Iranian Architecture – Afarin Rahmanifar http://afarin-rahmanifar.com/ Thu, 23 Jun 2022 18:43:21 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.9.3 http://afarin-rahmanifar.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/afarin-rahmanifar-icon-150x150.png Iranian Architecture – Afarin Rahmanifar http://afarin-rahmanifar.com/ 32 32 Europeans return to Syria, fueling tourism and attracting criticism http://afarin-rahmanifar.com/europeans-return-to-syria-fueling-tourism-and-attracting-criticism/ Thu, 23 Jun 2022 14:24:00 +0000 http://afarin-rahmanifar.com/europeans-return-to-syria-fueling-tourism-and-attracting-criticism/
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BEIRUT — Standing on the castle-like walls of Aleppo’s historic citadel, Nick White was shocked by the city’s destruction. The 63-year-old British tourist got to see how large parts had been flattened by the terrible civil war in Syria.

Aleppo’s ancient citadel has never been breached, its guide says, pointing to the thin slits and other openings along the walls where, 800 years ago, defenders fired arrows and poured oil boiling over the crusading invaders. In 2013, these openings became sniper positions.

The medieval fortification is surrounded by deep moats and steep walls, with the only entrance via a stone bridge resting on tall columns. The protection afforded by the citadel centuries ago was restored in 2013, when government forces locked themselves in it for three years, repelling rebels in the city below, fueled by the belief that whoever controls the citadel controls the front lines.

After years of conflict, tourists are returning to a changed Syria. This summer, locals and tour operators are reporting an increase in visitors from Western countries. Authorities resumed issuing visas in October to allow curious foreigners to see for themselves the country whose conflict once dominated TV screens and flooded Europe with refugees.

Syrians fleeing despair at home flock to UAE

Now, as the echoes of war die down in Syria – despite several frontlines still active – and travelers return, critics demand that visitors reflect on how their travels support a government known for its oppression and its brutality.

Criticism of these trips has grown overseas, particularly in 2019 following a brief revival in Western tourism and the ensuing flood of videos and blogs from travel influencers. followed. Anger has flared among Syrians residing abroad, many of whom have been displaced by the war and cannot return home on their own.

Syria had resumed granting tourist visas in 2018 in hopes of earning much-needed revenue, before the pandemic put an end to it.

The Syria Justice and Accountability Center, a Washington-based nonprofit, said last summer that while tourism can help the people of Syria, “mass promotion without nuance or understanding is at best irresponsible and potentially deadly” for those still living under “a government implicated in systemic human rights abuses.

White, like many of his traveling companions, knows the criticism that faces him, and everyone in his group wonders if it is “effectively supporting the Assad regime”.

“But no, we were supporting the Syrian economy,” he said. “We are supporting people on the streets, trying to inject money into the economy.”

Tours typically cost around $1,700 per person for a week-long trip that includes stops in Damascus, Aleppo, Palmyra (with its unprecedented Roman ruins) and the crusader fort of Krak des Chevaliers – considered one of finest examples of the medieval army. architecture of the region.

Where they’re not going is to the northwest, where former al-Qaeda affiliates, Turkish-backed rebels, Syrian soldiers and Russian mercenaries eye each other nervously amid talk of a new Turkish invasion. Also out of sight are the areas to the east where Iranian militants roam and where US-backed Kurdish forces are still hunting remnants of the Islamic State.

Islamic State leader dead after US raid in Syria, Biden says

All outside tourism agencies are required to work with local businesses registered with the Syrian Ministry of Tourism, who are responsible for processing visa applications and coordinating security clearances, accommodation and transportation.

While American passport holders are almost always rejected, those from Europe are increasingly allowed in, and residents of Damascus and other cities report seeing much larger numbers of tourists distinct from the usual Iranian pilgrims. Russian mercenaries and Chinese visitors.

Escorts interviewed for this article all said they were not accompanied by government guards, who are usually tasked with supervising and restricting the movement of foreign visitors.

There is one exception: an unarmed member of the Syrian army escorts each group through Palmyra, the desert city of the legendary Queen Zenobia, who took over the Roman Empire in the 3rd century. The man is usually a lieutenant who was directly involved in the battles to liberate the city from Islamic State, which conquered the area twice, in 2015 and 2017, and destroyed some of the historic ruins.

“To really hear modern history,” White said, “with ISIS and the things that they did, to see the ruins of Palmyra that they had blown up and toppled, and to hear that they executed people on stage , in the auditorium we were sitting, it was really”, he stopped, “poignant”.

The officer describes the fighting, points out the damage, answers questions. “But then he makes a little ideological speech,” said an attendant, describing “the Syrian army as national heroes.”

To give as balanced a view as possible, this particular guide ensures that its journeys include another stop, where travelers meet a member of the Free Syrian Army, a loose group of factions and fighters created as a result of the revolts which spread across the country in 2011.

Composed at first largely of soldiers and officers who defected, it fought government troops across the country, calling the areas “liberated Syria”, before collapsing due to internal conflicts and other factors, amid the rise of radical Islamist groups.

The tour leader, who spoke on condition of anonymity for security reasons as he is still working in Syria, is making sure his bands hear a different side of the story here, where the Syrian army “began to massacring and burning houses, together with Hezbollah”.

Lebanon’s spy chief says US wants his help to free Americans in Syria

James Willcox, founder of British travel agency Untamed Borders, said tourists resuming visits to the country give Syrians the feeling that at least some things are slowly returning to normal. “After a decade of conflict, normalization is good,” he said in a telephone interview. “It’s a really positive sign; it’s one of those symbols of better times to come.

The revival of Western tourism in Syria represents a lifeline for hotels, restaurants and small business owners, especially those in the old cities of Damascus and Aleppo, which for generations have welcomed adventurous foreigners.

But they are not the only ones to benefit financially: individuals and groups close to the government naturally also benefit. According to local reports, the US-sanctioned Katerji Group, run by two brothers who made their fortunes through the war, has plans underway to turn the former military hospital in Aleppo into a five-star resort – taking advantage of of one of the most vicious sieges of the war, which saw entire neighborhoods leveled by Russian-backed artillery.

Attempts to clear the rubble and rebuild the city are underway, but a war-torn economy, sanctions and the steep depreciation of the Syrian pound have plunged the country into a financial crisis that will prolong any reconstruction.

White said he traveled to Syria in April with Spain’s Against the Compass “because it’s just a place not many people have been, and I just wanted to see for myself.”

Visible from the citadel, whose walls were partly collapsed by a bomb in 2015, are the famous covered markets of Aleppo, once a must on the tourist route but now destroyed by fighting between the rebels and the government in 2012.” White said.

