable nuclear deal. Perhaps it is time to restructure the deal as the President-elect Donald Trump has repeatedly stated.

The dialogue between any two parties in diplomatic relations is never an objective, rather it is a means. Repeated terms such as resolving political differences through negotiation and dialogue are correct in principle but impossible to implement when one of the parties refuses to give up its aggressive policy which has become a structural part of the nature of its political system, and when it wants to begin the dialogue from the point where its militias, which are scattered in the region, left off. Every time that the Gulf states tried to practice the principles of good neighbourliness and mutual respect with its neighbour Iran, they were shocked by its policies that oppose all of these principles.

Dialogue and negotiation to make viewpoints converge have never been a Gulf demand whilst Iran has never respected the rules of this dialogue. The most important difference between the Iranian and Gulf sides is Tehran’s insistence on continuing with its policy of intervening in the affairs of the region, destabilising its security and stability and even announcing this openly more than once.

This week last year, Saudi Arabia cut diplomatic relations with Iran after Iranians set fire to the Saudi Embassy in Tehran and its consulate in the city of Mashhad. This followed Saudi Arabia’s announcement that Nimr Al-Nimr had been executed. A year has passed since relations between the two countries were cut, and Riyadh was not affected by this freeze in diplomatic relations as much as Iran was. The Gulf states are not in need of such relations as long as Iran does not stop its aggressive policy and exporting the Iranian revolution. Perhaps what is interesting here is what the last Iranian Ambassador to Riyadh Hussein Sadiqi said to the Iranian Sharq newspaper: “Saudi Arabia’s decision to cut ties has caused us great damage” and “I say frankly that Saudi Arabia was not looking for an excuse to cut ties with Iran”.

In light of the dangerous escalation of Iran’s expansionist policy involving its militias and agents in six Arab countries, the idea of dialogue with Iran seems illogical and cannot even be hinted at. However, the west’s opening up to Iran requires it to push for dialogue in order to achieve its goals. The west can open up to Iran as it likes but it must stop portraying the Gulf countries as the ones who refuse to participate in dialogue that is not beneficial and only beautifies the ugliness of the Iranian regime.

Oman’s Surprise!

Oman

Oman joining the Islamic Military Coalition will definitely be mentioned as one of the most important events witnessed by Gulf arena in 2016.

The importance does not lie in the addition of another Islamic state to the coalition, which includes 41 of them, noting that the coalition’s military potentials and readiness allow it to achieve its goals without the need of any other state.

However, what distinguishes Oman’s consensual accession to the coalition is its strategic goal rather than a military participation.

The joining of Oman to the coalition carries with it an essential political message that could never be neglected on both official and popular level among GCC states.

Oman’s Sultanate has been aiming for decades to combine irrelevant states together, in a step that could be described as almost impossible in a complex region.

The decision to be neutral in the Middle East could only be explained as attempting to hold a stick from the middle using only one finger.

Nevertheless, no one can deny that Oman’s policy adopted has always been known for its miraculous ability to maintain balance when it comes to its regional relations, no matter how complicated are the events it these regional countries.

Oman also succeeded in playing the mediator’s role several times among regional parties, which helped Muscat keep its distance from Iran.

For instance, the Gulf state has always been capable of retaining its full independence in all cases and situations; at the same time, it also maintained its strategic alliance with the United States and the United Kingdom along with its historic relations with GCC states.

Oman’s constitution, which does not permit any military intervention outside its borders, let it adopt a firm and strategic stance towards its neighboring and brotherly countries in the GCC and especially towards Saudi Arabia, which first established and is leading the Islamic military coalition.

Preceded by its interference in liberating Kuwait in 190, Oman’s participation in the coalition is considered the first in the Sultanate’s history and a major transformation in Oman’s policy in general.

Notably, Oman’s accession to the coalition has failed the many attempts carried out by regional and international parties to describe it as sectarian.

