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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.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 23rd, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

But above statement does not sit well with the Secretary’s benefactor on this trip – His Highness Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, Amir of the State of Qatar, who is funding the UN Secretary-General’s current trip to the Middle East, or the Mr. Ban Ki-moon’s Middle East Policy guide, Dr. Nabil ElArabi, the Secretary-General of the League of Arab States, the linchpin between the opposing two Arab Sunni factions headed by Qatar – the Godfather of the Muslim Brotherhood and of its off-Shoot the Hamas, and Saudi Arabia, that detests those two last named political Islamic fundamentalist organizations.
Following this we can say that except in the UN released report of that OFF-THE-CUFF Press conference in the presence of Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu which can be read at    www.un.org/offthecuff/index.asp?c… no other document, press release, or other UN paper has anything as clearly expressed as this. It is always about the suffering of the Gaza Palestinians – the poor poor innocent people that are being bombed continuously by the Israelis because they are being used as human shields to the rocket launchers that hide among them.

Not only that, it is the UN paid for and UN maintained facilities that are used as storage place for the rockets. when such a use of a facility became public the UN paid folks just turned them over to the Hamas. It is just not enough to acknowledge as the UNSG did when in Ramallah on July 22nd that UNRWA’s regular operations were “acutely affected” by the fact that they were used to store weapons. and then say that he strongly condemns “the indiscriminate rocket fire launched by Hamas and Islamic Jihad from Gaza into Israel. I am also alarmed by Israel’s heavy response and corresponding high civilian death toll. This is the “proportionality argument” that forgets that in the World there are more then a billion Muslims and less then 10 million Jews – which would indeed mean a proportionality of 1:1,000 – or in mathematical terms each Jew killed weighs as much as 1,000 Muslims killed – this when the killing is started by people that dream of cleansing their region of the Infidel Jews.

In that video-conference from Ramallah Mr. Ban complains that in the last 5 years, the time he is UN Secretary-General this is his third time to come on an emergency mission tp the region to help in a crisis.

That means the children of Gaza are now living through the third major assault in the last five years of their lives, he said.

Obviously, the UNSG just said the truth which is that just achieving a cease-fire without demilitarization of  Gaza achieves nothing else then a short break in a continuing warfare and there is no reasn why Israel should accept this. The ridiculous fact is that Israel nevertheless did accept Egypt’s proposal to allow for just such a break and it was Hamas grand-standing that rejected it. Hamas hates Egypt perhaps even more then their hate for Israel. The ruler of Qatar sees this self destructing attitude of Hamas and has sponsored the UNSG mission in an attempt to save Hamas from Israel and from itself.

The UNSG in his trip was in Egypt as well – just to make sure Egypt does not give up its efforts in the face of this Hamas intransigence and to ask Egypt to figure out a face saving approach for Hamas so they do not look like losers. Will a united Israel cave in to such pressure that leaves the Hamas enemy look like a winner? Specially now when Hamas managed to close Israel’s link to the World by in the post downing of Malaysia 17 in the Ukraine that forces civil airlines to avoid flying over war zones.

To top this all we just received the following e-mail from UN Watch that nixes a UN were Arab States and some sworn anti-Western states are shredding the UN Charter and the UN Declaration on Human rights.

But before we post that e-mail, let us remind the UNSG that his predecessor was able to pass on the very important and here relevant PRINCIPLE OF THE RESPONSIBILITY TO PROTECT which here translates into the responsibility of a ruling government to protect its citizens. This is something the Israeli Government is trying to do, but the Hamas that took over the governing of Gaza from the National Palestinian Authority uses its citizens as human shield to their missiles something that has to be undone by outside intervention that removes them from the business of government. Only the Palestinian Authority, with outside help, could do this. Qatar does not back the PA but Hamas. As such the Qatar money carpet used to fly te UNSG to the Middle East may have been a very bad idea. It seems that this is being realized at high levels at the UN and texts are being altered as reported today by Matthew Russell Lee of the Inner City Press Office at the UN who speaks also for FUNCA – the Free UN Coalition For Access.

—————–

THE UN WATCH PRESENTATION TODAY IN GENEVA BEFORE THE UNHRC:

GENEVA, July 23, 2014 - The Palestinian ambassador to the UNHRC, together with Iran, Syria, Egypt, Cuba and Venezuela tried but failed to silence UN Watch Executive Director Hillel Neuer during today’s UN Emergency Session on Gaza, as he defended Israel’s right to resist Hamas aggression, and called out the hypocrisy of those who initiated the biased proceeding.

As expected, the council voted 29 to 1 (USA), with 17 abstaining (EU & others), to condemn Israel for “gross violations of international human rights,” and it created a new commission of inquiry to produce a second Goldstone Report. Click here to see the grossly one-sided resolution—and a list of the nations who ignominiously voted for it.

Testimony delivered today, 23 July 2014, by UN Watch Executive Director Hillel Neuer, at the UN Human Rights Council Emergency Session on Gaza
Mr. President, I have just returned here from visiting Israel to tell this assembly, and the world, about the grave situation that I witnessed and experienced.

An entire nation—towns, villages and cities, from the Negev Desert up to the Galilee, from the Judean hills of Jerusalem to the Tel Aviv seashore—has been under brutal and relentless attack, from more than two thousand mortars, rockets and long-range missiles, fired from Gaza toward civilians in every part of the Holy Land.

Never before, in the history of Israel’s seven decades of existence, has its men, women and children come under such a massive aerial assault, forcing them, at the sound of air raid sirens day and night, to run for shelter.

And never before, in the modern history of nations, has a free and democratic society come under such sustained bombardment from a terrorist organization, one that openly strives for and celebrates the murder of civilians, and that, as its general worldview, glorifies death.

Did the world ever imagine that the ancient city of Jerusalem—sacred to Judaism, Christianity and Islam, and replete with holy places that are recognized by the United Nations as protected world heritage sites—would be deliberately targeted by indiscriminate rockets?

And yet it is.

During one air raid in Jerusalem, I ran down to the basement of a building with little children crying and traumatized. During an air raid in Tel Aviv, the neighbors of an apartment building showed great strength of spirit in defiance of terrorism, by reaching out to strangers in the shelters, as we heard the booms of the rockets above.

And as  I was seated in my airplane, about to depart and return back here to Geneva, the air raid siren went off around the airport. We all had to rush off the plane and seek shelter. You’ve heard the news today: that international airlines are now ceasing to fly to Israel because of this danger.

I believe that the world should salute this terrorized, besieged and embattled nation, which has refused to surrender to demoralization, instead showing such courage, resolve and strength of spirit in surviving—and resisting—this massive aggression.

And people should consider: Is there any precedent in world history for a nation passively to suffer a three-week bombardment of its civilian population, by more than 2,000 deadly rockets?

The attempt by Hamas to shut down Israel’s sole international airport, in a country already besieged by land from hostile forces from north to south, would constitute the strangulation of an artery vital to the life of Israel’s people and economy.

These acts of aggression also target the sovereign rights of the nations under whose flags these airplanes fly.

I ask each ambassador in this chamber to take a moment and imagine terrorists deliberately firing deadly rockets at the airports of Heathrow, Charles de Gaulle, or Frankfurt; Rio de Janeiro, Johannesburg, or Tokyo.

How would your government react?

How long would your nation wait before doing everything in its power to exercise its right, under international law and morality, to resist such aggression?

Mr. President,

I turn now to the resolution upon which this Council will soon vote. The text before us denounces Israel, denies its right to self-defence, and disregards Hamas war crimes.

We ask: why does this Council refuse to say that which was said only two weeks ago by the Palestinian ambassador himself?

In an extraordinary moment of candor, Palestinian Ambassador Ibrahim Khraishi admitted, on Palestinian TV, that “each and every” Palestinian missile launched against Israeli civilians constitutes “a crime against humanity.”

And that, by contrast, Israel’s own response actions in Gaza “followed the legal procedures” because, as Hamas spokespersons admitted on TV, “the Israelis warned them to evacuate their homes before the bombardment; but, “as for the missiles launched from our side, we never warn anyone about where these missiles are about to fall or about the operations we carry out.”

Can any UN entity, or any individual, be truly for human rights when they refuse to say that which was said by the Palestinian ambassador himself?

Is it possible that the true purpose of this session is to silence the true victims and voices of human rights around the world by deflecting attention from the world’s worst abuses?
We ask all those who embrace hypocrisy and double standards: if in the past year you didn’t cry out whe thousands of protesters were killed and injured by Turkey, Egypt and Libya; when more victims than ever were hanged by Iran; women and children in Afghanistan were bombed; whole communities were massacred in South Sudan; hundreds in Pakistan were killed by jihadist terror attacks; 10,000 Iraqis were killed by terrorists—
[Egypt interrupts with an objection.]
President of UNHRC Session: We have a point of order. Egypt, you have the floor.
Egypt: Mr. President, I think we are meeting today for the special session to discuss the current crisis in Gaza and the violations committed within this crisis. So I don’t see why we have a reason to discuss other issues relating to human rights situations on other countries.
United States of America: We think it is relevant to the subject under debate, and therefore you should allow the NGO to continue to speak.
Iran: We fully support the point of order made by Egypt.
Canada: We urge you to allow the NGO to complete their intervention, which is relevant to the discussions at hand.
Israel: It is important that civil society participate in this debate, and we request that you allow this NGO to continue.
Venezuela: We support the point of order made by Egypt.
Palestine: This is not a point of order, but more a clarification. The speaker will continue along the same lines if the speaker is not stopped. I would ask you not to waste any time on this so we can conclude this meeting in good time.
Cuba: It is inconceivable that a NGO should be able to come to this Council to distract us with the little time we have to debate an issue which is of such crucial importance as the genocide being committed currently against the Palestinian people.
President: I give the floor back to UN Watch, with the request that he adhere to the subject matter under discussion today.

UN Watch: Thank you, Mr. President. I’ll just note that there had been some questions whether the videotape interview of the Palestinian ambassador on Palestinian TV was genuine or not, but we see that the Palestinian ambassador has just intervened—and has failed to deny those remarks. Let the record show that.

Finally, we ask: If those who refuse to speak out for Palestinians—1800 Palestinians, if not more—who were starved to death, murdered, by Assad in Syria, but you only cry out when Israel can be blamed, then you are not pro human rights, you are only anti-Israel.

Syria: We’re used to hearing this NGO creating divisions among the speakers, and speaking out of turn. It is strange to hear an NGO defending the killing of women and children, and the destruction of infrastructure in Palestine. I would hope that the speaker is no longer allowed to continue his statement.
President: I give the floor back to UN Watch.

Hillel: Thank you, Mr. President. Let the world note: that in a session purportedly on Palestinian human rights, the government of Syria objected to us mentioning the 1800 Palestinians that they starved and murdered.

tel: (41-22) 734-1472 • fax: (41-22) 734-1613
www.unwatch.org

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 22nd, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

Call for UN Reforms After Ban Flies on Qatar-Funded, UK Registered Plane

By Matthew Russell Lee, The Inner City Press at the UN – Follow up on exclusive

 

UNITED NATIONS, July 21, more hereWhy shouldn’t the UN be able to live up the most basic standards of transparency and good government?

   Inner City Press, and now the Free UN Coalition for Access, have been asking this question. From the UN’s July 21 transcript, video here from Minute 12:55

Inner City Press: As I asked you before, and I know that you had said you would answer at some point, how did the Secretary-General fly from New York to Qatar?  Was it on a Qatari plane, and what safeguards are in place? Would he take a flight from any nation?

Spokesman Dujarric:  Okay, Matthew, it was the Qatari Government [that] very generously chartered a plane for the Secretary-General to enable him to go about his visit.  This is not the kind of visit that we could do if we were not flying on a private plane.  It is not a Qatari plane; it was chartered.  It is a British-registered plane, as some of you will be able to see on the photos.  But, it is a private aircraft funded by the Qatari Government.

   Should the UN Secretary General in a mediation attempt accept free travel from a country with a particular interest in the conflict to be mediated?

   What review should take place? What disclosures should be made, and when? From later in the UN’s July 21 transcript, video here from Minute 31:

 

Inner City Press: you are saying that the use of private planes, generically if necessary, is signed off by the ethics office, but my question is, private planes provided by anyone? Would the Secretary-General, would he accept such service from any Member State, or would he accept it from corporations? The question becomes, given that particular countries have different views of the conflict, what review is made before accepting a particular country’s contribution?

Deputy Spokesman Farhan Haq: Well, we do have, like I said, an ethics office and a legal office that can look into these things and see whether something is appropriate or not.

Inner City Press: Was this particular flight checked or you’re saying there’s a generic ruling in advance that any private plane is okay?

Deputy Spokesman Haq: No, I don’t think there’s a generic ruling about this, but certainly, if you need to justify this for essential needs, and something like this, a trip that the Secretary-General was able to embark on and made the decision on just at the end of last week and then had to travel, starting Saturday evening, something like that would have been extremely hard or basically impossible to do in a different sort of way.

Inner City Press: I’m asking because in the budget Committee, often many, particularly developing world countries, they say that things should be funded out of the UN’s general budget rather than taking voluntary contributions from States that then have influence. So, my question is, isn’t there a travel budget? We’ve asked in this room many times to know what the budget is, so I’d still like to know that. But, if there is a budget, why wasn’t the general UN budget used for this rather than taking a specific gift from a specific country? That’s the question.

Deputy Spokesman Haq: The worry is, of course, if you run out of money early, does that mean you can’t travel, even if there’s a crisis? In this case, there was a crisis that necessitated sudden travel.

  Inner City Press broke the story on July 19 — credit has been given, for example, by Newsweek, here — and has been asking Ban’s spokespeople for disclosure and what safeguards are in place.

   Lead spokesman Dujarric replied but did not answer on July 19. When he called in to the UN noon briefing from Cairo on July 21, Inner City Press asked him again on whose plane Ban is traveling.

  This time, Dujarric answered that Ban is flying on a Qatar government funded, UK registered plane.  But he did not answer if there are any safeguards against influence or conflicts of interest. Would Ban accept free flights from any UN member state? From anyone at all?

  Inner City Press asked Deputy Spokesperson Farhan Haq, who said  the UN Ethics Office said taking private planes is okay when necessary.

  But private planes from ANYONE? Any member state? A corporation? There have been no real answers, yet. But there need to be.

 Diplomats told Inner City Press that Ban would fly — on a Qatari plane — to Qatar, Ramallah (but not for now Gaza), Israel, Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Kuwait.

  The diplomats who complained to Inner City Press questioned not only Ban taking free flights from a particular country, but also how the use (and landing) of a Qatari plane will play in, for example, Saudi Arabia and Egypt.

 Inner City Press asked Ban’s top two spokespeople, and the spokesperson listed as on weekend duty, the following:

“Please state whether the Secretary General is accepting free transportation from any member state or outside party for his current trip to the region concerning the Gaza crisis, and if so please explain the reason and any safeguards in place against influence or conflict of interest.

“Such disclosure should be common practice; if necessary, note that former Spokesperson Nesirky did answer such Press questions, for example concerning the Secretary General flying on a UAE plane (see sample below). On deadline, thank you in advance.

From: UN Spokesperson – Do Not Reply [at] un.org
Subject: Your questions
To: Matthew Russell Lee [at] InnerCityPress.com
Date: Thu, Jan 19, 2012 at 3:00 PM

- The UAE Government provided an aircraft to fly the Secretary-General from Beirut to Abu Dhabi because of time constraints.

     Later on July 19, the following was received, which we publish in full 25 minutes after receipt:

 

 

From: Stephane Dujarric [at] un.org
Date: Sat, Jul 19, 2014 at 5:30 PM
Subject: Re: Press question if SG is accepting free travel from any member state or outside party, as was disclosed in 2012, on deadline, thanks
To: Matthew.Lee [at] innercitypress [dot] com
Cc: FUNCA [at] funca.info

Dear Matthew, Thanks for your question and thanks for the draft answer. The logistical details of the SG’s trip, including the travel arrangements are still being worked out. Once we are in a position to confirm them, i will revert.

best

Stephane Dujarric (Mr.)
Spokesman for the Secretary-General

  But obviously the “logistical details” of getting to Qatar were worked out – Ban had already been to Qatar, then Kuwait before Cairo.

  One asked, what can you solve if you can’t even say how you got there?

  Inner City Press thanked Dujarric and his colleagues for the interim response and asked, “both Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Poroshenko’s office say they have spoken with the Secretary General and give read-outs. Will a UN read-out be put out? If so, when? If not, why not?”

  On July 21, Inner City Press asked Haq, who confirmed the calls took place but nothing about the contents. What is happened with the UN?
The Free UN Coalition for Access is pressing for reforms.
We’ll have more on this.

 

 

###

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

Washington Post: Shifa Hospital in Gaza City ‘Has Become a De Facto Headquarters for Hamas Leaders, Who Can Be Seen in Hallways and Offices.’

July 21, 2014 11:00 am

Author:  Joshua Levitt

A screenshot of a Hamas diagram, filmed as part of an IDF video from 2009's Operation Cast Lead, showing how weapons are hidden by mosques. Photo: IDF / Screenshot.