]]> Fran Hall: Northfield Globetrotter, Airstream Photographer http://afarin-rahmanifar.com/fran-hall-northfield-globetrotter-airstream-photographer/ Mon, 13 Jun 2022 20:01:26 +0000 http://afarin-rahmanifar.com/fran-hall-northfield-globetrotter-airstream-photographer/

The son of a lanky sheet metal worker from Northfield, Minnesota, Fran Hall grew up during the Great Depression and became an unlikely globe-trotting chronicler of the most epic road trip of all time.

Mobile home company Airstream hired Hall in 1963 to shoot photos and film during a 14-month advertising campaign in 31 countries that featured a caravan with dozens of shiny silver trailers traveling 35,000 miles overland from Singapore to Portugal.

The dizzying journey – with stops at the Taj Mahal, Mount Everest, the Parthenon, Israel, Iran and Moscow’s Red Square – came during a tense global period between the Cuban Missile Crisis and the escalation of the Vietnam War. Traveling in a caravan with his wife Tallie, Hall captured everything on film – from Cambodian temples to onion-shaped cathedrals near the Kremlin.

“We were in Moscow for about a week and very quickly ran out of things to see,” Hall said in one of his many letters to Northfield News editor Maggie Lee. “We were being followed everywhere, so it wasn’t much fun.”

Now, nearly 60 years after her hike, the Northfield Historical Society has invited a gathering of Airstreams to descend on her southeast Minnesota town June 23-26 in conjunction with a new exhibit: “Fran Hall: Tin Can travelers”.

The exhibit of Hall’s photos and excerpts from his letters will run through December.

“The photos are unique for the juxtaposition of modern inventions rolling past archaic ruins and regal architecture,” according to Airstream’s website. “The contrast was worth documenting – nothing like this had ever been done before.”

Hall called his journey “the journey of a million lives”. Shortly before his death in 2010, two weeks before he turned 96, he wrote a letter to Lee, saying, “My life has been fascinating all along.”

Born in 1914, Francis William Hall was listed as the second of nine siblings in the 1930 census – living along the banks of the River Cannon in Northfield.

He attended nearby St. Olaf and Carleton Colleges, but depression kept him from graduating, according to Lee. He was working at the Art Floral shop in Northfield when the Second World War broke out, but his attempts to join the army or navy were rejected due to a hernia.

This did not prevent him from contributing to the war effort. Employed by Honeywell and trained at the University of Minnesota, Hall worked with precision bomb technology and spent time in England teaching military leaders how to use cameras to locate targets.

In 1940 he married Nathalia (Tallie) Rundhaug, the child of a minister at South High School in Minneapolis. After the war, Hall became an acclaimed nature photographer for the National Audobon Society and Disney, specializing in close-ups of insects.

Hall’s infatuation with Airstreams began during a rainy spell in his tent, snapping nature photos in northern Wisconsin — and getting soaked. He noticed an Airstream nearby and decided he needed one. Tallie suffered from rheumatoid arthritis, and Hall made a deal under which he would include footage of Airstreams in his nature films in exchange for use of one of the trailers.

“I had to take care of her, do film and photos, take care of the trailer and take care of some meals,” he said. “The trip was very difficult.

Tallie died in 1983 at age 65, but Fran was thrilled to have been on the big trip 20 years earlier, which he called “a wonderful thing that very few people experience”.

According to research by Cathy Osterman and Travis Farrington of the Northfield Historical Society, traversing the treacherous switchbacks of the Khyber Pass en route from Pakistan to Afghanistan proved risky for the Halls.

Ignoring orders not to stop at the top of the pass, Hall got out to take pictures, then collided with an Afghan car. His passport was seized but the US consul intervened and the Halls were allowed to travel to Iran.

After visiting the Dead Sea, the Western Wall and other ancient sites in the Middle East, the Halls came across three hanged bodies, punished by the Syrian dictatorship in Damascus.

“It scared me,” he wrote before heading to Turkey.

Their journey began in 1963 when they sailed from Los Angeles to Japan and then flew to Singapore. The authorities in Burma, now Myanmar, could not guarantee their safety, so the caravan split up. Some flew while others sailed to India – “one of the weirdest and most exciting countries in our 35,000 miles of driving,” Fran said.

They eventually made their way to Nepal, Russia, France and saunas in Finland – returning from Portugal to Miami, then driving to Los Angeles to complete their world tour. They had left a car in Los Angeles, and from there they drove home to Northfield.

After Tallie’s death. Hall moved to Boulder, Colorado, where he used wood he collected on his travels to create inlaid, lathe-turned bowls – photographing sunsets and wildlife until he was 90.

Curt Brown’s Tales of Minnesota History appear every Sunday. Readers can send him ideas and suggestions at mnhistory@startribune.com. His latest book looks at Minnesota in 1918, when flu, war, and fires converged: strib.mn/MN1918.

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Iran and Venezuela sign 20-year cooperation plan http://afarin-rahmanifar.com/iran-and-venezuela-sign-20-year-cooperation-plan/ Sat, 11 Jun 2022 10:33:15 +0000 http://afarin-rahmanifar.com/iran-and-venezuela-sign-20-year-cooperation-plan/

Iran and Venezuela signed a 20-year cooperation plan on Saturday, according to live coverage by Iranian state television.

The plan includes cooperation in oil, petrochemicals, tourism and culture.

The signing ceremony was held at Saadabad Palace in northern Tehran, attended by Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and his Iranian counterpart Ebrahim Raisi.

During his first visit to Iran, Maduro said Tehran had helped his country by sending badly needed fuel despite US sanctions and threats.

In an interview with Maduro on Friday evening after his arrival, Iranian state media reported that Maduro had welcomed Iran’s decision to send tankers to his energy-hungry country.

“The delivery of oil from Tehran to Caracas has been a great help to the Venezuelan people,” he said.

A high-ranking political and economic delegation from Venezuela, which like Iran is under heavy US sanctions, is accompanying Maduro on the two-day visit, at an invitation from Raisi.

Maduro said Venezuela and Iran are united by “a common vision” regarding international issues and are both victims of coercive measures by the United States and its allies.

“Caracas and Tehran have shaped the strategy of (a) resistance economy and are working to expand it,” he said.


]]> Israeli PM Bennett on whirlwind visit to UAE amid standoff with Iran http://afarin-rahmanifar.com/israeli-pm-bennett-on-whirlwind-visit-to-uae-amid-standoff-with-iran/ Thu, 09 Jun 2022 17:14:00 +0000 http://afarin-rahmanifar.com/israeli-pm-bennett-on-whirlwind-visit-to-uae-amid-standoff-with-iran/

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TEL AVIV, Israel — Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett made a surprise visit to the United Arab Emirates on Thursday, the snapshot trip coming as efforts to salvage a deal over Iran’s nuclear program are locked in a deepening stalemate with Tehran.

