There Is No Peace In The Middle East Without Iran and in the Rest of the World

Donald Trump might have missed the most positive news from the Middle East last week. It was not his antagonistic declarations in Riyadh, Israel, Brussels and Italy.

It came from Iran: President Hassan Rouhani had managed the tour de force to be reelected against a conservative candidate and a few others, reaching 57% of the votes at the first round. Three-quarters of the Iranians voted, twenty percent more than in the US. It was a victory for those who believe that the time had come to open up Iran further to the rest of the world.

Accusing Iran of factually incorrect actions is an aberration. Blaming Iran for the Saudi attack on Yemen is absurd. There is no more sectarianism in Iran than in the rest of the Muslim world. His accusations were referring to statements by President Ahmadinejad, twice removed from power.

Iran is essential to the peace process in the Middle East: it is a powerful influence in several parts of the Islamic world and cannot be ignored. It is also 80 million people, more than Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar taken together. One third of the Iraqi population are Sunnis.

Is it ignorance or ideology? Probably both inspired the speech of Donald Trump to the Shiite representatives of the Muslim world. By squarely taking sides with Saudi Arabia, he disqualified himself once and forever as a peace maker in the region. Yelling is not helpful to create peace.

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Iran stands on its two feet

Iran is at the origin of our civilization. In 550 BC, Cyrus the Great started the Persian civilization. When Ayatollah Khomeini took power, millions of Iranians fled to Europe and the United States. Five million Iranians live in the West. They brought a wealth of culture and scientific knowledge.

No, Iran would not have collapsed within six months as a nation-state. Strangling Iran economically for a decennia did neither manage to destroy the country nor to really slow down the production of nuclear energy. Europe is now establishing new relationships with Iran, while in India, the important Parsi community has been at the origin of the development of Indian multinationals and the Indian leadership is reaching out to Iran. The Chinese are on their way to do the same. The times of embargo are over and Trump cannot change it. The implementation of the nuclear agreement is happening, without the United States. For a deal maker, it should be an opportunity. He just lost it.

Trying to gain popularity with the Sunnis by blaming Iran is dangerous, and engenders conflicts. Iran deserves to be respected for what it is and what its electors have voted for. Trump appeal to unity was divisive.

 

Religion plays a role in the Middle East conflicts

Trump stated that it was not a religious war, while advising the Saudis to fight to eliminate Shi’ism. This contradiction adds fuel to the fire and exacerbates religious differences. I have in my previous posts here advocated that the United States had no business to favor one or the other secular division of Islam. Trump might have been well inspired to look at the consequences of the war in Iraq. This is none of our business.

Donald Trump said it was a fight between good and evil.

Saudi Arabia is a country dominated by a small section of Islam, the Wahhabism. This monarchy is authoritarian and no democracy is in place: there are no elections. Women have no rights, not even to drive a car. They are lapidated for adultery, and recently, the Saudis executed a Shi’ite leader to provoke Iran. A blog can condemn you to flogging. It is a barbaric regime that the US should be walking away from.

They have a responsibility in for 9/11 according to then-candidate Donald Trump. Saudi Arabia’s religious police implements a strict version of the sharia. They are destroying Yemen, one of the jewels of the Arab world that they invaded without any justification. Is this regime just good? In the words of The Guardian, “give a green light to authoritarian regimes in the Middle East to carry on and oppressing minorities”. Iraqi leaders produced by George W. Bush’ useless war are afraid that they might be destabilized by a US opposition to Iran. After all they lost a war despite the support of the United States to Saddam Hussain. Does Trump even know that the jihadi ISIS is Sunni? That they are the former Ba’ath party army of Saddam Hussein, thrown out by the George W. Bush?

Compared to Saudi Arabia, Iran should be praised for having developed an electoral process for decades. Iran is not an example of human rights. Like the Saudis they incarcerate and execute opponents. Women wear a veil, but they are electors and electable. They study at universities, teach and work. One only needs to visit Iran to be impressed by the resilience of 80 million people who survived US embargo. The recent opening should be met in kind.

The nuclear challenge

After the declarations of Donald Trump, the Iranian government announced that they will continue their nuclear process and treated Trump’s statements as theatrical. Why stick to one’s promises when the US renegades its signature. I was in Tehran the day when the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) confirmed the compatibility of Iran nuclear progress with the requirements of the nuclear treaty. It was a day of recognition. Donald trump has single-handedly broken any hope that Iran will be restrictive.

Why should Iran not be allowed to have a nuclear bomb while the US finances Pakistan whose regime is responsible for attacks on India? Pakistan is probably more religiously conservative and in any case not more predictable. Because of Israel? Because of the corruption of the Saudis?

In any event there is no moral or principle ground to refuse it to Iran. Now that the US has decided to allow Saudi Arabia to purchase 110 billion dollars in destructive weapons, it is hard to object to a nuclear defense in Iran. As the Financial Times puts it, the “UN hopeful nuclear deal will not unravel despite Trump attack”.