A screenshot of a Hamas diagram, filmed as part of an IDF video from 2009′s Operation Cast Lead, showing how weapons are hidden by mosques. Photo: IDF / Screenshot.

Contrary to international rules of warfare, Hamas has commandeered a large hospital in Gaza City as its “de facto headquarters,” the Washington Post reported.

Buried eight paragraphs in, The Post‘s correspondent, William Booth, wrote on July 15:

“At the Shifa Hospital in Gaza City, crowds gathered to throw shoes and eggs at the Palestinian Authority’s health minister, who represents the crumbling ‘unity government’ in the West Bank city of Ramallah. The minister was turned away before he reached the hospital, which has become a de facto headquarters for Hamas leaders, who can be seen in the hallways and offices.”

Last week, The Post also reported, and also included near the end of an article, how Hamas was hiding rockets inside of a mosque, also against international rules of war. On Friday, buried toward’s the end of The Post’s dispatch from the front, one of its correspondents reported actually seeing rockets being moved into the mosque during Thursday’s five-hour humanitarian ceasefire:

“During the lull, a group of men at a mosque in northern Gaza said they had returned to clean up the green glass from windows shattered in the previous day’s bombardment. But they could be seen moving small rockets into the mosque.”

According to international rules of military engagement,  civilian public and religious buildings cannot to be used to shield weapons, but that has been a long-held Hamas tactic in Gaza.

On Thursday, UNRWA, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, said it discovered 20 rockets hidden in a vacant school it operated in Gaza.

UNRWA said the rockets were discovered during a “regular inspection” and that it immediately “informed the relevant parties and successfully took all necessary measures for the removal of the objects in order to preserve the safety and security of the school.”

The UNRWA came under criticism on social media for handing the rockets back to the “relevant parties,” who readers interpreted as being the Hamas militants who hid the arms in the school.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 20th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

With  Interference from Breaking News from the battle fields in the Ukraine and the Muslim World – the US and Russia are at Cold War level; Israel has already 20 dead (two civilians) and dozens wounded – Fareed Zakaria on CNN/Global Public Square did his best this Sunday July 20, 2014, to try to make sense from the present global wars.
I will try to reorganize the material into a neat tableau that can be viewed as a whole.

Fareed’s own introduction was about what happened in recent years is a “democratization of violence” that created an asymmetry like in Al Qaeda’s 9/11 where each of their one dollar generated the need for  7 million dollars to be spent by the US in order to counter-react. Thus, before, it was armies of States that were needed to have a war – now everyone can cause it with a pauper’s means.

Then he continued by saying that this is NOT what happened in Ukraine. There Putin was trying to fake it, by using his resources large State resources to create from former Russian soldiers a “rebel force in the Ukraine.”  The Kremlin is operating the rebels in a situation where the military expenditures by Russia, which are 35 times larger then those of the Ukraine, take care of the expenditures of this war.

But where Vladimir Putin miscalculated – it is that he did not realize that when he takes the ginny of Nationalism out of his dark box, he will never be able to cause it to go back. Putin unleashed both – Russian and Ukrainian Nationalism and it might be that by now he is no boss over the outcome anymore.

Let us face it – G.W. Bush played a similar game in Iraq and Afghanistan and the US will not be  master in the Middle East anymore.
Zbigniew Brzezinski was asked on the program what should Obama do?

He thinks this is a historical defining moment that allows still to Putin to redeem himself. It is for him – rather then somebody else – to call for an International tribunal and allow open investigation by telling the pro-Russians in the Ukraine, whom he supported and provided them with arms, that they crossed the line.  Brzezinski says this is a situation for Europe like it was before WWII.

The issue is that the Europeans are not yet behind the US. London is a Las Vegas for the Russians, France supplies them military goods, it was a German Chancellor before Merkel who made Europe dependent on Rusian gas.
Without being clearly united behind the US, the West will get nowhere.

On the other hand – Russia, seeing the sanctions coming, sees the prospect of becoming a China satellite if sanctions go into effect. Not a great prospect for itself either.

So, the answer is Obama leadership to be backed by the Europeans and Putin making steps to smooth out the situation and redeem himself. This is the only way to save the old order.

Steven Cohen, Professor on Russia at Princeton: The US is in a complicated situation by having backed fully the Ukrainian government.

It is the US that pushed Putin to take his positions. The Ukraine is a divided country and the story is not just a recent development. Putin cannot just walk away from the separatists in the Ukraine – they will not listen to him. The reality in the Ukraine, as per Professor Cohen, is very complex and there are no good guys there – basically just a complex reality that was exploited from the outside.

Christa Freeland, a famous journalist, who is now a Canadian member of Parliament, and traveled many times to the Ukraine, completely disagrees with Cohen and says a US leadership is imperative.

Our feeling is that all this discussion goes on as if it were in a vacuum – the true reality is that in the Globalized World we are far beyond the post WWII configuration that was just Trans-Atlantic with a Eurasian Continental spur going to China and Japan.  What has happened since is the RISE OF THE REST OF THE WORLD – with China, india, Brazil, and even South Africa, telling the West that besides dealing with Russia the West must deal with them as well !!
 The BRICS meeting in Fortaleza (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) where this week they established a $50 Billion alternative to the World Bank and a $100 Billion alternative to the IMF, ought to be part of the negotiation in the US and at the EU Member States  when talking about a post-Ukraine-flare-up World. The timing may have been coincidental – but the build-up was not.

These days there is the celebration of 70 years (1–22 July 1944) of the establishing of the Bretton Woods agreements system that created the old institutions that can be changed only with the help of US Congress – something that just will not happen. Those are the World Bank and the IMF – but In the meantime China has become the World’s largest economy and they still have less voting power at the World Bank then the three BENELUX countries.
The BRICS do not accept anymore the domination of the US dollar over their economies. If nothing else they want a seat at the table, and detest the fact that three out of five are not even at the UN Security Council.

So, the New World Order will have to account for this Rise of the Rest having had the old order based just on the West.

   Further on today’s program, Paul Krugman a very wise man, a Nobel Prize holder in Economics, was brought in to show  a quick take on the economy. He made it clear that there is an improvement but it is by far not enough.

It is more half empty then half full because by now it should have been better. But he stressed that despite the interference, Obamacare works better and ahead of expectations. Even premiums rise slower then before.

Yes, there are some losers, but this is a narrow group of young and healthy, but people that were supposed to be helped are helped.

On energy – yes – renewable costs are lower then expected.

Obama’s grade? Over all B or B-, but on what he endured from the opposition A-. Yes, we can trust Obama to decide the correct moves – and on International and Foreign Policy the White House has freer hands then in Internal, National, policy. His presidency is the most consequential since Ronald Reagan – whatever we think of Reagan – but in Obama’s case, he will leave behind  a legacy of the country having been involved in less disasters, but leaving behind more achievements – be those in health-care, environment, finances, energy, migration, etc. then any President of the last 40 years. But where does this leave him in relation to the Rest of the World?

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

 

Azerbaijan and the Two EUs.       (?? – this is our comment)

by Amanda Paul – a Policy Analyst at the European Policy Centre in Brussels, where she deals with the EU’s Eastern Neighbourhood, Russia, Turkey and Eurasia Region. She is also a columnist for the Turkish Daily, Today’s Zaman.

Of the six countries in the EU’s Eastern Partnership (EaP), Azerbaijan is the only one that has not chosen to definitively align itself with either the EU or Russia. With the signing of Association Agreements with the EU on June 27, Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia declared their strategic choice to further integrate with the EU and, despite Russian opposition and aggression, stated full membership as their goal. Meanwhile, Belarus and Armenia have taken another path, choosing Russia’s Eurasian Union (EaU).

Azerbaijan, as Georgia and Armenia, is located at a very sensitive and volatile geopolitical crossroads, sandwiched between Russia, and Iran. However, unlike its neighbors, Baku has chosen a policy of “choosing not to choose”, having a cautious approach, not wanting to openly confront and create waves with Russia. Nevertheless, when analyzing Azerbaijan’s relationships with the West and Russia, it seems that Baku’s feet are increasingly under the West’s table. In fact, this engagement is nothing new. It began 20 years ago when former President Heydar Aliyev signed the “Contract of the Century” with a consortium of Western energy companies. Over the last two decades ties with Euro-Atlantic institutions have gradually deepened, although Azerbaijan has no aspirations to join either the EU or NATO. However, Baku wants Western “know-how” to work on modernizing the country including vocational training, best practices in sectors such as energy, science and technology and education.

For the EU Azerbaijan is an important and reliable partner. While energy is the backbone of relations, with Azerbaijan the enabler of the Southern Gas Corridor, there is a desire from both sides to broaden areas of cooperation. This was underlined during a recent speech, on 12 June, at Azerbaijan’s Diplomatic Academy, by President of the European Commission, Jose Manuel Barroso. Today the two partners are moving ahead with a “Strategic Partnership for Modernization (SPM)” along with ongoing Association Agreement talks. THE SPM, which will act as a framework for cooperation, is almost ready for signature, with EU officials hoping this can be done before the end of the present European Commission in the autumn. However, with the ongoing crisis between Russia and Ukraine and the ramifications this has had on the broader region it is not impossible that signature may take place at a later date, possibly at the 2015 EU EaP Riga Summit.

This relationship is also clearly not without difficulties. While on the one hand the EU would like to see Azerbaijan take more steps towards improving democracy and human rights, Baku on the other hand would like the EU to have a more credible and consistent approach towards recognizing Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity, as it does with other EaP countries that have territorial disputes — Georgia, Moldova and most recently Ukraine following Russia’s annexation of Crimea. Unfortunately, the EU’s ambiguous approach towards Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity is a thorn in relations. In fact in light of Russia’s revanchist ideas, the EU should give explicit support to the territorial integrity of all EaP countries, not only those with territorial disputes.

Despite the fact that Azerbaijan has not expressed a desire to join the EU, and because Azerbaijan is not a member of the WTO  it is unable to have a deep trade agreement with the EU, with Russian President Vladimir Putin apparently fixated on “rebuilding” the Soviet Union, Baku has still come under increasing pressure from Moscow, to join the EaU. In recent weeks Moscow has significantly increased its diplomatic activity with a number of visits to Baku, including from Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who arrived the day after Barroso left.

Azerbaijan wants good relations with Moscow, but it also wants to maintain full control over its foreign and economic policies. Joining the EaU would affect this independence. Not only would it have no added value for Azerbaijan economically – Azerbaijan’s economy, which is currently dominated by energy sector, is increasingly linked to the West – it would also impinge on Azerbaijan’s sovereignty.

There is also little appetite for closer ties with Russia from Azerbaijani society. There is a broad dislike and distrust of Russia’s leadership, something that has been exacerbated since the Russia’s annexation of Crimea, while deep resentment also continues to exist over the role that Russia has played in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict with Armenia. Furthermore, and fortunately, because the majority of Azerbaijanis prefer to watch Turkish television rather than Russian, they have not been exposed to Russia’s extensive media propaganda campaign over Ukraine.

However, while Russia presently continues to be focused on Ukraine, as with the other EaP countries in the region, Moscow may also try to impact Baku’s foreign policy choices although its leverage on Azerbaijan is less than some of the other countries in the region. All the same, some 500,000 Azerbaijanis work in Russia; Azerbaijan is home to a Russian-speaking Lezgin ethnic minority that Moscow has tried in the past to create internal tension; the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict with Armenia, where Russia is key to any settlement and uses for its own self-interest and Georgia. Georgia is important to Azerbaijan because it is the transit state for Azerbaijan hydrocarbons to European markets. Instability in Georgia could be disastrous for Baku.

Ultimately, while many people believe that Moscow may try to make Baku a very tempting offer, it is highly unlikely if not totally impossible that Azerbaijan will accept it. Nevertheless with such a resurgent Russia with a President that seems to have “no limits”, the ongoing climate of uncertainty and trepidation over what may be around the corner, over what Russia may or may not do next, is of significant concern and will probably keep Baku on a very cautious track. Moreover, the fact that there has been a significant failure from the EU (and the West more generally), to adequately respond to Russia’s actions towards Ukraine, is hardly reassuring to other countries in the region either.

(This article was originally published – in a shorter form – in Today’s Zaman)

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

 

Evening Edition: ‘Very high possibility’ of Gaza invasion, Israeli official says and other headlines for this evening, Wed, Jul 16, 2014.

By Sudarsan Raghavan,, William Booth and Ruth Eglash July 16 at 6:56 PM – for The Washington Post.

JERUSALEM — On a day rattled by a fury of air attacks, Israel and Hamas found themselves Wednesday searching for a way forward, with a senior Israeli military official declaring that a ground invasion of Gaza was a “very high possibility.”

Israel announced that it will observe a unilateral “humanitarian truce” for five hours Thursday to allow Gaza residents to stock up on food and other supplies and let aid reach civilians. The pause in fighting was requested by the United Nations, said another military official, army spokesman Lt. Col. Peter Lerner.

It was unclear whether Hamas would also hold its fire. The militant group rejected an earlier cease-fire proposed by Egypt, and a top Hamas leader declared that the Islamist militant group is alone in the world as it battles Israel.

Hamas continued to shower rockets Wednesday into southern and central Israel, including Tel Aviv, underscoring the extent to which the militants believe they still have the military capability to persuade Israel to accept their terms, analysts said.

“From their rationale, they are holding strong, as if they have nothing to lose,” said Miri Eisen, a former Israeli army intelligence official. She added, “If they feel they have nothing to lose, they can continue this for a long time.”

That attitude is increasing pressure on Israel. Hundreds of Israeli airstrikes have killed hundreds of Palestinians but have done little to stop Hamas rockets from striking Israeli towns. Human rights activists are accusing Israel of killing innocent civilians and possibly committing war crimes. Egypt, once a reliable ally, no longer seems to have the negotiating clout it once had.

All this is generating discussions — within Israeli political and military circles and on television, radio and editorial pages — of a possible ground invasion of Gaza in the coming days. In Tel Aviv, a high-ranking Israeli military official told reporters Wednesday that there was “a very high possibility” of such an operation, adding, “If you want to efficiently fight terrorism, you need to have boots on the ground.”

More than 113 rockets were fired from Gaza into Israel on Wednesday, according to the Israeli military.

By Wednesday night, 222 people had been killed in Gaza during the nine-day operation, including 49 minors and 24 women, according to the Gaza Health Ministry. More than 1,600 people have been wounded in Gaza, the officials said.

Among the latest casualties were four Palestinian children, all younger than 12, who were killed by an Israeli missile or shell while playing on a beach in Gaza near a hotel used by foreign journalists, according to witnesses and Palestinian officials. The four boys were cousins. Seven others — adults and children — were reported wounded in the strike.

The Israeli army, calling the incident tragic, said the target had been a Hamas operative.

President Obama addressed the situation in brief White House remarks. Although he did not specifically mention the beach deaths, he said, “We are all heartbroken by the violence .?.?. especially the death and injury of so many innocent civilians in Gaza.” Obama said the United States would continue to “use all our diplomatic resources and relationships” to bring about a lasting cease-fire. “In the meantime,” he said, “we are going to support efforts to protect civilians in Israel and Gaza.”

 

Message to the Congregation: Israel

Rabbi Ammiel Hirsch

July 16, 2014

Dear Congregants:

 

I hope that you have been able to slow down a bit during the summer, and are finding some time for rest and relaxation.

 

As you know, it has been a tense and trying summer for Israelis. Many of us have family and friends in Israel, as well as children who are on summer programs. We continue to pray for their safety and well being.

 

I would like to emphasize the following basic values:

 

 

  1. Israel is on the front lines of the Western war against Islamic extremism that considers Israel to be an illegitimate presence in the Middle East. Israel deserves the political and moral support of all Western nations and freedom-loving people.
  1. Israeli military operations are defensive in nature. No country would – or should – allow missiles to be fired on its cities and towns. The indiscriminate firing on Israeli civilians is a war crime. Every single missile fired from Gaza constitutes a war crime. The Hamas use of Palestinian civilian human shields is a war crime.
  1. We have noted the extraordinary care employed by the Israel Defense Forces in avoiding civilian casualties. There is no other military in the world that takes such extensive precautions. At the same time we lament the suffering of innocent Palestinians caught in the crossfire, and grieve for the loss of innocent Palestinian lives. They deserve better than Hamas. Hamas bears the primary political and moral responsibility for their senseless suffering.
  1. We condemn the savage kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teenagers.
  1. We condemn the savage kidnapping and murder of a Palestinian teenager in revenge. We are appalled that Jews could carry out such acts of terror.
  1. The discussion on the disproportionate numbers of Palestinian casualties relative to Israeli casualties is a moral outrage. Israel has invested billions of dollars in defensive capabilities – shelters, warning systems, civilian preparation and anti-missile technology (partially funded by US citizens). Israel does everything it can to prevent Palestinian civilian harm, including calling off bombing missions in mid flight if pilots perceive excessive risk to civilians nearby. The moral question is not whether casualties on one side are greater than the other. Rather, the question is whether the military action is proportional to the threat. Hamas rockets threaten most of Israel; they have reached as far as Haifa in the north. Millions of Israelis live under constant threat of missile attacks. In fact, many in Israel and its supporters worldwide consider the current Israeli measures not strong enough proportional to the threat.

