links about us archives search home
SustainabiliTankSustainabilitank menu graphic
SustainabiliTank

 
 
Follow us on Twitter

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:

 

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

 

Brazen Hamas Billboard Links Hamas to Turkey, Qatar.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Egyptian Entrepreneur Laments Lack of Open Business With Israel.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

###

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

 

The Ottoman Revival Is Over.

 

NEW YORK — For Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey’s embattled prime minister, a win in Sunday’s local elections will be a Pyrrhic victory. While his Justice and Development Party, or A.K.P., will likely retain a majority of municipalities, Turkey as a whole, particularly as an international player, has lost.

Mr. Erdogan’s decade-plus grip on power has been weakened by anti-government protests, corruption allegations, and an ugly confrontation with the powerful and admired Muslim religious leader Fethullah Gulen. In a desperate effort to prevent any further hemorrhaging of his power, Mr. Erdogan has abandoned the ambitious foreign policy that was the basis for Turkey’s regional resurgence in recent years and has resorted to attacking his enemies. The prime minister is now so fixated on his own political survival that he recently attempted, in vain, to shut down Twitter across the country.

It’s a far cry from 2003, when Mr. Erdogan ascended to the premiership and announced a determined and democratic agenda to strengthen Turkey’s economic and global standing.

(The author says) I visited him soon afterward in Turkey’s capital, Ankara. He told me then, “There are approximately 72 million people in this country — and I represent each and every one.”   To represent everyone, he pushed for the passage of laws that granted increased freedoms to Turkey’s minorities, particularly the Kurds. He implemented economic policies to increase foreign investment. He reached out to far-flung capitals in Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Middle East, opening more than a dozen embassies and many new markets. He even secured a rotating seat for Turkey on the United Nations Security Council in 2009 and made contributions to Washington’s “war on terror.”

Nearly every road that has been fixed, public transportation project approved, school built and reform passed has been done so with an eye to extending Turkey’s regional and global influence.

In 2009, Mr. Erdogan began to advance a “zero problems” foreign policy. The brainchild of his foreign minister, Ahmet Davutoglu, that policy was predicated on the idea that Turkey isn’t merely a “bridge” or “crossroads” between East and West, but an integral player in international diplomacy, security and trade. Turkey sought closer relations with neighbors in the Balkans, Russia, and especially the Middle East. “Zero problems,” guided Mr. Erdogan to deepen ties with Turkey’s southern and eastern neighbors, including Iran and Syria. Both became major trading partners and, in Iran’s case, a vital source for Turkish energy.

Some have called it “neo-Ottomanism” — an attempt to restore the former Ottoman Empire and its vanished regional glory. Whatever the label, Turkey managed to become a key foreign policy player in the eyes of American and European leaders.

President Obama traveled to Turkey in 2009 and spoke about the country’s strategic importance and increasing global role. During the Arab Spring, Western leaders held Turkey up as a progressive and prosperous democratic model for other Muslim-majority nations. Mr. Erdogan even took Turkey further toward European Union accession than any leader before him.

Beset by domestic crises, Mr. Erdogan has turned his focus toward his core constituency, a largely conservative, anti-Western population in the heartland. In doing so he has reverted to a tactic that has resonated with them: aggression.

Frantic to recreate the enthusiasm he garnered after storming off a panel with Israel’s president, Shimon Peres, in Davos in 2009 and his decision to cut ties with Israel after Israel attacked a Turkish flotilla in 2010, Mr. Erdogan has ramped up hostile rhetoric against his opponents — abroad and at home. He has attacked what he calls the “interest rate lobby,” called last summer’s protests a “dirty plot by foreign-backed elements,” and blamed the “provocative actions” of “foreign diplomats” for concocting corruption allegations. Recently, he slammed Mr. Gulen and his followers as a “spy ring” seeking to overthrow the government.

Moreover, Mr. Erdogan’s current governance strategy has gutted the country’s foreign policy. Nearby Crimea, a former Ottoman stronghold and the native land of the Tatars, an ethnic Turkic people, is a case in point. When Russia invaded and annexed the Black Sea peninsula, Mr. Erdogan failed to come to the defense of his cultural and religious brethren, as he did in Egypt. Indeed, after the Egyptian military ousted Mohamed Morsi in July, Mr. Erdogan dismissed their actions as “illegal,” refused to recognize the new government and recalled Turkey’s ambassador to Cairo. On Crimea, the Turkish prime minister has restricted himself to grunts of disapproval despite the fears of the Tatars who will now fall under Russian control just 70 years after Stalin deported hundreds of thousands of Tatars to Siberia.

Mr. Erdogan may believe that his tactics have worked. But in the long run, he’ll have to accept that his increased belligerence has isolated his country. When it comes to regional issues like Egypt, Iran and Iraq, the United States has now largely marginalized Turkey.

Not too long ago, the common question posed in Western capitals was “Who lost Turkey?” Many fingers pointed at Brussels and Washington. But today, as the prime minister steers Turkey away from its path of prosperity and international relevance toward antagonism and repression, the answer seems to be Mr. Erdogan himself.

Elmira Bayrasli is the co-founder of Foreign Policy Interrupted and a fellow at the World Policy Institute.

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

We added to this article about Turkey as follower of the Ottomans, in our title, also the Soviet Empire with a similar feeling that Putin is losing now in his effort to revive it under Russian leadership.

What we see in Putin’s stirring the Ukraine is just that – an attempt to extend Russia to the Soviet borders and this will cause economic retreat to the people of Russia, the surveillance of the internet and eventually unhappiness of Russian citizens. It will also impact the whole neighborhood.

 

 

###

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

 

Mixing Music in Istanbul: 
Turkish Jews and Their Sacred Songs
lecture/demonstration featuring
Maureen Jackson
special musical guest: Munir Beken (oud)
Monday, March 24, 7:00PM

at Center for Jewish History

15 W 16th Street in Manhattan

Admission is free – RSVP to info@jewishmusicforum.org

This lecture-demonstration explores the linked histories of Istanbul, its Jewish community, and historical musical traces of multi-religious music-making in Ottoman and Turkish society.  Author of Mixing Musics: Turkish Jewry and the Urban Landscape of a Sacred Song (Stanford University Press; winner of the National Jewish Book Award in Sephardic Culture, 2013), Dr. Maureen Jackson focuses on the Jewish religious repertoire known as the Maftirim, which developed in interaction with Ottoman court music. Her research in Istanbul illuminates the people, places, and practices that shaped an Ottoman music world, Jewish cultural life, and continuities and ruptures experienced across the 20th and 21st centuries. 
 
Munir Beken, an oud virtuoso and ethnomusicologist at UCLA’s Herb Alpert School of Music will be on hand to perform musical examples that bring to life the Turkish musical forms at the heart of Dr. Jackson’s study.

Dr. Maureen Jackson has received the Sabanc? International Research Award 2nd Prize in 2008 as well as grants from the Fulbright Foundation, National Endowment for the Humanities, and Turkish Cultural Foundation.

The Jewish Music Forum is a project of the American Society for Jewish Music, with the support of he American Jewish Historical Society and the Center for Jewish History. Founded in 2004, the Jewish MusicForum is now in its tenth season.

For more information please visit www.jewishmusicforum.org/

This event has received promotional support from the American Sephardi Federation American Sephardi Federation and CTMD.

Panel Discussion

Passing the Torch: Jewish Music Archives

and the Future of Yiddish Song

moderated by

Mark Slobin

Sunday, April 6, 11:00AM

at Center for Jewish History

15 West 16th Street, Manhattan

Admission: $10

click here to reserve tickets

 

Around 1900, East European Jews became acutely aware of the impact of modernization and urbanization on their culture: on their songs, their tales, and customs. They set in motion a wide range of projects and institutions to gather, archive, and study fading folklore. YIVO was a pioneer in this push, along with a galaxy of Polish and Russian (later Soviet) activists. Today, with the loss of the original population and the huge demographic and cultural shifts of world Jewry, the surviving archives both preserve and channel a rising tide of interest, even a hunger, for what’s called “Yiddish” music and folklore.

This symposium brings together archivists, scholars and performers to discuss the history and creation of Yiddish folk music archives, and the future of the study and performance of Yiddish song today. What is the role of Jewish music archives in fostering new scholarship and Yiddish music?

Wesleyan University ethnomusicologist  Mark Slobin will moderate the panel which will also feature CTMD artistic director Ethel Raim, Lorin Sklamberg (YIVO, The Klezmatics), Robert Rothstein (University of Massachusetts, Amherst), Gila Flam (National Library of Israel) and Lyudmila Sholokhova (YIVO).

 

The event is dedicated to the memory of Chana Mlotek, YIVO’s Music Archivist from 1978 until her recent passing at age 91 in 2013. This program is made possible with the generous support of the Mlotek family. It is co-sponsored by the American Society for Jewish Music.  

Bessarabian Klezmer:
Tantshoyz Dance Party
featuring Master Klezmer Clarinetist/Accordionist
Isaac Sadigursky
 Dance leading by Michael Alpert
Tuesday, April 22, 7:30PM-10:00PM 
Isaac Sadigursky
At the Stephen Wise Free Synagogue, 
30 W. 68th St. (btw Columbus and Central Park West on Manhattan’s Upper West Side)   
Admission $15 

CTMD’s An-sky Institute for Jewish Culture is excited to bring back clarinetist/accordionist Isaac Sadigursky for a special program on Bessarabian* klezmer. Born in Belts, Moldova, the Los Angeles-based clarinetist/accordionist Isaac Sadigursky is a major exponent of the Bessarabian klezmer tradition and its rich Ottoman/Balkan-influenced repertoire.

 

Lace up your dancing shoes for a special Tantshoyz Yiddish Dance Party as Sadigursky will lead an all-star band with dance leading by Michael Alpert. Folks new to Yiddish Dance absolutely welcome! 

 

Instrumentalists can come at 5:30PM for a special workshop (extra charges apply), and hang around for a jam session at the end of the evening.

 

Presented as part of the New York Klezmer Series, curated by Aaron Alexander.