Peace is not in Trump’s DNA: he is the ultimate divider.

The Trump family wants to make deals: weapons, real estate… Jared made the Saudi deal over and above the state department and congress. Peace is not what the President wants: he has declared war to Iran, Germany, Europe, NATO, the environment, the Muslims, the gays, the poor, the women, the elderly, the veterans, the constitution, the media, the judiciary, the parenthood, the minorities and the migrants.

This is not about choosing between Iran and Saudi Arabia, Shias and Sunnis. It is about respecting the religious differences without excommunicating any of them. At the end, they will; have to agree on their respective oil policies. One thing is sure. The US will not be the broker of that indispensable deal. Russia has already managed to lead the Astana peace talks for Syria… with Iran and Turkey. Source

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First High Altitude Marathon Khunjerab Pass 2017

I RUN FOR SMILE

The annual I RUN FOR SMILE has organized first high altitude marathon in the history of Pakistan on 24th May, 2017. The marathon has taken place to Khunjerab Pass (elevation 4,693 meters or 15,397 feet) in the Karakoram Mountains. Connect your passion with purpose and commit to support youth live a more active life and children in a meaningful cause close to your heart. I RUN FOR SMILE aim to raise awareness among youth being active and how athletic teens also learn how to handle stress and pressure, set goals and work hard to reach a goal. Playing a sport allows teenagers to build relationships with their coaches and peers. All of these experiences will help teenagers learn how to work with others as well as become easy to work with later in life, whether it’s at home, at school or on the job. Nothing heals faster than running prolonged endurance exercise and heart health Samiya, shared her perspective and envisions a healthy activity, promoting health benefits, and encourages athletes towards consistency.

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(Pictorial) Beautiful Baltistan

Road to Skardu. — S.M.Bukhari

Sunrise of Indus river. — S.M.Bukhari

Photography: SYED MEHDI BUKHARI

Trump’s anti-Iran aggression couldn’t come at a worse time

Trump's entire speech to Muslim world

Now PlayingTrump’s entire speech…
Trump’s entire speech to Muslim world 33:58

David A. Andelman, member of the board of contributors of USA Today, is the author of “A Shattered Peace: Versailles 1919 and the Price We Pay Today.” He formerly served as a foreign correspondent for The New York Times and CBS News. Follow him on Twitter @DavidAndelman. This opinions in this article belong to the author.

(CNN)At first glance, it appears that there are only two clear paths that the US can take when dealing with the Middle East: the Sunni path of Saudi Arabia and the bulk of its Gulf allies, on the one hand; or the Shiite path represented by Iran.

There is the path of dictators — like Egypt’s autocratic Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, the blinkered and aging royal family of Saudi Arabia, and the corrupt and helpless rulers of Iraq — all Sunnis.
By contrast, there is the young and desperately eager majority of Iranians, all Shiites, seeking to drag their nation out from under the yoke of a medieval clerical oppression.
The Trump administration, seduced by an effusive Saudi welcome — in sharp contrast to anything provided his predecessor, Barack Obama — may be taking the wrong road.
The correct, if difficult, third path for America is to straddle between Sunni and Shiite. But going on the evidence of Trump’s first overseas trip to Saudi Arabia and Israel — both firm enemies of Iran and critical of the Obama administration’s perceived warmth towards Iran — this is a path that the President seems determined to ignore.
Such a path is especially important since the landslide victory Friday of Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani in his bid for a second term, and the suggestion that Iran’s Shiite leadership may be preparing for a new and more enlightened future for its people.
Of course, while that new road can be paved with good intentions, we know where such paths can lead. Still, it is of vital importance that we give these youths a chance to explore it.
Rouhani’s 57% victory over his opponents in Friday’s election was clearly a clarion call from the nation’s increasingly young, urbanized and westernized middle class for a recognition of their aspirations for a dramatic break with the past. Yet the Trump administration seems hell bent on ignoring all such cries.
What incentive is there for Iran to move toward peace, toward the West and toward the US if we become known not as peacemakers but simply arms merchants to Iran’s sworn Sunni enemies in Saudi Arabia?
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Trump visits Saudi Arabia on first trip 06:17
At the very moment Rouhani and his supporters were celebrating his victory, Trump was signing $100 billion worth of arms sales to Saudi Arabia. And hours later, President Trump was telling a hand-picked crowd of Sunni leaders in Riyadh: “Until the Iranian regime is willing to be a partner for peace, all nations of conscience must work together to isolate Iran, deny it funding for terrorism, and pray for the day when the Iranian people have the just and righteous government they so richly deserve.”
It was decidedly not a gesture to the reality that this is precisely what these very Iranian people voted for two days earlier.
Yet under the leadership of the blinkered Trump administration and the Sunni dictators to which it has hitched America’s wagons, these forces of potential progress in Iran are being given few choices but to look elsewhere for weapons to defend their Shiite faith and their nation against the weapons being stockpiled by their Sunni enemies.
And there will be no shortages of potential arms merchants to Iran. We have only to look to the list of nations congratulating Rouhani on his remarkable victory. Russian President Vladimir Putin, China’s Xi Jinping, even the foreign policy chief of the European Union, Frederica Mogherini, weighed in with warm wishes.
But there is more to the new era that may mark the path of Iran. If, as now appears increasingly likely following the weekend’s events in Riyadh, the Sunni-Shiite divide continues to widen, it will have unfortunate consequences for the war on terrorism that President Trump seems so intent to pursue in short-sighted alliance with questionable partners.
For while the battle against ISIS is quite clearly a battle — as President Trump has expressed it — between good and evil, it is also a conflict that has gone on for centuries between Sunni and Shiite.
Today, it is ISIS whose leaders profess the Sunni religion, as did al Qaeda before them and a host of other rebel forces and tribes into a dark and terrifying past. Few forces have been effectively arrayed against them. Kurdish troops have held their own in a succession of bitter and deadly battles.
It is Iran, and its powerful Shiite forces, that — if unleashed en masse against ISIS in their strongholds in Syria and what remains of their holdings in Iraq — could end the reign of terror of ISIS in the blink of an eye.
Trump and his advisers seem to be acting on the ancient pronouncement that the enemy of my enemy is my friend. They simply have been unable or unwilling to identify who could be our real and true enemies, and who our long-term friends.
Iran, apparently, no matter how vocally its people scream for change, will continue to find only deaf ears from Washington to Riyadh.

