The Flury of very recent Travel between Russia, Iran, Saudi Arabia, the US, and Syria shows that the Iran Deal has in it an opening on Syria – but nobody has yet had the courage to print that this has to do with the PRICE OF OIL.
We react here to the New York Times Editorial of August 24, 2015 that seemingly wants us to believe that Putin and the Ayatollahs found religion when they heard that 250,000 Arabs were killed in Syria. Really – why should they care?
Let us suggest that “THE DEAL” has turned the interest of Iran to revive its International Banking if the Sanctions are removed – and that is the real driving force that eventually can bring Putin and the Ayatollahs to the table IN EXCHANGE FOR A SAUDI AND THE OTHER GULF STATES OIL EXPORTERS PROMISE TO REDUCE THEIR EXPORTS OF OIL.
YES – the US and the Europeans are driven by humanitarian concepts – the Russians and the Iranians think of the PRICE OF OIL that hit them hard in their economies. The US and the Europeans enjoyed the lowering of the price of oil – based on the high supply figures and a decreasing demand that resulted from GREEN ACTIVITIES – higher efficiency and alternate sources of energy.
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Dispatch from Iraq: the Stealth Iranian Takeover Becomes Clear
by Jonathan Spyer, PJ Media
Originally published under the title, “On the Ground in Iraq, the Stealth Iranian Takeover Becomes Clear.”
Spyer writes: In late June, I traveled to Iraq with the purpose of investigating the role being played by the Iranian-supported Shia militias in that country.
Close observation of the militias, their activities, and their links to Tehran is invaluable in understanding what is likely to happen in the Middle East following the conclusion of the nuclear agreement between the P5 + 1 powers and Tehran.
An Iranian stealth takeover of Iraq is currently under way. Tehran’s actions in Iraq lay bare the nature of Iranian regional strategy. They show that Iran has no peers at present in the promotion of a very 21st century way of war, which combines the recruitment and manipulation of sectarian loyalties; the establishment and patient sponsoring of political and paramilitary front groups; and the engagement of these groups in irregular and clandestine warfare, all in tune with an Iran-led agenda.
Power in Baghdad today is effectively held by a gathering of Shia militias.
With the conclusion of the nuclear deal, and thanks to the cash about to flow into Iranian coffers, the stage is now set for an exponential increase in the scale and effect of these activities across the region.
So what is going on in Iraq, and what may be learned from it?
Shia militias are essentially the sole force standing between ISIS and Baghdad.
Shia militiamen are becoming a fixture of daily life in the Iraqi capital.
The Hashed al-Shaabi was founded on June 15, 2014, following a fatwa by venerated Iraqi Shia cleric Ali al-Sistani a day earlier. Sistani called for a limited jihad at a time when the forces of ISIS were juggernauting toward Baghdad. The militias came together, under the auspices of Quds Force kingpin Qassem Suleimani and his Iraqi right-hand man Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis.
Because of the parlous performance of the Iraqi Army, the Shia militias have become in effect the sole force standing between ISIS and the Iraqi capital.
Therein lies the source of their strength. Political power grows, as another master strategist of irregular warfare taught, from the barrel of a gun. In the case of Iraq, no instrument exists in the hands of the elected government to oppose the will of the militias. The militias, meanwhile, in their political iteration, are also part of the government.
In the course of my visit, I travelled deep into Anbar Province with fighters of the Kataeb Hizballah, reaching just eight miles from Ramadi City. I also went to Baiji, the key front to the capital’s north, accompanying fighters from the Badr Corps.
Asaib Ahl al-Haq fighters operating in Baiji in June
In all areas, I observed close cooperation between the militias, the army, and the federal police. The latter are essentially under the control of the militias. Mohammed Ghabban, of Badr, is the interior minister. The Interior Ministry controls the police. Badr’s leader, Hadi al-Ameri, serves as the transport minister.
In theory, the Hashd al-Shaabi committee answers to Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al Abadi. In practice, no one views the committee as playing anything other than a liaison role. The real decision-making structure for the militias’ alliance goes through Abu Mahdi al Muhandis and Hadi al-Ameri, to Qassem Suleimani, and directly on to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.
No one in Iraq imagines that any of these men are taking orders from Abadi, who has no armed force of his own, whose political party (Dawa) remains dominated by former Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and his associates, and whose government is dependent on the military protection of the Shia militias and their political support. When I interviewed al-Muhandis in Baiji, he was quite open regarding the source of the militias’ strength: “We rely on capacity and capabilities provided by the Islamic Republic of Iran.”
Jihadology research by Aymenn Jawad al-Tamimi reproduced by The Middle East Forum based in Washington DC. His findings show that ISIS was born in traditional schools of Sunni jurisprudence and that many of its actions, however heinous, “can find a place within the vastness of Islamic tradition.”
From The Middle East Forum: Research on the Islamic State
Aymenn Jawad al-Tamimi, a research fellow at Middle East Forum’s Jihad Intel project, is one of world’s leading experts on the Islamic State (IS) group terrorizing Iraq and Syria, also known as ISIS. The overwhelming majority of his writings and translations are too detailed or esoteric for distribution to a general audience, so instead MEF compiles periodic updates providing links and summaries for those who wish to follow the groundbreaking work of this prolific researcher.
Is ISIS Islamic? (April 3, 2015)
Jamaat Ansar al-Islam: Eulogy to Abu Ahmad of Mosul (April 15, 2015)
Muqawama Suriya Statement: Loss of Jisr al-Shughur (April 26, 2015)
Interview with the leader of Harakat al-Nujaba (April 28, 2015)
“We have the Swords”- IS nasheed (May 2)
Middle East Forum
Middle East Quarterly – Spring 2015
Why Yemen Matters
How Many Qatari Nationals Are There?
by Onn Winckler
Qatari demographic policy is aimed at achieving a high population growth by encouraging a high natural increase rate. Qatar has no income tax, and its citizens are recipients of generous subsidies and extensive social welfare programs, many of which are meant to encourage marriages and large families. These include providing loans for housing, reducing the cost of dowries, and giving family allowances that increase according to the number of children per couple.
Most states do not divulge all demographic parameters of their population. At times, this data is unavailable due to the weakness of the regime as is the case with many sub-Saharan African countries and, more recently, with Yemen, Syria, and Iraq due to their prolonged civil wars. In other countries, such as the United States, Belgium, and France, there is a lack of data on the religious composition of the population due to official separation of church and state.
While none of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states have ever published the religious composition of their indigenous populations, Qatar has lagged further behind: It does not even make public the total size of its indigenous population, considered “a national secret.” As the online editor of a Qatari-based business publication was told when approaching the Qatar Statistics Authority (QSA) for the data: “We regret to inform you that the required data is not available.”
Until the early 1980s, the Qatari authorities did not in fact have complete demographic data of their indigenous population. Since then, and certainly following the implementation of the 1986 census, this data has been comprehensive and accurate and deliberately hidden. Why are the Qatari authorities not publishing the basic data on the number of their citizens as do all other countries? The reason for this, it seems, is quite simple: The national population is too small to match the country’s political needs and aspirations. Since Qatar prefers not to naturalize vast numbers of foreigners, including Arab Sunnis, the only option has been to hide the small size of the national population through the evasive pretense of not having the data. The principal aim of this article is to explore this “secret.”
The first estimate of Qatar’s population made by John Gordon Lorimer of the British Foreign Office in 1904 put the emirate’s total population at approximately 27,000. Before the discovery of oil, pearl fishing was the emirate’s economic mainstay; however, the development of the Japanese cultured pearl industry at the beginning of the 1930s, together with the Great Depression, and the onset of World War II led to a severe economic recession and an attendant sharp decline in Qatar’s population to some 16,000 by the mid-1940s. The beginning of oil exports in 1949 reversed this economic trend. Consequently, more and more people entered the emirate, and by 1950, Qatar’s total population was estimated at approximately 25,000-30,000.
The first Qatari census, taken in 1970, put the indigenous population at 45,039. However, since it was assumed by those who implemented the census that the under-enumeration (mainly of females and children) of that census was approximately 6 percent, it seems that the number of Qatari citizens at the time was closer to 47,700 (see Table 1).
According to an estimate by demographers J. S. Birks and C. A. Sinclair, by 1975, Qatar’s national population numbered 60,300 (see Table 1), a rise of 34 percent from the 1970 official census result. This rapid population growth could not be the result of natural increase (i.e., births minus deaths) alone as it would require the unlikely annual average natural increase rate of 4.8 percent. Since Qatar’s crude death rate (CDR) in the early 1970s was approximately 18-20 per 1,000 people (see Table 3), this means that in order to achieve a natural increase rate of 4.8 percent, the crude birth rate (CBR) would have to be more than 65 per 1,000, which is unreasonable (see Table 3). Thus, taking into consideration a natural increase rate of about 3.2 percent on an annual average during the first half of the 1970s, Qatar’s indigenous population in 1975 should have totaled some 56,000, about 4,300 fewer than Birks and Sinclair’s estimate.
Since the Qatari naturalization policy at that time was very strict, it is implausible that the authorities would have naturalized more than 4,000 immigrants, namely 7-8 percent of the total Qatari citizenship, within a period of only five years. The only alternative for evaluating Birks and Sinclair’s 1975 estimate and that of the U.N. Economic Commission for Western Asia’s (ECWA), which estimated Qatar’s nationals at 65,357 in 1980 (see Table 1), is to find the number of Qatari citizens in the March 1986 census and implement a “back projection” method.
In 1985, HRD Base Ltd., a subsidiary of Lloyds Bank, estimated Qatar’s indigenous population at 84,240, namely 29 percent higher than the 1980 ECWA estimate. The nominal natural increase, namely the surplus of live births over deaths during the 1980-85 period was 15,689 (see Table 3), representing an increase of 24 percent over the ECWA estimate. This expresses a difference of 3,200 people between ECWA’s estimate of 1980 plus the natural increase of 1981-85 period and the estimate of HRD for 1985. This gap could be explained by the naturalization of foreign women married to Qatari nationals—a very common phenomenon, which the Qatari government highly encouraged—as well as by adding some unrecorded births, reflecting the fact that Qatar’s civil registration system had then been in its infancy.
The problem, however, is with the March 1986 census results. According to official Qatari data, Qatari nationals fifteen years and older numbered 54,502 (26,878 of whom were males and 27,624 females). According to figures from the U.N. Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA, formerly ECWA), Qatari nationals in the 1986 census totaled 101,859 (see Table 1). This figure implies that Qataris under the age of fifteen constituted 46.5 percent of the total Qatari citizens—a rate which is plausible based on the extremely wide-based age pyramid of the Qatari indigenous population due to the high natural increase rates during the 1970s and the first half of the 1980s.
However, it is unlikely that in one year—between mid-1985 and March 1986—the number of Qatari citizens increased by 17,619 people. Moreover, if there was a massive naturalization of women who married Qatari nationals between the 1970 and the 1986 censuses, the number of Qatari women twenty years of age and older in the 1986 census data should have been much higher than that of males. This, however, was not the case. According to the census results, the number of females twenty and older was fewer than 1,000 above that of males (21,670 females and 20,734 males). Data calculated from official Qatari statistics on the rate and the nominal number of the natural increase puts the total number of Qatari citizens at 91,979 in 1984, growing to 99,642 in 1986, namely, 2,217 less than ESCWA’s figure (see Tables 1 and 2).
With the absence of data on naturalization, it is impossible to evaluate the number of Qatari nationals between the 1970 and 1986 censuses.
In light of the number of Qatari citizens calculated from the official Qatari data on the natural increase and the actual 1986 census results, the only plausible conclusion is that during the period between the 1970 and the 1986 censuses, namely, during the “bonanza oil decade,” there was massive naturalization of both males and females in Qatar.
A clear indicator of this large-scale naturalization of women of childbearing age is the sharp increase in the number of births, which grew from 2,853 in 1980 to 4,034 in 1986. This means that in six years alone, the number of live births increased by as much as 41.4 percent. Taking into consideration that during that period the total fertility rate (TFR, average number of children born to a woman during her lifetime) not only did not increase but rather substantially decreased, the only logical explanation for the rapid growth in the number of live births was due to a substantial increase in the number of women of childbearing age. However, due to the absence of any data regarding naturalization in Qatar, it is impossible to evaluate the number of Qatari nationals during the period between the 1970 and 1986 censuses.
Moving forward in time, according to the 1997 census results, Qatari nationals aged 15- years old and above numbered 84,902 while those aged ten and above numbered 103,273. The number of live births minus infant deaths (children under the age of 1) during the decade prior to the census implementation was 48,498 (see Table 4a). If we assume 0 emigration of the 0-10 age group and 0 mortality of children in the 1-10 age group, this amounts to total Qatari citizens of 151,771 with the under-10 age group representing 32 percent of the total population—a plausible percentage given Qatar’s natural increase patterns at that time.
Comparing the 1986 census results to those of 1997 indicates a nominal increase of 49,912. The nominal gap between the 1986 and 1997 data is almost identical to the natural increase between the two censuses, which numbered 48,266. The small gap of 1,650 people between the natural increase and the actual growth is probably due to the naturalization of foreign women, which also explains the small surplus of females over males identified in the 1997 census data in the age group of 15-years and above. Since no official Qatari data is available on either the scale or the timing of the naturalization, it is reasonable to distribute the 1,650 surplus equally across the entire period between the two censuses. Thus, adding 150 to the natural increase each year during the eleven years between the two censuses produces the exact increase throughout the period between the two censuses.
By the time of the March 2004 census, the Qatari authorities were publishing data regarding citizens 3-years old and above (168,958). By adding live births minus infant deaths during the three years prior to the implementation of this census (19,059), one arrives at a total figure for the Qatari indigenous population of 188,017 (see Table 1).
Measuring the natural increase between the 1997 and the 2004 censuses suggests the figure of 36,748. Thus, the 1997 census results plus the natural increase between the two censuses suggest 188,519, namely, 500 more than the actual 2004 census results—an insignificant number that is probably due to some deaths of nationals in the 1-10-age group and some misreporting or errors in the censuses. The calculated number according to the Qatari natural increase data suggests the figure of 194,092 in mid-2004 (see Table 1) which is about 3 percent higher than this author’s calculation for the census results. This gap could be attributed to the fact that there are three and a half months between the census implementations, namely between mid-March, and mid-year (end of June). Another reason is that the rate of the natural increase provided by the QSA is not totally accurate as it includes only one digit after the decimal point.
In 2005, the Qatari authorities revoked the citizenship of 6,000 members of the Murrah tribe on suspicion of disloyalty to the emir.
The latest Qatari census was implemented in April 2010. As in the 1997 census, the authorities only published data regarding the population of 10-years old and above. According to that census, nationals of ten years and older numbered 174,279. If one adds 65,763—live births minus infant deaths during the decade prior to the census (see Table 4b)—the result is a Qatari indigenous population numbering 240,042 in late April 2010.
However, a curious and significant anomaly emerges. This is because adding the natural increase between the two censuses (38,641) to the 2004 census data yields 226,658, namely, 13,384 less than the actual 2010 census results. This substantial gap could not be explained by an under-enumeration of births. This is not only due to the fact that since 2000, the Qatari civil registration system has been totally computerized but also because Qatari parents have had every reason to register new births due to various benefits granted by the government for every Qatari newborn. Moreover, because of the short time between the two censuses, it is quite easy to compare age groups in these two censuses.
Under a condition of “zero naturalization and migration balance,” i.e., the natural increase only, the number of Qatari citizens in the age group of 4-58 from the 2004 census should have been close to identical to the 10-64 age group in the 2010 census. In reality, however, while the 4-58 age cohort in the 2004 census numbered 155,024, the 10-64 age group in the 2010 census numbered 166,932, about an extra 12,000 people.
The unexplained gap between the two censuses could not be justified by the matter of the al-Murrah tribe, when in March 2005, the Qatari authorities revoked the citizenship of about 6,000 members on suspicion of disloyalty to the emir. This is because their citizenship had already been returned in February 2006. Thus, both revoking and returning their citizenship occurred during the period between the two censuses.
Thus, while the difference in the number of Qatari citizens between the 1970 and the 1986 censuses could be explained at least partially by an under-enumeration of births at a period when the Qatari civil registration system was just beginning, this was certainly not the case in the period between the 2004 and the 2010 censuses. The only plausible conclusion is that, during the period between these two censuses, there was a massive naturalization of about 13,400 people, representing approximately 5.6 percent of the country’s citizens in the 2010 census.
The Qatari natural increase data also indicates massive naturalization during the period between the two censuses, particularly in 2007 and 2008. While according to the calculations based on the Qatari natural increase data, the number of Qatari nationals increased from 215,199 in mid-2007 to 232,267 in mid-2008, the actual natural increase in those twelve months was less than 7,000 (see Tables 2 and 3), namely, about 10,500 less than the actual growth. However, since it is not clear when this large-scale naturalization actually occurred, it is reasonable to divide the “extra” growth beyond the natural increase equally across the 6-year period between the two censuses.
Some analysts estimate that 88 percent of Qatar’s population is made up of migrant workers. But Qatar has made no progress in abolishing laws that effectively force foreign workers into slavery.
