Turkey is an interesting case. It is an Islamic State close to the
connecting corner between the three continents of the old world:
Africa – Asia – Europe. Actually it took the place that Greece held in
antiquity, and the Byzantines and the Ottomans held later on, and the
changes turned into a form of mix-up. Instead of being the link it
could have been, Turkey worked at becoming part of Europe. The Ataturk
revolution was intended to create a secular state but Greek and
Armenian wars, and Europe remembers most the attack on Vienna. With
the fall of the Soviet Union, Turkey had the chance to be leader of
the Turkic States of Central Asia, but it did not make its move in
time. Modern Turkey, had it allowed some form of autonomy for its
Kurdish population, it could have turned into a bi-National Federation
with a Kurdish component to include Iraqi Kurdistan with added appeal
to Europe – another lost opportunity. Today Turkey moves closer to
Islamic Asia – Iran and the Arab States – and it is a Turk that heads
the Organisation of the Islamic Conference and Turkey seemingly
believes it should increase its involvement in the Middle East.
Turkey is an interesting case. It is an Islamic State close to the
The desalination revolution
How Israel beat the drought
This country was on the brink of water catastrophe, reduced to running relentless ad campaigns urging Israelis to conserve water even as it raised prices and cut supplies to agriculture. Now, remarkably, the crisis is over.
By David Horovitz February 26, 2013,
Until a couple of years ago, Israeli radio and TV regularly featured commercials warning that the country was “drying out.”
In one of the most powerful TV ad campaigns, celebrities including singer Ninet Tayeb, model Bar Refaeli and actor Moshe Ivgy highlighted the “years of drought” and the “falling level of the Kinneret.”
As they spoke plaintively to camera, their features started to crack and peel — like the country — for lack of moisture.
So compelling was this ad, so resonant its impact, I hadn’t actually realized it was no longer on the air. Alexander Kushnir put me straight. “We decided it simply wasn’t justified to alarm Israelis in this way any longer,” said Kushnir, who heads Israel’s Water Authority.
How so? Israelis don’t need to watch their water use any more? Isn’t this region one of the world’s most parched? Haven’t we been warned for years that the next Middle East war will be fought over water?
Kushnir’s answers: Yes, Israelis must still be wise with their water use. Yes, emphatically, this is a desert region, desperately short of natural water. And yes, we have indeed been worried for years about the possibility of water shortages provoking conflict.
But for Israel, for the foreseeable future, Kushnir says, the water crisis is over. And not because this happens to have been one of the wettest winters in years. Rather, he says, an insistent refusal to let the country be constrained by insufficient natural water sources — a refusal that dates back to David Ben-Gurion’s decision to build the National Water Carrier in the 1950s, the most significant infrastructure investment of Israel’s early years — led Israel first into large-scale water recycling, and over the past decade into major desalination projects. The result, as of early 2013, is that the Water Authority feels it can say with confidence that Israel has beaten the drought.
Alexander Kushnir, head of the Water Authority (photo credit: Courtesy)
Speaking to The Times of Israel from the authority’s offices in Tel Aviv, Kushnir identifies that refusal to “rely on fate” as the key to a genuine strategic achievement — a rare, highly positive change in an age and a region where most of Israel’s challenges appear to be worsening, not receding, much less disappearing.
“How did we beat the water shortage? Because we said we would. We decided we would,” says Kushnir, a big man with a warm smile and a robust Russian accent. “And once you’ve made that decision, you build the tools to reduce your dependence. We’re on the edge of the desert in an area where water has always been short. The quantity of natural water per capita in Israel is the lowest for the whole region. But we decided early on that we were developing a modern state. So we were required to supply water for agriculture, and water for industry, and then water for hi-tech, and water to sustain an appropriate quality of life.”
The National Water Carrier — which takes water from the Sea of Galilee (Lake Kinneret) south through the whole country to Beersheba and beyond — exemplified Israel’s ambition. Contemplated even before the modern state was founded, its planning and initial construction were “a dominant feature of the first Ben-Gurion government — an unprecedented investment,” Kushnir notes. “It stressed our desire to achieve a different reality.”
Carrying almost 2 million cubic meters a day nationwide, that supply line, together with water from underground aquifers, kept Israel watered through the 70s. By the 1980s, though “we had a bigger population, bigger needs and the natural resources were overstretched. So we experimented with a small desalination plant in Eilat. And we began recycling purified sewage, and bringing industry into purifying water.”
“Use any superlatives you like,” urges Kushnir, to describe the fact that, today, “over 80% of our purified sewage goes back into agricultural use. The next best in the OECD is Spain with 17-18%. It’s so justified energy-wise, and environmentally as well.”
But even these innovations weren’t enough to meet the needs of an ever-growing population through the 1990s and into the 2000s, the more so when the rains failed. Average rainfall in Israel is about 1.2 billion cubic meters. But in relatively dry years, it can sink to 900 million.
As the gulf between available water resources and needs widened, Israeli agriculture moved away from water-intensive crops and pioneered enormously improved efficiency, with trailblazing drip irrigation techniques. Israel also increased the use of brackish water in agriculture. And all that still wasn’t good enough. “We knew we had to be careful not to hurt our natural resources,” says Kushnir. “Ultimately, we had no choice but to reduce the supply of natural water to agriculture, and to increase prices, which hurt our agricultural sector.”
Plainly, this was no long-term solution. Elsewhere in the region, poorly managed countries were over-drilling, over-using, and risking major damage to natural sources. “In Syria, for instance, they drilled wells everywhere and destroyed aquifers,” he says. “They had irrational, erratic water management and a lack of government policy.” Even before two years of civil war began, Syrians turned on their taps and got nothing most days of the week.
“By 2000 our balance was really strained,” says Kushnir. “We would have had to cut back drastically in agriculture or industry or home use and we weren’t prepared to do that. We didn’t want to switch off the water to a population in Israel which has enough problems to deal with.”
The solution was desalination, on a major scale — the third phase in a water revolution that had begun with the water carrier and continued with recycling. The first large desalination plant came on line in Ashkelon in 2005, followed by Palmahim and Hadera. By the end of this year, when the Soreq and Ashdod plants are working, there’ll be five plants — built privately at a cost of NIS 6-7 billion (about $2 billion).
Israel uses 2 billion cubic meters of water per year — which is actually a little less than a decade ago, as efficiencies have been introduced in agriculture (which uses 700 million), and water-saving awareness has permeated. Of that two billion, half will be “artificially” manufactured by year’s end — 600 million cubic meters from those desalination plants, and 400 from purified sewage and brackish water.
“We’re not the world’s biggest desalinators,” notes Kushnir, “but no one has made the shift so fast to a situation where half of its water needs are filled from ‘artificial’ sources. And it means we are now ready for the next decade, without dramatic dependence on rainfall fluctuations.”
Kushnir regards this as a remarkable achievement — “a lesson for the rest of the world,” he says, “or at least those many parts of the world that are grappling with variants of the difficulties Israel has overcome.”
So the “Israel’s drying out” ads have gone off the air, and the panicked warnings are over. But that doesn’t mean Israelis should now wash their cars with sloshing abandon, shower for hours, or hose their lawns (if they’re lucky enough to have one) day and night.
“In our region, you always have to save water,” Kushnir stresses. “There has to be intelligent water use. But I’m not going to scream at people anymore.”
The campaigns were demonstrably effective; they reduced water use by at least 10 percent, Kushnir says. “In 2000, it was 100 cubic meters per person per year. Nowadays it’s 90. That saved us a desalination plant.”
But Israel can afford to relax, at least a little. “Our job is to ensure that when you turn on the tap, water comes out,” says Kushnir. “Well, we’ve done that. People have to continue to be smart. This isn’t London or Washington, DC. You have to use water as appropriate to our region. There has to be awareness that water is a precious resource, and we have to manufacture much of it, and that costs money. The manufacture also creates carbon dioxide and that affects the environment. So, I’m not trying to scare the public. You want water, here’s water. Use it. Use it as you want, but use it wisely.”
Where does Kushnir stand on global warming? Does he see it impacting annual rainfall? “There are dramatic changes in water fall,” he responds. “We need to be prepared for graver, longer droughts. If we see global warming having more of an effect, we’ll have to increase the desalination factor. If not, we’ll stay at the current fifty-fifty.
“Personally,” he goes on, “I’m a bit skeptical that global warming is a consequence of human activity. There is partial proof that human activity has exacerbated it. [But] it might be normal fluctuations. Remember,” he adds, “I’m supposed to be skeptical when I decide where to spend our billions.”
For all the announced success, should we be concerned that it might have come too late — that desalination should have been implemented earlier, reducing the heavy pumping from the Kinneret and the aquifers?
“Yes, we could have started desalination earlier. The damage to our natural resources would have been lighter,” Kushnir agrees. “We came very close to the black lines in the aquifers and the Kinneret which could have caused multi-year damage. Did we do harm? I hope not. But we’re moving away from the black lines now, even from the warning red lines. The immediate refilling and rehabilitation of the Sea of Galilee looks nice, but the aquifers are the key and we’re still 1 billion cubic meters to the optimal levels. Yet we’re legitimately optimistic.” (As of late February, the Sea of Galilee was at 210.24 meters below sea level, its highest level in seven years, which is a healthy 2.65 meters above the “lower red line” and 1.56 meters below the “upper red line” — the point at which the lake is considered full.)
At the same time as desalination has supplemented natural sources, he adds, Israel has also become more efficient in the collection of rainfall. “As we improve, our aquifers will refill. Our springs will fill up. Then we’ll really have done our bit.”
What about the rest of the immediate neighborhood, those who work with Israel, and those who are hostile to Israel?
Kushnir says Israel supplies an annual 100 million cubic meters in total to the Palestinian Authority (30 million) and to Jordan (70 million), in line with formal agreements. He says the PA has failed to develop all the infrastructure necessary to maximize available water, and would reach “reasonable, appropriate levels” if it did so. “They can take quite a lot from the eastern aquifer. There are natural sources they didn’t develop. It’s detailed in the interim agreements.” He also says that among Jewish settlers in the West Bank, water use is similar to that inside sovereign Israel.
Kushnir says he meets with the head of the PA’s water authority, Dr. Shaddad Attili. “We speak to them all the time and we tell them how we managed, including by purifying sewage.”
Attili, for his part, last October accused Israel of charging “extortionate” prices for the water it supplies, and the PA has claimed that Israel’s refusal to let it drill in various locations above aquifers, as well as disappointing results from the developments it has introduced, force it to continue to depend upon those Israeli supplies.
“Our water market is no longer subsidized by the state,” Kushnir responds, “not since 2007.”
As for Jordan, Kushnir says the two countries work together effectively. Ever since the Israel-Jordan border demarcation was adjusted under the 1994 peace accord, Jordan has allowed Israel to maintain its drilling facilities inside what became Jordanian territory in the south, “and we help them in the north.”
It was King Abdullah’s father Hussein who would warn about water shortages prompting the next Middle East war. As far as Kushnir is concerned, the Israeli-Jordanian working relationship where water is concerned assuages any such worry. “There is such good mutual respect and interest,” he says. “We help each other. [Relatively speaking,] they have water; their challenge is how to deliver it. There’s the Red-Dead project where we can argue about the specifics. They’re thinking of desalination in Aqaba. They have a plan for use of brackish water. They can solve their problems overall, and we’ll be happy to help.
Beyond Jordan, though, has the fear of drought-stoked conflict disappeared? Israel, Syria and Lebanon have long contested water rights, and intermittently accused each other of abuses. Gaza faces acute water shortages.