Action

 

Traditionally, American Jews have helped Israel in times of crisis by donating funds and joining a solidarity mission to Israel. We encourage you to do both.

 

Accordingly, we have established an Israel Emergency Fund at Stephen Wise Free Synagogue. If you would like to make a contribution, please send your check made out to Stephen Wise Free Synagogue, clearly marked for Israel Emergency Fund. You can also donate online with a credit card here www.swfs.org/donate/.  

 

Representatives of the synagogue board of trustees and Israel committee will decide upon the distribution of the funds. All of the money will be forwarded to worthy causes; none of the funds will be retained by the synagogue.

 

Also: SWFS has arranged a mission to Israel from October 17-22, 2014. Journalist Ari Shavit, author of My Promised Land, a New York Times bestseller, will accompany us throughout our five days in Israel for a unique opportunity to engage Israeli and Palestinian leaders who shape events in the Middle East I urge you to consider joining. For mission information, contact Donna Levine or call 212-877-4050 x223.

 

If you would like additional talking points and links to media outlets, please email our Israel committee, chaired by Alan Scheiner, at SWFS Israel and ask to be added to the mailing list so that you will receive regular updates.

 

With continuing prayers for the peace of Jerusalem,

 

Ammi's signature

Rabbi Ammiel Hirsch

Senior Rabbi, Stephen Wise Free Synagogue

New York City

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Nothing Makes Hamas Happier Than Dead Palestinians.

Youth training at the Al-Futuwa program, where Hamas trains children to hate Israel. Photo: Paldf.net.

Youth training at the Al-Futuwa program, where Hamas trains children to hate Israel. Photo: Paldf.net.

Nothing plays better in the mainstream media these days than wailing Gazans, mourning their dead from Israeli missile strikes  responding to the unprovoked deluge of Hamas rockets on the Jewish state. As Ben Wedeman (CNN) recently reported from Jabalia, “There is no Iron Dome in Gaza to protect civilians.” But Gaza civilians most need protection from Hamas. Its leaders intentionally jeopardize their lives  by embedding rocket-launching and ammunition storage sites in schools, mosques and hospitals located in civilian neighborhoods.

In Gaza, recruits for martyrdom in the holy war against Israel are urged to gather on rooftops. They are instructed by their demented leaders to serve as a human shield against Israeli retribution for thousands of rockets that have been fired into the Jewish state during the past week. The designated locations for martyrdom are not random. Beneath the rooftops are Hamas command centers and tunnels, where leaders take refuge and weapons are stored.

According to Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri: “This attests to the character of our noble, Jihad-fighting people who defend their rights and their homes with their bare chests and their blood.” He proudly cited the exemplary “martyr” Nizar Riyan, the senior Hamas leader during the 2009 Gaza war. Receiving a warning phone call from the IDF to evacuate his house, he chose to remain in place, thereby consigning his four wives, ten children and himself to martyrdom from the Israeli air strike that he knew was imminent.

Last Sunday, following rocket attacks on the Tel Aviv area, the IDF dropped leaflets in northern Gaza urging residents to evacuate their homes in advance of a retaliatory military strike to destroy embedded rocket launchers. After 4000 residents heeded the Israeli warning the Hamas Interior Ministry urged them to disregard “random messages to instill panic” and return “immediately” to their homes, the better to become human shields and gain world attention.

As Jeffrey Goldberg observed (Bloomberg, July 11), “Hamas is trying to get Israel to kill as many Palestinians as possible.” Why not? Dead Palestinians “represent a crucial propaganda victory” for an inhumane regime that has abjectly failed to provide its own people with even the most minimal amenities of civilized life: safety, food, employment, education, medical care. (It is an irony seldom noted that Gazans are still admitted for treatment in Israeli hospitals.)  But Hamas leaders do not hesitate to protect themselves. They take refuge in a vast web of underground tunnels and shelters reserved for their exclusive use. Gaza civilians are expendable. Urged to become targets, their dead bodies are garishly paraded in public to stoke the Hamas cause.

As rockets fall on Israel the world grants Hamas immunity for its war crimes. Blaming the Jewish targets of Palestinian terrorism has long been a popular international trope. As the commissioner general of UNRWA, which invents Palestinian “refugees” by the millions to stay in business, recently declared: “I urgently call on the Israeli Security Forces to put an end to attacks against, or endangering, civilians . . . which are contrary to international humanitarian law.” About Hamas rockets targeting Israeli civilians he had nothing to say.

Palestinian suffering inflicted by cruel Israelis is the preferred worldwide narrative. Where better than Frankfurt, as a recent protest demonstrated, for Israel to be equated with Nazi Germany? With the cease-fire proposed by Egypt evidently crumbling, and Israeli retaliation for Hamas attacks resuming, the number of Palestinian martyrs is likely to increase. Nothing could make Hamas happier. Indeed, today’s death of four soccer-playing Palestinian boys in Gaza, struck by an Israeli missile, is certain to ratchet up rampage against Israeli retaliation for the unrelenting Hamas rocket attack.

Nobody summed up the situation more succinctly, and accurately, than Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, who told Fox News: “We’re using missile defense to protect our civilians, and they’re using civilians to protect their missiles.”

Jerold S. Auerbach is the author, most recently, of Jewish State Pariah Nation: Israel and the Dilemmas of Legitimacy (Quid Pro Books).

 

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Israel’s UN Ambassador Calls for ‘Immediate’ Suspension of UNRWA Spokesman Chris Gunness.

July 16, 2014 4:10 pm 12 comments

Ron Prosor, Israel’s ambassador to the UN. Photo: UN Multimedia.

Israel’s Ambassador to the United Nations Ron Prosor called for the “immediate” suspension of a UN spokesperson on Tuesday.

The move came as Israel is in the midst of a full-flung campaign against terror group Hamas to end rocket fire from nearby Gaza.

Prosor asked for action to be taken against Chris Gunness of UNRWA, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, after the spokesman encouraged reporters to interview a professor with a history of supporting terror attacks against civilians.

In a letter to Pierre Krähenbühl, UNRWA’s Commissioner-General, Prosor said, “Gunness, yet again abused his position by calling on reporters to interview Dr. Mads Gilbert, an outspoken proponent of terrorist attacks against civilians. In September 2001, Dr. Gilbert explicitly supported the ‘moral right’ of Al-Qaeda to perpetrate the 9/11 terrorist attacks against thousands of American civilians.”

In the letter, seen by The Algemeiner, Prosor included the text of a recent Twitter post from Gunness encouraging reporters to speak to Gilbert: “Great interviewee @ Shifa Hosp Gaza right now Prof Mads Gilbert +4790878740 call him 4 fatality & cas figs and atoms RT.” The message has since been deleted.

“Rather than denouncing Hamas’s targeting of innocent civilians, Mr. Gunness is shamelessly promoting an individual who shares Hamas’s morally reprehensible convictions,” Prosor said in his letter. “Hamas, an internationally recognized terrorist organization, deliberately embeds its military operations in residential areas and exploits its own civilian population as human shields. These actions constitute war crimes and should be condemned in no uncertain terms. In failing to do so, Mr. Gunness is ignoring Hamas’s abuse of the civilian population in Gaza and acting in opposition to UNRWA’s mandate.”

Prosor also accused Gunness of displaying “an ongoing pattern of anti-Israel bias,” adding, “he has abused his position to promote incitement against Israel and present a one-sided view of reality.”

Prosor said that on Monday, after Hamas fired a rocket at an electrical plant in Ashkelon cutting off power to 70,000 Gazans, “Mr. Gunness tweeted that the lights had gone out, conveniently omitting Hamas’s responsibility.”

“Israel supports UNRWA’s important humanitarian work; however, actions that encourage incitement undermine this work. UNRWA staff members have repeatedly failed to abide by the UN’s principles of neutrality and impartiality,” Prosor said.

“I ask that you immediately suspend Mr. Gunness while you investigate the matter. The integrity and impartiality of the UN demands that this matter be addressed expediently.”

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

A Win-Win Solution for the Negotiations over Iran’s Nuclear Program – as reported by Irith Jawetz who participated at the UN in Vienna Compound July 15th Meeting .

 

The Vienna Center for Disarmament and Non-Proliferation (VCDNP) and Search for Common Ground  invited us to attend a panel discussion titled “A Win-Win Solution for the Negotiations over Iran’s Nuclear Program,” which was held on Tuesday, 15 July 2014 at 13:00 at the Vienna Center for Disarmament & Non Proliferation (VCDNP).

 
As P5+1 and Iran are meeting in Vienna at Foreign Ministers level to resolve the outstanding issues preventing a comprehensive agreement on Iran’s nuclear program before the 20 July deadline, a group of renown experts on the technical and political aspects of the negotiations have met at VCDNP to discuss and identify possible compromises.

 

Panelists: 
 
Dr. Frank von Hippel, Senior Research Physicist and Professor of Public and International Affairs Emeritus at Princeton University’s Program on Science and Global Security 
 
Mr. Daryl G. Kimball, Executive Director, Arms Control Association. Previously he was the Executive Director of the Coalition to reduce Nuclear Dangers, and the Director of Security Programs for Physicians for Social Responsibility.
 
Ambassador (ret.) William G. Miller, Senior Advisor for the US-Iran Program, Search for Common GroupHe is a Senior Policy Scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C.. He is also a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, the International Institute of Strategic Studies, and the Middle East Institute. He is the co-Chairman of the Kyiv Mohyla Foundation of America and a Director of The Andrei Sakharov Foundation. He has also been a senior consultant for the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.

This was a very timely event, as the Foreign Ministers of the P5+1 group of Nations – the U.S., U.K., France. Germany, China, and Russia – spent the weekend in Vienna  discussing follow ups to the interim agreement reached between them and Iran in advance of this July 20th deadline.


At the start of the Panel discussion, it was announced that at that very moment Secretary of State John Kerry is giving his Press Conference before flying back to Washington to report to President Obama about the negotiations. He is willing to come back next weekend for the July 20-th continuation of the discussions.

———–

Ambassador Miller was the first speaker, and he gave a rather optimistic view of the situation. His presentation had more of a political nature.  In his presentation he said that the basic principles of the negotiations is to assure that Iran has no nuclear weapons . Iran has the capability, brain, expertise and knowhow but has no strategic moral or ethical reason to develop nuclear weapons to be used as weapons of mass destruction.
It is a fact, though, that the Iranians insist on use of peaceful nuclear energy – to what extent it is peaceful and how can the rest of the world be sure that it will be peaceful, this is why the negotiations have to succeed. Ambassador Miller is hopeful that, after 35 years of the current regime in Iran, those negotiations will result in a positive answer.
Ambassador Miller commended all the participating teams, the Press and Academia. First he mentioned the top quality Iranian team at the negotiations, many of the participants he knows personally. They were able, motivated, and anxious to find a solution. The US team, led by Secretary Kerry did a  remarkably good job, as did the rest of the teams. He commended the Press who were persistent – fully covered the negotiations and were very professional – and academia who helped with background information.
—————

Mr. Daryl G.Kimball, Executive Director, Arms Control Association talked about a solution for the Iranian Uranium-Enrichment Puzzle. In his presentation he stressed that “Solutions that prevent a nuclear-armed Iran, lower the risk of yet another major conflict in the region, and still provide Iran with the means to pursue a realistic, peaceful nuclear program are within reach” – he said.
Progress has already been achieved on several key issues – stregthening International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspections and oversight at existing and undeclared sites.  …   Iran has agreed to modify its Arak heavy-water reactor to drastically cut its plutonium output, and a general framework has been developed to waive, and eventually lift, sanctions against Iran.   …  Nevertheless, the two sides have more work to do to bridge differences on the most difficult issue: limiting Iran’s uranium-enrichment capacity.As part of a comprehensive deal, Iran and the P5+1 have to agree on several steps to constrain Iran: limit uranium enrichment to levels of less than 5% – keep stocks of its enriched uranium near zero – and halt production-scale work at the smaller Fordow enrichment plant and convert it to research-only facility.

He shares Ambassador Miller’s hope and positive outlook that the negotiations will succeed. Anything less than success will be a catastrophe.

—————-
The last speaker was Dr. Frank von Hippel who is a Senior Research Physicist and Professor of Public and International Affairs Emeritus at Princeton University’s Program on Science and Global Security.Dr. von Hippel gave a very technical presentation about the Possible elements of a compromise on Iran’s Nuclear Program.

Potential sources of fissile material from Iran’s nuclear energy program are:

1. Plutonium presence in reactor fuel (current issue is Arak reactor)

2. Iran’s centrifuge enrichment complex.

There are two stages in rationalizing the Current situartion:

Stage I

Iran currently has installed 18,000 IR-1 centrifuges  – the compromise would be:

1) to retire IR-1  and replace it with already installed IR-2ms to support research-reactor LEU needs.

2) Continued transparency for Iran’s centrifuge production – possibly as a template for enhanced transparency for centrifuge production worldwide.

3) Continued minimization of stocks of low enriched UF6.

Stage 1 will provide time to cool down an inflamed situation and would provide Iran and the West an opportunity for a cooler assessment of the costs and benefits of diferent possible paths.

In stage II, negotiations might agree on a solution currently beyond reach and also lay a base for a new global regime for enrichment.

Stage II

 

National or Multi-National enrichment? A global Issue.

National – Every  state has the right to enrich fuel for power reactor fuel. However today only Brazil, China, Iran, Japan and Russia have completely independent national civilian enrichment programs.

Multinational – Urenco (Germany, Netherland, UK) . Today Urenco owns the only operating U.S,. civilian enrichment plant.

Building in Flexibility for Iran:

1. Iran should have access to nuclear reactor and fuel vendors worldwide – to ensure that it is getting a good price and reliable delivery.

2. Iran could build up stockpile of fabricated fuel for Bushehr. That would take care of Iran’s fuel security concerns and make it easier for Iran to postpone a large domestic enrichment capacity or depend on a multinational enrichment plant – perhape equiped with Iranian centrifuges in another country in the Middle East.

Dr. von Hippel COPLIMENTED his theory with  charts.

The consensus at the end of the discussion was that the negotiations seem to go well, and all panelists, as well as some members of the audience expressed their hope that they will indeed succeed. Ambassador Miller even went as far as to state that Iran at the moment is the most stable nation in the region, and we have to take advantage of it, make sure the negotiation succeed,  and bring Iran back to the International community.

In the news today it was reported that Secretary of State John Kerry was on his way to Washington to brief President Obama on the negotiations – rather then on a prior advertised new effort in the Israel-Palestine arena. He was hopeful, but also said there are still some points which need to be clarified.

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Further last comment by SustainabiliTank editor – we add – taken from a Thom Friedman article about a different issue:
We accept that in the future the World true powers of today – The US, China, India, Russia, Japan and the EU – and we like to add Brazil as well – will have to meet their minds and harmonize what ought to be a global leadership for a safe future planet. Just ad hoc chaperoning specific issues will be proven to be not enough.

The way to find a solution to the issue of a nuclear Iran shows that in the globalized world of today there must be an international guiding force. But on this much more has to be written for the sake of Sustainability.

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

 

However you cut it ISIS or ISIL (the second S for Syria, the L for the Levant) – this is a Sunni anti-Western and anti-Shiia organization that was sprung originally on the World by the Saudi Wahhabism.  Call it Al-Qaeda or Al-Qaeda alikes – these are Sunni anti-colonial fanatics who believe that all of Western Asia Palestine, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, that were formed after the dismemberment of the Ottoman Empire, are basically one State or Arab Nation of Sunni Islam. To them the Shiia reform movement was actually another foreign intrusion. They understand the fact that the area was divided by colonial western powers for reasons of oil. To them all Western Asian  oil is Arab and they claim it now.

The US never acknowledged this self determination will of the Sunni Muslims as we in the West believe in human rights as an ethic that is beyond religion, but supported by Nationalism based on Democracy that can accept diversity of religions as long as they adhere in common to a Wahhabi style  of a capitalist economy. The Arabs say – all this is rubbish. ISIS or ISIL want just one Muslim-Sunni State based on religion and the Sharia Laws Wahhabi-style. For now the aspirations of ISIS/ISIL end at the borders of Jordan and Saudi Arabia – perhaps also leaving out all of the Gulf States.
By destroying Iraq that never was a true Nation State, the US allowed for an eventual unleashing of these Sunni forces that are being directed now against Iran and enclaves of non-Sunni communities in Lebanon and Syria. The US is now pushed to change sides from originally backing the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia that was business friendly to the US, to the practicality of working with Iran in order to disrupt the regional Sunni movement that does not want the US as part of the power structure in the region. The US still fights for the post-Ottoman division into so called States, which to them felt as manageable Administrative units. Syria like Iraq can exist only when headed by a dictator – so the US will back now the one running Syria because they saw what happened when they tried to change the government of Iraq.  Switching bedfellows makes life interesting in Washington – but seems very fishy to these Middle Easterners. The following article is a good description of the present “is.”

 

 

Syria Bombs Iraq, US Doesn’t (It Says).

By William Boardman, Reader Supported News

25 June 2014

 

US lines up to ally with Iran and Syria in support of Iraq.

