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  • The Military Operation in Karabakh 

    بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

    Political Follow-up - The Context of the Military Operation in Karabakh

    On Tuesday 19 September Azerbaijan announced the start of what it termed "anti-terrorism measures" in the Karabakh region. These "measures" aimed to disarm Armenian forces, secure their withdrawal, and regain the "territories liberated from occupation," as well as "restore Azerbaijan's constitutional structure."

    One day following the Azerbaijani military attack that resulted in more than 30 deaths and over 200 injuries on the Armenian side, the two parties reached a complete cessation of "hostilities." This was part of an agreement that called for the dissolution of the so-called "Army of the Republic of Nagorno-Karabakh," disarmament, and the withdrawal of remaining Armenian armed forces from the area where Russian peacekeeping forces are stationed.

    The two sides agreed also in a meeting between local Armenian representatives and Azerbaijani authorities in Yevlakh on 21 September to discuss issues related to reintegration and ensuring the rights and security of the Armenian population in Karabakh.

    This military operation coincided with joint US-Armenian military drills that began on 11 September and concluded recently. These drills highlighted the extent of Russian and American polarisation of the Armenian leadership, revealing the Armenian Prime Minister's inclination towards the West and his estrangement from Russia. This was especially noticeable after Nikol Pashinyan refused to participate in similar military drills with Russia under the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO). Moreover, Pashinyan evoked the wrath of Russia by not supporting the invasion of Ukraine and even sent humanitarian aid to Kyiv along with his wife, which led the Russian Foreign Ministry to reprimand the Armenian Ambassador in Moscow.

    Hence, the escalation of the crisis between Armenia and Azerbaijan falls within the context of the deteriorating relations between Russia and Armenia. It also occurs amidst international and regional jostling to attract the Armenian leadership due to the strategic importance of the South Caucasus region. This region is particularly sensitive for Russia, which has one of its largest military bases abroad, as well as for Turkey and Iran, considering the economic, security, national, and demographic implications. All of this has an impact on preserving their roles in the Azerbaijani-Armenian file.

    In this context, the Azerbaijani-Armenian file epitomizes a situation of intersections and conflict of roles in crisis management. This is highlighted in Russia's complicity in Armenia's defeat against Azerbaijan in 2020 to weaken Pashinyan’s popular standing and force him to rely entirely on Russia. Additionally, Russia attempted to sideline Turkey's role after the end of the war by excluding Turkey from the Russian peacekeeping mission and excluding it from the working group that includes Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Russia, tasked with reopening regional transportation routes. This pushed Turkey to seek a rapprochement with Armenia to reaffirm its role in response to being marginalised in collusion with Armenian Prime Minister Pashinyan, who was quoted by one of his government team members as seeking to distance Russia from Armenian-Turkish relations.

    Iran's refusal to accept any geopolitical changes in the region, and Azerbaijan’s harnessing of the deteriorating Russo-Armenian relations to establish its sovereignty over the Karabakh region, coupled with Russia’s exploitation of the Turkish-Azerbaijani conflict with Armenia, and the Armenian’s slow implementation of the trilateral agreement of 10 November 2020 between Russia, Azerbaijan, and Armenia, to prolong the conflict, place Armenia’s interests in Russian hands, and subject Pashinyan to the will of the Kremlin, all this falls within these approaches. Russia blamed Pashinyan for failing to maintain security and disclaimed responsibility for its peacekeeping forces failure to confront the Azerbaijani forces in Karabakh, stating that they were merely responsible for protecting civilians and defending Russian peacekeeping troops. This was pointed out by the Duma’s Chairman of the Committee on Defence Andrey Kartapolov by saying, “The peacekeeping forces do not have the right to use weapons as long as their lives are not in danger.”

    Moreover, Russia justified its disengagement from responsibility by considering the situation a domestic Azerbaijani issue, since Pashinyan himself admitted that Karabakh was Azerbaijani territory. Russia also hinted that Armenia's suffering in the crisis with Azerbaijan was due to Armenia aligning itself with the West and distancing itself from Russia, according to Dmitry Medvedev, the Deputy Chairman of the Russian Security Council. Pashinyan responded to Russia's disengagement by saying, "Yes, we bear our share of responsibility, but that does not mean we should turn a blind eye to the failures of the Russian peacekeeping detachment in Karabakh."

    From the various positions and relevant facts, it is clear that the compass of Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan has fully shifted towards the US. Turkey and Azerbaijan have harnessed Armenian provocations, including the recent attempt to separate the Karabakh region from Azerbaijan through a referendum, military attacks by Armenian militias in Karabakh, such as the attack that led to the killing of three Azerbaijani soldiers at the beginning of this month, and the Armenian-American military manoeuvres to decisively settle the situation militarily amid Russia's preoccupation with the war in Ukraine, to defuse tensions with Armenia, which no longer objects to the region's return to Azerbaijan, and to settling the disputes and improve relations with Turkey while removing the Karabakh card from Russia's hand. Russia uses this card to pressure Pashinyan and weaken him in favour of the opposition. Russia was forced not to oppose the Azerbaijani military operation, instead opting to sponsor negotiations between Armenians and Azerbaijanis to cut off Turkey, the US, and the Security Council; France called for a Security Council meeting to discuss the crisis whilst, Putin’s press secretary, Dmitry Peskov, stated that Russia continued to perform its duties as a regional security guarantor. Despite the absence of America and Europe from the recent negotiations, the results of the operation were not in favour of Russia and Iran on the geostrategic level.