“We know that geostrategic changes in the region can endanger our water sources,” Kushnir allows. “We certainly can’t afford to give up our natural resources.”
Treading delicately, Kushnir notes that, despite the new successes, the Dead Sea, for instance, is “missing billions of cubic meters.” One day, he muses, “Jordan, Syria, Lebanon and Israel could potentially redirect the waters of the Litani River,” in Lebanon, to begin to address that challenge. “Of course, he adds, with magnificent understatement, “we would have to be in a situation of constructive dialogue.”
For all that Israel’s new water health is legitimately hailed as a remarkable achievement, that utopian vision — of Jordan, Syria, Lebanon and Israel engaged in “constructive dialogue” — would seem beyond the foreseeable ambitions of even the most skilled and optimistic of rainmakers.
In the Middle East a present days STONE AGE is preferable to the ongoing finger-on-the-trigger performance (small arms) and immensely better then the introduction of Weapons of Mass Destruction – this despite what some say on the internet or mass media.
Saturday, May 18, 2013
The Stone Age
A few weeks ago a military judge, Major Amir Dahan, acquitted four Palestinians of the charge of “attempted murder by throwing stones at vehicles”. He stated that “throwing stones can, under some circumstances, have the character of a lethal offence, carrying the near certainty of a danger to human life – but under other circumstances it might be no more than a prank without the potential of serious damage, by a young person who had barely crossed into the age of criminal responsibility”.This verdict angered Housing Minister Uri Ariel of the Jewish Home party, who said in the beginning of last week: “This is no way to render judgment in Israel. It is about such things that we daily utter the prayer “O restore our judges, as of old”. We should not tolerate even one stone. We must not forgive even one stone . A stone kills”.Later this week, the head of the party joined Ariel. The well known Naftali Bennett, Minister of Economy, made a public call to change the rules of engagement so as to allow soldiers a much lighter trigger finger when facing Palestinians, since “travelling the roads of Judea and Samaria has turned into hell.”The press tycoon Shlomo Ben-Zvi, who a few months ago bought the failing “Ma’ariv” paper, also joined the fray. Already for several days the Ma’ariv headlines are mainly concerned with the stone age which had descended on the West Bank. Ma’ariv devotes pages upon pages to the cry of the settlers, stridently demanding that soldiers finally start shooting and killing stone throwers. The paper’s reporters gathered the shocking testimonies of soldiers asserting that their hands are tied behind their backs by the military orders. “The best guys, the best fighters, salt of the earth”, reporter Chen Kutas- Bar called them.
Also columnist Adi Arbel of the Institute for Zionist Strategies added his own account of a terrible event he had witnessed. Last week, at noon of the celebrated Jerusalem Day, several VIPs of the Israeli right wing camp went to the settler enclave at the heart of Silwan Village, to get there the Moskowitz Prize from the multi-millionaire Irving Moskowitz – the well known settler patron who for this occasion left for two days his flourishing gambling business in California. It happened that on their way to this event, the settlers and their friends went through the Palestinian neighborhood of A-Tur on Mount Olive, where a boy of about 18 threw a stone at their bus. And alas, laments the Zionist strategist, nothing happened to this boy , no policeman and no soldier thought of pulling a weapon and opening fire on him. Adi Arbel’s sad conclusion: even after 46 years, East Jerusalem is not under Israeli sovereignty. Well, with that I am not going to dispute.
And what about when settlers gather alongside the highway and throw stones at each passing Palestinian car? What happens when they aim a whole barrage of stones at a school bus full of Palestinian girl pupils and wound some of them? Should that, too, be treated as a case where even one stone could not be tolerated or forgiven, because “a stone kills”? Is that also the kind of situation where the rules of engagement should be changed and soldiers’ fingers become more loose on the trigger? Or perhaps this is exactly the case where stone-throwing is indeed no more than a prank without the potential of serious damage? Well, it’s no use to pose too many questions to the honorable minister Uri Ariel and to the honorable minister Naftali Bennett and to Ma’ariv publisher Shlomo Ben-Zvi and his well-trained reporters.
By coincidence or not, it was just this week that a military court was hearing the case of a soldier who did not feel that his hands were tied and who had no particular problem to tighten his finger on the trigger. On 12 January this year – just in the midst of the Israeli elections campaign in which hardly anyone mentioned the Palestinians – this soldier (whose name is not published) was stationed in South Hebron Hills at a point where Palestinians are habitually trying to cross into Israel and find work. Many of them do succeed in their attempt. Unfortunately for the 21-year old Uday Darwish of the town of Dura, this particular soldier did open fire and he was hit and died a few hours later in the hospital, his funeral attended by thousands.
This particular soldier did not assert that army regulations had bound his hands. “This is the first time I encountered a shooting event, it never happened to me before. I never before got to such a situation of standing in front of 30 people I don’t know. Earlier we had been on the border of Egypt where a lot of Sudanese were passing we were always warned that in any group of Sudanese who come to Israel there is the hazard that one would be wielding a stabbing knife or wearing an explosive belt or something like that. ” (As a matter of fact, among tens of thousands of Sudanese who arrived in Israel until now there had never been any such case…)
The Prosecution wants to treat this case severely, and therefore impose a full nine months’ imprisonment and also demote the soldier one notch, from Staff Sergeant to an ordinary Sergeant. However, the soldier’s attorney, Yechiel Lamesh, asked the court to content itself with a term of three months, since “We should send a message to the fighters who risk their lives for us. We should understand and make it clear to them that to err is human and that an error, even a severe one, need not draw upon them the full severity of the law .” The defense attorney also asked that his client not be demoted, so as not to hurt the honor and dignity of this fighter of the Israel Defense Forces.
So, what the appropriate punishment for a soldier who shot and killed (not on purpose) a Palestinian worker who was going to sustain his family? Three months, or nine months, or something in between? Will he be demoted by one notch, or would the court take care not to hurt his honor and dignity? The Court is to convene again at the end of the month and make clear if they take up the prosecution’s case or that of the defense.
But what about one who did not shoot and did not kill anyone and who in the first place refused to join the army of occupation and wear its uniform and swear allegiance to it? One who altogether refused to get himself into a situation where he would stand armed in front of thirty people whom he has never seen before and have their lives and deaths at the mercy of his finger on the trigger? What is the proper punishment for such a crime of refusal? Half a year? A year? Two years? That is not yet clear.
Half a year has already passed since Natan Blanc arrived at the IDF Recruitment Center on his call-up date, November 19, 2012, and provided the recruitment officer with a detailed and reasoned letter setting out the reasons for his refusal to enlist. Half a year in which he is going in and out of Military Prison 6, in and out, in and out, in and out and in again.
The army chose not to bring him to a military court, whose proceedings are held in public and where the defendant can have a defense attorney and set out legal arguments and also express from the dock a conscientious and principled position. Instead, Natan Blanc is being repeatedly brought before a military officer who had been authorized to serve as a Judging Officer. A trial by a Judging Officer is a much simpler and easier affair – without the presence of any public, without lawyers and without witnesses and without any complicated legal procedures. Court is held in the normal office of the Judging Officer, with nobody present except the judge and the defendant, and usually lasts all of three to five minutes. In exceptional cases it can drag on up to ten minutes. Natan Blanc has already passed through very many such mini-trials, being sent to jail sometimes for two weeks, sometimes three weeks, sometimes a month. Each time he gets out of jail and is given another order to enlist and returns again to the office of the Judging Officer. So far he already accumulated 150 days behind bars, which is definitely not the end.
Yesterday, Friday, May 17, 2013, Natan Blanc celebrated his twentieth birthday behind bars at Military Prison 6 in Atlit. The activists of the Yesh Gvul movement came in the afternoon to celebrate with him on the mountain opposite the prison, whose summit was seen from the prison yard by several generations of refusers since the first Lebanon War in 1982. “Let’s celebrate! Come with your friends, bring refreshments and party accessories, especially those which can be seen or heard from very far: balloons, ribbons, signs, noise makers, whistles etc. ” was written in the invitation. On Tuesday there will be another demonstration, held in front of the Defense Ministry in Tel Aviv, and the case of Blanc also gets increasing international attention.
Blanc told the military officers and judges that, once released from the army (and jail) he is going to do civilian service at the Magen David Adom medical rescue service. But when is that going to happen? The office of the IDF spokesman was not very forthcoming “A person liable for military service, whose application for exemption on grounds of conscience is denied, must perform a term of military service as set out in the Defense Service Act. One who refuses to do would be treated in accordance with the regular procedures.” Period.
It may very well that the soldier who killed Uday Darwish will be set free earlier.
BUT WHAT ABOUT THE FOLLOWING:
Ministers blast violence at ultra-Orthodox rally
Deputy finance minister calls protesters’ actions at demonstration against draft law ‘shameful’ and a crossing of ‘all the red lines’ – 10 policemen injured by these draft-refuseniks from the ranks of those claiming the Jewish religion. Are their stones any different?
May 17, 2013,
Deputy Finance Minister Mickey Levy on Friday slammed ultra-Orthodox demonstrators who took part in violence at a Jerusalem rally Thursday protesting the universal draft law, claiming that their behavior “crossed all the red lines.”
Levy posted on his Facebook page that the injuring of 10 policemen by the protesters was shameful and unacceptable. He further stressed that the government would continue to promote equality in the burden of army service, and would work against extremists who want to “preserve poverty and discrimination.”
Our website has proposed that geopolitics are headed to a new structure were it is needed to have a billion people in order to be considered a World Power. As such we proposed that besides China and India, the other World powers will be -
- an Anglo-American Block led by the US and that will include also the UK, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and as well Mexico and Japan;
- an Islamic Block led by Turkey or Indonesia that will stretch from Mauritania to Indonesia;
- and a block “Of the Rest” that will be led by Brazil and include, with a few exceptions based on the US led Trans-Pacific Partnership (the TPP) , Latin America, Africa, the SIDS, parts of Asia.
We see the recent news of Brazil defeating Mexico for the leadership of the WTO as an important step in above direction.
Brazil Wins Leadership of the World Trade Organization
Brazilian Roberto Azevêdo has been chosen over Mexican candidate Herminio Blanco as the newest director general of the World Trade Organization (WTO) on May 7. El Palenque, AnimalPolitico’s debate forum for experts, discusses the effects this win will have on Mexican diplomacy, Brazil’s role in trade liberalization, and the prominence of the BRICS on the world stage. Azevêdo will be the first Latin American to head the WTO.
The Financial Times wrote May 7, 2013:
So, Roberto Azevêdo, Brazil’s candidate for director general of the WTO, has pipped his rival Herminio Blanco of Mexico for the job.
But there is still a question to be answered: Who won? The man or the country?
Between Azevêdo and Blanco, there may not be much to choose. Both have impressive credentials. Azevêdo, a career diplomat in one of the world’s most polished diplomatic services, has been Brazil’s ambassador to the WTO since 2008. He knows the organisation inside out. Blanco is a businessman steeped in trade, a trade consultant who was formerly Mexico’s trade minister and its chief negotiator during preparation of the North American Free Trade Agreement.
If the race was between two technocrats, it must have been a photo finish.
But what if the WTO members voted for the country, not the man? Then, it was a matter of chalk and cheese. Disgruntled Mexicans – whose pride will have taken a severe knock – will call this a victory of protectionism over free trade.
It will also be a victory of the developing world over the developed one.
Mexico, which has free trade agreements with 44 different countries, is the new poster child of developed world policies at work in the developing world. Brazil has free trade agreements with nobody, and has shown a tendency to renegotiate what agreements it does have as soon as they become inconvenient – not least its auto agreement with Mexico. Many developing countries – in Africa and Asia as well as in Latin America – will have felt the Brazilian was much more likely to protect their fledgling manufacturers and farmers than was the Mexican. Many of those countries, especially in Africa, already have closer ties with Brazil than they do with Mexico.