In the current round of fighting, it seems the first international aerial bombing of Iraq was carried out June 23 by the Syrian Air Force, acting at the behest of the Iranian government in support of the Iraqi government, which the U.S. government has sort of pledged to support, just as soon as the Iraqi government purges itself to U.S. satisfaction, which may or may not please the governments of Iran and Syria to which the U.S. government has pledged clear opposition.

The Syrian attack apparently went unreported in almost all media. All the same, this escalation marked a widening of the ongoing war in Iraq and Syria, which already involves, at a minimum, Iran, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and the United States (as well as Israel and Lebanon), either overtly or covertly.

The Pentagon has denied reports of U.S. drone strikes along the Iraq-Syria border, according to The Jerusalem Post, which noted that:

BBC Arabic reported earlier on Tuesday [June 24] that unmanned American aircraft had bombed the area of al-Qaim, which was overrun over the weekend by Sunni fighters led by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

Syrian bombing of Iraq continued on June 24, this time reported by The Wall Street Journal (alone at first), which referred to the earlier attacks:

It was the second consecutive day of airstrikes by Syria, which has joined Iran in coming to the aid of the embattled Baghdad government. Tehran has deployed special forces to help protect the capital and the Iraqi cities of Najaf and Karbala, which Shiites revere. [Najaf and Karbala are each a hundred miles or more from the bombing targets.]

The Syrian Air Force comprises mostly Russian and French planes

Syrian bombs reportedly killed at least 50 people and wounded at least 132 others when they hit targets including the municipal building, a market, and a bank in Al Rutba, a town of about 55,000 in western Iraq, captured by ISIS forces June 21. Al Rutba (also Ar Rutba or Al Rutbah) is strategically located on the prime east-west highway across vast and mostly desert Anbar Province. It is about 90 miles from both the Syrian and Jordanian borders, and more than 120 miles from Baghdad.

U.S. forces occupied Al Rutba during most of 2003-2009.

In December 2013, a complex ISIS suicide attack on Iraqi military forces in Al Rutba killed at least 18 officers, including two commanders. Even though the current ISIS offensive has apparently surprised many – including the U.S. government – it’s part of a long campaign, as documented in The Long War Journal in December 2013:

The ISIS continues to display its capacity to plan and execute coordinated operations against Iraq’s security facilities. These attacks are part of multiple ‘waves’ of al Qaeda’s “Destroying the Walls” campaign, which was announced by emir Abu Bakr al Baghdadi, who is also known as Abu Du’a, on July 21, 2012.

Another purported bombing target, Al Qaim, is located about 100 miles to the northeast, on the Euphrates River and the Syrian border. The city of about 250,000 was reportedly the site of Iraq’s Uranium refining complex during the 1980s. Americans bombed the city and destroyed the complex during the 1991 Gulf War.

For most of 2003-2006, Al Qaim was occupied by American forces, who used it as a base for raids into Syria (tactics reminiscent of Viet Nam, where U.S. forces covertly raided Cambodia). When an Iraqi general there turned himself in to Americans in 2003, in an effort to free his two sons, Americans eventually tortured the general to death, without releasing his sons.

Al Qaim was scene of fierce fighting during last Iraq War

In 2005, insurgents took Al Qaim from the Iraqi forces left in charge by the Americans. American Marines were unable to fully re-take the city in the face of fierce resistance. American bombing of Al Qaim in August killed at least 47 people. Late in the year, a sign outside the city reportedly said, “Welcome to the Islamic Republic of Qaim.”

Forces of ISIS took control of Al Qaim on June 21.

The American denial of drone strikes on Al Qaim is explained by RT (Russian Television) this way:

Unidentified bombers have reportedly launched an air strike on ISIS positions in the northern Iraqi city of al-Qaim. Iraqi television has claimed they are US planes, but the Pentagon has denied responsibility.

US planes were identified by Iraqi television, but the Saudi Al-Arabiya network claims that the raid was carried out by Syria, citing local tribal chiefs.

The Iraqi Air Force has bombed the Iraqi city of Baiji, about 130 miles north of Baghdad, on the Tigris River. Americans bombed the city in 1991, destroying most of its oil refinery, which was quickly rebuilt. Americans occupied Baiji for most of 2003-2009, putting down significant resistance in 2003.

ISIS and Iraqi forces have been fighting for control of the Baiji oil refinery since June 11. With ISIS in control by June 20, the Baghdad government over 100 miles away decided to start bombing. The United Nations has reported that the Iraq death toll for June is already the highest in years, with more than 1,000 killed, most of them civilians.

Meanwhile, Israel has bombed Syria, killing civilians, in retaliation for an attack from Syria that killed Israeli civilians in the Golan Heights.

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

 

Turkey's PM Urges Citizens Living Abroad To Take Part In Presidential Election Turkey’s PM Urges Citizens Living Abroad To Take Part In Presidential Election
Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has urged all Turkish citizens living abroad to take part in the presidential election,
20.06.2014

PM Erdogan Calls On Turks In France To Apply For Dual Citizenship
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has called on Turkish citizens living in France to apply for dual citizenship and be integrated with the French society, but also stay loyal to their roots, especially their language and religion, Hurriyet Daily News reported.

Turkish PM: Nomination Of Ex-OIC Head’s Candidacy For President Makes No Political Sense
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the nomination of candidacy of the former Secretary General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu for president makes no political sense.
19.06.2014

Gag Order On Mosul Crisis Aims To Hide Government Negligence
Since the June 11 raid on Turkey’s Mosul consulate, in which the terrorist Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) took 49 consular employees hostage, the government has been widely criticized for its failure to prevent the incident. According to analysts, the Foreign Ministry should have evacua…
19.06.2014

Turkey Disapproves Sectarian Bigotry In Iraq
Turkish PM Erdogan: “Iraq has Sunni Shia conflict that we absolutely disapprove because sectarian fanaticism has no place in our values”
19.06.2014

Can Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu Beat Erdogan?
The candidate for Turkey’s two main opposition parties, Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, is running for president, but whether he can beat Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan in the August-10 elections is being hotly debated. Aged 70, scientist and diplomat Ihsanoglu has decided to try his luck in domestic pol…
18.06.2014

Political Fundamentalism In Turkey
With increasingly aggressive and intolerant posturing, Turkey’s controversial prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has been rapidly transforming what used to be a successful progressive party, the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), into an organization that mainly features the characterist…
17.06.2014

 

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

 

STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Paul Waldman: Dick Cheney has some nerve slamming Obama on Iraq — did he mean Bush?
  • He says Cheney was Iraq war’s chief propagandist, insisted Hussein had WMDs
  • Waldman: Cheney fails to mention the loss of life, trillions spent in Iraq on his watch
  • Waldman: Where are his recommendations to solve Iraq? He blames Obama for his mess

Editor’s note: Paul Waldman is a contributing editor at The American Prospect and the author of “Being Right Is Not Enough: What Progressives Must Learn From Conservative Success.” Follow him on his blog and on Twitter. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

 

Dick Cheney’s amazing chutzpah on Iraq.

By Paul Waldman
 Thursday,  June 19, 2014

(CNN) — You have to hand it to Dick Cheney. How many people, knowing what has happened in Iraq over the last 12 years, would dare to write an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal containing this line: “Rarely has a U.S. president been so wrong about so much at the expense of so many” — and not be talking about George W. Bush? The man has chutzpah.

The op-ed in question was co-written with Cheney’s daughter Liz, former State Department worker and failed Senate candidate. The two are forming a new organization, the Alliance for a Strong America.

Of all the former Bush administration officials who have emerged in the last few days to blame the deteriorating situation in Iraq on Barack Obama, one might think Cheney would be among the last.

It’s one thing to turn on your TV and hear that Obama is a dangerous weakling from people like Paul Wolfowitz and William Kristol, the ones who told us that war with Iraq would be cheap and easy, then bring a wave of peace and democracy across the Middle East.

But Cheney?

Cheney was the war’s chief propagandist, who told the American public more spectacular falsehoods than anyone, including Bush himself. Cheney was the one who told us in 2002 that “Simply stated, there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction. There is no doubt he is amassing them to use against our friends, against our allies, and against us.”

He’s the one who tried to convince us that Saddam Hussein might have helped engineer the September 11 attacks, and who said in 2005 that the insurgency in Iraq was “in its last throes.” (The war went on for 6½ more years.)

        Mukasey on mishandling of Iraq

      Dick Cheney slams Obama on Iraq

Cheney had a central role in bringing on a war in which 4,500 Americans gave their lives, tens of thousands more were gravely injured, we spent a couple of trillion dollars, and somewhere between 100,000 and 500,000 Iraqis died.

Cheney’s opinion appears to be that all that death and expense never really happened (he doesn’t mention them), and that everything bad in Iraq can only be Obama’s fault — because the Bush administration did such a bang-up job there. “Mr. Obama had only to negotiate an agreement to leave behind some residual American forces, training and intelligence capabilities to help secure the peace,” he writes. “Instead, he abandoned Iraq and we are watching American defeat snatched from the jaws of victory.”

Would “some residual American forces” have been able to keep a lid on the unending Iraqi civil war that Bush and Cheney so effectively unleashed? We’ll never really know, but here’s what we do know: The agreement mandating that all American troops leave Iraq by the end of 2011 was signed by one George W. Bush, before Obama took office.

As negotiations over our departure proceeded in Obama’s first term, Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki — eager to have the Americans gone so he could consolidate what would turn out to be a corrupt sectarian rule — refused to grant American troops immunity from prosecution in Iraqi courts. Without that immunity, there was simply no way American forces could remain there. We’ve heard many people say Obama “should have pushed harder,” but nobody says exactly what that’s supposed to mean, or why al-Maliki would have given in, especially considering how he’s acted since.

And what does Cheney think we should do now? He doesn’t seem to have any idea. The op-ed contains precisely zero recommendations about Iraq. Defeating al Qaeda, it says, “will require a strategy — not a fantasy.” But what is that strategy? “Sustained difficult military, intelligence and diplomatic efforts”? Oh, of course — if only we had known!

At least he’s not alone in his arrogance and befuddlement. None of Obama’s other critics seem to have much of an idea what we should do in Iraq, or Syria, or anywhere else. They’re happy to say that whatever Obama is doing isn’t enough, and it isn’t strong. But if you ask them to be specific about what different decisions they would make, you’ll be met with hemming and hawing.

That’s because there are only bad options for America in Iraq, as is often the case in the Middle East. If you delude yourself into thinking that wars are simple and easy, and all that matters is whether you’re “strong,” then sometimes things become quite clear. We’ll just invade, we’ll be “greeted as liberators” (that was Cheney, too), and everyone will live happily ever after.

And when what actually results is not that glorious and easy victory, but a tidal wave of violence and despair, then all you need to do is wait until after you leave office, when you can blame it all on someone else.

READ: Opinion–Ignore neo-cons, the last thing Iraq needs is more war

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on June 20th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

ERDOGAN SAYS EUROPE WITHOUT TURKEY IS UNIMAGINABLE
International-Daily Sabah-18 hours ago
Anti-Erdogan protests held in Vienna
The Local Austria-22 hours ago

In between Koln in Germany and Paris, Erdogan, Turkey’s Prime Minister landed also in Vienna wher he was not invited by the local National Government. Austria’s Foreign Minister, after making public announcements that he has asked the Turkish Prime Minister not to stir trouble in Austria with a heated speech to his assumed voters among the Austrian Turkish minority, did nevertheless meet with him before his departure from Vienna to Paris. There the President will meet with him – here in Austria the Chancellor does not met uninvited visitors.

More to it – Vienna remembers the Siege of Vienna of 1529 – the Turks outside the gates of Vienna – clearly with unfriendly motives.   But today Turkish citizens that want to improve their life immigrate to Europe in large numbers and try to assimilate. In many countries it is possible to assume the local citizenship without giving up their citizenship in the land of origin. Obviously, the majority of Austrians harbor no friendly feelings to Turks in their midst that flaunt their diversity and show that they do not want to assimilate. If this is something bad – this is not our topic here.

The same is true for Germany and France – yet Mr. Erdogan chose to come to these counties to campaign among the Turkish minorities for his re-election in Turkey – this August. If nothing else this shows that he builds on some of them not wanting to become true part of their new country of residence. This is the Turk of 1529 in the Austrians mind. No special laws have ever impacted the Turkish minority in Austria like efforts are on the way in France. This has led to a softer approach by the French President to the Turkish visit. Austria not having the need to cover anything – just did not go beyond the minimum in courtesy.

So what does Erdogan really want? Does he want to stir animosity against Turkish immigrants to the EU? Does he want to decrease emigration of his talented young people? Does he just want to be the bull in the china store and be unworthy of relations between states? Is this the Erdogan that broke his country’s relations with Israel in messing with the blockade of Gaza? Does he expect to make friends this way outside Turkey or inside Turkey.

I spoke about this off the record with officials of a Turkish organization in New York and the man felt that the candidacy of Ekmeleddin ?hsano?lu might present some hope now because of this bullish behavior of Erdogan and his AKP politics, while Ihsanoglu does not belong to a party and can thus be seen as a unifier to a country in need of new direction.


Hurriyet Daily News
  1. Cihan News Agency ?- 2 days ago
    The opposition reached the decision on ?hsano?lu after holding talks for weeks. The former OIC secretary-general was picked for his academic …

 

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Austrian foreign minister blames Turkish PM Erdo?an for ‘disorder’ in Vienna amid thousands’ protest.

VIENNA – Agence France-Presse

Kurz and Erdo?an met in Vienna on June 20. AA Photo

Kurz and Erdo?an met in Vienna on June 20. AA Photo

 

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdo?an’s visit to Austria, which sparked mass demonstrations in Vienna, has drawn more sharp words from Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz, who said the visit “clearly shows Erdo?an has brought his election campaign to Austria and has caused disorder.”

“We refuse to accept this. The only thing I can say is that respect for a country does not look like this,” Kurz told journalists on June 19, after as many as 10,000 people demonstrated against Erdo?an’s visit, according to figures provided by organizers and local police.

Kurz’s remarks came ahead of his meeting Erdo?an scheduled for June 20. The Turkish prime minister will meet the Austrian foreign minister before his departure for Paris, where he will meet with French President François Hollande.

Erdo?an has been increasingly accused of autocratic tendencies in Europe and a similar trip to Germany last month ruffled feathers after he spoke out against the assimilation of Turkish immigrants.

On July 19, he addressed a crowd of some 6,000-7,000 supporters from Austria’s 250,000-strong Turkish minority in a sports arena. A further 10,000 people watched his speech on a big screen outside the venue.

Erdo?an is touring European countries with large Turkish populations ahead of a widely expected run for the presidency in August. 

Austrian police said they used tear gas spray after a “minor incident” when a bottle was thrown at the protesters in the Austrian capital, most of whom were from the local Turkish community. No injuries were reported.

Austria’s government had warned Erdogan against making “provocative comments” and he appeared to heed the advice in his speech, telling the crowd that “no one has anything to fear from us.”

During his address, Erdo?an said that Europe needed his country, trumpeting Turkey’s economic growth under his stewardship.

“Europe does not end where the river Danube flows into the Black Sea, but begins where the Euphrates and the Tigris begin,” he said.

June/20/2014

 

Politik

Türkei

19.06.14

Erdogan erinnert Wien an die Belagerung von 1529

Wie in Köln absolviert der türkische Premierminister einen Wahlkampfauftritt in Wien. Tausende Anhänger feiern ihn frenetisch als “Sultan der Welt”. Fast genauso viele Menschen protestieren.

Von , Wien  – for DIE WELT published in Germany.
In der Wiener Innenstadt ist es am Donnerstagmittag noch ruhig. Das katholische Österreich feiert Fronleichnam, der Rest das schöne Wetter. Der angekündigte Besuch des türkischen Ministerpräsidenten Recep Tayyip Erdogan kümmert allenfalls die Polizisten, die entlang der Ringstraße auf die Anti-Erdogan-Demonstranten warten.

Einige haben sich schon neben dem Bahnhof Praterstern versammelt. Es ist eine bunte Schar aus türkischen und österreichischen Linken, Kurden, Aleviten und Armeniern, noch keine 10.000 wie angekündigt, eher 2000. Sie schwenken Fahnen in Landesfarben oder solche, auf denen der kurdische Rebellenchef Abdullah Öcalan oder türkische Kommunisten zu sehen sind, aber auch Schilder mit Porträts von Opfern der Gezi-Park-Proteste oder dem Bergwerksunglück von Soma.

“Auf wie vielen Ebenen Erdogans Politik versagt hat, sieht man an der Breite unseres Bündnisses”, ruft eine Sprecherin des Demokratischen Bündnisses gegen Erdogan von der Bühne. “Erdogan get out of Vienna”, steht auf einem Transparent dahinter. Die weiteren Redner nennen Erdogan einen Lügner, Verbrecher und Mörder.

Ein paar Kilometer stadtauswärts, vor einer Eissporthalle auf der anderen Seite der Donau, ist das Bild homogener. Die Menschen schwenken nur eine Art von Fahne: Stern und Halbmond auf rotem Grund, die Nationalflagge der Türkei. Ein paar Männer haben sie auf dem Boden ausgebreitet und beten, daneben sitzen alte Frauen mit Kopftüchern und picknicken. Aus einer Stretchlimousine werden T-Shirts mit Erdogans Bild verkauft, darunter steht: “Sultan of the World”.