    Despite the success achieved by Turkey and Azerbaijan, which does not go beyond enhancing their domestic positions and consolidating their regional roles, the most significant dilemma lies in Turkey and Azerbaijan's attempt to regain control of the "Zangezur Corridor," which connects Iran to Armenia and allows for overland communication between Turkey and Azerbaijan. This corridor represents a leverage for Russia against Turkey and Azerbaijan and on the other hand threatens Russia's vital interests in the South Caucasus and the Turkic-speaking countries in Central Asia if Turkey manages to expand its influence in the region through this passage. This contradicts Iran's geopolitical, geo-economic, and nationalist interests as it would give Turkey additional power at its expense. Therefore, Iran opposes any geopolitical changes along its borders and maintains its relationship with Armenia. Iran justifies its hostile stance towards Azerbaijan to its domestic audience by pointing out Azerbaijan's cooperation with “Israel”. Additionally, the Azerbaijani-Armenian conflict affects the demographic factor in Iran and poses a threat to the loyalty of the Azerbaijani component within the Iranian regime.

    As for the US, it seeks to control Armenian political decision-making through Pashinyan in order to influence the crisis and exert pressure on all parties involved. This is especially true as the economic and national factor represents a point of concern for President Erdogan, serving as a means to attract him and regulate his political behaviour while containing his nationalist and economic expansion in Central Asia and other regions. Simultaneously, the US uses the Syrian and Iraqi Kurds as a means to deter and discipline Erdogan.

    Furthermore, the US leverages the Armenian-Azerbaijani crisis to control Iran and limit its relations with Russia, given that the Armenian-Azerbaijani issue poses a national threat to Iran. Therefore, America exploits the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict and the Armenian-Turkish rapprochement to alarm Iran. In addition to this, the region serves as a strategic hotspot of tension for Russia which the US uses as a bargaining chip to engage Russia and raise concerns in Europe.

    All of this makes removing the Armenian government from Russia's grip a cornerstone in the ongoing regional conflict. This would shape regional alliances and the interests of Russia, the US, and regional countries. Although the Armenian Prime Minister has firmly aligned himself with the West, he lacks the capability to implement America’s agenda without obstacles due to Russia's influence in Armenia, which relies on Russia in various economic and security aspects, and due to the conflicting interests among the relevant countries in the region.

    9 Rabi’ al-Awwal 1445h
    24 September 2023


  • Prospect of Biden's Prosecution & Struggle for Power in America 

    بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

    Political Follow-up
    Probing "The Possibility of Prosecuting Biden" Underway and the Political Wings’ Struggle for Power in America

    On Tuesday 12 September, the Republicans in the US House of Representatives initiated a process to hold President Joe Biden accountable with the aim of removing him. They have levelled accusations against him of financial impropriety related to his family's business dealings and charges of violations and "promoting a culture of corruption," according to the description given by Republican House Speaker Kevin McCarthy.

    This step has been demanded by Trump and his right-wing supporters in Congress for months. On the other hand, the White House spokesperson, Karine Jean-Pierre, stated, “They have spent all year investigating the President. That’s what they’ve spent all year doing and have turned up with no evidence — none — he — that he did anything wrong.” Meanwhile, the Special Assistant to the President, White House Counsel's Office Ian Sams described it as “extreme politics at its worst.”

    We must first and foremost perceive that executive power in capitalist systems, especially in the US, is a tool in the hands of capitalists themselves, and individuals with substantial wealth, such as George Bush, Dick Cheney, and Donald Trump in the US, or Berlusconi in Italy, who may assume power themselves. In Britain, the influence of British oil companies, which recently signed new contracts in Libya, is evident through their sponsorship of the "reopening" of the British Embassy in Tripoli three months ago. Ambassador Caroline Hurndall said to the attendees, "I am particularly proud of the cooperation between British companies and Libyan companies, which has a tangible impact on economic development in Libya. Many of these companies are represented here tonight."

    Therefore, the deep state, epitomised by corporations, military-industrial complexes, internet giants, and social media companies, is the one that selects candidates for positions of power among political parties. It nominates its agents for administration positions, and these appointments change based on the requirements of domestic and international realities and the jostling among influential powerbases in US politics, guided by ideological, expedient, and class-based criteria.

    This is because political conflict and jostling are inevitable between the Republican and Democratic parties in the US, and even within each party and within every wing of the powerbases, as seen in the discord between Mitch McConnell and Taylor Greene, who he described as "cancer for the Republican Party" despite both of them belonging to the Trump wing.

    Historically, partisan conflict and rivalry can be observed through President Nixon's espionage against the Democratic Party and the opposition of parties and wings to some of the domestic and foreign policies of the US administration, regardless of the ruling party. For instance, some Republicans opposed Trump's handling of the Turkish president, and some Democrats opposed Biden's dealings with the ‘israeli’ government and Mohammed bin Salman.

    However, this rivalry and clash represents one of the levels from which the targeting of President Biden emerged. There are real divisions within the deep state itself. Trump represents one of the factions within the deep state that supports the Republican Party and believes that his vision is the only successful one which can save America from the failure of liberals and conservatives. They argue that liberalism is morally corrupt and economically unsuccessful domestically, and they claim that the US is weak internationally. Therefore, they raised the slogan "America First." Meanwhile, conservatives are accused of not producing an alternative to the policy of "regime change" and wars.

    As for the success of Trump's team, it is highlighted in the announcement made by FBI Director James Comey on 28 October 2016, just days before the presidential election, in which it was decided to reopen the investigation into Hillary Clinton's use of a private email system during her tenure as U.S. Secretary of State. This came in the wake of the release of a recording by NBC, which is aligned with the liberal Democratic wing, containing offensive remarks by Trump about women, namely the Access Hollywood tape, and his less-than-stellar performance in the presidential debates, which had an impact on opinion polls. This intervention is considered a major factor in Hillary Clinton's defeat, as it significantly affected independent voters, who had long represented the swing vote in presidential elections. Trump's success and his wing's control of the Republican Party are also highlighted by his running for re-election as the sole Republican candidate, with no competing candidates on the party's ticket for the 2020 elections.