Despite the fact that once the coalition was established it announced that it is directed against terrorist organizations classified by the international community rather than targeting a specific country, Oman’s military participation could be benefited from in the political and diplomatic roles played by the Sultanate in favor of the stability and peace of the Gulf states when it comes to the complicated regional issues.

In this case, Riyadh is to take the credit for absorbing differences among countries with exceptional relations as it makes sure these differences are kept within the normal condition of international relations.

Therefore, Saudi Arabia was keen to let Oman participate in the coalition even though many believe that Oman’s chances to return are impossible.

In this matter, Oman’s serious and essential step taken proves that it deals with other countries based on its diplomatic policies; thus, superseding all claims that it is against Gulf convergence.

Oman is one of the founding countries to the GCC and has been working for 35 years to let it succeed in its goals and plans.

It also contributed, along with the international coalition, in liberating Kuwait from Iraqi invasion, and it submitted a bill to establish a united Gulf army in 1991, yet it did not succeed in implementing this project back then, which ignited its rage for so long.

Oman’s accession to the Islamic Military Coalition, undoubtedly, opens new prospects for Omani relations, yet it also infuriates regional parties that view this convergence as negative since it does not serve their interests.

Best Candidate…Obama’s Departure

Combination photo of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton in North Carolina

Who is best for the region, Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton or Republican candidate Donald Trump?

Who will win? Is it the lady who participated, planned and implemented Barack Obama’s administration policies, or is it the first presidential candidate who out speaks about his rivalry with many Americans, antagonizes Muslims, immigrants, people with special needs and Mexicans and is proud of his sexual harassments?

This question, which has been asked repeatedly during the past weeks, will be answered the moment results of the U.S. presidential elections are announced at Wednesday’s dawn, GMT timing.

Maybe the two candidates are lucky for competing against each other; if Trump was competing against another Democratic candidate, he would have had better chances to win and vice versa.

When it comes to issues concerning the Middle East, debates between Clinton and Trump, which have reached an unprecedented immoral level, haven’t discussed any solution or clarified the two parties’ opinions and plans in this regard.

For example, on the nuclear deal with Iran, Trump did not propose any clear substitute for what he has repeatedly attacked whereas Clinton defended this deal then admitted that Iran’s regime poses a threat and hinted the use of military power in case of breach of the deal, but she still did not submit any detailed proposal to counter it.

Moreover, the two candidates neglected bringing up Syria and its catastrophic humanitarian crisis in modern history. This means that they both will carry on with Obama’s policy that could be described as the “indifference strategy.”

Also, debates on Iraq, the U.S. invasion in 2003 then withdrawal in 2011 were futile.

Unfortunately, most of the debates between Trump and Clinton addressed previous stances instead of discussing detailed new policies.

They also did not mention any of what the elected president will explain for his/her people in the inaugural speech, except for what was leaked to public by the two candidates’ teams, and those are not conclusive policies that can be built upon in their strategies in the future.

In my opinion, everyone in the Middle East describe Obama’s policy as hesitant and misleading, starting from his well-known speech in Cairo’s University in 2009, to the heinous lie on Bashar al-Assad’s use of chemical weapons and the nuclear deal with Iran, which turned out to be a reward for a regime that supports terrorism, according to the U.S..

Keeping in mind that Clinton has been one of Obama’s tools and is a partner inside Obama’s administration, whether in her advisory role or her post as his Secretary of State, and the fact that Washington’s management for the region’s files during the so-called “Arab Spring” has led to the burst of many internal wars in some regional countries, it is normal not be optimistic when it comes to thinking that Clinton will undertake a policy different from the one that she has adopted during the past years.

Meanwhile, the only positive thing about what Clinton could hold for the Middle East is that she will not come up with anything worse than what is happening nowadays.

On the other hand, no politician can bet that an unsteady character as Trump could be less vile than President Obama.

In contrast, we might wake up to the election of a harassing U.S. president and a new terrible world led by the United States.