*Bessarabia, a historic region between the Prut and Dniester Rivers, named after the Basarab ruling dynasty is geographically equivalent to today’s Republic of Moldova, inclusive of the contested Transnistrian Republic.  The region has been a fascinating cultural crossroads for centuries, fought over by the Ottoman and Romanov empires, then Romanian and later Soviet until the fall of the USSR. The region’s largest city is Chisinau (Yiddish: Kishinev).

Yiddish Song of the Week
The Internet’s leading site for Yiddish folksong!

 

Online at www.yiddishsong.wordpress.com

 

Hundreds of Yiddish song enthusiasts from all over the world participate in an online community surrounding CTMD’s Yiddish Song of the Week blog – the internet’s leading destination for information, recordings and transcriptions of rare Yiddish folksong repertoire. Blog editor Itzik Gottesman of the Yiddish Forverts newspaper and a group of leading song researchers post their favorite field recordings of important traditional folksingers such as Lifshe Schaechter-Widman, Tsunye Rymer, Josh Waletzky, Beyle Schaechter-Gottesman and many others. 

Sponsors and Credits
Major support for the An-sky Institute for Jewish Culture is provided to the Center for Traditional Music and Dance by the Keller-Shatanoff Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts. Additional support is provided by the Atran Foundation as well as public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts, a State agency and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, the Scherman Foundation, Con Edison, the Hearst Foundation, the Mertz Gilmore Foundation, Friends of Cantor Janet Leuchter and the Fan Fox and Leslie R. Samuels Foundation. We are grateful additionally to the Forward Association for providing seed funding for the Institute. Photo of Isaac Sadigursky courtesy of YiddishkaytLA. Photo of Lifshe Schaechter-Widman courtesy of Itzik Gottesman.

For more information about upcoming events, what’s happening in New York City’s traditional music and dance scene, to join or to donate, go to CTMD’s website, or contact Pete Rushefsky at 212-571-1555, ext. 36 (office), 917-326-9659 (cell) or prushefsky@ctmd.org (email).

 

###

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

 

Using Copyright to Censor, from Turkey to Svoboda to Ban’s UN & Reuters.

 

By Matthew Russell Lee, The Inner City Press (ICP) at the UN in New York.

 

UNITED NATIONS, March 20 — Turkey has now blocked Twitter citing a prosecutor’s decision, drawing ire in the US from Press Secretary Jay Carney and State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki, after Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan in order to get his leaked phone calls removed from Google’s YouTube has reportedly “copyrighted” his calls.

 

   This use of copyright to try to censor has echoes in the United Nations — and in Ukraine, where the Svoboda Party tried to get videos of its Members of Parliament beating up a news executive taken down as violations of copyright.

 On the Guardian website on March 21, where the video had been was a notice that “This video is no longer available due to a copyright claim.”

The New York Times reported that late on March 20, YouTube copies of the video were taken down “for violating the copyright of the Svoboda party spokesman, who seems to be working to erase the evidence from the Internet through legal means.”

 

   This is a growing trend. As set forth below, an anti-Press complaint to the UN’s Stephane Dujarric, now Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s spokesperson, has been banned from Google’s Search by an invocation of copyright similar to Erdogan’s.

 

  On March 21, Dujarric from Kyiv told Inner City Press neither he nor, he assuumed, Ban had seen the Svoboda beat-down video. This seems noteworthy, given its prominence in Ukraine. Now we can add: perhaps Ban and Dujarric didn’t see it due to the same censorship by copyright that has for now banned an anti Press complaint to them from Google’s Search.

 

  And as to Twitter, Dujarric in his previous post in charge of UN Media Accreditation grilled Inner City Press about a tweet mentioning World War Two – the basis for example of France’s veto power in the Security Council, which it parlayed into essentially permanent ownership of the top post in UN Peacekeeping, now though Herve Ladsous (coverage of whom Dujarric tried to dictate, or advise, Inner City Press about.)

 

   Dujarric’s now bipolar tweeting has intersected with a recently revived anonymous trolling campaign which originated in the UN Correspondents Association, in support of the Sri Lankan government, alleging that any coverage of the abuse of Tamils must be funded by the now defunct Tamil Tigers.

 

  These outright attempts to censor are echoed, more genteelly, even as part of the UN press briefings these days. When Dujarric took eight questions on March 20 on Ban’s essentially failed trip to Moscow, fully half went to representatives of UNCA’s 15 member executive committee, including state media from Turkey, France and the United States. Other questions — by Twitter — were not answered, except those from explicitly pro-UN sources. These are the UN’s circles.

 

   Google has accepted and acted on DMCA complaints about leaked e-mails, for example from Reuters to the United Nations seeking to get the investigative Press thrown out, and has then blocked access to the leaked documents from its search.

  Of this abuse of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, the Electronic Frontier Foundation‘s Intellectual Property Director Corynne McSherry told Inner City Press about the Reuters case:

 

“Unfortunately, it is all too easy for a copyright holder (assuming that the person that sent this notice actually held copyright in the email) to abuse the DMCA to take down content and stifle legitimate speech. As countries outside the US consider adopting DMCA-like procedures, they must make sure they include strong protections for free speech, such as significant penalties for takedown abuse.”

 

  In this case, copyright is being (mis) claimed for an email from Reuters’ Louis Charbonneau to the UN’s chief Media Accreditation official Stephane Dujarric — since March 10 Ban Ki-moon’s new spokesperson — seeking to get Inner City Press thrown out of the UN.

 

  Access to the document has been blocked from Google’s search based on a cursory take-down request under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

 

 If this remains precedent, what else could come down?

 

  Why not an email from Iran, for example, to the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency? Why not a sanctions filing by a country? Here is Reuters logic, accepted if only automatically by Google:

 

The copyrighted material is a private email I wrote in April 2012 and for which I never gave permission to be published. It has been published on a blog and appears in on the first page of search results for my name and the firm I work for, Reuters. It can be seen here: www.innercitypress.com/reutersLC3unmalu.pdf

 

  But this is true of ANY leaked document: it can be said that the entity or person exposed “never gave permission [for it] to be published.” Does that mean Google can or should block search access to it?

 

  Can a complaint to a Media Accreditation official against a competitor legitimately be considered “private”? In any event, the DMCA is not about protecting privacy.

 

  Iran or North Korea could say a filing or status report they make with the IAEA is “private” and was not intended to be published. Would Google, receiving a DMCA filing, block access to the information on, say, Reuters.com?

 

  Charbonneau’s bad-faith argument says his complaint to the UN was “published on a blog.” Is THAT what Reuters claims makes it different that publication in some other media?

 

  The logic of Reuters’ and Charbonneau’s August 14, 2013 filing with Google, put online via the ChillingEffects.org project, is profoundly anti free press.

 

  The fact that Google accepts or didn’t check, to remain in the DMCA Safe Harbor, the filing makes it even worse. The request to take-down wasn’t made to InnerCityPress.com or its server — it would have been rejected. But banning a page from Search has the same censoring effect.

 

  The US has a regime to protect freedom of the press, and against prior restraint. But this is a loophole, exploited cynically by Reuters. What if a media conducted a long investigation of a mayor, fueled by a leaked email. When the story was published, could the Mayor make a Reuters-like filing with Google and get it blocked?

 

  Here is the text of Charbonneau’s communication to the UN’s top Media Accreditation and Liaison Unit official Stephane Dujarric and MALU’s manager, to which he claimed “copyright” and for now has banned from Google’s Search:

———————————————————-

Hi Isabelle and Stephane,

I just wanted to pass on for the record that I was just confronted by Matt Lee in the DHL auditorium in very hostile fashion a short while ago (there were several witnesses, including Giampaolo). He’s obviously gotten wind that there’s a movement afoot to expel him from the UNCA executive committee, though he doesn’t know the details yet. But he was going out of his way to be as intimidating and aggressive as possible towards me, told me I “disgust” him, etc.

In all my 20+ years of reporting I’ve never been approached like that by a follow journalist in any press corps, no matter how stressful things got. He’s become someone who’s making it very hard for me and others in the UN press to do our jobs. His harassment of fellow reporters is reaching a new fever pitch.

I just thought you should know this.

Cheers,

Lou
Louis Charbonneau
Bureau Chief. United Nations
Reuters News Thomson Reuters reuters. com

This email was sent to you by Thomson Reuters, the global news and information company.

————————————————-

“UNCA” in the for-now banned e-mail is the United Nations Correspondents Association. The story developed here, as to Sri Lanka; here is a sample pick-up this past weekend in Italian, to which we link and give full credit, translated into English (NOT for now by Google) –

The fool of Reuters to the UN

by Mahesh – 12/27/2013 - calls for the removal of a letter from the head of his bureau at the United Nations, pursuing a copyright infringement on the part of the competition.

Try to make out a small competitor from the UN press room and then, when these publish proof of intrigue, invokes the copyright to release a letter from compromising the network.

MOLESTA-AGENCY  Inner City Press is a small non-profit agency covering the work of the United Nations for years, with an original cut, which become distasteful to many. Unlike other matching its founder master sent never tires of asking account of inconsistencies and contradictions and often refers to unpleasant situations involving colleagues and their reportage, too often twisted to obvious political contingencies.

THE LAST CAVITY – In this case the clutch is born when Matthew Lee, Inner City Press ever since he founded and made famous in the 90 ‘s, challenged the screening of “Lies Agreed Upon” in the auditorium of the United Nations, a filmaccio of propaganda in which the Sri Lankan regime tries to deny the now tested massacres (and destroyed by International Crisis Group). In the piece, in which denounced the incident, Lee also announced that the screening was organized by the President of the United Nations Correspondents (UNCA), Italian Giampaolo Pioli, skipping the normal consultation procedure for this kind of events. Pioli then, was also accused of being in a conflict of interest, given that he rented an apartment in New York an apartment to the Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN in Sri Lanka, named Palitha Kohona and is suspected of war crimes.

TRY WITH THE COPYRIGHT- So he comes to the letter with which Louis Charbonneau, Reuters bureau chief at the United Nations, wrote to the Media Accreditation and Liaison Unit (MALU) calling for the ouster of Lee, which the UN being there for years as his colleagues, but we see that this was not done. Lee, however, comes into possession of the letter and publish it, and then writes to Google millantando Charbonneau the copyright on the letter and asking for removal pursuant to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. That is a bit like if a company request the removal of a compromising document from a journalistic investigation, in the name of copyright, a claim clearly absurd and disingenuous.