    As for the vital issues that touch on national security, such as the stance towards China and Russia, there is a consensus between the two parties and the deep state regarding them, although there are reservations on some related issues. For example, the Republicans have reservations about the extent of US support for Ukraine, in addition to some disagreements on how to manage international relations, issues, and crises.

    It is also imperative to realise that there are wings within the parties. The Democrats are divided between the old establishment wing aligned with the deep state, representing the centre-left, and the more progressive left-wing, such as the faction led by Congressperson Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Pramila Jayapal, and Ro Khanna. This progressive wing had a significant influence in obstructing several of the Biden administration's initiatives. However, they had no choice but to align themselves with the administration after the Supreme Court's decision to overturn the well-known "Roe v. Wade" abortion bill, which played a major role in the Democratic Party's success in limiting Republican gains in the midterm elections and achieving a Democratic majority in the 100-member Senate without the need for the Vice President's tie-breaking vote.

    As for the Republican Party, it includes several wings, the most prominent being the new conservatives advocating for "regime change," the libertarians calling for "tax cuts and reducing the role of the federal government," in addition to the Trump loyalists like Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene, and the Never Trumpers like Representative Tom Rice and Senator Mitt Romney. The strength of the pro-Trump wing was notably demonstrated in the current 118th session of the House of Representatives, where The Freedom Caucus, which exploited its 45 seats out of 222 Republican seats in the House, an increase of 10 seats over the 212 Democrats, set strict conditions at the beginning of this year for supporting Kevin McCarthy's candidacy for Speaker of the House. These conditions included launching an investigation into Biden’s undertakings and amending the process of submitting a motion for the Speaker's impeachment with the signature of a single representative, as well as reverting to the fiscal responsibility approach, meaning rejecting an increase in spending. These conditions, which Trump dictated to McCarthy, were a major factor in pushing the Biden case forward, as he had pursued Trump throughout his tenure.

    In this context, it is essential to note McCarthy's weakened position and the dominance of Trump's wing and political agenda. While McCarthy initially carried the banner of impeaching Biden, his approach in this matter was different, and he avoided getting into a battle to remove Biden in response to Trump's wishes. This is because he recognised the potential impacts of failing to prove Biden's wrongdoing on the popularity of the Republican Party, especially given Trump's behaviour after the elections and his speech on 6 January, along with the events at the Capitol Building, which cannot be defended.

    However, in June 2023 he was forced to negotiate with Trump loyalist Representative Lauren Boebert to refer her request to the relevant committees to impeach Biden's handling of the U.S.-Mexico border issue, i.e., immigration, without consulting the party leadership. Trump's wing aims to redirect control over the Republican Party's agenda, including the House leadership and its members. Therefore, McCarthy faces a political dilemma that could determine his ability to stay in his position and gather enough support from Republican members for the state budget project, especially after the withdrawal of the vote on the defence budget bill, as he failed to secure enough votes to pass it. Trump used this opportunity to impose his conditions, including the impeachment of Biden, to negatively impact his electoral prospects.

    Hence, Margorie Greene and other Republican representatives threatened not to vote in favour of spending bills if McCarthy did not initiate impeachment proceedings against Biden. McCarthy is obliged to pass a budget draft bill before the end of the US government's fiscal year at the end of September, especially since he has not been able to present any legislation that has gained sufficient support from his supporters so far. This is occurring amid a struggle within the Republican ranks between those who demand budget cuts and a return to pre-COVID levels of spending and those who want to take advantage of some spending programs that Biden and the Democrats successfully legislated for their benefit on their tenure and for their constituents. Meanwhile, Representative Matt Gaetz from the Freedom Caucus stated that he would not accept the announcement of an investigation into Biden and his family as an alternative to the rest of the agreement that McCarthy obtained to secure enough votes to become Speaker of the House at the beginning of the year after 13 rounds of voting.

    On the other hand, Biden and the Democratic Party are banking on a lengthy process of the House of Representatives’ investigation, especially since McCarthy did not call for a vote to begin the trial but instead asked the committee chairs, all of whom are Trump supporters, to initiate an "investigation into the possibility of impeaching Biden." They also rely on those Republicans' inability to gather any evidence to convict him, which could negatively impact the Republican Party and Trump's wing in the election polls.

    On this plane, the issue of "impeaching Biden" has without a doubt an electoral dimension. The Republicans are aware that impeaching Biden is not possible, but they aim to generate a negative impact on him and the Democrats in the elections by stirring up a political storm that casts suspicion of corruption on him. The charges against Biden have been investigated by the Republicans for 9 months without leading to his conviction. From this standpoint, the investigation could lead to a vote on the president's impeachment in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives.

    However, removing him from office would require a two-thirds majority vote in the Senate, which is controlled by the Democrats, making it a difficult prospect.

    As for former President Trump, he can obtain a nomination for the presidency as long as there are no constitutional barriers preventing him from running for the White House, especially since preliminary opinion polls, after the four charges were directed at him federally and by the states of New York and Georgia, indicate that he still enjoys the support of a substantial electoral base that could enable him to win the nomination against his Republican competitors, for although he lost the support of Fox News after some of its program hosts had stepped down, he still has a collection of rightwing media channels and social media platforms, including his own channel Truth Social, that support and endorse him.

    On a different note, there is a heated debate in the US regarding the age category of the political leadership in general and the ages of the most likely presidential candidates in the upcoming elections. Joe Biden is 81 years old, which is double the average age of the American population. Biden is considered the oldest president in the history of the US, and a poll showed that 75% of voters view Biden as too old for the presidency. Some argue that the political and legislative elite do not represent the American population in terms of age, as the average age of the members of Congress is twenty years older than the average age of the American people.

    Multiple opinion polls have called for increased representation of different age groups and the imposition of age limits on political positions. The Democratic Party seems to be adopting an increasingly sympathetic stance on this issue, and it is not inconceivable that the Democratic Party will align with public sentiment and reconsider nominating Biden for a second presidential term, especially since the liberal ideological agenda led by the US in the world, characterised by the exclusion of other perspectives, is targeting the youth as one of its most important success factors, rejuvenating political life by bringing in new blood.

