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Leaked Presidential Candidate Hillary Clinton Email suggests Gulf Allies’ Support for Islamic State Terrorist Group
STATE DEPARTMENT, October 21, 2016: Foreign policy experts and analysts say they are perplexed by a hacked email in which Democratic presidential candidate and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton appears to accuse the Saudi and Qatari governments of providing logistical and financial support to Islamic State extremists.
The accusation is one among thousands of messages that were stolen from the personal email of Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta and released on the Wikileaks website.
The lengthy message is dated Aug. 17, 2014, and comes from the email address “firstname.lastname@example.org.” It begins with a note saying “Sources include Western intelligence, US intelligence and sources in the region” and comprises a broad policy discussion of how to deal with Middle East terrorism.
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It says in part, “We need to use our diplomatic and more traditional intelligence assets to bring pressure on the governments of Qatar and Saudi Arabia, which are providing clandestine financial and logistic support to ISIL and other radical Sunni groups in the region.” ISIL is an acronym used by the U.S. government for Islamic State.
Clinton’s presidential campaign did not respond to several attempts and requests by VOA to verify the authenticity of the emails released by WikiLeaks.
While Saudi Arabia and other U.S. allies, or individuals close to their governments, have long been suspected of financing extremist groups in the region, this accusation is more specific than anything uttered publicly by the Obama administration. It also is bewildering to terrorism experts, however, including some in the U.S. intelligence community, who say they never have seen evidence of direct Saudi or Qatari support for IS.
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“I have myself [during my term] never seen intelligence from the United States government that says the Saudi government, the government, is giving any help of any kind, any material assistance, any financial assistance, to a terrorist group,” former U.S. Ambassador to Syria Robert Ford told VOA on Wednesday.
Ford added, “However, there is a lot of information about Saudi private individuals, including charities, and particular business people, as well as others in the Gulf, private citizens, who have provided help.”
He said that he was not convinced the leaked emails were “genuine,” and that he could not “speculate” on the motivation behind the leak.
Washington has viewed the governments of Saudi Arabia and Qatar as strong partners in the Gulf area for regional security and counterterrorism efforts, and it has argued that terrorist financing comes from wealthy individuals, rather than governments.
“I think we’ve seen over the past 10 years a huge shift in the Saudis’ approach to terrorist financing. And I really do regard them as our number one partner in the Gulf in our efforts against terrorist financing,” Daniel Glaser, assistant treasury secretary for terrorist financing, said last Thursday in a webcast from the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.
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In a statement to VOA on Wednesday, the Saudi Embassy said “the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia does not comment on leaked documents. However, any claims that the Saudi government funds Daesh [IS] are preposterous and simply defy logic.”
The statement used an alternative name for Islamic State terrorist group.
According to the State Department’s annual Country Reports on Terrorism, issued this June, both the Saudi and Qatari governments are members of a regional financial action task force that combats terrorist financing.
‘Appropriate’ to review
A former senior congressional staff member, though, who wished not to be named, argued that a policy review on the Gulf allies would be “appropriate.”
One of the tools that could be used to accomplish this is that Congress could authorize the president through legislation to designate a country as a “Jurisdiction of Terrorism Financing Concern.” That designation triggers a menu of penalties and provides the president with additional leverage to pressure foreign governments that are failing to shut down terrorist financiers and facilitators.
“The Saudis and Qataris know very well the suspicion of their intentions and their actions exists in the U.S.,” Middle East Institute scholar Daniel Serwer told VOA, adding that Washington has yet to “reach any definitive conclusion” about how to stabilize the situation and reduce the level of violence, given a policy that “has not been stupendously successful” in the Middle East.
While expressing concerns about Wikileaks, the State Department declined to comment on the veracity of the leaked documents.
“What I can tell you is that Qatar and Saudi Arabia are members of the counter-ISIL coalition and have been contributing members of that coalition pretty much since its founding,” said spokesman John Kirby in a recent briefing.
Kirby added, “We rely a great deal on their efforts to help us counter terrorism in the region,” particularly the Islamic State militants.
In October 2014, Vice President Joe Biden once apologized to regional allies after bluntly expressing concerns about their role in the rise of the Islamic State militant group in a speech at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government.
“The Saudis, the Emirates, et cetera,” said Biden, “what were they doing? They were so determined to take down [Syrian President Bashar al-]Assad, and essentially have a proxy Sunni-Shia war, what did they do? They poured hundreds of millions of dollars and tens, thousands of tons of weapons into anyone who would fight against Assad — except that the people who were being supplied, [they] were al-Nusra, and al-Qaida, and the extremist elements of jihadis who were coming from other parts of the world.”
These policies ended up helping militants linked to al-Qaida and ultimately IS, according to Biden.