HARASSMENT AND THREATS - In the letter published, Charbonneau complained about the aggressive behavior of Lee and cited among the witnesses to cases where Lee had been “aggressive” towards him even Pioli. Lee with that piece has gained throughout a hail of protests from Sri Lanka and an investigation by the UNCA, along with death threats and other well-known amenities the refugees away from the clutches of the regime, but it is still there. Behold then the brilliant idea of Charbonneau, improperly used copyright law to censor the objectionable publications to a colleague and competitor. Pity that Lee has already resisted successfully in similar cases, in 2008 was the same Google to remove your site from being indexed in the news in its search engines, it is unclear what impetus behind, only to regret it soon after that even Fox News had cried scandal.

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

And further – to the place of UN as restricting flow of information – Matthew Lee has the following:
www.innercitypress.com/ukraine2svobodaunseen032214.html

In Ukraine, List of Parties UN’s UNSG Ban Ki-moon Met With Still UNdisclosed, Visa Ban.

By Matthew Russell Lee

 

UNITED NATIONS, March 22 – With UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in Kyiv for a second day, it remained unclear if he met with representatives from the Svoboda Party, whose “freedom of speech” parliamentarian was filmed beating up a news executive and then sought to get the video removed from YouTube.

 

  Inner City Press on March 21 asked Ban’s spokesperson Stephane Dujarric, video here

 

Inner City Press: I wanted to ask you about sanctions. I know that in his opening remarks, the Secretary-General talked about provocative actions and counter-reactions and obviously there have been, the US announced sanctions on a slew of individuals and one bank, and another bank, SMP, has been cut off from the Visa and Mastercard system. Russia has its own sanctions. Was this discussed, was this discussed while he was in Moscow? Does the Secretary-General think that sanctions should be done through the UN? And will he meet with representatives of the Svoboda party while he’s there, if they were to request it?

Spokesman Stephane Dujarric: There was a — I will share with you as soon as I get it — the list of party leaders that attended the meeting with the Secretary-General. So we will see who exactly was there and, you know, I’m not going to get into detailed reactions to sanctions and counter-sanctions and so forth. But what I will say is that, you know, everybody needs to kind of focus on finding a peaceful, diplomatic solution and lowering the tensions.

Inner City Press: Has he or you seen the video of the Svoboda party MPs beating up the television executive?

Spokesman Stephane Dujarric: I have not and I doubt that he has.

 

  But more than 24 hours later, the “list of party members” who met with Ban was still not provided or shared, nor was an explanation provided. What should one infer from that?

… … ….

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s race to Russia for relevance didn’t work as he’d hoped. Just after his meetings with Vladimir Putin and Sergey Lavrov, Lavrov went to the Duma for the next step on Crimea.

  Then Ban’s spokesperson did a call-in Q&A to the UN press briefing room in New York where only questions pointing one way were selected and allowed. Thus, there were no questions to Ban’s spokesperson Stephane Dujarric about the new unilateral sanctions, or the trade embargo allegations.

   On March 19 after US Ambassador Samantha Power said Russia’s Vitaly Churkin was creative like Tolstoy or Chekhov, Churkin asked for a right of reply or additional statement at the end of the March 19 UN Security Council meeting on Ukraine.

   Churkin said that from these two literary references, Power has stooped to tabloids, and that this should change if the US expected Russian cooperation. The reference, it seemed, was to Syria and Iran, and other UN issues.

   One wanted to explore this at the stakeout, but neither Power nor Churkin spoke there. In fact, no one did: even Ukraine’s Yuriy Sergeyev left, down the long hallways with his leather coat and spokesperson. One wondered why.

   There were many questions to ask. Why did Ivan Simonovic’s UN human rights report not mention the Svoboda Party MPs beating up the head of Ukrainian national television?  Will France, despite its Gerard Araud’s speech, continue selling Mistral warships to Russia? What of France’s role in the earlier referendum splitting Mayotte from the Comoros Islands?

  Araud exchanged a few words with those media he answers to while on the stairs, then left. The UK’s Mark Lyall Grant spoke longer, but still left. Why didn’t Simonovic at least come and answer questions? Perhaps he will, later in the week.

    When Security Council session began at 3 pm on March 19, Russia was listed as the tenth speaker, after other Council members including not only the US but France. (The order, however, would soon change: Argentina and Russia switched spots.)

  Speaking first, Deputy Secretary General Jan Eliasson recounted dates and events, such as the US and European Union sanctions of Marcy 17. Inner City Press asked UN spokesperson Stephane Dujarric if there was any UN comment on or view of such unilateral sanctions. There was no comment.

   UN human rights deputy Ivan Simonovic spoke next, saying that attacks on ethnic Russians have been neither widespread nor systematic. Simonovic did not mention the widely publicized assault on a national TV executive by Svoboda Party MPs.

  Ukraine’s Yuriy Sergeyev mocked the referendum, saying that those who didn’t vote were visited at home.

  France’s Gerard Araud said that if there are fascists in this story, it is not where they’re said to be — but he did not address the Svoboda Party and its attack on the TV executive. Nor has he addressed the analogy to the referendum France pushed to split Mayotte from Comoros, nor France’s ongoing sale of Mistral warships to Russia.

  After Nigeria spoke, Argentina’s listed place was taken by Russia, in what has been confirmed to Inner City Press as an exchange. Russia’s Vitaly Churkin zeroed in on Simonovic not mentioning the Svoboda MPs’ assault, nor evidence that the same snipers should police and protesters in Kyiv.

  US Ambassador Samantha Power called this an assault on Simonovic’s report, and said Churkin had been as imaginative as Tolstoy or Chekhov, echoing an earlier US State Department Top Ten list. So what is the US, one wag mused, John Updike or Thomas Pynchon? It was a session meant for words.


Now that UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon races to Russia for relevance, the news was handed out selectively by UN Moscow three hours before Ban’s new spokesperson, after a request, confirmed it.

   It’s worth remembering Moscow’s anger at who called Ban’s tune on Kosovo. What will be different now? After Russia, Ban will head to Kyiv to meet Yatsenyuk and the UN human rights monitors.

  It was at 6:20 am in New York when BBC said that “UN Moscow office confirm that Ban Ki Moon coming to Moscow tomorrow. Will meet Putin and Lavrov.”

  But no announcement by Ban’s Office of the Spokesperson, which has repeatedly refused to confirm Ban trips even when the country visited has already disclosed it.

  And so the Free UN Coalition for Access wrote to Ban’s new spokesperson Stephane Dujarric:

 

“Will you confirm what BBC says UN Moscow told it, that the Secretary General is traveling to Russia tomorrow to meet President Putin and FM Lavrov — and is so, can you explain why and how this UN news was distributed in that way first, and not through your office, to all correspondents at once? The latter part of the question is on behalf of the Free UN Coalition for Access as well.”

 

   Forty five minutes later, after a mass e-mail, Dujarric replied:

 

“Matthew, The official announcement was just made. The UN office in moscow did not announce anything before we did. I did see some leaked reports this morning from various sources but nothing is official until it’s announced by this office.”

 

  But it wasn’t a “leaked report” — BBC said that UN Moscow had CONFIRMED it. We’ll have more on this. For now it’s worth reviewing Ban Ki-moon’s response to Abkhazia and South Ossetia in 2008…

 

   The day after the Crimea referendum, the US White House announced new sanctions and Russia said Ukraine should adopt a federal constitution.

 

   Inner City Press asked UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s spokesperson Stephane Dujarric for Ban’s or the UN’s comment on either, if Ban thinks sanctions should ideally be imposed through the UN and not unilaterally, and if this might lead to a tit for tat.

 

  Dujarric said Ban’s focus is on encouraging the parties to “not add tensions;” on Russia’s federal constitution proposal he said the UN is “not going to get into judging every step.”  Video here.

 

  With Serry gone from Crimea and Simonovic called unbalanced by Russia, what is the UN’s role? Is it UNrelevant?

 

… … … and there is much more on our link.

 

———————————————————————-

###

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

 

 (photo: Baz Ratner/Reuters)
(photo: Baz Ratner/Reuters)

 

Putin Goes to War

By David Remnick, The New Yorker

02 March 14

 

ladimir Putin, the Russian President and autocrat, had a plan for the winter of 2014: to reassert his country’s power a generation after the collapse of the Soviet Union. He thought that he would achieve this by building an Olympic wonderland on the Black Sea for fifty-one billion dollars and putting on a dazzling television show. It turns out that he will finish the season in a more ruthless fashion, by invading a peninsula on the Black Sea and putting on quite a different show—a demonstration war that could splinter a sovereign country and turn very bloody, very quickly.

Sergei Parkhomenko, a journalist and pro-democracy activist who was recently detained by the police in Moscow, described the scenario taking shape as “Afghanistan 2.” He recalled, for Slon.ru, an independent Russian news site, how the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan, in 1979, under the pretext of helping a “fraternal” ally in Kabul; to Parkhomenko, Putin’s decision to couch his military action as the “protection” of Russians living in Crimea is an equally transparent pretext. The same goes for the decorous way in which Putin, on Saturday, “requested” the Russian legislature’s authorization for the use of Russian troops in Ukraine until “the socio-political situation is normalized.” The legislature, which has all the independence of an organ grinder’s monkey, voted its unanimous assent.

Other critics of Putin’s military maneuvers in Ukraine used different, but no less ominous, historical analogies. Some compared the arrival of Russian troops in Simferopol to the way that the Kremlin, in 2008, took advantage of Georgia’s reckless bid to retake South Ossetia and then muscled its tiny neighbor, eventually waging a war that ended with Russia taking control of South Ossetia and Abkhazia.

In a recent Letter from Sochi, I tried to describe Putin’s motivations: his resentment of Western triumphalism and American power, after 1991; his paranoia that Washington is somehow behind every event in the world that he finds threatening, including the recent events in Kiev; his confidence that the U.S. and Europe are nonetheless weak, unlikely to respond to his swagger because they need his help in Syria and Iran; his increasingly vivid nationalist-conservative ideology, which relies, not least, on the elevation of the Russian Orthodox Church, which had been so brutally suppressed during most of the Soviet period, as a quasi-state religion supplying the government with its moral force.

