Al-Monitor

الأزهر يخترق الفضاء الإلكترونيّ لمواجهة الإرهاب والتطرّف: فجوة الإمكانات وحدود المواجهة

Students take an exam in one of the Al-Azhar institutes in Cairo, Egypt, May 20, 2015. Picture taken May 20, 2015. To match Special Report EGYPT-ISLAM/AZHAR    REUTERS/Asmaa Waguih  - RTR4Y73S

Students take an exam in one of the Al-Azhar institutes in Cairo, Egypt, May 20, 2015.

القاهرة – يبدو أنّ الأزهر الشريف يستعدّ لمعركة وجوديّة لمواجهة التطرّف والإرهاب، في ظلّ الاتّهامات التي طالته أخيراً، خصوصاً من جانب الإعلاميّين، بالتقصير في مواجهة التطرّف، والدعوات المطالبة بتجديد الخطاب الدينيّ. لذلك أطلق مرصد إلكترونيّ للردّ على مزاعم الإرهابيّين بلغات أجنبيّة مختلفة، كما قامت وزارة الأوقاف بتنظيم دورات تدريبيّة للأئمّة الشباب لتعريفهم بطرق التواصل على مواقع التواصل الاجتماعيّ الـ”فايسبوك” والـ”واتس آب” لتصحيح مفاهيم الإسلام.

ولكنّ قدرة الأزهر على اختراق الفضاء الإلكترونيّ تظلّ مرهونة بامتلاك إمكانات تقنيّة موازنة لتلك التي تمتلكها التنظيمات الإرهابيّة، وخصوصاً “داعش”.

افتتح شيخ الأزهر الدكتور أحمد الطيّب المرصد الإلكترونيّ في 2 حزيران/يونيو، بهدف رصد ما تبثّه الجماعات الإرهابيّة، وتروّج له من أفكار مغلوطة عبر مواقعها بلغات عدّة، وإعداد الردود العلميّة عبر”بوّابة الأزهر”، لتحصين الشباب من هذه الأفكار. وفي 6 حزيران/يونيو، نظّمت وزارة الأوقاف دورة تدريبيّة لـ300 من شباب الأئمّة تتناول تصحيح المفاهيم الإسلاميّة بمداخل جديدة، وهي الـ”فايسبوك” والـ”واتس آب”، وتدريب الدعاة الشباب على كيفيّة الحوار مع غيرهم .

وفي هذا السياق، يقول مدير عام الإدارة العامّة لتدريب الأئمّة في الوزارة الشيخ أحمد ترك، في حواره مع “المونيتور” إنّهم أمام جيل جديد مختلف عن الأجيال القديمة للوزارة، وهو جيل متّصل بالتكنولوجيا ووسائل التواصل الاجتماعيّ. وشدّد على ضرورة عدم التركيز على عقد المؤتمرات وورش العمل، وإصدار توصيات لا تنفّذ في معظم الوقت، والتركيز بدلاً عنها على التواصل مباشرة مع الشباب.

Dindar ve muhafazakâr Kürtler AKP’yi terk ediyor – Kurds abandon AKP

Kurdish demonstrators gesture as Selahattin Demirtas, co-chair of the HDP, Turkey's leading Kurdish party, addresses a crowd in Diyarbakir October 9, 2014. A three-week battle for the Syrian border town of Kobani has also led to the worst streets clashes in years between police and Kurdish protesters across the frontier in southeast Turkey. In Diyarbakir, Turkey's biggest Kurdish city, five people were killed in clashes on Monday and Tuesday between Islamist groups and PKK supporters, a senior police officer said.   REUTERS/Osman Orsal (TURKEY - Tags: POLITICS CIVIL UNREST) - RTR49ICE

Kurdish demonstrators gesture as Selahattin Demirtas, co-chair of the HDP, Turkey’s leading Kurdish party, addresses a crowd in Diyarbakir, Oct. 9, 2014. (photo by REUTERS/Osman Orsal)

Türkiye’de 7 Haziran seçimlerinde iktidardaki Adalet ve Kalkınma Partisi (AKP), Cumhurbaşkanı Tayyip Erdoğan’a “Seni başkan yaptırmayacağız” diye çıkışan Halkların Demokratik Partisi’ni (HDP) yüzde 10’luk barajın altına düşürmek için her yolu denerken HDP de en yeni söyleme en eski yöntemle destek arıyor.

(With only weeks to go before Turkey’s June 7 general elections, the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) is using every means to stop the pro-Kurdish People’s Democracy Party (HDP) from passing the 10% threshold to enter parliament. The HDP, for its part, is bent on overcoming the barrier and spoiling President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s dream of becoming an omnipotent, executive president. While campaigning on a brand-new platform of nationwide appeal, the HDP is resorting also to the oldest of vote-pulling methods.)

