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‘Islamic’ Military Coalition – Really?

 
 “Verily, God does not change men’s condition unless they change their inner selves.” Quran 13:11
 
 
 

‘Islamic’ Military Coalition – Really?

 

By

 Syeda Qudsia Mashhadi

 

 

 

 

 

 

‘Islamic’ Military Coalition – Really?

By

 Syeda Qudsia Mashhadi

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The recent announcement of an ‘Islamic’ Military Coalition by the Defense Minister of Saudi Arabia has raised some questions. The first thing that hits home is the fact that no Shia Muslim country is a part of this Islamic Coalition. I am all for a strong military coalition that has representation from all Muslim countries. This coalition on the other hand, does not include ‘all’; on the contrary, it sidelines some countries on the basis of sectarian differences. One wonders why the Ummah keeps on playing in the hands of Zionists and dividing itself on the basis of sects. Why this ‘Islamic’ military coalition comprises of only Sunni Muslim countries? Are we so blind that we cannot see that this military coalition of ‘Islamic’ states will further the divide between Sunnis and Shias?

Sputnik International also reported on this sectarian selection of Muslim countries:

According to al-Gharaoui, a member of the Iraqi Parliament’s Security Committee, the new initiative may lead to a further division in the Muslim society and deepen the split between various courses of Islam. The coalition, which includes Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Malaysia, Nigeria, Pakistan and Turkey, among other nations, was created “to counteract terrorism, which became a threat to the interests of the Islamic nation,” according to an official statement of Riyadh authorities.

According to the Defense Minister of Saudi Arabia, Muhammad bin Salman Al Saud, the coalition will fight not only against Daesh, but also against other terrorist groups. It is unclear what exactly he means by ‘other terrorist groups’. The Saudis did mention one militant group though: Hezbollah. This is alarming as Hezbollah has been fighting for Palestinians and offering resistance to the Israeli occupation of Palestine. They are not viewed as a ‘terrorist’ group like the Daesh, rather looked upon with respect amongst the oppressed Muslims. It would be better for Saudis to first ask Iraqi and Palestinian Muslims what they think about Hezbollah before labeling them as terrorists!

If this military coalition is expected to serve any purpose, it must include all Shia Muslim countries as well. The Muslim world is incomplete without Iran, Syria, Iraq, Bahrain and Lebanon. It is ironical that the countries most infested with ISIS/Daesh, like Iraq and Syria, are not included in this military coalition! Who is Saudi Arabia fooling?

As a Sunni Muslim, it is painful for me to see the way we were pushing Shia Muslims away from us. They are our brothers and we should bridge the gaps instead of highlighting the minor differences we have them. Have we forgotten the lesson of peace and unity that our Prophet PBUH preached all his life?

I don’t have any hope of any intelligent or reasonable response from Pakistan’s political leadership; the ones who are incapable of handling their own country properly cannot be expected to lead the whole Ummah at times of crises. I do, however, expect Pakistan’s military leadership to be watchful while being part of any coalition that aims to target other Muslim countries or sects. These are truly the most testing times for the Ummah and we see the situation worsening gradually. The only hope of salvation is by returning to our Deen and the message of Quran, but we deliberately choose to ignore it.

What to say about other Muslim countries when the so-called ‘custodian’ of ‘Harmain Shareefain is the biggest supporter and abettor of terrorism in the world! It is sickening and revolting to see that they would rather support the Zionist and Apartheid state of Israel than the Muslim Shia Iran! They would rather support the cut-throats of Daesh Khawarij then support the Shia Muslim, Bashar al Assad, who is still, by the way, the legitimate ruler of Syria, however despotic or dictatorial he may be, is a separate debate altogether.

No country has the right to interfere in the internal matters of any other sovereign state. Whether it is the USA, the so-called super power of the world or KSA, the so-called leader of Ummah, none of them has the right to run every country the way they want! They do not have the right to bring a regime of their choice in other countries. Period. If we have any sense of dignity and integrity as human beings, we, the countries silently watching, should call their bluff.

Time of empty rhetoric is long gone. We do not need another ‘Organization of Islamic Cooperation’ which failed miserably to do what was expected of it. Those countries, who have been openly giving aid to terrorists just so they could topple the leadership of the rival countries, have not done any service to Islam or the world. Such countries need to show with their actions that they will no longer support terrorists but rather support those neighbouring Muslim countries that they have been bombing!

Are we as human beings content to see new videos of gruesome executions released repeatedly by the monsters of ISIS? Are we content to see daily the children in schools and hospitals being bombed in Syria, Yemen and Palestine? Because if all of this is acceptable to us, then we do not have the right to inhabit this planet anymore, and it’s only poetic justice that we all kill ourselves in senseless wars over pointless issues.