In an interview with Reuters, Azevêdo played down the issue of nationality:
To those who say that, under Azevêdo, the WTO will lose sight of its mission to promote free trade, others will reply that it never had one in the first place.
But Tuesday’s decision will make a big difference. No matter how pure a technocrat he is, Azevêdo will find it hard to fend off the influence of Brasília. It was the Brazilian that won, and not the Mexican.
Related FT reading:
SO, WE WILL SAY – THE FT AGREE WITH OUR POINT OF VIEW THAT THE US CANDIDATE – MEXICO – LOST TO THE CANDIDATE OF THE THIRD WORLD – THAT IS OUR TRUE SIXTH WORLD – WHO WILL STAND UP TO THE BIGGER BOYS OF THE OTHER FIVE WORLDS – SPECIFICALLY THE US – WHO BLATANTLY USE THE INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZATIONS FOR THEIR OWN GOOD – EXCLUSIVELY!!!
FURTHER NEWS OF RELEVANCE TO THE NEW WORLD IN THE MAKING:
Former President Bill Clinton announced on May 6 that the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) would be expanding to Latin America in December 2013, with its first meeting set to launch in Rio de Janeiro. He was joined by Rio Mayor Eduardo Paes in making the announcement at the mid-year meeting for his annual conference.
President Dilma Rousseff announced the start of a small business ministry on May 6, saying that government banks will provide up to $7,500 to small businesses in 2013 and will reduce the public loan interest rate from 8 percent to 5 percent beginning on May 31. “The question of small business is indispensable for the country’s future and present,” said Rousseff. Brazil’s estimated 6 million micro and small businesses accounted for 40 percent of the country’s 15 million new jobs from 2001 to 2011.
Brazil plans to hire approximately 6,000 Cuban doctors to work in the country’s rural areas, said Brazilian Foreign Minister Antonio Patriota on May 6. The Federal Medical Council–a Brazilian doctor’s organization–questioned the island nation’s medical qualifications, but Patriota called Cuba “very proficient in the areas of medicine, pharmaceuticals, and biotechnology.” President Dilma Rousseff began the talks in January 2012, and both countries are currently consulting with the Pan American Health Organization to move forward.
The International Monetary Fund’s May 2013 Regional Economic Outlook predicts Latin America’s growth to increase approximately 3.5 percent by the end of the year. But, in an article for The Huffington Post, Director for the IMF’s Western Hemisphere Department Alejandro Werner questions whether countries in the region will be able to “adjust policies to preserve macroeconomic and financial stability” after the near-future external benefits, such as easy external financing and high commodity prices, begin to decline.
Volcanoes and Geysers Could Fuel Chilean Energy
Chile will partner with New Zealand to develop its deep exploration drilling and to develop its geothermal energy production. Chile is home to 20 percent of the world’s active volcanoes, which can be harnessed for geothermal energy. However, only 5 percent of the country’s electrical power is attributed to renewable energy resources, reports IPS News.
The Pacific Alliance Creates a Legislative Committee
Heads of Congress from Pacific Alliance members Chile, Colombia, México, and Perú signed an accord to form a Pacific Alliance Inter-Parliamentary Committee on May 6, reports La República. The committee would serve as the legislative arm of the Alliance by developing a framework to approve free trade agreements and distribution of goods, services, and capital under the Alliance. The committee will be officially presented to the Alliance at a legislative session in Chile in June.
Washington to Host Chilean and Peruvian Presidents
Chile’s President Sebastian Piñera and Peru’s President Ollanta Humala will visit Washington D.C. in June to discuss economic relations with President Obama. Piñera’s visit will take place on June 4, and Humala will visit one week later on June 11. The agenda will likely touch on negotiations with the Trans-Pacific Partnership, as all three countries hope to develop closer economic ties to Asian markets.
This website argued for years that Turkey could have enhanced its world position by allowing enough slack to its own Kurds establishing itself as a bi-National State – Turkish-Kurdish and absorb the Kurdish areas of Iraq, Iran, Syria, as well. They did not – and now Erdogan tries to go for what he thinks is within his reach.
While Abdullah Ocalan, leader of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) pursues the cease-fire plan with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the PKK is also involved in a subtle power struggle across Turkey’s borders. This struggle is being played out by the PKK’s efforts to check the influence of Massoud Barzani, president of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, over leadership of the Kurds. By engaging in the Kurdistan Region’s messy pre-election politics and supporting the opposition Change Movement (Goran), the PKK is attempting to stifle a third mandate for Barzani, while stirring local criticism of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG). These PKK interventions are unlikely to alter the status quo in the region — at least for the forthcoming elections — however; they are fueling political fragmentation and creating additional challenges to regional stability.
Indeed, rivalries between the PKK and Barzani’s Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) are nothing new. During the Iraqi Kurdish civil war of the 1990s, the PKK and KDP engaged in armed conflict against each other, as well as the KDP against the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK).
The Ocalan-Barzani competition re-emerged after the Syrian civil war broke out, and as different Syrian Kurdish groups backed by the PKK and its affiliate, the Democratic Union Party (PYD) vied for power with the KDP-supported Kurdish National Council. This rivalry continues with Barzani tied to Turkey and attempting to court Syrian Kurdish youth groups and independents away from PYD influence.
Still, Barzani and Ocalan reached a tacit agreement after Ocalan’s imprisonment in 1999, which allowed the PKK to relocate in the Kandil Mountains in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. The KRG also tolerates the presence of thousands of PKK supporters in the Makhmour Camp, where they have been residing since 1994 as political refugees. Moreover, despite the rapprochement between Erbil and Ankara, Barzani has affirmed that “the period of Kurds killing Kurds is over” and that the KRG Peshmerga would not engage militarily against the PKK or any other Kurdish group. These efforts have led to a mutually peaceful coexistence between the KDP and PKK, despite the distinctly different ideologies and regional relationships each has developed, particularly with Ankara.
The last six months, however, have seen a shift in PKK tactics inside the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. Whereas the PKK leader in Kandil, Murat Karaliyan, had previously indicated his willingness to work with Barzani in 2009, he now opposes electing him to a third term as president. The PKK is using its networks and social media to incite local opposition against Barzani and the Iraqi Kurdish parties. For instance, it is encouraging local populations in the Iraqi Kurdish-Iranian border town of Halabja to criticize the KRG and Barzani for lack of services. One of the PKK websites has inflammatory photos and remarks about Barzani’s leadership, as well as other KRG political party leaders.
This shift reflects a reaction to Barzani’s growing power — including his close ties to Erdogan — and his claims or ambitions to become a leader of all the Kurds, expressed in Kurdish as “president of Kurdistan,” which the PKK rejects.
More specifically, the PKK shift coincides with the illness of Jalal Talabani, president of Iraq and leader of the PUK, which has further weakened the PUK and limited any serious competition for the KDP and Barzani’s power. In fact, the rump of the PUK — known as the “Gang of Four” — may have called for a separate list in the planned September elections to reflect its differences and attempts to challenge the KDP. Yet the PUK leadership continues to support and depend upon Barzani as president, particularly as a financial patron.
This is why the PKK is now calling for a “Kurdistan supported by Goran.” Goran remains the only secular Kurdish nationalist party that seeks to remove Barzani from office while pressing for a parliamentary and not presidential system for the region. Goran also has indicated its support for the PKK and affirmed the PYD as the representative of the Kurds in Syria, posing another direct challenge to Barzani and the KDP. The PKK-Goran alliance also is based on shared concerns about Turkey’s regional power and the need to check Erdogan’s influence over Iraqi Kurds and in Syria.
It is unlikely that the PKK will weaken the deeply rooted patronage networks inside the Kurdistan Region that will assure Barzani power and KDP and PUK influence for years to come. Many people, particularly the youth, may support the PKK as true Kurdish nationalists and back Goran; however, they also have been co-opted by the increasingly generous handouts and comfortable lifestyles made available to them by the KRG in recent years. Many others are disinterested in politics altogether or unwilling to pay the consequences of being linked to the opposition.
Still, PKK engagement in Iraqi Kurdish politics matters because it reveals the growing complexity of the trans-border Kurdish problem and the PKK’s political agenda to change the status quo. This challenge will not only be about advancing Kurdish nationalist rights in different states, but clarifying who will represent Kurdish interests and what form these nationalist interests should take. Whatever the outcome, these struggles will likely create a wide opening for more deal-making between Kurdish groups and regional states, keeping the Kurdish nationalist movement fragmented from within and across borders.
Denise Natali holds the Minerva Chair at the Institute for National Strategic Studies (INSS), National Defense University where she specializes in Iraq, regional energy issues and the Kurdish problem. The views expressed are her own and do not reflect the official policy or position of the National Defense University, the Department of Defense or the US government.
Al Monitor gives us the main News from the Near East: To solve Syria – Iran, Israel, Jordan, Qatar, Turkey will have to talk about a political solution. If this is not possible there will be no other easy way.
from the Hooshang Amirahmadi for President of Iran campaign.
After the 1979 revolution, a clandestine nuclear weapons research program was disbanded by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, who considered such weapons forbidden under Muslim ethics and jurisprudence. Small scale research into nuclear weapons may have restarted during the Iran-Iraq War, and underwent significant expansion after the Ayatollah’s death in 1989.
Iran’s first nuclear power plant, Bushehr I reactor was complete with major assistance of Russian government agency Rosatom and officially opened on 12 September 2011. Iran has announced that it is working on a new 360 MW nuclear power plant to be located in Darkhovin.
The Russian engineering contractor Atomenergoprom said the Bushehr Nuclear Power Plant would reach full capacity by the end of 2012. Iran has also indicated that it will seek more medium-sized nuclear power plants and uranium mines in the future.
In November 2011, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Board of Governors criticized Iran after an IAEA report concluded that before 2003 Iran likely had undertaken research and experiments geared to developing a nuclear weapons capability. The IAEA report details allegations that Iran conducted studies related to nuclear weapons design, including detonator development, the multiple-point initiation of high explosives, and experiments involving nuclear payload integration into a missile delivery vehicle. A number of Western nuclear experts have stated there was very little new in the report, that it primarily concerned Iranian activities prior to 2003, and that media reports exaggerated its significance. Iran rejected the details of the report and accused the IAEA of pro-Western bias. and threatened to reduce its cooperation with the IAEA.
Former United States Secretary of State Henry Kissinger recalled in 2005, “I don’t think the issue of proliferation came up.” However, a 1974 CIA proliferation assessment stated “If [the Shah] is alive in the mid-1980s … and if other countries [particularly India] have proceeded with weapons development we have no doubt Iran will follow suit.”
The Shah also signed a nuclear cooperation agreement with South Africa under which Iranian oil money financed the development of South African fuel enrichment technology using a novel “jet nozzle” process, in return for assured supplies of South African (and Namibian) enriched uranium.
Those days also Israel was working with South Africa and we would not be surprised that there was Israeli-Iranian Cooperation as well.
Following the 1979 Revolution, most of the international nuclear cooperation with Iran was cut off. Iran has later argued that these experiences indicate foreign facilities and foreign fuel supplies are an unreliable source of nuclear fuel supply.
The United States cut off the supply of highly enriched uranium (HEU) fuel for the Tehran Nuclear Research Center, which forced the reactor to shut down for a number of years, until Argentina‘s National Atomic Energy Commission in 1987–88 signed an agreement with Iran to help in converting the reactor from highly enriched uranium fuel to 19.75% low-enriched uranium, and to supply the low-enriched uranium to Iran. The uranium was delivered in 1993.
