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Map of the Mashriq in 1600 AD under the Ottoman Empire.
Today's Egypt is in Geographically in Africa but its heart is with the Asian Arab States as part of the MASHREQ.
From this follows that many of its activities as part of the African Union, or at the UN, are simply out of place.
Also, Egypt itself never claimed that it was part of the Arab North African Maghreb. In effect it claims leadership of Arab Asia.

 

The Mashriq or Mashreq (also in use: Mashrek) (Arabic: ????) is, generally speaking, the region of Arabic-speaking countries to the east of Egypt and north of the Arabian Peninsula. It is derived from the Arabic consonantal root sh-r-q (? ? ?) relating to the east or the sunrise, and essentially means "east" (most literally or poetically, "place of sunrise"). It refers to a large area in the Middle East, bounded between the Mediterranean Sea and Iran. It is therefore the companion term to Maghreb (????), meaning "west" (a reference to the Arabic-speaking countries in the west of North Africa). Egypt occupies an ambiguous position: while it has cultural, ethnic and linguistic ties to both the Mashriq and the Maghreb, it is unique and different from both. Thus, it is usually seen as being part of neither; however, when it is grouped with one or the other, it is generally considered part of the Mashriq on account of its closer ties to the Levant (Egypt and the Levant were often ruled as a single unit, as under the Ancient Egyptian New Kingdom, theUmayyad CaliphateAbbasid Caliphate, the Fatimid Caliphate, the Ayyubid dynasty, the Mamluks, and for a time under Muhammad Ali Pasha) and similarity between the Egyptian and near Levantine dialects.[citation needed] These geographical terms date from the early Islamic conquests.
This region is somewhat synonymous with Bilad al-Sham, but also includes Iraq and Kuwait. It is occasionally used as a synonym for "non-Maghreb" and in these instances includes EgyptSudan, and the Arabian Peninsula.

 
Egypt:

 

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 26th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Today, Saturday, July 26th, the news are that Prime Minster Netanyahu agreed to offer a 12 hours pause in the assault on Hamas in honor of the Muslim Eid al Fitr celebration and Hamas agreed to obey as well. The general hope is that the time will be used to start negotiations that could justify an extension of this truce. So far these news rated page 8 of the New York Times.

We follow very closely these events as SUSTAINABILITY in the Middle East requires a peaceful settlement of the Palestinian-Palestinian-Israeli conflict with the creation of an agreed upon and legitimized two or three States solution in the area between the Jordan and the Mediterranean Sea.

After the release of the Genie of War from his temporary tunnel.  Israel cannot allow another temporary non-solution that will clearly lead only to renewed fighting down the road. Kick the Can time is over they say. The destruction of the military capability of Hamas and making safe the frontiers around the Gaza Strip – so no tunneling under those frontiers will continue in the aftermass of the 2914 conflict.

In these conditions Prime Minister Netanyahu and his cabinet have no interest in a 7 days cease-fire suggested by US  Secretary of State Mr. Kerry, neither does Israel consider pulling back the military equipment and the military from the recent incursion into the Gaza Strip without having achieved first the destruction of those tunnels – some as three mile long. Nor will Israel allow bringing in cement to the Gaza Strip before there is an authority to monitor that this cement is used for housing and roads and not for repairing  those tunnels and build new ones.

Those issues are fully known to Mr. Kerry and he also mentions them in his argument for cease-fire and negotiations, but here comes his meeting in Cairo where besides the President and Foreign Minister of Egypt acting as hosts, he also faced the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon who was pulled in as International Boss by the Amir of Qatar.to whom Mr. Kerry had to give homage in order to get the UN into this as representing the World at large – knowing that he came here on money from the main backer of the Hamas, while he himself, Mr. Ban, is in effect leaning on help from the Arab League at large that was represented in Cairo thus by the boss of the boss – Mr. Nabil AlArabi, Secretary -General of the Arab League that Mr, Ban Ki-moon recognizes as representing the Middle East region without Israel at the UN.  So far as the UN goes, Israel is not in Western Asia, but in Europe and “Others” – somewhat closer to the moon.

The real power the four elements that met in Cairo on July 24th is shown in the reporting from the US Department of State that we post here in full. The last speaker being obviously the one who thinks he represents the power of Sunni Islam – Arab and Turkish

———————-

Nabil AlAraby  (born 15 March 1935 in Egypt) is an experienced Egyptian diplomat who has been Secretary-General of the Arab League since July 2011. Previously, he was Foreign Minister of Egypt in Essam Sharaf’s post revolution government from March to June 2011.   Elaraby was Legal Adviser and Director in the Legal and Treaties Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs from 1976 to 1978 and then Ambassador to India from 1981 to 1983; he then returned to his previous post at the Foreign Ministry from 1983 to 1987.

He was Legal Adviser to the Egyptian delegation to the Camp David Middle East peace conference in 1978, Head of the Egyptian delegation to the Taba negotiations from 1985 to 1989, and Agent of the Egyptian Government to the Egyptian-Israeli arbitration tribunal (Taba dispute) from 1986 to 1988. He was appointed by the Egyptian Minister of Justice on the list of arbitrations in civil and commercial affairs in Egypt in 1995.

He holds a J.S.D. (1971) and an LL.M. (1969) from New York University School of Law and a law degree from Cairo University‘s Faculty of Law (1955). AlAraby is a partner at Zaki Hashem & Partners in Cairo, specializing in negotiations and arbitration.

at the United Nations:

In 1968 Elaraby was an Adlai Stevenson Fellow in International Law at the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR). He was appointed a Special Fellow in International Law at UNITAR in 1973, and was Legal Adviser to the Egyptian delegation to the United Nations Geneva Middle East peace conference from 1973-1975.

AlArby was Egypt’s Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations in New York from 1978 to 1981, the Permanent Representative to the UN Office at Geneva from 1987 to 1991, the Permanent Representative to the UN in New York from 1991 to 1999, a member of the International Law Commission of the United Nations from 1994 to 2004, President of the Security Council in 1996, and Vice-President of the General Assembly in 1993, 1994 and 1997. He was a commissioner at the United Nations Compensation Commission in Geneva from 1999 to 2001, and a member of the International Court of Justice from 2001 until February 2006.

AlAraby has served as Chairman for the First (Disarmament and international security questions) Committee of the General Assembly, the Informal Working Group on an Agenda for Peace, the Working Group on Legal Instruments for the UN Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro, and the UN Special Committee on Enhancing the Principle of the Prohibition of the Use of Force in International Relations.

Other international work:

AlAraby was an Arbitrator at the International Chamber of Commerce International Court of Arbitration in Paris in a dispute concerning the Suez Canal from 1989 to 1992. He was a judge in the Judicial Tribunal of the Organization of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries in 1990.

AlAraby was a member of the governing board of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute from 2000 to 2010.[1] Since December 2008 he has been serving as the Director of the Regional Cairo Centre for International Commercial Arbitration[2] and as a counsel of the Sudanese government in the “Abyei Boundary” Arbitration between the Government of Sudan and the Sudanese People’s Revolutionary Movement.[3]

AlAraby has also served as a Member of the Board for the Cairo Regional Centre for International Commercial Arbitration, a Member of the Board for the Egyptian Society of International Law, and a Member of the World Intellectual Property Organization Arbitration and Mediation Centre List of Neutrals.

2011 Egyptian revolution and transitional government:

Nabil AlAraby was one of the group of about 30 high-profile Egyptians acting as liaison between the protesters and the government, and pressing for the removal of President Hosni Mubarak.[4]

At a democracy forum on 25 February 2011, he said the Egyptian government suffered from a lack of separation of powers, a lack of transparency and a lack of judicial independence.
He said foreign policy should be based on Egypt’s interests, including “holding Israel accountable when it does not respect its obligations.
[5]

On 6 March 2011, he was appointed Foreign Minister of Egypt in Essam Sharaf‘s post-revolution cabinet.[6]  Since then he has opened the Rafah Border Crossing with Gaza and brokered the reconciliation of Hamas with Fatah.[7]

Clearly – a very versed man with large horizon and it is not clear where he stands with the present government of Egypt. Clearly not in the US corner.

————————————————————————

From the US Department of State – Remarks from

John Kerry
Secretary of State
Cairo, Egypt
July 25, 2014 o9:59 PM EDT

Remarks With UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry, and Arab League Secretary General Nabil al-Araby.


 As available:

FOREIGN MINISTER SHOUKRY: (Via interpreter.) Good evening. You know that Egypt is – the serious military escalation in Gaza and what the Palestinian people have been exposed to in terms of destruction – broad destruction and killing of civilians that claimed up until now over 800 civilians and thousands of injured. We are working incessantly to end this crisis and to spare the Palestinian people of the dangers it has been exposed to, and to prevent further military escalation. And this has led to the proposal – to us proposing our plan, and we should know that Egypt has not spared any effort to stop – or to reach a cease-fire to protect the Palestinian people and to allow for negotiations to start between the two parties in order to discuss all the issues, in order to restore stability in the Gaza strip, and to meet the needs of the brotherly Palestinian people, and to also prevent further violence which the Palestinian civilians have been exposed to.

We have continued our efforts since the beginning of the military escalation to achieve this goal in cooperation with the U.S. and the secretary-general of the UN and the secretary-general of the Arab League and other parties – other regional and international parties in order to achieve this goal. We once again call for the immediate cease-fire, a cease of all actions in order to protect the Palestinian people. And given that the parties have not shown any – sufficient willingness to stop this, we are calling for a humanitarian cease-fire to observe the holy days that we are on the verge of observing at the end of the holy month of Ramadan and the Eid for a period of seven days, in the hope that this will lead – will prompt the parties to heed the calls of conscience and humanitarian needs in order to reach a comprehensive cease-fire, and also begin negotiations in order to prevent the reoccurrence of this crisis.

And also, to propose a good framework for this objective, we have consulted over the last few days in order to formulate a formula that would be agreed to by all the sides, and also to stop the bloodshed. But unfortunately, we have to exert further effort in order to realize our common goals in this regard. The proposed ideas were focused or fell within the same framework that the Egyptian plan proposed. And once again, we will call on all parties to benefit from it and to accept it definitively. I would like on this occasion also to allow the U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry to speak.

SECRETARY KERRY: Thank you. All right. Well, let me start again. I want to thank Sameh Shoukry and President al-Sisi and Egypt for their very warm welcome here, but most importantly for their continued efforts to try to find a way to achieve a cease-fire agreement in Gaza and then beyond that, to be able to resolve the critical issues that are underlying this conflict. I thank Sameh for his help today and the work we’ve been doing together. We’ve made some movement and progress, and I’ll talk about that in a minute.

I also want to thank Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon who has traveled and worked tirelessly in these past days throughout the international community to try to bring people together, as well as Arab League Secretary General Nabil al-Araby for his close partnership in this effort. They’ve been sources of good advice and also of tireless effort. So this is a broad effort with a broad based sense that something needs to be done.

I also want to acknowledge President Abbas who has traveled to any number of countries in recent days, and whom I met with just the other day, who expressed his desire – strong desire to achieve a cease-fire as rapidly as possible, and he has been passionately advocating for the Palestinian people and the future of the Palestinian state.

Let me just say that the agony of the events on the ground in Gaza, the West Bank, and Israel, all of them together, simply cannot be overstated. The daily reality for too many people of grief and blood and loss and tears, it all joins together to pull at the fabric of daily life in each of their communities.

In Israel, millions of people are living under constant threat of Hamas rocket fire and tunnel attacks, and they’re ready to take cover at any moment’s notice. And I’ve had telephone conversations with the prime minister interrupted by that fact. Earlier this week I had a chance to visit with the family of a young man by the name of Max Steinberg, an American – one of two Americans killed in this devastating conflict – and his mother Naftali Fraenkel[1], who was murdered at the outset – whose son was murdered at the very outset of this crisis.

So any parent in the world, regardless of somebody’s background, can understand the horror of losing a child or of seeing these children who are caught in the crossfire. In Gaza, hundreds of Palestinians have died over the past few weeks, including a tragic number of civilians. And we’ve all read the headlines and seen the images of the devastation: 16 people killed and more than 200 injured in just a single attack yesterday; women and children being wheeled away on stretchers; medics pulling shrapnel out of an infant’s back; a father nursing his three-year-old son. The whole world is watching a – tragic moment after tragic moment unfold and wondering: When is everybody going to come to their senses?

Both the Israelis and the Palestinians deserve and need to lead normal lives, and it’s time for everyone to recognize that violence breeds violence and that the short-term tactical gains that may be made through a violent means simply will not inspire the long-term change that is necessary and that both parties really want.

I have been in the region since Monday at the request of President Obama, and I’ve spent five days on the ground here and also in Israel in the West Bank engaging in countless discussions with leaders throughout the region and even around the world, conversations lasting, obviously, late into the night and through the day. We have gathered here, my colleagues and I have gathered here together because we believe that it is impossible for anybody to simply be inactive and not try to make government work to deal with this bloodshed. We need to join together and push back.

Specifically, here is what we’ve been working to try to bring about. At this moment, we are working toward a brief seven days of peace – seven days of a humanitarian cease-fire in honor of Eid, in order to be able to bring people together to try to work to create a more durable, sustainable cease-fire for the long run, and to work to create the plans for that long haul.

The fact is that the basic structure is built on the Egyptian initiative, but the humanitarian concept is one that Egypt has agreed to embrace in an effort to try to honor Eid and bring people together at this moment. Seven days, during which the fundamental issues of concern for Israel – security, the security of Israel and its people – and for the Palestinians – the ability to know that their social and economic future can be defined by possibilities, and that those issues will be addressed. We believe that Egypt has made a significant offer to bring people to Cairo – the factions, the Palestinian factions and representatives of interested states and the state of Israel – in order to begin to try to negotiate the way forward.

Now, why are we not announcing that that has been found yet tonight? For a simple reason: That we still have some terminology in the context of the framework to work through. But we are confident we have a fundamental framework that can and will ultimately work. And what we need to do is continue to work for that, and that’s exactly what we’re going to do. We believe that seven days will give all the parties the opportunity to step back from the violence and focus on the underlying causes, perhaps take some steps that could build some confidence, and begin to change the choices for all.

We don’t yet have that final framework, but I will tell you this: None of us here are stopping. We are going to continue the conversations. And right now, before I came in here tonight, I had conversations with people on both sides of this conflict. Just spoke to Prime Minister Netanyahu, who made it clear that he wants to try to find this way forward. I think the Secretary-General, who has graciously called for a 12-hour cease-fire, will speak in a moment about that possibility and where it will go. And Prime Minister Netanyahu’s indicated his willingness to do that as a good-faith down payment and to move forward. And I’m grateful to the Secretary-General for his leadership in that regard.

But in the end, the only way that this issue is going to be resolved, this conflict, is for the parties to be able to come together and work through it as people have in conflicts throughout history. And it’s our hope, and we intend to do everything possible. Tomorrow, I will be in Paris, where I will meet with some of our counterparts, my counterparts, and where I will also meet with other players who are important to this discussion in an effort to be able to try to see if we can narrow the gap. And Prime Minister Netanyahu is committed to try to help do that over the course of the next day.

So we begin with at least the hope of a down payment on a cease-fire, with the possibility of extension, a real possibility in the course of tomorrow. And hopefully, if we can make some progress, the people in this region who deserve peace can find at least one step towards that elusive goal. Thank you.

MODERATOR: Thank you. Secretary-General.

SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN: Thank you, Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry of Egypt, Secretary of State of the United States John Kerry, League of Arab States Secretary-General al-Araby. Ladies and gentlemen, good evening. Assalamu alaikum, Ramadan Kareem.

Let me begin by commending all the leaders here today. I’d like to particularly thank President Sisi of Egypt and Foreign Minister Shoukry as the host of this initiative to have made ceaseless efforts to bring all the parties together. And I also commend highly the leadership and commitment and tirelessly – tireless diplomatic efforts of Secretary of State John Kerry, and it has been a source of inspiration to work with all these distinguished colleagues. And I have been obviously closely working with League of Arab States Secretary General al-Araby.

This is my sixth day in the region visiting eight countries, 11 stops, meeting kings, amirs, presidents, prime ministers, foreign ministers, over meeting, over telephones. I have been working very closely with the leaders here as well as all the leaders in the region. I really appreciate their kind cooperation and leadership. Our joint effort is a clear signal of a global commitment to end the bloodshed and destruction that is tearing apart the lives of hope and the hopes of so many innocent civilians. People of Gaza have bled enough. They are trapped and besieged in a tiny, densely populated sliver of land. Every bit of it is a civilian area. The Israeli people have been living under the constant fear of Hamas rocket attacks. Tensions are spreading further. We are seeing growing unrest in the West Bank. Surely now, the parties must realize that it is time for them to act, and solutions must be based on three important issues.

First, stop the fighting. We called for a seven-day humanitarian cease-fire extending over the Eid period, beginning with a extendable 12-hour pause. Second, start talking. There is no military solution to addressing the grievances, and all parties must find a way to dialogue. Third, tackle the root causes of the crisis. This effort – peace effort – cannot be the same as it was the last two Gaza conflicts, where we reset the clock and waited for the next one. The ongoing fighting emphasizes the need to finally end the 47-year-old occupation, end the chokehold on Gaza, ensure security based on mutual recognition and achieve a viable two-state solution, by which Israelis and Palestinians can live in peace and security side by side.