With the beginning of the Persian Gulf states’ oil era, but particularly following the October 1973 oil boom, these states were confronted with two options for closing the gap between their labor needs and the available supply: Adopt the labor migration policies of the developed world and naturalize vast numbers of foreign laborers, or import temporary labor migrants in order to solve shortages in the short run. This second option was eventually implemented by all of the Gulf oil states including Qatar. It was hoped that in the not-too-distant future, the majority of the required workforce would be supplied by nationals through substantial investments in education and professional training on the one hand and by generous pro-natalist measures that would encourage high fertility rates on the other. This policy was adopted in response to the fear that large-scale naturalization of foreigners, even of Sunni Arabs, could upset the “intimate nature” of these societies. There was also a fear of the introduction of “revolutionary-republican ideologies” by Egyptians, Syrians, Palestinians, or Lebanese migrants, which could potentially topple the royal houses whose legitimacy and hold on power were becoming increasingly tenuous in a modern world.
Thus, in each of the Gulf oil states, the authorities enacted laws to prevent the naturalization of foreign workers, even Sunni Arabs and even if they had lived in the country for decades. Nor would birth in one of the Gulf states entitle newborns to citizenship or even permanent residency. The naturalization laws in each of these states are so strict that even marriage of a foreign male to a Gulf female does not grant citizenship to the husband. On the other hand, a foreign woman who marries a Gulf male does become a citizen of the host country. This difference is due to the fact that according to the Shari’a (Islamic law), the religion of children follows that of the father. Therefore, the vast majority of non-natives who have received citizenship in these countries are females married to GCC males. Only in exceptional circumstances have the authorities granted citizenship to a male foreigner; their number, in any case, was insignificant.
In the case of Qatar, before the Citizenship Act (No. 38) of 2005, foreigners were granted citizenship solely at the emir’s discretion. The new act provides for the first time a legal mechanism by which a foreigner can apply for Qatari citizenship. According to the new law, Qatari citizenship may be obtained for those who fulfilled the following conditions: (a) residency in Qatar for at least twenty-five consecutive years; (b) the ability to speak Arabic; (c) a clean criminal record; and (d) a lawful means of income. In addition to these conditions, those born to a naturalized Qatari father shall be deemed a naturalized Qatari. The new law, however, limits the number of those to be granted Qatari citizenship to only fifty annually.
It should be noted in this respect that the Qatari authorities regularly insisted that the number of those who acquired citizenship in this fashion was very small. Thus, for example in a 2010 interview, Qatari emir Sheikh Hamad stated: “A policy to increase the population; we don’t have this actually. But we give [citizenship] for the people first who apply and who fulfill our own regulations. Until now there are not many who are asking.”
While official Qatar followed the common naturalization policy of the other GCC states with the majority of those receiving citizenship being foreign women married to Qatari nationals, evidence indicates that a substantial number of foreign males also succeeded in receiving Qatari citizenship.
Recently, Qatar apparently started a new process of naturalization of Bahraini Sunnis. However, as it probably began following the implementation of the 2010 census, this process is beyond the scope of this article. Moreover, since the latest publication of vital statistics annual bulletins of the QSA is from 2011, it is impossible to try to evaluate the scale of the Qatari national population following the 2010 census.
But whatever the number of naturalized citizens in Qatar, the major contributor to the rapid growth of the indigenous Qatari population since the 1970s has been natural increase.
Qatar University College of Pharmacy. Eighteen female pharmacy students receive their bachelor of science degrees from Qatar University College of Pharmacy, November 30, 2011. It is probable that the decline in the fertility rate of Qatari women has been due to both a substantial increase in the number of indigenous females receiving post-secondary education and to delayed marriages.
Since there are no official vital demographic statistics prior to 1980, the only possibility for estimateing Qatar’s natural increase rate during the 1970s is through comparison with other countries with similar socioeconomic conditions. According to the ECWA estimate, in 1975 the crude birth rate of the indigenous Qatari population was approximately 50 per 1,000 while the crude death rate was 20 per 1,000. The total fertility rate in 1975 was estimated at 7.2 (see Table 3). These values are quite similar to those which prevailed in other Gulf countries at that time. For example, Kuwait’s CBR amounted to 51.1 in 1975 while the TFR was measured at 7.2. Thus, an average natural increase rate of about 3.1-3.3 percent (31-33 per 1,000) during the first half of the 1970s is a reasonable estimate for Qatar as well.
Like other Gulf oil states, Qatar’s natural increase rate rose rapidly following the onset of the oil boom, due to a sharp decline in CDR as greater oil revenues translated, in part, into better health services and a sharp rise of living standards. According to ECWA’s estimate, in 1980, Qatar’s natural increase rate climbed to 4.1 percent (with a CBR of 51 and a CDR of 10); an average of 3.7 percent annual increase during the second half of the 1970s can, therefore, be reasonably assumed.
Due to its nearly exclusive reliance on oil revenues, Qatar fits the classic model of a rentier state, that is, a country that receives a considerable portion of its national revenues from the sale of its natural resources to external clients. Qatar has no income tax, and its citizens are recipients of generous subsidies and extensive social welfare programs. As a result, Qatar is pro-natalist by its very nature, like other rentier states.
Since more than 80 percent of Qatari males work in the public sector, family allowances are, in effect, granted to almost all citizens.
In addition to the indirect pro-natalist measures, there are also various direct pro-natalist measures, first and foremost generous family allowances for each child of male heads of households who are employed in the governmental sector. Since more than 80 percent of the Qatari males work in the public sector, family allowances were and still are in effect granted to almost all citizens. Further, the high salaries and luxury work conditions (without any work-reward causation) offered its national employees can be construed as pro-natalist behavior as are the various full subsidies of public services, including healthcare and education, as well as high subsidies on housing, foodstuffs, and energy products.
The impact of these measures can be seen in the demographic data. In total contrast to what would be expected in line with the “demographic transition theory” (i.e., after a sharp decline in death rates, fertility rates decline substantially), during the 1980s, and particularly in the second half of the decade, despite a sharp decline in infant and child mortality rates and the rapid increase in life expectancy, the fertility rate of indigenous Qatari women only declined slightly. By 1986, the total fertility rate of indigenous Qatari females was 5.8 (see Table 6), a rate much lower than it had been a decade earlier but still very high in comparison to other Arab countries.
This pattern continued through the 1990s when despite great improvements in both healthcare and educational services (which led, in effect, to healthcare indicators similar to those of the developed world), Qatar’s fertility rates remained very high. By 1997, the total fertility rate was 5.8, identical to 1986. While the significant improvement in these services led to a substantial delay in first births, their cumulative number remained the same (see Table 6).
This trend ended, however, by the early 2000s with the fertility rate of Qatari women gradually declining to 3.4 in 2012. It is probable that this decline, marked especially by the drop in births to women under the age of twenty-four, was due to both a substantial increase in the number of indigenous females receiving post-secondary education and to delayed marriages.
At least by 2004, the Qatari authorities had acknowledged the problem and established the Permanent Population Committee (PPC) to promote higher fertility. Its main objective was to, “Raise the current natural population increase rate for nationals, or at least maintain it to achieve an appropriate balance among Qatar’s total population.” In its 2011 annual report, the committee specifically declared that the main objective of Qatar’s population policy was to “increase the proportion of citizens among [the] total population.” This aim was to be achieved mainly through encouraging and facilitating marriages among Qatari citizens; the adoption of policies that would reduce delayed marriage, especially of girls; facilitating the remarriage of divorcees and widows; providing loans for housing; reducing the cost of dowries, and giving family allowances that would increase according to the number of children per couple. In addition to these financial incentives, the Qatari authorities have recruited prominent religious figures who constantly emphasize the religious duty of marriage and childbearing.
Birth in Qatar does not entitle newborns to citizenship; the marriage of a non-Qatari male to a Qatari female does not grant citizenship to the husband or to the child. As a result, these children are denied privileges such as free electricity and water, subsidized food products, free education, and government jobs set aside for nationals.
Thus far, not only have all of the demographic projections for Qatar totally failed, but they have not even been maintained for a decade. For example, in the mid-1990s, the World Bank projected that Qatar’s total population, both nationals and foreigners, would reach 693,000 in 2010 and increase to 769,000 in 2020. Even more recent projections were wildly inaccurate. In 2004, for example, the Population Division of the U.N. projected that Qatar’s population would total 874,000 in 2050. In 2009, analysts Berrebi, Martorell, and Tanner quoted a forecast by the U.S. Census Bureau that “in 2020, the population [both Qataris and non-Qataris] is expected to exceed 1.1 million people.” By the time the article was published, Qatar’s population was already much higher, amounting to 1.64 million in mid-2009.
The failures of these projections were largely due to two factors: First is the impossibility of predicting Qatar’s high demand for foreign labor, even in the short run. The country’s economic development during the past decade has been unique—even among the GCC countries—with a real GDP growth rate of 17.7 percent in 2008, dipping to 12 percent in 2009, and then accelerating to the incredible level of 16.6 percent in 2010. In 2012, Qatar’s per capita GDP was the highest worldwide, amounting to more than $102,000 (in purchasing power parity terms). This rapid economic expansion was accomplished through the massive import of foreign workers who were the main contributors to Qatar’s population increase during the past two decades. The second factor for the demographic projections failure was the lack of knowledge of the number of Qatari citizens, which made it impossible to predict their nominal growth even in the short run.
Despite pro-natalist measures, the fertility rate of indigenous Qatari women has gradually declined since the early 2000s.
Overall, the following three components will dictate future demographic developments for the indigenous Qatari population:
The natural increase rate. Despite significant pro-natalist measures, the fertility rate of indigenous Qatari women has gradually declined since the early 2000s. In 2012, the total fertility rate of indigenous Qatari females was quite similar to that of Jordanians and only a little bit higher than in Egypt, both of which had implemented open, anti-natalist policies, at least until the onset of the Arab upheavals. However, in Egypt and Jordan, the total fertility rate is approximately 3.1-3.3 due to a huge difference between low fertility rates in the urban centers and much higher fertility rates in rural and peripheral areas, yielding an average TFR of 3.1-3.3. Qatar’s current fertility rate, by contrast, is due to the great financial benefits given to all nationals, which in practice overshadow the various specific, pro-natalist incentives. What else can the Qatari government give its nationals in order to increase their fertility rate? In other words, Qatar, as the most rentier state worldwide, has no more “carrots” for encouraging its nationals to increase their fertility level. Thus, Qatar’s current TFR is probably at the highest level possible under the current rentier system while in Egypt and Jordan, for example, the fertility level is more elastic and could rise or decline, in line with the natalist policy. Consequently, Qatar’s fertility rate is projected to stabilize at 3.0-3.2 for the foreseeable future.
The age pyramid. However, even if the fertility rate continues to decline to less than three children due to its current, wide-based age pyramid (see Table 5), Qatar’s indigenous population will continue to increase rapidly at least into the foreseeable future—a result of the “demographic momentum” phenomenon, i.e., the tendency for a population to continue to grow because the number of women of reproductive age will continue to increase for a number of decades before finally stabilizing. Therefore, it is reasonable to predict an average natural increase rate of 2.6-2.7 percent for the coming decade and approximately 2.3-2.5 percent for the decade following. The natural increase rate of the indigenous Qatari population is expected to go down not only due to declining fertility rates but because of an increasing crude death rate as the percentage of the elderly population naturally increases due to the sharp decline of the fertility rates since the early 2000s.
The naturalization scale. Among the three components, this is the least knowable. This is the case not only because Qatari authorities have not published any data on naturalization but also because, as previously discussed, naturalization in Qatar occurred in two large, unexpected waves that had hitherto been undetected. Thus, if there is a next large-scale naturalization, it will probably also be unexpected and consequently unpredictable.
Despite the fact that the latest publication of the annual bulletin of vital statistics of the QSA is from 2011 and that the scale of naturalization since the 2010 census is unknown, it would be reasonable to assume that the number of Qatar’s citizens has increased by about 4 percent annually since the implementation of the 2010 census. Thus, one can conclude that in early 2015, the number of Qatar’s citizens will total approximately 290,000 and will increase to about 440,000-470,000 in 2030.
Achieving high population growth by encouraging a high natural increase rate was and still is the basic demographic policy of the Qatari authorities. In this respect, the emirate is no different from other GCC states, such as the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait. However, both censuses and official natural increase data indicate that the Qatari population grew significantly also due to two waves of naturalization.
Who are these “new Qataris”? Was this mass naturalization a consequence of a huge labor shortage? Unfortunately, the Qatari authorities have barely mentioned the issue of naturalization and have never acknowledged any form of mass naturalization.
Qatar may continue to act according to its current super rentier policies due to its huge per capita income. It has also enjoyed unusual economic growth for a GCC country as the result of a rapid increase in liquefied natural gas exports and a massive development of infrastructure. It remains to be seen how the new emir, Sheikh Tamim, will run the country with a much larger indigenous population and with a much larger national workforce which cannot be employed almost exclusively in the public sector, as is currently the case.
Onn Winckler is associate professor in the department of Middle Eastern History, University of Haifa, specializing in political demography and economic history of the Arab countries. The author thanks Noa Josef and Fany Pesahov for their assistance in data.
The Year then followed by the three columns:
(a) Semi-official and
(b) Author’s calculation
(c) Author’s estimate
1970 (c) 45,039(c) – 47,700(c)
(c) = census; (uo) = unofficial estimate; (so) = ESCWA semi-official data; * End of the year; ** See Table 2.
Sources for Semi-official and unofficial estimates: 1970: British Embassy in Beirut, Middle East Development Division, by N.B. Hudson, The First Population Census of Qatar, Apr./May 1970 (Beirut, Oct. 1970), p. 17; 1975 (uo): J.S. Birks and C.A. Sinclair, International Migration Project, Country Case Study: The State of Qatar (University of Durham, Department of Economics, February 1978), table 1, p. 6; 1980 (so): ECWA, Demographic and Related Socio-Economic Data Sheets for Countries of the ECWA, No. 3 (Beirut, May 1982), table 1, p. 131; 1985 (uo): HRD Base Ltd., Lloyds Bank Chambers, Socio-Demographic Profiles of Key Arab Countries (Newcastle, May 1987), table 1, p. 151; 1986 (so): ESCWA, Population Situation-1990, table 9.1, p. 153; 1986 (uo): Gulf Labour Markets and Migration (GLMM).; 1990 (uo): Birks, Sinclair & Associates Ltd., GCC Market Report-1990 (Durham: Mountjoy Research Centre, May 1990), table 1.1, p. 108; 1992 (uo): Birks, Sinclair & Associates Ltd., GCC Market Report-1992 (Durham: Mountjoy Research Centre, 1992), table 1.1, p. 82; 1994 (so): ESCWA, Demographic Data Sheets, No. 8 (1995), table 1, p. 92; 1996 (so): ESCWA, Demographic Data Sheets, No. 9 (1997), table 1, p. 84; 1997 (uo): Gulf Labour Markets and Migration (GLMM). Available at: gulfmigration.eu/population-by-na…; 1998 (so): ESCWA, Demographic Data Sheets, No. 10 (1999) table 1, p. 83; 2000: ESCWA, Demographic Data Sheets, No. 11 (2001), table 1, p. 116; 2004 (uo): Gulf Labour Markets and Migration (GLMM); 2010 (uo): Matthew Gray, Qatar: Politics and the Challenge of Development (Boulder, CO.: Lynne Rienner, 2013), p. 222;Mehran Kamrava, Qatar: Small State, Big Politics (Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press, 2013), p. 5; Gulf Labour Markets and Migration (GLMM).
Year and again column we present here but which are better viewded in the original
CBR = Crude birth rate; CDR = Crude death rate; NI = Natural increase
The formula for calculating: N = E(X) (Under the assumption of a binomial distribution) P; N = Total Qatari citizens; E(X) = The nominal number of the natural increase; P = NI (natural increase) per 1 Qatari citizen. Sources: CBR and CDR: Qatar Information Exchange; Live births and Deaths: Table 3.
Table 3: Natural Increase Rates in Qatar, 1975-2010 (author’s calculations)
Total Fertility Rate
– No data available.
The CBR and CDR were calculated by the average of Qatari citizens each year. For example, the average Qatari citizens in 1998 was their number at the end of 1997 plus their number at the end of 1998 divided by 2 (155,664 + 160,533 : 2 = 158,099).
Sources: Natural increase, 1975: “Available Demographic Socio-Economic Data for Countries of the ECWA Region,” Population Bulletin of ECWA, Nos. 10-12 (1978), p. 25; 1980-1982: Vital Statistics Annual Bulletin, 1st Issue, 1984 (Doha: Central Statistical Organization, Sept. 1985), table 2, p. 2; table 19, p. 30; 1983-1992: Vital Statistics Annual Bulletin, 9th Issue, 1992 (Doha: Central Statistical Organization, June 1993), table 2, p. 5; table 25, p. 59; 1993-1999: Vital Statistics Annual Bulletin, 16th Issue, 1999 (Doha: Central Statistical Organization, July 2000), table 2, p. 5; table 25, p. 61; 2000: Vital Statistics Annual Bulletin-2009, 26th Issue (Doha: Qatar Statistics Authority, July 2010), tables10 and 28; 2001-2010: Vital Statistics Annual Bulletin-2010, 27th Issue (Doha: Qatar Statistics Authority, July 2011), table 3; 2011: Annual Statistical Abstract-2012 (Doha: Qatar Statistics Authority, 2013), chapter 3, tables 2 and 10; Total Fertility Rate, The data on the TFR except for the 2005-2007 period is taken from Table 5.; The Data for the 2005-2007 period is taken from: Vital Statistics Annual Bulletin-2009, 27th Issue (Doha: Qatar Statistics Authority, July 2010), table 1.