The visit was Bennett’s second public trip to Abu Dhabi since Israel and the United Arab Emirates agreed to normalize relations in 2020 after years of low-key cooperation, primarily over shared concerns over the nuclear capabilities of the United Arab Emirates. Iran.

The Israeli leader met with UAE President Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan and the two discussed “advancement of regional architecture” and other undisclosed regional affairs, the office said. Bennett in a statement. Iran was probably top of the agenda.

In a video statement before his departure, Bennett praised the countries at an International Atomic Energy Agency meeting in Vienna on Wednesday that voted to censor Iran for its lack of transparency regarding the nuclear activities at three undeclared sites in the country.

“We see here a firm position of the countries of the world regarding the distinction between good and evil, because they clearly state that Iran is hiding things. We will not let go on this issue,” he said.

The IAEA said Thursday that Iran plans to increase its uranium enrichment, with the installation of advanced centrifuges. Advanced uranium enrichment is a key part of building a nuclear bomb.

Israel views Iran as its greatest enemy and has strongly opposed the 2015 deal between Iran and world powers, which eased economic sanctions in exchange for curbs on Iran’s nuclear activities.

Israel says it wants an improved deal that places tougher restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program and addresses Iran’s long-range missile program and its support for hostile proxies along Israel’s borders. Israel also says negotiations must be accompanied by a “credible” military threat to ensure Iran does not delay indefinitely.

In 2018, then-President Donald Trump unilaterally pulled America out of the deal, raising tensions across the Middle East and triggering a series of attacks and incidents. The withdrawal led to the rapid breakdown of the agreement.

Talks in Vienna over Iran’s tattered nuclear deal have stalled since April. Since the collapse of the deal, Iran has been using advanced centrifuges and has a rapidly growing stockpile of enriched uranium. Israeli leaders have claimed that Iran is only weeks away from accumulating enough enriched uranium to produce a nuclear weapon, although other components of a bomb are believed to be months or years away. .

Iran insists its program is for peaceful purposes, although UN experts and Western intelligence agencies say Iran had an organized military nuclear program until 2003.

Israel and the United Arab Emirates agreed to unfreeze their relations under US-brokered agreements known as the “Abraham Accords”, which saw similar agreements reached with Bahrain, Morocco and the United Arab Emirates. Sudan. Since then, Israel and the United Arab Emirates have deepened their ties in tourism and trade, much to the chagrin of Palestinians who have long relied on an Arab wall of support for leverage against Israel.

Bennett’s trip comes as Israel is on the cusp of another political crisis, with members of its fragile coalition threatening to flee unless the government can pass a law on the legal status of its settlers from West Bank.

]]> Russia’s nuclear threat worked http://afarin-rahmanifar.com/russias-nuclear-threat-worked/ Wed, 08 Jun 2022 02:07:36 +0000 http://afarin-rahmanifar.com/russias-nuclear-threat-worked/

The war in Ukraine reaffirmed the relevance of nuclear weapons as a major deterrent in global conflicts. For the first time since the end of the Cold War, a major power has publicly threatened to deploy tactical nuclear weapons. And the threat worked: the West carefully calibrated its arms deliveries to Ukraine to avoid giving Russia a reason to resort to nuclear escalation. Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine would not have happened had Ukraine not relinquished its nuclear arsenal under the 1994 Budapest Memorandum on Security Assurances, which included US safeguards and Russians to respect and defend its territorial integrity.

Revolutionary powers such as North Korea and Iran have followed these developments closely. For Iran, a rising Shia power, its nuclear program represents an insurance policy against surrounding Sunni powers, all allies of Israel and the United States. North Korea’s nuclear logic is not much different.

There are few realistic options to stem the trend of nuclear proliferation. One development that would make a difference would be for the five major nuclear powers to set an example and begin to drastically reduce their arsenals. The obstacle here comes from the disparity between American conventional military power and that of China and Russia. For France and Great Britain, the maintenance of nuclear weapons is a question of status.

If leaders of the caliber of Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev – capable of overriding their respective security establishments – reappear, they could potentially lead such a nonproliferation movement. But such leadership does not seem imminent.

Another possibility would be to establish a zone free of weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East. But that could only happen if agreements were reached on major conflicts in the region and Israel gave up its supposed nuclear capabilities.

I am not optimistic about any of these scenarios. Ultimately, however, whether a regime possesses nuclear weapons is not the main issue. It is the nature of the diet that counts.

Ukraine made a mistake by entering into negotiations with Russia at a very early stage of the war, when the impression was still that the Russian army was unstoppable. A mutually damaging stalemate offers a better opportunity to reach a peace agreement. Unless Russia introduces nuclear weapons into the equation, we may be getting closer to such a stalemate, in part because the United States and its allies have wisely calibrated their weapons supply to prevent a defeat. Ukrainian without provoking the escalation of Russia.

The Ukrainians should not enter into negotiations if the price of admission is to accept Russia’s request not to join NATO. This should be a concession in a negotiation process, not a precondition to it.

That said, as I argued recently, peace is about balance and stability, not justice. The just result – Russia’s complete withdrawal from Ukraine and the reversal of its annexation of Crimea – would be political suicide for Putin and a huge setback for Russia’s international position. Far from being a cooperative participant in a European security system, a defeated Russia, as a humiliated nuclear superpower, would pose a lasting threat to it.

Western powers should be part of the peace process, not only because they are part of the conflict, but also because they are the ones with the power to compensate Russia for any concessions it makes. This compensation should take the form of a European security system that addresses key Russian concerns and preserves the neutrality and territorial integrity of Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia. Finally, to deal with Ukraine’s dual identity, the ethnic Russian regions of Donetsk and Lugansk should enjoy significant autonomy within a federal state, as stipulated in the 2015 Minsk II regulation.

For too long, Europe has remained comfortably anchored in a “post-historical” world, while outsourcing its security to American taxpayers. The war in Ukraine marks the end of the myth that history “ended” with the end of the Cold War and the dissolution of the Soviet Union. It also justifies the Latin adage, Si vis pacem, para bellum (‘If you want peace, prepare for war’). A strong and united NATO would help secure peace.

But any European security architecture that emerges from the war in Ukraine must include buffer zones between Russia and NATO. Ukraine, which will likely have to give up its aspirations to NATO membership under any peace deal, should be one such area. Sweden and Finland, with its 1,340 kilometer border with Russia, should be two more. The alternative is a long border in a permanent state of friction, war or the imminent threat of war.