Along with world and regional leaders, we continue to make every effort to forge a durable cease-fire for the people of Gaza and Israel based on those three pillars. Progress is being made, but there is much more work to do. We may not be satisfied with what we are now proposing, but we have to build upon what we are now proposing. In the meantime, more children are dying every hour of every day.

Ladies and gentlemen, today is the last Friday of Ramadan. The world is just away from marking Eid-al-Fitr. Let us all take inspiration from this season of peace and reflection. The United Nations is fully committed to ensuring the success of this proposal and securing hope and dignity for all the people of Palestine and Israel. And I thank you again for all leaders in the region and in the world who have been working together with the United Nations and the leaders here to bring peace and security to this region. I thank you very much. Shukran Jazilan.

MODERATOR: Thank you. (Via interpreter.) Secretary-general of the United – of the Arab League.

SECRETARY GENERAL AL-ARABY: (Via interpreter.) Thank you very much. I would like to thank also the Secretary-General of the United Nations. This is a very serious and grave situation. There are martyrs in Palestine have been – have died as a result of the Israeli aggression and the violation of the principles of international humanitarian law. People have been fired at, children are falling, and all civilians are being killed. This is the holiest month in the Islamic world, as those before me have mentioned. And on the eve of the Eid, we would like to support and uphold the idea of a cease-fire, as Mr. John Kerry has said and also the UN Secretary-General has said.

But before I conclude my very brief remarks, I would like to say that the occupation and the siege on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip – these are occupied territories. We cannot imagine that the siege and the occupation, that there would be no resistance to them. For that reason, everyone should work to end this conflict. I would allow myself to say, in English and in very simple and brief language: (In English) In a very simple and concise way, that as much as I support the humanitarian (inaudible), but we have to look at it. I think everyone has to do that. We have to look ahead. Then it’s diplomacy, and then (inaudible) results. We have to dedicate ourselves, all of us, to reach a final solution. That means the end of the occupation. Thank you.

MODERATOR: (Via interpreter.) We will be taking four questions, from Arshad (inaudible) first of all.

QUESTION: (Via interpreter.) Good evening.

MODERATOR: (Via interpreter.) Mr. United Nations Secretary-General has to leave.

QUESTION: (Via interpreter.) Good evening. My question is for Mr. John Kerry and Minister Sameh Shoukry. You’ve launched this proposal or plan. Has there been – have there been contacts between the two sides, and how far have you reached in these contexts, especially that the Eid is approaching fast?

With respect to the rules of engagement that Israel uses in Israel and in Gaza and the West Bank, and what we’ve seen in terms of destruction of and demolishing of hospitals, have you received any guarantees from Israel that these actions would not be repeated? And thank you.

SECRETARY KERRY: With respect to the negotiating process, it’s inappropriate to sort of lay out all the details, but of course we’re talking to everybody that we can talk to who has an ability to have an impact, and obviously I’m talking directly to Prime Minister Netanyahu and directly to other foreign ministers in the region, some of whom have different ways of talking with different factions of Palestinians, as well as talking to President Abbas. In the course of that, it’s very clear to me that under very difficult circumstances some are ready to move and others are reluctant and need assurances of one kind or another. And clearly, given the history, some of those assurances are sometimes difficult to be able to make and formulate appropriately so that somebody else doesn’t wind up being – struggling with them. That’s why the simplicity of this is really the best, which is come to the table and negotiate.

But to the degree that either side needs assurances of one thing or another being talked about, without outcomes, no preconditions, but something being negotiated and talked about, then you get in a contest of priorities and other kinds of things.

I believe we can work through those things. We have. The basic outline is approved by everybody. People believe that if the circumstances are right, the structure is right, a cease-fire makes sense, a cease-fire is important, and people would like to see the violence end. But it has to obviously be in ways that neither side feels prejudiced or their interests compromised.

So that’s what we’re working on. I think we’ve made serious progress. We sat today, worked some things out to deal with some of those sensitivities, but basically we still have some more things to do over the course of the next 24 or 48 hours, and we’re going to do that. My hope is that the 12 hours will be extended, perhaps to 24, and that people will draw from that the goodwill and effort to try to find a solution. But it takes – the parties have to come together and reach an understanding, and that’s what we’re going to continue to work on because it’s urgent for innocent people who get caught in the crossfire, and obviously the – as I said in my opening remarks, people in Israel deserve to live free from fear that their home or their school will be rocketed, but people in Palestine, the Palestinian territories and people in Gaza have a right to feel free from restraints on their life where they can barely get the food or the medicine or the building materials and the things that they need.

So there’s a lot on the table. It’s been complicated for a long time; it didn’t get easy last night. But we’re going to continue to work at this, and I’m confident that with goodwill, with good effort, I think progress can hopefully be made.

FOREIGN SECRETARY SHOUKRY: (Via interpreter.) Certainly, since the outbreak of the crisis in Gaza, we have been in contact with all parties, with the Palestinian Authority and Mahmoud Abbas. We have expended serious efforts based on our own Egyptian initiative, and also in cooperation with the American side. I would like to seize this opportunity to thank you, to thank Mr. Kerry for his efforts and – that he has spent and continues to expend, and his cooperation in order to achieve a complete cease-fire to protect the Palestinian people.

Military action and the serious escalation and the serious strikes taking place against the Palestinian territories, including the West Bank, prove the importance of immediate action to end this crisis so that it would not result or lead to more serious ramifications, not just in the occupied territories, but in the region as a whole. The framework we talk about is a framework that is – that the U.S. Secretary of State has talked about – is based on the Egyptian initiative, and also based on the idea of encouraging the parties to interact with it, so that we can reach a complete cease-fire and seizure of all military action, and to also save civilians from being targeted, and to end the bloodshed, just like the strike against the school yesterday. Such actions should not be repeated and should completely end, and so should military action.

And a temporary humanitarian cease-fire should be accepted to give a chance, an opportunity for interaction between the various parties, and perhaps expand it beyond there, so that all parties would come to recognize that a comprehensive solution to all this crisis and to the Palestinian conflict should be reached, and also to establish a Palestinian state in order to prevent the reoccurrence of such a grave situation.

MODERATOR: (Via interpreter.) Arshad Mohammed.

QUESTION: Secretary Kerry, as I imagine you are aware, there are multiple reports that the Israeli cabinet today rejected the cease-fire proposal that you had on the table and said they wanted modifications. Do you regard that as just a negotiating ploy or do you regard it as likely to be a more definitive rejection?

And secondly, have you made any direct progress on getting the Egyptians to commit to opening Rafah, on getting the Israelis to commit to increasing traffic at the Erez crossing, and on getting Hamas to agree to let Israeli troops stay in the Gaza Strip during a truce? If you haven’t made any headway on those issues, how is it possible – after five days of diplomacy, how is it possible to describe these days as having produced serious progress?

SECRETARY KERRY: Well, let me deal with the first issue, which is the fiction of diplomacy and of politics at the same time. There was no formal proposal or final proposal or proposal ready for a vote submitted to Israel. Let’s make that absolutely crystal clear. And Prime Minister Netanyahu called me a few minutes before this to make it clear that that is an error, inaccurate, and he’s putting out a statement to that effect. They may have rejected some language or proposal within the framework of some kind of suggestion at some point in time, but there was no formal proposal submitted from me on which there should have been a vote or on which a vote was ripe. We were having discussions about various ideas and various concepts of how to deal with this issue, and there’s always mischief from people who oppose certain things, and I consider that one of those mischievous interpretations and leaks which is inappropriate to the circumstances of what we’ve been doing and are engaged in.

With respect to the individual issues that you raised, I’m not going to make any announcements and I’m certainly not going to reveal issues that are of a bilateral nature between Egypt and the United States or the United States and another country, but I will simply tell you in a candid way that those issues were talked about, and I am satisfied with the responses that I received with respect to how they might affect the road ahead. And each and every one of them I believe there are ways of moving forward.

MODERATOR: (Via interpreter.) (Inaudible)

QUESTION: My question is for Secretary Kerry and the Egyptian foreign minister. First of all, it seems that all of those efforts, the phone calls, visits have led only to a cease-fire for seven hours. Why is the reasons for not having more achievements? Who is blockading having more achievements in this? Is it Israel, or is it Hamas? Is it the Palestinians? Who is going to – we are going to blame on this? Because we have heard that Israel refused. As you have said, it’s not correct, but it was published that Israel refused, actually, some ideas of having more cease-fire, more than seven hours.

Also, it seems that all of this is because the peace process has stopped, actually, because of the settlements of Israel. This is the main cause – the blockade of course, and other things on the Gaza, the boycotts on Gaza. People can’t have food or water or other things, but also the peace process have stopped. You have – Secretary Kerry have done a lot in this, and yet you didn’t say why, who is the reasons behind it stopping.

And my question is for our foreign minister, please. (Via interpreter.) There is a lot of talk about the Rafah Crossing, and that Egypt is – closes this crossing. And there’s also an attempt to blame the siege, the Israeli siege on Gaza, on Egypt, even though it has – Israel has closed six crossings and is responsible for the siege. Can there be some clarification with respect to the Rafah Crossing, and will it continue to be closed in the coming days?

FOREIGN MINISTER SHOUKRY: (Via interpreter.) Thank you. With respect to Rafah Crossing, I have repeatedly responded to this, but it seems no one is listening. Rafah Crossing is open continuously and at all times, but it has to be under regulation related to Egyptian policy, and it’s also related to the situation in Sinai. But it is open, and it receives constantly and permanently, around the clock, people from the Gaza Strip for treatment in Egyptian hospitals, and more than 600 or 700 tons of food and medical material have crossed. And the crossing has never been tied or linked to any kind of siege on the Gaza Strip.

The six Israeli crossings that you referred to, they have to be operational. And the responsibility of Israel as an occupation authority is what – it is the responsibility of Israel, and we have called for this in our initiative, that the Israeli crossings need to be open so that the needs and the humanitarian needs of the Gazans should be met, and so that also normal life would be restored to the Gaza Strip. I hope that this response will be widely shared and it’s clear without any attempt to internationalize or to misinterpret the situation.

SECRETARY KERRY: Actually, I think a great deal has been moved in the course of the last days. Though it doesn’t meet your eye yet, those of us who are working this have a feeling that gaps have been significantly narrowed on certain things, but obviously not everything yet.

And in fairness, it’s important to say that, yes, Israel had some questions or even opposition to one concept or another concept – that doesn’t mean to a proposal by any means – at an early stage of discussion. But most importantly, I think it’s important to note that in Ramadan, when everything is on a different schedule, it’s more complicated to be able to have some meetings, particularly when I am mediating between different people who talk to different people. And it’s secondhand, thirdhand, it takes longer. So there’s a certain time consumption in all of that.

But I’m not a – I’m not somebody who I think is going to stand here and misinterpret the difficulties. At the same time, I can recognize progress when I see it and a concept that has taken shape. And I think my colleagues would agree there’s a fundamental concept here that can be achieved if we work through some of the issues of importance to the parties. That’s the art, and sometimes it just doesn’t happen overnight or as quickly as you’d like. But it doesn’t mean it can’t.

And so – by the way, it’s not seven hours; it’s 12 hours with a very likely extension of another 12, hopefully for 24, but we’ll see. The proof will be in the pudding on that. And on the peace process, I’ve purposely tried not to start pointing fingers and getting involved, because to us, the process is not over. It hasn’t stopped, and it doesn’t help to be starting to point fingers. What you have to do is figure out, okay, where do you go from here and how. In the course of this conflict right now, I would respectfully suggest to you there are some very serious warnings about what happens when you don’t have that process, and what happens if you’re not working effectively to try to achieve a resolution of the underlying issues.

This is about the underlying issues. And what we need to do is get through this first. It’s a little surrealistic in the middle of this to be talking about the other process, but those people who have been at this for a long time, my colleagues here and others, absolutely know that that is at the bedrock of much of the conflict and the trouble that we all witness here and that is going to have to be resolved if there is a chance of peace, and we believe there is.

Egypt has been a leader on that. Years ago, Egypt took extraordinary risk, and we all know what the consequences were. Egypt made peace, and it has made a difference. And the truth is that today there’s a great commitment here and elsewhere in the region to be able to get back to the process and try to address those underlying issues.

So it’s not gone. It’s dormant for the moment. It’s in hiatus because of the events that are taking place. But the leaders I’ve talked to tell me that what they’re witnessing now and what they’re seeing now has reinforced in them the notion that they needed to get back to that table as soon as possible and begin to address those concerns.

I don’t know if you want to say anything on that.

SECRETARY GENERAL AL-ARABY: (Via interpreter.) Certainly, with respect to the peace process, we call for the resumption of negotiations under U.S. sponsorship. Based from the point we have – it has stopped at, we do not want to go back to the beginning, but several accomplishments have been made on several issues. And we have to build on this progress in order to reach our ultimate goal, which the entire international community has agreed to: the two-state solution, a Palestinian state on Palestinian land with East Jerusalem, and this is the final solution to this conflict. And this will give the Palestinian people a chance to have a normal life away from killing and destruction, and to also fulfill its aspirations – the aspirations of the Palestinian people in the region, and will also ultimately lead to a final end to the conflict.

MODERATOR: (Speaking in Arabic, not interpreted) at CBS, Margaret Brennan.

QUESTION: Thank you. Mr. Secretary, given the protests that we’ve seen in the West Bank over the past 24 hours, which resulted in at least one fatality, do you believe – do you fear that a third intifada is about to happen? And could you clarify – when you said that there’s a difference of terminology in regard to these negotiations, that sounds technical rather conceptual. Can you clarify what you meant there?

SECRETARY KERRY: I can, but I won’t. (Laughter.) I think it’s important to let us work quietly on those things and not put them out in the public domain, but I applaud you for a worthy try.

With respect to the incidents and events on the West Bank, I have learned not to characterize something ahead of time or predict it, and I’m not going to now. But I do know that the leaders I’ve talked to in Israel, in the West Bank, in Jordan are deeply concerned about what they are seeing right now. And it is very, very necessary for all of us to take it into account as we think about the options that we have in front of us. It’s just enormously disturbing to see this kind of passion find its way into violent protests, and in some cases not violent.

But we need to address – it’s a statement to all of us in positions of responsibility, get the job done, and that’s what we’re trying to do.

MODERATOR: Thank you.

SECRETARY KERRY: Thanks.


[1] Max Steinberg’s mother’s name is Evie Steinberg, and Naftali Fraenkel is the name if the murdered American and Israeli teen.

The Office of Website Management, Bureau of Public Affairs, manages this site as a portal for information from the U.S. State Department.

 

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 24th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

Presided upon by Mr. Richard N. Haass, the President of the Council on Foreign Relations, a panel of six of the Council’s experts in front of two rooms full in audience – one in New York the other in Washington DC, a whole gamut of Middle East problems was put on display and dissected.

The six experts were – Elliott Abrams who started out as staff member of Senators Henry M. Jackson and Daniel P. Moynihan and then moved on to the White House under Presidents Reagan and G.W. Bush;  Steven A. Cook who started out at the Brookings Institution, developed an expertise on Egypt, Algeria and Turkey, and is running a blog “From the Potomac to the Euphrates;    Robert M. Danin who started out as a journalist reporting from Jerusalem then worked at the State Department on Middle East Affairs and with Tony Blair as his Jerusalem based representative of the Quartet;   and Ray Takeyh, a widely published professorial expert on Iran – in Washington D C and Isobel Coleman who at CFR covers Civil Society, Markets and Democracy, comes from the business world, has written extensively on policy, was track leader at the Clinton Global Initiative, was named by Newsweek as one of 150 Women Who Shake the World and her blog is Democracy in Development; and Richard N. Haass who served in the White House at ambassadorial level but argued in a book that Foreign Policy starts at Home – the last two were with us in New York.

This discussion takes place at the beginning of the third week since this latest flare-up of Israel’s war against the Hamas of Gaza. A very fast consensus was reached among the four members of the Washington DC panel that to cool the situation without giving Hamas some credit is really difficult. Israel wants really to destroy the infrastructure of tunnels into Israel. Hamas points out that they managed to-date to beat Israel at that as just a day earlier they demonstrated they are capable to infiltrate Israel through such tunnels. Richard Haass evoked Henry Kissinger who said that what is needed to create a lasting equilibrium is (a) a degree of balance, and (b) a degree of legitimacy that comes from mutual recognition between the forces. The latter point does not exist here. Israel is united and out to eliminate Hamas – but if the fighting continues it is expected that the demand for change in the status quo will get louder in Israel – or just a return to a system that allows only breaks in the fighting will be unacceptable.

Asked about how to bring the Palestinian Authority back into Gaza – the prediction expressed was that Hamas demonstrating that only resistance keeps you in authority will allow Hamas to emerge as winner.  Today’s news that Israel bombed a UN managed school filled with displaced Palestinians, and probably also arms bearing Palestinians, will nevertheless put some more outside pressure on Israel.