Number of births
Number of infant deaths (0-1)
* Since the census was implemented in mid-March, the live births and infant deaths were not included Jan., February and half of March; ** Since the census was implemented in mid-March, the infant live births and deaths were included Jan., February and half of March.
Sources: Live Births, 1987: Vital Statistics Annual Bulletin, 4th Issue (Doha: Central Statistical Organization, June 1988), table 4a, p. 4; 1988-1997: Vital Statistics Annual Bulletin, 14th Issue, 1997 (Central Statistical Organization, June 1998), table 2, p. 5; table 4.1, p. 7; Infant deaths, 1987: Vital Statistics Annual Bulletin, 4th Issue (Doha: Central Statistical Organization, June 1988), table 38, p. 77; 1988-1997: Vital Statistics Annual Bulletin, 14th Issue, 1997 (Doha: Central Statistical Organization, June 1998), table 39, p.123; table 41, p. 128.
Table 4b: Qatari Nationals Ages 0-10 in 2010
Number of births
Number of infant deaths (0-1)
* Data include the period of May-Dec.; ** Data include the period of Jan.-Apr.
Sources: Live Births, 2000: Vital Statistics Annual Bulletin-2000, 17th Issue (Doha: Central Statistical Organization, Apr. 2001), table 4-1, p. 7.; 2001-2004: Vital Statistics Annual Bulletin-2009, 27th Issue (Doha: Qatar Statistics Authority, July 2011), table 3.; 2005: Vital Statistics Annual Bulletin-2005, 22th Issue (Doha: Central Statistical Organization, Sept. 2006), table 7-1, p. 25; table 44, p. 205.; 2006-2009: Vital Statistics Annual Bulletin-2009, 27th Issue (Doha: Qatar Statistics Authority, July 2011), table 3.; 2010: Vital Statistics Annual Bulletin-2010, 26th Issue (Doha: Qatar Statistics Authority, July 2010), table 6-1.; Infant deaths, 2000: Vital Statistics Annual Bulletin-2000, 17th Issue (Doha: Central Statistical Organization, Apr. 2001), table 41, p. 168.; 2001-2009: Vital Statistics Annual Bulletin-2010, 26th Issue (Doha: Qatar Statistics Authority, July 2010), table 53.; 2010: Vital Statistics Annual Bulletin-2010, 26th Issue (Doha: Qatar Statistics Authority, July 2010), table 20.
Age group Year 0-4 5-9 10-14 15-19 20-24 25-29 30-34 35-39 40-44 45-49 50-54 55-59 60-64 65-69 70-74 75+ Total Qatari population
(a) =Include the period of May 2000-Apr. 2005; (b) = Include the period of May 2005-Apr. 2010
Sources: 2004, 0-3 age group: Vital Statistics Annual Bulletin-2004, 21th Issue (Doha: Central Statistical Organization, June 2005), table 1.7, p. 26; table 44, p. 208; Vital Statistics Annual Bulletin-2007, 24th Issue (Doha: Qatar Statistics Authority, July 2008), table 5, p. 26; table 44, p. 208; 3 years and above: At-Ta’dad al-’Amm lil-Sukan wal-Masakin-2004 (2004 Census) (Doha: Majlis at-Tahtit, Dec. 2004), table 1, p. 141; table 8, p. 154; 2010, 0-9 age group: Table 4.b.; 10 years and above: The General Census of Population and Housing, and Establishment, Apr.-2010 (Doha: Qatar Statistics Authority, 2010), table 24.
Table 6: Age-Specific Fertility Rate, Qatari Indigenous Women, 1980-2012
Year Age Group 1980 (so) 1984 (so) 1986 (o) 1988 (so) 1992 (so) 1994 (so) 1997 (o) 2000 (o) 2004 (o) 2008 (o) 2009 (o) 2010 (o) 2011 (o) 2012 (o)
o = Official Qatari data; so = Semi official data (ECWA/ESCWA).
Sources: 1980: ECWA, Demographic Data Sheets, No. 3 (1982), table 2, p.132.; 1984: ESCWA, Demographic Data Sheets, No. 4 (1985), table 2, p. 124.; 1986: Women and Men in the State of Qatar: A Statistical Profile-2006 (Doha: Central Statistical Organization, Apr. 2006), p. 27; 1988: ESCWA, Population Situation-1990, table 9.4, p. 156; 1992: ESCWA, Demographic Data Sheets, No. 7 (1993), table 3, p. 108; 1994: ESCWA, Demographic Data Sheets, No. 8 (1995), table 3, p. 94.; 1997: Women and Men in the State of Qatar: A Statistical Profile-2006 (Doha: Central Statistical Organization, Apr. 2006), p. 27; 2000: Qatar Information Exchange; 2004: Women and Men in the State of Qatar: A Statistical Profile-2006 (Doha: Central Statistical Organization, Apr. 2006), p. 27; 2008-2011: Woman and Man in the State of Qatar: A Statistical Profile-2012 (Doha: Qatar Statistics Authority, 2013), table 1/5, p. 16.; 2012: Qatar Information Exchange. Available at: www.qix.gov.qa.
The research for this article is mainly derived from two kinds of sources:
(a) Official Qatari data, which includes two types of materials. The first is the five censuses which Qatari authorities implemented, beginning in April 1970 and most recently in April 2010.
The second is drawn from the Qatari civil registration system and ongoing demographic and health statistical publications. Although Qatar implemented its first census in 1970, it did not have an accurate system of vital demographic registration until the early 1980s. In 1980, the Central Statistical Organization (CSO) was established and, in 1998, it was integrated into the Planning Council. In June 2007, the Statistics Authority (QSA) was established as a new independent governmental agency.
(b) ECWA/ESCWA publications. The U.N. Economic Commission for Western Asia (ECWA) was established in 1973. In 1985, the name of the organization was changed to the U.N. Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia. The data provided by ECWA and ESCWA since the early 1980s is quite detailed. In addition to providing the total number of Qatari citizens according to sex and age groups, it covers a wide range of other demographic parameters such as the crude birth and death rates, age-specific fertility rates, and in some years, even the scale and structure of the indigenous workforce. However, in many cases, the estimates provided by ECWA/ESCWA were not accurate, and in some instances, there was quite a substantial gap between the data it provided and the estimates from our research on the number of the Qatari nationals.
The “accuracy hierarchy” supposition on which this research is based is that since the mid-1980s, the most reliable data is that published by the Qatari authorities themselves, followed by that published by ECWA/ESCWA. Unofficial estimates have been credited with little accuracy as their research methodology was not specified. This article did not use any data from the World Bank or the CIA, as the demographic data published by both organizations lumps the Qatari nationals and the foreign population into one group without any distinction between them.
In light of the above-mentioned accuracy hierarchy, the Qatari official data served as a “fulcrum” on which the calculated estimates were based regarding both the total number of Qatari citizens and their natural increase. In many cases, ECWA/ESCWA’s data serve either to check the probability of the Qatari official data or as a supplement to Qatari partial official data.
 Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait, Oman and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
 Jure Snoj, “Population of Qatar,” bq magazine (Doha), Dec. 18, 2013.
 “History of Census in Qatar,” Qatar Statistics Authority, Doha, accessed Jan. 15, 2015.
 Allen J. Fromherz, Qatar: A Modern History (London and New York: I.B. Tauris, 2012), p. 1.
 Population and Development, Issue No. 6: Development Policy Implication of Age-Structure Transitions in Arab Countries (New York: U.N. Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia, 2013), annex I, table 1, p. 67; The Population Situation in the ECWA Region-Qatar (Beirut: U.N. Economic Commission for Western Asia, 1980), p. 8.
 N.B. Hudson, The First Population Census of Qatar, April/May 1970 (Beirut: British Embassy in Beirut, Middle East Development Division, Oct. 1970), p. 17.
 Ibid., pp. 3-4.
 J.S. Birks and C.A. Sinclair, Country Case Study: The State of Qatar, International Migration Project, (Durham: University of Durham, Feb. 1978).
 Women and Men in the State of Qatar: A Statistical Profile-2006 (Doha: Central Statistical Organization, Apr. 2006), table 1/4, p. 96.
 At-Ta’dad al-Amm li-l-Sukan wa-l-Masakin-March 1997 (Doha: Majlis at-Tahtit, Feb. 1999), table 13, p. 65.
 The natural increase between the two censuses included the natural increase growth for the period of Mar.-Dec. 1986, the whole period of 1987-1996 and that of Jan., Feb., and half of Mar. 1997 since the census was implemented on Mar. 16.
 According to the 1997 census data, the age group of 15-65 represented 51.3 percent among the males but 54.5 percent among the females. See Women and Men in the State of Qatar, p. 16.
 At-Ta’dad al-Amm li-l-Sukan wa-l-Masakin-March 2004 (Doha: Majlis at-Tahtit, Dec. 2004), table 1, p. 141, table 8, p. 154.
 Vital Statistics Annual Bulletin-2010, 26th issue (Doha: Qatar Statistics Authority, July 2010), table 10, p. 29, table 53, p. 201.
 The natural increase growth between the 1997 and the 2004 censuses was calculated as follows: half of the natural increase in March 1997 plus the whole natural increase of the rest of that year; the natural increase of the whole period of 1998-2003; and the natural increase of Jan., Feb., and half of Mar. 2004.
 Census of Population and Housing, and Establishment, April-2010 (Doha: Qatar Statistics Authority, 2010), table 24, p. 91.
 The natural increase growth between the two censuses was calculated as follows: half of the natural increase in Mar. 2004 plus the whole natural increase of the rest of that year; the natural increase of the whole period of 2005-09; and the natural increase of Jan.-Mar. and two-thirds of Apr. 2010.
 Since there is no available data for the age group of 55-59 each year, the total population of this age group was divided by 5 (since this cohort contains 5 years) and multiplied by 4 (since only 4 not 5 years are needed for the comparison), thus producing 2,606 people for the age group of 55-58.
 At-Ta’dad al-Amm li-l-Sukan wa-l-Masakin-March 2004, table 1, p. 141, table 8, p. 154.
 Census of Population and Housing, and Establishment, April-2010, table 14; Summary Results of 2010 Population, Housing and Establishments Census (Doha: Qatar Statistics Authority, 2010), table 2-1, p. 11.
 See Gianluca P. Parolin, Citizenship in the Arab World: Kin, Religion and Nation-State (Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 2009), p. 116; Gulf News (Dubai), Apr. 3, 2005.
 Baquer Salman al-Najjar, “Population Policies in the Countries of the Gulf Co-operation Council,” in Abbas Abdelkarim, ed., Change and Development in the Gulf (London: Macmillan Press and New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1999), pp. 138-9.
 Nasra M. Shah, “The Management of Irregular Migration and Its Consequence for Development: Gulf Cooperation Council,” ILO Working Papers, International Labour Organization, Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific, Bangkok, Mar. 2009, p. 8.
 See, for example, Philippe Fargues, “Immigration without Inclusion: Non-Nationals in Nation-building in the Gulf States,” Asian and Pacific Migration Journal, no. 3-4 (2011), p. 273.
 Law No. 38 of 2005 on the acquisition of Qatari nationality, 38/2005, Qatar Legal Portal (al-Meezan); Zahra R. Babar, “Citizenship Construction in the State of Qatar,” Middle East Journal, Summer 2014, pp. 411-3; Gulf News, June 6, 2006.
 Financial Times, Oct. 24, 2010.
 Asharq al-Awsat (London), Sept. 18, 2014; Justin Gengler, “Bahrain Drain: Why the King’s Sunni Supporters are Moving Abroad,” Foreign Affairs, Sept. 5, 2014.
 Statistical Abstract of the Region of the Economic Commission for Western Asia, 1970-1979, 4th issue (Beirut: U.N. Economic Commission for Western Asia, 1981), table 1-2, p. 174.
 Demographic and Related Socio-economic Data Sheets for Countries of the ECWA, no. 3 (Beirut: U.N. Economic Commission for Western Asia, May 1982), tables 2, 3, pp. 132-3.
 “World Population Policies-Qatar,” Population Studies, no. 102, vol. 3, U.N. Department of International Economic and Social Affairs, New York, 1990, pp. 39-40.
 “Labor Force Sample Survey-2011,” Qatar Statistics Authority, Doha, Nov. 2011, pp. 11-2, 14.
 For comparison, see Onn Winckler, Arab Political Demography: Population Growth, Labor Migration and Natalist Policies (Brighton and Portland: Sussex Academic Press, 2009), table 2.4, pp. 62-3.
 Bulletin on Population and Vital Statistics in the Arab Region, no. 16 (New York: U.N. Social and Economic Commission for Western Asia, 2013), table 77, p. 102.
 The State of Qatar’s Population Policy (Doha: Permanent Population Committee, Oct. 2009), p. 13.
 Annual Report-2011 (Doha: Permanent Population Committee, Jan. 2012), p. 8.
 The State of Qatar’s Population Policy, p. 13.
 World Population Projections, 1994-95 Edition, The World Bank (Baltimore and London: John Hopkins University Press, 1995), p. 442.
 World Population to 2030 (New York: U.N. Dept. of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division, 2004), table A11, p. 200.
 “Qatar,” International Data Base, U.S. Census bureau, Dec. 2013.
 Claude Berrebi, Francisco Martorell, and Jeffery C. Tanner, “Qatar’s Labor Market at a Crucial Crossroad,” Middle East Journal, Summer 2009, p. 429.
 Annual Abstract-2014 (Doha: Qatar Statistics Authority, 2014), table 5.
 “Qatar: 2012 Article IV Consultation,” IMF Country Report No. 12/18, International Monetary Fund, Washington, D.C., Jan. 2012, table 1, p. 27.
 “Qatar Economic Insight-2013,” Qatar National Bank, Doha, Nov. 2013, p. 2.
 For a detailed methodological examination of the various demographic sources used in the article, see Appendix A.
Related Topics: Demographics, Persian Gulf & Yemen | Onn Winckler | Spring 2015 MEQ This text may be reposted or forwarded so long as it is presented as an integral whole with complete and accurate information provided about its author, date, place of publication, and original URL.
Moderate rebel groups are suffering. The Islamic State and Nusra are gaining ground. And Washington’s piecemeal efforts are worthless. Here’s a grand plan worth paying for.
By Robert S. Ford
The current U.S. strategy in Syria isn’t working. Despite the coalition airstrikes against the Islamic State, the group still has strategic depth in Syria to back its campaign in Iraq. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime, meanwhile, isn’t fighting the Islamic State — it’s locked in combat with the moderate opposition. Despite Washington’s hope for a national political transition away from Assad, there is no sign of a cease-fire, much less a comprehensive political deal.
More than ever, Americans — and Syrians — need to ask themselves what has gone wrong and what can be fixed. U.S. strategy needs to center on taking back ground from the Islamic State and driving a wedge between Assad’s small ruling circle and his increasingly wobbly support base so that a new government can be established to rally more Syrians against the jihadis. Reinforcing Syria’s moderate rebels is still the key component in achieving these goals, but we — and they — have to get the strategy and tactics right.
The quiet end to the Syrian armed opposition’s Hazm Movement, with which the Americans had worked in northern Syria, was the latest signpost of the current failed policy. With aid coming too little and too late, the movement was easily knocked aside by al Qaeda-linked extremists who gained new territory and border crossings. It is far from the only moderate rebel group to suffer large setbacks in recent months: Others are simultaneously under attack from Assad regime forces (which are strongly reinforced by Iranian and Hezbollah troops), jihadis from the al Qaeda-affiliated Nusra Front, and the Islamic State.
Meanwhile, the Americans didn’t ramp up aid to the secular moderates when they needed it most. Instead, assistance to moderate Syrian fighters has been small and erratic, and the rebel fighters have been badly divided by foreign states parceling out desperately needed aid among multiple groups. This has created a vicious cycle, forcing the moderate rebels to compete against each other and to sometimes cooperate with al-Nusra Front. That in turn has aggravated foreign states and scared off any regime elements that might want to negotiate a deal, thus extending the war of attrition to the benefit of the Islamic State.
The larger package deal is vital. Simply increasing material aid to the moderate fighters in northern and southern Syria, even by huge amounts, won’t be enough. The key is settling on a revised strategy that establishes a unified command structure for the non-jihadi opposition.
This unified structure must be the sole conduit for external funding, arming, and training. It must include the main non-jihadi rebel groups and must be led by a Syrian who enjoys wide support from Syrians fighting on the ground and from foreign states. Those who refuse to follow orders from the unified command must be cut off from any assistance. This is the only way to end the fragmentation that has long plagued the moderate armed opposition and to ensure it will support any eventual negotiation.