Since that time Iran’s nuclear ambitions are daily in the News.
TEHRAN – Iran’s political landscape has become increasingly divided during controversial President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s second and final term. But as a diverse array of candidates to replace him takes shape, nearly all the contenders seem united on one thing: attacking the president’s legacy.
The eventual winner of the June election will wield influence over the direction of negotiations on Iran’s nuclear program, a topic of immense importance to the U.S. In Iran, however, the biggest election issue is the sagging economy, and most among an emerging list of about 20 candidates argue that it has been harmed as much by Ahmadinejad’s tenure as by international sanctions.
The growing field of hopefuls is generating fresh popular interest in an election that few believed would be competitive just a short while ago. That is in large part because candidates must be approved by Iran’s Guardian Council, a powerful body of clerics and jurists, half of whom are appointed by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
Iran’s traditional conservative factions — known as principlists for their loyalty to the founding principles of the Islamic republic — make up the largest number of expected candidates. But instead of a field limited to conservatives, who once counted Ahmadinejad among their ranks but came to see him as a threat to their dominance, a number of candidates who many analysts believed would sit out for fear of not passing the strict vetting process have stepped forward.
Reformists, who have seen the modest social gains and improved foreign relations achieved during previous President Mohammad Khatami’s eight-year reign evaporate under the current administration, are lining up against the president.
Among them is the lead nuclear negotiator under Khatami, Hassan Rowhani, who announced his candidacy Thursday. The entrance of Rowhani, a cleric and one of the few moderate voices still prominent in Iran’s ruling system, diminished the likelihood that Khatami or former President Hashemi Rafsanjani — both allies of Rowhani — will run again, as had been speculated.
Three conservative former members of Ahmadinejad’s Cabinet, including former Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki, have announced their candidacies and are also running on anti-Ahmadinejad platforms.
Ultraconservatives, led by Ayatollah Taghi Mesbah Yazdi, who was long seen as Ahmadinejad’s staunchest supporter in the clergy but is now among his most vocal critics, have not yet announced their candidacies but are expected to do so soon.
Touting slogans such as “Improvement and Justice,” “Victory of Honesty over Wealth and Power” and “Government of Ethics,” many candidates are targeting the millions of disenchanted Iranians who believe the Ahmadinejad years were a time of economic mismanagement, fraud within the banking system and a misguided foreign policy that has left Iran even further isolated from the international community than it already was.
In contrast, Ahmadinejad’s team — which is so far fielding two candidates — has adopted the slogan “Long Live the Spring,” a phrase variously interpreted as an exhortation to keep his faction in power and a reference to the movements that have toppled regimes in the Arab world.
An election season with high voter turnout has always been the preference of Iran’s ruling clerics, who consider participation as proof of popular support for their system. But a major concern of principlist and ultraconservative hardliners is that a high turnout might favor their adversaries.
According to official counts of the 2009 election, two reformist leaders won more than one-third of the vote. Their supporters and international observers assert that the total was much higher, however, and most agree that those who backed the reformists are unlikely to vote this year for any of the principlist candidates, who favor conservative social policies rooted in Quranic law.
This could create an opportunity for another reformist candidate or one backed by Ahmadinejad, whose circle has moved away from Islamic rhetoric in favor of a more nationalist tone.
With the principlists fielding the most candidates so far, there is a growing possibility that they will split each other’s votes, opening an easier path to victory for either a reformist or one of Ahmadinejad’s allies.
“A distribution of votes between our candidates will lead to defeat,” Ayatollah Nasser Makarem Shirazi, a leading conservative cleric, said in an interview with the Fars news agency last week. “The result of division between those loyal to the revolution will be defeat. It would be good if (principlists) create a coalition and zoom in on one person with the rest becoming helping hands.”
US energy firm Noble Energy, which is the largest operating partner in Israel’s Tamar Gas Field, has stated that the company has already started to work on possibly launching an energy project between Turkey and Israel, according to Today’s Zalman.
The two regional powers have recently moved to normalize ties after a falling out over the deaths of nine Turkish nationals during a routine raid on a flotilla in 2010.
Company CEO Charles Davidson said in a statement that the possibility is being discussed by the company to pipe the newly discovered Israeli gas to Turkey.
“We are targeting two-fold growth in the upcoming five years. We are planning to double our production as well as our reserves and cash flow,” Davidson said recently while visiting to Israel.
Jordan potash firm in talks with Israel to buy gas
Monday, 18 February 2013
Jordan’s Arab Potash Company (APC), one of the world’s largest potash producers, is in talks with an Israeli firm to buy gas to power its plants and reduce production costs, the government said on Monday.
“The APC is in contact with its Israeli counterpart through the American oil and gas firm Noble Energy to examine the possibility of importing gas,” the ministry of energy said in a statement.
“The gas available in the Dead Sea area is a clean and inexpensive source of fuel and the company seeks to use it for its factories on the Dead Sea. But no agreement has been reached so far.”
APC’s main shareholders are the Jordanian government, which owns around 26 percent, the Potash Corporation of Canada with 28 percent and the Saudi-based Arabian Mining Company with 20 percent.
The firm has said its 2012 net profits fell 34 percent to 198.8 million dinars ($280 million), mainly because of lower global demand and high fuel costs.
Egyptian gas covers 80 percent of electricity production demand in Jordan, which imports 95 percent of its energy needs.
But the daily gas flow to the energy-poor kingdom has dropped from 250 million cubic meters (8.8 billion cubic feet) to around 130 million cubic meters after repeated pipeline attacks on Egypt’s pipelines.
Had Turkey made its internal peace wilth their Kurds, and moved on to incorporate the Iraqi Kurds, then the Syrian Kurds, then the Iranian Kurds – that would have been a National policy of a bi-National State that would have helped them also in their relations with the EU. But that is a future lost and now we see a revival of old oil policy instead.
Turkey, Iraq, and Oil
by Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi
Though the pace of growth of the Turkish economy has slowed significantly, one of Ankara’s priorities over the coming years is to meet the country’s growing energy demands. The clearest solution is to diversify suppliers of oil and gas, with the autonomous Iraqi Kurdistan (KRG) area being one potential source for such fuels.
Had you asked me a few months ago about the Turkish policy on acquiring energy resources from the KRG via an independent pipeline project and against the will of the Iraqi central government, I would have said that Ankara was still ambiguous on the matter, but now it seems clear that the Turkish government under Prime Minister Erdo?an intends to move forward with such plans.
The first sign of an advance in the framework of an informal commercial deal between the KRG and Ankara on this issue was a report by Ben Van Heuvelen for the Iraq Oil Report. Relying on the testimony of “multiple senior Turkish officials,” Heuvelen reports that the terms would include “stakes in at least half a dozen exploration for the direct pipeline export of oil and gas from the KRG.”
Multiple other sources can be used to confirm Heuvelen’s report. Following the visit of KRG premier Nechirvan Barzani in Ankara to meet with Erdo?an on March 26 where the two leaders apparently agreed to begin implementing the energy cooperation plan, the Turkish opposition party CHP attempted to launch a no-confidence motion in parliament against Foreign Minister Ahmet Davuto?lu on account of the energy deal with the KRG. The no-confidence motion failed.
CHP member Osman Korutürk claimed that a pipeline agreement in particular contradicted Davuto?lu’s declared principle of “zero problems” with neighboring countries, noting the objections of Baghdad and Washington to the development of energy ties between the KRG and Turkey without the Iraqi government’s consent.
The Turkish premier’s response to this initiative by the CHP, which is similarly opposed to Ankara’s firm anti-Assad stance vis-à-vis Syria, was to indicate that the issue should be taken up with Energy Minister Taner Yildiz, who proceeded in a speech to acknowledge the idea of maintaining Iraq’s unity as one of the top priorities of Turkish foreign policy, while arguing that the KRG had a constitutional right to develop energy ties with Ankara and is entitled to 17% of Iraq’s budget as per a 2006 agreement between Arbil and Baghdad.
In a subsequent interview with CNN Turk, Erdo?an invoked many of the same points as Yildiz in arguing that Turkey had the right to make energy agreements with the KRG, adding that under Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, there is no real unity in Iraq anyway.
The point about the KRG’s budget share of 17% — invoked by Erdo?an and Yildiz — is key to Turkey’s official justification for moving forward with developing energy ties with the KRG unilaterally while also claiming to uphold Iraq’s unity. Ankara’s reasoning appears to be as follows: through developing energy ties, KRG will boost its oil production and therefore in terms of Iraq’s overall revenues, the KRG will be contributing 17% and thus match its share of the budget.
At present, the budget share to which the KRG is entitled is well above the autonomous region’s oil output as a proportion of Iraq’s revenues, the overwhelming majority of which comes from the oil industry. Baghdad’s complaint — as reflected in the words of Abdullah al-Amir (the chief advisor to Iraq’s deputy minister for energy affairs) — is that allegedly, only a third of KRG oil revenues reach the central government.
This complaint is not necessarily divorced from reality. In truth, the Turkish government’s official justification for implementing an energy agreement with the KRG while claiming to uphold Iraq’s unity is specious.
Notice that in the interview with CNN Turk (as I have pointed out above, but was omitted in the English reports), Erdo?an said that there is no real unity in Iraq anyway. At the same time, it should be emphasized that Ankara still does not support actual Kurdish independence.
Rather, the goal is to make the KRG a virtual client state of Turkey while ensuring that the autonomous region at least remains nominally part of Iraq. As Ben Van Heuvelen pointed out to me, this goal is “almost explicit policy” on the part of Ankara.
In turn, Zaab Sethna draws an analogy with the Turkish-occupied territory of northern Cyprus, in relation to which Turkish officials are now pressing Israel not to develop natural gas deals with the Cypriot government without incorporating Ankara into the negotiations. Aware of Baghdad’s disapproval of dealing with the KRG unilaterally, the Turkish government appears to be trying to pursue a rapprochement with the Iraqi government anyway: perhaps to induce it to accept the Turkey-KRG agreement. The rapprochement initiative began with a meeting between Davuto?lu and Iraq’s Vice-President Khudayr al-Khozaie at the Arab League Summit in Doha at the end of last month, in which a desire to restart friendly bilateral ties was expressed — something that Khozaie acknowledged on his return to Baghdad.
Building on these hints of rapprochement, Iraq has now put forward an offer to build an oil pipeline from Basra to Ceyhan in southern Turkey, in which Yildiz has expressed an interest. Even so, if Baghdad is hoping that this counter-offer will dissuade Ankara from proceeding to forge energy ties with the KRG, then the central government is quite mistaken.
It seems most likely that Turkey, like Exxon Mobil with its oil contracts in Iraq, will try to have it both ways by continuing to express an interest in a Basra-Ceyhan pipeline project as well, but could also drop the proposal entirely in favor of continuing to develop the energy deal with the KRG. Further, it is improbable that a compromise will be reached on the issue: a whole series of temporary agreements have arisen in the past on oil disputes between the KRG and the Iraqi central government, but the foundations of the quarrel have never been truly tackled. There is no doubt that the dispute over the budget for this year pushed the KRG to move forward with Ankara in cementing the energy deal.
At present, there is little the Iraqi government can do to stop Ankara beyond saber-rattling rhetoric. A violent confrontation is out of the question, and appealing to Washington to pressure Turkey to reconsider has been unsuccessful.
This failure of persuasion demonstrates the very limited U.S. leverage in the dispute, and while Turkish officials have expressed hope that Washington will eventually take Ankara’s side, they are obviously not pleased that the Americans sided with Baghdad.