For the foreseeable future, peace must be based on disengagement. Ending Europe’s dependence on Russian energy would contribute to peace, as it would force Russia to diversify its economic model, increase Russia’s stake in global stability, and push the country to become a more active participant in the global economy.

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Conflict in Ukraine: How long can the Middle East walk a tightrope? http://afarin-rahmanifar.com/conflict-in-ukraine-how-long-can-the-middle-east-walk-a-tightrope/ Tue, 31 May 2022 03:05:22 +0000 http://afarin-rahmanifar.com/conflict-in-ukraine-how-long-can-the-middle-east-walk-a-tightrope/

For now, Ukraine is far from my bed for most countries in the Middle East. The question is not if but when Ukraine will arrive on their doorstep.

Two centrifugal forces threaten to push the nations of the Middle East off a tightrope: an increasingly divided world populated by a multitude of civilizational leaders in which “you are with us or against us”, and a growing need for consistency in the application of the law and the observance of human and political rights standards.

It wouldn’t take much to unbalance the riders.

The Biden administration plans to send special forces to guard the new US embassy in Kyiv. What if Russian forces hit the embassy much like US forces bombed the Chinese mission in Belgrade in 1999?

At the time, China did not respond militarily, but China was not supporting any side in the wars in the former Yugoslavia in the same way the United States and its allies are helping Ukraine.

Likewise, the risk of escalation exists if the United States, NATO or individual European countries decide to train Ukrainian forces on Ukrainian soil and are attacked by Russia.

True, Russia, like NATO, does not want the war to turn into a direct confrontation, but it would not take much for events to spiral out of control.

Similarly, Gulf states’ options could shrink if talks in Vienna fail to revive the 2015 international accord that curbed Iran’s nuclear program.

US President Joe Biden and Iran both tried unsuccessfully to use the talks to achieve goals beyond the original deal, which then-President Donald J. Trump pulled out of. in 2018.

“We don’t have a deal … and the prospects of getting one done are, at best, dim,” Robert Malley, Biden’s special envoy for Iran, told the Senate Relations Committee. foreigners this week.

Malley’s statement came as a covert war between Israel and Iran appeared to be escalating and US officials sought to restore relations with Saudi Arabia, possibly paving the way for a visit to the country. the Kingdom of Mr. Biden.

Israel reportedly informed the Biden administration that it was responsible for the recent killing in Tehran of an Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) colonel. No one has officially claimed responsibility for the shooting.

Similarly, a drone strike targeted a highly sensitive military site outside Tehran, where Iran is developing missile, nuclear and drone technologies. The drones exploded in a building used by Iran’s Defense Ministry to conduct research on drone development.

Meanwhile, a Saudi official noted that Saudi Arabia and Iran had not scheduled a sixth round of talks to resolve disputes that have helped destabilize the Middle East because the exchanges had “no quite” progressed.

Relations between the United States and Saudi Arabia have been cold since Mr. Biden called Saudi Arabia a pariah state during his presidential election campaign. He has since effectively boycotted Mr Bin Salman over the crown prince’s alleged involvement in the 2018 murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

Mr Bin Salman denied any involvement, but said he accepted responsibility for the murder as the de facto ruler of Saudi Arabia.

Following the spat, Bin Salman rejected US demands that the kingdom increase oil production to lower prices and inflationary pressures and help Europe reduce its dependence on Russian energy .

In doing so, Saudi Arabia is playing the same game with the United States as Turkey is playing in NATO. Both want to capitalize on US needs for support to Ukraine without risking US, and in Turkey’s case, NATO security guarantees.

Turkey has set conditions for Sweden and Finland to join NATO, but ultimately wants the United States, NATO and the European Union to develop a Black Sea strategy that would have Turkey at its heart. Turkey is effectively on its own without being integrated into a broader regional approach.

A failure to revive the Iran nuclear deal would likely make it clear that countries like Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have no recourse but the United States when seeking guarantees for their security. .

China is unwilling and unable to replace the United States as the guarantor of security, and Russia has taken itself out of the equation.

The US and European window of opportunity to include human and political rights meaningfully in its discussions could be while China maintains its current position.

If this week’s World Economic Forum in Davos was any indication, the US and Europe are not about to seize the opportunity. Demonstrating confidence, Saudi Arabia, buoyed by soaring oil prices, has captured attention as a land of economic opportunity in a world battered by inflation, food shortages and climate change concerns. ‘offer.

“Biden should use positive inducements to alter the Crown Prince’s repressive behavior. MBS, driven by self-interest, would respond to U.S. human rights demands if they were accompanied by inducement and devoid of humiliation,” said U.S.-based tech entrepreneur and cardiologist Khalid Aljabri. . Two siblings of Mr. Aljabri, who referred to Mr. Bin Salman by his initials, were detained in the kingdom.

Following missile and drone attacks by Houthi rebels earlier this year, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have sought to bolster written bilateral defense agreements with the United States, if not a formal treaty.

Two of Mr Biden’s top advisers visited Saudi Arabia this week to discuss oil, Iran and security, including finalizing the transfer of two strategic islands – Tiran and Sanafir – in the Red Sea from Egyptian sovereignty to Saudi sovereignty with Israeli consent.

US officials were to travel to Washington in the following days to brief Israeli national security adviser Eyal Hulata on their discussions in the kingdom.

Curiously, the Israeli media reported recent secret meetings between Israeli and Saudi officials that focused on security issues, including Iran.

Like the Gulf states, Israel has indeed seen its options for coverage shrink in the wake of the Ukraine crisis, but it has been less hesitant than the Gulf states.

However, in the final analysis, Middle Eastern states realize that the United States, in the words of former White House Gulf director Kirsten Fontenrose, “can still easily build global coalitions when it is necessary. While Russia will be radioactive, more of a predatory pariah than a partner.

Ms Fontenrose warned that “it would be foolish for nations that previously enjoyed beneficial relations with Russia to invite this radioactivity upon them now, in the emerging world order where Russia is not the unipolar power it hoped to become, but rather a failed bet. ”

This may be true for Russia and ultimately obvious for Middle Eastern states once they have exploited the opportunities for what they are worth.

It could be quite different if relations between the United States and China deteriorated to the same degree as between Washington and Moscow. This is perhaps even more the case if the United States continues to be seen as selective and hypocritical in its respect for human rights at home and abroad.