Rosenblätter säumen seinen Weg

Drinnen in der Halle sind noch mehr Menschen mit noch mehr türkischen Fahnen. Sie schwenken sie im Takt eines Popsongs, dessen Refrain allein aus dem Namen des Stargastes besteht: “Re-cep Tay-yip Er-do-gan”. Immer wieder. Seine bevorstehende Ankunft lässt die Anhänger alle paar Minuten in frenetischen Jubel ausbrechen. “Erdogan ist die einzige Führungsfigur, die wir haben”, ruft ein Einpeitscher von der Bühne. Als er die Gezi-Park-Proteste erwähnt, wechselt die Halle von Jubel- zu Buhrufen.

Als der “Sultan der Welt” schließlich die Halle betritt, streuen ihm seine Gefolgsleute Rosen. Buchstäblich. Er winkt der Menge zu, begrüßt die Würdenträger in der ersten Reihe, dann setzt er sich neben seine schwarz verschleierte Frau.

“Die Türkei ist stolz auf dich”, rufen die etwa 7000 Menschen im Saal, zwei, drei, vier Mal. Der Moderator begrüßt den Ehrengast, dann ergreift Abdurrahman Karayazili das Wort, der Vorsitzende der Union Europäischer und Türkischer Demokraten. Seine Organisation hat den “Privatmann” Erdogan eingeladen, um ihr zehnjähriges Bestehen zu feiern. Sie gilt als Auslandsarm von Erdogans Partei AKP, was Karayazili genauso heftig dementiert wie den Vorwurf, Erdogan sei nach Wien gekommen, um wie Ende Mai in Köln und demnächst in Lyon um die Stimmen von Auslandstürken für die Präsidentschaftswahl im August zu werben.

Die Enkel der Wien-Belagerer

Mit eineinhalbstündiger Verspätung erklimmt der Premier die Bühne. Er dankt Österreich für die Gastfreundschaft. Er verurteilt die “Kampagne”, die es vor seinem Auftritt in Köln gegeben habe. Er mische sich nicht in die deutsche oder österreichische Innenpolitik, sagt er. “Mein einziges Ziel seid ihr!” Er beschreibt, wie gut die “neue Türkei” durch die Krise gekommen sei – und er sagt, dass sich niemand vor ihr fürchten müsse. Er erwähnt das Attentat von Sarajevo 1914, aber auch den Namen von Süleyman dem Prächtigen, jenem osmanischen Sultan, der die Türken 1529 erstmals bis Wien führte: “Wir sind alle seine Enkel”, ruft Erdogan, und das Publikum jubelt.

Am Höhepunkt der Rede formuliert er sein altbekanntes Credo: “Assimilation nein, Integration ja!” Dann ruft er seine Zuhörer dazu auf, im August wählen zu gehen, und schließt mit den Worten: “Wir sind alle Brüder und Schwestern.” Die Menge schwenkt ein letztes Mal ihre Fahnen, dann verlassen die Menschen die Halle und jubeln der Wagenkolonne hinterher, in der sie Erdogan vermuten.

Nicht einmal hundert Meter weiter sieht man wieder die bunten Fahnen der Gegner. Ihre Zahl soll auf 6000 angewachsen sein, bevor sie vom Praterstern in Richtung Eishalle aufbricht. Ihr Marsch über die Donau verläuft ziemlich friedlich, bis zum frühen Abend sind jedenfalls noch keine gewalttätigen Ausschreitungen bekannt geworden. Damit das so bleibt, hat die Polizei die Straße zwischen Erdogans Freunden und Feinden gesperrt. Die Stimmung, die bei den Gegnern erst Volksfestcharakter hatte und bei den Anhängern geradezu euphorische Zustände annahm, ist jetzt angespannt.

Drinnen in der Innenstadt ist unterdessen der deutsche Außenminister Frank-Walter Steinmeier eingetroffen. Sein Amtskollege Sebastian Kurz hat ihn vom Flughafen abgeholt und wollte, während Erdogan sich in der Eishalle bejubeln ließ, mit Steinmeier über die Ukraine und Russland sprechen, über Putins Besuch in Wien nächste Woche, vielleicht auch über die Mautpläne der deutschen Regierung.

Der Krisenlöser ist zum Problem geworden

Und Steinmeier richtet am Rande des Besuchs auch ein Wort an Erdogans Regierung – allerdings in Sachen Irak: “Wir sind interessiert daran zu erfahren, ob die Türkei eine Rolle spielt in der Auseinandersetzung – und wenn ja, welche”, sagt der SPD-Politiker. Er will am Freitag mit seinem türkischen Kollegen Ahmet Davutoglu zusammentreffen. Die Türkei hatte erklärt, sie prüfe die Voraussetzungen für einen Militäreinsatz gegen Islamisten im Irak, nachdem diese 80 türkische Staatsbürger als Geiseln genommen hatten.

Alle Regierungen in der Region müssten zur Deeskalation beitragen, mahnt Steinmeier noch. Die Türkei als großer Krisenlöser im Nahen Osten – so sah Erdogan seine Rolle einmal. Doch seine Regierung ließ die Islamisten im syrisch-türkischen Grenzgebiet gewähren und hat dadurch zu ihrem Erstarken beigetragen.

Den Abend wollen die Außenminister bei einem Heurigen in den Grinzinger Weinbergen verbringen. “Zu zweit”, wie ein Sprecher vorab bekannt gab. Den “Privatmann” Erdogan wird Außenminister Kurz erst am Freitag treffen, “auf neutralem Boden”, wie es hieß.

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

Kritik an Erdogan-Auftritt in Wien: ”Gefährliches Spiel”

20. Juni 2014, 17:2 Der Standard

Außenminister Sebastian Kurz bat den türkischen Premier zu einem klärenden Gespräch.

Wien – Außenminister Sebastian Kurz (ÖVP) ist am Freitagvormittag mit dem türkischen Premier Recep Tayyip Erdogan zu einem nach eigenen Angaben “sehr klaren” und zugleich “sehr emotionalen Gespräch” zusammengetroffen. Kurz betonte nach der Unterredung vor Journalisten in Wien, es sei ihm ein Anliegen gewesen, Erdogan zu sagen, “was wir von solch einer Veranstaltung hier in Österreich halten”.

Mit der Veranstaltung war die Rede des türkischen Premiers vor tausenden Anhängern am Donnerstagnachmittag in der Kagraner Albert-Schultz-Eishalle gemeint. Bereits am Vortag hatte Kurz diese als “Wahlkampfrede” kritisiert, die “für Unruhe in unserem Land gesorgt hat”. Von “einigen Provokationen” sprach der Außenminister am Freitag, die Erdogan so jedoch nicht gesehen habe. Man habe festgestellt, dass man in einigen Punkten “ganz eindeutig nicht einer Meinung” sei.

Kritik an Erdogan-Auftritt in Wien: ”Gefährliches Spiel”

20. Juni 2014, 17:20 Der Standard – followed by tomorrow’s article.

Außenminister Sebastian Kurz bat den türkischen Premier zu einem klärenden Gespräch.

Wien – Außenminister Sebastian Kurz (ÖVP) ist am Freitagvormittag mit dem türkischen Premier Recep Tayyip Erdogan zu einem nach eigenen Angaben “sehr klaren” und zugleich “sehr emotionalen Gespräch” zusammengetroffen. Kurz betonte nach der Unterredung vor Journalisten in Wien, es sei ihm ein Anliegen gewesen, Erdogan zu sagen, “was wir von solch einer Veranstaltung hier in Österreich halten”.

Mit der Veranstaltung war die Rede des türkischen Premiers vor tausenden Anhängern am Donnerstagnachmittag in der Kagraner Albert-Schultz-Eishalle gemeint. Bereits am Vortag hatte Kurz diese als “Wahlkampfrede” kritisiert, die “für Unruhe in unserem Land gesorgt hat”. Von “einigen Provokationen” sprach der Außenminister am Freitag, die Erdogan so jedoch nicht gesehen habe. Man habe festgestellt, dass man in einigen Punkten “ganz eindeutig nicht einer Meinung” sei.

martin thür

Recep Erdo?an: “Wir sind die Enkel Kara Mustafas.” Der türkische Premierminister beim Auftritt in der Wiener Albert-Schultz-Halle.“Er hat das Identitätsthema, das ohnehin ein sehr schwieriges ist, uns noch einmal schwieriger gemacht”, fügte Kurz hinzu. Viele junge Türken in Österreich und Österreicher mit türkischen Wurzeln täten sich oftmals schwer mit der Identitätsfrage. “Und diese Art der Einmischung aus der Türkei ist schädlich für die Integration in Österreich”, so der Außenminister. Erdogan hatte wie bereits zuvor in Köln Auslandstürken empfohlen, sich zu integrieren, aber nicht zu assimilieren.

Der türkische Premier hat sich laut Kurz während des Treffens “in einer eher rechtfertigenden Rolle” befunden. Man habe Erdogan auf viele Inhalte seiner Rede angesprochen. Zudem habe man versucht, ihm den “Fortschritt” der Integrationspolitik in Österreich zu erläutern und auch “wie schwierig” dieser Prozess sei. So würde das Thema Integration heute “sachlicher diskutiert”, und es sei gelungen, “Emotionen aus dem Thema” herauszunehmen. “Daher war dieser Auftritt alles andere als hilfreich”, so Kurz.

Historische Anspielung

Auch die Grünen und die FPÖ kritisierten Erdogans private Wahlveranstaltung für die anstehenden Präsidentenwahlen in der Türkei. Die Klubobfrau der Grünen, Eva Glawischnig, warf Erdogan “ein gefährliches Spiel mit Symbolen” vor. Wie berichtet, hatte er hier lebende Türkeistämmige als “die Enkel des Sultans Süleyman des Prächtigen”, dessen Heer 1529 Wien vor den Toren Wiens stand, bezeichnet. Und weiter: “Wir sind heute nach Wien gekommen, um Herzen zu erobern. Keiner von uns hat Grund, Angst zu spüren oder nervös zu sein.” Davon gibt es auch Videomitschnitte. Der historische Süleyman steht aber freilich auch für eine blutige, osmanische Expansionspolitik.

Auch FPÖ-Bundesparteiobmann Heinz-Christian Strache hakte historisch nach: “Damit hat sich der türkische Despot endgültig als radikaler Nationalist und neoosmanischer Imperialist entlarvt.”

Polizeibilanz: 13.500 Anhänger bei der Rede Erdogans, 7850 Gegner bei Protestdemos, 14 Festnahmen bei Auseinandersetzungen nach Gegendemo. (APA/red, DER STANDARD, 21.6.2014)

  • Kurz und Erdogan beim Treffen am Freitag. Der Außenminister erläuterte dem türkischen Premier Integrationspolitik.  vergrößern (500×339)
    foto: apa/tatic

    Kurz und Erdogan beim Treffen am Freitag. Der Außenminister erläuterte dem türkischen Premier Integrationspolitik.

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AND AS PER AA – The 100 years old ANADOLU AGENCY – THE TURKISH GOVERNMENT OFFICIAL REPORT OF THE EVENT -  A POSITIVE COLLOR TO THE MEETING FOR WHICH THE AUSTRIAN GAVE HIS CLEAR FEELINGS TO THE PRESS.

Turkey’s Erdogan holds ‘positive’ talks in Austria.   it said

20 June 2014 16:27 (Last updated 20 June 2014 16:42)
Prime Minister RecepTayyip Erdogan met Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz in Vienna
 

VIENNA

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan held “positive” talks on Friday with Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz amid a critical reception from the Austrian media.

The 50-minute meeting, closed to the media, came after Kurz said Erdogan’s visit to address Turks living in Austria had “caused disorder”.

The Austrian press had reported that 70 percent of Austrians did not want Erdogan to visit after a similar trip to Germany was criticized for being “divisive”.

Turkey’s Minister for EU Affairs Mevlut Cavusoglu told reporters the meeting was “very positive” and that Kurz was pleased with Erdogan’s message of integration to Austria’s Turks.

The discussion also touched on further bilateral ties, Turkey’s EU accession process and regional developments, Cavusoglu added. Erdogan also asked Austria to be more active in Turkey’s EU membership process.

www.aa.com.tr/en

 

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on June 15th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

The Second Iran-Iraq War and the American Switch

By Juan Cole, Informed Comment

13 June 14

 

SEE ALSO: Obama ‘Urgently’ Considering Air Assault on Targets in Syria and Iraq

ran has decided to intervene directly in Iraq and has already sent fighters to the front, according to the Wall Street Journal, based on Iranian sources. It is alleged that Iranian special forces have helped the Iraqi army push back in Tikrit, the birth place of Saddam Hussein that was overrun earlier this week by ISIS, which captured the city’s police force. These reports come on the heels of President Hassan Rouhani’s pledge on Thursday that Iran would not stand by and allow terrorists to take over Iraq. The hyper-Sunni Islamic State of Iraq and Syria fighters are closing in on a major Shiite shrine in Samarra and have pledge to take Baghdad, the capital, itself.

Iran has allegedly supplied small numbers of advisers and even hired Afghan fighters to the Syrian regime, and encouraged Lebanon’s Hizbullah to intervene in Syria to prevent the fall of Homs to Sunni extremists. These Iranian interventions in Syria did shore up the al-Assad regime and reverse rebel momentum. Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps may believe it can use the same tactics to roll back ISIS in Iraq. Iran is largely Shiite and has a Shiite religious ideology as the basis of the state. Iraq is 60% Shiite and the ruling government since 2005 has come from that community. Sunni Arabs in Iraq are probably only 17% or so, but had been the elite for most of Iraq’s medieval and modern history, until George W. Bush overthrew the predominantly Sunni Saddam Hussein regime and allowed the Shiites to come to power.

Iraqi Shiites predominate in Baghdad and parts south. Shiites are more like traditional Catholics in venerating members of the holy family and attending at their shrines. Contemporary Salafi Sunni Islam is more like the militant brand of Protestantism of the late 1500s that denounced intermediaries between God and the individual and actually attacked and destroyed shrines to saints and other holy figures, where pleas for intercession were made. The shrine in Samarra is associated with the 12th in the line of vicars of the Prophet Muhammad, called Imams in Shi’ism, Muhammad al-Mahdi, a direct descendant of the Prophet himself. Shiites have a special emphasis on a millenarian expectation that the Twelfth Imam will soon return to restore justice to the world (rather as Christians believe in the return of Christ). When the Samarra shrine was damaged by Sunni militants in 2006, it threw Iraq into civil war, in which 3000 civilians were being killed every month. Baghdad was ethnically cleansed by 2008 of most of its Sunnis, becoming a largely Shiite capital. ISIS wants to reverse that process. Baghdad was founded by the Abbasid caliphate, who claimed to be vicars of the Prophet, in 762 AD and is a symbol of the glories of early Islam. ISIS leaders are threatening also to destroy the shrine of Ali in Najaf and the shrine of Husain in Karbala (Najaf for Shiites is the equivalent of the Basilica of St. Peter for Catholics).

The specter of Iranian troops on Iraqi soil can only recall the first Iran-Iraq War.

From September of 1980, when Saddam Hussein’s Iraqi army invaded Iran’s oil-rich Khuzistan Province, until summer 1988 when Ayatollah Khomeini finally accepted an armistice, Iran and Iraq fought one of the Middle East’s longest and bloodiest wars. Its trench warfare and hidden naval encounters recalled the horrors of World War I, as did the Iraqi Baath government’s deployment of mustard gas against Iranian soldiers at the front and sarin gas against Kurdish civilians suspected of pro-Iranian sentiments.

The Reagan administration in the United States largely backed Iraq from 1983, when Reagan dispatched then Searle CEO Donald Rumsfeld to shake Saddam’s hand. This, despite Iraq being the clear aggressor and despite Reagan’s full knowledge of Iraqi use of chemical weapons, about which George Schultz at the State Department loudly complained until he was shushed. Then, having his marching orders straight, Schultz had the US ambassador to the UN deep-six any UN Security Council resolution condemning Iraq for the chemical weapons deployment. The US navy fought an behind the scenes war against Iranian ships in the Persian Gulf, becoming a de facto appendage of the Baath military.

Just because the Reagan administration was so Machiavellian, it also gave some minor support Iran in the war. Reagan stole anti-tank and anti-aircraft weaponry from the Pentagon storehouses and illegally sold them to Khomeini despite Iran being on the US terrorism watch list. He then had Iran pressure the Shiite militiamen in Lebanon to release American hostages. Reagan sent the money received from Iran to death squads in Nicaragua fighting the people’s revolution there against a brutal American-installed dictatorship. This money was sent to Nicaragua in defiance of the Boland Amendment passed by Congress forbidding US monies to go there. Ollie North, whom you see prevaricating on Fox News these days, was a bag man for the operation.

They may as well have broken into the National Archives Nick Cage style, broken out the original copy of the constitution, and put it through a shredder several times in a row till small confetti pieces were all that were left.