Glaser’s praise for Saudi Arabia as the number one U.S. partner in combating terrorist financing came at a time of serious strain between Washington and Riyadh over other issues.
The U.S. is reviewing its support for the monarchy after the Saudi bombing of civilians at a funeral in Yemen.
Moreover, the U.S. Congress has voted to override President Barack Obama’s veto of a bill that would allow lawsuits against Saudi Arabia for the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. (VOA)
"In India, to be born as a man is a crime, to question a woman is an atrocious crime, and this all because of those women who keep suppressing men in the name of feminism."
Feminism, a worldwide movement that started to establish, define and defend equal rights for women in all sections- economically, politically, and socially. India, being a patriarchal society gives a gender advantage to the men in the society thus, Indian feminists sought to fight against the culture-specific issue for women in India. Feminism itself is nothing but a simple movement that pursues equal rights for women (including transwomen) and against misogyny both external and internal. It states nowhere that women should get more wages than men, that women deserve more respect than men, that's pseudo-feminism.
Pseudo feminists state that women deserve more respect and rights, any other gender deserves no respect. They feel that women should be the ones ruling the world and at higher positions. When feminism takes a turn for extremities it becomes pseudo-feminism and people who label themselves as feminists will bash anyone who speaks against even the wrongdoings of a woman. They'll bash women who're wife and sisters for not speaking up and support any women criticizing political leaders even if it's completely irrational. This is where hypocrisy and pseudo-feminism merge with each other.
They take advantage of the rights given to women to protect themselves to threaten other genders. The rights given to women are supposed to make them feel reassured that they can reach out to the judiciary if their rights are being hampered not to threaten to make the victim sound like the culprit.
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Indian Feminist Movement has made significant progress however, even in the modern world women are still unsafe and are discriminated against when it comes to getting a job, land ownership, and access to education. While filling the official papers it is still asked "Wife of /Daughter of:….."
People in India still continue the practice of sex-selective abortion, abandoning the girl child, not letting girl child study instead they should learn household chores, they are seen as a burden to the family. Such injustices make feminism such an important movement, gender equality is worth fighting for to create a safe environment for women. Feminists over the years have been criticized for focusing on the rights of privileged women and not giving equal representation to poorer and lower caste women, which has led to separate caste-specific feminist organizations and movements.
Some notable milestones in the Feminist Movement
- Raja Ram Mohan Roy campaigned against Sati Pratha (practice in which a widow sacrificed herself by sitting atop her deceased husband's funeral pyre) and child marriage
- Savitribai Phule started the first school for girls at Bhidewada in Pune city in 1848.
- In 1972, SEWA, the biggest trade union for women was set up by Ela Bhatt for women working in the informal sector.
- The Chipko Movement was launched and led by women in 1973.
- #MeToo movement against sexual harassment and abuse was started in 2006 and revived in the year 2015.
People in India still continue the practice of sex-selective abortion, abandoning the girl child, not letting girl child study instead they should learn household chores, they are seen as a burden to the family.Unsplash
Feminism is often misunderstood as pseudo-feminism and hence, becomes the target for public hatred and is accused of wronging other genders under the façade of feminism. It is misunderstood by Indians as female domination instead of gender equality. Indian society and Indian feminists believe that only men are perpetrators of a heinous crime like rape and they refuse to even recognize the men who say they were raped and it's the toxic masculinity in the society that believes how can a woman rape a man? Reality is different from what we believe, women can be the perpetrator too, women threaten to file a case of domestic violence, or sexual assault against innocent people just to fulfill their ego.
Thankfully feminism and pseudo feminism are two separate concepts and feminism is just about equality and not judgment. Indian society and feminists actually need to understand the difference between the two and stop tarnishing the Feminist Movement as a whole.
Keywords: Feminism, World, India, Pseudo-Feminism, Gender
Kerala is a land of many good things. It has an abundance of nature, culture, art, and food. It is also a place of legend and myth, and is known for its popular folklore, the legend of Yakshi. This is not a popular tale outside the state, but it is common knowledge for travellers, especially those who fare through forests at night.
The legend of the yakshi is believed to be India's equivalent of the Romanian Dracula, except of course, the Yakshi is a female. Many Malayalis believe that the Yakshi wears a white saree and had long hair. She has a particular fragrance, which is believed to be the fragrance of the Indian devil-tree flowers. She seduces travellers with her beauty, and kills them brutally.
Yakshi idol in Veroor, Sri Dharamashastha temple Image source: wikimedia commons
The Yakshi is believed to live in a palm tree which can appear like a palace. Victims are taken here before they are killed. Travellers on highways are often advised not to stop near heavily forested areas, or speak to anyone who closely resembles a Yakshi. Some believe she can change form, while other hold to the belief that she doesn't. after securing her victim, the only trace left behind is body parts like hair, nails, and teeth.