Obama and Putin spoke on the phone today for an hour and a half. The White House and Kremlin accounts of the call add up to what was clearly the equivalent of an angry standoff: lectures, counter-lectures, intimations of threats, intimations of counter-threats. But the leverage, for now, is all with Moscow.

The legislators in the Russian parliament today parroted those features of modern Putinism. In order to justify the invasion of the Crimean peninsula, they repeatedly cited the threat of Ukrainian “fascists” in Kiev helping Russia’s enemies. They repeatedly echoed the need to protect ethnic Russians in Ukraine—a theme consonant with the Kremlin’s rhetoric about Russians everywhere, including the Baltic States. But there was, of course, not one word about the sovereignty of Ukraine, which has been independent since the fall of the Soviet Union, in December, 1991.

If this is the logic of the Russian invasion, the military incursion is unlikely to stop in Crimea: nearly all of eastern Ukraine is Russian-speaking. Russia defines its interests far beyond its Black Sea fleet and the Crimean peninsula.

Marina Korolyova, the deputy editor of the liberal radio station Echo of Moscow, told Slon.ru, “I am the daughter of a military officer who went in with the troops that invaded Czechoslovakia, in 1968. Today’s decision of the President and the Federation Council—I feel the pain personally. It is shameful. Shameful.”

It is worth noting that, in Moscow, the modern dissident movement was born in 1968, when four brave protesters went to Red Square and unfurled a banner denouncing the invasion of Prague. Those demonstrators are the heroes of, among other young Russians, the members of the punk band Pussy Riot. This is something that Putin also grasps very well. At the same time that he is planning his vengeful military operation against the new Ukrainian leadership, he has been cracking down harder on his opponents in Moscow. Alexey Navalny, who is best known for his well-publicized investigations into state corruption and for his role in anti-Kremlin demonstrations two years ago, has now been placed under house arrest. Navalny, who won twenty-seven per cent of the vote in a recent Moscow mayoral ballot, is barred from using the Internet, his principal means of communication and dissidence. The period of Olympic mercy has come to an end.

It’s also worth noting that, in 1968, Moscow was reacting to the “threat” of the Prague Spring and to ideological liberalization in Eastern Europe; in 1979, the Kremlin leadership was reacting to the upheavals in Kabul. The rationale now is far flimsier, even in Moscow’s own terms. The people of the Crimean peninsula were hardly under threat by “fascist gangs” from Kiev. In the east, cities like Donetsk and Kharkov had also been quiet, though that may already be changing. That’s the advantage of Putin’s state-controlled television and his pocket legislature; you can create any reality and pass any edict.

I spoke with Georgy Kasianov, the head of the Academy of Science’s department of contemporary Ukrainian history and politics, in Kiev. “It’s a war,” he said. “The Russian troops are quite openly out on the streets [in Crimea], capturing public buildings and military outposts. And it’s likely all a part of a larger plan for other places: Odessa, Nikolayev, Kherson. And they’ll use the same technique. Some Russian-speaking citizens will appear, put up a Russian flag, and make appeals that they want help and referendums, and so on.” This is already happening in Donetsk and Kharkov.

“They are doing this like it is a commonplace,” Kasianov went on. “I can’t speak for four million people, but clearly everyone in Kiev is against this. But the Ukrainian leadership is absolutely helpless. The Army is not ready for this. And, after the violence in Kiev, the special forces are disoriented.”

Just a few days ago, this horrendous scenario of invasion and war, no matter how limited, seemed the farthest thing from nearly everyone’s mind in either Ukraine or Russia, much less the West. As it happens so often in these situations—from Tahrir Square to Taksim Square to Maidan Square—people were taken up with the thrill of uprising. After Viktor Yanukovych fled Kiev, the coverage moved to what one might call the “golden toilet” stage of things, that moment when the freedom-hungry crowds discover the fallen leader’s arrangements and bountiful holdings—the golden bathroom fixtures; the paintings and the tapestries; the secret mistress; the lurid bedrooms and freezers stocked with sweetmeats; the surveillance videos and secret transcripts; the global real-estate holdings; the foreign bank accounts; the fleets of cars, yachts, and airplanes; the bad taste, the unknown cruelties.

The English-language Kyiv Post published a classic in the genre when it reported how journalists arriving at the “inner sanctum” of the mansion where Yanukovych had lived in splendor discovered that he had been cohabiting not with his wife of four decades but, rather, with—and try not to faint—a younger woman. It “appears” that Yanukovych had been living there with a spa owner named Lyubov (which means “love”) Polezhay. “The woman evidently loves dogs and owns a white Pomeranian spitz that was seen in the surveillance camera’s footage of Yanukovych leaving” the mansion.

But that was trivia. Masha Lipman, my colleague in Moscow, sketched out in stark and prescient terms some of the challenges facing Ukraine, ranging from the divisions within the country to the prospect of what Putin might do rather than “lose” Ukraine.

Putin’s reaction exceeded our worst expectations. These next days and weeks in Ukraine are bound to be frightening, and worse. There is not only the threat of widening Russian military force. The new Ukrainian leadership is worse than weak. It is unstable. It faces the burden of legitimacy. Yanukovych was spectacularly corrupt, and he opened fire on his own people. He was also elected to his office and brought low by an uprising, not the ballot; he made that point on Friday, in a press conference in Rostov on Don, in Russia, saying that he had never really been deposed. Ukraine has already experienced revolutionary disappointment. The Orange Revolution, in 2004, failed to establish stable democratic institutions and economic justice. This is one reason that Yulia Tymoshenko, the former Prime Minister, newly released from prison, is not likely the future of Ukraine. How can Ukraine possibly move quickly to national elections, as it must to resolve the issue of legitimacy, while another country has troops on its territory?

Vladimir Ryzhkov, a liberal Russian politician who no longer holds office, said that the events were not only dangerous for Ukraine but ominous for Russia and the man behind them. “It’s quite likely that this will be fatal for the regime and catastrophic for Russia,” he told Slon.ru. “It just looks as if they have taken leave of their senses.”

 

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 1st, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 What we ask is whom do represent the black clad military people that took over Crimea?  Are they representing a new force or their old Russian military. We see a way out if the lack of insignia means that there is a new force being born.

FIRST CLEAR CASUALTY – THE SOCHI G8 MEETING THAT BECOMES IMPOSSIBLE WITH RUSSIA AT WAR.
SO – IT IS NOW CLEAR THAT SOCHI IS NOT THE PUTIN PLANNED  RUSSIAN GOLD MINE.

—————————————–

Ukraine PR Says UN Charter Brutally Violated, Meeting Format Fight.

By Matthew Russell Lee, Inner City Press Follow Up

 

UNITED NATIONS, March 1 — As the UN Security Council on Saturday afternoon held its second emergency meeting in as many days on Ukraine, that country’s Permanent Representative Yuriy Sergeyev stopped and told the press it is now a Russian “aggression” and that the UN Charter has been “brutally” violated.
Video here.

 

 He said an appeal is being made to the US, France, UK and China, under the rubric of non-proliferation; he said there is still time, before Russian president Vladimir Putin signs the order for military moves in Crimea.

 

  Then the Security Council “suspended” for ten minutes; Russian ambassador Vitaly Churkin emerged and said some members of the Council are trying to change the format of the meeting, that Russia agrees with the format proposed by Luxembourg, which took over today as Council president.

 

After UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s envoy Robert Serry spun the contents of a closed door Security Council consultation on Ukraine on which there was no agreed outcome, Ban himself did the same on Saturday.

 


 

   Could Serry go to Crimea?  Hours before Serry through the spokesperson had said no. But the purpose of the UN TV theater is to get this spin “on camera” – that’s the role Falk’s UNCA is playing.

 

   Also Ban said he is going to speak with Putin soon. Will his spokesperson take question, this time with notice, on that?

 

   On February 28, Serry’s impartiality as “UN” envoy on Ukraine was called into question, on camera, in front of the UN Security Council by Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin.

 

   A “Note to Correspondents” was put out Saturday morning by the UN Spokesperson’s Office in which Serry put his spin on the Security Council consultations at which he was not present, and at which not even a Press Statement was agreed:

 

Note to correspondents: Statement by Mr. Robert Serry, Senior Advisor to the Secretary-General, at the end of his mission to Ukraine

 

Kyiv, 1 March 2014

 

Following the consultations in the United Nations Security Council yesterday, the Secretary-General requested me to go to Crimea as part of my fact-finding mission. I have since been in touch with the authorities of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and have come to the conclusion that a visit to Crimea today is not possible. I will therefore proceed to Geneva, where I will tomorrow brief the Secretary-General on my mission and consult with him on next steps.

 

In Crimea, I would have conveyed, also on behalf of the Secretary-General, a message for all to calm the situation down and to refrain from any actions that could further escalate an already-tense environment.

 

It became very clear from yesterday’s Council consultations that the unity and territorial integrity of Ukraine is not to be called into question. This is a time for dialogue and to engage with each other constructively.

Note to correspondents: Statement by Mr. Robert Serry, Senior Advisor to the Secretary-General, at the end of his mission to Ukraine.

 

March 1, updated — After the Ukraine open meeting then consultations of the UN Security Council took place, Council president for March Sylvie Lucas of Luxembourg came out and read a short statement.

  Inner City Press asked her if this was a mere “elements to the press,” not even an agreed Press Statement. This seems to be the case. She politely answered, but not why China and the ten elected members did not speak in the open meeting.

  Inner City Press asked UK Ambassador Lyall Grant about the Budapest Memorandum — has it already been violated, including by the Western IMF side, in terms of economic coercion? Is it just a superseded document summoned up for pragmatic reasons now?

  Lyall Grant acknowledged that some time has passed. From the UK Mission transcript:

Inner City Press: The Budapest memorandum. There’s been a lot of talk about it. It requires the UK, Russia and France to seek immediate Security Council action if there’s a threat of force, so is this the end of your duties, or do you have a duty to defend Ukraine? And it also seems to commit the UK and others to refrain from economic coercion, so some people have been saying that on both sides, the economic coercion factor has been played. Has this memorandum been complied with since ‘94, or is it just pulled out at this time as a convenient document?