It is unclear how many people Saddam’s bloody war killed off. A quarter of a million on each side seems plausible. So many young men were part of a “missing generation” that the Iranian regime had to let women into the workforce and universities in very large numbers despite its preference for them to remain home and secluded. In Iraq, there were many widows, and some were forced to become low-status second wives, or single heads of household, or, among Shiites, temporary wives. Iraq depleted its currency reserves in the war and went into debt with Kuwait among others, then in 1990 invaded and tried to annex Kuwait. Saddam dealt with his creditors the way organized crime might deal with its.

In the looming second Iran-Iraq War, the US will be de facto allied with Iran against the would-be al-Qaeda affiliate (ISIS was rejected by core al-Qaeda for viciously attacking other militant vigilante Sunni fundamentalists in turf wars in Syria). The position of the US is therefore 180 degrees away from what it was under Reagan.

In fact, since ISIS is allegedly bankrolled by private Salafi businessmen in Kuwait and elsewhere in the Oil Gulf, the US is on the opposite side of all its former allies of the 1980s. In some ways, some of the alleged stagnation of US policy in the Middle East may derive from a de facto US switch to the Iranian side on most issues, at the same time that US rhetoric supports Iran’s enemies in Syria and elsewhere in the region.

It is possible that a US-Iran alliance against al-Qaeda-like groups in Iraq and Syria could clarify their budding new relationship and lead to a tectonic shift in US policy in the Middle East. The Indeed, Reuters says Iranian officials are offering the possibility of security cooperation with the us. One things seems clear. Without Iran, the US is unlikely to be able to roll by al-Qaeda affiliates and would-be affiliates in the Fertile Crescent, who ultimately could pose a danger to US interests.

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Oil strikes nine-month peak on Iraq violence.

MENAFN – AFP – 13/06/2014

 
 

(MENAFN – AFP) Global oil prices surged to fresh nine-month high points on Friday as traders eyed worsening violence in OPEC’s second biggest crude exporter Iraq.

Brent crude for July delivery soared to 114.69 per barrel in morning deals, touching the highest level since September 2013. It later stood at 113.57 in London afternoon deals, up 55 cents from Thursday, as traders booked profits.

US benchmark West Texas Intermediate for July added 42 cents to 106.95 a barrel.

“Prices are still being driven up by the events in Iraq, where militants from the Sunni terrorist group ISIL have seized further territory and are now said to be just a few kilometres away from the capital, Baghdad,” said Commerzbank analyst Carsten Fritsch.

“The US is now considering air strikes by way of supporting the Iraqi armed forces in their fight against the ISIL. The Iraqi government increasingly appears to be losing control of the country.”

- Jihadists near Baghdad -

The Iraqi government bolstered Baghdad’s defences on Friday as jihadists pushed towards the capital and President Barack Obama said he was exploring all options to save Iraq’s security forces from collapse.

Predominantly Shiite Muslim Iran will combat the “violence and terrorism” of Sunni extremists who have launched an anti-government offensive in neighbouring Iraq, President Hassan Rouhani warned.

“This is an extremist, terrorist group that is acting savagely,” Rouhani said, without elaborating on what steps Tehran would take to thwart a bid by fighters from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) to push toward Baghdad after seizing several cities and towns to the north.

The International Energy Agency meanwhile cautioned that oil supplies from Iraq may not be at immediate risk.

Iraq is the second biggest oil exporter in the 12-nation Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) after kingpin Saudi Arabia.

- IEA plays down impact -

“Concerning as the latest events in Iraq may be, they might not for now, if the conflict does not spread further, put additional Iraqi oil supplies immediately at risk,” the Paris-based IEA said in its monthly oil market report on Friday.

It pointed out that Iraq’s relatively small output from the north of the country has been off the market since March due to violence while output from the south has been on the rise and production has hit a 30-year high.

However the IEA, the energy monitoring and policy arm of the OECD group of advanced nations, pointed to the long-term importance of Iraq for the global energy market.

It calculated that “roughly 60 percent of the growth in OPEC crude production capacity for the rest of this decade will come from Iraq”.

The 12-nation oil cartel, which pumps one third of the world’s crude, earlier this week decided to hold their collective production target at 30 million barrels per day (bpd), where it has stood since late 2011, as they said the oil market was stable.

Oil producing nations have expressed their satisfaction with prices above 100 a barrel — where they have been for most of this year — as it brings them in sufficient revenue while appearing not to crimp growth in consuming nations.

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FURTHER ON THE OIL MARKET:

NPR NEWS

Militants’ Advance In Iraq Agitates Oil Markets

by

When Sunni militants began seizing broad swathes of territory across northern Iraq last week, global oil markets shrugged it off. After all, instability in Iraq is nothing new.

But that all changed on Wednesday, when the insurgents swept into the oil refinery town of Baiji, says Robert McNally, president of the Rapidan Group, an energy consulting firm. The price of oil climbed nearly 4 percent in just a few short days.

“This jaw-dropping blitz assault … and the threat it posed to the Baiji refinery, the Baiji electrical power plant, and really the stability of Iraq itself, just caused the market to panic,” McNally says.

Insurgents surrounded the refinery, but were not able to seize it. For now, it remains under government control, guarded by Iraqi special forces. The refinery is the largest in Iraq, but it’s used only for domestic purposes.

The real concern for the global markets — and the entire global economy — is about securing the flow of crude oil out of Iraq’s main oil fields. They are clustered around the city of Basra, in the far south of the country at the tip of the Persian Gulf. It’s a relatively long way from militant positions now.

But Amrita Sen, chief oil market analyst with Energy Aspects in London, says that distance doesn’t provide much relief, for two reasons.

“One, the militants are progressing towards the south very, very quickly,” Sen says. “And two, the Iraqi army’s complete inability to stop them … The fear factor is huge in the market at the moment.”

There’s also concern the Sunni militants’ all-out charge through Iraq could spark widespread sectarian violence, possibly pulling in regional players, says McNally.

“The specter now is one of a sort of broad fragmentation and disintegration in Iraq, which eventually could spill over to the south and to Iraq’s oil exports,” he says.

Jim Burkhard, head of global oil market research at IHS, says militants don’t have to occupy the oil fields; they can simply launch small attacks on the pipelines, much as they’ve done on export pipelines in the northern city of Kirkuk. But Burkhard says global oil markets would feel the pinch if anything happened to Iraqi exports.

“This summer we estimate the world will have about 2 to 2.5 million barrels per day of spare crude oil production capacity,” he says. “That’s the oil markets’ shock absorber. That’s how much we have to call on in case there’s a disruption. … Iraq exports about 2.5 million barrels per day, so that’s why the market is particularly sensitive to these fast-moving developments in Iraq right now.”

Iraq has the potential to double the amount of oil it exports each day, but the industry has been plagued with problems despite investment from western companies. Burkhard says the escalating violence not only adds to Iraq’s woes, it’s part of a broader geopolitical story that’s unfolding.

“The situation between Russia and Ukraine is not settled … Libya is in a very desperate situation right now; oil production is just a trickle,” Burkhard says. “There’s also concerns about Nigeria and Venezuala as well.”

President Obama said on Friday that if there are disruptions in Iraq’s oil supply, other producers in the Gulf are able to pick up the slack. But that will do little to calm market jitters that are driving up prices.

 

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on June 13th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Ukraine: four crises, one country.

    • The Ukraine Neighbourhood

      by Nicu Popescu -  senior analyst at the EU Institute for Security Studies in Paris, where he deals with the EU’s eastern neighbourhood and Russia.

    For most of the last two decades virtually every Ukrainian election or opinion poll has displayed two Ukraines – one Western-leaning and another looking to Moscow; one voting Timoshenko or Yushchenko and another pro Yanukovich; one against Putin and another in favour of him. Unsurprisingly, many feared that the ousting of Yanukovich, the Russian annexation of Crimea, and the infiltration of eastern Ukraine by Russian military intelligence would lead Ukraine to split in two or collapse altogether like a house of cards.

    Ukraine still faces four interconnected existential crises: economic, political, territorial and diplomatic (with Russia). It is also clear that even if the country manages to overcome these challenges, it will not be left unscathed. The past three months, however, have shown that Ukraine was not a powder keg waiting to explode, despite several matches having been thrown at it.

    The country’s resilience has proven stronger than many assumed (both in Russia and the rest of Europe) and while its blend of problems might be poisonous, they are not insurmountable. Petro Poroshenko’s unexpectedly smooth popular election – with support drawn evenly across Ukraine – represents a potential turning point in the spiral of overlapping crises that have characterised its recent past.

     

    One Ukraine, not two

    Both Sunday’s elections results and the localised nature of the armed insurgency in east suggest there is neither two Ukraines nor a distinct ‘southeastern’ Ukraine. Although electoral preferences in Ukraine may have differed in the past, there is overwhelming popular and elite support for maintaining Ukraine as one state in the majority of its regions.

    For all the worrying images of what looks like a descent into civil war, the armed insurgency is affecting just parts of two Ukrainian regions, or oblasts – Donetsk and Luhansk. The other regions of the ‘southeast’ – Dnipropetrovsk, Zaporizhia, Mykolaiv, Odessa, Kharkiv and Kherson – have more or less remained stable. None of these regions witnessed the overnight implosion of the state apparatus that occurred in Crimea or parts of Donetsk and Luhansk, although it is not impossible that further Russian inroads could destabilise the situation further.

    This relative stability is partly due to attempts by Ukrainian elites – in Kiev and in the east – to find a new post-Yanukovich modus vivendi. But the wider public also seems to be on a similar path: an opinion poll conducted last month by the Kyiv International Institute of Sociology revealed that over 70% of people in the south and east of the country no longer consider Yanukovich their legitimate president; 79% do not support secession from Kiev (and only 25% support federalisation); and 45% would be happy with decentralisation. Although in the regions of Donetsk and Luhansk there are greater levels of support for Yanukovich, the armed insurgency, and for joining Russia, even there such support hovers around 20%-30% (in the other regions it is under 10%). In short, there is no broad-based support for either armed separatists or a Russian intervention.

    Finally, the recent election results are indicative of a country that has significant regional variations but is, nonetheless, one country. Poroshenko, who was born in south Ukraine not far from Odessa, came first in the presidential race in every single region of Ukraine.

    Localizing the armed insurgency

    In response to the takeover of public buildings in parts of eastern Ukraine, the government deployed military and police units in an attempt to fight the armed challenge to state authority. The start of the operation was, however, a disaster. Local police and intelligence in the Donetsk and Luhansk area refused to obey orders or simply disbanded: in one instance, a group of soldiers surrendered several armed personnel carriers to a protesting crowd. In Mariupol, the army, not trained in the ways of managing large, mostly unarmed crowds in urban settings, opened fire on civilians. Now several weeks into the operation, several towns in the two regions remain outside governmental control.

    Yet in another sense, the operation has been a qualified success. Although its maximalist goal of quickly defeating the separatists was not achieved, its minimalist goal – containing the insurgency, preventing its geographic spread, and holding the 25 May presidential elections in most parts of Ukraine – has been achieved. Elections were properly organised and carried out in 22 out of 25 regions (people were denied the opportunity to vote in Donbas and Luhansk, as well as in annexed Crimea). Despite the intensified fighting and additional bloodshed since the elections, the chances that Kiev can prevent the contamination of other parts of Ukrainian territory look reasonable.

    A key player in containing and even rolling back the insurgency is one of Ukraine’s most prominent oligarchs and leader of the United Jewish Community of Ukraine: Igor Kolomoisky. Upon being appointed governor of the Dnipropetrovsk region in March, he quickly stabilised the situation by asserting control over the law enforcement agencies. Parts of the Donetsk region, unhappy with the descent into separatist chaos, are now seeking protection from the Kolomoisky-led Dnipropetrovsk administration. And when around 40 people died after clashes in Odessa between pro-Russian and pro-Ukrainian activists, a Kolomoisky protégé was quickly appointed local governor.

    Avoiding an economic crash

    Thanks to Western assistance, a total economic collapse seems to have been averted, and the self-styled ‘Kamikaze government’ led by Yatseniuk has already begun to undertake certain reforms. An all-out assault on vested interests is unlikely, but a lower-key war of attrition against some of the more corrupt elements of the state is underway.

    Partly thanks to strong IMF and Western conditionality, some progress is being made. A new, World Bank approved public procurement law was adopted in parliament (albeit on the second attempt and with a one vote majority). An anti-discrimination law, paving the way to EU visa liberalisation, has also been passed. The government has increased the cost of the hitherto subsidised energy prices, which should help redress some of Ukraine’s gas debt. Pavlo Sheremeta, the economy and trade minister (a graduate from Harvard Business School and former advisor to the Malaysian government), boldly aims to bring Ukraine closer to the top 10 countries with the best business environment – according to the Cost of Doing Business report, where Ukraine held the 145th place in 2013. Admittedly this is no small task, but setting ambitious goals is having the positive effect of focusing minds in Kiev.

    For a government that is three months old, and has spent most of its time managing an armed challenge to its statehood, localising separatism, organising presidential elections and taking steps to deal with the country’s economic mess, this is a decent start. Yet success is far from assured, since the remedy for one type of crisis often aggravates another. In this respect, the central question for Ukraine in the following months will be how to maintain internal unity while reforming the oligarchic economy that triggered the revolution in the first place.

     

    Disempowering the oligarchs?

    The system whereby oligarchs made their fortunes by looting the state through corrupt public procurement, various subsidies (including gas), and the privatisation of law enforcement agencies – which allowed the most powerful business sharks to take over assets of their competitors through administrative pressure, in what is called ‘reiderstvo’– had long undermined the Ukrainian state. Reform means conflict – with vested interests, a bloated public sector, and the subsidised sectors of the economy which are driving the whole country to bankruptcy. The system survived for so long precisely because it has so many stakeholders, with a handful of oligarchs being only the most visible beneficiaries.

    Though tackling corruption was supposed to be a key priority for the post-Yanukovich government, the focus on internal reform shifted to territorial defence following the armed intervention on its eastern borders. Confronted with an military conflict, Kiev took steps to co-opt (rather than squeeze) the oligarchs – not least because most of them have their power bases in eastern Ukraine – and to offer them a stake in the new political system as a way of maintaining the country’s unity. Declaring war on the oligarchs could have led to even greater destabilisation of eastern Ukraine. Igor Kolomoisky was appointed as governor of Dnipropetrovsk, and Serhiy Taruta as governor of Donetsk, while other oligarchs such as Dmitri Firtash, or regional ‘barons’ like Genady Kernes in Kharkiv, positioned themselves as relatively constructive players in order to retain as much (and as many) of their fiefdoms as possible. Petro Poroshenko, the new president of Ukraine, is one of the country’s richest individuals and has served in various governments under both presidents Yushchenko and Yanukovich.

    Co-opting the oligarchs has yielded success in the short term, helping to confine the armed insurgency in the east to just two regions. Yet this short-term success could turn into a mid-term failure if the oligarchic system remains the same. Since the government is not in a position to launch an all-out Saakashvili-style assault on corruption and vested interests, the best-case scenario would be to embark on a series of ‘salami’ reforms conducted by technocrats in the government with as much external support as possible and strong conditionality from international donors in order to strengthen the hand of the reformists. While such a piecemeal approach could be an arduous task and could easily fail, it appears to be the only real possibility given the current environment.

     

    Federation or separation?

    Ukraine’s territorial crisis will not be resolved soon. Short of a Chechnya-style, large-scale military assault on urban areas – which would risk the mass indiscriminate killing of civilians – Ukraine is not in a position to defeat the armed insurgents as long as they receive (tacit) Russian support.

    For the time being, two possible models of a ‘non-solution’ have been floated. One is labelled ‘Finlandisation’, i.e. the creation of a neutral state which – as the theory goes – would offer credible guarantees that NATO will not grant membership to Ukraine and thus assuage Russia. The other is labelled ‘Bosnia-isation’, i.e. the creation of a federalised entity with large veto powers for its constituent regions. The two models do not appear incompatible, and could even be combined.

    On paper, both options have their merits. Finland has done well since the end of the Second World War, is prosperous and secure and joined the EU in 1995. For its part, while Bosnia might appear a rather dysfunctional federation but its constituent parts have at least prevented further bloodshed. Unfortunately, neither option is likely for Ukraine.

    Should Ukraine become either neutral or federal – or both – it would end up nothing like either Bosnia or Finland. Bosnia might be still divided internally, but it sits in the middle of the single most benign international environment on earth. Finland’s neutrality throughout the Cold War was agreed upon and respected: none of these two conditions are likely in Ukraine. It suffices to look at Moldova, which adopted neutrality in 1994 in the hope that this would persuade Russia to cease their support for secessionist Transnistria. Not only this has not happened, but Moldova has been under constant and growing Russian pressure not to move closer to the EU. Even Ukraine under President Yanukovich – who gave up trying to move closer to NATO – was placed under constant pressure not to sign the Association Agreement with the EU. Similarly, a neutral Ukraine would be unlikely to bring about a new era of Russian-Ukrainian-Western cooperation, for now Russia perceives it to be in direct competition with not just NATO but also the EU.

    Another scenario, almost by default, would be the transformation of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions into a bigger ‘Transnistria’ – a secessionist territory that is not recognised by anyone, but which creates de facto state structures with Russian support. Moscow’s logic would be that, at a later stage, this could be used as a bargaining chip with the government in Kiev to push for federalisation and/or neutrality.