Further, the news I get today from Vienna is that Saturday there will be large pro-Palestinian demonstrations in Europe on the occasion of the yearly celebration of the Al-Quds Day. This is a PR success for the Hamas – the show of harm done to the Palestinians that are being used as shield to those missiles, and then their misery exploited in order to achieve PR gains based in part also on the unleashing of an existing undertow of Antisemitism-comes-naturally to some layers of Christian Europe. These are aspects that were not looked at by the panel but which play now very seriously a role within Israel. My bet is that Israel will demand that the PA is reintroduced to Gaza at least at its borders – with a minimum role of making sure there are no tunnels. If this becomes part of the US and Egypt brokered solution, the other part will have to be a transparent start to the dissolution of some West Bank settlements. The military defeat of the Hamas can then be viewed as a success of the political leadership of the Hamas in ways acceptable to Israel.
Again – these ideas were not expressed at the Town-Hall meeting.

Steven Cook said that the present ruler of Egypt – President Abdel Fattah Saed Hussein Khalil al-Sisi, former Chief of the Army and Minister of Defense – is much more decisive then Mubarak was, and can be counted on to be more decisive in matters of Hamas. Now we have a situation that Egypt and the Saudis hate in full view the Muslim Brotherhood and their off-shoot – the Hamas,  while the Amir of Qatar is backing them.  So, now we have beside the Sunni – Shia Divide also a Sunni – Sunni Divide which is going and deepening and creates a further Divide between the Brotherhood & Hamas on the one hand and more extremist ISIS & Al Qaeda on the other hand. These latter without an official sponsor from any State.  Here again real life went beyond what was said at the CFR panel.

I made it my business to tell the organizer about the day’s news at the UN, the finding by investigative journalist Matthew R. Lee that the UN Secretary General’s charter flight to the Middle East was bankrolled by the Amir of Qatar, a sponsor of Hamas, does in effect put a notch in the UNSG effort in posing as an honest broker on Gaza. I thought this ought to be brought up at the Town Hall meeting and said I can volunteer to raise this as a question – but I could not – this because I was there as Press, and only Members of the CFR are allowed to ask questions. Members come from Think-Tanks but mainly from business. The reality is that the business sectors represented at the CFR are mainly those that belong to old establishments – Members of the International Chamber of Commerce, but no businesses that could profit from an economy less reliant on fossil fuels. The whole concept of energy seems here to still mean those conventional fuels – and it shows. It came up here as well when a question about Energy Independence was answered that though an Energy Revolution did happen lately in the US, we will never be Independent of “Energy” because the World Economy runs on “Energy.”

Many other points came up – and I will now highlight some of them:

  -  Iran was mentioned in the context that July 20th Vienna meeting was the rage at that time – but then came the Ukraine and Gaza wars. Now Iran was delayed to November 25th and is barely noticed. It was noted that it is only a 4 months delay while it was technically possible to delay it for 6 months. The Iranians believe that they already agreed to the red lines. Can these Red lines be adjusted?

  -  The Kurds will make now moves to go their own ways. The Turks now play more favorably to the Kurds – but the Kurds continue to be split and fight among themselves.

  -   Winner Takes All has been disproved for the Middle East. Maliki in Iraq learned it does not work, so did Morsi in Egypt who saw his Brotherhod and himself ousted merciless.  I found this an extremely valuable observation for all combatants of the region.

  -   New forms of COLD WAR. there is one between the Saudis and the Gulf States (Intra Sunni – Sunni) – and there is one between the Saudis and the Iranians. Like in the US-Soviet case this is not a fight between States. mainly it goes on now on Syrian Territory between parts of Syria a country that will be dismembered like Iraq was.  In the past governments were oppressive and economically weak, but had power internally – now this did collapse.

  -  Now we reached a favorite question about the UN. Are there any useful capacities remaining for the UN? Elliot Abrams said that if appointed to the UN he would try to get another job. UNRWA has become more and more controversial – specifically when there is a cease-fire.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 16th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

Brazen Hamas Billboard Links Hamas to Turkey, Qatar.

April 3, 2014    1 comment
Hamas's publicity billboard that reads, 'Jerusalem is Waiting for Men.' Photo: Screenshot.

Hamas’s publicity billboard that reads, ‘Jerusalem is Waiting for Men.’ Photo: Screenshot.

In a rather conspicuous propaganda stunt, Hamas, the terror group ruling Gaza, foisted a new billboard showing the heads of its Islamist leadership, along with the leaders of Turkey and Qatar, with a caption that implies their help has been recruited to wrest Jerusalem from Israeli control.

The billboard shows Hamas political chief  Khaled Meshal and Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, alongside previous and current Qatari leaders Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani and Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad, with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The billboard reads ”Jerusalem is Waiting for Men,” along with a photo of the Dome of the Rock.

The massive banner was photographed in Gaza by the Palestinian News Agency, and flagged on Thursday by blogger Elder of Ziyon.

The blogger wrote that the sign also implies two other messages.

First, the belittling of leaders of other Arab countries, especially Egypt, where Hamas gained under the Muslim Brotherhood leadership, and is now being shunned after that group, its political “big brother,” was expelled last year.

And, second, that Hamas, which played second fiddle to Islamic Jihad in last month’s shelling of Israel, is the stronger of the two groups and will be on the winning team to, one day, take Jerusalem.

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Egyptian Entrepreneur Laments Lack of Open Business With Israel.

April 3, 2014   3 comments
Cairo International Airport, where sources spied Israeli and Egyptian security officials meeting to discuss cooperation to fight terrorists in the Sinai. Photo: Cairo International Airport.

Cairo International Airport, where sources spied Israeli and Egyptian security officials meeting to discuss cooperation to fight terrorists in the Sinai. Photo: Cairo International Airport.

An Egyptian entrepreneur said he resents his country’s hostility to Israel which prevents him from openly conducting any business with the Jewish state, Egyptian daily Al-Ahram reported late last week.

“It is very unfortunate that we cannot be pragmatic and say this particular country has good quality and inexpensive commodities and we are going to import from it because it is in our interest,” said the unnamed Egyptian, who still does business with Israel on the down low. “After all these years an Israeli commodity on, say, the shelf of a supermarket would not be picked up except by a few people — if we assume that any supermarket would at all dare to carry, say, Israeli fruit juice.”

Like most Egyptian businessmen who work with Israelis, he insisted on remaining anonymous for fear of being “stigmatized as dealing with the enemy,” he told Al-Ahram.

“I really don’t understand; we have a peace deal and we cannot do business, it has been 35 years since this peace treaty was signed and still it is a big issue if someone said let us do business with Israel or let us benefit of their agricultural expertise,” he said.

Trade between Israel and Egypt dropped after President Hosni Mubarak was ousted in 2011, but government officials in Cairo say the fall was possibly a result of the subsequent political turmoil, according to the report.

Despite any current animosity Egypt may harbor toward Israel, an independent economic source told Al-Ahram that Egyptian authorities are considering all options in dealing with the country’s current severe energy shortages, not excluding the import of natural gas from Israel.

“Cooperation in natural gas has been very stable for many years despite the suspension and trade dispute that occurred after the 25 January Revolution removed Mubarak — but this is the case with trade cooperation in general, limited and stable,” said a government official.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 25th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Sisi’s Incompetent Anti-Islamist Campaign.

 

by Daniel Pipes
Mar 24, 2014
Cross-posted from National Review Online, The Corner

 

www.danielpipes.org/blog/2014/03/sisi-incompetent-anti-islamist-campaign

 

An Egyptian court in short order sentenced some 529 people to death today for the killing of a single police officer. News like this gives one pause.

 

 

Field Marshall Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, the strongman of Egypt.

Very tough treatment of Islamists is needed to repress this totalitarian movement, including rejection of their efforts to apply Islamic law, keeping them out of mainstream institutions, even excluding their parties from the democratic process. But Field Marshall Abdel Fattah el-Sisi’s extra-legal crackdown on Islamists will likely backfire and help the Islamist cause by winning them broad sympathy. Even if today’s absurd judgment gets reversed on appeal, it and others like it are doing real damage.

Sisi is riding high now, with out-of-sight popularity ratings, but he appears as unprepared to rule Egypt as another military man, Gamal Abdul Nasser, was 60 years ago. Two factors in particular – the dismal economy and the hostility between pro- and anti-Islamists – will likely bring Sisi down fast and hard. When that happens, Islamists will benefit from his incompetence no less than Sisi exploited the failures of Mohamed Morsi. The cycle continues, the country falls further behind, and the precipice looms.

 

More broadly, because the expected Egyptian failure in suppressing Islamism will have global ramifications, Sisi’s mistakes damage the anti-Islamist cause not just in his own country but internationally. The stakes in Egypt these days are high indeed. (March 24, 2014)

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and I hope that the folks at Rutgers University take notice and do not cry only – injustice to Muslims in the US – we hope they will rather call for Imams in the US to speak up and tell co-religionists in the Middle East to shape up!

 

Film Screening of the Test of Freedom 
& Talk with Director Khaliff Watkins.

 

APRIL 11th FRIDAY
(4-7pm)
Teleconference Lecture Hall
Alexander Library, New Brunswick NJ
(parking available in lots, 26, 30 & College Ave parking deck)
 
Flyer is attached! 
 
Refreshments & finger foods will be served! 
 


Facing growing hysteria and bias, US Muslims live out their faith and confront discrimination in ways that uplift those around them. Rejecting portrayals as the villain or the victim, they set forward their own narratives about the role of lslam in an increasingly diverse and divided America.

Shehnaz Abdeljaber
Outreach Coordinator
Center for Middle Eastern Studies
Rutgers, Lucy Stone Hall,Room B323
54 Joyce Kilmer Avenue
Piscataway, NJ 08854
p (848)445-8444 x5
shehnaza@rci.rutgers.edu

 

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 21st, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

from:  Österreichische Gesellschaft für Europapolitik (ÖGfE) | Rotenhausgasse 6/8-9 | A-1090 Wien |  europa at oegfe.at | oegfe.at |
+43 1 – 533 4999
FOCUS EUROPAPolicy Brief 2’2014

Reference to the Full Policy Brief - 


The Arab Spring: The role of quality education and the consequences of its lack.
By Anne Goujon
Vienna, 18. February 2014
ISSN 2305-2635
Abstract &  Policy Recommendations:
1. EU Member States should increase bilateral cooperation for teacher training with
Arab Spring Countries.

2. Focus on transparency and accountability in teachers training.

3. Promote the role of the EU as an umbrella and catalyst for all aid-driven education
system reforms activities.
The lack of quality education plays a major role
in explaining the Arab Spring: As a result of past
shortfalls in education, large shares of the working-
age population in the Arab-Spring countries do not
have the right qualifi cations for entering the labour
market. This not only leads to high levels of unem-
ployment but also entails poverty and social dist-
ress. At the macro level, it triggers a vicious cycle
of underdevelopment by hampering an upgrade to
economies driven by knowledge and innovation de-
spite the substantial numbers of higher educated ci-
tizens of working age in these countries. This holds
particularly true for Egypt. Remedying the current
lack of quality education should be a top priority
in the countries of North Africa, because it is the
source of many deficiencies plaguing this region. In
the Arab-Spring countries, the European Union’s
sectoral aid given for education has focused on
quantity (e.g. raising enrollment by supporting the
implementation of the Millennium Development
Goals for Education) rather than on quality, where
interventions usually target higher education (most-
ly through individual sponsorship programmes),
although there are challenges at all levels, starting
with basic education. The European Union’s main
priority should be to guide and assist these coun-
tries in developing training programmes for teachers
as the driving force behind the entire system reform.

Bibliography

Adams, A. and R. Winthrop
. 2011. The role of education in the Arab world. Brookings
Global Compact on Learning Report number 2.
Goujon, A
. 1997. Population and education Prospects in the Western Mediterranean
Region. IIASA Interim Report IR-97-046. Laxenburg, Austria: IIASA.
Goujon, A
. 2002. Population and education prospects in the Arab Region. In: I. Siragel-
din (ed.), Human capital: Population Economics in the Middle East. Cairo: The American
University in Cairo Press, An Economic Research Forum Edition: 116-140.
Goujon, A. and B. Barakat
. 2010. Future demographic challenges in the Arab world. The
Emirates Occasional Papers No. 75. Dubai: Emirates Center for Strategic Studies and
Research.
Goujon, A. and H. Alkitkat
. 2010. Population et capital humain en Egypte à l’horizon
2050 [Population and human capital in Egypt up to 2050]. In: P. Blanc (ed.), Egyp-
te: l’Eclipse, Confl uences Méditerranée, numéro 75, Automne 2010: 33–48. Paris:
L’ H a r m a t t a n .
Goujon, A., S. K.C. 2010
. Gender gap handicap in North Africa. Options (IIASA, Laxen-
burg, Austria), Summer 2010, p.22.
Makhlouf Obermeyer, C.
1992. Islam, Women, and Politics: The Demography of Arab
Countries. Population and Development Review 18 (1): 33-60.
MRBF and UNDP
. 2012. Arab Knowledge Report 2010/2011: Preparing Future Genera-
tions for the Knowledge Society. Dubai, United Arab Emirates: Mohammed Bin Rashid
Al Maktoum Foundation (MBRF) and the United Nations Development Programme /
Regional Bureau for Arab States (UNDP/RBAS).
Transparency International
. 2013. Transparency International’s ›Global Corruption Baro-
meter 2013‹.
Yousif, H. M., A. Goujon and W. Lutz
. 1996. Future Population and Education Trends in
the Countries of North Africa. Research Report RR-96-11. Laxenburg, Austria: IIASA.

 

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 17th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

from:  english@other-news.info
date:  Mon, Feb 17, 2014

[]

Syrian rebels or international terrorists?
 
Vijay Prashad* – The Hindu
*Vijay Prashad is the Edward Said Chair at the American University of Beirut, Beirut, Lebanon.
 
With Bashar Assad arguing that this is a war against terrorism, and the rebels arguing that this is a war against authoritarianism, no agreement can come of the peace talks on Syria.
Geneva 2’s mood mirrored the sound of mortar and despair on the ground in Syria. Not much of substance came of the former, as the U.N.-Arab League envoy Lakhdar Brahimi tiredly indicated that diplomacy continued despite the lack of a breakthrough. He hoped that the United States and the Russians would pressure their clients to remain at the table, from where, for three weeks, little of value has emerged. No agreement can come of these peace talks for at least two reasons. First, the government of Bashar Assad and the rebel coalition do not agree on the interpretation of the conflict. Mr. Assad argues that this is a war against terrorism (Al-Qaeda), while the rebels argue that this is a war against authoritarianism (the Assad government). Second, the rebels themselves are deeply fractured, with the Islamists in Syria who are doing the brunt of the fighting indisposed to any peace talks.
 
Mr. Brahimi hoped that humanitarian relief would be the glue to hold the two sides together. Residents in the old city of Homs and in the Palestinian neighbourhood of Yarmouk in Damascus have been under siege for two years. It was hoped that safe passage could be provided for food and medicine, but this was not accomplished. U.N. and Islamic Red Cross workers bravely avoided snipers and shells to transport food and medicines to the Syrians; children among them stared at fresh fruit, unsure of what to do with it. Absent momentum from Geneva, the options for a regional solution are back on the table.
 
Role for India, China?
 
In 2012, Egypt convened the Syria Contact Group that comprised Iran, Saudi Arabia and Turkey — unlikely partners. Pressure from the U.S. and Russia at that time closed down the Group. Today, the regional partners seek an exit from their exaggerated postures over Syria, but there is no diplomatic space for them to act. It falls to powers that are untainted by the war, perhaps China and India, to call for a meeting — a Beijing or New Delhi summit — to craft a serious agenda to pressure all sides to a ceasefire and a credible political process.
 
The war is now fought less on the ground and more over its interpretation. Expectations of a hasty collapse of the government withdraw as the Syrian Army takes Jarajir, along the Lebanon border. Islamists groups continue to fight against each other in the north, weakening their firepower as the Syrian army watches from the sidelines. The emboldened Syrian government has now stepped up its rhetoric about this war being essentially one against terrorists with affiliation to al-Qaeda. Ears that once rejected this narrative in the West and Turkey are now increasingly sympathetic to it. As the Islamists suffocate the rebellion, it becomes hard to champion them against the government. Focus has moved away from the prisons and barrel bombs of the government to the executions and social policies of the Islamists.
 