From this point follows another conclusion: namely, it is all the more likely that Turkey will continue to resist any future U.S. or wider Western pressure to drop energy and economic ties with Iran amid the sanctions.
Ankara may be diversifying its energy sources, but that does not translate to dropping oil imports from Iran or ending the trade in gold for natural gas. An independent oil and gas pipeline project with the KRG will take years to become fully operational, and there is no reason to assume it is mutually exclusive from continuing energy ties with Iran, just as it is wrong to presume that the KRG will end oil smuggling to Iran just because of an energy agreement with Turkey.
Whatever disagreements Iran and Turkey have about Syria, it is important to note the cases of Iraq-Jordan and Iran/Iraq-Egypt economic ties. Strategic regional outlook is not the same as strengthening economic relations, and so one must avoid interpreting Turkey’s cultivation of energy ties with the KRG as a move away from Iran by either party.
Arabs keep surprising us. Now it seems there is an intent in picking a fight with Turkey and create friction between Turkey and Jordan because of pipelines to take the oil of Iraq to the World Market. The following we picked up April 4, 2013 on the MENAFN in Arabic, but it was not on the English language version.
He and Iraqi Oil Minister Abdul Karim and coffee yesterday that the next few days will witness the signing of the Jordanian-Iraqi transport …
Baghdad warns of Kurdistan oil pipeline to Turkey
Chasing Islamists in the Mountains of Mali, or is it the Dunes? What goes on in Sahelistan – Is this a new Islamistan? Is it a fight for resources? A World of Multi-Partnerships? Will there be an AZAWAD?
Back at the end of January 2013 we posted – based on an article in “Der Spiegel” – that reached us via the UN Wire – that there was in the making an Islamistan, much more dangerous to the West then the AfPak (Afghanistan & Pakistan) region. This will be a Sahelistan ranging from Mauritania to Somalia, right there as a second southern complete layer to the Mediterranean shore Arab States that stretch from Morocco to Egypt. We call this the SAHELISTAN. Its front line is in Mali, Niger, and Chad.
This layer of Islamism is a combination of conservative Islam used as mortar to bind together locally inspired aspirations to free themselves of the Arab century old imposed rulers and like in the Maghreb States and Libya and Egypt, is supported by the religious leaders out of pure opportunism.
Our old posting is:
Now, in Vienna, I realize further the influence of this newly evolving threat and the reality that Europe is happy to let France, the former Colonial power in that region, shoulder the problem by itself. Further, it is France that running its National energy network on nuclear power, is totally depended on the Uranium they get from those countries, while other Members of the EU have no such dependence.
Further, as we noted last month, at the time of the Vienna Conference of the “Alliance of Civilizations” – as shown by the regional division among the Workshops in that meeting, the Central European States have sort of distanced themselves from the Mediterranean States by showing their economic interest as an extension from Central Europe to Central Asia – that is the Black Sea – Caspian Sea and beyond to the other smaller Muslim States that were part of the former Soviet Union. This leaves the Southern EU States to worry about the Muslim MENA region (Middle East – North Africa) and Turkey – if it has to be.
We also suggested a third tier – the Northern tier – and that is the line that connects the Scandinavian countries – Germany – Poland – with Russia.
But that is not where Vienna left this part of the world.
In March I participated further at two wide scope events:
(1) March 11, 2013, the Austrian Institute for International Politics (OIIP) where Editor Walter Haemmerle of the Wiener Zeitung, was the moderator between three Members of OIIP – all Professors at the University but coming from different areas of interest – Prof. Heinz Gaertner – a political Scientist, Prof. Jan Pospisil for the Arab Space – in particular North Africa, and Prof. Cengiz Guenay, for the Near East/ Middle East Space.
The topic was USA – Near East – Mali – in context of Changes of International Applications of Power.
(2) March 21, 2013, the Vienna Institute for International Dialogue and Cooperation (VIDC) - www.VIDC.org – using the space at the Bruno Kreisky Forum for International Dialog – dealt with a more limited topic – and therefore could go down to quite some depth – “Mali: Perspectives for the Political Come-Back.”
The two Malians were – Ismaeel Sory Maiega, Director of the study Center of Languages and African Cultures, and the European Representative of the Tuareg-organized Insurgency MNLA – Mouvement National de Liberation de l’Azawad – National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad, Mr. Moussa Assarid.
Ms. Biloa is also the President “Club Millennium” in Paris – an African Think Tank and training place for leadership.
From the OIIP event:
The issue is the US – it is retrenching from the Reagan – G.W. Bush (the son) days of overextended global involvements – so issues like the insurgency in Mali and other Islamization aspects of North Africa, are to be from now on pure European problems. Even the Middle East will have to take care of itself – the most the US will do is to express encouragement for others to act. Professor Gaertner studied the US elections and his view of the Obama II Administration is very similar to what we wrote on our website. The US is readjusting to the Trans-Pacific Partnership – with China its main focus, so much of what goes on in the Muslim Space will have to be filled in by others. Europeans will have to look across the Mediterranean for their own sake.
Dr. Jan Pospisil did his PhD thesis on US-German military cooperation and then looked at East Africa and Sri-Lanka. Like Prof. Gaertner he sees in Syria the biggest problem for the topic of human rights and both think that this is an area that Austria will pay attention as well. With this background it becomes interesting to note that the Austrian participation in Mali is with 9 people.
Dr. Cengiz Guenay wrote his PhD thesis on “Islam as a political factor in Turkey” and found Libya, Egypt, and now Syria as his main fields of interest and he is called in quite often to explain the situation to the media.
The two main points I marked myself from this discussion were:
A. that Turkey is now a TRADING STATE and will do whatever Mr. Erdogan finds opportune for the literal moment.
B. The World – Instead of Multi-polarity – now it will be MULTI-PARTNERSHIPS.
Then at the VIDC/Bruno Kreisky Forum event we got to know Mr. Assarid a full blooded Tuareg, dressed to prove it, who speaks about the Azawad State they want to carve out from the Northern half of Mali – the five towns – Timbuktu, Lere, Hombori, Gao, and Kidal. His bio says he is a writer, journalist and comedian – living in Paris since 1999. He has appeared on TV in several series as actor. He was saying that the Tuaregs have a National movement that is secular. They are not part of an Islamic uprising and their problem is rather that the other side – the present government in Bamako – that took over from an elected government by military coup – is the one that may help the North Africa Al-Qaeda – not the Tuaregs.
Listening to him, and to his opponent, Professor. Maiega, who is an intellectual – head of a Bamako Institute to promote indigenous languages and African Civilizations, it seems that in effect both of them are more interested in traditional African culture then in Islam, and in effect it is France’s interest in holding on to its previous Colony that is the most problematic aspect of this entanglement. Is it all because of the Uranium, coal, and other natural resources found in Mali? Will this move on to Niger and Chad? What would happen if Mali is allowed to split amicably into two States? Could this be worse then seeing it unravel in fighting that allows other groups to mix the boiling pot?
The French say they want to bring down their fighting troops from 4,000 to 1,000 by the end of April, and have by that time trained the Mali government troops, and the West African troops, that offered to help. I say – Do not hold your breath – I say.
The problem with the desert people maybe much more complicated then what was presented. There is money to be made from those natural resources, and from kidnapping people for ransom. The desert is big and people rather unemployed – so the few can muster the rest, and bamboozle with religion cooked up with social, ethnic, tribal arguments to boot – this works in a world that thinks very little of terrorism, as an accepted tool for those that feel downtroden, and the passage to the world here-after as a move to step up an imagined personalized ladder.
Recent History as reported today – April 1, 2013: The fighting reflected the difficulty of securing Mali after a French intervention in January that pushed the rebels out of their northern strongholds.
“Things are quiet this morning. The markets are open, traffic is on the streets, and people are out of their houses,” Timbuktu resident Garba Maiga said by telephone.
Malian military sources said soldiers were sweeping parts of the town to ensure there were no remaining rebel fighters.
At least one Malian soldier was killed in the clashes, along with more than 20 insurgents, according to a government statement on Sunday night. Residents said at least five civilians were killed in the crossfire.
An army spokesman said that groups of rebels had entered the town after setting off a suicide car bomb at a checkpoint, diverting the military’s attention.
Paris is keen to reduce its current 4,000-strong troop presence to 1,000 by the end of the year as it hands over its mission to a regional African force.
By coincidence – the following arrived in our Inbox and I find this relevant as it stresses US-Senegal relations. Senegal is a Muslim State.
04/01/2013 03:58 PM EDT
Remarks at Luncheon in Honor of Four African Democratic Partners.
William J. Burns
Martin Van Buren Dining Room
March 29, 2013
Good afternoon. It is truly an honor to be here today with all of you. I want to thank Assistant Secretary Carson for hosting this luncheon. As you know, despite our best efforts to change his mind, Johnnie is leaving the State Department after a nearly four decades of exemplary public service. We are all deeply indebted to Johnnie for his leadership and stewardship of the U.S.-Africa relationship.
I would like to welcome President Banda of Malawi, Prime Minister Neves of Cape Verde, Foreign Minister Ndiaye of Senegal, and Foreign Minister Kamara of Sierra Leone. It is a pleasure to host you here at the Department of State.
Like Johnnie, I am an Africa optimist. I am an optimist because the tide of wars and civil strife is receding. I am an optimist because the continent continues to make steady progress in political reform — more than half of the countries in Africa have embraced democratic, multiparty rule and elections and term limits are now widely accepted norms. And I am an optimist because Africa’s growth rate will soon surpass Asia’s and seven of the world’s ten fastest growing economies are African.
The credit for this transformation belongs to leaders like you and courageous citizens across the continent. Looking back over the past two decades, the United States is proud of its modest contribution and steady support.
President Clinton worked with Congress to pass the African Growth and Opportunity Act, which helped create hundreds of thousands of jobs in the region. President George W. Bush created the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, and the Millennium Challenge Corporation, programs that saved millions of lives and brought hundreds of thousands of Africans out of poverty. Over the last four years, President Obama has built on this foundation by forming partnerships based on mutual respect and responsibility with governments, entrepreneurs, youth, women, and the private sector to strengthen democratic institutions, spur economic growth, promote opportunity and development, and advance peace and security.
Each of you illustrates the potential of these partnerships.
President Banda – in one year, you led Malawi out of a deep abyss, moving swiftly to stabilize the economy and elevate human rights. And as you did, the United States was pleased to restore its partnership with your government, including lifting the suspension of our $350 million MCC Compact. We look forward to continuing to work together further to strengthen Malawi democracy, address hunger and improve food security.
Prime Minister Neves – under your leadership, Cape Verde reached middle-income country status, joined the WTO, attracted significant foreign investment, and solidified its social safety net. We value our cooperation on maritime security and in countering narcotrafficking and are pleased to launch a second five-year MCC compact to accelerate economic growth.
Senegal is one of the United States’ strongest partners and a leading democracy in Africa. We applaud the Senegalese government’s commitment to improve governance, regional security, and bilateral cooperation. We deeply appreciate President Sall’s efforts for peace in the Casamance and his leadership on peacekeeping and regional security.
Last year, Sierra Leone held fair, free, and credible elections. We thank President Koroma and his government for their commitment to strengthening Sierra Leone’s democratic institutions. Predictably, the economy responded to your efforts, expanding by 30% in 2012. Let me also note our deep appreciation for your government’s troop contribution to the Somalia peacekeeping force.
There is no doubt that we face many challenges in the coming years – from the Horn to the Great Lakes, and the Sahel. This is why our partnership has never been more important. Fortunately, it has never been stronger.
Thank you very much.