    5 Rabi’ al-Awwal 1445h
    20 September 2023




  • France's War on Muslims & Abaya Ban 

    بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
    Political Follow-up - France Deepens Its War on Muslims & Bans Abaya for Muslim Women
    On 20 May 2023, the French Interior Minister, Gérald Darmanin, stated that the most significant threat to France and Europe was "Sunni Islamic terrorism." Prior to that, President Emmanuel Macron had spoken about "Islamic separatism" that threatened the values of the republic and secularism in France. Just two days ago, the French government issued a new decision as a part of its ongoing campaign against Islam and Muslims.
    After French authorities banned the hijab in schools, colleges and public high schools in 2004 and the niqab in public places in 2010, this time they banned the Islamic abaya. The French authorities announced on Sunday 27 August 2023, that they would prohibit the wearing of Islamic abayas by Muslim women in schools, considering the abaya being in violation of France's strict secular laws in education.
    On September 7, 2023, the French Council of State approved a decision to ban the wearing of the abaya in schools, considering it to fall under the framework of affirming religious affiliation, in a move they claimed was taken to defend secular principles. The Council's decision came in response to a request submitted by Action Rights of Muslims, (ADM) whose lawyer, Vincent Brengarth, accused the French government of seeking political gains through the ban. Following the decision, French schools sent 67 girls back home on the first day of the school year for not complying with the abaya ban, according to the Ministry of Education’s statement.
    It is no secret that targeting Muslims in Europe in general, and in France in particular, has become ammunition for rightwing nationalist and conservative forces on the political landscape. The French news agency AFP has obtained secret government reports on "blatant violations of secularism," including statistics indicating a 150% increase in incidents of secularism violations in schools. The purpose of this is to provoke the French right-wing and rally support for the ministry's decision. In a televised statement, government spokesperson Olivier Véran said, "Wearing the abaya is a political signal, a political attack, and a form of proselytizing." Meanwhile, the leader of the "La France Insoumise” (LFI) party, Jean-Luc Mélenchon, tweeted that the return to school has become a victim "of political polarisation through a completely ridiculous and artificial new religious war." It is worth noting that Mélenchon had warned in June that the problem with education "is not in this attire but in the shortage of teachers and inadequate facilities."
    When we examine the positions of French leaders, it becomes clear that their targeting of Islam and Muslims involves open hostility and a declared war on Islam. These actions are not devoid of motivations rooted in racism, supremacy, Catholic chauvinism, capitalist greed and an extravagance of secular liberal values. Additionally, their targeting of Muslims is situated within the context of domestic political polarisation, jostling for leadership in European affairs, and international standing through what is known as "Islamophobia."
    This has become evident through the warnings issued by the French President Emmanuel Macron in May 2023 regarding the threat of "Islamic separatism" to the values of the French Republic and secularism. This is the same discourse followed by Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin, who warned of the threat of "Sunni Islamic terrorism" to France and Europe, in order to mobilise and rally rightwing support against Muslims.
    Furthermore, Macron's warning during his visit to a vocational high school in Orange, southern France, on 2 September 2023, underscores this standpoint. He stated, "We must be resolute," referring to education officials as "the champions of the republic who have the right to defend secularism." This was seized upon by the US to shed light on French hostility towards Muslims, with Abraham Cooper, the chairman of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, criticising the French approach, considering it an attempt to "intimidate" Muslims in France. He argued that France continues to use a specific interpretation of secularism to target and intimidate religious groups, especially Muslims.
    The animosity of the secularists, especially the French, towards Islam is not new. France's colonial history and its political and economic philosophy towards minorities, particularly Muslims, have been based on subjugation and "melting down" of minorities, rather than cultural integration. This is evident from the principles of promoting respect for the values of the Republic, as outlined in the 2021 law known as the "Law on Combating Separatism," defined during parliamentary committees as “Combating Separatist Islam”. It aims to impose a French secular identity on foreigners and compel them to abandon their religion and culture, severing their ties with their civilisations, values and principles, replacing them with the values of the secular state. This is done to safeguard the centrality of Western values and their uniqueness compared to Islamic values, which pose a challenge and a threat to them.
    Despite concealing their racism and hatred for Islam and Muslims under the banner of French identity and claims of secular neutrality, this does not mean they will consider foreigners as politically French because the French identity is ethnocentric. The French law, which imposes controls on associations responsible for managing and financing mosques, refers their imams for approval, restricts homeschooling, and bans the wearing of the hijab in educational institutions, draws its provisions from the "law concerning indigenous populations applied by France to the countries it exploits." Consequently, it imparts a sense of "legitimacy to racist practices against Muslims and reinforces Islamophobia" perpetuated by the far right.
    The issue of banning the wearing of the abaya by Muslim girls also falls within the French Republic's determination to redefine the concept of laïcité (secularism) in a way that protects the interests of the ruling political elite and French society from the concept of freedom of creed. This concept allows Muslims to adhere to their religion and fortify themselves against cultural assimilation. It is also part of the marketing of Western values, such as "gender equality," and the inclusion of feminist concepts like the "victimised woman" that democracy must rescue.
    According to the modern political elite, this implies the necessity of liberating women from Islam, its constraints, its dominance and its purported seizure of women's rights.
    This viewpoint was corroborated by the French Minister for Families, Children and Women's Rights Laurence Rossignol who revealed her secularist hatred by comparing Muslim women wearing religious attire to "black slaves who prefer slavery over freedom." In doing so, she reduced laïcité to disrobing women and depriving them of their modesty in the name of their supposed freedom to control their bodies.
    As for the liberation of women in the West, the truth is that secular states based on expediency and relativity of values, along with the capitalist system that commodifies everything, granted women their rights primarily for expedient reasons related to their exploitation in the workforce and their role in the electoral process, a demand that has existed at least since the French Revolution. Capitalist forces did not invest in women or remove discrimination against them in this regard until women became a significant voting force that served the political agenda, much like improving the living conditions and health and education of workers, all for the same political benefit and to enhance their productivity, rather than for moral or humanitarian reasons.
    Furthermore, women's rights have been used as a means to promote and disseminate liberalism and gain support for it from a wide segment of societies. It has also been used as a pretext to dismantle Islamic concepts and values among Muslims.
    The fight against religious attire, including the ban on the "hijab" and the abaya of Muslim women in France, is a ruthless and forceful operation. It employs the strict enforcement of the law and the power of the state to disrobe Muslim women of their religious attire, aiming to make them equivalent to Western women, seen as desired commodities and sexual objects in the West. Western modernism strongly fears seeing Muslim women adhering to their religious dress because it challenges the Western narrative of women's freedom and challenges the Western view of women.
    The commitment of Muslim women to their modesty and covering is a clear message to Western women that Islam has honoured women, protected them from exploitation, and elevated their status by commanding them to adhere to religious attire. This gives Muslim women strength in their words and actions and compels men to treat them with respect, recognising their intellect and entity in public life. Therefore, it is not surprising that the West makes Muslim women a cornerstone in its efforts to dismantle Muslim communities in Europe and disrupt Muslim societies in Muslims’ lands.
    As for Islam, it does not hold a gender-based view of women and the relationship of men and women in society, since the criterion of precedence between men and women is the same criterion of precedence between all people. Allah the Almighty say, “But those who do good—whether male or female—and have iman will enter Paradise and will never be wronged ˹even as much as˺ the speck on a date stone.” [an-Nisa’-124]
    The guardianship over women that Allah the Almighty has conferred upon men is in the first instance a right for women rather than a duty of men. It does not carry the denotation of superiority in gender or precedence. It is rather a distribution of the roles between men and women as Allah the Almighty has wanted, since He is the Creator of male and female and is knowledgeable of the nature of His creatures, and He owns the right to organise their affairs. As Muslims, we do not pay attention to the arguments brought forward by secularists to justify their laws, because the Shari'ah rules for the Muslims, such as the obligation of hijab, are met with obedience and submission.  
    In conclusion, those who view women merely as bodies are the ones who consider the concealment of a woman's body as concealment of the woman herself. The French are well aware that the issue of Muslim women's attire is a matter of identity. Therefore, stripping them of the hijab is essentially a political and ideological stance against Islam and Muslims, aimed at erasing their identity and destroying their culture. It has no real connection to the secularism of the state or what they label as "political Islam" or "Islamism." Clothing is a personal matter between an individual and their religion. Those who manipulate the issue of the abaya are French politicians, as the decision to ban it in schools is part of electoral competition between the French right and left.
    If they genuinely believe that the abaya undermines the educational system and that the state, and its secularism cannot withstand it, then they should acknowledge the fragility of their state and secularism. They should stop their lies about the "neutrality of secularism" and admit the truth. French President Sarkozy, during his visit to Pope Benedict XVI in 2007, even said that laïcité should not disconnect France from its Christian roots. Yet, it seems that they are disconnecting the French Muslim community from its roots. Where is the supposed neutrality then?  
    Western modernism has been grappling with a legitimacy crisis since the end of World War II. It now fears Islam, which has remained steadfast in its Aqeedah and principles despite the absence of its political entity, namely the Khilafah. After the failure of secularism, which represents the vessel of modernism, to reproduce itself among Muslims despite its political, economic, and military dominance, it is now defending its creed in the heart of the "City of Lights" with the tyranny of the law and the force of arms. It has been unable to persuade Muslims to abandon their religion, and it has failed to shield its own offspring from the radiance of Islam, which has captured their minds and hearts.
    26 Safar 1445h 
    11 September 2023 
  • G20 Summit in India: Intensification of International Jostling & Polarisation 

    بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

    Political Follow-up
    The G20 Summit in India: Intensification of International Jostling & Polarisation

    The G20 Summit of Heads of State is being held today and tomorrow in the Indian capital, Delhi. This summit comprises the largest economies globally, representing 85% of the world's economic output and 75% of global trade. The G20 is an annual economic and financial forum attended by the leaders of these countries and includes international bodies and organisations.

    The finance ministers and central bank governors of the G7 major economies had decided to expand the group and include their counterparts from the G20 countries following the Asian Tigers financial crisis in 1999. However, participation was elevated to the level of heads of state following the global financial crisis of 2008-2009.

    The annual summit and its preceding preparatory meetings, led by the foreign ministers of the G20 countries, have succeeded in expanding the forum's agenda to include issues such as climate change, sustainable energy, international debt relief, imposing taxes on multinational corporations, and sustainable development. However, financial and political crises, as well as regional disputes, have always cast shadows on these gatherings, such as the Ukrainian crisis, which dominated the 2022 Bali summit.

    Due to disputes between India and China, it is expected that Chinese President Xi Jinping will not attend this summit. Instead, a member of the Central Committee and Premier, Li Qiang, is expected to represent China. India held a G20 meeting on tourism in the region it administers in Kashmir, which is disputed between Pakistan and India. Meanwhile, China escalated its border dispute with India by issuing a map that incorporates the state of Arunachal Pradesh and the Aksai Chin plateau into Chinese territory.

    In addition to this, China has withdrawn several of its investments from the Indian market such as the electric car factory in collaboration with the Chinese company BYD worth $1 billion. Although this reflects the Sino-Indian conflict, it aligns with the interests of the US and its policy of deepening the rift between India and China, activating India's alignment with the American strategy in the Indo-Pacific region, and solidifying its political role in the Quad grouping. This is particularly true after India signed the "Partnership for Material Security" agreement, which is expected to accelerate the development of supply chains for several strategic materials. The agreement holds promises of positioning India as a more secure hub for supply chains, while also facilitating the implementation of the American vision laid out by the Trump administration to enter the Indian market and reform Indian regulations that hinder American company investments, such as property and participation laws.