A year ago, the West and Turkey would have scoffed at talk of terrorism as the fantasy of the Assad government. The West and the Gulf Arabs had opened their coffers to the rebels, knowing full well that they were incubating the growth of the Islamist factions at the expense of the secular opposition. Turkey’s government of Recep Tayyip Erdog?an micromanaged the opposition, provided bases in Turkey and allowed well-armed fighters to slip across the border into Syria. By early 2012, it had become a common sight to see well-armed Islamist fighters in the streets of Antakya and in the refugee camps in Hatay Province. The seeds of what was to come — the entry of al-Qaeda into Syria — was set by an opportunistic and poorly conceived policy by Erdog?an’s government. It did not help that his otherwise well-spoken and highly-regarded Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutog?lu began to refer to Syria’s Alawites (Mr. Assad’s community) as Nusayri, a derogatory sectarian term. Turkey joined U.S., Europe and Gulf Arab calls for Mr. Assad’s departure well before the numbers of those dead climbed above the thousands. Nervousness about the spread of al-Qaeda to Syria has made the rebels’ patrons edge closer to the Damascus narrative. The U.S. government wishes to arm the Iraqi government with Hellfire missiles and drones to combat the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) in Iraq’s Anbar Province. Britain has said that any fighter who comes back from Syria will be arrested (last week, a Sussex man — Abu Suleiman al-Britani — conducted a suicide operation in Aleppo). The Saudi Royal Court decreed that any Saudi found to have waged jihad abroad could spend up to 20 years in prison.
 
General Mansour al-Turki of the Saudi Interior Ministry said: “We are trying to stop everyone who wants to go to Syria, but we can’t stop leaks.” The Turkish Armed Forces fired on an ISIS convoy on January 28 inside Syria, and told the government in a report prepared jointly with the Turkish National Intelligence agency that al-Qaeda had made credible threats on Turkey.
Mr. Erdog?an hastened to Tehran to meet the new Iranian leadership — their public comments were on trade, but their private meetings were all on Syria and the need to combat the rise of terrorism. What Mr. Assad had warned about in 2012 came to pass — for whatever reason — and led to a loss of confidence among the rebels’ patrons for their future. Even al-Qaeda’s putative leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri, has sought to distance himself from ISIS. These signs indicate that on Syria, the “terrorism narrative” has come to dominate over the “authoritarian regime narrative.”
 
Islamic Front:
 
The fractious Syrian opposition that came to Geneva does not represent the main columns of rebel fighters on the ground. These are mainly Islamists — with the al-Qaeda wing represented by ISIS and Jabhat al-Nusra, and the rest represented by the Islamic Front. They have no appetite for negotiation. Mr. Abu Omar of the Islamic Front said that Syria’s future would be created “here on the ground of heroism, and signed with blood on the frontlines, not in hollow conferences attended by those who don’t even represent themselves.” A U.S. intelligence official told me that when the U.S. went into Afghanistan in 2001, “We smashed the mercury and watched it spread out slowly in the area.” Al-Qaeda was not demolished in Kandahar and Tora Bora. Its hardened cadre slipped across to Pakistan and then onwards to their homelands. There they regrouped, reviving the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, al-Qaeda in Yemen, Ansar al-Sharia, Ansar Dine, and ISIS. The latter slipped into Syria from an Iraq broken by the U.S. occupation and the sectarian governance of the current government. There they worked with Jabhat al-Nusra and fought alongside other Islamist currents such as Ahrar ash-Sham. It was inevitable that these battle-tested Islamists would overrun the peaceful protesters and the defectors from the Syrian Army — the Free Syrian Army (FSA) — who scattered to the wind in 2012.
 
The FSA troops either joined up with the Islamists, continued to fight in small detachments, or linger precariously as twice defectors who are now homeless. The barbarism of the ISIS pushed other Islamists — with Gulf Arab support — to form the Islamic Front. The hope was that this group would run ISIS back to Iraq and remove the stigma of “al-Qaeda” from the Syrian rebellion. The problem is that one of the constituents of the Islamic Front — Jabhat al-Nusra, arguably the most effective of its fighting forces — sees itself as the Syrian franchise of al-Qaeda and has largely abjured the fight against ISIS. Another problem is that the in-fighting on the ground seems to have tapered off — one of the Islamist groups, Suqour al-Sham signed a truce with ISIS and pledged to work together.
 
By early 2014, these groups found their supply lines cut off.  Iraq’s attack on ISIS began to seal the porous border that runs through the Great Syrian Desert.  Jordan had already tried to close its border since early 2013, having arrested over a hundred fighters who have tried to cross into Syria.  Lebanon’s border has become almost inaccessible for the rebels as the Syrian Army takes the roadway that runs along the boundary line.  Last year, Turkey closed the Azaz crossing once it was taken over by the radical Islamists.
 
On January 20, the rebels attacked the Turkish post at Cilvegözü-Bab al-Hawa, killing 16.  This is what spurred the Turkish Army to attack the ISIS convoy a week later.
 
As the Islamists saw their supply lines closed off, the U.S. announced that it would restart its aid to the rebel fighters.  On February 5, the Syrian Coalition chief Ahmad Jabra told Future TV that his rebels would get “advanced weapons” — likely from the U.S.  The FSA announced the formation of the Southern Front – with assistance from the West — to revive the dormant fight in Syria’s south-west.  All this took place during Geneva 2, signalling confusion in U.S. policy.       Does Washington still want to overthrow the Syrian government?  Would it live with an Islamist government on Israel’s borders?  Or, perhaps, the U.S. is eager for a stalemate, as pointed out by former CIA analyst Bruce Riedel, “The rebels lack the organization and weapons to defeat Assad.  The regime lacks the loyal manpower to suppress the rebellion.  Both sides’ external allies are ready to supply enough money and arms to fuel the stalemate for the foreseeable future.”  This is a cruel strategy.
It offers no hope of peace for the Syrian people.
 
Road ahead for Syria group:
 
A senior military official in West Asia told me that one of the most overlooked aspects of West Asia and North Africa is that the military leaderships of each country maintain close contacts with each other. During Turkey’s war against the Kurdish rebellion in its eastern provinces, the military coordinated their operations with the Syrian armed forces. These links have been maintained. When it became clear that Mr. Erdog?an’s exaggerated hopes for Syria failed, and with the growth of the Islamists on Turkey’s borders and the Kurds in Syria having declared their independence, the Turkish military exerted its views. The Iraqi armed forces had already begun their operations against ISIS. Additionally, Egypt’s new Field Marshal Sisi overthrew the government of Mohamed Morsi when the latter encouraged jihadis to go to Syria. This was anathema to the Egyptian military who acted for this and other reasons to depose Mr. Morsi. The military view of the political situation leans naturally toward the terrorism narrative.
 
It appears now that the regional states are no longer agreed that their primary mission is the removal of Mr. Assad.This view — shared by the militaries — is evident in the political leadership in Iran, Iraq, and Turkey.With Egypt, these three states would be the core of a rejuvenated Syria Contact Group.

The 2012 group also had Saudi Arabia, which might be enjoined to come back to the table if they see that their outside allies — notably the U.S. — are averse to a policy that would mean Jabhat al-Nusra in power in Damascus.

Without Saudi Arabia, and perhaps even Qatar, the Syria Contact Group would be less effective.

 
If the Syria Contact Group is to re-emerge, it would need to be incubated by pressure from China and India, two countries that are sympathetic to multipolar regionalism.
 
Thus far, neither China nor India has taken an active role in the Syrian conflict, content to work within the United Nations and to make statements as part of the BRICS group.
But the failure of the U.S. and Russia and the paralysis of the U.N. alongside the continued brutality in Syria require an alternative path to be opened up.
Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Turkey have indicated willingness for a dialogue — China and India need to offer them the table.

 

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 16th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

Green Prophet Headlines – El Gouna: Egypt builds MENA’s first carbon-neutral city

Link to Green Prophet

 


 

El Gouna: Egypt builds MENA’s first carbon-neutral city

 

Posted: 15 Feb 2014 09:23 PM PST

 

el gouna carbon neutral city EgyptEl Gouna, a resort city on Egypt’s Red Sea Riviera, is set to become the first carbon-neutral city in that nation, in Africa, and likely the entire Middle East North Africa (MENA) region. Masdar City, in continuing development in Abu Dhabi, initially targeted zero-carbon status, but has yet to hit that goal.
Image of El Gouna from Shutterstock

 

The ambitious development agreement was signed last week by the Egyptian Ministry of State for Environmental Affairs, the Italian Ministry of Environment and El Gouna City.

 

Dr. Laila Iskandar, Egyptian Minister of State for Environmental Affairs, told Trade Arabia, “This agreement will help the Egyptian government to achieve a significant breakthrough in the fields of environment and tourism, enhancing Egypt’s global image and opening the door for Egyptian tourism projects and cities to rank among the leading carbon-neutral entities.”

 

El Gouna is already hailed as Egypt’s most environmentally-friendly vacation destination.  It’s captured Green Globe and Travelife certifications and was selected as the pilot location for the Green Star Hotel Initiative (GSHI).

 

Launched in 2007, GSHI is a cooperative effort between public and private sectors, the Egyptian and German tourism industries, and supported by key technical consultants.  They promote use of environmental management systems and environmentally sound operations to improve environmental performance and to increase competitiveness of the Egyptian hotel industry.

 

Priority projects include conservation of natural resources such as clean beaches, healthy marine life and protected areas, which are the backbone of the Red Sea Riviera and the nation’s eco-tourism market.

 

Mr. Hisham Zaazou, Egyptian Minister of Tourism, told Trade Arabia, “We will also be working on implementing this project in other Egyptian cities.”

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 28th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

The Opinion Pages|Op-Ed Columnist

The Egyptian Disaster

LONDON — In Davos, Secretary of State John Kerry talked for a long time about Iran. He talked for a long time about Syria. He talked for a very long time about Israel-Palestine. And he had nothing to say about Egypt.

This was a glaring omission. Egypt, home to about a quarter of all Arabs and the fulcrum of the Arab Spring, is in a disastrous state. Tahrir Square, emblem of youthful hope and anti-dictatorial change three years ago, is home now to Egyptians baying for a military hero with the trappings of a new Pharaoh to trample on the “terrorists” of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Yet, in a speech devoted to rebutting what he called “this disengagement myth” — the notion that a war-weary United States is retreating from the Middle East — Kerry was silent on a nation that is a United States ally, the recipient of about $1.3 billion a year in military aid (some suspended), and the symbol today of the trashing of American hopes for a more inclusive, tolerant and democratic order in the Middle East.

The silence was telling. The Obama administration has been all over the place on Egypt, sticking briefly with Hosni Mubarak, then siding with his ouster, then working hard to establish productive relations with the Muslim Brotherhood and its democratically elected president, Mohamed Morsi, then backing the military coup that removed Morsi six months ago (without calling it a coup) and finally arguing, in the words of Kerry last August, that the military headed by Gen. Abdul-Fattah el-Sisi was “restoring democracy.”

This “restoration” has in fact involved a fierce crackdown on the Brotherhood, named a terrorist organization on Dec. 25, and on anyone not bowing to Sisi, whose brutal new order has left well over 1,000 people dead. It has involved the rapid adoption of a Constitution drafted by a 50-member committee including only two representatives of Islamist parties, so providing a mirror image of the problems with Morsi’s Islamist-dominated drafting process.

The Constitution won the approval this month of 98.1 percent of voters, a back-to-the-future number recalling Saddam Hussein’s “elections.” In fact this was 98.1 percent of the mere 38.6 percent of Egyptians who voted: Most Egyptians are either cowed in fear (the Brotherhood) or despairing (the Twitter-generation youth who ignited the Tahrir revolution) or reduced to apathy: So much for inclusiveness.

Egypt is the most vivid illustration of the American disengagement Kerry sought to rebut. Saudi and Emirati billions deployed behind Sisi have been more telling than America’s paltry billion, or its training of Egyptian officers, or its pious expressions of backing for an Egypt offering equal rights to all citizens regardless of their gender, faith, ethnicity or political affiliation. America has watched and wavered as the most important Arab society lost its revolution to the familiar, arid juxtaposition of the military and Islamists (all of them now “terrorists” to the baying pro-Sisi crowd.)

This Egyptian debacle is a significant strategic failure for the United States, and of course, like red lines that proved not to be so red in Syria, it has sent a message of American retreat. It seems inevitable that Sisi will now run for president and win with some back-to-the-future number. If he does not run whoever does will be no more than his puppet.

David Kirkpatrick, my colleague in Cairo, said it all in this brilliant, depressing lead: “Thousands of Egyptians celebrated the third anniversary of their revolt against autocracy on Saturday by holding a rally for the military leader who ousted the country’s first democratically elected president.”

Mohamed Soltan, a 26-year-old American graduate of Ohio State University whose Egyptian father belongs to the Brotherhood and who was detained in Cairo in August, is one victim of that military leader. He wrote a devastating letter to President Obama, recently made public by his family. Soltan sits in a “packed underground cell,” being operated on for gunshot wounds without anesthetic by a doctor who is a cellmate wielding pliers, wondering if “today is going to be the day Americanness counts” and “the Egyptian authorities will have no choice but to treat me like a human being.”

Soltan is still waiting. As are the many Egyptian people who wanted to move toward a more open society, not back to one of countless political prisoners.

I was in Cairo in early January. Out at the Great Pyramid in Giza there was not one Western tourist. I went for a camel ride out of pity for the many camel owners doing zero business. The tourism industry, once an economic mainstay, is in tatters. It reflects the abject state of a great nation.

There is plenty of blame to go around — for Obama, for the hapless Morsi, for the paranoid power-grabbing Muslim Brotherhood, for the controlling military. But above all I blame the squabbling Egyptian liberals who fought for Mubarak’s ouster but did not give democracy a chance.

Recent Comments

J. Von Hettlingen –

Mr. Cohen writes: “But above all I blame the squabbling Egyptian liberals who fought for Mubarak’s ouster but did not give democracy a…

William Dufort –

Relax. All is well. Just ask the military-industrial complex.

Jack Hartman –

Mr. Cohen is correct in that there is plenty of blame to go around for the debacle in Egypt. However, if the United States, the world’s…

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Egypt’s Ruler Eyes Riskier Role: The Presidency.

www.nytimes.com/2014/01/28/world/middleeast/egypt.html?nl=todaysheadlines&emc=edit_th_20140128

================================================

Turkey’s prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, was in Brussels last week seeking to repair relations with Europe, but the first place to look for a solution is within himself. Once hailed as the leader of a model Muslim democracy, he has created a political disaster at home, transforming Turkey into an authoritarian state that poses dangers not just for itself but for its allies in NATO, including the United States.

The latest turmoil has its roots in a political war between Mr. Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party and his former close allies who follow Fethullah Gulen, a moderate Islamic scholar who lives in Pennsylvania. The tensions erupted into the open last month with a corruption probe that led to the resignation of four government ministers and threatened to ensnare Mr. Erdogan’s family. The prime minister called the probe a “coup attempt” and blamed a “secret organization” within the judiciary and police directed by the Gulen movement and serving “foreign powers” like the United States and Israel. The government has since purged hundreds of police officials and prosecutors and sought to assert control over the judiciary. It also drafted legislation expanding the government’s power to appoint judges and prosecutors, further breaching judicial independence, and has prevented journalists from reporting freely. All the while, Mr. Erdogan has spewed endless conspiracy theories and incendiary rhetoric, even hinting at American treachery and suggesting that the American ambassador might be expelled.

The probe and Mr. Erdogan’s reaction may well be politically motivated. There are important local elections in March. But Mr. Erdogan should be insisting that the probe be fair and transparent, not trying to derail it. His ruthless ways and his attempt to crush dissent are not new, as the crackdown against demonstrators during protests last June showed. Such actions trample on democratic reforms demanded by the European Union as part of Turkey’s bid for union membership, which may be more in peril than ever, and they are increasingly at odds with the ground rules for NATO members.

Germany’s foreign minister, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, was right when he said in Brussels that the Europeans must demand that Turkey return to the rule of law. The Obama administration also needs to send a strong message about the damaging course Mr. Erdogan is pursuing. Whether Turkey nurtures its hard-won democracy, which has contributed to its impressive economic growth, or turns authoritarian is as critical to regional stability and to its NATO allies as it is to Turks.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 26th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 We just received the following release from UNEP, this after we listened to Fareed Zakaria interviewing in Davos the present Egyptian Prime Minister Hazen El Bablawi who seemed blasee to the fact that Egypt is deteriorating – just one more Arab State that seems compelled to love a dictatorship.

Iraq’s environment was destroyed by the oil industry and is now – like Syria – a global basket case. If these countries are not allowed to fall apart and reorganize along more friendly internal lines no amount of help to the environment will have any impact on their future.

Iraq’s dictator put on fire all his oil producing facilities in disregard of his people and the World at large. The best possible environmental recovery process will start with the complete closing of that oil pumping industry. Islamic extremist hot-heads will do little for life in this part of the World where some would rather worship death. Our good friend and well meaning head of UNEP – Achim Steiner – goes to Baghdad and presents the local Environment Minister with a volume in Arabic that tells him what his government could do for a purpose they do not have yet – the environment in which their people ought to be able to live while they are being bombed and shot at daily?

It would be nice indeed if we could center governments’ attention around a worship of Nature rather then the present worship of a religious zeal that sees the enemy in humans and has no value for Nature. Strange – but with every passing day we get closer to the point that we may eventually recommend Vodou (Voodoo)  as the true rational ethics.

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UNEP NEWS: Landmark Agreement Sets in Motion Action to Restore Iraq’s Environment as New Study Outlines Magnitude of Deterioration.