They say, like other ghosts, a Yakshi's feet will not touch the ground. This is something to look out for. Mysterious deaths have been reported across the rural areas in Kerala, and all these have been attributed to the legend.
Keywords: Legends, Yakshi, Urban legend, Ghost, Kerala, Myth, Vampire
The LGBTQ+ acronym stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and others. In India LGBTQ+ community also include a specific social group, part religious cult, and part caste: the Hijras. They are culturally defined either as "neither men nor women" or as men who become women by adopting women's dress and behavior. Section 377 of the India Penal code that criminalized all sexual acts "against the order of nature" i.e. engaging in oral sex or anal sex along with other homosexual activities were against the law, ripping homosexual people off of their basic human rights. Thus, the Indian Supreme Court ruled a portion of Section 377 unconstitutional on 6th September 2018.
But the question is, "was India always against homosexuality"? Has the concept of homosexuality being unnatural existed forever? No, in Indian history and Hinduism homosexuality has never been an offense, in fact in several instances it has been depicted how people embraced their identity, be it sexual identity or gender identity. Section 377 was brought to India by the British in 1862, while India was colonized. Even after the Independence, it was only in 2018 that the Supreme Court ruled it as irrational and illogical.
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Homosexuality in Ancient India
When Supreme Court decriminalized homosexuality in India, there was an uproar about it being a western ideology and liberalism. But in reality, homosexuality has existed since the time of the Vedas. The Gay and Lesbian Vaishnava Association (GALVA) researched and discovered that it was around 3102 B.C. (during the Vedic Age) that homosexuality or non-normative sexual identity was recognized as "Tritiya Prakriti", or the third nature. Ancient India not only made mentions of homosexuality but accepted it as well.
Hinduism is the most vastly followed religion in India. Hinduism does not explicitly mention homosexuality however it does contain a homosexual theme and characters in its text. There have been various instances in our scriptures and texts that have introduced us to LGBT+ characters such as the androgynous form of Shiva and Parvati Ardhanariswara meaning "the half-female lord". One of the most popular and ancient texts on sexuality, eroticism, and emotional fulfillment of life, "Kamasutra" has a complete chapter dedicated to homosexuality and homosexual sex. Numerous Hindu sculptures and temples have statues depicting homosexual activities.
Numerous Hindu sculptures and temples have statues depicting homosexual activities. Facebook
Our Mughals were Queer
Mughals are often seen under the light of cruelty, rigid ethics, nobility, and polygamy. Simultaneously, Mughals are also the ones credited for the emergence of Sufism, abolished jizya tax, love beyond religion, classes, and gender.
In the Baburnama written in memoirs of our very first Mughal ruler Muhammad Babur, several instances documented Babur's infatuation and affection towards a teenage boy named Baburi. We also have multiple Persian couplets as evidence of Babur's affection for Baburi. Mughals engaged in homosexuality and pederasty, and they believed that later was a form of "pure love".
But as time passed homosexuality was suppressed more and more though people practiced it in secret if revealed they were punished. According to the Fatwa-e-Alamgiri Sharia-based text of the Mughal Empire, there is a common set of punishments for homosexuality, which could include 50 lashes for a slave, 100 for a free infidel, or death by stoning for a Muslim.
British Raj and Independence of India
In 1862, Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code that criminalized homosexual sex came into force. Even after Independence in 1947, the section remained a part of the Indian Constitution. There were protests all over the country to give people of the LGBT+ community basic human rights but it was not until 2018 that The Supreme Court of India ruled the portion of Section 377 has unconstitutional and struck it off. One judge said the landmark decision would "pave the way for a better future.". With Section 377 gone are LGBT+ people allowed to fall in love freely? No, people are still afraid to love because of the stigma in our society when it comes to homosexuality; they are seen as lesser humans.
ALSO READ: Significant Support for Rights for LGBTQ+
Although the Supreme Court has decriminalized homosexual activities, same-sex marriage remains illegal in the country. Homophobia is still prevalent in India, and homosexual children would rather commit suicide than come out to society with their true identity, that's how harsh of a world we live in. Lacking support from family, society, or police, many gay rape victims do not report the crimes. In 1977, writer and Indian mathematician Shakuntla Devi published "The World of Homosexuals". It was the first study in the Indian context; the book contains interviews with homosexual men set in the years of Emergency. She wrote, "rather than pretending that homosexuals don't exist it is time we face the facts squarely in the eye and find room for homosexual people." We've had small victories in our fight against homophobia and getting LGBT+ community the rights they deserve as humans, but we still have a long and exhausting fight ahead of us.