Certainly, Trump fits to be an evil president; therefore, knowing that Arab states still do not know Trump’s approach towards them, and they are not sure whether his policies will be positive or worse than the current administration, they cannot specify what is possible and what is not possible during his rule.

If President Barack Obama’s administration has adopted the policy of communicating with the opponents more than boosting relations with partners during the past eight years, then the next White House resident will be very aware of the fact that abandoning the region is not an option.

Or as Hillary Clinton was quoted saying: “The U.S. would commit a grave mistake if it abandons its responsibilities or gives up the reins of leadership.”

Regardless of who will reside in the White House, the region is in desperate need for the departure of the current one once and for all, especially that his policies have affected the region negatively like no others.

Mosul: A Long-Awaited Offensive Now Fought by Sectarian Bigots

Footage broadcasting Mosul’s long-anticipated offensive shows Iraqi forces and thousands of military armored vehicles marching towards the ISIS de-facto capital in Iraq in hopes of ridding it of terror dominance.

The Fall of Mosul happened between 4–10 June 2014, when ISIS terrorists defeated the Iraqi army and took control of Fallujah and Ramadi- which were liberated in 2016 save Mosul- inciting conflict with the Iraqi army.

The means used to hide the flapping sectarian flags and slogans raised over the guns claiming to pursue Mosul’s freedom-employing cliché and conspicuous ways brings about concern.

At a time when the whole world unites hand-in-hand in its desire to terminate ISIS’ stronghold in Iraq, many insist that bigoted militias be involved and indirectly break into the city.

Arab tribes near Mosul have stressed a collective and undisputable refusal for any intervention by Iran or Shi’ite-based Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) in the fight for Mosul’s retake from ISIS.

Caught between the worst of two evils, the people of Mosul now are trapped between the end of ISIS gunmen’s muzzles and those of the PMF. They would meet the grim fate of the people in Fallujah, Tikrit and Ramadi.

PMF militias have committed countless and repeated cases of systematic looting, violations and abuse against civilians of each area which had recently been freed from ISIS. The Iran-aligned militants prove to be highly bigoted against civilians belonging to any other sect.

What paints a darker picture is that as soon as PMF militias overrun Mosul the whole of 2.5 million Mosul inhabitants are at stake. Ultra-conservative militants recruited by the PMF do not distinguish civilians and would treat both an ISIS extremist and a moderate Iraqi with equal brutality. Fallujah and Ramadi’s tragedy will be repeated but ten-fold. Mosul is a largely Sunni city in Iraq, which is a sect PMF militias consider an arch enemy.

Driving ISIS out of the city is taking place one step at a time, and in due course will be accomplished– what remains a challenge is not the fight against some 1,000 ISIS hardliners, but the upshot of PMF armed radicals overrunning ISIS-free Mosul.

Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi’s administration had inherited its predecessor’s denominational situation which spiraled out of the Iraqi government’s control.

The militants, although Iraqi nationals, are loyal to the Tehran regime. PMF factions are led directly by Iran’s no other than Quds Force notorious Shadow Commander Qasem Soleimani. The above mentioned facts pile up to form a disaster in waiting; a humanitarian crisis threatens the people of Mosul which is a natural international concern.

Oversensitive is Mosul’s case with respect to Iran-backed militias’ involvement, and that has been agreed upon by the international community at the United Nations, European Union and the League of Arab States and the Paris meeting which hosted 20 states.

The political future of Mosul after liberation needs to be prepared for, in addition to ensuring the safety and security of civilians residing both inside Mosul and across its outlying areas. Humanitarian aid must be guaranteed safe delivery as well.

All of the above is being discussed at the intense and frequent meetings of international powers. However, the hard reality is that moderation will not have a say so long that militias flood Mosul. Positive and effective outcome can only be drawn out of the meetings if the international community acknowledges that the issue is beyond ISIS presence and extends to PMF extremists looking for a power grab in Mosul.