Landmark Agreement Sets in Motion Action to Restore Iraq’s Environment as New Study Outlines Magnitude of Deterioration. UN Top Environment Chief in First Visit to Iraq Says Implementation of Agreement will Bolster Environmental Recovery and Peace-building.      {Peace building did he say?}

Baghdad, 26 January 2014 – In an effort to set in motion robust action to restore Iraq’s fast deteriorating environment, the Government of Iraq signed, Sunday, a landmark agreement with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) that aims to speed up recovery and support peace-building.

Iraq’s environment has suffered severe decline in recent years, exacerbated by decades of war and growing pressures on natural resources.

According to a new government study – backed by UN and World Bank data – 5 to 8 per cent of Iraq’s GDP is lost annually to environmental degradation.

At the same time, 39 per cent of Iraq’s agricultural land suffered a reduction in cropland between 2007 and 2009. Meanwhile food insecurity remains on the rise.

The report warns that the quality and quantity of the country’s water has been impacted by upstream damming, pollution, climate change and inefficient usage.

The amount of water available per person per year decreased from 5,900 cubic metres to 2,400 cubic metres between 1977 and 2009.  Decreasing water supplies were exacerbated by drought from 2005 and 2009.

The Tigris and the Euphrates, Iraq’s two major surface water sources, may dry up by 2040 if current conditions prevail.

“Achieving sustainable development is by no means a light undertaking, especially after decades of wars, sanctions and environmental degradation. Rebuilding Iraq’s environmental infrastructure underpins the country’s recovery and peace-building efforts”, said Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary-General and UNEP Executive Director, on his first-ever visit to Iraq.

“The commitment of the Government to achieve environmental sustainability is clearly articulated in the vision, goals and objectives of the National Development Plan, which places the Green Economy at the heart of development and economic policies,” he added.

The new five-year Strategic Cooperation Agreement with UNEP will strengthen efforts to overcome many of Iraq’s environmental challenges.

Iraqi Minister of Environment Eng. Sargon Lazar Slewa said: ” The Government of Iraq is committed to moving ahead with plans to restore the environment as part of our National Development Plan.  The visit by Mr. Steiner and the signing of the cooperation agreement will expedite and further strengthen this process. The well-being, security and livelihoods of Iraqi’s are dependent on our success.”

Areas of cooperation defined by the agreement will focus on: environmental legislation and regulations; biodiversity conservation; green economy; cleaner production; resource efficiency; combating dust storms; and climate change reporting, mitigation and adaptation.

The signing of the agreement took place at a special event hosted by the Minister of Environment to welcome Mr. Steiner to Baghdad.

It was attended by key figures including cabinet ministers, parliamentarians, members of the diplomatic community and international organizations.

Cooperation between the Government of Iraq and UNEP dates back to 2003, immediately after the establishment of the Ministry of Environment.

Since then, UNEP has worked with the Iraqi Government on multiple projects, including: rapid post-conflict environmental assessments; environmental clean-up of highly contaminated sites; and the restoration of the Mesopotamian Marshlands.

The report, entitled “Iraq State of Environment and Outlook” is available in Arabic only. It was prepared by the Government of Iraq with support from UNDP, UNEP and WHO.

===================================================

Facts and figures from the report:

·         Around 31 per cent of Iraq’s surface is desert. At the same time, 39 per cent of the country’s surface is estimated to have been affected by desertification, with an additional 54 per cent under threat.

·         As a result of declining soil moisture and lack of vegetative cover, recent years have witnessed an increase in the frequency of vast dust and sand storms, often originating in the western parts of Iraq.

·         Population growth is adding mounting pressure to existing food, water and energy resources.

·         By 2030, the population is expected to grow to almost 50 million people, exacerbating these pressures even further.

·         Sustainable access to safe water and sanitation remain a challenge: 83 per cent of Iraq’s wastewater is left untreated, contributing to the pollution of Iraq’s waterways and general environment.

·         Years of conflict and violence resulted in chemical pollution and unexploded ordnances, which is affecting the safety and lives of an estimated 1.6 million Iraqis.

For more information, please contact:

Shereen Zorba, Head of News and Media, UNEP, Nairobi, Tel.+254-788-526-000
or Email: shereen.zorba@unep.org/ unepnewsdesk@unep.org

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 17th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

Uri Avnery

January 18, 2013

           

 

                                                The Imperator

 

IN THE middle of the 70s, Ariel Sharon asked me to arrange something for him – a meeting with Yasser Arafat.

 

A few days before, the Israeli media had discovered that I was in regular contact with the leadership of the PLO, which was listed at the time as a terrorist organization.

 

I told Sharon that my PLO contacts would probably ask what he intended to propose to the Palestinians. He told me that his plan was to help the Palestinians to overthrow the Jordanian monarchy, and turn Jordan into a Palestinian state, with Arafat as its president.

 

What about the West Bank?” I asked.

 

Once Jordan becomes Palestine, there will no longer be a conflict between two peoples, but between two states. That will be much easier to resolve. We shall find some form of partition, territorial or functional, or we shall rule the territory together.” 

 

My friends submitted the request to Arafat, who laughed it off. But he did not miss the opportunity to tell King Hussein about it. Hussein disclosed the story to a Kuwaiti newspaper, Alrai, and that’s how it came back to me.

 

 

SHARON’S PLAN was revolutionary at the time. Almost the entire Israeli establishment – including Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Defense Minister Shimon Peres – believed in the so-called “Jordanian option”: the idea that we must make peace with King Hussein. The Palestinians were either ignored or considered arch-enemies, or both.

 

Five years earlier, when the Palestinians in Jordan were battling the Hashemite regime there, Israel came to the aid of the king at the request of Henry Kissinger. I proposed the opposite in my magazine: to aid the Palestinians. Sharon later told me that he, a general at the time, had asked the General Staff to do the same, though for a different end. My idea was to create a Palestinian state in the West Bank, his was to create it in the East Bank.

 

(The idea of turning Jordan into Palestine has a generally unknown linguistic background. In Hebrew usage, “Eretz Israel” is the land on both sides of the Jordan River, where the ancient Hebrew tribes settled according to the Biblical myth. In Palestinian usage, “Filastin” is only the land on the West side of the river. Therefore is quite natural for ignorant Israelis to ask the Palestinians to set up their state beyond the Jordan. For Palestinians, that means setting up their state abroad.)

 

 

AT THE time, Sharon was in political exile.

 

In 1973 he left the army, after realizing that he had no chance of becoming Chief of Staff. This may seem odd, since he was already recognized as an outstanding battlefield commander. The trouble was that he was also known as an insubordinate officer, who despised his superiors and his peers (as well as everybody else.) Also, his relationship with the truth was problematical. David Ben-Gurion wrote in his diary that Sharon could be an exemplary military officer, if only he could abstain from lying.

 

When he left the army, Sharon almost single-handedly created the Likud by unifying all the right-wing parties. That’s when I chose him the first time as Haolam Hazeh’s Man of the Year and wrote a large biographical article about him. A few days later, the Yom Kippur War broke out, and Sharon was drafted back into the army. His part in it is considered by many as pure genius, by others as a story of insubordination and luck. A photo of him with his head bandaged became his trademark, though it was only a slight wound caused by hitting his head on his command vehicle. (To be fair, he was really wounded in battle, like me, in 1948.)

 

After the Yom Kippur war, the argument about his part in that war became the center of “the battle of the generals”. He started to visit me at my home to explain his moves, and we became quite friendly.

 

He left the Likud when he realized that he could not become its leader as long as Menachem Begin was around. He started to chart his own course. That’s when he asked for the meeting with Arafat.

 

He was thinking about creating a new party, neither right nor left, but led by him and “outstanding personalities” from all over the political landscape. He invited me to join, and we had long conversations at his home.

 

I must explain here that for a long time I had been looking for a person with military credentials to lead a large united peace camp. A leader with such a background would make it much easier for us to gain public support for our aims. Sharon fitted the recipe. (As Yitzhak Rabin did later.) Yet during our conversations it became clear to me that he had basically remained a right-winger.

 

In the end Sharon set up a new party called Shlomtzion (“Peace of Zion”), which was a dismal failure on election day. The next day, he rejoined the Likud.

 

The Likud had won the elections and Begin became Prime Minister. If Sharon had hoped to be appointed Minister of Defense, he was soon disabused. Begin did not trust him. Sharon looked like a general who might organize a coup. The powerful new Finance Minister said that if Sharon became commander-in-chief, he would “send his tanks to surround the Knesset.”

 

(There was a joke making the rounds at the time:  Defense Minister Sharon would call for a meeting of the General Staff and announce: “Comrades, tomorrow morning at 06.00 we take over the government!” For a moment the audience was dumfounded, and then it broke out into riotous laughter.)

 

However, when Begin’s preferred Defense Minister, the former Air Force chief Ezer Weizman, resigned, Begin was compelled to appoint Sharon as his successor. For the second time I chose Sharon as Haolam Hazeh’s Man of the Year. He took this very seriously and sat with me for many hours, in several meetings at his home and office, in order to explain his ideas.

 

One of them, which he expounded at the same time to the US strategic planners, was to conquer Iran. When Ayatollah Khomeini dies, he said, there will begin a race between the Soviet Union and the US to determine who will arrive first on the scene and take over. The US is far away, but Israel can do the job. With the help of heavy arms that the US will store in Israel well before, our army will be in full possession before the Soviets move. He showed me the detailed maps of the advance, hour by hour and day by day.

 

This was typical Sharon, His vision was wide and all-embracing. His listener was left breathless, comparing him to the ordinary little politicians, devoid of vision and breadth. But his ideas were generally based on abysmal ignorance of the other side, and therefore came to naught.

 

 

AT THE same time, nine months before the Lebanon War, he disclosed to me his Grand Plan for a new Middle East of his making. He allowed me to publish it, provided I did not mention him as the source. He trusted me.

 

Basically it was the same as the one he wanted to propose to Arafat.

 

The army would invade Lebanon and drive the Palestinians from there to Syria, from whence the Syrians would drive them into Jordan. There the Palestinians would overthrow the king and establish the State of Palestine.

 

The army would also drive the Syrians out of Lebanon. In Lebanon Sharon would choose a Christian officer and install him as dictator. Lebanon would make official peace with Israel and in effect become a vassal state.

 

I duly published all this, and nine months later Sharon invaded Lebanon, after lying to Begin and the cabinet about his aims. But the war was a catastrophe, both militarily and politically.

 

Militarily it was a demonstration of “the Peter principle” – the brilliant battle commander was a miserable strategist. No unit of the Israeli army reached its objective on time, if at all. The Israeli-installed dictator, Bachir Gemayel, was assassinated. His brother and successor signed a peace treaty with Israel, which has been completely forgotten by now. The Syrians remained in Lebanon for many years to come. The Israeli army extricated itself after a guerrilla war that lasted 18 full years, during which the despised and downtrodden Shiites in Israeli-occupied South Lebanon became the dominant political force in the country.

 

And, worst of all, in order to induce the Palestinians to flee, Sharon let the barbarous Christian Phalangists into the Palestinian refugee camps Sabra and Shatila, where they committed a terrible massacre. Hundreds of thousands of outraged Israelis protested in Tel Aviv, and Sharon was dismissed from the defense ministry.

 

At the height of the Battle of Beirut I crossed the lines and met with Yasser Arafat, who had become Sharon’s Nemesis. Since then, Sharon and I did not exchange a single word, not even greeting each other.

 

 

IT LOOKED like the end of Sharon’s career. But for Sharon, every end was a new beginning.

 

One of his media vassals, Uri Dan (who had started his career in Haolam Hazeh) once coined a prophetic phrase: “Those who don’t want him as Chief of Staff, will get him as Minister of Defense. Those who don’t want him as Minister of Defense, will get him as Prime Minister.” Today one could add: “Those who did not want him as Prime Minister, are getting him as a national icon.”  

 

An ex-general, Yitzhak Ben-Israel, told me yesterday: “He was an Imperator!” I find this a very apt description.

 

Like a Roman imperator, Sharon was a supreme being, admired and feared,

generous and cruel, genial and treacherous, hedonistic and corrupt, a victorious general and a war criminal, quick to make decisions and unwavering once he had made them, overcoming all obstacles by sheer force of personality.

 

One could not meet him without being struck by the sense of power he emanated. Power was his element.

 

He believed that destiny had chosen him to lead Israel. He did not think so – he knew. For him, his personal career and the fate of Israel were one and the same. Therefore, anyone who tried to block him was a traitor to Israel. He despised everyone around him – from Begin down to the last politician and general.

 

His character was formed in his early childhood in Kfar Malal, a communal village which belonged to the Labor party. His mother, Vera, managed the family farm with an iron will, quarreling with all the neighbors, the village institutions and the party. When little Arik was injured in a fall on a pitchfork, she did not take him to the village clinic, which she hated, but put him on a donkey and led him for several kilometers to a doctor in Kfar Saba.

 

When rumor had it that the Arabs in neighboring villages were planning an attack, little Arik was hidden in a haystack.

 

Later in life, when his mother (who still managed the farm) visited his new ranch and saw a low wall with holes for irrigation, she exclaimed: “Ah, you have embrasures! Very good, you can shoot through them at the Arabs!”

 

How could a poor army officer acquire the largest ranch in the country? Simple: he got it as a gift from an Israeli-American billionaire, with the help of the finance minister. Several dubious large deals with other billionaires followed.

 

 

SHARON WAS the most typical Israeli one could imagine, embodying the saying (to which I modestly claim authorship): “If force does not work, try more force.”

 

I was therefore very surprised when he came out in favor of the law dispensing with the military service of tens of thousands of orthodox youngsters. “How can you?” I asked him. His answer: “I am first of all a Jew, and only after that an Israeli!” I told him that for me it was the other way round.

 

Ideologically, he was the pupil and successor of David Ben-Gurion and Moshe Dayan, leaders who believed in military force and in expanding the territory of Israel without limit. His military career started for real in the 1950s when Moshe Dayan put him in charge of an unofficial outfit called Unit 101, which was sent across the border to kill and destroy, in retaliation for similar actions committed by Arabs. His most famous exploit was the massacre of Qibya village in 1953, when 49 innocent villagers were buried under the houses which he blew up.

 

Later, when requested to put an end to “terrorism” in Gaza, he killed every Arab who was caught with arms. When I later asked him about killing prisoners, he answered: “I did not kill prisoners. I did not take prisoners!”

 

At the beginning of his career as commander he was a bad general. But from war to war he improved. Unusual for a general, he learned from his mistakes. In the 1973 war he was already considered the equal of Erwin Rommel and George Patton. It also became known that between the battles he gorged himself on seafood, which is not kosher.

 

 

THE MAIN endeavor of his life was the settlement enterprise. As army officer, politician and successively chief of half a dozen different ministries, his central effort was always to plan and set up settlements in the occupied territories.

 

He did not care whether they were legal or illegal under Israeli law (all of them, of course, are illegal under international law, for which he did not give a damn).

 

He planned their location, with the aim of cutting the West Bank into ribbons which would make a Palestinian state impossible. Then he rammed it through the cabinet and the ministries. Not for nothing was he nicknamed “the Bulldozer”.

 

The “Israel Defense Army” (its official Hebrew name) turned into the “Settlers Defense Army”, sinking slowly in the morass of the occupation.

 

However, when settlements obstructed his plans, he had no compunction about destroying them. When he was in favor of peace with Egypt, in order to concentrate on the war with the Palestinians, he destroyed the entire town of Yamit in North Sinai and the adjacent settlements. Later he did the same to the settlements in the Gaza Strip, attracting the enduring hatred of the settlers, his erstwhile proteges. He acted like a general who is ready to sacrifice a brigade to improve his overall strategic position. 

 

 

WHEN HE died last week, after lying in a coma for eight years, he was eulogized by the very people he despised, and turned into a shallow folk hero. The Ministry of Education compared him to Moses.

 

In real life he was a very complex person, as complex as Israel. His personal history is interwoven with the history of Israel.

 

His main legacy was catastrophic: the scores of settlements which he implanted all over the West Bank – each of them a landmine which will have to be removed at great risk when the time comes.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 12th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

The World Union for Progressive Judaism marks with sadness the passing of -

Ariel Sharon z”l – Throughout his life, he was always in service to his country.  We will ever be grateful for his passion for the State of Israel.  

We share the words of our Israel Movement for Progressive Judaism:

“All Rend for 

the Fallen President”  

(Mishneh Torah, Laws of Mourning 9:14)

 

Ariel Sharon 1928-2014

The Reform Movement in Israel, its communities, its members and its rabbis express their grief over the death of Ariel Sharon, the 11th Prime Minister of Israel;
a native son and lover of his country.

In an era where the willingness to devote one’s greatest personal efforts to “the public need for faith” (from the Shabbat morning prayers) is not obvious, the life’s work of the late Ariel Sharon is another chapter in the story of a generation, who knew that his actions would tip the scales.