Ankara has been trying to exploit extremists to fight both the Assad regime and the PYD, the terrorist PKK-affiliate operating in Syria. A U.S. strategy that provides greater support for moderate forces fighting Assad and the jihadis, and which also ends U.S. actions that foster Kurdish separatism in Syria, could convince Turkey to abandon this path. SustainabiliTank.info editor takes exception from this last proposition that originates with the author iof this paper!}
While U.S. military aid to the Syrian Kurdish fighters from the PYD helped to combat the Islamic State around the northern city of Kobani, it also fosters the PYD’s separatist ambitions. The PYD has already unilaterally announced an autonomous zone in northern Syria, which has spurred fearful Arab tribes in the area either to back Assad or the Islamic State. The U.S. emphasis on using Syrian Kurds against the Islamic State won’t end the jihadi threat — it will only aggravate it, and the broader Syrian conflict. The Syrian Kurds’ demand for decentralization may be the only way to reassemble a shattered Syria one day, but for now, the Americans and their allies must tell the PYD that autonomous zones only belong as part of longer-term political negotiations involving all Syrians.
Hugely boosted U.S. aid to the Syrian opposition should come with strings attached — a lot of them. In return for increased support, the Syrian opposition writ large must agree on these six conditions:
1) That armed groups receiving assistance from the newly created central command will obey its orders only.
2) That the armed opposition will stop atrocities against civilian communities that have backed the Assad regime and that the armed opposition command will accept responsibility for actions of its constituent groups.
3) That the armed opposition will sever all ties with al-Nusra Front.
4) That the armed opposition’s leadership must constantly reiterate that it is not seeking to destroy Christian, Alawite, or other minority communities and is prepared to negotiate local security arrangements, including with Syrian Arab Army elements, to protect all Syrians.
5) That it will negotiate a national political deal to end the conflict without Assad’s departure as a pre-condition.
6) That any political coalition purporting to lead the opposition must have genuine representation from minorities and top-level businessmen in Syria — communities that have, broadly speaking, supported Assad’s government — and that representation will not come mainly from long-term expatriates.
Implementing these steps would help create a moderate rebel force able to confront the Islamic State and al-Nusra Front, and also pave the way for a real national political negotiation. If U.S. regional partners and the Syrian opposition won’t accept the strategy and the tactics to make it work, or if the Obama administration won’t expand its level of assistance and the air mission, then Washington needs to drop the goal of significantly degrading the Islamic State in Syria over the next several years.
It would be better for American credibility to walk away than try more halfhearted measures in Syria.
It would be better for American credibility to walk away than try more halfhearted measures in Syria.
After two years of experience, we should realize that limited actions aren’t enough to address the major threats emanating from Syria. Our foreign partners want U.S. vision and leadership to contain extremists and launch a successful negotiation for a Syrian unity government, which is the only sustainable fix to the extremist threat. Let’s give it to them.
A Week before the Elections in Israel and it looks already that Democracy will be Reinforced by bringing the Arabs into the Israeli Government or at least make them the Official Leaders of the Opposition.
The following article expresses the realism we wrote about earlier – that the Palestinian issue will find a solution only if the Israeli Arabs will pick it up as part of the only democracy in the Middle East – the State of Israel. So, activism of the Israeli Arabs is a good thing for everyone as long as it is done as part of the Israeli democracy. Seemingly, the Arab citizens of Israel have found a true leader in Ayman Odeh of Haifa who understands how political democracy can help the cause of all Israeli citizens including its Arabs, and by doing so will help also the Arabs outside borders of Israel.
To be successful in bettering their own positions, the Arabs of Israel will now fight for the common interest on the side of all other citizens of Israel – these interests are SOCIAL JUSTICE AND PEACE. By playing their cards within the system they could be part of the new government or at least be recognized as the in-land political loyal opposition.
Ayman Odeh, leader of the joint Arab ticket, talks about equality, peace and a lasting settlement. Ayman Odeh’s Campaign
Until this election cycle there were four Arab parties represented in the Israeli parliament. They were very different, ranging from: the Chadash party, (originally the Israeli Communist party), which has always included Jews and Arabs; Balad-Ta’al, two highly nationalistic, but secular parties; and the Islamic party, whose platform is reflected in its name.
Previous attempts to unite these parties into a single list failed, due to the large ideological differences between the groups. However, the last Knesset passed a law, sponsored by the party of Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, that raised the threshold of votes a party is required to receive before it can be admitted to the Knesset.
Many believe that Lieberman’s unstated goal to was to push the Arab parties out of the Knesset. Indeed, in a debate held before this interview, Lieberman turned to the Odeh and said, “You are here for now.”
At the time of writing, polls show the United Arab List receiving 12 places in the upcoming Knesset, although many believe that that number will grow to as many as 15 seats as the existence of the United List will result in an increase in Arab Israeli participation in this election. For the Center-Left to win this election it is clear that the joint Arab slate will be key—minimally in blocking Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s ability to build a coalition.
I met the leader of Hadash who heads the joint Arab effort, Ayman Odeh, toward the end of long day. The fatigue was visible on his face, as well as on the faces of his weary campaign staff. With just two weeks to go until the election, there was no time to lose for this 40-year-old, who was born and grew up in Haifa, has a law degree and is married with two children.
Odeh has the personality of a natural politician. He immediately put me at ease. In a Clintonian manner, he knew how to make me feel that (at least for the moment) I was the center of his world. The mission he accepted—i.e. holding together his diverse coalition and becoming a significant player on the larger Israeli political scene, will be a challenge. Here is a condensed transcript of our conversation that took place in Hebrew:
Tell me a little about your background and why you got into national politics?
Odeh: I was a member of the Haifa City Council when I was 23 years old, which made me the youngest city councilman in Israel. When I began my political career, I identified with Malcolm X. After two or three years, I evolved—and not to a small degree—because of my service on the council in the city of Haifa, which is the most liberal multicultural yet homogenous city in Israel.
As a result of that experience I was transformed from being someone who believed that either the Jews or the Arabs could survive here, to someone who thought that Arabs and Jews must work together. I began to feel that I now must follow in the footsteps of Martin Luther King, who believed in working together.
So I began to look for the good in all the residents. I understood that what is generally good for people in distress is good for the Arab population; that democracy is good for the whole country, including the Arab population. I learned that social justice benefits the whole population, including the Arab citizens.
This attitude shift helped me connect to all sorts of groups. Four years ago, I sat for a whole month on Rothschild Boulevard (the place where the Israeli social protest movement began). I believe I was the only Arab to do so. I was the one who helped develop the slogan “The people demand social justice.” At the first demonstration, people were initially chanting all sorts of slogans. But in Egypt the people had already been demonstrating, shouting “The people want.…” so I borrowed the phrase “the people want” and added “social justice.”
My ideological transformation was part of my political maturation, choosing to become part of the greater whole. This does not mean that now I ignore the specific needs of the Arabs in Israel. On the contrary, as part of the greater whole, I can better address the needs of the Arab community.
Now, in every party meeting of our Joint List I say, yes, we will address the needs of Arab Israelis, but not only the needs of Arab Israelis. We will have 15 seats in the upcoming Knesset. We will raise our hands in support for the handicapped, for the pensioners, for all of the weaker sectors.
Do you think the four parties you represent who came together will be able to work together—minimally for the medium term, not to mention for the long-term?
Odeh: When our four parties began to work together we discovered that our positions are actually very close to each other. Together we developed both long-range and more immediate plans. The long-term plans talk about peace, based on the U.N. Resolutions: equal rights for everyone in the country; social justice for everyone; and equality between people in the State of Israel. As to our short-term achievable goals, I am developing a plan, which the other groups support. I have a ten-year plan to close the socioeconomic gaps between Jews and Arabs.
We have many disagreements on the nationalist level. I, Ayman, will not give up on any of my national rights. I will continue to speak about them. However, there are some things that we do not need to fight over—for example, equal civil rights, employment in general, employment of women, elimination of violence, recognition of the recognized Bedouin villages in the South and bus service to the underserved Arab towns. I put forth 90 new civil programs, and I have expert opinions from economists who agree that within two years the country would directly benefit from my plan.
When I speak about our national rights, people respond by saying, “How scary.” But it is not scary. It would be good for both of us. I tell you, I want two nations here by choice. I want two cultures here. That is good for me. It adds something important for me. We are all richer because there are two nations and two cultures here. Let’s focus on the positive things that unite us and not what separates us.
There was a recent Ha’aretz Newspaper poll showing that 70 percent of the Arab population in the country are more interested in matters of economics and daily life than questions about the Palestinian issue. How do you respond to those findings?
I will not run away from the nationalistic issue. Our society, our joint society will never be a moral society as long as we occupy another people, not only from a moral and democratic point of view but also economically. Instead of wasting money in the occupied territories, money should be spent here in Israel for the good of all of us—for education, for health and for social programs. However, all of what I just said here is secondary to the fact that the Palestinian people have a right, just like all people in the world, to have their own state.
What do you respond to Israelis who say, “Yes, we agree with you theoretically, but if you look at the state of the Arab world at the moment, this is not the time to make drastic any changes?”
Odeh: Let’s look at the reality of the world around Israel. Israel made peace with Egypt, the largest Arab State. There are militant Islamists there, but there is also law. There are agreements and also defense arrangements there. So, was it better to make an agreement with Egypt or not?
Now let’s look at Jordan, the country with which we have the longest border. Jordan is home to members of the Muslim Brotherhood. In Jordan, there are Salafim, and there are even some members of ISIS.
However, there is a monarchy that runs an independent government. In Jordan there is law and there is security cooperation. Where there is law, and where there is government, there is security. Therefore, I believe it is better for there to be clear borders and independence.
The Palestinian Arabs accept the framework that they will get a state on 22 percent of the land that they dreamed of. I believe that you cannot push them any further to the wall. There is an historic opportunity. Abu Mazen [Mahmoud Abbas, leader of the Palestinian Liberation Organization] is a pragmatic person, a peace loving person, in everyone’s opinion—other than the opinion of the Israeli government.
While Abu Mazen [Abbas] might have the image of someone who wants peace, doesn’t he have the image of being a weak leader?
Odeh: Abu Mazen has proved he can control the West Bank. There have been very, very difficult events for the Palestinian people, and despite these outbreaks and the ongoing occupation Abu Mazen has shown he can maintain order—even though in reality, that is not his job. If he successfully brings accomplishment to his people, his position will be strengthened. He is weak because he does not succeed. It is the Israeli government who prefer him weak.
Why do you think during the last few years there has been such a rise in racist actions against Arabs in Israel?
Odeh: I will explain something that might sound backwards. I believe that since the Bar-Ilan speech by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the right wing has understood that there is no choice (i.e. there will have to be a Palestinian State.) This realization by the right wing has fueled racism towards the Arab citizens of Israel. MK [Member of the Knesset] Avigdor Lieberman speaks every Monday and Thursday against the Arab citizens of Israel. Yet even Lieberman, when he repeats his slogan “Um-El -Fahem [an Arab Israeli town] to Palestine,” is implicitly recognizing that there will be a Palestinian State.
In 2006, Prime Minister Netanyahu said that the main danger to Israel was not the Arabs in the territories but, rather, the Arabs inside Israel. In some ways I think he is correct. The Arab population does not want to turn inward and be isolated, it could throw all of its weight into the political process.
The Arab population should not sit on the side and wait until 50 percent of the Israeli population is convinced about some of our views. We can be satisfied if we are able to convince 30 percent of the Jewish population. Then together with our 20 percent we will be at least 50 percent. This is the reason the right wing attacks us.
All we have to do is become determined to get involved in the political game and the right wing will be in big trouble.
I have to ask the question that everyone asks—If you are asked by [chairman of the Labor Party and Leader of the Opposition] Yitzhak Herzog to join the government, will you?
Odeh: The most important thing is that the Netanyahu government, which has been so bad for all parts of the Israeli population, must come to an end. However, at the same time, we are not in Herzog’s pocket. If and when we get to that junction [where Herzog approaches us], then we will decide.
Assuming you have approximately 15 seats—which is (more or less) the number people expect you to have—what do you think you can accomplish?
Odeh: If Yitzhak Herzog is the one picked to form the government, he should have the courage to rely on us. His party (actually it was the Labor party, under the leadership of Yitzhak Rabin) had good experiences when they relied on us as a blocking guard. We want the next government to be one that seeks peace and equality. We plan to bring our population what they deserve.
If there is one large coalition government compromising Labor and Likud, we will be the head of the opposition. Then, for the first time in history, the head of the opposition will receive foreign visitors. I will bring up the issues facing the Arab population to those who visit.
The head of the opposition speaks after the Prime Minister in the Knesset and receives government briefings. All of this will happen for the first time in history—That will be a good position for us to be in.
Historian Marc Schulman is the editor of historycentral.com. An archive of his recent daily reports from Tel-Aviv can be found here. A longer version of this interview can be found at historycentral.
An Austrian Academic is worried that Europe might be in the process of losing its Jews – and worse – getting Muslims incited against the ‘non-believers’ in their place. His article appeared in Die Presse.
“Die Presse”, Print-Ausgabe, 24.02.2015
Ein Prediger in Saudiarabien verkündet, dass die Erde stillstehe. Bei uns werden massenweise Bücher verschenkt, die per manipulativer Vermischung von Islam und Wissenschaft im Stil des Kreationismus nachweisen wollen, dass Charles Darwin falschlag. So etwa „Der Evolutionsschwindel“ des türkischen Schriftstellers Adnan Oktar.
Aber der Islamische Staat tötet im Namen seines Islam massenhaft „Ungläubige“, und besagter Autor leugnet nicht nur die Evolution, sondern auch den Holocaust. Munter verbreitet er bekannte jüdisch-freimaurerische Weltverschwörungstheorien gegen den Islam. Und natürlich inszenierte der US-Geheimdienst CIA 9/11 selbst, um einen Anlassfall für einen Kreuzzug des Westens gegen den Islam zu haben. Leider werden solche lächerlichen Ideen weltweit von vielen Muslimen geglaubt – auch in Europa.
Der Kern jeder modernen liberal-aufgeklärten und demokratischen Staatlichkeit ist die Trennung von Glauben und Wissen, von Religion und Staat. Dies ist aber dem Islam systemfremd. Mittlerweile ist er zwar Teil Europas, viele Muslime sind aber noch immer nicht angekommen, weil sie die europäischen Grundprinzipien weder verstehen noch akzeptieren wollen. Mit ein wenig Integration ist es nicht getan, zumal 70 Prozent der heimischen Imame diese ablehnen und torpedieren. Um wirklich anzukommen, muss der Islam sich letztlich selbst aufklären.
Europaweit glaubt eine seltsame Allianz zwischen einem islamischen und einem rechtsradikalen Bodensatz an die jüdische Weltverschwörung. Dass die Hetze gegen Juden da wieder in Schwung kommt, braucht uns daher nicht zu wundern.
Der Exodus aus Frankreich ist nur die Spitze des Eisbergs. Antisemitische Beschimpfungen und Schmierereien sind in Europa längst wieder „Normalität“, auch in Österreich. Die Schwelle zur physischen Gewalt sinkt beständig. Satte europäische Bürger schauen irritiert(?) weg – so wie damals, als Juden in Wien per Zahnbürste die Straßen putzen durften. Und ach so humanistische Linke skandieren auf ihren Demos gegen Israel antisemitische Parolen, schweigen aber zum neuen Megaskandal.
Angesichts der langen Geschichte der Pogrome wäre jede Begründung für den Schutz jüdischer Mitbürger eine zu viel. Dennoch: Juden waren und sind maßgebliche Träger der europäischen Kultur, der Wissenschaften und Künste. Beim Islam muss man sehr weit zurückgehen, um Ähnliches behaupten zu können.
Wien etwa verlor mit der Vertreibung und Vernichtung der Juden das kulturelle und wirtschaftliche Rückgrat, die Universität ihr großartiges wissenschaftliches Profil, wohl eine der nachhaltigsten Verwüstungen durch die Nazi-Herrschaft. Das mag nach Semitophilie klingen, ist aber im Kontrast zum mangelnden kulturell-wissenschaftlichen Beitrag des Islam zur europäischen Bürgergesellschaft schlicht eine Tatsachenfeststellung.
Die neue Hetze gegen die Juden in Europa richtet sich gegen unsere zentralen Werte, gegen aufgeklärtes Denken und Liberalität. Sie ist ein alarmierendes Symptom für ein Europa auf Talfahrt.Ob wir alle Charlie sein wollen, bleibe dahingestellt, angesichts der Skepsis gegenüber dem Ausleben von Meinungsfreiheit mittels Beleidigung. Aber es ist hoch an der Zeit, dass wir endlich alle Juden sind. Je sui Juif. Ganz ohne Wenn und Aber.
Kurt Kotrschal ist Zoologe an der Uni Wien und Leiter der Konrad-Lorenz-Forschungsstelle in Grünau.
E-Mails an: debatte at diepresse.com
Kurt Kotrschal is an Austrian intellectual, professor at the Vienna University – product of the State of Salzburg where he studied with an Erwin-Schrödinger fellowship and followed up with a year at the University of Colorado in Denver – his topic was the evolution of fish and the development of nervous systems.