    In this context, the announcement of the "Joint Railway Project" may take place at this summit, connecting India to the Gulf countries, the Levant, and “Israel” as a rival to the Chinese Belt and Road Initiative, in addition to serving the "Abrahamic Process." This idea was discussed at the I2U2 forum, which includes the US, “Israel”, the United Arab Emirates, and India.

    India's response to the American vision is evident through its emphasis on "sustainable development" and measures to "promote more balanced economic growth between advanced and developing countries" as key pillars of the summit. India's response to the American vision is also seen through the repositioning of its foreign policy as a "political mediator" to support countries of the "Global South." Indian Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar stated that a host country of the G20 summit has never "consulted extensively with developing countries" before, adding that "India sought the opinions of more than 125 countries." The summit is expected to announce a permanent seat for the African Union, all of which serves to disperse competition between Europe and China with the US and redirect it towards emerging international actors.

    This refers to a US Indian agreement regarding competing with China and Russia's policies toward the "Global South." Jake Sullivan stated that China was wasting the opportunity for constructive engagement to solve the various multi-party problems facing developing countries, adding that “if China wants, it can play the role of the spoiler, but the chair India, us and every other nation of the G20 will do is to come together in a constructive way on climate, on multilateral development bank reform on debt relief, on technology, and set aside the geopolitical questions and really focus on problem-solving and delivering for the developing countries.”

    The US, through World Bank President Ajay Banga, is determined to re-centralise the World Bank in development financing by implementing the recommendations of the report commissioned by India to reform multi-party banks, enabling them to lend around $500 billion by 2030. This move has been received cautiously by China as it disrupts its lending policy to markets, described by Sullivan as "non-transparent and coercive." The American-Indian arrangements pose a challenge to China's Belt and Road Initiative and the BRICS bank, hindering its goal of becoming the preferred financier for developing countries.

    One of the aspects of the Sino-Indian conflict is India's attempts to secure a permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), a move opposed by China. This opposition stems from the fact that it reduces the effectiveness of China's policies towards India and its ability to influence India through its veto power in the council. It also undermines China's continental centrality as the only Asian permanent member of the Security Council. During a meeting with the French newspaper Les Echos in June of this year, Indian Prime Minister was reported to have questioned the international organisations' ability to "keep pace with the world's changes," adding, "Do the world's countries feel that these organisations and institutions are important or relevant?"

    One of the United States' objectives in this summit, especially if the African Union is granted a permanent seat in the forum, which has already happened today, is to appear biased towards the demands of "South World countries" and empower them to voice their concerns in international political, economic, and financial forums. This move aims to reduce the influence of former colonial powers, namely European countries, and undermine their attempts to use the forum to rebuild their relations with China and hinder their efforts in establishing joint political and economic projects.

    Furthermore, granting the African Union a permanent seat in the forum would integrate America's political, security, economic, and cultural agenda into the African vision and direct its trajectory and development. This would deepen U.S.-African relations, especially in countries where Russia and China have achieved success through bilateral agreements under the Belt and Road Initiative and the Russia-Africa Forum.

    Perhaps for these reasons, in addition to the US escalation against Russia and its exhaustion in the Ukrainian crisis, as well as provocation through compensating for Ukrainian weakness and generating a level of "traditional" military balance in the field, providing depleted uranium, tanks, ballistic missiles, modern technology, F-16 jetfighters, and targeting Russian depth with drones, all of these provide Putin with a reason to be absent from the summit, similar to his Chinese counterpart.

    The US strategy in countering China becomes evident through the "Joint Railway Project" between India, the Arabian Gulf, the Levant, “Israel”, and its later expansion into Europe. Additionally, it is manifested through the launch of the "Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment" initiative by the Group of Seven (G7) leaders in the developing countries, with a value of $600 billion. This initiative offers these countries a competitive alternative to the Belt and Road Initiative, in particular.

    As for Russia's presence in Africa, which has security and economic dimensions, it does not concern the US because the welcome it receives from some African countries and peoples is more a reflection of their dissatisfaction with France rather than a shift towards Russia.

    Despite America's attempt to appear as a benevolent actor, it has not concealed its colonial ambitions. This was evident in President Biden's comment on the Partnership initiative when he said, “I want to emphasize the word “investments” — investments that are driven by local needs, in development with our partners, and delivering real results to improve the lives of all of our people.”

    He further emphasised that it is not limited to this initiative alone but could involve hundreds of billions from multilateral development banks, specialised institutions financing development projects, sovereign wealth funds, and others. This approach will allow countries to see tangible benefits in partnering with democratic nations.

    In this context, the announcement by the European Union of the launch of the "Global Gateway" project comes into perspective. Europe will invest around 300 billion euros over four years in projects that include Indonesia, the Philippines, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, and Tajikistan. These are regions within the spheres of influence of Russia and China. This move will undoubtedly lead to the reinforcement of the colonisation of these countries and their dependence on Western capitalist institutions.

    Based on the aforementioned, it can be said that the US may succeed in making progress in its vision. However, it is unlikely that there will be an agreement or consensus on the Ukrainian issue, which Russia and China refuse to discuss at the summit. It is also unlikely that the summit will reach fundamental solutions regarding climate change, as Russia, India, and Saudi Arabia are united in rejecting efforts to triple the current level of renewable energy production by 2030 and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 65% by 2035. They are concerned about the negative economic implications, especially in the context of the global economic slowdown caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and the Ukrainian crisis.