In view of his passing on Shabbat “Beshalach” – with the Song of the Sea – we dedicate to his memory this beautiful Gemara passage:

“Rabbi Judah said: [while the Children of Israel stood at the shores of the Sea] Each one argued with the next saying, “I do not want to go into the sea first.” While they argued, Nahshon son of Amminadav jumped up and went into the sea first.”
Bavli Sotah 36, 72

 

Our condolences

to his family

==============================

American Jewish Leaders Mourn Ariel Sharon; Praise Political Pragmatism and Military Prowess

by the Algemeiner Staff

 

January 12, 2014 3:35 pm

American Jewish organizations and their leaders expressed condolences to the family of recently deceased Israeli premier Ariel Sharon, in statements issued Saturday and Sunday.

The groups recounted their experiences working with Sharon who died on Saturday aged 85, and remembered him as a bold and courageous leader.

Robert G. Sugarman, Chairman, and Malcolm Hoenlein, Executive Vice Chairman of The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, said, “There were few in Israel’s history who contributed so much to the State, who demonstrated courage and bravery as well as keen insight and incisive thinking.”

“Prime Minister Sharon always went out of his way to discuss and take into consideration the views of the diaspora community and valued his role not only as Prime Minister of Israel but also as a leader of the Jewish people,” Hoenlein and Sugarman said.

Leaders of the Anti-Defamation League, Barry Curtiss-Lusher and Abraham H. Foxman remembered Sharon as, “A great military leader who fought in Israel’s five wars,” and who “capped his career by becoming a true statesman and a prime minister who earned the support of a wide swath of the Israeli public and the international community.”

“Through his steadfast leadership, and his courageous advocacy of positions and policies that were often controversial yet always with Israel’s best interests at heart, Prime Minister Sharon helped his people emerge” from the second Intifada, they said. “His legacy is a more secure State of Israel, safe on its borders and resolved to put an end to the campaign of Palestinian terrorism once and for all.”

B’nai B’rith International President Allan J. Jacobs said that, “Israel lost a unique and unusual leader who demonstrated the ability to change his way of thinking and seeking out new paths.”

“He was a brave and fearless soldier, a wise and brilliant leader, who left a lasting impact on Israel,” he said. “Each time Israel was threatened with extinction, Ariel Sharon rose to defend her.”

“He lived the Zionist dream as farmer, soldier and statesman, always mindful of the tremendous responsibilities cast his way on the battlefield or at the diplomatic table,” B’nai B’rith International Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin added.

“With the passing of Ariel Sharon, a defining chapter in Israel’s history goes with him,” said David Harris, executive director of the American Jewish Committee. “He was a man of towering strength, uncompromising commitment, steely determination, and creative vision.”

“He was among the giants of Israel’s founding generation. Against all the odds, they established the democratic state, defended it against those who sought its destruction, and participated in its remarkable growth and development over the last nearly six decades,” the AJC said. “While he fully understood the importance of military strength and strategic acumen to ensure Israel’s security in a turbulent region, he also displayed a political pragmatism that surprised his external and domestic critics.”

The Friends of the Israel Defense Forces highlighted Sharon’s military career. “He fought and won many battles,” the group said. “We appreciate his contribution to the defense of Israel and will remember him as one of the most well respected commanders of all time.”

Rabbi Leonard Matanky, president of the Rabbinical Council of America, said, “We are grateful for the many positive contributions he made to the State of Israel.”

The National Jewish Democratic Council called Sharon “a true defender of Israel,” while the Republican Jewish Coalition said, “He was a great warrior who fought wholeheartedly for Israel’s existence, security, and well-being.”

Sharon will be buried in a military ceremony, in a State Funeral,  on Monday, January 13th,  at his ranch in Israel’s Negev. World leaders, including U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, are expected to be in attendance.

=============================================

Late PM’s bureau chief Dov Weissglass, in a conference call for The Israel Project a few hours after Israel’s eleventh prime minister passed away on Saturday, Weissglass said Sharon and president George W. Bush established a relationship of deep trust and open affection. The strength of that bond between the two leaders and their administrations, he said, helped ensure firm backing from the US for Sharon’s battle against Palestinian terrorism in the Second Intifada.

The partnership also yielded two “significant political accomplishments” for Israel, Weissglass added — citing what he said was written support from the US president for Israel’s retention of major settlement blocs under a permanent peace deal with the Palestinians, and for the resettlement of Palestinian refugees in a Palestinian state “rather than in Israel.”

Weissglass’s description of the warm Sharon-Bush relationship contrasted sharply with the strains in ties between the administrations of Netanyahu and President Barack Obama, which have been openly at odds over Israeli settlement expansion and over strategies for thwarting Iran. In recent weeks, Netanyahu has repeatedly slammed the interim accord on curbing Iran’s nuclear program, negotiated by the US and other world powers in Geneva in late November, as a historic mistake.

Weissglass would not be drawn on how Sharon would have been handling peace efforts with the Palestinians, or whether he would have ready to withdraw from the West Bank if he were prime minister today, saying he didn’t want to speculate on what Sharon might have done.

He did highlight Israel’s current regional strength, however, saying that, as a consequence of the Arab spring and current instabilities in neighboring states, “no single Arab state jeopardizes the existence of the state of Israel.”

On Iran, he specified that Sharon saw the nuclear threat as “an international problem, for the international community to deal with.” Sharon viewed a nuclear Iran as a threat “not just to the Middle East but even to Europe,” Weissglass said. He said Sharon believed Israel “should play a part” in the effort to stop Iran, “but not … a leading role.”

Nevertheless, extolling late leader for making ‘tough decisions’ and realizing ‘peace will make Israel stronger,’ US Secretary of State John Kerry hopes current PM will learn lesson.

Reading through the various statements made by presidents and prime ministers in the aftermath of Sharon’s death, one could get the impression that Sharon, in his 32 years in the Knesset and two terms as prime minister, did nothing but remove settlers from Palestinian territories in the pursuit of peace.

Western politicians, with almost no exception, looked only at Sharon’s life after he broke away from Likud and created the centrist Kadima party in late 2005, soon after he had overseen the dismantling of the Gaza settlements and the unilateral withdrawal from Gaza.

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, for instance, focused his statement on the one action that the world appears to want to remember about Ariel Sharon: the “painful and historic decision to withdraw Israeli settlers and troops from the Gaza Strip.” Sharon’s successor, Ban continued, without naming any names, now “faces the difficult challenge of realizing the aspirations of peace between the Israeli and Palestinian people. The Secretary-General calls on Israel to build on the late Prime Minister’s legacy of pragmatism to work towards the long overdue achievement of an independent and viable Palestinian state, next to a secure Israel.”

A statement by US Secretary of State John Kerry also came off as less a personal tribute to Sharon and more a plea addressed to Netanyahu, imploring him to muster the courage to make the concessions necessary for the peace process to advance.

Kerry called Sharon a “big bear of a man,” who, after he became prime minister, “sought to bend the course of history toward peace, even as it meant testing the patience of his own longtime supporters and the limits of his own, lifelong convictions in the process.”
He was prepared to make tough decisions because he knew that his responsibility to his people was both to ensure their security and to give every chance to the hope that they could live in peace,” Kerry said of Sharon.

Tough decisions and difficult choices — that’s exactly what Kerry is asking of Netanyahu (and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, conspicuously silent in the immediate aftermath of Sharon’s passing). “We are now at a point where the choices narrow down and the choices are obviously real and difficult,” Kerry said on January 5, during his last visit in Jerusalem. As he prepared to present the two sides with a “framework agreement,” a position paper trying to help the two sides find some common ground, it was becoming “much more apparent to everybody what the remaining tough choices are and what the options are with respect to those choices,” he said.

The Kerry message to Netanyahu in his statement on Sharon could not have been clearer, or more similar to his recent peace-related remarks. Sharon “surprised many in his pursuit of peace,” Kerry stated, “and today, we all recognize, as he did, that Israel must be strong to make peace, and that peace will also make Israel stronger.”

Other world leaders also used the opportunity of eulogizing Sharon to talk about Netanyahu — or rather, talk to Netanyahu.

In a rather formulaic statement, US President Barack Obama paid tribute to a leader “who dedicated his life to the State of Israel,” and then went on to reaffirm America’s unshakable commitment to Israel’s security. “We continue to strive for lasting peace and security for the people of Israel, including through our commitment to the goal of two states living side-by-side in peace and security.”

UK Prime Minister David Cameron’s implied message to Israel’s current prime minister was blunt, as he praised Sharon as a leader who “took brave and controversial decisions in pursuit of peace.” German Chancellor Angela Merkel, through a spokesman, applauded Sharon’s “courageous decision” to withdraw settlers from the Gaza Strip, during the Disengagement, a “historic step on the path to a deal with the Palestinians and a two-state solution.”

But this approach is unfair to the deceased – bless his memory – and that is why we chose the Reform Judaism’s notice as opener to our posting. Indeed – there is much more to this “Bear of a Man” – he had a clear vision – was pragmatic and ready to change approach – but he never left his eye from the ultimate goal of a secure, prosperous, home for Jews living in a peaceful neighborhood – and indeed  he had no  place in his large stomach for those with a narrower vision.
The fact that Jordan, Egypt, and the Palestinian Authority seemingly, have no intent to send representatives to the General’s funeral is just one little further proof that the recognition that Israel is there as part of a new Middle East has not reached yet their leaders.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 10th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

As Obama dithers, Egypt ramps up its nuclear options.

www.meforum.org/3716/       by Raymond Stock
Fox News


January 9, 2014

After the fatally-flawed interim deal signed by the P5+1 in Geneva November 24 over Iran’s nuclear program, America’s slighted ally Egypt is now possibly pursuing its own nuclear option, amid fears of an atomic arms race between Tehran and its regional Sunni rivals in Cairo, Riyadh and beyond.

And no one seems to be paying attention.

Egypt’s traditionally close relations with the U.S. have been severely strained since Minister of Defense General Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi ousted the narrowly-elected President Mohamed Morsi after more than thirty million marched against him and the rule of the Muslim Brotherhood (MB), to which he belongs.

To the outrage of most Egyptians, the U.S. cut roughly a third in cash and equipment of its annual $1.6 billion of mainly military aid to Cairo in early October in punishment for the new regime’s crackdown on the MB, which demands the return of Morsi — and which Egypt now correctly classifies as a terrorist organization.

Yet the White House had boosted aid to Egypt even as Morsi grew more and more repressive, imposing his Islamist agenda on the country.

On October 6, Egypt’s interim president, Adly Mansour, announced at the annual commemoration of Egypt’s successful 1973 surprise attack on the Israelis across the Suez Canal that construction of a 1,000 MW light-water reactor to generate electricity at El-Debaa, 120 kilometers west of Alexandria — the first of four planned in the country — would go ahead.

Egypt’s 60-year-old nuclear program is already the third largest in the region, after those of Israel and Iran.
On November 26, the respected Middle East news site Al-Monitor reported that Egypt expects to generate $4 billion in grants from interested international companies to finance the project.

Morsi, whom al-Sisi appointed Mansour to replace pending new elections next year, had earlier approved a similar plan, even obtaining a pledge of Russian “research assistance” for Egypt’s nuclear expansion, as well as help in exploiting the nation’s previously unknown major deposits of uranium.

In mid-November, Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Defense Minister Sergei Shoygu visited Egypt, where they negotiated a deal through which Egypt will buy $2 billion worth of Russian military equipment.

“We want to give a new impetus to our relations and return them to the same high level that used to exist with the Soviet Union”—i.e., during the Cold War–Egypt’s Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmi is quoted as saying.

On November 11, the destroyer Varyag docked with an official welcome at Alexandria, the first Russian warship to visit one of Egypt’s ports in decades.

It is not known if the Russians and their hosts also discussed Egypt’s nuclear program in those talks.

Morsi — whom the Iranians too had offered to help develop his nuclear program, and with whom he worked to have closer ties after three decades of frozen relations–was most likely interested in acquiring nuclear weapons, for which the MB has called since 2006.

That idea is still wildly popular in Egypt, even if the MB no longer is.

Yet unlike Iran, a major oil exporter, Egypt really does have an urgent, legitimate need to develop new sources of energy.

Rolling brownouts and blackouts have been increasingly common, especially in post-Mubarak Egypt.

But as al-Sisi and Obama drift further apart, there are good reasons to be aware, if not wary, of Egypt’s push for nuclear power.

Egypt’s nuclear program, which began in 1954, features two research reactors and a hot-cell laboratory, all located at Inshas in the Delta.

From the reactors’ spent fuel rods, the hot-cell laboratory reportedly extracts at least six kilograms of plutonium — enough for one nuclear bomb — per year.

During the rule of Hosni Mubarak — overthrown in February 2011 in a U.S.-backed coup propelled by public protests–the International Agency for Atomic Energy (IAEA) in 2004 opened an investigation into irradiation experiments and the unreported import of nuclear materials, and in 2007 and 2008 found traces of Highly-Enriched Uranium (HEU), all at Inshas.

After each, the IAEA issued brief, bland reports, but the last case is apparently still open, while similar traces of HEU found in facilities in Iran provided the first clue that Pakistan had been aiding Tehran’s own drive for the bomb.

Mubarak also called for a Weapons of Mass Destruction Free Zone (WMDFZ) in the Middle East–now a movement, co-led by Iran, obviously aimed at freeing Israel of its most effective last-ditch defenses.

Yet, although Egypt signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) in 1968, it has refused to sign the NPT’s Additional Protocol, which permits spot inspections, as well as treaties banning the possession of chemical and biological weapons.

Al-Sisi shares Mubarak’s antipathy for the ayatollahs, and rightly fears their growing rapprochement with a gullible U.S. eager to create a new alignment in the Middle East, at the expense of traditional Sunni allies.

That means not only Egypt but Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), who ultimately felt threatened by the MB in Egypt (the UAE is now prosecuting about thirty MB members accused of plotting subversion), which the Obama administration continues to stand by instead, despite the group’s anti-Western ideology and actions.

There is now enormous support on the street for Egypt to shift its alliance away from the U.S., particularly toward Russia, especially after President Vladimir Putin’s masterful diplomatic deflection of America’s pusillanimous threat of a military strike against Moscow’s Syrian client last fall.

The rift is not yet complete- — though there still is no clear sign that the Obama administration will either fully accept the loss of Morsi, or actually stop Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons and the means of delivering them.

Whatever Iran chooses to do when it finally gets the bomb, its very proximity to having these ultimate weapons could impel its neighbors to seek their own deterrent.

Sadly, no deterrent nor strategy of containment can control the dynamics of this most unstable region should Iran achieve its ultimate nuclear ambitions.

And a nuclear arms race between the Sunni states and Iran — also, in the end, aimed at Israel — would be even worse.

Raymond Stock, a Shillman-Ginsburg Writing Fellow at the Middle East Forum and a former Assistant Professor of Arabic and Middle East Studies at Drew University, spent twenty years in Egypt, and was deported by the Mubarak regime in 2010.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 7th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Majallie Whbee (L) is handed his letter of appointment as roving ambassador of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Mediterranean by Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein in Jerusalem, Dec. 31, 2013.  (photo by Knesset Spokesperson’s Office)

PAM (the Parliamentary Assembly of the Mediterranean) was founded in 2006. Apart from Israel, its member states include Morocco, Cyprus, Libya, Jordan, Egypt, France, Greece, Bosnia, Syria, Tunisia, Turkey and the Palestinian Authority.

Read more: www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2014/01/majallie-whbee-pam-interview-syria-egypt-palestine-israel.html?utm_source=&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=8862#ixzz2pk5SBy1m

 

Longtime Sharon associate calls on parties to close peace deal

by Mazal Mualem – a columnist for Al-Monitor’s Israel Pulse and formerly the senior political correspondent for Maariv and Haaretz.
She also presents a weekly TV show covering social issues on the Knesset channel. 
Posted January 6, 2014

 

 “The reason that we miss [Ariel] Sharon so much is simply because he knew how to bang on the table and decide yes or no. With Bibi [Benjamin Netanyahu], nothing is clear … and there is no worse feeling than that.” Former Knesset member and Deputy Foreign Minister Majallie Whbee followed former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon almost blindly when he bolted from the Likud Party and established Kadima in November 2005. It was two months before the then-prime minister suffered a stroke and dropped off the public stage, leaving behind him a party in its infancy, a country dealing with the implications of the disengagement from the Gaza Strip, and an enormous leadership vacuum.

 

Summary? Print Former Knesset member Majallie Whbee, a close associate of former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, deplores Israeli leaders for not seizing the moment: “We have a window of opportunity of just a few years to complete an agreement.”
 

 

In the last election, Whbee, who was close to Sharon politically, joined HaTenua Party, headed by Tzipi Livni, but was not elected to the Knesset. He watches from the sidelines now as the glorious party that Sharon hoped to establish, and which was supposed to serve as a political platform to advance a diplomatic solution with the Palestinians, goes through all its various incarnations.

 

Sharon has been in a coma since January 2006, and over the past few days his condition has deteriorated considerably, putting his life in danger. The party that he founded split in two because of a serious clash between Justice Minister Livni and former Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz on the eve of the last election. At its peak, Kadima won 29 seats in the Knesset. In the last election, the party, now headed by Mofaz, dropped to just two seats. Until it is proved otherwise, Livni’s party serves as the diplomatic fig leaf for the Netanyahu government. It is a pale shadow of former Prime Minister Sharon’s political vision.