According to the Scottish explorer and scientist Robert Brown, Azawad is an Arabic corruption of the Berber word Azawagh, referring to a dry river basin that covers western Niger, northeastern Mali, and southern Algeria. The name translates to “land of transhumance“.
On 6 April 2012, in a statement posted to its website, the MNLA declared the independence of Azawad from Mali. In this Azawad Declaration of Independence, the name Independent State of Azawad was used (French: État indépendant de l’Azawad, Arabic: Dawlat Azaw?d al-Mustaqillah).
On 26 May, the MNLA and its former co-belligerent Ansar Dine – an Islamist group linked to Al-Qaeda – announced a pact in which they would merge to form an Islamist state; according to the media the new long name of Azawad was used in this pact. But this new name is not clear – sources list few variants of it: the Islamic Republic of Azawad (French: République islamique de l’Azawad), the Islamic State of Azawad (French: État islamique de l’Azawad), the Republic of Azawad. Azawad authorities did not officially confirm any change of name.
The MNLA has unveiled the list of 28 members of the Transitional Council of the State of Azawad (Conseil de Transition de l’Etat de l’Azawad, CTEA) serving as a provisional government with President Bilal Ag Acherif to manage the new State of Azawad.
The Economic Community of West African States, which refused to recognise Azawad and called the declaration of its independence “null and void”, has said it may send troops into the disputed region in support of the Malian claim.
Ansar Dine later declared that they rejected the idea of Azawad independence. The MNLA and Ansar Dine continued to clash, culminating in the Battle of Gao on 27 June, in which the Islamist groups Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa and Ansar Dine took control of the city, driving out the MNLA. The following day, Ansar Dine announced that it was in control of all the cities of northern Mali.
On 14 February 2013 the MNLA renounced their claim of independence for Azawad; it asked the Malian government to start negotiations on its future status.
All of this points at a very confusing situation that in effect backs what we heard at the meeting of March 21, 2013 here in Vienna.
Above map suggests that the presence of Tuaregs which were nomads, is not limited to the north of Mali alone, but they are found in neighboring States as well. The history of the region involved wars that extended to Algeria and to larger Morocco. The area was part of empires that existed in Timbuktu and Gao.
Under French rule
After European powers formalized the scramble for Africa in the Berlin Conference, the French assumed control of the land between the 14th meridian and Miltou, South-West Chad, bounded in the south by a line running from Say, Niger to Baroua. Although the Azawad region was French in name, the principle of effectivity required France to hold power in those areas assigned, e.g. by signing agreements with local chiefs, setting up a government, and making use of the area economically, before the claim would be definitive. On 15 December 1893, Timbuktu, by then long past its prime, was annexed by a small group of French soldiers, led by Lieutenant Gaston Boiteux. The region became part of French Sudan (Soudan Français), a colony of France. The colony was reorganised and the name changed several times during the French colonial period. In 1899 the French Sudan was subdivided and the Azawad became part of Upper Senegal and Middle Niger (Haut-Sénégal et Moyen Niger). In 1902 it was renamed as Senegambia and Niger (Sénégambie et Niger), and in 1904 this was changed again to Upper Senegal and Niger (Haut-Sénégal et Niger). This name was used until 1920 when it became French Sudan again.
French Sudan became the autonomous state of Mali within the French Community in 1958, and Mali became independent from France in 1960. Four major Tuareg rebellions took place against Malian rule: the First Tuareg Rebellion (1962–64), the rebellion of 1990–1995, the rebellion of 2007–2009, and a 2012 rebellion. This alone should tell the world that the situation is not stable and that it can be adjusted only if autonomy is granted the Tuareg region.
In the early twenty-first century, the region became notorious for banditry and drug smuggling. The area has been reported to contain great potential mineral wealth, including petroleum and uranium.
On 17 January 2012, the MNLA announced the start of an insurrection in Azawad against the government of Mali, declaring that it “will continue so long as Bamako does not recognise this territory as a separate entity”.On 24 January, the MNLA won control of the town of Aguelhok, killing around 160 Malian soldiers and capturing dozens of heavy weapons and military vehicles. In March 2012, the MNLA and Ansar Dine took control of the regional capitals of Kidal and Gao along with their military bases. On 1 April, Timbuktu was captured. After the seizure of Timbuktu on 1 April, the MNLA gained effective control of most of the territory they claim for an independent Azawad. In a statement released on the occasion, the MNLA invited all Azawadis abroad to return home and join in constructing institutions in the new state.
The National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA) declared Azawad an independent state on 6 April 2012 and pledged to draft a constitution establishing it as a democracy. Their statement acknowledged the United Nations charter and said the new state would uphold its principles.
In an interview with France 24, an MNLA spokesman declared the independence of Azawad:
In the same interview, Assarid promised that Azawad would respect the colonial frontiers that separate Azawad from its neighbours; he insisted that Azawad’s declaration of independence had international legality.
No foreign entity recognised Azawad. The MNLA’s declaration was immediately rejected by the African Union, who declared it “null and no value whatsoever”. The French Foreign Ministry said it would not recognise the unilateral partition of Mali, but it called for negotiations between the two entities to address “the demands of the northern Tuareg population [which] are old and for too long had not received adequate and necessary responses”. The United States also rejected the declaration of independence.
The MNLA is estimated to have up to 3,000 soldiers. ECOWAS declared Azawad “null and void”, and said that Mali is “one and [an] indivisible entity”. ECOWAS has said that it would use force, if necessary, to put down the rebellion. The French government indicated it could provide logistical support.
On 26 May, the MNLA and its former co-belligerent Ansar Dine announced a pact to merge to form an Islamist state. Later reports indicated the MNLA withdrew from the pact, distancing itself from Ansar Dine. MNLA and Ansar Dine continued to clash, culminating in the Battle of Gao and Timbuktu on 27 June, in which the Islamist groups Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa and Ansar Dine took control of Gao, driving out the MNLA. The following day, Ansar Dine announced that it was in control of Timbuktu and Kidal, the three biggest cities of northern Mali. Ansar Dine continued its offensive against MNLA positions and overran all remaining MNLA held towns by 12 July with the fall of Ansogo.
In December 2012, the MNLA agreed on Mali’s national unity and territorial integrity in talks with both the central government and Ansar Dine.
Most are Muslims, of the Sunni or Sufi orientations. Most popular in the Tuareg movement and northern Mali as a whole is the Maliki branch of Sunnism, in which traditional opinions and analogical reasoning by later Muslim scholars are often used instead of a strict reliance on ?adith (coming directly from the Mohammed’s life and utterances) as a basis for legal judgment.
Ansar Dine follows the Salafi branch of Sunni Islam, which rejects the existence of Islamic holy men (other than Mohammed) and their teachings. They strongly object to praying around the graves of Malikite ‘holymen’, and burned down an ancient Sufi shrine in Timbuktu, which had been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The people living in the central and northern Sahelian and Sahelo-Saharan areas of Mali are the country’s poorest, according to an International Fund for Agricultural Development report. Most are pastoralists and farmers practicing subsistence agriculture on dry land with poor and increasingly degraded soils. The northern part of Mali suffers from a critical shortage of food and lack of health care. Starvation has prompted about 200,000 inhabitants to leave the region.
Refugees in the 92,000-person refugee camp at Mbera, Mauritania, describe the Islamists as “intent on imposing an Islam of lash and gun on Malian Muslims.” The Islamists in Timbuktu have destroyed about a half-dozen historic above-ground tombs of revered holy men, proclaiming the tombs contrary to Shariah. One refugee in the camp spoke of encountering Afghans, Pakistanis and Nigerians among the invading forces.
A Circumcized 9,000 years old Ritual Phallus, made of Anatolian or Georgian obsidian stone, found in a dig between Haifa and Carmiel. What does that mean when talking about ownership of the Holy Land.
Archaeologists have uncovered remnants of a Stone Age culture on the route of a planned rail line in northern Israel, including obsidian arrowheads and fertility objects like a stone phallus and a carved depiction of female genitalia.
The oldest ruins at the site date to 9,000 years ago, the Israel Antiquities Authority said, but it was still inhabited thousands of years later. The location was excavated in a salvage dig ahead of the construction of new train tracks from Haifa to Carmiel.
The findings include the most complete buildings from that time discovered so far in Israel, and some of the oldest evidence of organized legume agriculture in the Middle East, archaeologists Yitzhak Paz and Yaakov Vardi said in a statement.
The objects discovered at the site also show that residents traded with faraway cultures, they said.
“The large number of tools made from obsidian, which is not found in Israel, shows trade ties with Turkey, Georgia and other areas as long ago as this period,” read the statement, released earlier this month.
The fertility objects, like the small stone phallus, “also represented the fertility of the land,” they said. The archaeologists link those findings to a civilization that existed in what is now Israel between 5500 and 4500 BCE.
The civilization, known as the Wadi Rabbah culture, was named for the first site at which it was discovered northeast of Tel Aviv in the 1950s.
The Algemeiner, March 24, 2013 6:32 pm 10 comments
Passover. This week we will all eat more matzo then we ever thought possible, hear more commentary about the Haggadah and its multiple messages for our time, and sit back in awe and (hopefully) love at the site at of our extended family circle.
But this Pesach, let’s leave some space for one young Muslim who deserves the world’s attention and support. He is not a martyr and desperately wants to avoid becoming one. But as of now, he and his family are in hiding in an undisclosed location in the Netherlands, because of death threats.
His name is Mehmet Sahin, a doctoral student, who has volunteered to reach out to street youth in the city of Arnhem. A few weeks ago he interviewed a group of Dutch-Turkish youth on Nederlands TV2 during which several declared their unabashed hatred of Jews and open admiration of Hitler. “What Hitler did to the Jews is fine with me,” said one. “Hitler should have killed all the Jews,” said another.
While these teens knew all about the fate of iconic Holocaust child victim, Anne Frank, that knowledge did nothing to deter them from expressing their outright hatred of Jews over and over again, and insisting that everyone at their school harbored similar views. When you view the clip you will see that their smirks and body language confirm a deeply-embedded hatred. Watch the video as one boy smiles as he declares: “What Hitler said about Jews is that there will be one day when you see that I am right that I killed all the Jews. And that day will come.”
From where does such bigotry emanate? Here’s a hint. When Mehmet Sahin reprimanded the youngsters and committed to spend however much time it would take to debunk and remove their ignorance and hate, here is how his neighbors reacted: They collected signatures to demand he leave the area. When Mehmet began to receive death threats, the Mayor of Arnhem, Pauline Krikke, urged him to go into hiding.
And that is where he and his family are today.
Is this the best solution that democratic Netherlands can come up with? A Witness Protection Program for a man guilty of fighting anti-Semitism and standing up for the truth? Are there no consequences for the hate and threats emanating from adults? Are authorities going to question the student’s parents or teachers?
One member of the Dutch Parliament, Ahmed Marcouch says he will raise the scandal in Parliament. “It is horrible that someone has to be afraid because he has done something that we all should do – teach children not to hate.”
Against the backdrop of Anne Frank’s legacy, how today’s Netherlands deals with such deeply embedded hatred of Jews will impact not only on the future of Dutch Jewry but also on the future of Dutch society. SimonWiesenthal, the late Nazi hunter was much revered by the post-WWII generation in the Netherlands. In the 21st century some have forgotten his oft-repeated warning: warned: “Hate often begins with Jews, but history proves, it never ends with the Jews.”
