He has been outspoken about the wave of fascism and religious radicalism around the world. He accused US President Donald Trump of breaking taboos by suggesting bringing back torture, and warned world powers against undermining civil liberties in the fight against terrorism. He criticized Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte’s support for extrajudicial killings, and British Prime Minister Theresa May’s threat to change human right laws if they got in the way of the war on terror.
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‘Russia’s de-escalation zones are now crumbling, as all major actors inside and outside Syria now seek to define the terms of the “post-IS” reality,’ he wrote. ‘Without major international effort, further regime chemical attacks, indiscriminate bombing and the targeted destruction of civil facilities are likely to continue unabated.’
In a best-case scenario, the horrific mosque attack will create a backlash against IS, which the state could capitalize on by improving relations with civilians and ensuring local support. However, a speech given by Egyptian President Abdel_Fattah_alSisi on 29 November 2017 struck a less hopeful tone.
Whatever the case, such dramatic changes come at a price. The crown prince is consolidating power to a degree Saudi Arabia has not seen in generations. MBS has dismantled that system, alienating almost everyone and fundamentally altering the governance dynamics of the kingdom. By consolidating power, MBS seems to be offering a larger degree of social freedom, but there can surely be little room for dissent during this mega-transformation.
Aside from embezzlement and corruption, al-Otaiba was implicated in even more serious scandals. The Huffington Post, which was provided with another batch of the leaked emails, broke the story of al-Otaiba supporting a major effort to raise doubts about Qatar in the minds of Americans since 2014, a mission in which he has been largely unsuccessful despite the row between the Gulf state and several other countries, including the UAE, over its alleged support of terrorism that erupted in May 2017.
The losses under Russian bombardment have added to HTS’ recent woes, which include a string of assassinations and defections of key figures in Idlib. In addition, it is unlikely that the Syrian government and its allies will allow the densely populated and strategically located province to remain outside its control. The ouster of HTS and implementation of the de-escalation agreement might minimize the number of civilian casualties, but the end result in either case is almost certainly a return of regime control in Idlib.