Demokratik Toplum Kongresi’nin (DTK) oluşturduğu ‘toplumsal uzlaşı ve diyalog komisyonları’ genelde blok halinde partilere oy veren aşiretleri HDP’ye yönlendiriyor. Bu çalışmalar sonucunda son haftalarda ardı ardına çok sayıda aşiret AKP’den HDP’ye geçti.

(To bolster the HDP, the Democratic Society Congress (DTK), created in 2007 as an umbrella organization for Kurdish political and civic groups, has been busy luring Kurdish tribes — and their block votes — to the HDP. As a result, many formally pro-AKP tribes have changed allegiances in recent weeks.)

Doğu ve güneydoğu bölgelerinde kan davaları dâhil aileler ya da kişiler arasında ortaya çıkan sorunları mahkemelere intikal ettirmeden çözmek için başvurulan arabuluculuk mekanizması geleneksel yöntem olarak hep olageldi. Ancak Kürt siyasi ve sivil toplum hareketlerinin çatı örgütü olarak 2007’de kurulan DTK bu mekanizmayı modern siyasetin önemli bir aracı haline getirdi. DTK’nın kurduğu ‘toplumsal uzlaşı ve diyalog komisyonları’ şimdi sağ ve muhafazakâr aşiretleri HDP’ye katılmaya ikna etmek için çalışıyor. Bu çalışma grupları ‘ikna komisyonu’ olarak da anılıyor.

(Traditional arbitration mechanisms have survived to date in Turkey’s eastern and southeastern regions, settling blood feuds and other disputes out of court. The DTK has transformed this tradition to a major tool of modern politics. Its social reconciliation and dialogue commissions — known also as “persuasion commissions” — are now working to attract rightist and conservative tribes to the leftist HDP camp.)

Carter: Syria ‘safe zones’ would be ‘major combat mission’

U.S. Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs General Martin Dempsey (not pictured) speak to reporters at the Pentagon in Washington April 16, 2015. REUTERS/James Lawler Duggan - RTR4XNHW

U.S. Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs General Martin Dempsey (not pictured) speak to reporters at the Pentagon in Washington April 16, 2015. photo credit REUTERS/James Lawler Duggan –

US Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter told the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense on May 6 that a no-fly zone in Syria is “a difficult thing to contemplate” and described the establishment and enforcement of “safe zones” as “a major combat mission.”

Meanwhile, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad acknowledged on May 6 “setbacks” against opposition forces and terrorist groups. In recent weeks, an alliance of Islamist groups, including the al-Qaeda-affiliated Jabhat al-Nusra, Ahrar al-Sham and Jund al-Aqsa, defeated Syrian government troops in and around Idlib, as Reuters reported.

Fehim Tastekin reports that these advances may be linked to an agreement between Turkey and Saudi Arabia earlier this year: “It is no secret that Turkey has built momentum with the Saudis if not to enter Syria now, then to galvanize a proxy war that in the long term could be even more perilous. After meetings with Saudi King Salman bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud during a visit to Riyadh Feb. 28-March 2, [Recep Tayyip] Erdogan had told journalists that they had agreed to boost support to the Syrian opposition to allow them to produce results. The agreement stipulated that in return for Turkey’s support of the Saudi operation against Yemen, the two countries would join forces against the Syrian regime and form a bloc to counter Iranian influence in the region. Given the Saudi-Turkish agreement, the surge in activity along the Turkish-Syrian border cannot be a coincidence.”

The increased militarization of the Syria war may cheer up those who back a regional sectarian agenda and believe that the toppling of the Assad government is somehow instrumental to the long-term defeat of the Islamic State (IS) and al-Qaeda. This line of reasoning does not address the consequences or lessons learned of the military interventions in Libya and Iraq, and similarly avoids first-order questions such as “what comes next” and which countries will provide a post-conflict stabilization force in Syria, if or when the Syria government falls.

Turks protest prison term for woman who killed her rapist

Women protest against the government and violence against women, a day after International Women's Day in Istanbul, March 9, 2014. (photo by REUTERS/Osman Orsal)

Women protest against the government and violence against women, a day after International Women’s Day in Istanbul, March 9, 2014. (photo by REUTERS/Osman Orsal)

Nevin Yildirim made the headlines in 2012, both domestically and abroad. The young Turkish woman had murdered her rapist, beheaded him and tossed the head in the village square. Pregnant with the rapist’s child, she was barred from having an abortion. She would later place the child in state care. Yildirim is now in jail, serving a life sentence. The case has stoked fundamental questions on the Turkish judiciary’s approach to women, the media’s sexist language, the weight of a woman’s account in cases of abuse and the say the state and fathers have on the fate of an unborn child.