We found in our e-mails that Kurt Kotrschal participated in 2012 in a discussion we attended – a Karl-Renner-Institut backed event.
Montag, 19. November 2012, 20.00 Uhr
Podiumsdiskussion zu Richard Sennett: “ZUSAMMENARBEIT. Was unsere Gesellschaft zusammenhält.”
Moderation: CORINNA MILBORN
The News from Aleppo are that people there dream of rebuilding Syria. We wish them best of luck but know this dream will not be fulfilled because Syria was never a Nation State and thus can not be cobbled back together again.
A daring plan to rebuild Syria — no matter who wins the war.
Thanassis Cambanis, a fellow at The Century Foundation, is the author of the forthcoming “Once Upon a Revolution: An Egyptian Story.” He is an Ideas – columnist and blogs – at thanassiscambanis.com.
He writes from Beirut: With the battle still ongoing, a huge team of Syrian planners plots the restoration of Aleppo and beyond.
Then … The first year of Syria’s uprising, 2011, largely spared Aleppo, the country’s economic engine, largest city, and home of its most prized heritage sites. Fighting engulfed Aleppo in 2012 and has never let up since, making the city a symbol of the civil war’s grinding destruction. Rebels captured the eastern side of the city while the government held the west. The regime dropped conventional munitions and then barrel bombs on the rebels, who fought back with rockets and mortars. In 2012, the historical Ottoman covered souk was destroyed. In 2013, shelling destroyed the storied minaret of the 11th-century Ummayid Mosque. Apartment blocks were reduced to rubble. More than 3 million residents fled, out of a prewar population of 5 million. Today, residents say the city is virtually uninhabitable; most who remain have nowhere else to go.
In terms of sheer devastation, Syria today is worse off than Germany at the end of World War II. Bashar Assad’s regime and the original nationalist opposition are locked in combat with each other, and also with a third axis, the powerful jihadist current led by the Islamic State. And yet, even as the fighting continues – a movement is brewing among planners, activists and bureaucrats — some still in Aleppo, others in Damascus, Turkey, and Lebanon — to prepare, right now, for the reconstruction effort that will come whenever peace finally arrives.
Critics dismiss the ongoing planning effort as a premature boondoggle, keeping technocrats busy creating blueprints that will have to be revised when fighting finally ebbs. But Thierry Grandin, a consultant for the World Monuments Fund who has worked and lived in Aleppo since the 1980s and is currently involved in reconstruction planning, disagrees. “It is good to do the planning now, because on day one we will be ready,” Grandin says. “It might come in a year, it might come in 20, but eventually there will be a day one. Our job is to prepare.”
Across Syria, more than one-third of the population is displaced.
The task they have before them beggars comprehension. Across Syria, more than one-third of the population is displaced. Aleppo is in tatters, its center completely destroyed. The population exodus has claimed most of the city’s craftsmen, medical personnel, academics, and industrialists.
‘It is good to do the planning now, because on day one we will be ready. It might come in a year, it might come in 20, but eventually there will be a day one. Our job is to prepare.’ — Thierry Grandin, consultant for the World Monuments Fund.
To find a similar example of planning during wartime before the outcome was known, you have to go back to World War II. Allied forces spent years preparing for the physical, economic, and political reconstruction of Germany and Japan even before they could be sure who would win. Today, Americans tend mostly to recall the symbolic reconstruction after the war: the Nuremberg trials and the Marshall Plan, a colossal foreign aid program.
But undergirding those triumphs was the vast logistical operation of erecting new cities. It took decades to clear the moonscapes of rubble and to rebuild, in famous targets like Dresden and Hiroshima but in countless other places as well, from Coventry to Nanking. Some places never recovered their vitality.
Since then, a litany of divided and devastated cities has been left by other conflicts. Even those that eventually regained a sense of normalcy, like Beirut, Sarajevo, or Grozny, generally survived rather than thrived. Only a few countries — East Timor, Angola, Rwanda—offer what Syrian planners call “glimmers of hope,” as places that suffered terrible man-made disasters and then bounced back.
Of course, Syrian planners cannot help but pay attention to the model closest to home: Beirut, a city almost synonymous with civil war and flawed reconstruction. The planners and technocrats in the UN ESCWA tower overlook a gleamingly restored but vacant downtown from behind a veritable moat of blast barriers and sealed roads. Shell-pocked abandoned buildings stand as evidence of the tangled ownership disputes that have held back reconstruction a full quarter-century after the Lebanese civil war.
“We don’t want to end up like Beirut,” one of the Syrian planners says, referring to the physical problems but also to a postwar process in which militia leaders turned to corrupt reconstruction ventures as a new source of funds and power. He spoke anonymously; the Future of Syria team, which is led by a former Syrian deputy prime minister named Abdallah Al Dardari, doesn’t give on-the-record briefings. Since their top priority is to maintain buy-in from Syrians on all sides, they try to avoid naming names so as not to dissuade people they hope will use their plans when the war ends.
Syria’s national recovery will depend in large part on whether its industrial powerhouse – Aleppo – can bounce back. Until 2011, Aleppo had been celebrated for millenniums for its beauty and commerce. The citadel overlooking the center is a world heritage site. The old city and its covered market were vibrant, functioning exemplars of Islamic and Ottoman architecture, surrounded by the wide leafy avenues of the modern city. Aleppan traders plied their wares in Turkey, Iraq, the Levant, and all the way south to the Arabian peninsula. The city’s workshops, famed above all for their fine textiles, export millions of dollars’ worth of goods every week even now, and the economy has expanded to include modern industry as well.
Today, however, the city’s water and power supply are under the control of the Islamic State. Entire neighborhoods have collapsed under regime bombing and shelling: government buildings, hospitals, landmark hotels, schools, prisons. Aleppo is split between a regime side with vestiges of basic services, and a mostly depopulated rebel-controlled zone, into which the Islamic State and the Al Qaeda-affiliated Nusra Front have made inroads over the last year. A river of rubble marks the no-man’s land separating the two sides. The only way to cross is to leave the city, follow a wide arc, and reenter from the far side.
For now, said an architect who works for the rebel government in Aleppo under the pseudonym Tamer el Halaby, today’s business is simply survival, like digging 20 makeshift wells that fulfill minimal water needs. (He prefers not to have his real name published for fear that the government might target relatives on the other side of Aleppo.) Parts of the old city won’t be inhabitable for years, he told me by Skype, because the ground has literally shifted as a result of bombing and shelling.
Close to a thousand Syrians have consulted on the Future of Syria project, which comprises at least two ambitious initiatives rolled into one. The first and more obvious is creating realistic options to fix the country after the war—in some cases literal plans for building infrastructure systems and positioning construction equipment, in other cases guidelines for shaping governance.
At the Future of Syria, hospital administrators, civil engineers, and traffic coordinators each work on their given fields. They’re familiar with global “best practices,” but also with how things work in Syria, so they’re not going to propose pie-in-the-sky ideas. These planners also understand that who wins the construction contracts will depend on who wins the war. If some version of the current regime remains in charge, it will probably direct massive contracts toward patrons in Russia, China, or Iran. The opposition, by contrast, would lean toward firms from the West, Turkey, and the Gulf.
“Who will have the influence in Syria after the conflict? That will dictate who is involved in redevelopment. It all depends on who ends up being in political control,” says Richard J. Cook, a longtime UN official who supervised postconflict construction in Palestinian refugee camps and now works for one of the Middle East’s largest construction conglomerates, Dar Al-Handasah Consultants (Shair and Partners). Along with other companies, Dar Al-Handasah has offered its lessons learned from Lebanon’s reconstruction process to Syrian planners, and plans to compete to work in postwar Syria.
That leads to the second, more subtle, innovation of the Future of Syria project. For its plans to matter, they need to be politically viable no matter who is governing. So the planners have worked hard to persuade experts from all factions to contribute to the 57 different sectoral studies, hoping to come up with feasible rebuilding options that would be considered by a future Syrian authority of any stripe. Today, nearly 200 experts work full time for the project.
At the current level of destruction, the project planners estimate the reconstruction will cost at least $100 billion. Regardless of how it’s financed—loans, foreign aid, bonds—that’s a financial bonanza for whoever controls the reconstruction process. Some would-be peacemakers have suggested that reconstruction plans could even be used as enticements. If opposition militants and regime constituents think they’ll make more money rebuilding than fighting, they might have a Machiavellian incentive to make peace.
Underlying the details—mapping destroyed blocks, surveying the condition of the citadel, studying sewers—are bigger philosophical questions. How can a destroyed city be rebuilt, when the combination of people, economy, and buildings can never be reconstituted? Can you use reconstruction to undo the human damage of sectarianism and conflict? Recently a panel of architects and heritage experts from Sweden, Bosnia, Syria, and Lebanon convened in Beirut to discuss lessons for Syria’s reconstruction—one of the many distinct initiatives parallel to the Future of Syria project.
“You should never rebuild the way it was,” said Arna Mackic, an architect from Mostar. That Bosnian city was divided during the 1990s civil war into Muslim and Catholic sides, destroying the city center and the famous Stari Most bridge over the Neretva River. “The war changes us. You should show that in rebuilding.”
In the case of Mostar, the UN agency UNESCO reconstructed the bridge and built a restored central zone where Muslims and Catholics were supposed to create a harmonious new postwar culture. Instead, Mackik says, the sectarian communities keep to their own enclaves. Bereft of any common symbols, the city took a poll to figure out what kind of statue to erect in the city center. All the local figures were too polarizing. In the end they settled on a gold-colored statue of the martial arts star Bruce Lee.
“It belongs to no one,” Mackic says. “What does Bruce Lee mean to me?”
“You are being democratic without the consequences of all the hullabaloo of formal democratization,” says one of the Syrian planners who has contributed to the Future of Syria project and spoke on condition of anonymity.
What is certain is that putting Syria back together again is likely to be as least as expensive as imploding it. A great deal of money has been invested in Syria’s destruction— by the regime, the local parties to the conflict, and many foreign powers. A great deal of money will be made in the aftermath, in a reconstruction project that stands to dwarf anything seen since after World War II.
How that recovery is designed will help determine whether Syria returns to business as usual, sowing the seeds for a reprise of the same conflict—or whether reconstruction allows the kind of lasting change that the resolution of war itself might not.
We posted this out of admiration for people that seem to want to try to forget the terrible reality by drowning it in a lake of hope for which they have no good reason.
The reality is that Syria was never a Nation State in the Western sense – but its creation was only a sliver of the larger Levant region of the Ottoman Empire. The carving up of that region into would-be States of Lebanon, Palestine, Syria, and Iraq, was not done along National, Ethnic, Religious, or Language line – but rather according to future colonial administrative lines – and eventually the inhomogeneity of so called States had to find the cracks that broke up all these foreign pots. Lebanon had its explosion earlier and as Mr. Cambanis writes – Beirut could not be restored to its old true form. Syria is not like Germany that was in many sense united and then clearly defeated by a major power that led allies on which it imposed the notion that only by rebuilding but deNazifying it – peace can eventually be achieved in Europe. Having been split temporarily into two States Germany eventually reunified to become a power again. There is nothing of the kind in Syria where for years despots from a minority ruled over the very mixed majority. Now this majority has split along many lines and one future outcome will have to be a separate State for the Kurds that eventually will brake the French-British imposed borders, that did not respect the more logical Ottoman division of the region, and have been invalidated now.
Aleppo will eventually find its place in one of the resulting outcome states – separate from Damascus – perhaps indeed be the Capital of that State; it will be built again out of its ashes, but it will not be rebuilt in the sense of its becoming a direct continuation of a has-been that is no-more. Who knows – a connection of Aleppo to what is now Lebanon is not a farfetched idea.
from the International Press Institute (Vienna, Austria, based) – Saturday, 21 February 2015.
A screenshot of the Al Monitor website featuring a video marking the news organisation’s first anniversary. Established on Feb. 13, 2012, the site provides reporting and analysis by prominent journalists and experts from the Middle East and draws from more than two dozen media partners.
VIENNA, Feb 26, 2014 – Opens external link in new window Al-Monitor, an edgy news and commentary site launched in the aftermath of the Arab Spring that brands itself as “the pulse of the Middle East”, is the recipient of this year’s International Press Institute (IPI) Opens external link in new windowFree Media Pioneer Award, IPI announced today.
“Al-Monitor’s unrivalled reporting and analysis exemplify the invaluable role that innovative and vigorously independent media can play in times of change and upheaval,” IPI Executive Director Alison Bethel McKenzie said. “Al-Monitor’s editors and contributors produce a must-read daily overview of a complex region in a coherent, introspective and independent way. Its team includes some of the best minds and analysts from around the world who cut through the daily chaff and give readers an insightful summary of what is happening.”
Al-Monitor is scheduled to receive the award at the Opens external link in new windowIPI World Congress, which takes place April 12 to 15 in Cape Town, South Africa. Also in Cape Town, IPI will present its World Press Freedom Hero award to Iranian journalist Opens external link in new windowMashallah Shamsolvaezin, the former editor of the banned Iranian newspapers Kayhan, Jame’eh, Neshat, and Asr-e Azadegan. He was jailed numerous times for his criticism of government policies.
With civil war engulfing Syria, turmoil in Egypt and political upheaval across the Middle East, Al-Monitor stands out as a one-stop source for diverse news and viewpoints. Recent features include a report on female journalists in the front lines of regional conflicts and an article highlighting the arrest of an Egyptian filmmaker, who – like numerous journalists in Egypt – was detained for spreading “false news”.
The 2014 Free Media Pioneer award marks a departure from past winners by honouring a regional news organisation.
“We believe this is where Al-Monitor stands out, providing an important bridge of information to a region where many of the individual nations face major press freedom challenges,” Bethel McKenzie said. “Its ability to draw on many voices from the region is unmatched in the Middle East.”
For the past three years, the award has been sponsored by the Argentinean media company Infobae Group.
Divers stumble across Israel’s biggest ever discovery of gold coins
By Jethro Mullen, CNN February 18, 2015
Nearly 2,000 gold coins were discovered in the ancient harbor of Caesarea, Israel.
Nearly 2,000 gold coins had sat at the bottom of the sea for around 1,000 years
(CNN)The divers initially thought the gleaming object they noticed on the seafloor off the Israeli coast was a toy coin from a game.
But they quickly realized they had stumbled across something a whole lot more valuable in the ancient Mediterranean harbor of Caesarea.
Their chance discovery a few weeks ago led to a trove of nearly 2,000 gold coins that had languished at the bottom of the sea for about 1,000 years, the Israel Antiquities Authority said Tuesday.
It’s the biggest hoard of gold coins ever discovered in Israel — and it could lead to further archaeological finds.
“There is probably a shipwreck there of an official treasury boat which was on its way to the central government in Egypt with taxes that had been collected,” said Kobi Sharvit, director of the Marine Archaeology Unit of the antiquities authority.
He offered other theories about the origin of the treasure.
Perhaps the coins were meant to pay the salaries of a military garrison in Caesarea, Sharvit speculated, or came from a merchant ship that sank while traveling from port to port along the Mediterranean coast.
Marine archaeologists are planning to carry out salvage work at the site to find out more.
The coins themselves come in several different denominations and are very well preserved, the antiquities authority said. The oldest of them is a quarter dinar minted in Palermo, Sicily, in the second half of the ninth century.
Most of the pieces, though, are from the Fatimid Caliphate, the Shiite Muslim empire that ruled large parts of North Africa and the Middle East around the turn of the first millennium.
Sharvit said he believed the coins, of various dimensions and weights, had been uncovered by winter storms.
He thanked the people who found the treasure — members of a local diving club — for quickly reporting their discovery rather than trying to keep the coins for themselves.
“These divers are model citizens,” he said. “They discovered the gold and have a heart of gold that loves the country and its history.”
A photo shows 50 Shi’ite Muslim pilgrims from India pray at a shrine located on the grounds of Barzilai Medical Center in the coastal town of Ashkelon February 8, 2015. REUTERS/Amir Cohen
ASHKELON, Israel: About 50 Shi’ite Muslim pilgrims settle down to chant and prostrate themselves in worship near an ancient tomb.
Not an unusual scene in the Middle East, but this shrine is located on the grounds of an Israeli hospital known mainly for treating the casualties of conflict in the nearby Gaza Strip.
The Barzilai Medical Centre in the coastal town of Ashkelon is home to a tomb where, in the view of some Shi’ite Muslims, the head of Hussein ibn Ali, grandson of the Prophet Mohammed, lay interred for centuries following his death in battle.
“We pray, first of all, to respect the head of Hussein because he was martyred,” the worshippers’ leader, Sheikh Moiz Tarmal, told Reuters. “And we believe that if we pray here, God will listen to you.”
The slaying of Hussein in the seventh century Battle of Karbala fuelled the split between Sunni and Shi’ite Muslims that has recently erupted with renewed ferocity in conflicts in Iraq and Syria.
Many Shi’ites believe all of Hussein’s body was buried near where he died at Karbala in present-day Iraq. Others hold that his head was hidden by Sunnis in Ashkelon in the 10th century before later being spirited away to its final resting place in Egypt for safety as Crusaders invaded the Holy Land.