Amb Lyall Grant: Clearly, this document has become very relevant in the last few days. We believe that the first step should be a meeting of the signatories of the Budapest memorandum, as Ukraine government has suggested should take place. Proposals have been made for a meeting of the three signatories as early as Monday, but so far Russia has not agreed to that meeting.

 

  Lyall Grant also said his prime minister David Cameron spoke with Vladimir Putin and his foreign secretary William Hague will be in Ukraine on Sunday.

 

  Inner City Press asked Deputy Secretary General Jan Eliasson of Russia’s critique of envoy Robert Serry “getting played,” and of the leaked (US) audio about former US now UN official Jeffrey Feltman “getting” Ban to send Serry to Ukraine.

 

   Eliasson said Serry is an international civil servant, but that the UN is not mediating, he is only a go-between for now. Will that change?

 

  US Samantha Power came out, saying another things that President Obama is suspending participation in the preparation for the G8 in Sochi. She took only two questions; it was not possible to ask her about movement on loan guarantees, or her view of the US’ duties under the Budapest Memorandum. So it goes at the UN.

 

  When the open meeting happened, after two hours of wrangling about format, not all 15 members of the Council — not even all five Permanent members — spoke. (China didn’t).

 

  Instead, UN Deputy Secretary General Eliasson led off, saying that Ban Ki-moon would speak with Vladimir Putin. That had already taken place, but even an hour later, no read-out.

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

  • The Ukrainian note says 12 Mi-24 Russian attack helicopters flew from Anapa to Kacha on Friday (Photo: wikimedia commons)

Ukraine’s EU embassy details ‘Abkhazia scenario’

01.03.14 @ 12:56

  1. By Andrew Rettman

BRUSSELS – Ukraine’s embassy to the EU has detailed Russian military movements in Crimea, saying operations to seize control began one week ago.

The Ukrainian embassy, in a two-page note circulated to EU diplomats on Friday (28 February) – and seen by EUobserver – cited seven “illegal military activities of the Russian Federation in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, Ukraine.”

Going back to February 21 and 22, it says Russia moved 16 BTR-80 armoured personnel carriers of the 801st Marine Corps brigade from the Russian naval base in Sevastopol, Crimea, which it leases from Ukraine, to the Crimean towns of Kaha, Gvardiiske, and Sevastopol.

It notes that on 23 February three BTR-80s moved from the base to the town of Khersones.

On 26 February, 10 armoured vehicles from the 801st brigade moved “into the depth of the Crimean peninsula towards Simferopol.”

On 28 February, 12 Mi-24 Russian attack helicopters flew from Anapa in Russia to the Kacha airfield in Crimea “despite [the fact] clearance was granted only for 3 helos.”

The same day five Il-76 Russian military transport planes landed at Gvardiiske with no clerance at all, while 400 Russian troops from the Ulyanovsk Airborne Brigade moved to Cape Fiolent, near Sevastopol.

The Ukrainian document says that also on Friday: “Belbek airport (Sevastopol) was blocked by an armed unit of the Russian Fleet (soldiers with no marking but not concealing their affiliation). Simferopol airport occupied by more than 100 soldiers with machine guns wearing camouflage, unmarked but not concealing their affiliation to the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation.”

It adds that Captain Oleksandr Tolmachov, a Russian Black Sea Fleet officer, led a group of 30 soldiers who blocked the Sevastopol Marine Security detachment of the State Border Service of Ukraine.

Speaking in Kiev on Friday, Ukraine’s interim president, Oleksandr Turchynov, said: “They are provoking us into an armed conflict. Based on our intelligence, they’re working on scenarios analogous to Abkhazia, in which they provoke conflict, and then they start to annex territory.”

He added: “Ukraine’s military will fulfill its duties, but will not succumb to provocation.”

He also said Russia’s actions violate the 1994 Budapest Memorandum on Security Assurances, signed by Russia, the UK, Ukraine, and the US.

Russia in 2008 invaded Georgia saying Georgian forces had fired on its “peacekeeping” troops in Georgia’s breakaway region of South Ossetia. After an eight-day war, Russia retreated from Georgia proper, but entrenched its occupation of South Ossetia and a second breakaway entity, Abkhazia, in what is widely seen as a way of blocking Georgia’s EU and Nato aspirations.

The Budapest document obliges signatories to “respect the independence and sovereignty and the existing borders of Ukraine.” It also says they “will consult in the event a situation arises which raises a question concerning these commitments.”

There is no shortage of consultations.

The Kremlin said President Vladimir Putin on Friday phoned the British and German leaders and EU Council chief Herman Van Rompuy.

Lithuania, which currently holds the UN Security Council (UNSC) presidency, also called a meeting of UNSC ambassadors in New York.

Statements coming from the Budapest signatories echo the terms of the agreement.

A spokesman for British leader David Cameron said he told Putin “that all countries should respect the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine.” US President Barack Obama said on TV “the United States will stand with the international community in affirming that there will be costs for any military intervention in Ukraine.”

Meanwhile, Sweden, a close US ally, corroborated Ukraine’s accusations. “Obvious that there is Russian military intervention in Ukraine. Likely immediate aim is to set up puppet pro-Russian semi-state in Crimea,” Swedish foreign minister Carl Bildt said.

The Polish foreign ministry noted: “Any decisions that will be taken in the coming days, including of military nature, could have irreparable consequences for the international order.”

The UN meeting in New York did little to calm nerves.

Ukraine’s UN ambassador, Yuriy Sergeyev, told press afterward: “We are strong enough to defend ourselves.”

Russia’s UN envoy, Vitaly Churkin, said all Russian military activity in Crimea is “within the framework” of a 1997 Ukraine-Russia treaty governing the use of its Sevastopol base.

Churkin added the EU bears “responsibility” for events because three EU foreign ministers – from France, Germany, and Poland – on 21 February signed a deal between Ukraine’s ousted president, Viktor Yanukovych, and opposition MPs which says he is to stay in power until December.

Yanukovych fled Kiev the next day when Kiev protesters rejected the agreement and threatened to storm his palace.

Churkin accused the EU of fomenting the revolution by criticising Yanukovych for refusing to sign an EU association and free trade treaty and by sending VIPs to Kiev to mingle with demonstrators. “They emphasize sovereignty. But they behave as if Ukraine was a province of the European Union, not even a country, but a province,” he said.

Budapest memorandum

For his part, Andrew Wilson, an analyst at the London-based European Council on Foreign Relations, a think tank, who was in Kiev during the unrest, told EUobserver on Saturday the Budapest accord should not be seen as a Nato-type treaty which obliges signatories to use military force

But he noted that the 1994 memorandum poses Cold War-type questions.

“Are we [the West] going to send a warship through the Bosphorus?” he said, referring to the channel which leads from the Mediterranean Sea to the Black Sea and Crimea.

“These kind of questions were asked in the Cold War: Would America be willing to lose Detroit [in a Russian nuclear strike] to save Berlin? Later it was about Vilnius [when Lithuania joined Nato in 2004], now it’s about Simferopol. Budapest is not Article 5. But if we are being logical, it does offer security guarantees and it is still in force,” he added, referring to the Nato treaty’s Article 5 on mutual defence.

Crimea is a majority ethnic Russian region which became part of Ukraine in 1954.

Its local parliament this week elected a new leader, pro-Russian politician Sergiy Aksyonov, who called a referendum on independence on 30 March.

The ethnic Russian population made up 49.6 percent of Crimea in 1939. It currently makes up some 58 percent, after Stalin deported its Armenian, Bulgarian, Jewish, German, Greek, and Tatar minorities during World War II. But Russians are in a minority in nine Crimean districts.

 

 

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 1st, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

CIFNews
Administrative Unit,
Climate Investment Funds

T: 1.202.458.1801 | F: 1.202.522.2937 |
 cifnews@worldbank.org
1818 H St. NW, Washington D.C. 20433

www.climateinvestmentfunds.org | Follow us on @CIF_Action

Recent updates to the CIF Voices (blogs), videos  and news articles on CIF projects:

Snakes, Tomatoes, and Other Take Aways from the Asia-Pacific Dialogue on the GCF
Martha Stein-Sochas, CIF AU, Feb 26
Last week at the Asia-Pacific Dialogue on the Green Climate Fund (GCF), I heard many helpful suggestions and ideas from private sector participants on the GCF’s future Private Sector Facility, which aims to provide financing for climate action in the private sector.  But no advice was more powerful than that of Paul Needham, President and Co-founder of Simpa Networks, who related to us the need to move quickly, take risks, and be catalytic.

Lessons from the field on CIF results monitoring and reporting
Emmanuel Kouadio, CIF AU, Feb 14
For the Climate Investment Funds (CIF), understanding the tangible results of its funding is essential to learning and accountability. It has been no small task to make monitoring and reporting (M&R) a reality across the four programs and 48 countries that comprise the CIF. But this year, 2014, all CIF pilot countries will report on results and annually thereafter.

——————————-
World Bank, Government of Samoa Launch Climate Resilience Program
World Bank, February 6
“The World Bank is committed to helping small island states manage pressing risks from natural disasters and climate change,” said Drees-Gross. “Through the Climate Investment Funds, we are proud to support Samoa in critical efforts to increase the resilience of coastal communities and infrastructure, which could help protect their very survival as well as long-term development.”
Keeping Partnership Strong as PPCR Planning Turns to Action in Samoa
Litara Taulealo, Ministry of Finance, Samoa, Feb 18
Last week the government of Samoa and the World Bank announced the launch of a new project to support climate change adaptation measures for coastal communities. Our Enhancing the Climate Resilience of Coastal Resources and Communities Project, supported by $14.6 million from the Pilot Program for Climate Resilience (PPCR), will assist 45,000 Samoans in coastal communities in adapting to climate change and climate variability, protect coastal infrastructure, and increase awareness about climate change impacts and adaptation activities among communities, civil society, and government entities.

——————————-

Drawing lessons from Turkey’s energy use, emissions and fuel mix
Sandy Ferguson, EBRD, Feb 5
One thing jumps out when looking at the Turkish Sustainable Energy Financing Facility (TurSEFF) report: with the right combination of financing, one can achieve substantial changes in energy use, emissions, and fuel mix in middle income countries.