Hundreds of thousands of Mosul civilians are subject to untold damage and suffering- they pay the price of crimes committed by 5,000 ISIS terrorists. What is even more unimaginable is that the innocent of Mosul would still be paying the hefty price of misguided politics once their land is liberated—they would be freed from one sadist to only fall under the rule of the other.

More so, once the battle is decided, ISIS terrorists will most definitely infiltrate the masses, hiding, and using them as human shields.

Tal Afar, west of Mosul, is expected to experience the worst of war. The region is inhabited by multiethnic backgrounds that would each be fighting for power and security—adding to the mix Iran’s desperate desire to set foothold in Mosul.

PMF militants brawl to be on the frontline of battles, and once they go up first they carry out Iranian regional agenda to a tee.

Bigoted militias fueled by hostility and vengeance, mixed with ISIS members who dress up as civilians is a simple recipe for a humanitarian disaster.

PMF gunmen will certainly repeat their assaults against innocents for no other reason than their hate-filled philosophy.

In light of the government shortcoming on deciding as to who would lead the Mosul offensive, the future crimes of PMF militants might be the spark behind a civil war which starts local, then spreads across the country. If so, is the world able to accommodate the needs of over a million displaced Iraqis fleeing the collapse of security in Mosul?

Distracted by the fight with ISIS, the world overlooks the fact that some PMF war crimes are indeed acts of terror as well. Once terrorism is wrongly related to a Sunni background, it is fought with an international fist of iron- yet if the terror’s background is Shi’ite, the case is made different and looked into carefully.

Terrorism is not defined by sect, and there will be no hope in overcoming this global abomination without a clear definition of what terror is.

Ceasefire in Yemen, Welcome!

The U.S. Navy guided-missile destroyer USS Mason conducts divisional tactic maneuvers as part of a Commander, Task Force 55, exercise in the Gulf of Oman September 10, 2016. U.S. Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Blake Midnight

U.S. Secretary of State and his British counterpart’s calling for the immediate and unconditional ceasefire in Yemen is a great initiative.

The good news is that no one in his sane mind would want this war to continue. The bad news is that it is unlikely to determine if such a ceasefire is enough to stop the war and bring permanent peace.

Previous experiences with cease of fire proved that the Houthis would agree on it, then breach it and eventually don’t abide by it at all. They are, then, not expected to contribute to the peace that the Yemeni people look forward to and the international community wants according to international resolutions, prominently Resolution 2216.

So, it is no surprise that the announced ceasefire will meet the same destiny of its precedents, one of which the U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry announced by himself in Jeddah last May.

In case the suspension of hostilities was achieved, it will be the fifth. The first was in May 2015, the second in July 2015, and both were announced by the U.N. The third ceasefire was announced by the Arab coalition on July 25, 2015. While the forth was declared by the U.N. also in April following the inter-Yemeni peace talks in Kuwait.

The common thing among all those ceasefires was that they were welcomed by the coalition that committed fully to them, while Houthis blatantly violated each and every one of them.

We can say that with Washington and London setting such a ceasefire as their goal, without pressuring the return of Houthis to the political negotiations, renders the ceasefire useless and ultimately leads to its end. Thus, the ceasefire remains nothing but a reliever that eases the pain and wears off as soon as the insurgents commit their first violation.

He who thinks that the Saudi-led Arab coalition is not seeking to end the war in Yemen is wrong. The coalition’s welcoming and commitment to any conditioned and unconditioned ceasefire is enough evidence to its intentions.

The thing is there is a party that is managing matters from the perspective of a militia and never from that of a state. This is shown by actions and not words.

Insurgents, both Houthis and Saleh, are heading towards escalating the situation and continuing their military operations, not halt them.

The call for a ceasefire to end such a war could be used by the British Foreign Ministry and the U.S. State Department to mislead their public and show that they have done a positive initiative. In reality, there is a party that insists on violating international resolutions and that is using war to serve its interests.