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‘Prolonged political stalemate’ further polarizes Libya http://afarin-rahmanifar.com/prolonged-political-stalemate-further-polarizes-libya/ Sat, 28 May 2022 17:09:55 +0000 http://afarin-rahmanifar.com/prolonged-political-stalemate-further-polarizes-libya/

The NATO row over Turkey’s opposition to Swedish and Finnish membership goes beyond the expansion of the North Atlantic military alliance. It’s as much about Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s immediate political goals as it is about Turkey’s positioning in a new world order of the 21st century.

At first glance, the spat concerns Turkish efforts to obstruct support for Kurdish ethnic, cultural and national aspirations in Turkey, Syria and Iraq and the crackdown on suspected supporters of a preacher who lives in exile in the United States. -United. Turkey accuses the preacher, Fethullah Gulen, of plotting a failed military coup in 2016.

The spat may also be a game by NATO’s second-largest standing army to regain access to US arms sales, especially upgrades for the aging fleet of F-16 fighter jets. from Turkey as well as more advanced newer models of the F-16 and top-of-the-line F-35.

Finally, playing the Kurdish card benefits Mr. Erdogan domestically, potentially at a time when the Turkish economy is in the doldrums with an inflation rate of 70%.

“Erdogan always benefits politically when he attacks the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (the PKK) and groups linked to it, such as the YPG in Syria… In fact, attacking the PKK and the YPG is two against one. You see Erdogan taking on real terrorists and separatists, and at the same time he can hit the United States, which is tapping into the vast reservoir of anti-Americanism in Turkey,” said Steven A. Cook, a Middle East scholar. .

While important in their own right, they are also likely to influence Turkey’s rankings as the world moves towards a bipolar or multipolar power structure.

The battle over perceived Scandinavian, and primarily Swede, support for Kurdish aspirations involves the extent to which the United States and Europe will continue to crush the road to what is yet another Middle Eastern powder keg.

Mr Erdogan announced this week that Turkey would soon launch a new military incursion against US-backed Kurdish fighters in northeast Syria. Erdogan said the operation would expand the Turkish Armed Forces’ control areas in Syria to a 30-kilometre strip of land along the two countries’ common border.

“The main target of these operations will be areas that are centers of attacks against our country and safe areas,” the Turkish president said.

Turkey says the US-backed People’s Protection Units (YPG), a Syrian militia that helped defeat Islamic State, is an extension of the PKK. The PKK has waged a decades-long insurgency against Turkey, home to some 16 million Kurds. Turkey, the United States and the European Union have designated the PKK as a terrorist organization.

Mr Erdogan accuses Sweden and Finland of giving refuge to the PKK and demands that the two countries extradite the members of the group. Turkey has not officially released the names of the 33 people it wants extradited, but some have been reported in Turkish media close to the government.

Swedish media reported that a doctor allegedly on the list died seven years ago and was not known to have had ties to the PKK. Another appointee was not resident in Sweden, while at least one other is a Swedish national.

Swedish and Finnish officials were in Ankara this week to discuss Turkey’s objections. Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson insisted as officials made their way to the Turkish capital that “we do not send money or weapons to terrorist organisations”.

Conveniently, pro-government media reported on the day the officials arrived that Turkish forces had found Swedish anti-tank weapons in a cave in northern Iraq used by the PKK. Turkey recently launched Operation Claw Lock against PKK positions in the region.

Mr. Erdogan’s military plans make it difficult for Sweden and Finland to join NATO. The two Nordic states imposed an arms embargo on Ankara after its first foray into Syria in 2019. The Turkish leader demanded the embargo be lifted as part of any deal on Sweden and Finland joining to NATO.

A new incursion that would cement Turkey’s three-year-old military presence in Syria could also put a damper on improving relations with the United States due to Turkish support for Ukraine and mediation efforts to end to the crisis triggered by the Russian invasion.

Turkey slowed its initial foray into Syria after US President Donald J. Trump threatened to “destroy and obliterate” Turkey’s economy.

The State Department warned this week that a new incursion would “undermine regional stability.”

Boosting arms sales to the United States would go a long way to cementing relations and downplaying Turkey’s acquisition of the Russian S-400 anti-missile system, even though Turkey’s opposition to joining Scandinavian will have a lingering effect on trust. The United States kicked Turkey out of its F-35 program in response to the acquisition.

This week Mr Erdogan appeared to widen the dispute within NATO after Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis lobbied the US Congress against military sales to Turkey. “Mitsotakis no longer exists for me. I will never agree to meet him,” Erdogan said. He said Mr Mitostakis’ lobbying violated an agreement between the two men “not to involve third countries in our bilateral matters”.

US arms sales would also impact Turkish-Russian relations, although Turkey, unlike most NATO members, will continue to seek to balance its relationship and avoid an open break with Moscow or Washington. .

“Russia’s geopolitical revisionism is poised to bring Turkey and the West relatively closer on geopolitical and strategic issues, provided that Turkey’s current blockage of Sweden and Finland’s NATO candidacy be resolved in the not too distant future,” said Turkish researcher Galip Dalay.

Turkey’s bet on NATO is a high-stakes poker game, given that Russia is as much a partner to Turkey as it is a threat.

NATO is Turkey’s ultimate shield against Russian civilizational expansionism. Russian support in 2008 for irredentist regions of Georgia and the annexation of Crimea in 2014 created a buffer between Turkey and Ukraine and complicated Turkey-Russia arrangements in the Black Sea.

Nevertheless, Mr. Erdogan risks fueling a debate on Turkey’s NATO membership, just as Prime Minister Victor Orban’s opposition to a European embargo on Russian energy has raised questions about the place of Hungary in the EU.

“Does Erdogan’s Turkey belong to NATO? asked former US vice-presidential candidate Joe Lieberman and former senator Mark D. Wallace in a Wall Street Journal op-ed. Unlike Finland and Sweden, the two men noted that Turkey would not meet NATO’s democratic requirements if it applied for membership today.

“Turkey is a member of NATO, but under Mr. Erdogan it no longer subscribes to the values ​​that underpin this great alliance. Article 13 of the NATO charter provides a mechanism for members to withdraw. It may be time to amend Article 13 to establish a procedure for expulsion from a member country,” wrote Messrs. Lieberman and Wallace.

Both men implicitly argued that turning the tables on Turkey would force the complicated NATO member back on track.

Moreover, prominent Turkish journalist and analyst Cengiz Candar warned that “giving in to Ankara’s demands is tantamount to letting an autocrat design Europe’s security architecture and shape the future of the Western system.”