Transforming Waste to Energy in Nepal
Nepal is part of the larger effort to expand energy access and markets for renewable energy in the world’s poorest countries. Today, Nepal is using SREP to develop large-scale commercial, institutional, and municipal bioenergy projects

Menengai Geothermal Power Plant in Kenya
Africa Express stopped in Kenya to learn more about geothermal power development at Menengai. SREP $25 million is supporting development of Menengai which envisions 120 wells injecting 400 megawatts of electricity into the national grid

AfDB facilitates private sector finance for climate-readiness in Niger, Mozambique and Zambia
AfDB, February 26
Over US $30 million in concessional funds has been made available for innovative private sector projects that seek to improve climate change adaptation or readiness in Niger, Mozambique and Zambia. This financing is part of the Pilot Program for Climate Resilience (PPCR), a financing window of the Climate Investment Funds (CIF)

Open Call to Private Sector
CIF AU, Feb 20
Access over $65 million in concessional financing set aside for innovative private sector projects in PPCR and SREP pilot countries. Proposals being accepted until March 31 (SREP) and April 30 (PPCR). Read more.

Rooted in Learning, Growing with Results
CIF AU, February 17
2013 was a year of growth for the CIF. The 2013 CIF Annual Report highlights emerging results, key lessons learned, and the momentum we are building for climate-smart development.

USELF Boosts Ukraine’s Renewable Energy Sector
EBRD, February 14
The first phase of the EBRD’s Ukraine Sustainable Energy Lending Facility (USELF) will deliver 200 GWh of renewable energy through an innovative combination of EBRD commercial financing, dedicated technical assistance support and

AfDB affirms its support for Power Africa, with a commitment of more than US $600 million
AfDB, February 13
In addition, under the aegis of the Climate Investment Funds, the Bank has led work on the Scaling-up Renewable Energy Program (SREP) Investment Plan for Tanzania and prepared jointly with the World Bank the Scaling-up Renewable Energy Program (SREP) Investment Plan for Liberia. This will lead to projects in both countries.

AfDB supports Ghana local communities with $14.55 million to reduce deforestation
AfDB, February 4
The project, called Engaging Local Communities in Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) /Enhancement of Carbon Stocks, benefits from the support from the Climate Investment Funds’ (CIF) Forest Investment Program (FIP).  It will directly benefit 12,000 people, half of them women, by providing capacity building, seeds and equipment, and financial incentives through benefit-sharing agreements to develop forestry, agroforestry and alternative livelihoods. The project will also indirectly benefit 175,000 people in the two regions.

###

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

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

[]

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

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

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

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

 

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 9th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

Clashes in Istanbul over New Internet Law.

MENAFN – Qatar News Agency – 09/02/2014

Demonstrations against a restrictive new internet law grew violent Saturday night, as hundreds of protestors clashed with police near Istanbul’s main Taksim Square.

Anti-government demonstrators, who erected barricades near the square, battled police with rocks and fireworks. Police fought back with water cannons, tear gas and rubber bullets.

Protestors set up barricades near the square, on a street between two hospitals. There were reports of numerous ambulances in the area, as well as many arrests. One press photographer was reported to be injured, and many money machines vandalised.

Opposition groups had called for a rally in Taksim Square to denounce the internet law, but Police closed off the square. Thousands of demonstrators chanted for Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to step down.

On Thursday night the Turkish parliament approved amendments to its internet regulations that allow the government to block websites without a court order and mandate Internet Service Providers to store data for up to two years.

The law must still by signed by President Abdullah Gul. The European Union criticised Turkey for introducing tighter internet controls, urging a revision to comply with standards in the bloc that Ankara hopes to join.

The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists said that “the amendments to Turkey’s already restrictive internet law would compound a dismal record on press freedom in the country, which is the leading jailer of journalists worldwide.”

Erdogan on Saturday said “no censorship” would be imposed upon the internet. Instead, Erdogan said, the law will make the internet more safe and free, the Turkish Anadolu news agency reported.

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

Launch media viewer
Protesters in Istanbul last June. Joachim Ladefoged/Vll, for The New York Times

It is still a marvel to behold Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s self-confidence, even after 11 years of his rule. In recent weeks, a new poster featuring Turkey’s prime minister has appeared throughout Istanbul, on highway billboards and mass transit. Wearing his usual dark suit, Erdogan looks to be in purposeful motion, like an action hero. Two large words in block letters, SAGLAM IRADE, Turkish for “Iron Will,” accompany him. Surely some of his supporters appreciate this evocation of 1930s-era masculinity, but for others, it must feel like an invasion of personal space. The enormous billboards intensify the claustrophobia that many Turks have felt for years: that Erdogan is everywhere, in every tree or open space sacrificed for a building, in every traffic jam, in every newspaper column and pro-government tweet and call to prayer. The poster, which a group of his supporters claims to have put up, begs to be defaced, and Turks have torn at it or covered it with new slogans: “Iron Fascist,” “Iron Corruption,” “Iron Enemy of the People.”

Launch media viewer
Taksim Square, in the center of the city’s European side, is considered the heart of Istanbul. Joachim Ladefoged/Vll, for The New York Times

The public turn against Erdogan began last May, when protests in Istanbul escalated and pictures of police officers violently attacking the demonstrators circulated around the world. For the first time in a decade, Turkey didn’t look like one of the few Middle Eastern destinations where Westerners would take a vacation. The government was caught off guard. A couple of weeks later, Erdogan convened two meetings in the capital, Ankara, with assorted activists, artists and observers. Many immediately dismissed this public exercise as a sham gesture — plausible, given that the invitees included film stars — but some activists relished the opportunity to speak to their prime minister. The episode recalled the time when Robert F. Kennedy met with James Baldwin, Harry Belafonte and Lorraine Hansberry in 1963 because he wanted to understand why blacks were angry. Erdogan wanted to understand why so many Turks were angry.

In one meeting, Erdogan sat at the head of the table, constantly writing with a fountain pen in a leather-bound notebook. He wrote for five hours as activists gave testimony about their experiences in the previous weeks. Erdogan’s cabinet ministers often cut them off or spoke with weary condescension about whether, say, tear gas could be dispensed from a low-hovering helicopter. Erdogan sometimes told his officials to be quiet. “Let them speak,” he said.

The protests began when activists gathered in Gezi Park to demonstrate against its demolition. Ipek Akpinar, a professor of architecture, asked Erdogan if he gave orders during the brutal first days, when the police burned the tents of peaceful environmentalists and assaulted them with pepper spray and tear gas. “Somehow, in the last 10 years, he gave an image of being democratic, of trying to talk with everyone, to understand other groups,” Akpinar told me later. “We couldn’t believe — we didn’t want to believe, probably — that he would do this.” The activists kept returning to this question. “Prime Minister Erdogan,” Akpinar asked, “did you know what was happening in the first three days?”

He said he did not. “My team didn’t take it very seriously,” Erdogan said, according to several people who attended the meeting. “We thought it was just environmentalists, and so we didn’t react. But yes, the police acted severely. I wasn’t aware of the burning of the tents the first two nights. I was told about it on the third day, and then it was too late.”

“And then what happened?” the professor asked. Several other activists joined in. “What did you do?” cried Nil Eyuboglu, a 20-year-old college student. “Tell us! They violently attacked us! How could you not know?”

“Don’t worry,” Erdogan said. “I brought the people responsible into my office and yelled at them. I made them cry.”

A man selling flags in Taksim Square. Joachim Ladefoged/Vll, for The New York Times

The prime minister seemed more like a clan leader than the head of a government. “It was like . . . there’s just one man,” Akpinar said later. She wasn’t the only one disappointed. Some of the young people in the meeting had attended religious schools, as Erdogan had, and their families had championed Erdogan’s conservative Muslim party. Like the millions of countrymen who regarded him as a hero, they had lived through decades of repression of religious Turks by secularist regimes. Now they were criticizing Erdogan harshly. Some even cried at the betrayal they felt.

Finally, listening to those who once supported him, he showed emotion: “How can even you misunderstand us,” he said,“ like everyone else?”

Over the last decade, Erdogan has made himself the most powerful prime minister in Turkey’s history, the most successful elected leader in the Middle East and the West’s great hope for the Muslim world. In the last year, however, a thoroughly different Erdogan has emerged: a symbol of authoritarianism, corruption and police brutality whose once-populist rhetoric has turned into thundering rage. The Gezi Park protests last spring challenged the enduring dysfunctions of the Turkish state — mainly disregard for the rule of law — as well as the dubious economic policies of Erdogan’s ruling Justice and Development Party, known as the A.K.P. What followed was worse for Erdogan. In December, extensive accusations of corruption were leveled at him by followers of an Islamic movement that propelled him and the A.K.P. to power. The threat to Erdogan posed by the Gezi Park protests has been largely photogenic, but the challenge raised by the corruption charges is existential.

Erdogan’s response to both threats has been to punish those he considers disloyal. Critics of Erdogan are called traitors or terrorists — or, more colorfully, assassins. Thousands of activists have been detained, their schools or workplaces investigated, their homes raided. Informal emergency medical care, common during street protests, has been criminalized. Some 5,000 police officers and prosecutors, who Erdogan claims are conspiring against him, have been dismissed from their jobs or reassigned. Internet sites have suddenly become inaccessible. The judiciary is in danger of falling under Erdogan’s control. The exchange rates for Turkey’s currency, the lira, have plunged significantly, and predictions for the economy are dire. The feeling in Turkey is that, all of a sudden, the country that was a model for the modern Muslim world is on the verge of disintegration.

An Erdogan government was once synonymous with stability. One reason even skeptical secular Turks tolerated the A.K.P. was its hard-working officials. Even if people disliked their Islamist pasts or their head-scarf-wearing wives, they liked their industriousness, and above all the rapid economic development they facilitated in the 2000s. Before then, Turkish politicians were mostly bland bureaucrats, and Turkey was very poor. The military staged coups every decade or so in the name of secularism or anticommunism, each time shattering the country’s diverse political longings and enfeebling its government. The pattern changed somewhat in the mid-1980s, when Prime Minister Turgut Ozal liberalized the economy, which allowed a capitalist class of small-town entrepreneurs and fledgling corporate bigwigs to take root.