Dozens of statements confirm that stopping the war doesn’t do the insurgents, and Iran, any good. It suffices to look at the latest dangerous development of targeting the U.S. Navy Destroyer Mason in the Red Sea. Republican Senator John McCain said the missiles “likely” came from the Iranian regime.

This is just an episode of an ongoing series of the insurgents’ escalation extending from the Saudi border to the international waters in Bab El-Mandeb. It indicates the gravity of underestimation and recklessness in destabilizing the region and an extension of Iran’s strategy aiming at continuing with the war.

Ceasefire in Yemen: Welcome! Saudi Arabia is capable of respecting it while defending its border at the same time against Houthis’ futile attacks. Surely, no one can blame the Kingdom for that.

But, if the war ended without reaching a political settlement, can the international community handle the repercussions of Houthis’ continuous threats to the regional security?

U.N. Refugee Summit…Numbers Don’t Lie

Saudi, Refugees, Syria, Summit for Refugees and Migrants

“We are facing a $20 billion gap, and we hope this summit will be able to fill it. Twenty billion dollars might be considered a huge number, yet it is less than what is spent on armament in four days or equivalent to the budget of a small bank. We have to fill this gap; and as fast as we can.”

This is how former President of the 70th General Assembly Mogens Lykketoft launched the Summit for Refugees and Migrants in New York on Monday.

Indeed, $20 billion is a huge amount of money, but numbers do not lie. Chaos and forgery are blurring the picture of who is really walking the talk in supporting refugees. Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef delivered a speech before the summit, during which he revealed Saudi Arabia’s stance, silencing accusations and skepticism on the Kingdom’s role in aiding refugees.

It is time for the whole world to listen to reliable information and let go of rumors and speculations. Saudi Arabia is the country that offered $139 billion during the last four decades, and it is the third country globally in terms of the value of aids and humanitarian and developmental reliefs. It is neither France nor Britain; it is Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Arabia is also the country that received 2.5 million Syrian citizens, not refugees, and has been giving them full freedom without imposing any restrictions or placing them in refugee camps in the cold.

Saudi Arabia is also the country that enrolled141,000 Syrian students and 285,000 Yemeni students in schools for free.

At the end, no country in the world has provided refugees with what Saudi Arabia has been granting them.

Certainly, what Riyadh has been doing did not happen recently or because of international pressure. In fact, Riyadh has been doing that according to a public policy it adopted decades ago long before the refugee crisis began.

The size of this unprecedented displacement and the fleeing of millions of people to asylum countries didn’t give these countries the chance to provide them with sustainable solutions. All what the Kingdom and some countries, like Turkey and Jordan, have been providing for Syrian refugees is considered temporary aid. The key lies in radical resolutions to rebuild displacement countries and bring refugees back to their homes.

Or, as Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef said, the Kingdom believes that the first and major step to deal with such crises is to intensify efforts to resolve ongoing conflicts in the world.

On the other hand, after five years of ravaging war and endless tragedies in Syria, there doesn’t seem to exist any realistic solution for the refugee crisis other than removing Bashar al-Assad from power.

Definitely, the presence of Assad in power and his repressive practices that have killed and displaced many people and violated human rights are the main reasons behind scattering 12 million Syrian asylum seekers around the world.

Last year, more than one million people were displaced due to the crises incurred upon the Middle East and North Africa region. Thousands of them died while trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea.

According to the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the year of 2015 witnessed the highest level of forced displacement since World War II.

Without finding radical solutions to bring these wars to an end with real international willingness, refugee conditions will worsen no matter the size of the effort put by countries.

Iran’s Terrorism in the New York Times

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif attends the 28th Session of the Human Rights Council at the United Nations in Geneva, March 2, 2015. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif’s recent political essay published by “The New York Times,” raised a few eyebrows. The essay was short to overstatements and wild allegations directed against “Wahhabism,” claiming that Saudi Arabia is the reason behind all humanity’s suffering.