    Therefore, we can understand the absence of the Russian President and the expected absence of the Chinese President from the forum. This is especially significant given China's direction to rebuild and redirect the BRICS economic bloc as an economic and value-based competitor to the G20, and to invest in it during his third term based on creating a favourable environment for making China a "prominent global power." China is propagating a global vision built on "common interests of humanity" and emphasising that it "does not seek to disrupt the stability of any party or seek domination." Instead, it seeks an "active role in leading the reform of the global system," in contrast to the US, which both Putin and Xi have described as pursuing a unilateral approach to addressing international issues, resorting to force, and intervening in the domestic affairs of other countries. China is also investing politically, economically, and financially in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization as another means to liberate its economy from the consequences of the American containment policy.

    The importance of this summit and similar gatherings lies in their role as a platform to reveal the international reality in a way that enables active political forces in Islamic countries and the world to envision the international political and economic situation and take necessary measures to confront it. This summit highlights the extent of international division and the greed of capitalist powers. It also underscores the international divergence, polarisation, and competition that are leading nations and peoples of the world toward conflicts and crises.

    24 Safar 1445
    9 September 2023


  • Political Causeries - "Israel"-Libya Meeting & Uprising Against SDF in Syria 

    بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

    Political Causeries

    First: Meeting between Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen and Libyan Foreign Minister Najla al-Mangoush

    Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen secretly met with his Libyan counterpart Najla al-Mangoush in Rome last month, marking the first such meeting between the two countries. After it was revealed by the Israeli Foreign Minister, a storm of anger and protests erupted in Libya. This led Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibah to dismiss his foreign minister (who fled to London) despite his involvement in the betrayal. Many of the political forces in Libya were also implicated in communicating with the “Israelis”, including Khalifa Haftar and his son, the partners of Aguila Saleh, and Saif al-Qaddafi, as well as the political milieu’s complicity by remaining silent about some individuals with ties to “Israel” while criticising others as part of domestic jostling.

    On the other hand, the US administration sent strongly worded protest messages to “Israel” after the meeting was leaked. Three American and “Israeli” officials told the American website Axios that the Biden administration had been working on persuading Libya to normalise relations with “Israel” for two years.

    According to reports, the possibility of normalisation was discussed in a meeting between Dbeibah and CIA Director William Burns, who visited Libya in January 2023. One official told Axios that now, with the repercussions of the meeting in Libya, these efforts have been damaged, and efforts to encourage other Arab countries to normalise relations with “Israel” have been affected as well.

    As for Netanyahu, he had hoped to achieve a breakthrough in the normalisation of relations with Arab countries and regain popularity by opening a channel for normalisation with Libya as a parallel track to the normalisation process with Saudi. The latter, however, may not materialise due to American demands for “Israel” to make "concessions" regarding the Palestinian issue, which the Saudi government could use as a pretext to avoid engaging in the Abraham Initiative. In this regard, four current and former American officials told Axios that White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan and Secretary of State Antony Blinken raised the need for “Israeli” concessions to the Palestinians, as part of any Saudi deal, with “Israeli” Strategic Affairs Minister Ron Dermer. Two American officials said that Blinken told Dermer that the “Israeli” government was "misreading the situation" if it believed it would not have to make such concessions. The officials also mentioned that Blinken said Saudi would need to demonstrate to the Arab and Islamic world that it had achieved significant accomplishments from “Israel” concerning the Palestinians in exchange for a normalisation deal.

    It is worth noting that the Abraham Initiative Saudi Arabia is leaning toward is a departure from its Beirut Initiative. Additionally, the concessions they are discussing primarily revolve around freezing all settlement construction operations in the West Bank in areas designated for the "Palestinian Authority." These concessions amount to mutual security and economic facilitations to maintain calm and reduce “Israeli” public opinion extremism. The concessions also include freezing the annexation of the West Bank or Area C by the “Israeli” government. These measures are aimed at turning the page on the alleged "rejection of normalisation" by the Palestinian, Arab, and Islamic sides and deceiving the Palestinians with the two-state solution title, which will not go beyond civilian administration for the Palestinian Authority over the population while retaining sovereignty over the land for “Israel”. Netanyahu explicitly confirmed this before the Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defence Committee, as reported in “Israeli” media on June 26th, where he said, "We need to eliminate [the Palestinians'] aspirations to establish a state."

    In the context of Netanyahu's efforts to expand his influence in Arab countries, he aimed to achieve normalisation with Libya for political and economic reasons. This would enable him to engage with Italy and Greece on issues such as gas, immigration, European security, and to counterbalance the Turkish-Libyan relationship. However, it appears that his adversaries both within “Israel” and in the US leaked the meeting between Najla al-Mangoush and Eli Cohen to the press, which forced the “Israeli” Foreign Minister to disclose the meeting before it was published in the media. The United States' goal in revealing and leaking the meeting was to place blame on Netanyahu and his government and embarrass them in favour of their political opponents. The US has heavily criticised his government, considering that its actions had harmed the prospects of normalisation with Libya and other Arab countries.

    As a result of both domestic and American criticisms, Netanyahu had to deflect responsibility for what happened and place the blame on the Foreign Minister. In an interview with the Cypriot-Greek national television network ΑΝΤ1 before his planned visit, Netanyahu stated that the publicising of the meeting "was not helpful" and was an exception to the rule of confidential communications. He further emphasised that his government would ensure that such incidents would not happen again. He said, "There have been countless secret communications between Israel and Arab leaders, Muslim leaders... but we were very keen not to disclose this [prematurely]."

    As for the Libyan side, the opposition in Libya seized upon the scandal to attack the Dbeibah government, which was attempting to gain international support through the gateway of normalisation with “Israel”. This became even more significant after the UN envoy to Libya called for forming of a new government. Therefore, normalisation with the Zionist entity served as a refuge for Dbeibah to fortify his government against a potential rejection, similar to what happened to Ali Zeidan, Fayez al-Sarraj, and a group of collaborators who were discarded. Seeking shelter with the Zionists and aligning with them against international political approaches and domestic jostling is a common practice among rulers who lack support from their own people, have no honourable record of commitment and sacrifice for their religion and Ummah, and whose only function is to execute Western agendas while opposing Islam, the people of the region, their values, and interests.