 

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Saudi Arabian Airlines soars to new heights

Saudi Arabian Airlines soars to new heights

 
 

Tariq A. Al-Maeena

I had been a long-term critic of the state of affairs at the national carrier we have all come to know as Saudia.  My extensive association with them provided me with an insight very few other writers had access to.  And watching how the airline floundered and stumbled from a position of strength was indeed painful, not just to me and not just to the many dedicated employees of the organization, but to the hundreds of thousands of passengers dissatisfied with their experience with this airline.

One of the most perplexing questions was how this airline with practically a guaranteed market failed to make any significant impact in the region.  In previous decades, and with very little competition around, Saudia was indeed the big kid on the block.  There was a very lucrative market to tap into.  The decades of the late 70s, 80s and 90s witnessed a massive flow of passenger migration called the “teacher movement”, whereby hundreds of thousands of school and university teachers from Egypt, Sudan, Syria, Jordan and elsewhere were transported back to their homeland during annual vacations.

There was also the annual flow of Saudi and expatriate tourists leaving the country during the hot summer months for cooler places.  With the generous surplus provided by increasing oil prices, many Saudis and their families began venturing outside their borders using Saudia as a vehicle to get them to their destinations.

The rising standard of living also led to the recruitment by Saudi households of hundreds of thousands of domestic workers from Third World countries, all of whom were initially required to fly on Saudia.

Then there were the Umrah passengers who would fly from different corners of the world to perform their religious rites.  Added to this were the millions who flocked to this country to perform the annual Haj pilgrimage.  Saudia, the primary beneficiary of this vast abundance of passengers from so many different sectors and at different intervals during the year, was indeed very fortunate and the envy of many regional carriers.  At that time, there was no Emirates Airlines or Qatar Airways or Etihad.  It was all Saudia.

The government too was very generous to the national airline, allocating a sizable portion of its annual budget to bolster the operating costs of this growing company.  But in spite of all that the company was gifted with, organizational rot began to set in.  By the mid 90s, complaints were rising against the carrier from frustrated passengers who targeted everything from poor customer services to the shabby appearance of the aircraft and technical delays.  But all such complaints fell on deaf ears.  Operating costs kept rising, new CEOs were appointed but there was no significant change.

The privatization scheme announced in the 90s by the late Prince Sultan, who was the country’s minister of defense at the time, failed to move forward for many years as many of the airline’s executives continued to drag their feet against such a move. They feared that it would end their tenure as recipients of the cash cow that came to be known as Saudia.  The airline was literally treated as a country club by some executives, where promotions to higher grades were determined not on the basis of qualifications but by who knew and buttered whom.

 

 

Saudi Airlines

 

 

 

The apparent lack of accountability led to unprecedented levels of nepotism.  This blatant abuse of ethics led to diminishing corporate ethics and poor worker morale which translated to poor service and a poor product.  It also signaled the end of service of many qualified individuals who left the airline disillusioned with the “backroom” politics. While other upstart regional airlines garnered awards on the global stage, Saudia was confined to looking at the festivities from behind the curtains.

But recently, things have begun to change.  A new CEO took over.  Saleh N. Al-Jasser was appointed as the director general of Saudi Arabian Airlines in 2014.  He brought with him a “can do” spirit of change.  He has introduced corporate discipline.  Unlike his predecessors, he began by getting rid of senior deadwood executives who had been hanging on tenaciously to their positions for decades and had contributed nothing of significance to the airline’s growth.  On the contrary, they were the reason the airline fell backwards. That process of cleaning up still continues as some more executives were removed from their posts recently.

Al-Jasser stated at the time of his appointment: “We will encourage a spirit of initiative and innovation to improve the level of performance and customer services.   We will give top priority to customers in order to maximize satisfaction.”  He also demanded that expenditures had to be rationalized and operational efficiency boosted.  The privatization drive has been given new impetus.  His pursuit of organizational agility and accountability has begun to translate itself as is evident by increased customer satisfaction and load factors.  Morale is on the upswing, service has improved, passenger complaints have dropped, and the airline is finally getting on the right track.  Saudia is becoming the first choice for many travelers.

Granted there is more work to be done and the competition is stiff, but with an individual like Saleh Al-Jasser piloting the organization, I have no doubt that Saudi Arabian Airlines will indeed be taken to new horizons.

— The author can be reached at talmaeena@aol.com. Follow him on Twitter @talmaeena

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