Among the latter are the Dawoodi Bohra, a Shi’ite sect with around a million adherents worldwide. Its members come annually on pilgrimage to the ornate marble enclosure marking the tomb on a grassy hillock within the Barzilai campus.
Moshe Hananel, an Israeli scholar who helps arrange the Barzilai visits, said some of the Shi’ite pilgrims who flock to the hospital come from countries that do not recognise Israel.
“Their entry is approved in advance,” he said, declining to name specific countries due to the political sensitivities.
Militant wings of both Sunni and Shi’ite Islam see a common foe in Israel. Shi’ite Iran backs Hamas, the Sunni Muslim faction that runs the Palestinian Gaza Strip.
“This is one of the absurdities of the Middle East. Here we have a sacred place for the Muslims, for the Shia Muslims, and on the other hand 12 km (7 miles) south of here we have other Muslims that shoot rockets at us,” said the hospital’s deputy director, Dr. Ron Lobel.
During last year’s Gaza war, Israel’s Iron Dome air defence system intercepted two Hamas rockets over Barzilai, he said.
Tarmal saw divine intervention in the hospital being spared.
“We believe it is a holy place,” he said. “Many rockets do come into Ashkelon, but that place has always been safe at the end, so we believe it is spiritual.”
(Writing by Dan Williams; Editing by Gareth Jones – Reuters.)
At the EU, sponsored by the Kreisky Forum of Vienna, there is evolving a new idea about the direction of a road to Israel/Palestine peace – a peace of Human Rights for All as bridge between the competing Nationalisms.
The Bruno Kreisky Forum for International Dialogue of Vienna is lodged in what was the private villa of the Bunderskanzler of Austria who was the pragmatic – conscious-based father of the new Austria – who, while holding different and ascending post WWII positions – managed the establishment of the Second Austrian Republic and its becoming a neutral State in the Soviet and the West stand-off.
In 1955, the Austrian State Treaty re-established Austria as a sovereign state, ending the Soviet, French, British, and US occupation zones. In the same year, the Austrian Parliament formulated the Declaration of Neutrality which declared that the Second Austrian Republic would become permanently neutral. Bruno Kreisky (22 January 1911 – 29 July 1990) was Kanzler 1970 till 1983, but in 1951, when he returned to Vienna, Federal President Theodor Körner (1951-1957) appointed him Assistant Chief of Staff and political adviser – then in 1953 he was appointed Undersecretary in the Foreign Affairs Department of the Austrian Chancellery. In this position he took part in negotiating the 1955 Austrian State Treaty, which ended the four-power occupation of Austria and restored Austria’s independence by declaring neutrality. It is said that he was the brain behind this very important political maneuvering which showed his strength of purpose.
While Austrian Chancellor, Mr. Kreisky tried to build his country’s position as the neutral go between the two blocs – East and West – during the Cold War. He also took special interest in the Middle East – and this brings us to the topic we tackle in this posting.
Upon the prodding of Israeli maverick Uri Avnery, Mr. Kreisky became instrumental in what was said – an effort to make Yassir Arafat, the head of the PLO – the Palestinian Liberation Movement – “Salon Clean” which meant – honorably acceptable in the capitals of the West.
The idea here was that if there was to be peace in the Middle East it will come through negotiations between the two local warring sides – so the Palestinians must be helped to build a world-recognized leadership. We know how this led to the principle of a TWO-STATES solution, and we know today that it seems – honesty and pragmatism – tell us that possibility was lost because the Oslo agreements were not followed to fruition. Instead a closely intermingled situation came about and with every day that passes the return to the Oslo road becomes more difficult.
The Kreisky Forum that was formed by Chancellor Vranitzky one year after Bruno Kreisky’s death – with Karl Kahane – an industrialist and Kreisky friend – and Kreisky’s son Peter – on board and the Karl Kahane Family Foundation, with the City of Vienna, the Austrian Government, and the Austrian National Bank, as main funders, is led by a Board of Directors chaired now by Rudolf Scholten, former Federal Minister of Education, Science and the Arts, Member of the Board of Oesterreichische Kontrollbank AG. The former Austrian Ambassador to the US, Mrs. Eva Novotny is Secretary and Ms. Patricia Kahane Deputy Secretary.
The Executive power is as always in the hands of the Secretary General which is since 2005 Gertraud Auer Borea d’Olmo. The devoted personal secretary to Mr. Bruno Kreisky, Margit Schmidt, currently Treasurer of the Keisky Foundation, was Secretary General of the Kreisky Forum from 1991 – 2004.
And to the point – Gertaud Auer is all set to continue the legacy left by Bruno Kreisky – the legacy of a free thinker/pragmatist who is ready to take on the potentialities of the moment in order to reach out to long-term goals. As an aside, I feel compelled to mention that I found that on the basis of an interview here in Vienna, a Greek paper knew to say that Gertraud Auer of the Kreisky Forum for International Dialogue said that the new Greek head of Government – Mr. Alexis Tsipras – whom she knows as she had him over to Vienna to speak at the Forum – has the potential to be the Bruno Kreisky of Greece.
In the matter of our topic here – the Middle East – looking through the list of advisers to the Kreisky Forum Board I found – Galia Golan, Hebrew University, Jerusalem, and Rashid Khalidi, University of Chicago, Head of the Center for International Studies – both very capable people that could help Ms. Auer in trying to be ahead of the pack of Middle East thinkers.
Ms. Auer initiated a two year study to Rethink the Middle East built around a Two-States Solution of the Kreisky days.
Eventually the group found in Mr. Bashir Bashir, an Israeli Arab intellectual researcher and lecturer at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, the editor for its project and the resulted product, recently released, is titled: “RETHINKING THE POLITICS OF ISRAEL/PALESTINE: Partition and its Alternatives.”
The result does not just move from a Two-States Solution to a One-State Solution – but in effect to a Human Rights for All Solution that does not start from numbering States – the solution is within what may look like a one State – but besides the equal rights for all frame, it does allow for Multi-Nationalism and diversity rights for all people and communities as well.
Mr. Swoboda said that as eventually the European Union will have to evolve to become a one state with a diversified Multi-National reality, this could become the working example that the new Israel/Palestine or Palestine/Israel will emulate.
I attended several book-presentation events for this Kreisky Forum study these last two weeks, at the Kreisky Forum, and at the Diplomatic Academy. Then I was informed that the show moved to Brussels where the book was presented to many members of the European Parliament and Civil Society – and yesterday – back here in Vienna – at the local venue of the European Union.
The Event in Vienna, February 16th 2015, at the House of the European Union Representation in Vienna, included a Roundtable Debate – “TOWARDS A EUROPEAN PEACE INITIATIVE” – chaired and moderated by Ms. Auer with some of the main members of her team on board, and also new faces. Those of the book were besides Mr. Avraham Burg and editor Bashir Bashir, also Ms. Inbal Arnon, associate professor at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, and Mr. Noam Sheizaf, a Tel Aviv based journalist who also runs a critical website - 972mag.com The new face is Mr. Muhammed Jabali, a young Israeli Arab from Taybeh who coordinates Art/Activist projects, occasional DJ, Adjunct lecturer at Bezalel Art School in Jerusalem, content editor at batuta.com (an Arabic language travel website), occasional project editor like when Coordinator of TheJaffaProject – an Aoutobiography of a City, by the Ayam association or when explaining that the Arab gay people of Israel did not participate in Pride Day because they did not want the foreign participants to think that being liberal when it comes to the issue of homosexuality there is also acceptance of human rights to the Arab minority.
Mr. Muhammad Jabali’s topic at the panel was: “From containment of imbalanced ethnic politics to co-resistance against it.”
I enlarged here on Jabali’s participation because I had an extensive chat with him after the meeting and explained to him that personally I believe that Israel itself, in its present structure, with its 20% Arab population – the Israeli Arabs with voting rights and for a long time already with 10 to 12 elected Members of the Knesset, could be the first example of this ONE-STATE FOR ALL SOLUTION. I believe that it is in the hands of the Israeli-Palestinians to make their presence felt in Parliament – not as thorns in the thighs of the Jewish citizens – but as full rights citizens demanding their place within the constraints of existing laws. That this is possible was shown last year when the 12 members of Parliament from the three Arab lists helped elect Reuven Rivlin as President of Israel against the will of Prime Minister Netanyahu who favored someone else. Why it took 50 years for the Arab Members of the Knesset to exercise their voting rights in this most positive way is beyond my understanding. In effect – the Arab vote could help build a government and get to be Ministers as well – really they are the only ones to blame for not having done this – and the answer that the Arabs outside Israel would never have forgiven them the effort to doing something for themselves first – does not hold water in my way of thinking, and I am sure not in Mr. Swoboda’s hopes to see change and the start towards a real target of peace. Israel will have new elections on March 17, 2015 and the Arabs expect to win 15 seats out of the total of 120 seats. Why not ask for the Ministry of housing in exchange for helping the challenger gather the needed 61 members required minimum? That is what we call rEVOlution – the evolution that is a quiet revolution; the achievement of the Kreisky Forum Study goals in an orderly democratic way.
Just a few further notions from the February 16th event:
From the introduction by Mr. Gerald Klug, the current Federal Minister of Defense and Sport (lucky Austria that can have the possibility to combine with impunity these two posts) said that we should talk not just on territory but also on “When and Why.”
Mr. Hannes Swoboda asked – “Is it for Israel and Palestine?” and answered “It is for the people of the region.” The issue before thee World and specifically before Europe is thus not merely the continuation of past efforts but a step forward with forward looking concepts.
Editor Bashir Bashir stressed that the exercise is not just wishful thinking but that the facts on the ground call for a new paradigm – one that switches from National Rights to Human Rights. This calls for rethinking Jewish Nationalism and Palestinian Activism. He stressed that he takes his Israeli citizenship very seriously and he is a product of the Palestinian Naqba.
So, it seems that the Kreisky Forum effort, as managed by Gertraud Auer Borea, can indeed move from being an ideal – to practical reality – if the Israeli Arabs move to do what is indeed in their best interest – and achievable – because despite the many shades of black and grey – Israel is still the only area in the Middle East that has a minimum of democracy, and the only Arab State that can claim some democracy in its structure is the very remote Tunisia. All the rest of the Arab World has imploded or is on a path of implosion witnessing acts of inhumanity – not just political disagreements. Let me repeat therefore that word I brought forward earlier – rEVOlution – this is not a misspelling – but a conscious effort to create a new path and my hope that the Kreisky Forum could adopt this word. This new paradigm presented by the Kreisky Forum to the European Parliament has in it the potential of saving the Arab World from itself – by starting first with Israel saving itself from itself.
Effective new oil exporters from the Middle East – The Islamic Rebel Groups in Iraq and Syria, and the Kurdish Regional Government – two budding new States in that region. They get State recognition from the buyers of their oil production.
February 18, 2015, 5:30 – 8:00 PM
PLEASE NOTE OUR NEW VENUE: McGraw-Hill Building, Two Penn Plaza (on top of Penn Station), 12th Floor, New York, NY 10121
Richard (Rick) W. Westerdale II is Director of the Energy Resources Bureau’s Policy Analysis and Public Diplomacy Office in the U.S. State Department. He leads and directs efforts to identify, analyze, and evaluate the strategic importance of policies in international energy affairs including governance, access to energy, use of renewables and low carbon technologies, and increasing access to conventional energy resources. He represents the Department in a variety of senior-level engagements and carries out official visits to advance international engagement, forge cooperation with partner-nations and establish agreements on a range of energy security policy initiatives. Prior to his current assignment in Washington, Mr. Westerdale was responsible for providing expert commercial & technical advice, guidance, and leadership in the oil and gas sector with a specialization in Energy at the United States Embassy in Baghdad, Iraq.
Karwan Zebari is currently the Director of Congressional & Academic Affairs at the Kurdistan Regional Government Representation in the United States, based in Washington, DC. Within his capacity Mr. Zebari works closely with Congress on all matters relating to Kurdistan Region of Iraq; strengthening the ties between the legislative body of the US government and the Kurdistan Regional Government. Mr. Zebari oversees all academic research dealing with the Kurdistan Region of Iraq from any US-based academic institution. Mr. Zebari holds a Bachelor degree from the State University of New York Institute of Technology and a Master from Binghamton University. In 2006, he was awarded the New York State Technology Association Scholar of the year. He has worked for several Department of Defense Aerospace & Defense contractors. He is also the co-founder of the American Kurdish Council and was the President of the New York Chapter from 2009 till 2011 where he mobilized the upstate New York Kurdish communities to become active in the local, state, and national grassroots efforts. Mr. Zebari has appeared on many local, national, and international media outlets.
MODERATOR: David Knapp
David Knapp is President, Energy Forum Advisory Board and Chief Energy Economist and Senior Editor for Global Oil Market Analysis at Energy Intelligence Group in New York. He is Editor of EIG’s monthly Oil Market Intelligence. He has analyzed energy markets for 40 years in the international, government, business and financial sectors. Dr. Knapp holds a Ph.D. in Economics from the University of California at Santa Barbara.
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PLEASE NOTE WE HAVE A NEW VENUE: McGraw-Hill Building, Two Penn Plaza (on top of Penn Station), 12th Floor, New York, NY 10121
We would be pleased to answer any questions you might have about The Energy Forum, Inc. or about this session.
Contact: Lila Noury
Scott Ritter, former US Marines’ Intelligence operator, with knowledge of the Soviets and the Middle East, Says ISIS baited Jordan into fighting back in order to throw Jordan into chaos. Watching Fareed Zakaria we learned that David Fromkin could have elaborated on this.
Scott Ritter has had an interesting track record that might point at good use of opportunism dangerous for the uninitiated.
But then, after having written the draft of our comments on the Ritter article, I had the good fortune to watch the Fareed Zacharia CNN/GPS hour of today also – Sunday, February 8, 2015.
Fareed hosted a great panel – Former Prime Minister Of Jordan – Mr. Marvin Muasher – now vice president for studies at Carnegie, where he oversees research in Washington and Beirut on the Middle East; Fawaz Gerges, Professor of International Relations at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE); and Rula Jebreal a Palestinian-Italian foreign policy analyst, journalist, novelist, and screenwriter (She was a commentator for MSNBC). But more then anything else – Fareed Zacharia reminded us of David Fromkin whose old article in Foreign Affairs explained two examples of terrorism: – the bombing of the King David Hotel North Wing by the Irgun, and a bombing in Paris by the Algerian FLN. In both cases the idea of the bombers was to pull the British and the De Gaul Government of France into over reacting – and by this create chaos that eventually leads to the terror activators victory – the Britsh leaving Palestine and the French leaving Algeria. In those cases continuing the involvement by outside forces was nomore to their advantage. But is this example of value when the two warring sides are both Arab but Islamic of different sects? But then the facts here are that in the Middle East as well – like in the French case – the victims of the perpetrators are Arab Muslims – even Sunnis – like the perpetrators.
Fromkin, noted author, lawyer, and historian, is best known for his historical account on the Middle East, “A Peace to End All Peace” (1989), in which he recounts the role European powers played between 1914 and 1922 in creating the modern Middle East.
In the CNN/GPS debate it became clear that the miserable act of burning the Jordanian pilot with modern media called in to scare the Muslim world into ISIS submission, was a calculated act – not a mere mistake.
Gerges, the most conventional among the members of the panel said that “This is about the Identity of the State in the Islamic World>” He also said that ISIS is self-destructing but the answer must come from inside the Islamic World when it realizes that ISIS is more a danger to Islam then the US and the West.
Rula said that with 20 milion Muslims in Europe – they have to be integrated – we need an economic reform that makes them part of society.
Muasher pointed out that the recent years in the Middle East were marked by (a) the 2011 Arab Uprising which left positive change only in Tunisia, and (b) the more recent ISIS that followed it as an alternative for change. Bottom line – it is for the Arab states to face this reality.
The second half of alf of Fareed’s program today dealt with Putin, the West, and Ukraine – and I found here similarities as well – but will not deal with this here. Simply – I am going back to the original draft – strengthened in the belief that what Scott Ritter writes could have been understood by David Fromkin and I wish Fareed Zacharia gets hold of Ritter’s posting.
By Scott Ritter, Reader Supported News
07 February 2015
he murder by militants from the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) of a Jordanian pilot Moaz al-Kasasbeh is being viewed by analysts as a tipping point for mobilizing public support in the region against the forces of Islamic extremism. Prior to Lieutenant Kasasbeh’s execution, public opinion in Jordan appeared to be evenly split on the issue of their nation’s participation in the US-led coalition targeting Sunni Arab Islamists in Iraq and Syria.
Now, in the aftermath of the pilot’s death, there seems to be a consensus among these analysts that a majority of Jordanians will rally around King Abdullah as he seeks revenge against ISIS by executing prisoners in Jordanian custody and considers expanding the role of Jordan in the anti-ISIS coalition. This may be the outcome in the short term, as passions flare in response to what most Jordanians view as a vicious act on the part of ISIS. The reaction of the Jordanian government (indeed all of the western world and much of the Middle East) has been predictable — so predictable that one must wonder if this is precisely the outcome desired by ISIS in killing Lieutenant Kasasbeh in such a high profile fashion, and if so, why?