    Second: Uprising of Deir ez-Zor Tribes against Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF)

    On Sunday, 27 August, fighting erupted between the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and Arab tribes in the Deir ez-Zor region following the arrest of Ahmed al-Khabil, also known as Abu Khawla, who had been leading the Deir ez-Zor Military Council affiliated with the SDF.

    Analysing the US response to these events reveals that America remained silent about the tribal uprising to let them vent their anger and send a message to the SDF to adhere to the boundaries of their agreement with the US. At the same time, the US affirmed its continued support for the SDF. This American stance is evident in a statement by the US Embassy in Damascus published on the "X" platform, expressing "deep concern about recent acts of violence" in Deir ez-Zor and calling on all parties to de-escalate. This implies that the US wants to restructure the military council in Deir ez-Zor, absorb the tribes' anger, and use them as a buffer against the expansion of Iran and the Syrian regime east of the Euphrates River, an area rich in energy resources and Syrian food supplies. The US aims to use the SDF as a protective barrier and a first line of defence for its military bases scattered throughout the areas it controls. Consequently, the US seeks to prevent the Syrian regime from accessing additional sources of power, weaken the Russian position, hinder Turkish rapprochement with the Bashar al-Assad regime, and contain Iranian militias in the region, including the border strip between Syria and Iraq, which occasionally witnesses tensions and strikes. The latest of these strikes occurred in response to an attack on one of their bases in Hasaka province, resulting in the death of an American contractor.

    It is no secret that the US allowed the expansion of the SDF at the expense of Arab tribes and prevented both the tribes and the Syrian government from benefiting from the region's wealth. Instead, the US itself seized these resources, giving only some crumbs to the SDF to ensure their loyalty and continued service to its cause, promising to support their separatist project. In addition, the US secured the Syrian regime's energy needs through the SDF to the extent that it would keep it resilient until the political transition phase matures. It is also evident that the repressive actions of the SDF, along with their attempts to erase the local culture in favour of liberalism, have served as a provocation for Arab tribes and have been a contributing factor to the outbreak of clashes.

    However, after the SDF had managed to regain control of the region and the Arab tribes' hopes of emancipation dwindled, it is expected that the negotiations that the US is trying to organise between the Arab tribes and the SDF at the al-Omar base, through efforts to communicate with the Hafl tribe in Deir ez-Zor, will lead to the realisation of some moral demands of the Arab tribes and the integration of rebels among them. The US is keen on restoring the prestige of the SDF and controlling its behaviour and vengeful tendencies by sidelining Sheikh Ibrahim Al-Hafl of the al-Uqaydat tribe.

    The more dangerous goal of all this is to fuel societal division and geographically establish federal division in those areas by pushing the Arab tribes to use nationalist and sectorial rhetoric. This is based on the premise that Deir ez-Zor and its outskirts are purely Arab areas and must be managed by the Arabs themselves, while expelling the Kurds and Iranian militias from them.

    What is happening in Deir ez-Zor and along the Syrian-Iraqi border, together with the protests in Suwayda and the coastal areas, is part of the overall picture of managing the situation in a region where relationships and interests intersect, especially among major international powers and major regional states. This serves the settlement of “Israel's” relations with Arab countries, which requires a weak Syrian federal system willing to accept a peace treaty with the Zionist entity.

    One of America's objectives is to defuse tensions between the Kurds and Arab tribes and prevent the eastern region from descending into chaos, fearing it could be exploited by the Syrian regime, Russia, Iran, and Turkey. Therefore, the US is keen on securing the stability of the region and fortifying it against infiltration while ensuring the continuation of its project for the Kurdish pocket in the north and demonstrating the legitimacy of the SDF in the political landscape. Hence, in its statement, the US stressed its support and collaboration with the SDF under the pretext of combating Daesh. It also took measures to manage the conflict between the SDF and the tribes to contain their disputes and their implications on the region's stability and security. This is why American helicopters intervened to stop the SDF from raiding the town of Deir ez-Zor to arrest or kill Sheikh Hafl, fearing an escalation of the conflict. To persuade the tribes to remain neutral, the U.S. imposed its dictates on them. Therefore, in his message to America, Sheikh Hafl secured the tribes' commitment to the region's security. In a recording broadcasted on Wednesday evening, he called on the US-led international coalition to "establish a military leadership council consisting of trustworthy and experienced individuals from the Arab tribes of Deir ez-Zor," adding that he is "in contact with all the tribes to calm the situation, ensuring security and stability in the region, subject to the acceptance and securing of legitimate demands and the provision of confirmed guarantees from the international coalition."

    Meanwhile, the Syrian regime, Iranians, and the SDF took advantage of the conflict to curb the protests spreading from Suwayda to Daraa, the Damascus countryside, and the Syrian coast. A few days before the recent SDF movement, popular protests had started in Deir ez-Zor, Raqqa, and even reached Qamishli. These protests were temporarily halted after the SDF announced its latest operation in eastern Euphrates, including Deir ez-Zor. These protests are being expanded and harnessed to exert pressure on the Syrian regime, keeping it in a weakened state, and pushing it to respond to the proposed political transition outlined by Arab states. The Syrian Foreign Minister rejected these proposals and called on Arab states to support Syria instead of supporting American dictates.

    In this context, the Syrian regime benefits from the militarisation of the conflict between the SDF and Arab tribes, drawing strength from it to maintain its grip. Meanwhile, the US benefits from the conflict to reengineer the political and operational landscape in the Deir ez-Zor and northern Syrian regions, as well as along the Syrian-Iraqi border, with the aim of isolating these regions from each other and establishing a federal system at the very least.

    21 Safar 1445h       
    7 September 2023


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