 

Whbee doesn’t know exactly what diplomatic arrangement Sharon intended to reach, but it is obvious to him that the disengagement plan in Gaza was to be continued somehow. “Sharon said, ‘Why do we have to rule over another people?’ He realized that in the long term, the occupation would not lead us to a good place, and he wanted to bring about an arrangement.” Like many senior members of the Likud who followed Sharon on his Kadima escapade, he thinks back now on the diplomatic momentum during Sharon’s term in office and wonders what would have happened had he not collapsed.

 

The interview with Whbee took place one week after he was appointed roving ambassador of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Mediterranean (PAM), alongside professor Mohamed Abou El Enein, former speaker of the Egyptian parliament. At a modest ceremony held Dec. 31, Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein handed him his letter of appointment. Whbee already has plenty of plans how to promote two main causes: tracking and reducing the scope of civilian casualties in Syria, and supporting an agreement between Israel and the Palestinians.

 

PAM was founded in 2006. Apart from Israel, its member states include Morocco, Cyprus, Libya, Jordan, Egypt, France, Greece, Bosnia, Syria, Tunisia, Turkey and the Palestinian Authority. This is the first time that an Israeli has been appointed to a senior position in PAM. Considering all the international condemnations and boycotts that Israel is facing, as well as the ongoing diplomatic crisis it is immersed in, Whbee’s appointment is noteworthy.

 

Very soon, Whbee, a Druze, will leave his home in the northern locality of Beit Jann to engage in shuttle diplomacy between the states of the region. He will attempt to use his diplomatic, political and defense experience, as well as his moderate worldview, to promote the assembly’s objectives and to realize the common interests of the countries in the region.

 

Majallie Whbee, when the states of the region are contending with the revolutions and conflicts of the Arab Spring, can anyone even determine what their common interests are?

 

“First of all, there is an interest in the Syrian issue. It is in everyone’s interest to defend the civilian population. Our objective is to flood the world with the problem and to put it on the tables of Europe’s leaders, now that the United States abandoned its plans to attack. What we have here is a Middle East population without anyone to care for it, and it is still at risk. There are Syrian representatives in PAM, too, and that is an advantage. While they are excluded from most places, they are still members of our assembly, and through them we can have an impact. We will demand that they use their influence over the Syrian regime.

 

“But it is not limited to Syria. The situation in Egypt is also difficult. The Egyptian representatives to PAM warn us of the risks posed by Hamas and the [former Mohammed] Morsi government. They are opposed to religious extremism, so they regard Morsi, who supported Hamas, as acting against Egyptian interests. In that sense they regard us, the Israelis, as their allies.”

 

Has your appointment already provided you with new insights into the region?

 

“Yes — that the Arab Spring was exploited by the religious extremists to seize control of the region in a kind of effort to establish a large Islamic force that will extend over several countries. We witnessed the cooperation between Morsi and Hamas, while those forces with a pro-Western orientation fell between the cracks. In that sense, I consider [US President Barack] Obama turning his back on Egypt to have been a resounding slap in the face. Unfortunately, the West did not anticipate fundamentalist factors attempting to hitch a ride on the Arab Spring.”

 

There is an argument that the chaos in the Arab states will actually improve Israel’s security situation.

 

“That is true in the short term. In the long term it is catastrophic, because it is possible that the fundamentalists will take over, and that would pose a threat to us. This leads me to the Palestinian issue. We have a window of opportunity of just a few years to reach an agreement, and Israel is not exploiting that window of opportunity. The situation is that right now the Palestinians do not have the backing of the Arab states. Egypt isn’t helping with anything, and Syria is torn apart. Under these circumstances, it is possible to pressure the Palestinians. [US Secretary of State John] Kerry should bang on the table and bring about an agreement. He should determine the facts and put both sides in a situation in which they have to decide. That is his role as a mediator, because if there won’t be an agreement we will be living by our swords here for many years to come.”

 

The situation of the Palestinians actually seems better than our own in the international arena.

 

“In my opinion, it is important to distinguish the leadership, which wants the conflict to continue. It’s good for those people to be the side that is discriminated against in the conflict. What’s so bad for them? They fight, and somebody else pays. But unlike the leadership, the people want to live a normal life. They want to make a living and improve their quality of life. They are tired of all the struggles and wars. They want normalcy. That is also why I don’t think there will be a third intifada. There is no one who wants to fight that battle, because even the Palestinian mothers are tired. After all, who do they send to blow themselves up with suicide belts? [Palestinian Chairman] Abu Mazen’s sons? [Former Palestinian Chairman Yasser] Arafat’s sons? It is the simple people who struggle to make a living, who end up paying the price.

 

“What’s so bad for the leadership? They continue driving around in their Mercedes and living in mansions, with tight security to protect them. It is convenient for them for the situation to remain as it is, because once a peace agreement is signed and they will be under supervision, it will be hard for them to keep up that kind of lifestyle.”

 

Was Sharon’s disengagement plan a mistake?

 

”In my opinion it was a stroke of diplomatic genius. After all, we had five brigades there, the security costs were astronomical, and soldiers were getting killed and wounded to defend 23 settlements. How was that to our advantage? As soon as Israel left Gaza, the international community granted us legitimacy to act in our defense from within our borders.”

 

 “The reason that we miss [Ariel] Sharon so much is simply because he knew how to bang on the table and decide yes or no. With Bibi [Benjamin Netanyahu], nothing is clear … and there is no worse feeling than that.” Former Knesset member and Deputy Foreign Minister Majallie Whbee followed former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon almost blindly when he bolted from the Likud Party and established Kadima in November 2005. It was two months before the then-prime minister suffered a stroke and dropped off the public stage, leaving behind him a party in its infancy, a country dealing with the implications of the disengagement from the Gaza Strip, and an enormous leadership vacuum.

 

Summary? Print Former Knesset member Majallie Whbee, a close associate of former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, deplores Israeli leaders for not seizing the moment: “We have a window of opportunity of just a few years to complete an agreement.”
Author Mazal Mualem Posted January 6, 2014

Translator(s)Danny Wool

 

In the last election, Whbee, who was close to Sharon politically, joined HaTenua Party, headed by Tzipi Livni, but was not elected to the Knesset. He watches from the sidelines now as the glorious party that Sharon hoped to establish, and which was supposed to serve as a political platform to advance a diplomatic solution with the Palestinians, goes through all its various incarnations.

 

Sharon has been in a coma since January 2006, and over the past few days his condition has deteriorated considerably, putting his life in danger. The party that he founded split in two because of a serious clash between Justice Minister Livni and former Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz on the eve of the last election. At its peak, Kadima won 29 seats in the Knesset. In the last election, the party, now headed by Mofaz, dropped to just two seats. Until it is proved otherwise, Livni’s party serves as the diplomatic fig leaf for the Netanyahu government. It is a pale shadow of former Prime Minister Sharon’s political vision.

 

Whbee doesn’t know exactly what diplomatic arrangement Sharon intended to reach, but it is obvious to him that the disengagement plan in Gaza was to be continued somehow. “Sharon said, ‘Why do we have to rule over another people?’ He realized that in the long term, the occupation would not lead us to a good place, and he wanted to bring about an arrangement.” Like many senior members of the Likud who followed Sharon on his Kadima escapade, he thinks back now on the diplomatic momentum during Sharon’s term in office and wonders what would have happened had he not collapsed.

 

The interview with Whbee took place one week after he was appointed roving ambassador of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Mediterranean (PAM), alongside professor Mohamed Abou El Enein, former speaker of the Egyptian parliament. At a modest ceremony held Dec. 31, Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein handed him his letter of appointment. Whbee already has plenty of plans how to promote two main causes: tracking and reducing the scope of civilian casualties in Syria, and supporting an agreement between Israel and the Palestinians.

 

PAM was founded in 2006. Apart from Israel, its member states include Morocco, Cyprus, Libya, Jordan, Egypt, France, Greece, Bosnia, Syria, Tunisia, Turkey and the Palestinian Authority. This is the first time that an Israeli has been appointed to a senior position in PAM. Considering all the international condemnations and boycotts that Israel is facing, as well as the ongoing diplomatic crisis it is immersed in, Whbee’s appointment is noteworthy.

 

Very soon, Whbee, a Druze, will leave his home in the northern locality of Beit Jann to engage in shuttle diplomacy between the states of the region. He will attempt to use his diplomatic, political and defense experience, as well as his moderate worldview, to promote the assembly’s objectives and to realize the common interests of the countries in the region.

 

Majallie Whbee, when the states of the region are contending with the revolutions and conflicts of the Arab Spring, can anyone even determine what their common interests are?

 

“First of all, there is an interest in the Syrian issue. It is in everyone’s interest to defend the civilian population. Our objective is to flood the world with the problem and to put it on the tables of Europe’s leaders, now that the United States abandoned its plans to attack. What we have here is a Middle East population without anyone to care for it, and it is still at risk. There are Syrian representatives in PAM, too, and that is an advantage. While they are excluded from most places, they are still members of our assembly, and through them we can have an impact. We will demand that they use their influence over the Syrian regime.

 

“But it is not limited to Syria. The situation in Egypt is also difficult. The Egyptian representatives to PAM warn us of the risks posed by Hamas and the [former Mohammed] Morsi government. They are opposed to religious extremism, so they regard Morsi, who supported Hamas, as acting against Egyptian interests. In that sense they regard us, the Israelis, as their allies.”

 

Has your appointment already provided you with new insights into the region?

 

“Yes — that the Arab Spring was exploited by the religious extremists to seize control of the region in a kind of effort to establish a large Islamic force that will extend over several countries. We witnessed the cooperation between Morsi and Hamas, while those forces with a pro-Western orientation fell between the cracks. In that sense, I consider [US President Barack] Obama turning his back on Egypt to have been a resounding slap in the face. Unfortunately, the West did not anticipate fundamentalist factors attempting to hitch a ride on the Arab Spring.”

 

There is an argument that the chaos in the Arab states will actually improve Israel’s security situation.

 

“That is true in the short term. In the long term it is catastrophic, because it is possible that the fundamentalists will take over, and that would pose a threat to us. This leads me to the Palestinian issue. We have a window of opportunity of just a few years to reach an agreement, and Israel is not exploiting that window of opportunity. The situation is that right now the Palestinians do not have the backing of the Arab states. Egypt isn’t helping with anything, and Syria is torn apart. Under these circumstances, it is possible to pressure the Palestinians. [US Secretary of State John] Kerry should bang on the table and bring about an agreement. He should determine the facts and put both sides in a situation in which they have to decide. That is his role as a mediator, because if there won’t be an agreement we will be living by our swords here for many years to come.”

 

The situation of the Palestinians actually seems better than our own in the international arena.

 

“In my opinion, it is important to distinguish the leadership, which wants the conflict to continue. It’s good for those people to be the side that is discriminated against in the conflict. What’s so bad for them? They fight, and somebody else pays. But unlike the leadership, the people want to live a normal life. They want to make a living and improve their quality of life. They are tired of all the struggles and wars. They want normalcy. That is also why I don’t think there will be a third intifada. There is no one who wants to fight that battle, because even the Palestinian mothers are tired. After all, who do they send to blow themselves up with suicide belts? [Palestinian Chairman] Abu Mazen’s sons? [Former Palestinian Chairman Yasser] Arafat’s sons? It is the simple people who struggle to make a living, who end up paying the price.

 

“What’s so bad for the leadership? They continue driving around in their Mercedes and living in mansions, with tight security to protect them. It is convenient for them for the situation to remain as it is, because once a peace agreement is signed and they will be under supervision, it will be hard for them to keep up that kind of lifestyle.”

 

Was Sharon’s disengagement plan a mistake?

 

”In my opinion it was a stroke of diplomatic genius. After all, we had five brigades there, the security costs were astronomical, and soldiers were getting killed and wounded to defend 23 settlements. How was that to our advantage? As soon as Israel left Gaza, the international community granted us legitimacy to act in our defense from within our borders.”

 

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on December 15th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Just see – there is a storm and floods and see what you get:

“Israel opened the Kerem Shalom border crossing to the Gaza Strip on Friday to transfer emergency aid to residents suffering from wide-scale flooding and no heating.

The Jewish state sent gas for heating and water pumps to deal with the rampant flooding in Gaza. Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories Maj. Gen. Eitan Dangot stressed that Israel would do everything necessary to help the Gaza and Judea and Samaria populations, Israel Hayom reported.”

Yet Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh said, “Israel is the one to blame for what is happening in the Gaza Strip. The Knesset’s restriction on bringing building materials prevents us from fixing infrastructure and that is why we have floods.”

And what does that mean?

The Hamas Gaza leadership uses up all construction materials to build those infamous underground tunnels to Egypt and Israel – this for smuggling and for terrorism. So why send in more cement? Israel would be crazy to give in just because the UN keeps voting against Israel blaming them for everything under the son and the moon – rain or snow.    No pity for the Gazan’s and sorry for the Turkish mess that led to an Israeli apology for no good reasons.

All this amounts for pragmatic reasons to the need to push for a THREE STATES SOLUTION – that is for Israel-Palestine (the West Bank) agreements backed by Saudi Arabia and the other gulf States – this for the interest of everybody involved. That is achievable in the present conditions of the Middle East. Then Hamasstan remains as a renegade speck of land waiting for its own people to take the leadership in their own hands and chase out the Hamas. Sure – this will take time, but it should not cause a mortal danger to Israel as long as  it can withstand UN pressure.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on September 14th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

9/11/01 – 9/11/13 will be viewed by history as the 12 years of the US decline. // Yom Kippur 1973 – Yom Kippur 2013 will be viewed by history as the Middle East 40 years War. Both concepts became obvious in Israeli papers this week.

September 9, 2001 was when US oil-money-fed Saudi Arabia showed that flying oil containers are terrific ammunition in the hands of those ready do die for a cause. The US intelligence refused to see this coming and refused to learn the obvious lesson – stop importing oil from unstable-minds led countries. Just don’t do business with them. Instead the US thought to get a steadier hand on their oil – and decided to start with Iraq.

September 9, 2013 distinguishes itself with something that did not happen – rather then with something that did happen.
What did not happen was a meeting of US Congress called to back a US action in Syria. With President Obama in on a high tree – it was President Putin who came to the rescue and helped getting him down by cutting the tree. The result – a diminished US as the perpetrators of the 2001 atrocity wanted it. The process just took only a dozen years and one oil-based US Administration of 8 years that left a long shadow covering the first 4 years of the following Administration.

Yom Kippur 1973 came about because President Sadat of Egypt wanted to move the Middle East politics from the dead point created by the 1963 war. Sure the Arabs knew that in the field they stand no chance to win the 1973 war but in many ways came out winners because of the way the Israeli side felt self-secure. Some of this security came because of its dependence on the Kissinger Department of State that kept them from attacking the army gathering of Egypt and Syria.
Further, this week documents were released – including private notes by the generals involved. They clearly were not in agreement and some over-estimated the Israeli power. Seeing this General Dayan was ready to use “Non-Conventional” weapons when the first day of the war turned out very bad and some generals acted in disregard of their superiors.

The 40 years since were not used to bring the 1973 war to a solution.

Fast forward – Yom Kippur 2013 sees a superficially peaceful Israel and an economically successful island in the Middle East with Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq in turmoil. It is now the Syrian chemical weapons that dominate the news – and Iran’s effort to have a bomb as well as main danger to Israel. The US cannot be trusted anymore and for good reasons Israel is considered now the third most active foreign State spying on the US. Prime Minister Netanyahu keeps stressing that “If I am not for myself – who will.” He might be right in this – but the documents revealed this weak cry out -Is there no way to end this 40 years Yom Kippur War? Will the exit of the US help Israel go for true negotiations with the Palestinians who indeed are those that lost most from the Middle East upheavals with the other Arabs having kept them from creating their own State? At the same time -it is the Israeli Arabs, followed by the Palestinian Arabs who are relatively in strongest position in the world – something that should make them most interested in ending the state of no peace-no war. We are optimists and hope that these coming months will see moves in a positive direction.

We thought several years ago that Erdogan’s Turkey had a chance to grow by doing the right things in the Middle East – but neigh – he played himself out. Will it now be Putin who will take this mantle of Peace Maker?

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on September 8th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Israel just had no public transportation for three days – it was the Jewish New Year celebration bridging to the weekly Sabbath – and the Orthodox Jews force the government not to use public funds to allow non-religious poor to enjoy nature during the holidays. To do so they have to use private transportation in order to get out of town.

But President Yohanan Peres stated that despite the memory of the Yom Kippur War of 1973 – people wanting to travel to the north of the country ought not to cancel their Holiday-trips, the Israeli Army and the Air Force are watching over them this year of internal fighting in Syria. In 1973 – 40 years ago, the Arab States attacked an unsuspecting Israel and eventually got the tremendous blow they deserved – but that after years may now strangely turn into an unforeseen victory of theirs. Israel made the mistake to hold on to the territories where they could have helped establish a Palestinian homeland on land that was liberated in 1967 from Arab occupation. Now the Syrians and Egyptians fight among themselves – each country with its own special problems. So do Lebanon and Iraq – that like Syria are not Nation-States – and never were, because of the Ottoman Empire rule in the region, and the fact they were stitched together by European Colonialists. Egypt is obviously a Nation State with a long past in history – so is Israel in spite of its deniers.