The ugly truth behind Saudi Arabia’s love for Melania Trump

Anushay Hossain Anushay Hossain

CNN)Donald Trump’s first major trip overseas may be fraught with diplomatic land mines for the President, but the Trump administration can at least comfort itself with the clear hit that Melania Trump has been with the Saudi press.

The fact that Melania is communicating with the media and the public in Saudi Arabia — mainly through what Saudi news reports have deemed her “classy and conservative” fashion choices — works well in the notoriously anti-woman kingdom. Her intense appeal makes sense, considering the first lady represents so much that Saudi citizens find familiar and can relate to, especially visually. Melania walks behind her husband, is quiet and reserved, does not make obvious demands (at least not ones we can hear), and most importantly, she looks beautiful and polished.
All of that should come as no surprise, given whom Melania is married to. After all, how the Saudi government likes women to behave is similar to how Donald Trump has said he likes women to behave. And they both prefer women to look pretty in pictures, rather than hold actual positions of power.
Melania’s husband and the Saudi government also both know and understand the power and value of a good photo opportunity. In fact, fantastic photo opportunities are something the kingdom values and is hypersensitive about, especially ones that are going to be seen around the world.
For them, Melania Trump was perfectly poised in her black Stella McCartney jumpsuit and gilded gold belt. Melania projected a glamorous image for a country where women live under male guardianship, cannot drive, still do not have the full vote, and cannot travel or seek medical attention without male permission.
The Saudi press also appreciated Melania and first daughter Ivanka Trump’s championing of the kingdom’s feminism light, also known by some as “fake feminism” — the same brand of women’s rights Donald Trump likes to promote — which the two did by visiting companies run by women entrepreneurs. Those visits, which Ivanka and Melania made separately, project a false narrative of a government committed to advancing women’s rights.
Although much has been made about the first lady and first daughter not donning the headscarf, that choice really is not as big of a deal as people are making it out to be. Angela Merkel, Theresa May and Michelle Obama all skipped out on the headscarf while visiting Saudi Arabia, and Donald Trump even famously attacked Michelle Obama for insulting “Saudi culture” by showing her hair, something his wife and daughter both just did.
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Even though a much stricter version of the Islamic covering is required by law for Saudi women, wives and female family members of foreign dignitaries do not have to abide by it. That was true when Donald Trump criticized Michelle Obama for not wearing one, and it is still true now that Melania and Ivanka have followed suit.
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The headscarf should be the least of the Trump family’s worries, because the Saudi press have embraced Melania (and to a related but lesser extent, Ivanka) for basically doing for the kingdom what they do for Donald Trump: Provide the perfect cover for misogyny and tyranny by being beautiful, poised and often silent.
In Melania, the Saudi press and the Saudi government found the perfect spokeswoman, who projects a glamorous image that glosses over one of world’s most autocratic and oppressive regimes.
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Appeal to CM Gilgit and Commander FCNA

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Gilgit-Baltistan Protests Over Neglecting in CPEC

At the cost of Gilgit-Baltistan where the largest part of the CPEC corridor  (One Road On Belt) is passing through none of the provinces of Pakistan should progress. 

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People of Gilgit-Baltistan protests over this negligence with both Pakistan and China and demand equal and rightful share in the development projects.