    These tactics has been employed several times before – in Abkhazia, South Ossetia, and Transnistria itself – but without much success for Russia. The presence of these frozen conflicts made Georgian and Moldovan moves away from Russia more, rather than less, likely. Both countries have now learned to live without their former regions and are on the verge of signing Association Agreements with the EU despite Russian threats and at the risk of complicating relations with their secessionist regions further. While Georgia and Moldova might lag far behind the EU in political and economic terms, they nevertheless have score reasonably well for resource-poor countries manoeuvring in a very difficult geopolitical environment.

    There is already a growing sentiment among Kiev elites that, if it comes to it, losing the Donbass would not be catastrophic and might actually lead to a more cohesive and reform-oriented Ukraine. Against all odds, Ukraine is managing to survive as a country: it now needs to build a state.

    EUISS Brief, May 2014

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

     Our original posting of June 9th was updated June 10th with further information about the Vatican meeting and the visit to Italy’s Rome.

     

    Photo

    From left, President Shimon Peres of Israel, Pope Francis and President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority in the Vatican gardens on Sunday for a “prayer summit.” Francis said he hoped it would begin “a  ew journey where we seek the things that unite, so as to overcome the things that divide.”      Credit Gregorio Borgia/Associated Press

     

    VATICAN CITY — In a richly symbolic ceremony, Pope Francis oversaw a carefully orchestrated  “prayer summit” with the Israeli and Palestinian presidents on Sunday as Jews, Christians and Muslims offered invocations for peace in the Vatican gardens.

    “It is my hope that this meeting will mark the beginning of a new journey where we seek the things that unite, so as to overcome the things that divide,”  Francis said at the ceremony.

    During his trip last month to Israel, Jordan and the West Bank, Francis unexpectedly extended invitations for a summit at the Vatican to President Shimon Peres of Israel and President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority.

    He said the meeting would be about prayer, not politics, and Vatican officials sought to dispel any expectation that a breakthrough would emerge.

    Many Mideast analysts, while applauding the gesture, have been skeptical that the meeting would help revive the stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace process, but it did, at least, bring together the two presidents, who held a private meeting after the ceremony with Francis.

    Photo

    Mr. Abbas of Palestine, center, kissed Mr. Peres of Israel, left, following a joint peace prayer with Francis at the Vatican.   Credit Filippo Monteforte/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

     

    During the ceremony, Mr. Peres and Mr. Abbas avoided the familiar political tropes. There was no mention of 1967 borders or security arrangements. Mr. Abbas did not use the word “occupation,” according to an English translation of his prepared text distributed by the Vatican. (Nor did he say the word “Israel,” though he did refer once to Israelis.)

    Yet there were some subtle provocations. Mr. Abbas called Jerusalem, considered by both Israelis and Palestinians as their capital, “our Holy City” and referred to “the Holy Land Palestine.” (Mr. Peres described Jerusalem both as “the vibrant heart of the Jewish people” and as “the cradle of the three monotheistic religions.”)

    Mr. Abbas also prayed for a “sovereign and independent state” and said Palestinians were “craving for a just peace, dignified living and liberty,” implying that they were denied these things under Israel’s occupation.

    Mr. Peres did not mention rockets fired from the Gaza Strip, but he evoked the attacks with the biblical quotation, “Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore.”

    The ceremony was held in a garden behind St. Peter’s Basilica that is enclosed by a high hedge to provide a sense of intimacy, and that offers a spectacular view of the cupola of the basilica. It also was chosen as a place that seemed somewhat neutral in terms of religious iconography. The service was carefully organized into three successive “moments,” in which prayers and readings were offered by Jews, then Christians and then Muslims. Then the three leaders spoke.

    In the moments before the ceremony, the three men rode together in a small bus to the garden, along with Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople, the Orthodox Christian leader. At times, they appeared to share a laugh.

    The prayer summit came at a fraught political moment. Less than a week ago, a new Palestinian government was sworn in that is based on a pact with Hamas, the militant Islamic movement branded as terrorist by most of the West. Israel has officially shunned the new cabinet and has sought unsuccessfully to galvanize the world against it.  Israel’s cabinet did give Mr. Peres the pro forma approval to travel to the Vatican, but some in Israel worried about the timing of this new embrace of Mr. Abbas.

    In contrast to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Mr. Peres has long maintained that Mr. Abbas is a suitable partner for peacemaking.  In a recent television interview, Mr. Peres said that in 2011, Mr. Netanyahu cut off back-channel talks between the two presidents that had come close to a deal, something the prime minister’s office has denied.  But even as Mr. Peres was arriving for the Vatican event, Mr. Netanyahu continued his criticism of the new Palestinian government during a cabinet meeting on Sunday in Jerusalem.

    “Whoever hoped that the Palestinian unity between Fatah and Hamas would moderate Hamas is mistaken,” he said, calling for international pressure on Mr. Abbas to dissolve the new partnership.

    In the hours before the prayer summit, the usual crowd of tourists milled about St. Peter’s Square, including some people who hoped the meeting could make a difference.

    “His gesture can help solve the situation,” said Esteban Troncosa, 16, of Santa Fe, Argentina, who was in Rome for a one-month language study trip with his class. “His message has always been to stop wars, and avoid any form of violence. I am sure this can make a difference. The pope can’t sign political agreements, but he is a symbol and can make people and politicians think.”

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    Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on June 3rd, 2014
    by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

     


    Subject: Israel: Evolution to be taught in middle schools…
    Evolution will soon become part of Israel’s official school curriculum for the first time, but there are lingering worries the move could upset some ultra-Orthodox groups.
    The education ministry says evolution will be taught as “the accepted theory” to middle school students aged 13-15 starting in the next academic year,the Haaretz daily reports. At the moment, most Israeli schoolchildren are not taught about evolution – only high school students who choose advanced biology as an optional subject, the paper says.
    “For years, evolution was only touched upon in some middle schools, depending on if the teacher felt comfortable tackling such a heavy subject,” Prof Nava Ben-Zvi, head of the ministry’s science advisory committee, tells The Jerusalem Post. “Science is science and the time has come to incorporate the study into the curriculum.”
    But there won’t be any mention of human evolution from apes, the Times of Israel reports, and it isn’t clear if the change will apply to state religious schools, Haaretz says.
    Reaction from ultra-Orthodox groups has been mixed. The moderate Ne’emanei Torah Va’Avodah welcomed the move, telling the Jerusalem Post it was important for children to be exposed to “different perspectives”. But the head of national religious Hemdat Hadarom College says the move is a mistake, “because of the complexity of the subject and the lack of consensus between scientists in Israel and around the world.”
    Source :  www.bbc.co.uk/news/blogs-news-from-elsewhere-27664411

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    Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on June 2nd, 2014
    by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

    <
    unfccc.int/files/press/news_room/press_releases_and_advisories/application/pdf/pr20140106_ctcn.pdf
    >

    (Copenhagen/Bonn, 2 June 2014):

    Developing countries are now beginning to make active use of the UN’s new global network for climate technology solutions, the Climate Technology Centre and Network (CTCN). This constitutes a promising signal that momentum for climate action is building ahead of a new, universal climate agreement in 2015.

    So far this year, six countries have submitted eight requests for technology assistance to the CTCN, which is headquartered in Copenhagen.

    These include – Afghanistan, Bhutan, Chile, Colombia, Honduras and Pakistan.

    The requests for support relate to a broad range of climate action, from renewable energy policies to public transportation, and from biodiversity monitoring to saving mangrove forests for coastal protection.

    Welcoming the development, Achim Steiner, Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), said:

    “Innovation is the engine of development, and replacing current technologies
    with cleaner, low-carbon alternatives is a vital part of tackling the
    causes and effects of climate change. The Climate Technology Centre and
    Network works to accelerate the use of new technologies in improving the
    lives and livelihoods of millions of people in developing countries who are
    dealing with the impacts of climate change on a daily basis.”

    According to Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the Bonn based UN
    Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) – the growing use of the
    CTCN is encouraging and now needs the necessary finance.

    “As countries work towards a universal climate agreement in Paris in 2015,
    the CTCN provides yet another foundation upon which optimism and action is
    being built. For it to fully flourish and provide maximum support to
    developing country ambitions, the requests for support now need to be
    matched with the finance required, most notably through swift and
    sufficient capitalization of the Green Climate Fund,” she said.

    Last week, the board of the Green Climate Fund (GCF) completed the
    essential policy requirements to make the fund operational. The GCF was
    established as a prime global channel to deliver public funds and to
    leverage private sector finance for developing country climate action.

    Meanwhile, the CTCN has put all central requirements for the transfer of
    technology in place.

    Since its launch in late 2013, over 80 countries have established national
    CTCN focal points (known as National Designated Entities) who work with
    country stakeholders to develop and relay requests to the Climate
    Technology Centre’s network of regional and sectoral experts from academia,
    the private sector, and public and research institutions.

    A side event on the progress to date of the Technology Mechanism and the
    CTCN will be held on the margins of the upcoming Bonn Climate Change
    Conference on 7 June 2014, 18.30-20.00.

    This side event is organized collaboratively by the Technology Executive
    Committee (TEC) and the CTCN. It will opened by UNFCCC Executive Secretary
    Christiana Figueres, and will include presentations by the Director of the
    CTCN, Mr. Jukka Uosukainen, and the Chairs of the TEC and the CTCN.

    More information: goo.gl/PUK0Kp.

    For more information, please contact:
    Karina Larsen, CTCN Knowledge & Communications Manager
    +45 4533 5373; karina.larsen@unep.org
    Climate Technology Centre & Network (CTCN)
    Website: www.unep.org/climatechange/ctcn/

    Nick Nuttall, Coordinator, Communications and Outreach: +49 228 815 1400
    (phone), +49 152 0168 4831
    (mobile) nnuttall(at)unfccc.int
    John Hay, Communications Officer: +49 172 258 6944 (mobile) jhay
    (at)unfccc.int
    Website: unfccc.int

    About the UNFCCC
    With 196 Parties, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change
    (UNFCCC) has near universal membership and is the parent treaty of the 1997
    Kyoto Protocol. The Kyoto Protocol has been ratified by 192 of the UNFCCC
    Parties. For the first commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol, 37 States,
    consisting of highly industrialized countries and countries undergoing the
    process of transition to a market economy, have legally binding emission
    limitation and reduction commitments. In Doha in 2012, the Conference of
    the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol
    adopted an amendment to the Kyoto Protocol, which establishes the second
    commitment period under the Protocol. The ultimate objective of both
    treaties is to stabilize greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at
    a level that will prevent dangerous human interference with the climate
    system.

    About the CTCN
    The Climate Technology Centre and Network promotes the accelerated transfer
    of environmentally sound technologies for climate change mitigation and
    adaptation in developing countries. The CTCN quickly responds with
    potential solutions as well as tailored capacity building in order to
    transfer valuable knowledge and practical advice from one country to
    another in order to accelerate the pace of climate technology
    implementation. The CTCN is the operational arm of the UNFCCC Technology
    Mechanism and is hosted by UNEP in collaboration with the United Nations
    Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and 11 independent, regional
    organizations with expertise in climate technologies.

    See also:  <unfccc.int/press/items/2794.php>
    Follow UNFCCC on Twitter:  @UN_ClimateTalks
    UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres on Twitter: @CFigueres
    UNFCCC on Facebook:  facebook.com/UNclimatechange

    ###

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

     

    Amnesty Researcher Admits That Palestinian ‘Eyewitnesses’ Often Lie.

     

    Donatella Rovera, an Amnesty field investigator, wrote an interesting article about the challenges of fact finding in war situations.

    One of her main points is that eyewitnesses are often unreliable. For example:

    In Gaza, Lebanon, Libya, Syria, and other places I interviewed civilians who described what they thought were artillery or bomb strikes being launched by far away government forces and striking near their homes – whereas in reality the loud bangs and tremors were caused by mortars or rockets being launched by opposition fighters from their positions nearby. For the untrained ear it is virtually impossible to distinguish between incoming and outgoing fire, and all the more so for those who find themselves close to the frontlines.

     

    Another factor she mentions:

    Even if they disregard it, investigators must be alert to the fact that disinformation and misinformation can contribute to shaping the perception of events, the narrative surrounding the events, and the behaviour of people who take it in good faith and internalize it, including victims, witnesses, and others potential sources.

     

    Here Rovera  is referring to lies that spread quickly and then become widely believed – including by “unbiased” NGOs – before anyone has a chance to investigate. How many times have we seen that?

     

    She gives a specific example from Gaza:

    Fear can lead victims and witnesses to withhold evidence or give deliberately erroneous accounts of incidents. In Gaza, I received partial or inaccurate information by relatives of civilians accidentally killed in accidental explosions or by rockets launched by Palestinian armed groups towards Israel that had malfunctioned and of civilians killed by Israeli strikes on nearby Palestinian armed groups’ positions. When confronted with other evidence obtained separately, some said they feared reprisals by the armed groups.

     

    Meaning that “eyewitnesses” will often claim that there was no terrorist activity in the area of an airstrike and Israel wantonly and indiscriminately killed people for no reason.

    This gets wholly believed and parroted by the UN and other NGOs.  The Goldstone Report has many such examples.

    Unfortunately, in many cases the NGOs themselves are part of the problem. Rovera  admits, a little elliptically:

    Conflict situations create highly politicized and polarized environments, which may affect even individuals and organizations with a proven track record of credible and objective work. Players and interested parties go to extraordinary lengths to manipulate or manufacture “evidence” for both internal and external consumption.

     

    It is a shame that Rovera didn’t include Amnesty International itself as being guilty of this, and she ascribes the lack of objectivity almost only to fake evidence that is created by one side rather than to the ideological desire to find war crimes when none exist.

     

    They might strenuously deny it, but Amnesty and HRW have systemic biases against Israel. This article, while a step in the right direction, only scratches the surface of how NGOs themselves contribute to the culture of lies in order to issue their reports and maintain their funding without doing basic fact checks.

     

    And while Rovera notes that some “eyewitnesses” act out of fear, she doesn’t go far enough. At least in the territories, the lies about Israel are repeated so often that the witnesses will often  tell Western reporters and researchers what they expect to hear rather than what happened. This isn’t necessarily out of fear; it is part of their culture to ensure that Israel is always blamed no matter what. It saturates their media. I cannot count how many times “eyewitness” accounts were found to be complete fiction, and fear didn’t enter into the equation. However, many of the “witnesses” happen to work for the largest employer in the West Bank – the PA – which lies constantly.

     

    Not to mention that many anti-Israel activists that will knowingly repeat the most outrageous lies to further their own agenda.

    Lets hope that this article can at least open up the discussion of how inaccurate much of the reporting and research is about Israel, even from NGOs that pretend to be objective.

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

    We post above because we found it obviously true, but in order not to create the wrong impression that we believe above to be anywhere a justification of the self-hurting positions taken by the Israeli government, we are compelled to include as well the latest material we got from our friend – the Israeli sage Uri Avnery.

    The point of this added material is to bring forward that the injuries inflicted on Israel originate these days with the position that it is Israel itself that  undoes the Zionist dream by leading to a State where the Jews will become eventually a minority – like in all the States of the diaspora.

    The bottom line is that Israel has a 4,000 years claim on the land and the Arab have a 1,500 years claim.

    How do you do justice in year 2,000? You divide  the land with policy and let “the market” draw the lines.  By market I mean the follow up skirmishes and wars. So it was done in real life – but what was not done yet is the recognition of the reality on the ground by resolving the situation in mutual agreement – and both sides are at fault.

    The sorry site is that both sides’ leaderships sort of believe that time is on their side – outside funds and internal corruption on the Palestinian side, outside funds and a booming economy on the Israeli side. The result being that happily they both tango towards a point of no return and a bleak future.

     

    AND HERE IS THE SECOND ARTICLE:

    Uri Avnery

     

    May 24, 2014

     

     

     

                                                    In Their Own Juice

     

                                       

     

    ACCORDING TO press reports, President Barack Obama has decided to let Binyamin Netanyahu and Mahmoud Abbas “stew in their own juice.”

     

     

     

    That sounds fair.

     

     

    The United States has tried very hard to make peace between Israel and Palestine. Poor John Kerry has devoted almost all of his considerable energies to getting both sides to meet, to talk, to reach compromises.

     

     

    At the end of nine months, he found out that it was a false pregnancy. No baby, not even a fetus. Nothing at all.

     

     

     

    So American leaders are justified in feeling angry. Angry at both sides. Neither of them has shown any willingness to sacrifice its interests in order to do a favor to Obama or Kerry. Ungrateful, these Middle Easterners.

     

     

    So it seems that the reaction is justified. You don’t want to fulfill our wishes? Go to hell. Both of you.

     

     

     

     

    THE IMPORTANT word in these sentences is “both”.

     

     

    But “both” is based on a lie.

     

     

     

    When one says that “both” did not behave as expected, that “both” did not make the “necessary hard decisions” that “both” should stew in their own juice, one consciously or unconsciously assumes that they are equal. Nothing is further from the truth.

     

     

    Israel is immeasurably stronger than Palestine in every material respect. One resembles a sleek American skyscraper, the other a dilapidated wooden shack.