However, the chink in armor for any biased opinion is that “You can bend it and twist it… You can misuse and abuse it” but no one can “change the Truth,” a quote by Michael Levy.

Opinions can be based on perception and understanding, nevertheless reality is not subjective nor a disputable issue, neither is the truth.

Zarif should keep in mind that former U.S. President Ronald Reagan once said “Facts are stubborn things.”

On the argument pointing fingers as to what had led to the very establishment of terror organizations, such as al-Qaeda and its likes, and especially on the allegations of Wahhabism’s involvement in extremism some 250 years ago—centuries-old assumptions cannot deny the modern day facts on Saudi Arabia has suffered most of terror’s viscous attacks.

Alternatively, Iran has not been targeted once by any of today’s prominent terror organizations—despite the hate talk ISIS-styled organizations direct against Tehran.

The Lebanon-based militant group, Hezbollah, is publicly funded and armed by Iran—not to mention that the latter is officially accused, since the Iranian Revolution in 1979, by members of the international community of funding, providing equipment, weapons, training and giving sanctuary to terrorists.

The United States State Department labels Iran as an “active state sponsor of terrorism.”

It is also worth mentioning that Iran has the only constitution worldwide which clearly states expansionism for a creed. On the other hand, when facing accusations of adopting Wahhabism, Saudi Arabia’s constitution clearly dictates that the state’s official and dominant religion is Islam and Islam alone.

Not only that but over 12 international embassies were attacked in Iran over the past 25 years; most recently being against the UK diplomatic mission in 2011, and the one against the Saudi missions earlier this year.

Zarif’s biased article, lacking facts, resorted to exploiting anti-Wahhabbi sentiment to fill the gaps with opinions rather than sharp reality; while alternately, an essay cannot enclose enough present fact-listing which proves Iran’s involvement with international terror funding.

When tracing back al-Qaeda terror, it is evident that the first series of attacks were against Saudi Arabia. One of which is the 2003 Riyadh compound bombings– 39 people were killed, and over 160 wounded when bombs went off at three compounds housing foreigners in the Saudi capital.

The inhumane plot was put into motion by high-ranking al-Qaeda member Saif al-Adel, residing in Iran at the time, according to documentations, leads and recorded phone calls; nevertheless, the Iranian government refused to extradite the terror orchestrator to Saudi Arabia prior to the heinous attack.

Moreover, Iran’s ties to extremism run deeper than roots, dating before any political interests or national emergencies were at hand.

A year into the Khomeini-led Iranian revolution taking over the reins, Egypt vaguely began stumbling into turmoil, as the radical Egyptian Islamic Jihad movement united with civil protestors to topple president Anwar Sadat. The coup was chiefly incited by Sadat granting the Shah, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, asylum, who Khomeini had ousted.

Moreover, Khalid Islambouli, an Egyptian army officer who planned and participated in the assassination of Egypt’s third president, Anwar Sadat, is a highly revered historical figure in Iran, for taking out Iran’s regional discomfort.

Iran’s suspicious ties to international terrorism are perceived worldwide— a federal courthouse in New York had accused Tehran of involvement in the Sept. 11 attacks and had requested it to pay $10.5 billion in compensation to the families of the victims.

Perhaps FM Zarif must reconsider the facts once again.

Further speculations are stirred, that when set on the timeline, Saudi Arabia or any other Gulf country did not experience a single terror-staged tragedy before Khomeini’s revolution. Moreover, sectarian strife, and bigoted language were also unheard of.

Before the revolution, Gulf countries enjoyed diverse communities coexisting harmoniously, away from the demons of politics or sectarian differences.

Extremism was never to be found. Iranians and Arabs, Sunnis and Shi’ites lived moderately. It was only after Khomeini’s table turning that cases of both Shi’ite and Sunni extremism began emerging.