Should the US and Europe get involved in Syria? Was the US right to get involved in Iraq? should Putin be told off for his moves of restarting a new cold war on the skeletons of dead Syrians? The world has a new game in their Capital towns – but Israel? Is it to benefit from the fact that the real schism among forces of Islam and a budding resistance are just stirring? Will the Palestinians decide to aim for Israel protection from their retrogressive brothers? Will Israel understand what is right and helpful to their own cause?

In the meantime – out of a little over 8 million Israeli citizens – over one million took advantage of a peaceful holiday and celebrated nature. Our own setback – turns out that a masked individual killed with a knife-stabbing an Israeli in Kefar Ya’abetz ( a centrally located village ) which obviously is named after an historian Zeev Ya’abetz a relative of our Jawetz family. A reminder that this is the Middle East after all.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 28th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

According to Al-Monitor:

“UN Leader’s Visit to Israel Shows Waning US Influence in Mideast.”

By: Ben Caspit for Al-Monitor Israel Pulse Posted on August 23.

While on a visit to Israel on Aug. 15-16, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon held some interesting talks, receiving the red carpet treatment from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, who oversees the slow yet chanceless negotiations with the Palestinians.

I would like to suggest to you not to talk about the settlements, Livni told Ban. At around that time, Israel was issuing new tenders for construction in the territories, mainly in Jerusalem and the large settlement blocs. Ban wanted to know why. Since your position on this issue is well-known, Livni replied, I would propose that you do not talk about it at this particular time. According to her, any statements to that effect at this juncture would only render the negotiations harder, forcing Palestinian Authority Chairman Abu Mazen (Mahmoud Abbas) to say something harsh, which could perhaps then undercut the possibility of progress. Abu Mazen cannot come off as more moderate than the UN. He, too, faces an opposition.

Livni explained to Ban how sensitive the situation was, imploring him not to make the same mistake the Americans had made during US President Barack Obama’s first term. Back then, the administration put Abu Mazen on a high horse from which one cannot dismount peacefully. You can only fall off, and they left him to his own devices. Finally, the negotiations resumed, she told him, and the future of the settlements will have to be determined in the bilateral discussions. That’s why at this point it’s better to be smart than right and leave the talking to us (the recent sentences are my own interpretation.)

Livni adopted the same approach when the discussion touched on the Palestinian prisoners-murderers whom Israel had released just two days earlier. What I would like to suggest to you, she said, is not to issue a statement in support of the release. When the secretary-general wanted to know why, she explained to him that some 85% of the Israeli public was opposed to the release. If you find out what those people were convicted of, you would understand too. No other country in the world would have released such prisoners. This is an open Israeli wound. This move is hard for everyone, myself included, mainly because Israel did not get anything real in return.

In other words, Livni suggested to Ban that he let the Israelis and Palestinians run their own affairs without interfering by making unnecessary statements. When all is said and done, the peace treaties that Israel signed with the Arabs — Egypt, Jordan and the Palestinians in Oslo — were always accomplished through direct negotiations between the parties without involvement, interference, pressure or threats. Former Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin made such a strategic decision and executed it, and the same is true of former Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. The world can only stand in the way. Whenever the world meddled, wielded pressure or lectured, it all came crashing down.

Then, it was Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s turn. That was interesting, too. Netanyahu is a weak prime minister, a failed manager and a controversial leader. However, when it comes to public diplomacy he is unmatched. Having studied Ban, he knew exactly how to strike a chord with him.

Netanyahu presented Ban the ongoing Palestinian incitement against Israel that comes across from the Palestinian curriculum which continues to call for Israel’s obliteration from the face of the earth, while describing Jews as “monkeys and pigs,” etc. Then it was time for [Prime Minister Netanyahu] Bibi to get to the punch line. The prime minister compared the Palestinian campaign of incitement and lies against Israel to North Korea’s unending and unbridled incitement against South Korea. Bibi had a long list of examples which left the secretary-general dumbfounded.

Then, as was to be expected, Bibi proceeded to discuss the Iranian nuclear program. He drew a similar comparison to North Korea, or, to put it more precisely, to North Korea’s nuclear project. Netanyahu masterfully delineated the similarities between Iran’s nuclear program and that of North Korea. The latter didn’t give a hoot about the world or the United States, until South Korea woke up one morning only to find out that its neighbor to the north has a nuclear bomb.

In that case, too, the world believed that diplomacy could postpone or do away with the bad news — a belief which proved to be baseless. When Netanyahu switched over to the Iranian nuclear project, he let Ban understand how dangerous Iran is to world peace — not just to Israel. He explained to the secretary-general how messianic Iran’s leadership is and how it is guided by radical religious edicts. The Iranians must not be allowed to do what the North Koreans did, Netanyahu said. Iran is a huge country with immense oil deposits and high capabilities. Such a country cannot be isolated the way the West has isolated North Korea. A nuclear Iran will exact a heavy price from the world — a price it cannot afford.

The comic relief in the meeting between Ban and Netanyahu took place when the Israeli premier started talking about “construction in the settlements.” Most of the construction takes place in Jerusalem — Israel’s capital. It is carried out in places that everyone understands will remain in Israeli hands even in the settling of a final status arrangement, Netanyahu explained. For example, we build in Gilo, which is a neighborhood in Jerusalem across the Green Line, the premier explained. Then took the UN secretary-general to the window and pointed out the neighborhood. Can you possibly imagine that we won’t be able to build here, a place you can see from the prime minister’s office? Bibi asked.

Fortunately, Ban is not familiar with Jerusalem.

On the one hand, Bibi is right. The Palestinians know all too well that Gilo will remain in Israeli hands even in the settling of a final status arrangement. On the other hand, you cannot see Gilo from the prime minister’s office. What Bibi showed Ban is the Israel Museum, which is not too far from his office. But Ban is from South Korea. As far as he is concerned, the Israel Museum can represent Gilo, can’t it?

Incidentally, Ban did not hear anything substantially different from the leader of the opposition, Knesset member Shelly Yachimovich (chairwoman of the Labor party). When it comes to these issues, there is a consensus in Israel.

Later during his visit, it felt like the UN secretary-general had listened closely to what the Israeli leadership had said to him in that room. His statements sounded relatively mellifluous to Israeli ears.

I would assume that Ban is well-aware of the fact that the only capital in the Middle East where he can move about freely nowadays — without the fear of being targeted by rockets, car bombs, chemical missiles, mass demonstrations or other similar perils — is Jerusalem. He cannot do this in Cairo, Damascus, Beirut, Tripoli or Sanaa. Even Amman is not what it used to be. By way of comparison, Jerusalem and Ramallah are a paradise of leisure, although this is temporary, too. In the Middle East the tables can turn in a matter of a split second.

Since I last described here in Al-Monitor the relative quiet in Jerusalem and Ramallah, Israel was hit by rockets fired at Eilat on Aug. 13 (which were intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system) and at the Western Galilee on Aug. 22 (likewise intercepted). On Aug. 19, 25 Egyptian policemen were executed by armed militants in Rafah in the Sinai, a car bomb exploded in Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah’s Dahiyeh quarter in Beirut on Aug. 15 and the Syrian regime killed hundreds, if not thousands of civilians in a chemical attack in east Damascus on Aug. 21.

Whenever we think that the Middle East has hit rock bottom, we hear heavy pounding from below, and then it turns out that hitting rock bottom is still quite a ways away. There’s one truth, however, that’s emerging right before our eyes: The West is losing control over the events. Western deterrence is already nonexistent. The days when everybody would hold their breath waiting for the daily press briefing from the White House are long gone. US President Barack Obama has made a mockery of himself, so much so that nobody really cares about what America thinks, says or does.

This is best illustrated when drawing a comparison between the events in Cairo and Syria. The Americans had long ago set a “red line” for Syria, namely the use of chemical weapons.

However, when a high-ranking Israeli intelligence officer revealed that chemical weapons had been used in Syria, the Americans gagged, got muddled, denied and ultimately confirmed this. Preposterously enough, they announced that “there might have been a possibility” that the Syrian regime had indeed masterminded the recent chemical attack in Damascus. Great. If that’s the case, what will you do? Nothing, it seems.

I’m not calling on the Americans to act in Syria. If I were the US president, I would not intervene in Syria no matter what. Anyone in his right mind has to steer clear from that. Intervention in Syria would pay off and be deemed legitimate only if it were supported by the entire international community. Since this is not going to be the case, there’s no point in goading this or that sheriff to hold the reins in Syria. The world has to come to terms with the new reality: You cannot avert every horror across the globe. Using moral principles, it’s very hard to decide between two similar devils — such as the warring factions in Syria.

It is against this backdrop that the Western conduct in connection with Egypt is becoming more perplexing. My friends, when will it dawn on you that what the Egyptian army is trying to do is to prevent replicating the harrowing reality in Syria? The nonsense of Western democracy and values are unsuitable for societies that still enslave women, minorities and weak castes.

The Americans placed their bet on the Muslim Brotherhood two years ago and now they find it hard to accept that they bet on the wrong horse. The Egyptian public doesn’t want “the brothers” to dictate their life, laws and customs. In Egypt, there are no checks and balances as one would find in a true democracy, at least not for now. So the only way of coping with the events is to determine that having the Egyptian army take control for a transitional period and disperse the riots with force is better than the alternative.

What’s the alternative? That’s simple. The alternative is an armed gang that takes 25 plainclothes men off two minibuses, forces them to lie on the ground and shoots all of them — one by one — to death in broad daylight. This is the face of radical Islam, of which all of us — regardless of religion, sex, color, race or nationality — should be afraid of.
——–

Ben Caspit is a contributing writer for Al-Monitor’s Israel Pulse. He is also a senior columnist and political analyst for Israeli newspapers, and has a daily radio show and regular TV shows on politics and Israel.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 25th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

We Just discovered a reference to our website that we want to bring to our readers’ attention:
 blog.maskil.info/2008/06/altneula…

That link leads to a lot of ALTNEULAND blog’s own information, but to toot our own horn we mention something they posted about us:

You can search for all Altneuland’s featured articles by clicking on the following search link:
 www.sustainabilitank.info/?s=Altn…

The SustainabiliTank website includes substantial coverage of sustainable development and other green issues concerning Israel, which you can find here:

from SustainabiliTank: Israel

According to Pincas Jawetz, the publisher of SustainabiliTank ,

Israel is the country that stands most to gain from the world’s decreased dependence on oil. We always looked upon the Israelis as the potential natural leaders in developing alternate fuels. Israel has the manpower, scientific institutions, and the private enterprise needed for such an endeavor. In effect, going back to the 1950?s, it had people aware of the problems that come from being dependent on oil when living in an unfriendly neighborhood. Israelis worked on oil shales first, then on solar, biomass, and geothermal technologies; the Knesset (the Israeli Parliament) has even created a “Commission for Future Generations” when it became obvious that for environmental reasons, as well as for sustainable development reasons, the world will have to switch to non-fossil fuels. Nevertheless, Israel itself did not implement these technologies, it also did not give away for free the technologies it did develop, perhaps because of political reasons resulting from the government’s close relation to the US. In effect the Environment Ministry became a repository for politicians with other aspirations. In its own interest, as journalist Thomas Friedman said – “petrolism” is the main reason for lack of peace in the Middle East – the Israeli government should have taken a more aggressive position on this subject, one seriously wonders why this did not happen.

We launched this Israel section on SustainabiliTank.info because we realized that above may change, if not through the leadership of the government, then at least through the push of NGOs and perhaps with the help of aggregates of local government.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 24th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

From UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon who is now in Seoul, South Korea, noises that seem to say an intervention in Syria is now ripe. From New York, seemingly the US and all of NATO may be considering a War in Kosovo type of bombardment of the Assad troops. Even Russia says now that chemical gassing of civilians is unacceptable. Will Ban Ki-moon agree to be a war-leader in order to save the UN?

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We find some sarcasm in the following:


In Syria Mis-Translated Drums of War, INTERFAX Has UN Ban Intervening.

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, August 23 — With a slew of articles coming out of Washington and other Western capitals predicting a military strike at Syria — “force but not boots on the ground,” as French foreign minister Laurent Fabius — now Russian news agency INTERFAX has UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon getting in on the act.

With a date line of Seoul, where Ban Ki-moon is these days, INTERFAX reports:
[If deleted or changed, archive here.]

“Seoul. August 23. INTERFAX.RU – UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called the question of intervention in the situation in Syria, ‘a matter of time. All the technical and logistical preparation is now complete. Moment when we can do it (to intervene in the settlement in Syria – IF), and when all parties are ready to take part in it – it’s only a matter of time’ – said Ban Ki-moon in Seoul.”

That’s as run through Google Translate, but confirmed to Inner City Press by a native Russian reporter. [If deleted or changed, archive here.] It appears to come from the Ban Ki-moon remarks e-mailed out by his Spokesperson’s office about the

“Geneva II conference to resolve this crisis through dialogue and political resolution. We are working very hard to convene it as soon as possible. All the technical, logistical preparations are now complete. It is a matter of time when we can and the parties are ready to participate. I am going to convene it myself as soon as possible.”

That is, INTERFAX morphed “Geneva II conference” with “intervention.” As the story continued to circulate, one wondered if Ban’s spokesperson’s office had reached out, as it does from time to time to Inner City Press. Also, one wonders what a cartoon would look like of an intervention, convened by Ban Ki-moon himself?

Beyond this dark humor, there is a lot of mis-reporting on this issue. Some referred to the UN Security Council draft press statement which Russia and China asked to send to their capitals on August 21 as having been a “resolution.” And that… wasn’t INTERFAX.

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Iran’s Rouhani ‘strongly condemns’ use of chemical weapons in Syria.Iranian president says world doesn’t know which Syrian party used the arms; in separate statement, leader says Israel ‘enjoys’ regional instability.
{AND HE CLEARLY SEEMS TO BE RIGHT – SO WHAT?}

By Michal Shmulovich August 24, 2013

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Saturday condemned the use of chemical weapons in Syria but said that the world has yet to figure out which party used them.

Rouhani called on the international community to prevent chemical weapons from being used after acknowledging, for the first time, that they had been used in Syria.

“Many of the innocent people of Syria have been injured and martyred by chemical agents. This is unfortunate,” Rouhani said, according to the Iranian Students’ News Aency, ISNA. “We completely and strongly condemn the use of chemical weapons.”

Iran’s Mehr news agency reported that the president called on the world community “to use all its power to prevent the use of such weapons anywhere in the world, particularly in Syria.”

Iran has previously pointed its finger at the Syrian rebels and “terror groups” fighting Syrian President Bashar Assad for being behind chemical weapons attacks.

Syrian anti-government activists accused Assad’s regime of carrying out a toxic gas attack outside Damascus this week and have reported death tolls ranging from 136 to 1,300. If confirmed, even the most conservative tally would make it the deadliest alleged chemical attack in Syria’s 2 1/2-year civil war, which the UN says has killed over 100,000 people.

The government has denied the allegations, saying they are “absolutely baseless.”

On Friday, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged the Syrian government Friday to respond “promptly and positively” to his request for UN experts to investigate the alleged chemical weapons attack.

In a separate statement Saturday, Rouhani commented on Israel’s air raids on terror targets in southern Lebanon early Friday morning, which came hours after four rockets from Lebanon were fired into northern Israel.

The Iranian president said Israel reaps the benefits of such regional instability.

“These measures indicate that Israel is against the Islamic Republic [of Iran] and is against the whole region, including Syria, Lebanon, and Egypt,” Rouhani said, according to the Iranian news agency IRNA. ”The Zionist regime enjoys such instability in the region.” The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Above is clearly insane except the notion that even Iran thinks it is not nice to gas people – something Iran is guilty of having done itself in the past. Now accusing Israel of things they profess to dislike themselves is no way to show they made progress in their ethics. Today’s Iran is not much different from the Iran of the beginning of this year.</strong>

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 24th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

The reach of human compassion!
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And from Rabbi Michael Lerner’s Tikkun Magazine:

If you have California Bay Area friends, do tell them that rabbis Arthur Waskow, Phyllis Berman, and Lynn Gottlieb will be co-leading parts of the High Holiday services with me in Berkeley. The spiritual work we do at our service (which is not a performance but a deep inner process that incorporates as well as the key elements of the traditional service) is not just for Jews or for believers in God, but for anyone ready to engage in spiritual transformation.

Please urge them to check it out at www.beyttikkun.org/article.php/HH…www.beyttikkun.org/article.php/HH... ].

On Yom Kippur, during the Yizkor service, we will also do some grieving for the victims of the Egyptian coup (but also for those killed by Morsi’s regime), for the Syrians killed in their civil war, and for all the other victims of violence in our world. And we will be mourning for the earth as more of its species and more of its life force continue to get violently assaulted by the globalization of selfishness, materialism, and corporate rapaciousness.

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