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Biden voices strong support for Finland and Sweden’s NATO bids http://afarin-rahmanifar.com/biden-voices-strong-support-for-finland-and-swedens-nato-bids/ Sun, 22 May 2022 20:29:32 +0000 http://afarin-rahmanifar.com/biden-voices-strong-support-for-finland-and-swedens-nato-bids/

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy says he has “great expectations” for a second round of meetings scheduled for next week of partner countries supplying arms to Ukraine.

Zelensky Told reporters on May 21 that he expects positive responses to his requests for multiple launch rocket systems (MLRS) and US jets at the meetings, which are due to take place May 23 online as part of the follow-up to of about 40 ministers from countries supporting Ukraine militarily detained last month at the US air base in Ramstein, Germany.

Live briefing: Russia’s invasion of Ukraine

RFE/RL Live briefing gives you all the major developments on the invasion of Russia, how kyiv is fighting back, the plight of civilians and the Western reaction. For all of RFE/RL’s coverage of the war, click here.

“To be honest, we have high expectations. I would say this is a long overdue process. We are grateful for the significant military support provided by various states. We are expecting a positive outcome. [response] on the supply of MLRS,” Zelenskiy reportedly said in response to reporters’ questions following talks with Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa in Kyiv.

“I have no secrets, we appeal to all countries – from the United States to all European countries on MLRS”,

He said the MLRS “stands still” in other countries, but would be “key” to Ukraine’s ability to seize the initiative and liberate its territory.

Zelenskiy also referred to the reservations expressed by some countries that kyiv will use rocket systems to attack Russia, saying those with such concerns should consider that the war is continuing on Ukrainian territory, including in the Donbass region. .

“These are our territories, and we are going step by step to liberate them. We cannot pay the price of tens, hundreds of thousands of people. So please help us,” he said. he declares.

Costa has become the latest Western leader to visit kyiv. As well as meeting Zelenskiy, the Portuguese leader met Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal and signed an agreement for unspecified financial support.

Kyiv also got another huge boost of US aid when US President Joe Biden signed a bill to provide nearly $40 billion in military, economic and humanitarian aid to the country.

“Rejoice in a powerful new defense aid. Today it is needed more than ever,” Zelenskiy said. Twitter.

Zelensky mentioned earlier on Ukrainian television that his country could be victorious on the battlefield – but that things could only come to a definitive end “at the negotiating table”.

He warned that there would be more fighting but that the conflict “will definitely end only through diplomacy”.

The developments in Kyiv came as Russia moved closer to taking over Ukraine’s Donbass region, claiming victory in the months-long battle for Mariupol’s Azovstal steel plant while launching a major offensive in the eastern region. from Luhansk.

The last Ukrainian forces entrenched in the Azovstal steelworks surrendered on May 20, the Russian Defense Ministry announced.

It came after a devastating siege that left Mariupol in complete ruins, with some 20,000 feared dead.

“The company’s underground facilities, where the militants were hiding, came under the full control of the Russian armed forces,” the ministry said in a statement.

He said 531 people were part of the group that surrendered most recently, bringing the total number of defenders who had surrendered in the past few days to 2,439.

There was no immediate confirmation from Ukraine, but Zelenskiy said earlier that the Azovstal defenders had received a clear signal from the military command that they could get out and save their lives.

Zelensky said in the TV interview that the Ukrainian military had inflicted serious damage on the Russian armed forces despite the fall of Mariupol, which Russia sought to capture to complete a land corridor to the Crimean peninsula, which it annexed. in 2014.

Concern is growing over the fate of the Ukrainian defenders who resisted the steelworks for weeks and are now prisoners in Russian hands.

Denis Pushilin, the leader of a Moscow-backed separatist group in the Donetsk region, said on May 21 that the Ukrainians were sure to face a court.

“I believe that justice should be restored. There is a demand for this from ordinary people, from society and, probably, from the sensible part of the world community,” the Russian news agency said. TASS, quoting Pushilin.

He told Russian state television that some foreign nationals were among those who surrendered, but did not provide further details.

Family members of fighters who resisted in the steel mills pleaded for them to be granted rights as prisoners of war (POW) and eventually returned to Ukraine. The International Committee of the Red Cross declared on May 20 that it was registering them as prisoners of war.

Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said again on May 21 that authorities “will fight for the return of every soldier” captured at the Azovstal steelworks.

Meanwhile, Russia also launched what appeared to be a major assault to seize the last Ukrainian-held territory in the Luhansk region.

“The Russian army has started very intensive destruction of the city of Severodonetsk, the intensity of shelling has doubled, they are shelling residential areas, destroying house by house,” Luhansk Governor Serhiy Hayday said on his Telegram channel.

In the early hours of May 21, air raid sirens went off across much of Ukraine, including the kyiv region and the southern port of Odessa.

Ukraine’s military staff said it had repelled an offensive on Severodonetsk, in what it described as major Russian operations along a stretch of the front line.

Russia had sought control of Mariupol, a port city on the Sea of ​​Azov, to complete a land corridor to the Crimean peninsula, which it annexed in 2014, and to release troops to join the battle for control of the Donbass region.

Zelenskiy said Russia should be made to pay for every house, school, hospital and business it destroys. He called on Ukraine’s partners to seize Russian funds and assets under their jurisdiction and use them to create a fund to compensate those who suffered.

Russia “would feel the true weight of every missile, every bomb, every shell it fired at us,” he said in his nightly video address.

With reporting from Reuters, AP and AFP

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Biden welcomes ‘momentary’ bids from Sweden and Finland to join NATO http://afarin-rahmanifar.com/biden-welcomes-momentary-bids-from-sweden-and-finland-to-join-nato/ Thu, 19 May 2022 16:49:09 +0000 http://afarin-rahmanifar.com/biden-welcomes-momentary-bids-from-sweden-and-finland-to-join-nato/

Russian troops have full control of the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol and all Ukrainian fighters entrenched there have surrendered, the Russian Defense Ministry has said, as Moscow steps up its assault on eastern Ukraine.

“The territory of the Azovstal Metallurgical Plant…has been completely liberated,” the ministry said. mentioned in a statement on May 20.

He said 531 people were part of the group that surrendered most recently, bringing the total number of defenders who had surrendered in the past few days to 2,439.

The total abandonment of the factory bunkers and tunnels ends the most destructive siege of the war that began almost three months ago.

There was no immediate confirmation from Ukraine, but President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said earlier that the Azovstal defenders had received a clear signal from the military command that they could get out and save their lives.

Live briefing: Russia’s invasion of Ukraine

RFE/RL Live briefing gives you all the major developments on the invasion of Russia, how kyiv is fighting back, the plight of civilians and the Western reaction. For all of RFE/RL’s coverage of the war, click here.