The Islamic State has never hidden its desire to create a Sunni Islamic Caliphate that extends over much of the territory that comprises the modern states of Iraq, Syria and Jordan (and elsewhere, as recent events in the Sinai and Libya have shown). In the minds of many who live in the region, these three nations are artificial entities, created at the whim of western imperialists in the aftermath of the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire for the sole purpose of facilitating western economic and geopolitical ambitions at the expense of legitimate Arab nationalism and Sunni Islam. There is a growing level of resentment, especially among the ranks of young and disenfranchised males, that feeds off this perception, creating a rich pool of pre-radicalized talent from which ISIS is able to recruit.
ISIS was born from the chaos and anarchy that erupted in Iraq after the United States invaded and occupied that country, removing from power a Sunni dictator, Saddam Hussein, and replacing him with a pro-Iranian Shi’a government. ISIS was able to exploit similar chaos that engulfed Syria in 2011 during popular unrest against the government of Bashar al-Assad. Assad’s government is dominated by members of a minority Shi’a sect known as the Allawites, and has close ties with Iran and the Lebanese Shi’a militia-cum-political party, Hezbollah.
In addition to playing off of the notion of historical illegitimacy of the pro-western (and anti-Sunni Islam) governments of Iraq and Syria, the Islamic State has created a de facto Sunni-Shi’a sectarian conflict that, in and of itself, serves as a rallying cry for many of its recruits, undermining the legitimacy of any Sunni Arab country that joins in the anti-ISIS fight. It is in this context that Lieutenant Kasasbeh’s murder must be evaluated. By goading Jordan into assuming a larger role — perhaps even a leadership role — in the fight against the Islamic State, ISIS may be seeking to accelerate the process of creating social divides within Jordan that could lead to the kind of internal chaos and unrest that the Islamic extremists have shown themselves so adept at exploiting.
It will be difficult for King Abdullah to control the anger unleashed by the actions of ISIS in killing Lieutenant Kasasbeh. The Lieutenant’s family is from a large and influential tribe which, while proud of their relative’s military service, has not spoken with one voice on the Hashemite Kingdom’s policies vis-à-vis Iraq and Syria. ISIS has a long history in both Iraq and Syria of turning tribal angst to its advantage, and this may be exactly the strategy ISIS is pursuing by its gruesome actions.
There can be no doubt that what ISIS did was not an accident. Lieutenant Kasasbeh was killed on January 3, 2015 — nearly a month before ISIS began “negotiating” a prisoner exchange involving the pilot and a would-be female suicide bomber. ISIS knew that by releasing the video of Kasasbeh’s murder it would be guaranteeing the execution of its fellow Jihadists at the hands of the Jordanians.
The Islamic State also knew that the resulting public outrage in Jordan, especially amongst the influential al-Kasasbeh tribe, would push Jordan toward accepting a larger role in the fight against ISIS. And it also knows that, in assuming this role, the Jordanian King would be even further aligning himself with the United States and, indirectly, with a competing Shi’a alliance involving Iran, Iraq, Syria and Hezbollah.
Rather than serving as a tipping point for mobilizing public sentiment in the Sunni Arab world against ISIS, it seems that a case can be made that the actions of ISIS seem geared toward achieving the exact opposite reaction — the mobilization of angry, disenfranchised Sunni Arab youth inside Jordan against the actions of their King, creating the kinds of social rifts ISIS thrives upon. Jordan should proceed cautiously before agreeing to any expansion of its role in the anti-ISIS coalition. To do otherwise, and surrender to an emotional call for revenge, may very well pull the Hashemite Kingdom into the same vortex of fundamentalist sectarianism that has torn Iraq and Syria apart. And this is exactly what ISIS wants.
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+14 # Activista 2015-02-07 13:19
+8 # motamanx 2015-02-07 14:20
+6 # REDPILLED 2015-02-07 16:33
The U.S. was a mostly silent partner until WW II, when FDR entered into his Devil’s Bargain with Saudi Arabia: Saudi oil for everlasting U.S. support and protection.
Western greed and powerlust have been the root causes of most of the violent turmoil since then.
+19 # angryspittle 2015-02-07 14:23
-8 # brux 2015-02-07 14:35
-39 # brux 2015-02-07 14:35
+15 # MHAS 2015-02-07 15:43
Classic deflection. How about responding to his analysis rather than mischaracterize his politics…whic h until 2002 were that of a life-long Republican and former Marine. And as to pedophile charges, they just happened to crop up when he was exposing the lies of the W. Bush Admin in the lead up to the Iraq invasion. He has been proved right, btw….
+15 # azei2n 2015-02-07 14:56
+7 # REDPILLED 2015-02-07 16:38
+9 # Kimc 2015-02-07 14:57
+7 # dyannne 2015-02-07 16:25
+3 # Akeel1701 2015-02-07 18:01
+5 # Dale 2015-02-07 15:31
Special Ops secretly assassinate suspects
As retaliatory tactics the violence of Jijad is counterproductive,
+3 # torch and pitchfork 2015-02-07 16:16
The best way to unite the Arab tribes is with a common enemy–those that invade and occupy your land. The Islamic faith has many warring sects but the one thing that unites them all is a trespasser. In America it’s legal to shoot a home invader without consequences, why should we think it would be any different in the Middle East?
0 # Activista 2015-02-07 18:11
Scott Ritter was born into a military family in 1961 in Gainesville, Florida. He graduated from Kaiserslautern American High School in 1979, and later from Franklin and Marshall College in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, with a Bachelor of Arts in the history of the Soviet Union and departmental honors. In 1980 he served in the U.S. Army as a Private. Then in May 1984 he was commissioned as an intelligence officer in the United States Marine Corps. He served in this capacity for about 12 years. He served as the lead analyst for the Marine Corps Rapid Deployment Force concerning the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and the Iran–Iraq War.
Ritter’s academic work focused on the Basmachi resistance movement in Soviet Central Asia during the 1920s and 1930s, and on the Basmachi commanders Fazail Maksum and Ibrahim Bek. During Desert Storm, the Gulf War, he served as a ballistic missile advisor to General Norman Schwarzkopf. Ritter later worked as a security and military consultant for the Fox News network. Ritter also had “a long relationship [...] of an official nature” with the UK’s foreign intelligence spy agency MI6 according to an interview he gave to Democracy Now! in 2003.
Ritter was a United Nations weapons inspector in Iraq from 1991 to 1998 – Ritter “ran intelligence operations for the United Nations”from 1991 to 1998 as a United Nations weapons inspector in Iraq in the United Nations Special Commission (UNSCOM), which was charged with finding and destroying all weapons of mass destruction and WMD-related manufacturing capabilities in Iraq. He was chief inspector in fourteen of the more than thirty inspection missions in which he participated.
Ritter was amongst a group of UNSCOM weapons inspectors that regularly took Lockheed U-2 imagery to Israel for analysis, as UNSCOM was not getting sufficient analysis assistance from the U.S. and UK. This was authorised by UNSCOM, the U.S. U-2 having been loaned to UNSCOM, but caused Ritter to be subjected to criticism and investigation by U.S. authorities. Iraq protested about the supply of such information to Israel.
When the United States and the UN Security Council failed to take action against Iraq for their ongoing failure to cooperate fully with inspectors (a breach of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1154), Ritter resigned from the United Nations Special Commission on August 26, 1998. In his letter of resignation, Ritter said the Security Council’s reaction to Iraq’s decision earlier that month to suspend co-operation with the inspection team made a mockery of the disarmament work. Ritter later said, in an interview, that he resigned from his role as a United Nations weapons inspector over inconsistencies between United Nations Security Council Resolution 1154 and how it was implemented.
On September 3, 1998, several days after his resignation, Ritter testified before the United States Senate Committee on Armed Services and the United States Senate Committee on Foreign Relations and said that he resigned his position “out of frustration that the United Nations Security Council, and the United States as its most significant supporter, was failing to enforce the post-Gulf War resolutions designed to disarm Iraq.
Later Ritter became a critic of United States foreign policy in the Middle East. Prior to the invasion of Iraq in March 2003, Ritter stated that Iraq possessed no significant weapons of mass destruction (WMD) capabilities. He became a popular anti-war figure and talk show commentator as a result of his stance.
He has written several books on US policy, including “Dangerous Ground,” published by Nation books.
In 1999, Ritter wrote “Endgame: Solving the Iraq Problem — Once and For All” in which he reiterated his claim that Iraq had obstructed the work of inspectors and attempted to hide and preserve essential elements for restarting WMD programs at a later date. However, he also expressed frustration at alleged attempts by the CIA to infiltrate UNSCOM and use the inspectors as a means of gathering intelligence with which to pursue regime change in Iraq – a violation of the terms under which UNSCOM operated, and the very rationale the Iraqi government had given in restricting the inspector’s activities in 1998.
In the book’s conclusion, Ritter criticized the current U.S. policy of containment in the absence of inspections as inadequate to prevent Iraq’s re-acquisition of WMD’s in the long term. He also rejected the notion of removing Saddam Hussein’s regime by force. Instead, he advocated a policy of diplomatic engagement, leading to gradual normalization of international relations with Iraq in return for inspection-verified abandonment of their WMD programs and other objectionable policies.
Ritter again promoted a conciliatory approach toward Iraq in the 2000 documentary In Shifting Sands: The Truth About UNSCOM and the Disarming of Iraq, which he wrote and directed. The film tells the history of the UNSCOM investigations through interviews and video footage of inspection missions. In the film, Ritter argues that Iraq is a “defanged tiger” and that the inspections were successful in eliminating significant Iraqi WMD capabilities.
In 2003 – Just after the coalition invasion of Iraq had been launched, but prior to troops arriving in Baghdad, British Prime Minister Tony Blair told the Parliament of the United Kingdom that the United States and the United Kingdom believed they had “sufficient forces” in Iraq. At that very time Ritter offered an opposing view on Portuguese radio station TSF: “The United States is going to leave Iraq with its tail between its legs, defeated. It is a war we can not win … We do not have the military means to take over Baghdad and for this reason I believe the defeat of the United States in this war is inevitable … Every time we confront Iraqi troops we may win some tactical battles, as we did for ten years in Vietnam, but we will not be able to win this war, which in my opinion is already lost,” Ritter added.
Australian Richard Butler, Scott Ritter’s boss under the United Nations in Iraq, said that Ritter “wasn’t prescient” in his predictions about WMDs, saying, “When he was the ‘Alpha Dog’ inspector, then by God, there were more weapons there, and we had to go find them — a contention for which he had inadequate evidence. When he became a peacenik, then it was all complete B.S., start to finish, and there were no weapons of mass destruction. And that also was a contention for which he had inadequate evidence.”
In February 2005, writing on Al Jazeera’s website, Ritter wrote that the “Iraqi resistance” is a “genuine grassroots national liberation movement,” and “History will eventually depict as legitimate the efforts of the Iraqi resistance to destabilize and defeat the American occupation forces and their imposed Iraqi collaborationist government.” On December 20, 2005, in a debate with Christopher Hitchens at the Tarrytown Music Hall in Tarrytown, NY, Ritter said furthermore that he would “prefer to be an Iraqi under Saddam than an Iraqi under a brutal American occupation.”
In an October 19, 2005 interview with Seymour Hersh, Ritter claimed that regime change, rather than disarmament, has been the primary objective of President George H. W. Bush, and later of President Clinton and the second President Bush, in imposing and maintaining economic sanctions on Iraq after the Gulf War.
Ritter has also been harshly critical of Bill Clinton for politicizing the inspection process during his presidency, and of Hillary Clinton for obfuscating that record.
Ritter was a staunch Republican who voted for G.W. Bush and turned to the left. Personally – he was accused of pedophilia via the internet – first acquitted then convicted on some of the same charges.
The Organization of Islamic Cooperation voices empty condemnations of crimes in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Pakistan, Egypt/Sinai, Nigeria, Pakistan, but shows actual diplomatic steps only on Israel and find Foreign Ministers’ time to propagate for Palestine. Today this is unacceptable. The West ought not to clean their houses for them.
OIC is the Organization of Islamic Cooperation.
Its February 5, 2015 Weekly Newsletter (Issue #6 for 2015) notes the following:
· OIC Foreign Ministers delegation arrives in Norway to mobilize support for Palestinian cause
· OIC condemns the construction of 450 new settlement units
· OIC Secretary General strongly condemns killing of Jordanian pilot Mo’az Al-Kasasbah
· OIC Condemns Murder of Japanese Journalist
· OIC Secretary General Condemns Attack on Mosque in Pakistan
· OIC and IDB sign an MOU for the Management of Ebola Programme in West Africa
· OIC Secretary General Condemns Terrorist Attack in Sinai Peninsula
That is empty condemnation words of the subhuman tortured minds resulting in killings of a Jordanian, two Japanese, attacks in Pakistan and Sinai-Egypt, does not mention even the ongoing killings in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Nigeria, and all what they concentrate on by employing their Diplomats – are the Issues of Palestine and Israel.
Though this website has never backed the Netanyahu line on the Palestinian issue – today – with the subhuman behavior sported in the Muslim World – honestly – the Palestinian issue was now pushed under our desk. Simply OIC and all other organizations – Governmental or Civil Society – Your first steps to regain credibility are to be taken against the beasts that otherwise will think that crime pays. If crime does pay the bystanders are becoming criminals themselves – the evolution of the rhinoceri.
In US courts – Now new claims by Zacarias Moussaoui, a convicted former member of Al Qaeda, that had contact with the Saudi Arabian government in the prelude to Sept. 11, points his finger at three Important Princes – business partners with the Bushes. The US Government will have now to release those 28 pages of the original inquiry.
Following up on last week’s news:
WASHINGTON — A still-classified section of the investigation by congressional intelligence committees into the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks has taken on an almost mythic quality over the past 13 years — 28 pages that examine crucial support given the hijackers and that by all accounts implicate prominent Saudis in financing terrorism.
Now new claims by Zacarias Moussaoui, a convicted former member of Al Qaeda, that he had high-level contact with officials of the Saudi Arabian government in the prelude to Sept. 11 have brought renewed attention to the inquiry’s withheld findings, which lawmakers and relatives of those killed in the attacks have tried unsuccessfully to declassify.
Mr. Graham has repeatedly said it shows that Saudi Arabia was complicit in the Sept. 11 attacks. “The 28 pages primarily relate to who financed 9/11, and they point a very strong finger at Saudi Arabia as being the principal financier,” Mr. Graham said last month as he pressed for the pages to be made public.
Relatives of those killed on Sept. 11 as well as plaintiffs in a federal lawsuit against Saudi Arabia have also demanded that the pages be made public, seeing them as the vital link that they believe connects an important ally of the United States to the deadly attacks. They say the pages, Part 4 of the report, could also help in determining the source of current funding for terrorist activities.
“If we stop funding of terrorism and hold those people accountable, wouldn’t it make a dent in the financing of terrorism today?” asked William Doyle, whose son, Joseph, was killed in the World Trade Center. Mr. Doyle said that President Obama personally assured him after the death of Osama bin Laden that he would declassify that section of the report.
“Saudi Arabia has long been considered the primary source of Al Qaeda funding, but we have found no evidence that the Saudi government as an institution or senior Saudi officials individually funded the organization,” the commission said in its July 2004 report. It did note, however, the “likelihood that charities with significant Saudi government sponsorship diverted funds to Al Qaeda.”
Mr. Zelikow pointed to the more thorough investigation undertaken by the commission.
“Those involved in the preparation of the famous 28 pages joined the staff of the 9/11 Commission and participated in the follow-up investigation of all the leads that had been developed earlier,” he said Wednesday. “In doing so, they were aided by a larger team with more members, more powers and for the first time actually conducted interviews of relevant people both in this country and in Saudi Arabia.”
“And what we found is reflected in the commission report,” he said.
The Saudi government has also said it favored making the 28 pages public because that would make it easier to refute what it said were unfounded allegations. The embassy said Wednesday that it stood by that position
Representative Walter B. Jones, a North Carolina Republican pushing for the release of Part 4, said the Moussaoui claims might give momentum to the declassification effort. He said he was approached Wednesday on the House floor by lawmakers inquiring how to view the 28 pages.
“There may have been a level of participation by some Muslim country that is not commensurate with today,” he said.
Advocates of releasing the document have been frustrated by Mr. Obama, noting that Democrats were much more aggressive in pushing for its disclosure when Mr. Bush was president.
Mr. Doyle and Kristen Breitweiser, whose husband, Ronald, was killed on Sept. 11 in the World Trade Center, say the president assured them during separate meetings with families of the victims of the attack that he saw no reason the document should be withheld.
Mr. Doyle said he encouraged Mr. Obama at a meeting in May 2011 with surviving family members to follow through on a pledge he made two years earlier to Ms. Breitweiser. “He said: ‘Bill, I know about the pages. I promise I am going to get them released,’ ” Mr. Doyle recounted.
The White House said it was responding to the calls to consider releasing the material.
“This administration, in response to a congressional request, last year asked the intelligence community to conduct a classification review of this material,” said Edward C. Price, a spokesman for the National Security Council. “We did so in keeping with the standard procedure for determining whether classified information can be publicly released without jeopardizing national security. That process is ongoing.”