Mehmet Sahin has written these words; “Within a couple of days, I will move to another city of the Netherlands. My personal situation/story is a shame of the European civilization because it is inconceivable that such barbarism can occur in this country. After what happened in the last three weeks, I understood the eternal loneliness and pain of the Jewish population. In the rest of my life, I will tell the whole world that we all must resist this aggression…”
Dayenu – enough good guys being martyred. We don’t need another martyr. Those kids in the Netherlands and their peers in Europe need Mehmet Sahin and other heroic messengers of truth, peace and tolerance. While me may not be able to guarantee his future we can let him know today, he is not forgotten. Push the pause button on our Matzoth marathon and take a moment to send a message of solidarity to Mehmet c/o firstname.lastname@example.org and together we will let him know he is not alone.
Rabbi Cooper is associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center.
We received the following invitation to a full day conference – the enticing title:
“THE UKRAINE – ITS ORIENTATION TO THE EU OR RUSSIA OR TO BOTH?”
organized by the Danube Region Institute of the Austrian Social Democratic Party (Long-standing member party of Austrian Governments) Karl Renner Think-Tank and held at the Vienna home of the EU offices.
Das Karl-Renner-Institut und das Institut für den Donauraum und Mitteleuropa – IDM laden ein zur
Konferenz - DIE UKRAINE – ORIENTIERUNG RICHTUNG EU UND/ODER RUSSLAND?
Termin - Freitag, 22. März 2013, 9.00 – 16.00 Uhr
Ort – Haus der Europäischen Union – Wipplingerstraße 35, 1010 Wien
Konferenzsprachen: Deutsch und Englisch
The Karl Renner Institute
The Karl Renner Institute is the political academy of the Austrian Social Democratic movement. In this capacity, it foremostly aims at
These days, together with its foreign sister organizations, the Karl Renner Institute especially tries to support the young Central and Eastern European democracies and to help their integration into the mainstream of European political life. So it was not surprising that it brought its representative to the European Parliament, Mr. Hannes Swoboda, to be part of the discussion.
The Keynote speaker was – the 1995-2000 Head of the parallel German Social Democrat Think Tank – the Friedrich Ebert Foundation’s Kiew offices – and author of the volume: “The Ukraine Power Vacuum between Russia and the European Union”and from that point on the rest of the meeting just went on to justify that title.
The three panels were:
Each of these panels was moderated by an editor of one of the most important print media in Austria – “Der Standard”, “Profil”, and “Die Presse,”
So why am I disappointed? And disappointed I was. The answer is simple – I found more valuable information in a copy of “The Ukrainian Week” -
The problems were two-fold. No presenter went into depth in describing the economics situation – it mainly was a debate about culture and where does Ukraine stand versus the cultural invasion from Russia. The fact that Russia never recognized that the Ukrainians have their own language and culture that are different from Russian. The fact that the Ukrainian elite knows only one foreign language – Russian. This while the Russian elites know western languages. The Ukrainians feel suffocated under the Russian onslaught but do not know any better. When they reached out to the West – they were not received – just because of this – they did not comply with Western ideals.
So, what we got was not real interests but perceived interests – with the Ukrainians actively shooting themselves in the foot.
When I went to the conference, as we posted many times on SustainabiliTank, I felt that The Ukraine will eventually have to split amicably like the old Czechoslovakia did – The Western Ruthenians that still remember their links to Poland – even though they never liked to be under Polish rule – belong to the EU, while the East and South – heavily Russian speaking – join Russia. But when others actually made this argument in the Q&A they were told that 80% of the citizens are Ukrainians – even those that speak Russian – and they want to stay in the Ukraine.
Further, when the previous government did serious and painful steps to adjust to the EU they were rebuffed anyway – so now there is a turn back to Russia.
a. Ukraine is too big to slip into the EU without being noticed
That reminded me of the Turkish experience – too big and too different.
The Turks tried to westernize under Ataturk – but still were Turks. The Ukrainians – or at least part of them could be accepted by the EU but they are not ready to make the Czechoslovak sacrifice. Actually they are much worse off then the Turks. There the decisions were in their own hands – no outside pull to the East. Here, the Russians want a buffer State between them and the West – so they will be kept in limbo if not ready to make their own decisions. So here comes the Custom Union with Russia that will leave them totally in continuing dependence on Russia. Could they aim at a Custom Union with the EU as well – and stay on as a buffer – in global limbo? The danger is – like Turkey – they eventually turn into a spinning top – just spinning around themselves. Not a great future in this.
The Media finally catches up to it – Cyprus – Will Russia get now a piece as it did years ago in Syria? This might be “plan D” that lets the potentially gas rich mini-State float away from the EURO and eventually the EU. Could an Obama Foray help by reconciling Turkey and Cyprus now that Greece was weakened by its own crisis?
Russian PM lectures Barroso on Cyprus.
Medvedev: ‘The euro crisis has strengthened ideas that Europe is in decline.’
BRUSSELS - Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev humbled European Commission chief Jose Manuel Barroso in public remarks on Thursday (21 March) over the EU’s handling of Cyprus.
Speaking alongside Barroso at a conference in Moscow, he called the EU’s original Cypriot bailout idea “to put it mildly, surprising … absurd … preposterous.”
“The situation is unpredictable and inconsistent. It [the bailout model] has been reviewed several times. I browsed the Internet this morning and I saw another Plan B, or a Plan C or whatever,” he noted.
He upbraided EU institutions for failing to give Moscow due notice of its decision.
“The system of early warning did not work very well … that means we need to work on it,” he said.
He also quoted unnamed Russian “eurosceptics” as saying: “The euro crisis has strengthened ideas that Europe is in decline in the 21st century … that the European project has turned out to be too cumbersome.”
Earlier the same say, he told Russian newswire Interfax that he is thinking of reducing Russia’s holding of euro-denominated currency reserves.
In a sign of broader Russian upset, Leonid Grigoriev, an academic and a former Russian deputy finance minister, told a separate news conference that Russian money is no longer safe anywhere in the EU.
“The Cyprus situation has created new uncertainty in the banking sector. People have started thinking whether the same can happen elsewhere, in Spain, Portugal, Ireland?” he said.
The EU’s Plan A for Cyprus was to lend it €10 billion, but to impose a 7-to-10 percent levy on all Cypriot savers, including Russian expats, who alone stood to lose €2 billion.
It has now been scrapped.
It is unclear what new model might be found.
But the Cypriot finance minister, Michael Sarris, also in Moscow on Thursday, said he is in talks to give Russia shares in Cypriot “banks, natural gas [reserves]” in return for Russian bailout money.
For his part, Barroso told Medvedev that the EU could not have warned Russia even if it wanted to.
“Regarding the conclusions of the last Eurogroup [euro finance ministers, who drew up Plan A], Russia was not informed because the governments of Europe were not informed – let’s be completely open and honest about that issue. There was not a pre-decision before the Eurogroup meeting. The Eurogroup meeting concluded, I think, in the very early hours of Saturday and the decision was the result of a compromise,” he said.
He added: “Don’t believe in this idea of the decline of Europe … The European Union is stronger than it is today fashionable to admit.”
Leaked documents on internal EU talks seen by the Reuters news agency give substance to Russia’s criticism, however.
The notes record remarks by finance officials from euro-using countries during a panicky conference call about Cyprus held on Wednesday.
According to Reuters, a French official said Cyprus’ decision not to take part in the phone-debate is “a big problem … We have never seen this.”
A German official said Cyprus might quit the euro and there is a need to “ring-fence” other countries from contagion.
A European Central Bank official said there is a “very difficult situation” because savers might pull money from the island if banks re-open next week.
Meanwhile, Thomas Wieser, an Austrian-origin EU official who chaired the phone-meeting, described the situation as “foggy.” He added: “The economy is going to tank in Cyprus no matter what.”
To the above we add that Turkey, its holding onto North Cyprus, and its interest in the gas fields that stretch from Cyprus to Israel and Lebanon, having first development seen by Israel, are part of the larger scope of the Cyprus potential move away from the EU. But, In effect, these other aspects might make the EU stiffen up in a bailing out effort conditioned only on reorganizing some of the Cypriot Banks – letting Russian oligarchs foot part of the bill – without selling to Russia port holdings in the Mediterranean. Seeing a Syria solution that drives out Russia from its port facilities there, may be part of the American interest in the region as well. In short – Cyprus is not Iceland – this because it is geographically located in a very complicated region of the Outer EU. Is it so that an Obama trip could help by forcing a Cyprus-Turkey reconciliation first?
We just found out that The New York Times is catching up:
Summing Up – The implementation of The Israel-Turkey Reconciliation Agreement and Financial help for the survival of Jordan are the Visible Results of the Obama Foray into the Middle East. Not mentioned so far are possible moves on Syria, Cyprus, or Egypt.
To the Europe and Eurasia and the Near East lists of the US Department of State
Secretary of State
March 23, 2013
The reconciliation between Israel and Turkey is a very important development that will help advance the cause of peace and stability in the region. Prime Minister Netanyahu and Prime Minister Erdogan deserve great credit for showing the leadership necessary to make this possible.
As I discussed with Prime Minister Netanyahu this evening, this will help Israel meet the many challenges it faces in the region.
We look forward to an expeditious implementation of the agreement and the full normalization of relations so Israel and Turkey can work together to advance their common interests.
On Chemical Weapons – while the assumed news are of their having been used in Syria – Vienna becomes the hub like it is about Nuclear Weapons. March 19, 2013 we watched at the Andromeda Tower, outside the UN Vienna compound, Turkish Ambassador Ahmet Üzümcü, Director General of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, explain the report of his Commission to the Vienna based organization experienced in work on Weapons of Mass Destruction.
Vienna Center for Disarmament and Non-Proliferation (VCDNP) - www.vcdnp.org - is the place for International discussions among representatives of civil society, governments, and organizations on nuclear disarmament & proliferation. This is a main reason for why there is still some value to the UN despite the fact that the UN in incapable of reaching decisions, it is a place like this, outside the perimeter of the UN, but nevertheless a center that was inspired and came into its existence because of the UN, that the bulky and unwieldy UN itself gets its lease for life.
Interesting to note that VCDNP is located in the Andromeda Tower which is just outside the perimeter of the UN Center in Vienna – clearly as a way to allow for the participation of those that UN Member States might want to keep out and thus on a different level – also a further example to how one could improve the performance of deliberations on topics of real interest to the UN organization – just do it outside the reach of forbidding rules or habits.
We post today on VCDNP having planned and hosted a seminar by H.E. Ambassador Ahmet Üzümcü, Director-General of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), titled “The Chemical Weapons Convention: Making Disarmament Happen.” The event was held in the conference room of the VCDNP on Tuesday, 19 March 2013, 1:15-2:30 pm.
The background of the seminar is the very timely – newspapers front page issue, of the chemical weapons of the Syrian arsenal and the danger that they might be used by the Syrian government or by the opponents fighting the government. In the past fifteen years, the Chemical Weapons Convention and the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons have developed a robust verification and monitoring mechanism for chemical disarmament and non-proliferation. With almost 80 percent of the world’s global stocks of chemical weapons eliminated, the questions in focus are – what are the key issues on the agenda of the OPCW today? What are future objectives and activities? How to preserve the Convention and its core mission of the effective prohibition of chemical weapons? These and other issues were addressed by OPCW Director-General Ahmet Üzümcü.
Angola, Burma/Myanmar, and South Sudan have started the process to destroy their Chemical Weapons stockpiles. This leaves only 5 remaining States without intention to join – a main concern now being Syria.
The OPCW works on the basis of countries declaring voluntarily their stockpiles and subscribing to a regime of destroying them. The organization’s present director was Turkey’s representative in Geneva and at NATO. He is only the third director and started his term July 25, 2010, following Rogelio Pfirter of Argentina who served for two terms starting July 25, 2002.