Russia had sought control of Mariupol, a port city on the Sea of ​​Azov, to complete a land corridor to the Crimean peninsula, which it annexed in 2014, and to release troops to join the battle for control of the Donbass region.

Russia has stepped up its assault on the region, plunging it relentlessly into what Zelenskiy says now looks like “hell”.

After more than 12 weeks of fighting since Moscow launched its invasion, Ukrainian authorities have said Russian forces’ “massive” artillery barrages continue to fire. target civil infrastructure, including residential neighborhoods.

On May 20, Zelenskiy strongly criticized one such attack, which hit a Ukrainian cultural center in the Kharkiv region.

Kharkiv Regional Governor Oleg Sinegubov said eight people were injured, including an 11-year-old girl. A local health official had previously put the number of injured at seven.

Zelenskiy posted a video on social media showing a large explosion hitting the newly renovated Palace of Culture in Lozova. The building was partly destroyed and the roof caught fire, Ukrainian emergency services reported.

“The occupiers have identified culture, education and humanity as their enemies,” Zelenskiy said. “What’s on the minds of people who choose such targets? Absolute evil, absolute stupidity.”

Sinegubov said there was no doubt Russian forces were targeting the cultural center, adding on Telegram that two of the three missiles fired were intercepted and the fire that broke out at the center was extinguished.

The British secret service noted May 20 in their daily report on the situation in Ukraine that after securing the strategic Sea port of Azov after a month-long siege that left the city in ruins and killed thousands of civilians, Moscow is likely to redeploy troops to help the offensive in the east.

WATCH: The widow of a Ukrainian civilian killed by the first Russian soldier to be tried for war crimes in Ukraine says he could have ‘missed’ her husband instead of carrying out orders. The Russian soldier accused of killing him pleaded guilty in a kyiv court on May 18.

The soldiers who left Azovstal, including those who were injured, were reportedly transferred to territory in eastern Ukraine controlled by Kremlin-backed separatists.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said it was registering the hundreds of Ukrainian fighters who left the Azovstal factory in Mariupol as prisoners of war (POW).

The ICRC says registering combatants as prisoners of war was “essential to ensure they are considered and treated with humanity and dignity” and allows the organization to track those captured and to help them stay in touch with their families.

kyiv has expressed hope that the fighters will be exchanged for Russian prisoners, but separatist authorities in the eastern region of Donetsk have hinted that some of them may face trial.

In southeastern Ukraine, approximately 1,000 vehicles carrying Ukrainian civilians were prevented from entering Ukrainian-held territory in Zaporizhzhya. The regional military administration said on May 20 that cars full of people trying to evacuate were blocked at a Russian checkpoint in the town of Vasylivka.

“In Vasylivka, the occupiers did not allow more than 1,000 cars to enter Ukrainian-controlled territory for the fourth day in a row,” the administration said in a Telegram message, adding that there were women and children in cars, and most of them have run out of money to buy food and water.

In Luhansk, local authorities said on May 20 that indiscriminate Russian shelling had killed at least 13 civilians in the past 24 hours and caused extensive damage.

Twelve people were killed in the city of Severodonesk, where a Russian assault failed, regional governor Serhiy Hayday said. The town and city of Lysychansk is in an area where Russian troops have launched an offensive.

In Donetsk, “the Russian enemy carried out massive artillery bombardments on civilian infrastructure, including multiple rocket launchers,” the Ukrainian General Staff said in a statement.

Ukraine’s prosecutor general’s office said that as of May 20, 232 children had been killed and 427 injured since the start of the Russian invasion.

In a regular address to the nation, President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said Russia had “completely destroyed” Ukraine’s eastern Donbass region.

“It’s hell out there – and that’s no exaggeration,” Zelenskiy said in his evening speech, reiterating his accusation that Russia is committing genocide, a claim Moscow has denied.

Zelenskiy also said that in the Chernihiv region north of kyiv, the village of Desna was hit by Russian missiles on May 19 and many were killed. Desna is about 70 kilometers from the border with Belarus.

Zelenskiy spoke on May 19 with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on a range of issues, including financial aid to help Ukraine’s crumbling economy, agricultural exports and “the evacuation of our heroes from Azovstal”.

Shoigu said on May 20 that the “liberation of the Luhansk People’s Republic” – a Ukrainian territory recognized by Russia as independent and controlled by Moscow-backed separatists – would soon be completed.

The minister also said Russia would bolster its western defenses with additional troops and 12 military bases in response to Sweden and Finland’s bid for NATO membership.

The two Nordic countries abandoned their longstanding neutrality this week as they formally submitted bids to join the alliance, saying the move was necessary due to security concerns sparked by Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine. .

With reporting from Reuters, AFP, AP, dpa, BBC, CNN and TASS

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Video Games: The West’s Alt-Right Radicalization Toolkit http://afarin-rahmanifar.com/video-games-the-wests-alt-right-radicalization-toolkit/ Sat, 14 May 2022 09:12:19 +0000 http://afarin-rahmanifar.com/video-games-the-wests-alt-right-radicalization-toolkit/

The radicalization of young people and adults by the alt-right has moved beyond online discussion forums and grassroots protests into the virtual reality of video games, particularly in the Western world, through avenues such as Roblox. If left unchecked, these threats can blur the lines between radicalization and terrorism over time. However, despite the widespread grip of this phenomenon, effective government sanctions and policies are largely absent from the public domain. This is so because efforts to dismantle a skewed sense of solidarity and relatedness held between players have yet to be implemented by counterterrorism experts and officials. Instead, although not entirely dedicated, their focus (experts and officials) has mostly remained confined to radical Salafist Islamism promulgated by groups like the Islamic State (IS) and Al-Qaeda, or to Hanafi Deobandism by the Taliban, and similar tactics before. adopted by the IS.

Consequently, counter-radicalization strategies and incomplete policy frameworks devised by the state apparatus have provided far-right groups and individuals with sufficient leeway to gradually infiltrate the societal framework and normalize their efforts to dehumanize “others” in a developing dystopian climate.

For example, reports from a video game titled Ethnic cleansing centered around a neo-Nazi skinhead stalking and shooting targets from minority communities – Jews, Mexicans and Africans – in an apparent race war has emerged. National Alliance, a neo-Nazi organization created the game in 2002. The virulent rhetoric promoted by its music division’s ad barely scratches the layer of hatred and violent indoctrination that teenagers, especially Americans, have been subjected to. over the years –

“In this game, the race war has already begun. Your character, Will, runs through a ghetto blasting various blacks and spics in an attempt to enter the subway system… where Jews [sic] hid to avoid carnage. Then you can blast the jews as they shout “Oy Vey!” on the way to the command center.

