Falling oil prices signals budget crisis (27 December 2014) (Politics)
Gaza City - Prime Minister John Semler addressed the National Assembly today on the effects that falling global oil prices will have on the Gazan government's budget. In a statement to the Assembly, urging for immediate government action, Semler claimed that a global drop in petroleum prices would "devastate the ability of Gaza's government to function normally." The remarks come based upon reports that the drop of petroleum prices worldwide would continue into 2015, which for Semler means that the budget and its reliance on petroleum prices could play a major role in the elections to be held next year.
Leader of the opposition Ella Kerkenbaum, head of the Red Rose Party, believed that "the government's inability to respond with diligence and efficiency to the global drop in prices per barrel of oil" and the Gazan "reliance upon foreign purchase of Gazan petroleum exports" would assure "victory for [her] coalition in the elections of next year." Kerkenbaum is a vocal opponent of the Bohemian government's continuation of use of petroleum profits to fund government programmes, and that the most effective means of creating a stable and operable service system was through public support by way of more appropriate taxation and the creation of a higher tariff for Gazan exports to foreign countries.
Members of the public, in line with Kerkenbaum's beliefs, have expressed concern over the ability of the government to function as a truly sovereign state in the face of these falling prices. Local businesswoman Anna Redket believes that the current government "doesn't really realise that we can't keep selling petroleum to keep our country running" and that the nation's continued use of petroleum reserves would "surely mean that at some point [Gaza] won't have any money left to spend, because [the government] will have dug all of the money it could from the ground."
For now, the surplus in the national reserve is enough to let the government spend for around five to six years without actually making any money, because of decades of accumulation of gold reserves through the highly lucrative sale of petroleum throughout the existence of the Gazan nation state. While Gaza may not exactly be able to call itself a financially solvent nation in the near future, for now, the price of oil could mean that the situation will go either way. Most analysts believe that low petroleum prices cannot persist for more than the amount of time that the government has before it begins to spend money it does not have, but uncertainty still remains.
No clear end to Yemeni political crisis (22 January 2015) (Opinion)
Sana'a - The resignation of Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi is a clear indicator that the situation in Yemen has reached a point with no clear end in sight. The continued insurgency in the country of Yemen shows the incapability of a democratic government to effectively operate when there is a constant threat of radical extremism that permeates such a country. Yemen is simply a result of tension brewing ever since the "election" of Ali Abdullah Saleh in 1978, showing that a country built by a military cannot work without the constant support of a military. It is for that reason that pursuing military intervention in Yemen would be the wrong option to take, but letting the events play out on their own could end up in a situation akin to that of Iran's.
It is for this reason, that the most viable option for restoring order in Yemen would be for a group of educated citizens to wrestle control out from the hands of extremists, and put that control into building the country for the future, rather than insuring the future for a single, iron-fisted dictator like Saleh. As opposed to clearing out political opponent's like they are weeds in a garden, embrace those weeds and make them an integral part of that garden. In a democracy, every opinion has to matter, and when one country's government begins to ignore the opinion's of even the smallest or most radical groups, then that "democratic" country has lost any sense of the word it applies to itself. Yemen will never be in peace so long as people cannot view their own actions from a different perspective, and for that reason, the people in that country just may as a well start getting down on their hands and knees and praying to god five times a day for mercy from the brutality that is to come.
Education is the key to any democracy, and although Saleh might have tried to build a system of education in the country, any system that he would have implemented would only be to benefit himself, either directly or indirectly. Saleh would have never allowed for any resistance to his will, and as such, all those who opposed him throughout his reign have now been met with the perfect opportunity to display to those with curiosities what the difference is. The difference is both a desire for peace and a world of instability, a desire to build a better Yemen from what once was and a desire to tear it all down and start from scratch.
The splinters between the various groups now fighting for power are deep, and there is little doubt that is conflict is far from over. The ultimate end of the political turmoil may come in several different forms, be it a true democracy, another dictatorship, or a fundamentalist reign of terror. In the end, there is no clear prospect of what may come to the fate of Yemen and the Yemeni people, but one thing is certain: that the end will not come soon and that the end will not come without the blood of thousands spilled upon the sands of the Yemeni desert.
Jordan plays a key role in contemporary diplomacy (3 February 2015) (Opinion)
Amman - The people on the streets are furious, and the world is watching this small but affluent kingdom with a great amount of both trepidation and sympathy. Jordan may not be the most powerful country in the Middle East, but at the moment, it is one of the most important in deciding the fate of the region. Jordan borders both Syria and Iraq, two countries which face extreme political instability after years of fighting against Islamic radicals. More than a hundred thousand people from both of the countries combined have sought refuge in the stable kingdom with a very Western and respected monarch, as the situation in Jordan is vastly more calm than that of either country those refugees have fled from. Jordan is small, but it has to fill extremely large shoes.