The first director was Jose Bustani – a Beazilian diplomat. His first term started May 13, 1997, but then fell into US disfavor.
The second term of the first Director-general, Jose Bustani, cut on grounds of financial mismanagement. There is much controversy surrounding the reasons behind Bustani’s removal. Bustani had been negotiating with the Iraqi regime, and was hoping to persuade them to sign up to the OPCW, thus granting OPCW inspectors full access to Iraq’s purported chemical weapons arsenal. If Bustani had succeeded, this would have placed a formidable obstacle in the path of the Bush administration’s war plans, by removing their ostensible motive. Bustani’s supporters insist this was the reason why the US forced him out. The Bush administration claimed that Bustani’s position was no longer tenable, stating three main reasons: “polarizing and confrontational conduct”, “mismanagement issues” and “advocacy of inappropriate roles for the OPCW”. Bustani’s supporters also claim that the U.S. ambassador issued threats against OPCW members in order to coerce them to support the U.S. initiative against Bustani, including the withdrawal of U.S. support for the organization. It has been said that Bustani was bullied out from the OPCW by John Bolton — something that appears consistent with what was said about Bolton’s practices during the U.S. Senate hearings prior to his appointment as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. This decision was highly controversial and deemed improper by the International Labour Organization. Following this he was Ambassador of Brazil to the United Kingdom between 2003 and 2008 and is currently Ambassador of Brazil to France.
The Hague was chosen as the location for the seat of the organization after a successful lobby of the Dutch government, competing against Vienna and Geneva. The organization has its headquarters next to the World Forum Convention Center (where it holds its yearly Conference of States Parties) and storage/laboratory facilities in Rijswijk (on the premises of TNO). The headquarters were officially opened by Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands on 20 May 1998 and consist of an eight-story building built in a semi-circle. There is a memorial to the victims of chemical warfare.
Ambassador Ahmet Üzümcü is a Turkish career diplomat who is the director-general of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. Üzümcü was consul at the Consulate General in Aleppo, Syria and ambassador in Israel. This besides his appointments to Geneva and NATO.
He seems well positioned in this present problem with Syria. The problem is nevertheless that the Convention allows only for sort of an evaluation capability, but there is no effective management of the weapons’ destruction process. When I spoke with him here in Vienna, he told me that just three of the Convention member countries, Albania, India , and Korea (South) have completely eliminated their stockpiles. Now, the newly joining three States will try to do the same. In effect it is just the US and Russia that have very substantially reduced their declared Chemical Weapons arsenals.
Destroying those supplies is difficult and a very expensive undertaking. Facilities exist in Russia and the US and even the metal part s of the weapons have to be burned and there is a problem how to get rid in an environmental acceptable way even of this part of the weapon. The US is building now to sites – in Kentucky and in Colorado – the latter to be put in use in 2015. The Russians will have 4 facilities in 2015. Looking at problematic States – Libya is another one. They have repaired now equipment that can destroy mustard gas and it is expected the stock-piles will be destroyed under OPCW supervision. Syria has no facilities, no means, and at present probably no interest in destroying these weapons. Ambassador Üzümcü is looking into beefing up his capability to do an investigation if called upon in Syria – but he cannot send experts into a conflict zone – first a permissible environment has to be created if the inspectors are to be sent out.
What is worse – the Convention did not foresee terrorism as a danger from Chemical Weapons – it is intended to work with consigning States. As such for instance, Japan sends its weapons to China for decommissioning and destruction. States find Chemical Weapons ineffective today – but this is not the way terrorists think.
Also, Qatar (near Doha) and Kenya (near Nairobi) have proposed to establish destruction centers for CW material. The effort is to use the verification know-how and apply it in the context of a verification regime. In effect some 50 countries can handle this through their Chemical industries. A conference is planned for April 8, 2013 to discuss the findings of a report released three years ago. This in order to provide a further report on how to proceed.
Further, Chemicals is one thing – weaponization is something else – the development of delivery systems. Then Chemicals could be considered by some if it is just tear gas. All this makes it more difficult to read the news because much of it could be in the eye of the beholder and here com in the technical personnel of the convention’s verifiers – clearly very important when judging what is known about Syria.
There is a “high probability” that Syria used chemical weapons against opposition forces, though verification is needed, U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said Tuesday.
The claims come amid pressure in the West to arm the rebels, long overmatched by the Syrian military and its allies.
The embattled government of President Bashar al-Assad on Tuesday accused rebels of a deadly chemical weapon missile attack on the town of Khan al-Asal in Aleppo province. The opposition has accused al-Assad’s forces of using such weapons.
The civil war — which began two years ago after a government crackdown on Syrian protesters — has left around 70,000 people dead, the United Nations says, and uprooted more than 1 million people.
UN chief says chemical weapon use would be ‘outrageous’
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon “remains convinced that the use of chemical weapons by any party (in Syria) under any circumstances would constitute an outrageous crime,” the UN said Tuesday.
The comment came after Syria’s government and opposing rebels on Tuesday each accused each other of using chemical weapons for the first time in two years of unrest in Syria.
Ban and Ahmet Uzumcu, Director General of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, “shared deep concern about the alleged use of chemical weapons in Syria,” the UN said, in a statement following their conversation.
The two men pledged to “maintain close contact as developments unfold.”
UN spokesman Martin Nesirky said that the UN was “aware of the report” that chemical weapons had been used in Syria, but said “we are not in a position to confirm it.”
Key Bashar al-Assad ally Moscow said it had “information” from Damascus that rebels had used chemical weapons, while Washington said there was “no evidence” the insurgents had staged their first chemical attack and warned it would be “totally unacceptable” for the regime to use such arms.
Remarks by Deputy Ambassador Philip Parham Deputy Permanent Representative of the UK Mission to the UN, on Allegation
Thank you very much. Good evening everyone. As Ambassador Araud has said we have raised in the Security Council this afternoon the very worrying reports of the use of chemical weapons in Syria. And I emphasise reports plural. As Ambassador Araud said, the National Coalition issued a statement today saying that there had been two cases of chemical weapons being used in Syria yesterday, one in the Damascus area and one in the Aleppo area. The Syrian Government has also issued statements about the alleged use of chemical weapons in the Aleppo area and have attributed that to the opposition. The opposition have attributed both the cases they cited to the Government.
Clearly, if chemical weapons have been used, this will be abhorrent. It will be very grave. It will warrant a serious response by the international community. And it will force us to revisit the approach that we have been taking so far. But the facts are not clear at the moment and this is the whole point, and the point that we raised in the Security Council. The facts need to be clarified. But I think on that point it is worth just remembering how many distortions and falsehoods we have seen from the Syrian regime over the last two years. Also remembering that it is the Syrian regime which has stockpiles of chemical weapons and materials in Syria and who are responsible under Security Council resolutions to ensure those are not proliferated. And it is also worth remembering too that we have seen many, many cases, all too many cases of the Syrian regime using heavy weaponry against its own people in an entirely disproportionate and unjustified way.
So what we have is reports and allegations. They are very serious and they need to be investigated. And what we said to our colleagues on the Security Council this afternoon was that we would be asking the Secretary-General to conduct such an investigation, swift, thorough and impartial, of any reports of use of chemicals weapons.
The request which the Syrian Government has apparently made to the Secretary-General is a request about only one alleged instance and the way that they have framed the request prejudges the outcome of the investigation by alleging that it’s the opposition that is responsible for that case of use of chemical weapons. What we want is an impartial, thorough and swift investigation which will come to the truth as far as that is possible. That is what we asked for. I would say also that we found among our colleagues on the Security Council that the vast majority of them supported this and I think will support the request that we put to the Secretary-General.
Q: Have you had any information earlier that the opposition in Syria seized some stockpiles, some chemical stockpiles. Have you had any of this kind of information? If the allegations were to be proven right or true, have you heard anything about that before? That the opposition seized some stockpiles, chemical stockpiles?
Q: Ambassador Parham could you tell us what the next step is? Are you planning to send a letter to the Secretary General signed just by those members of the Council who support a wider investigation of not just the Aleppo incident or are you going to try and see if all the Council members will sign on which from what Ambassador Churkin said doesn’t really sound like a possibility?
A: I think from what you’ve heard that’s pretty clear that Ambassador Churkin is not going to sign the letter and as we have also said speed is of the essence here so it will be a case of a number of a number of us, as many as possible, writing to the Secretary General.
Friday, June 11th, 2010 we posted on SustainabiliTank.info the following:
We live now at a time of RESET in the Positioning of Turkey in the Middle East with a potential Reset also in American policy towards the Middle East. The latest debacle that involved Turkey, planned or not, has the potential that a new leader in the region has come on board. The new energy has to be encouraged to do good in the future.
It seems that above is reaching fruition now – though not exactly as we advocated before a meeting of Turkish Americans.
We said at the time that though we see Turkey repositioning from trying to become a European Nation – to rather opting to be the head of the Arab States, and that we accept it will first sharpening an anti-Israeli attitude in order to be able to get the head of the Arab pack position, and then lead to a resetting of the whole region for a friendlier position regarding Europe and the US.
We said then that we expect Turkey to be a leader for Middle East Peace. But now, with internal changes in the Arab States and the falling apart of Syria, it seems the Turkish Erdogan leadership opts rather to set first in order its own problems with the Kurdish minority – this in order to be able to deal with the outside Kurds who are pushing for more and more autonomy in Iraq and are now asking for autonomy in Syria. Had the Turks accepted the idea of becoming a bi-National State in partnership with their own Kurds, they could have benefited now from the incorporation of the Iraqi and Syrian Kurds as well – and who knows, eventually the Iranian Kurds. Indeed, I do not see this full development acceptable to Erdogan, but I see his beating on Israel in order to placate his own people so they accept as a necessity some retreat from the anti Kurdish stand in Turkey itself.
The following comes from the general press these days and is linked to Erdogan trying to answer to the Americans after the Vienna incident where he stepped willingly into the Zionism is Racism forbidden zone. Erdogan tries to navigate now these troubling waters in an effort to find an advantage.
Q. Last week in Turkey, US Secretary of State John Kerry chastised Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan for terming Zionism a “crime against humanity”. Is there any hope at all for Turkish-Israeli rapprochement?
A. from – Yossi Alpher, journalist with Americans for Peace Now – that is in the Middle East: March 4, 2013
Some modest hope, despite Erdogan’s inflammatory rhetoric. There are a number of indications that once Netanyahu’s new government is in place and concessions to Turkey can’t be used as a domestic political football in Israel, the prime minister is planning finally to offer Ankara a long-delayed “apology” for Turkish loss of life in the May 2010 Mavi Marmara incident. In parallel, he’ll have none other than the Muslim Brotherhood government in Egypt to vouch for a radical Israeli loosening of at least the land blockade on the Gaza Strip, thereby partially satisfying another Turkish demand.
UN Watch was never enthusiastic about the UN – it took RITA to show that the Great Hall can also be a place of Peace. Mr. Ahmedine-Nejad – watch the video and enjoy – RITA is an exponent of your Culture and could be an envoy of your Civilization. Why did nobody think of bringing her to Vienna last week for the meeting of the Alliance?
WE WERE AT THAT CONCERT IN NEW YORK CITY TOWN HALL, and in the nearby Bar, NOVEMBER 2012, WHEN AMBASSADOR PROSOR SAW RITA SING AND DANCE IN FARSI, HEBREW, and ENGLISH, and DECIDED THAT THIS OUGHT TO BE SEEN AT THE UN AS WELL. SURELY, HE WAS NOT NAIVE TO THINK THAT IT WILL BE EASY, BUT HE DID IT!!!