On the other hand, radicalized people have practically tried to recreate far-right terrorist attacks. For example, players playing Roblox have had the opportunity to recreate the horrific mosque shootings in Christchurch, New Zealand that took place in 2019, or the Walmart shootings in El Paso, Texas, during of the same year. Collectively, these terrorist attacks had killed more than 70 unarmed civilians, with the main targets being Muslims in the first instance and Hispanics and Latinos in the second.

Unraveling the Virtual Reality Security Dilemma

While constituting a tiny sample size, these acts of violence underscore the frightening security dilemma facing the trans-Pacific community. At the same time, they highlight the failure of security and law enforcement officials to push policymakers to secure the gaming arena. The former’s initiative is crucial in drawing the attention of governments to the ramifications of the unfettered leeway granted to alt-rightists in virtual reality. Public administrations usually overwhelmed with civil and administrative defense issues might otherwise not give the required attention that this serious issue deserves.

The continued rise of the pandemic and its variants has also paved the way for alt-right leaders to recruit people who have increasingly suffered from anxiety and isolation amid tight restrictions imposed by their governments. They [gamers] are looking for ways to overcome the loss of close ties and a sense of normalcy.

What is more worrying is that officials caught in the midst of these developments have exposed trends that point to a growing security threat, including in the United Kingdom (UK), which has recently witnessed a series of terrorist attacks. Matt Jukes, Chief of the UK Metropolitan Police [Met Police] Counterterrorism Division, presented its findings on alt-right recruitment through video games and the percentage of terrorism arrests last year. For example, far-right individuals accounted for 41% of counterterrorism-related arrests in 2021.

On the other hand, until recent changes to Crusader Kings, a video game created by Paradox, a Swedish company, neo-Nazis were on a rampage, promoting a distorted narrative of the Middle Ages. The second version of this game, launched in 2014, had the option of expelling Jews from a homogeneous Christian kingdom, militarily protected against threats posed by non-whites. Selling at least a million copies in the first year of its launch, it also popularized the rallying cry given by Pope Urban II – Deus Vult or God willing – during the first crusade against the Muslims. However, until Paradox premiered its third season in 2020, it laid the groundwork for a virtual, utopian dystopia, aligning itself with the divisive alt-right agenda.

Since 2016, the populist and far-right wave has swept across North America and Europe to varying degrees. Therefore, it has become more relevant for game makers to rein in neo-fascist and neo-Nazi users who fabricate the truth to fuel the domestic political violence and disorder they thrive on. Islamophobia and anti-Semitism target vulnerable communities that for centuries have been subjected to widespread tyranny and unprecedented violence.

In November 2017, Angry Goy IIa video game published by a white supremacist, Christopher Cantwell, incorporated a mission where users could break inside the HQ of LGBTQ+ Agenda, a gay club, and slaughter everyone there.

Unsurprisingly, the virulent narrative of these video games is directed against women, Jews and Muslims. These are the three categories of individuals whom the alt-right has relegated to positions of second-class citizens, only worthy of serving the “superior” race through absolute submission and the erosion of their individualistic identities. In particular, most of those arrested belong to families belonging to the majority society.

Additionally, forums such as Roblox and Minecraft provided ways for like-minded radicalized individuals to connect with other gamers and embrace the solidarity offered to lone wolves, via interactive games based on Nazi concentration camps. The brotherhood cultivated by alt-right leaders under these circumstances provides disgruntled and isolated individuals with avenues to air their common grievances against a particular community or perhaps the state establishment perceived as unfairly supporting non-believers. -members by adopting racist characters and through the chat. rooms. Despite being taken down a few years ago, specific profiles on Roblox reported by a concerned mother have proactively engaged in spreading anti-Semitic and white supremacist propaganda. One of the users had even developed an avatar of Gavin McInnes, the founder of Proud Boys – a misogynist, neo-fascist and politically violent American organization, whose members participated in the Capitol Hill riots.

Jason Blazakis, a professor at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies, had previously raised concerns about such games. He expressed concern that gamers, mainly the younger generation, could be caught up in the jargon and memes promoted by neo-Nazi groups as the latter advance their alt-right extremist agendas. Alex Newhouse, a professor at the same institute, argued that “there are individuals who are actively on the lookout or people who they believe can be turned into mass shooters or terrorists.”

Overcoming the pitfalls of the radicalization of gamers

While several affected users or organizations brought these profiles to light and urged game companies to take strict action, and Roblox hired thousands of content moderators to pursue and remove these instigators, their efforts continued to fail. The challenge is that private companies will continue to fail to prevent their games from becoming hotbeds of radicalization without equitable support from state institutions and legislation. Unfortunately, some companies are also failing in this goal due to their profit-driven strategy to recruit more and more users who, under the radar, link up with alt-right organizations such as British Nationalist Vanguard and The Patriotic. Forehead.

In addition, close coordination and synergy between civil society cyber activists, government officials and private industry is paramount to ensure that a bottom-up approach can compensate where a top-down strategy to counter trolls and alt-right propagandists fail.

In addition, laws consistent with the advice of gaming and cybersecurity experts to minimize opportunities for non-grata people to join and spread harmful content on these forums should be implemented gradually. Specially trained national staff must lead this change. However, the will to institute these reforms is insufficient. Instead, a defined timeline for implementing the desired transformations, backed by a gradual and simultaneous replacement of redundant measures with these redesigns, is equally relevant.

In addition, administrations around the world must work together with game psychologists and judicial branches to constitutionally introduce political reforms to recruit, through an uncontested mechanism, capable people with experience and theoretical knowledge to train a subsection within the bureaucracies. This staff would provide legislators with the relevant knowledge to introduce the above-mentioned revisions. Without filling this gap in this institution, governments will always find it difficult to tackle this task. Additionally, teaching programs detailing the alt-right agenda and its dangers of spilling over into virtual reality should be adequately disseminated in academic institutions to warn the next generation about what the gaming world might entail. .

Moreover, mainstream and local media have an influential role in shaping this discourse. Nationally and regionally, they can relay informative stories about the vulnerability of impressionable youth to radical indoctrination by alt-right propagandists. Additionally, personalized stories from affected families can add a human touch to the counter-response and warn many people to be more vigilant and closely monitor their children’s gambling activities and ideological leanings fabricated by radicalized leaders. . Additionally, NGOs equipped to rehabilitate and re-assimilate affected players into mainstream society should be set up at the local level.

Perhaps just as crucial, if not more crucial, is to reverse the strategy adopted by the alt-right. Gaming platforms used to incite hostility and cultivate an insular attitude among users could also be used to foster inclusivity and accommodation.

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