After the brutal murder of Muath al-Kasasbeh, people in Jordan are demanding immediate action to be taken against the Islamic State, but the country, already participating in airstrikes against ISIL terrorists, is at risk of further having itself ostracised from more radical Muslim-dominated countries around the world. Jordan is not the pawn of any god in the great game that some perceive the world to be, and to risk ostracisation when considering the most appropriate actions to be taken should mean that the country in question should have to live with that consequences. Jordan must show the world that it is not a force to be reckoned with by any group, be it fundamentalist terrorists or multinational corporations, that any country, no matter how small, has the right to make decisions for itself, and not have to bow down to any power which tries to intimidate it.
The Jordanian government cannot allow a fear of domestic and foreign problems rule the country, but rather, it must show the world that it can stand up for itself. Otherwise, there would be no good in declaring the right of a country to have sovereignty when a country can be ruled by people who do not even live within it. Countries in the Middle East have recently shown that they will not allow themselves to be subjected to brutal dictatorships anymore, and so in this logic, countries in the Middle East must also show that when they are capable of ruling themselves in peace and true freedom that they are also capable of making their own decisions without the support of any other nation.
A nation-state exists because the people in the territory at hand have decided that they want to make their own rules, and not have to live by anyone else's standards than their own. Unfortunately, in a world ruled by resource and money, the greed of individuals will typically overcome the ability of said nation to rule itself. The greed inspired by the money can topple countries large and small, cause widespread panic and chaos, and even result in the invasion of one country by another. Jordan must prove that system to be wrong. In acting of its own accord, Jordan will prove to the world that any country, no matter how small, still has a hand at making its own decisions, and in a world where nothing can get down without money, Jordan must show that it can be inspired not by resource gained, but by request granted.
Western rejection of Islam more dangerous than extremism (18 February 2015) (Opinion)
Houston - After the fire of the Quba Islamic Institute was discovered to have been facilitated by use of an accelerant, the fire is suspected to have been caused by an arson attack. Should an attack on a peaceful, community-centred Islamic centre have been committed, then this signals that a dark period of history in the Western world has begun. While Islamic extremists continue to threaten America from their holes in the Levantine desert, it has become obvious that some people have decided to retaliate by attacking people who do not associate with those specific Muslims causing so much death, chaos, and destruction. Religious beliefs and convictions are the strongest motivators of violence in society, and when a religious group is attacked simply because of their perceived actions, it is not only declaring war on a culture, but a people. It is not a war between nations, but a war between entirely different worlds.
There is a clear rift between cultures when it comes to Islam and the West. A great diversity of opinions exists within the Western view of Islam, but for the most part can be synthesised into two different opposing statements. Some are tolerant of its followers, respecting their right to religious freedom and maintaining a secular attitude towards these people in their lives. Some are vehemently opposed to Islam existing in the West, perceiving it to be a violent and dangerous religion at its core. While the freedom of thought dictates that neither opinions are necessarily wrong, the latter opinion is far more dangerous than the former. When one sees something as out of place in a free society, then that person is thus abusing their freedoms as a Western citizen to deny freedoms to another. In a civilised, free, and secular society, some opinions are more correct than the other, and if a society embraced a people with open arms, then militant members of the people embraced are even more wrong in their ways. Did Jesus not say to turn the other cheek, a figure so influential and respected in Western tradition?
By rejecting Islam, you are not simply rejecting a religion, but a people and their right to freedom. There is no greater triumph of Western society than our ability to coexist in peace and prosperity with people fundamentally different from ourselves, and when we ignore their culture, we then begin to ignore our own. There is no greater failure of Western society than when we fight or abuse others simply because they are different from us, be they Muslims, Africans, or Jews. While one can never condone the action of Islamic fundamentalists who behead others because they think their God told them to, one cannot simply respond to this by acting in violence against people who are only associated to those by name. For a fire cannot be calmed by more fire.
The idea of a totally peaceful and tolerant society is, sadly in the contemporary age, an idealist dream. But realists are, as a rule, only men in the rut of routine who are incapable of transcending a narrow circle of antiquated notions. A world of peace is not a dream, because if you will it, it is no dream. In this, we, as free members of Western society, must embrace those who call themselves Muslims so that the world of our children and our children's children may be a better place than the one we live in. We must create a world where there is no ignorant intolerance against those of different cultures than our own. There is nothing more dangerous, as history as proven, than fear or hatred of a religious or ethnic group that is perpetuated by violence and abuse. We must take action against those who truly are evil, and accept those who truly are good. There can never be peace, so long as there is hate.