Yildirim, 29, was a married mother of two in a village in the southwestern province of Isparta. A farm laborer with no social security, she led an ordinary life until she crossed paths with Nurettin Gider, who supervised workers in the fields.

According to Yildirim, Gider began making advances toward her at work. She turned him down, but he persisted. One night, when Yildirim’s husband was away, Gider arrived at her house and raped her at gunpoint.

In Turkey, the first question posed to women claiming rape is: Why didn’t you resist? Yildirim responded: “My father-in-law was living on the ground floor. The kids were asleep. [Gider] threatened to kill the kids. I couldn’t cry out [for help]. It was the first time he raped me.”

The rapes continued.

“Sometimes he would come drunk, take out his gun and have his way. Sometimes I would manage to talk him out and send him away, but resisting was not always possible. Sometimes he would beat me,” Yildirim said. She discovered that Gider had been bragging about his deeds in the village, even claiming to be taking aphrodisiac pills before his visits. “The rumors were spreading like wildfire in the village. I was ashamed to even go out, spending my days at home alone,” she said.

While Gider was busy boasting, Yildirim found out she was pregnant, and attempted to have an abortion. In Turkish hospitals, however, a woman’s solo request for an abortion does not suffice. The consent of the husband is also required. Yildirim couldn’t dare tell her husband. She returned home without an abortion.

On Aug. 28, 2012, Yildirim decided to break the vicious cycle of rape at gunpoint and the swirling rumors that had made her a prisoner in her home. Gider was once again at her door with a gun. She refused to take him in. The man tried to enter the house through the balcony. Yildirim grabbed the hunting rifle hanging on the wall and pulled the trigger several times. She said she has no recollection of what happened afterward. The next thing she knew, she was sitting at the gate of her house with bloody hands, with her 6-year-old daughter asking, “Mom, what happened to your hands?” She had decapitated Gider and tossed the head on the village square, shouting, “Here is the head of the one who dishonored me.”

Yildirim was arrested and requested an abortion from the prison authorities, but the hospital would not perform one since it was beyond the 10-week period allowed by Turkish law. Yildirim had no other option but to give birth, and on Nov. 17, 2012, she did. She refused to touch the baby girl, though, saying she would not be able to give up the baby if she breastfed her even once. She gave the child away to the state. The wife of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan gave the baby a name, Elif Sila. In the meantime, Gider’s wife volunteered to take the baby. Newspapers published surveys, asking readers whether the Gider family should be allowed to adopt the child. The baby eventually was placed with a foster family.

Why is Israel still silent on Armenian genocide?

Tourists and Israelis walk past a ceramics shop that specializes in making traditional hand-painted Armenian pottery at the Armenian Quarter in Jerusalem's Old City, April 17, 2015. (photo by GALI TIBBON/AFP/Getty Images) Read more: http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2015/04/israel-armenian-genocide-ajerbaijan-world-war-i-delegation.html#ixzz3YCCGqcuG

Tourists and Israelis walk past a ceramics shop that specializes in making traditional hand-painted Armenian pottery at the Armenian Quarter in Jerusalem’s Old City, April 17, 2015. (photo by GALI TIBBON/AFP/Getty Images)

For years, close ties between Israel and Turkey were understood to be the reason Jerusalem has avoided the repeated requests of Armenians for the international community to recognize the genocide their community suffered at the hands of the Ottoman Turks during World War I. Not only has Israel refused to recognize that the massacre was premeditated and planned by the Ottoman government in Istanbul, it has also exerted its influence in Washington to prevent the United States from recognizing the genocide. This alone was a good enough reason for the various Turkish governments to maintain close ties with Israel. Ankara believed that Israel had almost mystical powers of influence over the White House and Capitol Hill.

Diplomatic relations between Israel and Turkey have been foundering for over half a decade. During most of that time, there has been no Turkish ambassador to Israel, while the Israeli ambassador to Turkey was expelled from Ankara in disgrace. Pro-Israel lobbyists no longer meet with the Turkish ambassador in Washington, and the Israel Defense Forces have found apt and even successful alternatives to cooperation with the Turkish military, at least as far as Israel is concerned.

This year, Armenians are marking the centennial of the genocide. Given the deterioration of its relationship with Turkey, this occasion would seem to provide Israel with a golden opportunity to respond to the moral claim that it recognize the Armenian genocide, just as Pope Francis recently did, followed by the European Parliament. In fact, dozens of prominent Israeli artists and academics recently signed a petition calling on the Israeli government and Knesset to recognize the Armenian genocide.