Erdogan, who attended a religious high school and played semiprofessional soccer, grew up in a conservative, blue-collar neighborhood in Istanbul called Kasimpasa. The men there are quick to say they are Erdogan’s “best friend,” and their loyalty to him can be fierce. At Erdogan’s old soccer club, I once asked some of them what makes a Kasimpasa man. A silver-haired guy in a black leather jacket said: “Watch Tayyip, watch how he walks. That’s Kasimpasa.”

On the evenings the riot police in Istanbul stayed away last June, thousands of people — Kurds and nationalists, gays and soccer fans, secularists and leftists — streamed into Taksim Square. Joachim Ladefoged/Vll, for The New York Times

A member of the youth groups of Islamist parties that later evolved into the A.K.P., Erdogan was elected Istanbul’s mayor in 1994 at age 40. He cleaned up the city; his administration distributed largess to peripheral neighborhoods and improved the water supply. To various elites, the A.K.P. men might have seemed like provincial rubes, but as an organization, the A.K.P. was like a sleek corporation.

“One usually assumes that Islamists are not educated, that Islamists are provincial — no, no, no,” says Seyla Benhabib, a Turkish political philosopher at Yale University. “There is a new political class in Turkey. The C.H.P. cadre” — the Republican People’s Party, the main secularist opposition party — “comes from the usual civil servants, teachers, judges, bureaucrats. A.K.P. is a very young and ambitious professional cadre of people.”

The A.K.P. emerged from an Islamist movement called Milli Gorus, whose outlook was anti-Western and combative — the Turkish, watered-down version of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood. Theirs was a challenge to the preceding Kemalist regimes, which embraced the ideals of Turkey’s founder, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, and enforced strict adherence to a secularist, nationalist identity. In the late 1990s, after he was jailed briefly for reciting a supposedly Islamist poem in public, Erdogan shifted course. He began preaching a pro-European Union, pro-American and pro-business worldview, and rather than espousing Islamist politics, he framed religious rights in terms of personal freedom. As a Turkish scholar named M. Hakan Yavuz put it in his 2009 book, “Secularism and Muslim Democracy in Turkey,” the A.K.P. didn’t operate outwardly as an Islamist group at all; it was a pragmatic party of “services.” Erdogan’s transformation won him the admiration of liberals at home and abroad. It also caught the attention of another Islamic movement eager for power, one that followed the teachings of an imam named Fethullah Gulen.

Gulen is a Muslim preacher who in the 1960s began promoting a Sufi-inspired vision of Islam and a strategy for leading a modern and religious life that offered his followers a path to success in Turkey. The stated goal was spreading an emphatically peaceful expression of Islam, but a central ambition was also the expansion of the movement, which required amassing followers and capital. The Gulenists, who prefer to be called sympathizers, describe themselves as nonpolitical, anti-violence, pro-business and deeply patriotic. Indeed, the movement advocates a specifically Turkish Islam. Unlike Milli Gorus, it rejects party politics; theirs is “cultural Islam,” its adherents say, a religion-based civic movement they call Hizmet, or Service. Instead of Quranic schools, the Gulenists have built secular ones emphasizing science, as well as colleges, media companies, publishing houses, industrial groups, tutoring centers for the college entrance exam and international nongovernmental organizations. The Gulenists run 2,000 schools in 160 countries; outside Turkey, the countries with the greatest number of these schools are Germany and the United States.

When I embarked on a tour of Gulen’s world a few years ago, I visited some of the schools in Houston and Washington, as well as a boarding school in Kabul, Afghanistan. In many of them, students learn Black Sea folk dances­ and Turkish poetry. Gulen himself, who is 72, lives in a wooded area in the Poconos behind a security checkpoint; he is supposed to have moved to the United States for medical treatment, and his residence in a country that many Turks deem meddlesome, if not nefarious, has made him the human flame that sustains a thousand conspiracy theories. In 2010, when I visited Gulen’s compound, a couple had come from Japan to see him. “Hocaefendi,” or master teacher, as he is called, was too ill to meet me. He typically gives interviews to journalists only when he has something specific to announce.

The Gulenists I met at the compound were relentlessly charming, friendly and intelligent. They also engaged in self-protective obfuscation, something the sociologist Joshua Hendrick, an assistant professor at Loyola University in Maryland, calls “strategic ambiguity,” which shrouds some of their activities. This lack of transparency, they say, is justified by their past persecution at the hands of the Turkish military.

Among the silent protesters in Taksim Square. Joachim Ladefoged/Vll, for The New York Times

An alliance in the early 2000s with the ascendant A.K.P., whose center-right, pro-business perspective they shared, offered the Gulenists a way to extend their influence, even as they refrained from putting up their own candidates for Parliament. In Turkey, Hendrick says, “parties come and go, and any party isn’t going to have a long shelf life.” But, he says, succeeding in business or receiving ministerial appointments or joining the police confers lasting power: “Affiliates of the Gulen community have been accruing influence in the Istanbul police force and other police forces, and in the judiciary and prosecuting offices around the country.” This aspiration to secure important government jobs makes many Turks suspicious of their motives.

Mustafa Yesil, the president of the Journalist and Writers Foundation, an Istanbul-based public-relations arm for Gulen’s followers, argues that every citizen has the right to work in any sector of the society. “Mr. Gulen sees three problems in society: ignorance, conflict and poverty,” he said of the Gulenists’ ideals. “Hizmet supported A.K.P. based on the promise that A.K.P. would fight against the military tutelage, further the E.U. process and democratization and create a new civilian constitution.”

Erdogan welcomed the movement’s international influence and media support. With its endorsements, he achieved real gains. He sidelined the military. He moved Turkey’s laws significantly toward European Union norms. The economy flourished, as he pushed privatization and investors from abroad poured money into the country. The A.K.P. built hospitals, roads, bridges and luxury shopping malls. Turkey had been so dysfunctional, and so undemocratic, that many of these initiatives were necessary.

Eventually, however, they seemed like a power grab. Around 2007, the A.K.P. and Gulenists in the judiciary and the police force put hundreds of journalists and former military generals on trial, charged with being members of a Kemalist “deep state.” Much of the evidence appeared to have been manufactured by Gulenists. At the same time, many Turks were beginning to believe that the intelligence wing of the police force was wiretapping the phones of journalists and businessmen. Erdogan himself bullied the corporate owners of media outlets, and hundreds of journalists were muzzled or fired. And in 2010, a referendum on the Constitution revamped the judicial system to favor the judges affiliated with Erdogan and Gulen. Instead of reforming the state, the A.K.P. appeared to be capturing it.

Yet the Erdogan-Gulen media machine, suffusing the landscape with the rhetoric of freedom and progress, managed to portray Erdogan as the very incarnation of democracy. In 2011, Erdogan won his third national election with nearly 50 percent of the vote, which he took as a mandate for the Erdoganization of everything.

One of Erdogan’s third-term promises was a package of vast construction projects, and he quickly got to work. Turkey is run like a city, where the prime minister can control local projects as if he’s playing in his own private Legoland. An earlier venture he endorsed, for example, was Miniaturk, a park in Istanbul. It is a scaled-down version of the country’s major historical sites (the Hagia Sophia, for one, is nose height), and it seemingly embodies Erdogan’s aesthetic vision for Istanbul: a theme-park parody of itself. He started construction of a third bridge over the Bosporus, which meant removing a million trees. He flirted with a plan, known as the Crazy Project, to build a second Bosporus, as well as a second Istanbul, the promos for which looked liked something out of the 1927 Fritz Lang film “Metropolis.” Then he announced a new project for Taksim Square.

Police officers in Taksim Square. Joachim Ladefoged/Vll, for The New York Times

Taksim, in the center of the city’s European side, is considered the heart of Istanbul. The square itself surrounds tiny Gezi Park and is covered with concrete and filled with traffic, but the absence of buildings offers at least a sense of free space. Erdogan wanted to close the square to cars, build tunnels for them beneath it and replace Gezi Park and its rows of sycamore trees with a giant shopping center designed to look like Ottoman-era military barracks. Putting anything Ottoman-like in Taksim, a symbol of the secular republic, felt like an assertion of Erdogan’s neo-Islamic identity. In terms of scale and presumption, it would be as if Michael Bloomberg, New York’s former mayor, tried to erect a five-story shopping mall in Bryant Park with facades like blinking Bloomberg terminals.

Except Erdogan wasn’t the mayor of Istanbul. And he wasn’t consulting his constituents there. Far from it: When a local committee composed of academics, historians and municipal appointees unanimously voted against the plan, he simply had another committee made up of his own bureaucratic appointments override the vote. This, to Turks, was what his rule had come to mean.

Osman Can, a constitutional scholar who is on the A.K.P.’s executive committee, says Erdogan’s ability to act unilaterally is a byproduct of Turkey’s highly centralized political structure, in which all decisions are made in Ankara. “The governors are appointed by the central government, so they are not elected,” Can says. “The mayors are elected, but Ankara also controls the mayors. Normally the mayor would decide things in a city. But if the prime minister happened to be interested in a park, the mayor can’t resist him.”

The A.K.P. is the rare party that has made important changes to democratize Turkey, Can says, but the system established a century ago by Ataturk and his followers limits those advances. “It was a conscious choice of Ataturk,” he says. “They wanted to control everything, they want to change the people, change the minds, reformat people. How could they do this? A decentralized system? No. An independent judiciary? No.” The only limitation, Can says, “is the reaction of the people.”

And the people reacted in a surprising and organic way. Many of the protesters in Istanbul last year were not activists. They were apolitical verging on apathetic members of the middle class, whose parents, traumatized by coups, taught them to stay out of politics. Radicalization happened quickly. Guzin, a 35-year-old lawyer who didn’t want me to use her last name, was a typical case. A week after the police cleared Gezi Park of its occupants, I met her in the Taksim neighborhood of Cihangir.

“My father is a supporter of Erdogan — he is in love,” she said. “My parents also had not been happy about what happened to religious people in the 1990s, when women couldn’t wear the head scarf — my mother covers — and Erdogan had fought for their rights. But it’s more that my father likes all the things that capitalism brings; every time I go to my village, he says, ‘Look at the roads, look at the factories, look at the health care.’ He doesn’t see the negative. And he was really angry when I told him I was protesting.”