Saudi Princes’ Deep Ties to the West:
— Prince Turki al-Faisal, 69, is another of the king’s nephews. He replaced Prince Bandar as the Saudi ambassador in Washington in 2005 and served in that post for two years. He was the head of Saudi intelligence from 1977 until Aug. 31, 2001, and managed Riyadh’s relations with Osama bin Laden and Mullah Muhammad Omar of the Taliban.
In an interview in 2005, he said the accusation contained in a lawsuit, later dismissed, that he provided support to Al Qaeda “was kind of a slap in the face.”
— Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, at 59 is a grandson of Saudi Arabia’s founder, King Abdulaziz, and is chairman of the Kingdom Holding Company and the wealthiest member of the royal family. (The rapper Busta Rhymes namechecks Prince Alwaleed in the 2008 song “Arab Money.”) He owns Rotana, the Arab world’s largest entertainment company, and holds significant investments in Citigroup, TimeWarner, Twitter and Apple, among other companies. He had a large stake in News Corporation until Tuesday, when his company sold $188 million worth of its shares, according to Financial Times.
Some of the Comments:
Tangential it may be, judging from the comments written about this thus far the former First Lady Barbara Bush is right when she said the…
President Obama should release these classified documents. Not only is it the right thing to do, it will guarantee that no Bush will ever…
Didn’t Saudis fly out of the country one day after 9/11 when all planes were grounded, and yet no outcries.
UNSG Ban Ki-moon ought to investigate the Palestinian hold on the UN Bureaucracy – i.e. the appointment of the just resigned William Schabas of the UN inquiry on Gaza, and the apppointment in 2012 of Nasser Al Kidwa and Ahmad Fawzi to Kofi Annan’s mission to Syria.
Nasser Al-Kidwa’s full name is Sayed Nasser Arafat al-Qudwa from the Arafat al-Qudwa who according to Wikipedia “are a family of notables from Gaza and of the Ashraf class.” It is said that Yasser Arafat – the Palestinian leader – was his uncle and benefactor.
21 August 2012
“The Secretary-General of the United Nations is pleased, along with Secretary-General Nabil Elaraby of the League of Arab States, to announce the appointment today of Nasser Al-Kidwa as their Deputy Joint Special Representative for Syria.
Mr. Al-Kidwa brings to the position his extensive diplomatic experience and deep knowledge of the region, in addition to his recent involvement in United Nations peacemaking efforts in Syria as Deputy to Joint Special Envoy Kofi Annan.
In his prior career, Mr. Al-Kidwa served in various functions with the Palestinian National Authority, including as Minister for Foreign Affairs from 2005 to 2006, and Permanent Observer of Palestine to the United Nations from 1991 to 2005.”
Ahmad Fawzi was appointed in 1992 as Deputy Spokesman for United Nations Secretary-General Boutros-Ghali. He was the Director of the United Nations Information Centre in London from 1997 to 2003, during which he also served on special assignments as the Spokesman for the Secretary General’s Special Representatives on Afghanistan, Lakhdar Brahimi, and for Iraq, Sergio Vieira de Mello. Mr. Fawzi accompanied Mr. Brahimi as his Spokesman on his missions to Iraq in 2004. Thereafter, he was Director of the News and Media Division in the United Nations Department of Public Information (DPI), a position he held until his retirement in 2010. In that position I clashed with him personally – You see, I was involved in the subjects of sustainability and planet earth since before these subjects became popular – actually I was fighting at the UN – the UN – because UN people planted in the system by home interests, like Ahmad Fawzi that preferred to sweep away from sight any comment brought up by curious journalists that might have had implications regarding sales of oil or notions inconvenient to Palestinians. To me it was clear – it is all about Energy for All – but Energy, as much as possible, that does not harm the Environment. Sustainability is the word behind Sustainable Development, and Sustainability is about future generations and not about our generation.
After retirement Ahmad Fawzi and family moved to Haag, the Netherlands, to work in advocacy with the international legal institutions located in that city. A plant in a new location – also a good place to bring up hthe children as he said. From there he was brought back by UNSG Ban Ki-moon to be spokesman for Kofi Annan’s mission on Syria – as mentioned above. This mainly because his connection to the Arab League. Looking at this situation – former UNSG Kofi Annan being bracketed in between two people with clear agendas basically unacceptable to President Assad – the wags at the UN said at the time that Kofi Annan was set up to fail – so he does not upstage the present UNSG – his successor.
Monday February 2nd, 2015, Ms. Angela Kane, Since 2012 the UN High Representative for Disarmament Affairs – with previous UN experience at DPI, Political Affairs, and Management, and on Peace Making UN missions – came to the Vienna Diplomatic Academy to address the issue of Chemical Weapons: Syria and the Global Disarmament Perspectives.
Towards the end of the Q&A period I decided to ask why one of the first attempts to engage President Assad by asking former UNSG Kofi Annan to mediate, was torpedoed by putting on the mission two Palestinians with other agendas.
The answer was a clear effort to circle the wagons around the present UNSG by saying that the two individuals were perfectly qualified. Oh well – I really did not expect a different public answer. But then, just a day latter, I get the following e-mail from the Geneva based UN WATCH – and here another world of pro-Palestine UN activist-plants. In my mind the issue is just the same – the UN bureaucracy was stocked during the years with people that have an agenda – mainly backed by Saudi Oil money and probably US Oil companies as well. This was just a continuing effort to pull down the UN into business gutters.
Ban Ki-moon must investigate tainted Gaza probe.
GENEVA, Feb. 3, 2015 – The Geneva-based human rights group UN Watch welcomed the resignation of William Schabas from the UN inquiry on Gaza, and called on UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to create an independent inquiry to investigate the extent to which Schabas’ undeclared conflict of interest has now irretrievably tainted the probe, scrutinize the flawed process by which Schabas was selected, and determine whether anyone at the UN rights office in Geneva knew about his paid legal work for the PLO.
“Schabas would have had a say in the influential choice of staffers, who do a lion’s share of the work. He chaired all of the hearings where testimony was delivered and witnesses examined.”
“While absent for the final weeks of drafting, the bottom line is that Schabas masterminded and oversaw this effort for six out of its seven months, and he substantially impacted the entire process,” said Neuer.
“Because Schabas’ prior statements and actions are so prejudicial — prompting top legal scholars and his own colleagues to call for him to step down — his undeclared conflict of interest has now irretrievably tainted the entire probe and its report,” said Neuer.
Schabas: I didn’t know non-disclosure of conflict of interest was wrong, no one asked.
In his resignation letter, Schabas defends his failure to disclose his paid legal work for the PLO by saying, “I was not requested to provide any details on any of my past statements and other activities concerning Palestine and Israel.”
Schabas resignation follows sustained campaign by UN Watch.
Key moments of the campaign:
• On August 11, 2014, the day Schabas was named head of the UN’s Gaza probe, UN Watch sprang into action, demanding he step down on account of his prior prejudicial statements. UN Watch immediately released videos and quotes showing Schabas’ extreme prejudice, which were picked up worldwide.
Antisemmites from the left continue to look for arguments to discredit the right of Jews to have a State in their land of origin while granting the indigenous quality to everybody else. Canada stands by Israel opposing this.
THE FOLLOWING ARTICLE IS DISGUSTING – BUT WE RE-POST IT BECAUSE WE WANT OUR READERS TO HAVE AN EXAMPLE OF HOW US OIL INTERESTS MANAGE TO BRING RIGHT AND LEFT TO SERVE THEIR PURPOSE IN-TANDEM. TO THEM THE JEWS ARE ENEMIES OF A SMOOTH RELATIONSHIP WITH THE SAUDI OIL BARREL BARONS – AND THAT IS IT – NOTHING MORE TO SAY.
Against Our Better Judgment: The hidden history of how the US was used to create Israel, CreateSpace Publishing
If you want to know what the media doesn’t tell us about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, check out the informative website of Alison Weir, an investigative journalist who created the nonprofit organization, “If Americans Knew” and her website of the same name. If you want to know how America was bamboozled into enabling the new state of Israel in 1948, read “Against Our Better Judgment: The hidden history of how the US was used to create Israel,” Weir’s insightful new book.
US taxpayers fund military assistance to Israel at a level of more than $3.1billion a year, which enables the Israeli Defense Force to oppress Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank. Indeed, the Gaza wars of 2008-09 and 2014, which together took the lives of more than 3,500 Palestinians (mostly civilians), over 800 of whom were children, could not have been waged without American arms.
So it behooves Americans to understand the history of their government’s unconditional support of Israel. Ms. Weir’s volume, together with Rashid Khalidi’s “Brokers of Deceit,” shines a spotlight on the US role in creating and maintaining the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
How did the United States become a vigorous enabler of Israel when experts from the State Department, CIA and military all opposed the Zionist mission to create a Jewish state in Palestinian land? Ms. Weir tells that story clearly, backing up her facts with 108 pages of “endnotes” (more pages than the main text).
Even those who are well read on the Israeli-Palestinian relationship have much to learn from this slender volume. Among the hidden facts unearthed by Weir:
• US Supreme Court Justices Louis Brandeis and Felix Frankfurter were covert supporters of political Zionism in its determination to occupy the land of Palestine, a part of the Ottoman Empire that was later mandated to Britain.
• Zionists pushed for the United States to enter the First World War on Britain’s side “as part of a deal to gain British support for their colonization of Palestine.” In 1917, the Balfour Declaration, promised that Britain would “view with favor the establishment of a national home for the Jewish people,” a key document in the creation of Israel.
• As part of a State Department delegation to obtain a separate peace with the Ottoman Empire, which “would have prevented Britain from acquiring Palestine and enabling a Jewish state,” Felix Frankfurter persuaded the delegation to abandon its effort.
• At the Paris Peace Conference in 1919, Brandeis and Frankfurter lobbied for a Jewish home in Palestine, despite strong warnings that unlimited immigration of Jews would violate the Wilsonian principle of self-determination.
• During Hitler’s rise in Germany, Zionists “sabotaged efforts to find safe havens for Jewish refugees to convince the world that Jews could only be safe in a Jewish state.” According to an Israeli source, “the Nazis wanted the Jews out of Germany; the Zionists wanted them to come to Palestine.”
Zionist organizations established in the 1930s and ’40s lobbied President Harry Truman to recognize the state of Israel despite strong objections by Middle East experts. Loy Henderson of the State Department warned that the UN partition plan would “guarantee that the Palestine problem would be permanent and still more complicated in the future.” Both the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the CIA echoed that view.
Ultimately, however, Truman accepted the advice of Clark Clifford, who argued that US support for partition was necessary to win Jewish votes in the upcoming presidential election. The president’s decision set a pattern for deciding US-Middle East policy issues on domestic political grounds.
American Zionists were equally successful in lobbying the UN General Assembly, when it voted on the partition plan. According the Weir, passage of the partition resolution provoked violence against local residents, the expulsion of over 400,000 Palestinians and the May 15 declaration of the new state of Israel (which the United States was the first to recognize).
The remainder of the book describes the Israeli conquest of Palestine, with its village massacres and ethnic cleansing; the proliferation of US front groups in support of Zionist militarism; Israeli efforts (largely successful) to funnel displaced people to Palestine; and growing Zionist influence in the media. The book ends with the sad story of Dorothy Thompson, a famous journalist whose career ended with her efforts to expose the plight of Palestinian refugees.
While Ms. Weir’s text is revelatory and articulate, I wish the paperback itself were more securely bound. My copy had pages that fell out after a single reread. Clearly, the book deserves both a hardbound edition and a wide audience!
L. MICHAEL HAGER
L. Michael Hager is cofounder and former director-general of the International Development Law Organization, Rome.
SOME OF THE COMMENTS:
Maxwell • 2 hours ago
The Zionist movement has maintained a striking continuity in its aims and methods over the past century. From the start, the movement sought to achieve a Jewish majority in Palestine and to establish a Jewish state on as much of the LAND as possible. The methods included promoting mass Jewish immigration and acquiring tracts of land that would become the inalienable property of the Jewish people. This policy inevitably prevented the indigenous Arab residents from attaining their national goals and establishing a Palestinian state. It also necessitated displacing Palestinians from their lands and jobs when their presence conflicted with Zionist interests.
The Zionist movement—and subsequently the state of ISRAEL—failed to develop a positive approach to the Palestinian presence and aspirations. Although many Israelis recognized the moral dilemma posed by the Palestinians, the majority either tried to ignore the issue or to resolve it by “force majeure.” Thus, the Palestine problem festered and grew, instead of being resolved.
The Zionist movement arose in late nineteenth-century Europe, influenced by the nationalist ferment sweeping that continent. Zionism acquired its particular focus from the ancient Jewish longing for the return to Zion and received a strong impetus from the increasingly intolerable conditions facing the large Jewish community in tsarist Russia. The movement also developed at the time of major European territorial acquisitions in Asia and Africa and benefited from the European powers’ competition for influence in the shrinking Ottoman Empire.
One result of this involvement with European expansionism, however, was that the leaders of the nascent nationalist movements in the Middle East viewed Zionism as an adjunct of European colonialism. Moreover, Zionist assertions of the contemporary
… www.palestineremembered… Conclusion – The land and people of Palestine were transformed during the thirty years of British rule. The systematic colonization undertaken by the Zionist movement enabled the Jewish community to establish separate and virtually autonomous political, economic, social, cultural, and military institutions. A state within a state was in place by the time the movement launched its drive for independence. The legal underpinnings for the autonomous Jewish community were provided by the British Mandate. The establishment of a Jewish state was first proposed by the British Royal Commission in July 1937 and then endorsed by the UNITED NATIONS in November 1947.
That drive for statehood IGNORED the presence of a Palestinian majority with its own national aspirations. The right to create a Jewish state-and the overwhelming need for such a state-were perceived as overriding Palestinian counterclaims. Few members of the yishuv supported the idea of binationalism. Rather, territorial partition was seen by most Zionist leaders as the way to gain statehood while according certain national rights to the Palestinians. …..see more ……
Dr Susan Reibel Moore, Sydney • 4 hours ago
The article’s anti-Semitic bias is shocking. During WWII, when I was a young child growing up in NJ, all of the Jews in my extended Jewish family and community worked hard to get friends and relations out of Europe and into America. It’s well known, historically, that untold numbers of Jews did this. It happened well before 1948!!!!
How DARE this writer, and–I infer–the author of the book whose ‘main points’ are summarised, write as if ‘Zionists’ were the only Jews trying to do the right thing then and earlier to save the Biblically ‘chosen’ people??
There IS a case for Jews to be in Israel. This doesn’t mean that all or most Jews SUPPORT what the present Israeli government, and earlier Israeli military outfits, have been doing to Palestinians.
I’m a religious Catholic who attends daily Mass. Young and older Catholics are taught that the Holy Family and all of the Apostles were Jews. They were not ‘Zionists’. THAT term is more recent.
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I suspect that both the Israeli and US democracies suffer from the same defects; they are democracies in name only. Both seem to exclude their populations from exercising any control over their international behavior. Certainly the US does. The US generates so many “terrorist insurgencies” from its feckless wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere in the world. Turns out to be highly profitable.
Not surprising then that Israel continues its settlements in violation of international law. Both the US and Israel claim exceptionalism when convenient to do so. Israel will continue this behavior as long as the US mindlessly supports it.
As for the Middle East being an “insane area”. I’m sure it is. One simply needs to look at the meddling (imperial and colonial) carried out by the US and Europe over the centuries to understand why it might be insane. It has little to do with Islam.
As for Israel being the one democracy in that “insane area”, the US actually prefers avaricious dictators. They are so much easier to control. That’s why the democratically elected prime minister of Iran (Mossadegh) was overthrown by the US and UK in 1953. One of our staunchest allies is Saudi Arabia — one of the cruelest dictatorships in the world. Same goes for Latin America.
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Eddy ultimately became Minister Plenipotentiary to Saudi Arabia.and was active in near East intelligence in WW 1 and WW2…He wrote many letters to the Dulles boys saying in effect “Are you out of your minds. You say Arabs, we want your oil, but move over Israel wants your land “. Eddy repeatedly would write “Think ahead fifty years to envision the unsolvable chaos you will cause” It is now more than 60 years and Eddy has been precisely correct ..
I say think ahead another fifty years and try to envision a peaceful solution. How do I know this? Eddy would disclose openly a number of his letters he would enter in a diplomatic pouch for for delivery to Washington. I believe copies could be found in Eddy’s correspondence file stored with his wife’s papers.
Netanyahu knows this but doesn’t care. He appears willing to utilize radio active material obtained from the US to obliterate the entire Mid East. . Ultimate peace will not be achieved.as long as Netanyahu fails to consider the consequences..
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AND SO IT GOES ON IN THE COMMENTS GIVE AND TAKE …..
CANADA GETS TOUGH ON ANTI-SEMITISM – They Vote in as LAW – THE OTTAWA PROTOCOL that perhaps for the first time in history links Antisemitism to the denial of the right Jewish people have to their ancestral homeland – the State of Israel.
Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird also announced that Canada is joining New Zealand, France, Poland, and 10 other Western Nations, in refusing to go this year to Durban III which is expected to be another UN sling-fest against Israel backed by repressive Arab and African regimes that blame all problems facing their own countries and the World – on Israel.