When comparing the two, Shi’ite extremism -manifested in militant proxies strategically placed across the world – is backed, funded and recognized by the Iranian government. Meanwhile, Sunni extremism is fiercely fought by all Muslim countries.

Perhaps Iran’s Zarif must once again reconsider hard facts before voicing opinions as to who backs terror ideology.

61,000 Iranians Forced to Pay for their Regime’s Wrongdoing

61,000 Iranians Owning up to their Regime’s Misdeeds!

On July 31, 1987 — an infamous day in the history of the Muslim hajj — Iranian pilgrims stormed the holy city of Mecca, chanting political slogans of the Tehran regime, and clashed with Saudi security. More than 400 died, including Iranians, pilgrims of other nationalities, and Saudi police. The tragedy also proved painful to countless more Iranians over the three years that followed, in that Tehran barred its own people from going on Hajj until diplomatic relations with Saudi Arabia were provisionally restored in 1991.

This year, for the fourth time since the country’s 1979 revolution, the regime again announced that it would permit no Iranian pilgrims to participate in the Hajj — effectively holding its own citizens’ religious obligation hostage in order to make a political point. Nearly 61,000 Iranian Muslim pilgrims had already booked and paid for their travel to Mecca.

Iran’s cynical use of religion in a game of politics impressed no one, except perhaps for its Lebanese proxy “Hezbollah” and other militias owing fealty to the Mullahs, which seem to have cheered the move. The regime was transparent: It initiated the restriction on its own citizens’ pilgrimage. It did not even bother to allege, as it had done falsely in the past, that Saudi Arabia refused to let them in.

Saudi Arabia simply does not play games with pilgrims. Amid the many conflicts that have marred the region in past decades, the Kingdom has taken great pains to ensure that the holy sanctuaries are accessible to all Muslims, regardless of their political loyalties or countries of origin. And over the past 37 years of strain in Iranian-Saudi relations, Riyadh did not wait for Tehran to resolve its disputes with the Kingdom before granting Hajj visas to Iranian nationals.

This year, though diplomatic relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran have been severed, Riyadh took substantial measures to ensure that Iranian citizens were not denied their religious right to Hajj. It green-lighted their transport to Mecca via Iranian carriers, waiving the sanctions that had been placed on some of those companies. The Kingdom also fostered the establishment of an Iranian interest section in Jeddah, under the auspices of the Swiss embassy. The initiative was meant to enable an Iranian government official to cooperate with Saudi Arabia, on Saudi soil, in processing the incoming Iranian pilgrims and tending to their needs. With respect to the pilgrims themselves, the Kingdom exempted them from the traditional requirement of paper visa processing, granting them the chance to apply solely online in order to make the process logistically easier. But the Kingdom could not, alas, free the pilgrims from their own government.

There will be Iranians in Mecca this year: those wishing to go on Hajj who reside not inside Iran but in North America, Europe, Africa, and any part of the world where they do not face restrictions on their freedom of movement.

Tehran, meanwhile, has dredged up another old trick from its revolutionary playbook: organized demonstrations under the banner, “absolution from infidels.” That was the slogan which Khomeini had instructed his supporters to chant in Mecca dating back to 1971. It was eventually joined by the more familiar calls of “Death to America,” “Death to Israel,” and the like. In injecting his militant brand of politics into Islam’s holiest rites, Khomeini only tainted his supporters’ ritual practice and jeopardized their lives. And this year, the Tehran regime has itself created the situation in which such chants will not be heard in Mecca — only in Iran, and presumably the enclaves in Arab lands which its proxy militias now occupy.

It is regrettable for all Muslims that 61,000 Iranians will not be able to join their brothers and sisters from around the world in Mecca this year. Their absence is testimony to a greater tragedy, borne out each day in our region through senseless sectarian violence stoked by the Tehran regime: While the Mullahs may speak of distant enemies and “infidels,” the first victims of their policies are always Muslims.