     

     

    Palestine is under occupation by the other half of “both”. Palestinians are totally deprived of all elementary human and civil rights. Average income in Israel is 20 times higher than in Palestine. Not 20%, but a staggering 2000%. Militarily, Israel is a regional power, and in some respects a world power.

     

     

     

    In this reality, speaking of “both” is at best ignorant, at worst cynical.

     

     The very presentation of this picture of “both” is tantamount to acceptance of the Israeli narrative.

     

     

     

     

    WHAT DOES it mean for “both” to stew in their own juice?

     

     

    For Israel, it means that it can continue to build new settlements on Arab land in the occupied West Bank without foreign interference. It can make life in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip ever harsher, in the hope that more and more Palestinians will prefer to leave. Arbitrary killings of civilians by occupation troops occur every few days.

     

     

    Some of us realize that this course is leading to disaster in the form of a bi-national state, in which an ever-growing disenfranchised Arab majority will be ruled by the Jewish minority. That is called apartheid. But most Israelis don’t see it.

     

     

    Israelis are happy, and never happier than this week. In a modern repetition of the Biblical David-and-Goliath story, the Tel Aviv Maccabi basketball team beat the formidable Real Madrid team for the European championship. National pride has risen to Olympic heights. (In a childish race, President Peres and Prime Minister Netanyahu each tried to waylay the winning team on its way to the popular reception in Rabin Square, in order to bask in reflected glory.)

     

     

     

    So Israel can stew happily, the more so since the US continues to pay us their annual three billion dollar tribute, provide us with arms and use their UN veto power to protect us from international censure.

     

     

     

     

    FOR THE Palestinian side of “both”, stewing in their own juice means something very different.

     

     

    The effort to achieve Fatah-Hamas reconciliation proceeds slowly and can break down at any moment. It depends on Abbas’ success in forming a Unity Government composed of impartial “technocrats” and Hamas’ willingness to give up its sole rule in the Gaza Strip.

     

     

    Almost all Palestinians want unity, but ideological differences run deep (though in practice the differences are now much shallower). But even if some kind of unity is achieved and recognized by the international community against Israel’s wish, what can the Palestinians actually do without violence?  

     

     

    They could, with the help of Saudi Arabia and the military junta in Egypt, establish some direct contact between the West Bank and Gaza and break the Israeli blockade on the Strip. 

     

     

    They can apply for admittance to some more international agencies and for more positive resolutions of the UN General Assembly, where the US veto does not apply but whose decisions have very little concrete effect.

     

     

    They can encourage European countries and the international BDS movement to reinforce the boycott of the settlements or of Israel itself.

     

     

     

    Altogether, not very much. The stewing period will enlarge even more the imbalance of power between “both” parties.

     

     

    If the stewing lasts long enough, the “moderate” leaderships of Fatah and Hamas will be swept away, and Palestinian violence will raise its head again.

     

     

     

    Conclusion: “Bothness”, which looks so fair and impartial, is in effect a policy of 100% support for the Israeli Right.

     

     

     

     

    WILL THIS strengthen anti-Israeli sentiment abroad?

     

     

    Two weeks ago, a US Jewish organization dropped a bombshell: in every country around the world there exists anti-Semitism, from 91% in the West Bank to 2% in Laos. (One may wonder where Laotians find Jews to hate.)

     

     

    Every fifth person on earth harbors anti-Semitic prejudices. More than a billion human beings!!!

     

     The organization which invested so much money to finance such a world-wide poll is the (Anti-)Defamation League. I put the “anti” in brackets, because its proper name should be the Defamation League. It is a kind of Thought Police in the service of the right-wing American Jewish establishment.

     

     

     

    (Many years ago, when I was a Member of the Knesset, I was invited to give talks at 20 high-class American universities. The hosts were the Jewish chaplains who belong to the Bnei Brith (Beit Hillel) order. At the last moment, 19 talks were canceled. In a secret letter, the Defamation League had told the chaplains that “though MK Uri Avnery cannot be called a traitor…” etc. etc. In the end, all the talks took place under the auspices of Christian chaplains.)

     

     

     

    The publication of the devastating results of the poll exposed a curious fact: news about the rise of anti-Semitism is received by many Jews with something strangely like joy.

     

     

    I have often wondered about this phenomenon. For Zionists, the answer is simple: the terms anti-Semitism and Zionism, like Siamese twins, were born at the same time. Anti-Semitism has always driven Jews to Israel, and still does (lately from France).

     

    For other Jews, the source of the joy is less obvious. Jews in Europe have been surrounded by anti-Semites for so long, that the sight of them seems normal.  Discovering them again and again gives Jews a comfortable feeling of familiarity.

     

     

    And there are, of course, the innumerable employees of the League and the other Jewish organizations, whose livelihood depends on the exposure of anti-Semites.

     

     

     

    The interpretation of the poll itself is, of course, complete bullshit (sorry). People who expressed misgivings about Israeli policy were listed as anti-Semites. So are all inhabitants of the occupied territories who do not like their occupiers. Muslims in general, who see Israel in a negative light, are of course racists.  A similar poll about anti-Russian racism may well achieve the same results in Ukraine.

     

     

     

     

    A SIMILAR initiative is this week’s congress of the International Association of Jewish Lawyers and Jurists.

     

     

     Jewish jurists may sound almost like a tautology. Every Jewish mother wants to boast of “my son, the doctor” or “my son, the lawyer”. In the US and many other countries, Jewish lawyers and judges seem to be in the majority.

     

     

    This meeting has a specific aim: to convince the UN to abolish UNRWA, the UN agency concerned with Palestinian refugees. It was created after the 1948 war, during which some 750,000 Palestinians fled or were driven out of the territory that became Israel. Their descendents, who are also recognized as refugees, amount now to some six to seven million. 

     

     

    UNRWA feeds these refugees, protects them and educates them. It is true that it is a unique institution, expressing the bad conscience of the UN. It seems that the refugees from no other country have such a specific organization to care for them.

     

     

    Now the Jew-Ju’s (if I may call them so) are mounting an attack, directly guided by Israel, to abolish this organization altogether. I suppose that the aim is to disband the Palestinian refugee camps which exist in several countries around Israel – Sabra and Shatila spring to mind – and disperse the refugees all over the planet, where they will be less of a pain in the neck for the Netanyahu government. 

     

    All THIS in the name of fairness and equality. Israelis and Palestinians can “both” stew in their own juice.

     

     

    VERY different juices, though.

     

      

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

     

    ###

    Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on May 22nd, 2014
    by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

     

    BEIJING, May 21, 2014  —  China and Russia signed a $400 billion gas deal on Wednesday, giving Moscow a megamarket for its leading export and linking two major powers that, despite a rocky history of alliances and rivalries, have drawn closer to counter the clout of the United States and Europe.

    The impetus to complete the gas deal, which has been talked about as a game-changing accord for more than a decade, finally came together after the Ukrainian crisis forced Russia’s president, Vladimir V. Putin, to urgently seek an alternative to Europe, Moscow’s main energy market. Europe has slapped sanctions on Russia and sought ways to reduce its dependence on Russian energy.

    Mr. Putin, on a two-day visit to Shanghai, and the Chinese leader, Xi Jinping, oversaw the signing of the contract between Gazprom and the China National Petroleum Corporation, the biggest natural gas deal Russia has sealed since the collapse of the Soviet Union. The contract runs for 30 years and calls for the construction of pipelines and other infrastructure that will require tens of billions of dollars in investment.

    Ostensibly on the same side during the Cold War, the Asian neighbors even then competed for global influence with their divergent brands of communism. They fought a brief but explosive border war in 1969, and later took opposite sides in conflicts in Vietnam and Afghanistan.

    They have similar views of the United States, however, including opposition to its unilateral military actions in Kosovo, Iraq and Libya, and wanted to take Uncle Sam down a peg or two.  Mr. Putin, in particular, wanted to make a point of showing that the United States and its NATO partners were in decline.

    The deal offered a lift for the Russian economy, he said, and for Mr. Putin, China’s validation would improve Russia’s world image.

    At the same time, Mr. Xi is unhappy with the Obama administration on issues ranging from Washington’s outspoken support of its military alliance with Japan, its criticism of China’s actions in the South China Sea, and its hard line on cybertheft.

    Although China had expressed neutrality over the Ukraine crisis because of the take-over of land – the strained relations with Washington in other spheres tip China’s position in favor of Russia.

    The final price of the Russian gas, which will flow through a 2,500-mile pipeline from two fields in Siberia, was not disclosed, and energy markets were trying to parse who gained the bigger advantage.

    Russia had been holding out for a price close to what European countries pay, and China for a price akin to the cheaper gas it buys from Central Asia, energy experts who tracked the talks said.

    With Russia’s economy near recession and the International Monetary Fund projecting 0.2 percent growth this year, Mr. Putin was desperate to get the deal done, energy experts said.

    The chief executive of Gazprom, Alexey Miller, said the contract called for Russia to supply 38 billion cubic meters of gas annually over 30 years, making the price about $350 per thousand cubic meters. In 2013, the average price of Gazprom’s gas in Europe was about $380 per thousand cubic meters.

    “The pricing appears to be between European Union prices and Turkmenistan prices,” said Joerg Wuttke, the president of the European Union Chamber of Commerce in China. “We will have to wait for the next few months to learn about the details.”

    Morena Skalamera, a fellow at the Geopolitics of Energy Project at Harvard, said Mr. Putin was more willing to concede on price than he had been before the Ukraine crisis.

    “If the European market was a question mark before the Ukrainian crisis, now with sanctions, Putin needed China even more,” she said.

    “Politically, it is important for Putin to show that the ‘Greater Russia’ is back on the international scene and that it has other, non-Western options to restore its rightful place.”

    In exchange for a lower price, China offered a loan of about $50 billion that will finance development of the gas fields and the construction of the pipeline by Russia up to the Chinese border, Ms. Skalamera said. The Chinese would build the remaining pipeline, and gas is scheduled to start pumping in 2018, she said.

    In remarks after the signing, Mr. Putin stressed that the price of the gas was based on the market price for oil, just as it was for Russia’s gas supplies to European countries. “The gas price formula, as in our other contracts, is pegged to the market of oil and oil products,” Itar-Tass quoted him as saying.

    Without the oil price benchmark, Russia would be under pressure to renegotiate European prices, said Kenneth S. Courtis, a founding partner of Thames Investment. The price of Russian gas to Europe is based on fluctuations in oil prices, making it more expensive than gas that China buys from Central Asia, he said.

    Even with this new agreement, Europe will remain Russia’s biggest market, but Siberian natural gas does give China a cleaner substitute for the fossil fuels — coal and petroleum — that provide most of its energy needs, and cause much of the pollution smothering China’s cities. China will  have diverse suppliers of gas not making it not dependent only on the Russians.

    Globally, the newly marketed shale gas technology allows for additional potential gas suppliers to join the international market. The subject of gas supplies becomes thus a main issue of geopolitics and Europe is best advised not to find itself dependent on the goodwill of Russia. So we see no reason for Austria continuing to back the construction of new pipelines for Russian gas – the like of  “South Stream” and let Europe use the funds in order to develop indigenous renewable sources of energy instead.

    ——————————————————

    Gas deal more important to Russia than China
    Tom Mitchell and Kathrin Hille, The Financial Times
    Chinese President Xi Jinping finally granted his Russian counterpart a long-awaited gas supply contract on Wednesday, ending a decade of negotiations during which China’s economic growth tilted the bilateral balance of power in Beijing’s favour.
    jlne.ws/1m7Qp4W

    Russia-China Deal Seen Damping LNG Prices as Output Rises
    Robert Tuttle, Anna Shiryaevskaya and Isis Almeida, Bloomberg
    China’s deal to buy natural gas from Russia after a decade of talks risks making tanker shipments of the fuel less competitive as new projects target Asian markets.
    jlne.ws/1i6SCJF

    Russia’s Rosneft gearing up for gas exports to Asia
    Alexei Anishchuk, Reuters
    Russia could significantly boost its natural gas sales to Asia if companies other than Kremlin-controlled Gazprom secured exporting rights, documents from Russia’s top oil producer Rosneft showed.
    jlne.ws/1jFGlkS

    PetroChina, Utilities Stand to Gain From Russia Gas Deal
    Aibing Guo, Bloomberg
    PetroChina Co., the country’s biggest oil and gas producer, stands to win from Russia’s $400 billion deal to supply natural gas to China as it will provide gas at a price lower than had been expected.
    jlne.ws/1m7XceO

    Russia may exempt China gas from mineral extraction tax – Ifax
    Reuters
    Russia will consider exempting gas sent to China from mineral extraction tax, Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov said on Thursday in comments cited by the Interfax news agency.
    jlne.ws/RWLB7O

    China’s Global Search for Energy
    Clifford Krauss and Keith Bradsher, The New York Times
    Whether by diplomacy, investment or in extreme cases, force, China is going to great lengths to satisfy its growing hunger for energy to fuel its expanding car fleet and electrify its swelling cities.
    jlne.ws/1k7h0je

    ——————————————————-

    ###

    Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on May 22nd, 2014
    by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

     

    The following is being monitored by the Vienna and Los Angeles based Simon Wiesenthal Center.

    The Simon Wiesenthal Center (often abbreviated SWC), with headquarters in Los Angeles, California, was established in 1977 and named for Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal. According to its mission statement, it is “an international Jewish human rights organization dedicated to repairing the world one step at a time. The Center’s multifaceted mission generates changes through the Snider Social Action Institute and education by confronting antisemitism, hate and terrorism, promoting human rights and dignity, standing with Israel, defending the safety of Jews worldwide, and teaching the lessons of the Holocaust for future generations.”[1]

    The Center is accredited as a non-governmental organization (NGO) at the United Nations, the UNESCO, and the Council of Europe.

     

    Jews Implicated by Pro-Erdo?an Turkish Newspaper for Coal Mine Disaster.

    May 21, 2014  in The Algemeiner,  17 comments

    Front page of Turkey’s pro-government daily Yeni Akit implicating Jews in the Soma mining disaster. Photo: Screenshot.

    Turkey’s pro-government daily Yeni Akit sought to implicate Jews in the country’s recent Soma coal mine disaster that left over 300 dead, Turkish daily Hurriyet reported on Wednesday.

    The paper blasted its distaste for Jews with a headline that criticized the mine’s owner for having a Jewish son-in-law and ”Zionist-dominated media” for distorting the story.

    Hurriyet said Yeni Akit ”has a long track record of anti-Semitic slurs” and noted the front page wording used to describe Alp Gürkan, the mine’s owner, for “giving his daughter to a Jew,” which it implied to be the main reason why the “Zionist-dominated domestic and foreign media” was “attacking Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdo?an,” to “distort” the truth behind the disaster.

    “While the cartel media in cooperation with Jews, Jew-lover parallel media and Jew controlled western media targets the Prime Minister over the Soma disaster, it is revealed that the groom of Alp Gürkan, owner of the company responsible for the disaster, is a Jew named ‘Mario Asafrana’ who changed his name and is now called ‘Mahir’,” the paper wrote.

    Jewish human rights group the Simon Wiesenthal Center called for Turkey’s Prime Minister to repudiate the report.

    In an interview with The Algemeiner SWC Associate Dean Rabbi Abraham Cooper described the story as being “In the infamous tradition of the Protocols of Zion and Der Stuermer” and as “one of the most despicable and frightening uses of anti-Semitism by a contemporary newspaper.”

    “As a nation mourns the death of hundreds of its people in a coal mine—such a banner headline seeks to further fan the toxic hate of Jews. The Wiesenthal Center urges Prime Minister Erdo?an to publicly denounce this headline,” Cooper said.

    Twitter was alight with comments calling the newspaper anti-Semitic, while others used the social media platform to affirm their hatred of Jews.

    Dutch journalist in Turkey Marc Guillet wrote, “#Turkish Yeni Akit #antisemitic page 1 #Soma mine owner’s son-in-law is Jew, Jewish-controlled media distort disaster.”

    To which a Turkish Twitter user responded, “so what, I’m anti-jewish, too (semitic includes arabic, better not to use it that way).”

    The focus on Jews in the mining disaster came after Erdo?an was reported calling a protester in Soma after the mine disaster “the spawn of Israel.”

    Turkish Jew Haymi Behar reflected on “what it is to be born as ‘Israeli spawn’ in Turkey,” also in Hurriyet, writing about the intense misunderstanding and reflexive hatred for Jews in his country, and how it “means being a part of a mere 13 million tribe in a sea of 7 billion in the world, and being a small sample of the 17,000 ‘spawn brothers’ in Turkey.”

    The crisis also enlivened defenders of Erdo?an, with Der Spiegel magazine withdrawing its Turkey-based reporter, Hasnain Kazim, after he received 10,000 death threats via e-mail, Facebook and Twitter, with one even threatening to “cut his throat.” The offending article quoted the reaction of a miner in Soma who said, “Go to hell, Erdo?an,” stirring anger of supporters of the Turkish government.

    Despite the rising tensions, Erdo?an, in a speech on Tuesday, thanked Israel for cancelling a planned celebration last week for Israeli Independence Day out of respect for the families of the 301 dead at the Soma mine.

     

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