Nevertheless, officially, Israel continues to squirm. The Foreign Ministry recommends showing greater empathy to the Armenian issue, and this will be the first year that Israel will send an official delegation to participate in the memorial ceremony to take place in Yerevan. It will, however, be a low-ranking delegation, made up of Knesset members. Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon presented Israel’s official position to Al-Monitor, saying: “Israel’s position has not changed. We are sensitive and attentive to the terrible tragedy of the Armenian people during the First World War, and express our empathy and solidarity. Most of the international community’s efforts must be focused on preventing humanitarian tragedies in the future.”

Why did Israel decide to support Syrian rebels?

A tank belonging to forces loyal to Syria's President Assad is seen in the Quneitra city countryside during a battle with rebels

A tank belonging to the forces loyal to Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad is seen in Quneitra’s countryside during a battle with Syrian rebels, near the border fence with the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, Sept. 8, 2014. (photo by REUTERS)

Not a soul could help but be outraged by the two recent atrocities that the Islamic State (IS) has unleashed upon the world. The first of these was the immolation of Jordanian fighter pilot Muath al-Kasasbeh on Feb. 3, followed a short time later by the ceremonial execution of 21 Egyptian captives in Libya. This last horror show not only gave IS bonus points for wreaking fear among the general public, but also embedded images in the international community’s awareness of a new arena taken over by the group. So far we have seen Syria, Iraq and the Sinai Peninsula, and now there is also Libya. Traces of IS can be found in each of these places, and if not IS per se, then at least its corrupt legacy.

While this terrorism is essentially homegrown, the West cannot be absolved of its contribution to encouraging it. In three out of the four current hotspots, at least one Western country was involved in laying the groundwork for it. The Americans ousted Saddam Hussein in Iraq; France instigated the military operation against Moammar Gadhafi of Libya; and the rebels who aspire to topple the Syrian regime have long enjoyed the steady support of France, Great Britain and the United States.

Thus, this Sunni terrorism benefits from a gradual yet constant process of weakening the regimes of the Middle East, or prompting their collapse — a process to which the West has generously contributed. In such a reality, Jerusalem should calculate its every move with the most extreme caution. In December 2014, the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force, which maintains peace in the Golan Heights, released an intriguing report on contacts between the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and the Syrian rebels. The report disclosed, if only in part, that the two parties have held dozens of meetings, and that Israel transferred certain unidentified objects to anonymous individuals across the border fence. Furthermore, rebels on the Syrian side of the Golan Heights know that if they are injured in battle, they can receive medical care in Israel. According to official IDF sources, some 1,500 wounded individuals arrived at the border fence over the past two years and then received treatment in Israel. These included innocent women and children, but there were also many men who were injured in battle, or in other words, fighters. Not one of these was a soldier in the Syrian army. And their arrival is coordinated in advance, meaning that someone is informing the Israelis that they are on the way.

Rockets fall on Damascus

Red Crescent members and residents remove a body from a damaged site after what activists said were airstrikes by forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad in Douma, eastern Ghouta, near Damascus, Jan. 25, 2015. (photo by REUTERS/Badra Mamet) Read more: http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2015/01/syria-jaish-al-islam-damascus-rockets-army-ghouta.html#ixzz3QNWnXLz3

Red Crescent members and residents remove a body from a damaged site after what activists said were airstrikes by forces loyal to Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad in Douma, eastern Ghouta, near Damascus, Jan. 25, 2015. (photo by REUTERS/Badra Mamet)

DAMASCUS, Syria — In the city of Hamouriya in eastern Ghouta, Rif Dimashq governorate, Jan. 23 was no ordinary day. Syrian military aircraft attacked a crowded marketplace and killed 60 civilians, including children and women. Afterward, the market was hit by mortar shells in the heaviest bombardment in the city since the Hamouriya massacre on Feb. 20, 2013, which resulted in the deaths of 100 civilians.

The shelling came at a time when the Syrian regime has intensified its air raids on Douma, Arbin and Zamalka in eastern Ghouta. The state and pro-regime media outlets did not give any details about the shelling on the city of Hamouriya, while the Syrian news agency, SANA, reported only, “The army units are securing the exit of 107 citizens from eastern Ghouta.” SANA also released a video in which some families seemed afraid and confused while leaving Ghouta in front of the camera.

A Syrian officer who participated in the evacuation of civilians from eastern Ghouta told Al-Monitor on condition of anonymity, “The Syrian army’s shelling on terrorist positions in Hamouriya was intense on Friday, Jan. 23. We watched fire coming out of this area, and I do not think that there is a justification for the presence of civilians. The armed terrorist groups are using the area as a fortification.” The officer denied that the Syrian army shelled the market.

Anas Jadeed, an opposition human rights activist, told Al-Monitor that the shelling was a war crime, “What happened falls within the legal description that targeting civilian homes or persons is a war crime punishable under international law.” He rejected the presence of gunmen in civilian areas as a justification, placing responsibility squarely on the people who ordered the attack against a market full of tradesmen and other civilians.

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