Launch media viewer
Protesters in Taksim Square last June. Joachim Ladefoged/Vll, for The New York Times

Guzin had heard that some 50 environmentalists, in a city of 15 million people, in a country of 80 million, had pitched tents in Gezi. “When I read about Gezi Park, for the first time I said, ‘We should do something,’ ” she told me. “I got like five people, and we just went and sat on the grass. There were some tents, but it wasn’t that crowded. I had wanted to see so many more, like 5,000 people. So I was a little disappointed, and we went home.”

Around 4 the next morning, the police lit tents on fire. Guzin said that when she read about it in the newspaper the next day, she thought: They have no right to do that. They don’t even have the right to take the tents.

“I got really angry,” she said, “and I called all my friends and said, ‘Come on, let’s go again.’ We knew they had used tear gas before, so we went to the pharmacy to get masks, and they said: ‘O.K., get ready, bring water, put on your gas mask. And come back safe.’ We thought, What is happening? Then we saw a huge crowd walking toward Gezi Park. And suddenly I couldn’t see anything, I couldn’t breathe, I couldn’t even put my mask on.”

Guzin continued: “I started to breathe again, thankfully, but I saw the water cannon, and I was scared, and people got panicked. I kept checking behind me to see if it was going to hit me, and it did. But then I thought, O.K., we passed this, we can survive it. And I became braver. We went back maybe 10 times that night. When everyone in the neighborhoods began banging pots and pans from their windows for us, I was going to cry. I thought, Wow, we are doing something good.”

Within a week, the activists’ tiny sit-in spread to 70 cities. The occupation of Gezi Park lasted 19 days. In Istanbul, on the evenings the riot police stayed away, thousands of people — Kurds and nationalists, gays and soccer fans, secularists and leftists — streamed into the square to celebrate what was a historic act of state defiance. It was utterly leaderless. One Kurdish demonstrator told me, “Perhaps the only thing that could have brought all of these warring groups together was something as innocuous as a park.”

Many participants described their time in Gezi Park as a first brush with political consciousness. In the early 2000s, the Turkish people experienced what they were told was a democratic opening. Now they wondered whether something was being taken away from them, or whether that democracy was a mirage. The protesters showed a global audience that Turkey’s new wealth was a distraction from the realities of injustice and one-man rule. And the cacophonous utopia that bloomed in the park served as a rebuke to the blandly baroque language of neoliberal democracy and family-values conservatism that the A.K.P. and Gulenist media had so skillfully deployed. As one activist named Zeynel Gul explained to me, Gezi wasn’t Occupy, Syntagma or Tahrir — referring to the protests in New York, Athens and Cairo — it was “all but none.” Erdogan, meanwhile, called the protesters “terrorists” and “looters” and declared that a conspiracy was opposing him.

A protester in Taksim Square. Joachim Ladefoged/Vll, for The New York Times

From Pennsylvania, Fethullah Gulen chastised both the prime minister and the protesters. “We need to handle them in a smart way,” he said in a video on his website. “If you are facing an invasion of ants, you can’t disregard it, thinking that they are ‘ants.’ ” The Gulenists do not support street protests, and they, like Erdogan, believed that armed groups had joined the demonstrations in Gezi Park — but Erdogan was making Turkey look bad.

The quarrel between the two allies had been slowly brewing for years. It was financial, ideological and moral, but it was mostly about power. The Gulenists didn’t like Erdogan’s sudden transformation into a hero of the Arab street. In 2010, when the Turkish ship Mavi Marmara tried to break an Israeli blockade of Gaza, the Gulen sympathizers were against, as they put it, “confrontation.” “What I saw was not pretty,” Gulen said in a rare interview with The Wall Street Journal. “It was ugly.” More important, Gulenists seemed to oppose Erdogan’s ways of resolving the 30-year-old conflict between Turkey and its disenfranchised Kurds. In 2012, prosecutors who were assumed to be Gulenists subpoenaed a Turkish official who had been negotiating with Kurdish leaders and who also happens to be the head of Turkey’s national intelligence organization. Erdogan was enraged by the Gulenists’ meddling.

Fundamentally, Gulenists disagreed with Erdogan’s political tactics. “Gulen doesn’t cultivate influence through top-down reforms,” says Hendrick, who lived among the Gulenists for more than a year while researching his book about Gulen. “They encourage social change by winning hearts and minds through media, through education and through competitive market performance.”

Erdogan attacked the Gulenists at that level. In November, his plans to close the college-exam-preparation schools, many of which are run by the Gulen movement, became public. Closing a multimillion-dollar industry has more than financial ramifications; those schools are where the Gulen movement recruits members. Erdogan, Hendrick says, is “going after the existential nature of the movement by destroying its human resources.

Three weeks later, the Gulenists struck back.  (On Twitter, someone posted a doctored picture of Gulen holding a lightsaber.)

In mid-December, the authorities, presumably Gulenist sympathizers, brought corruption charges against the businessman sons of three A.K.P. ministers and several businessmen tied to Erdogan, including his son, Bilal. Millions of dollars were said to have been suddenly discovered in shoe boxes in a closet belonging to the chief executive of a bank. Shady gold-for-oil schemes with Iran were exposed. Bribery for construction projects unexpectedly came to light. Corruption is an open secret in Turkey, but the A.K.P. had been untouchable. When Erdogan asked the ministers to take the fall and resign, one of them said publicly that most of the construction projects had been approved by Erdogan.
“I want to express my belief that the esteemed prime minister should also resign,” he said.

Since then, Erdogan has declared that the Gulenists’ corruption charges­ constitute a conspiracy against him by a “parallel state.” To obstruct the investigation, he has purged thousands of supposed Gulenists from the police forces and reassigned the prosecutors on the corruption cases. Last month, the Gulenist Journalists and Writers Foundation held a news conference in Taksim Square and denied that Gulen sympathizers made up a parallel state with intelligence capabilities. One speaker there nevertheless made it clear that the movement wanted Erdogan to go: “In England, Margaret Thatcher lost touch with the people at the end. In the United States, even a popular politician like Bill Clinton cannot serve three terms.”

Are the Gulenists a parallel state, or a hierarchical minority faction with some self-serving ambitions, like interest groups in any society? Hendrick says that “groups coming from the same educational or religious networks and gaining positions of authority in the state — for the United States, this is normal. In Turkey, where the state has not been open to all, it is conspiratorial.” Osman Can says their presence in the judiciary is a “violation of state sovereignty.” The Gulenists’ opacity makes it difficult to tell whether they seek to control Turkey. Nonetheless, that they are able to exercise any power at all resulted from the same forces that allowed Erdogan to come to power, as well as made it possible for thousands of Turks to occupy a park — because Turkey had opened up to them.

But Erdogan no longer has use for his country’s nascent inclusiveness. With his electoral mandate, he seems to believe he embodies Turkey himself. It is very likely that his core constituents, those who still love the man they call the Conqueror, will cast their votes for the A.K.P. in this spring’s municipal elections. Erdogan’s public vengefulness, however, may well wreck the economy, wounding the vulnerable people he once claimed to speak for. When he lashes out during public appearances — most recently describing his critics as members of a “losers’ lobby” — many Turks feel as if they are seeing the fractured future of their country.

In a way, Erdogan’s bad year is a result of a liberalizing society clashing with an inherently illiberal Turkish system. The Turkish Model — the idea that the A.K.P.’s softer vision of Islam was compatible with democracy — suggested a way forward for Middle Eastern countries. But Turkey’s biggest problem, its authoritarian structure, has little to do with Islam. The state remains a tool for accumulating disproportionate power, and when threatened, it sacrifices its citizens to save itself. If a prime minister can co-opt the laws and the media, and if a self-interested group can prosecute trials of dubious legality, and if the citizens have nowhere to express themselves but in the streets, then the state institutions are broken. Someday Erdogan will be gone, but Turkey’s system will still be a work in progress. Democratization takes a long time, and as Gezi Park and other global movements have proved, part of the process is figuring out what kind of country its citizens want.

The activist Zeynel Gul touched on this feeling when he said to me about Gezi Park: “It was important for us to experience that kind of life. If you were hungry, the food was free. If you were wounded, someone would carry you to the emergency tent. If you needed a lawyer, he is always there. Gezi gave us a powerful sense of a world based on solidarity and equality, which we could not imagine before. No one can take away what we experienced in the park.”

Suzy Hansen is a contributing writer for the magazine. She lives in Istanbul.

 

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

###

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

 

The Opinion Pages|Op-Ed Columnist

The Egyptian Disaster

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Recent Comments

J. Von Hettlingen –

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

William Dufort –

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

Jack Hartman –

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

————————————–

Egypt’s Ruler Eyes Riskier Role: The Presidency.

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

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

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

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

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

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

###

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

 

PEACE AND SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT: A TWO-WAY RELATIONSHIP

Panel discussion during the 8th session of the

United Nations Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals.

FridayFebruary 71:15pm – 2:45pm
 
United Nations Conference Room 5, New York, NY
Please join our panel at the United Nations which will focus on the following topics:
  • Causal relationship between durable peace and sustainable development
  • Dilemma of the governments and armed opposition groups: the issue of trust and credible commitment to follow through on peace agreement
  • Distrust of the conflicting sides as a barrier to the implementation of SDGs
  • Enforcement mechanism: How can the United Nations, its agencies, and regional intergovernmental organizations enforce peace deals and contribute to sustainable development
This event will feature a discussion by H.E. Carlos Enrique Garcia Gonzalez, Permanent Representative of El Salvador to the United Nations as well as professors from Columbia University and New York University. 
UN Pass is required to attend.
To receive a UN Pass, please RSVP to rsvp@peaceislands.org        by no later than Thursday, January 30th.
==========================================================================
As a preparation for this meeting I would like to propose an old Jan Pronk article of Maastricht, 1.5.2007, that starts:

SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT AND PEACE

by Jan Pronk

  [  Jan Pronk: Sustainable Development and Peace - UNU-Merit

www.merit.unu.edu/.../200705_JanPronkM...?United Nations University ]
 

Shortly after the fall of the Berlin wall the then UN Secretary General, Boutros Boutros Galil, drew the attention to the need for a new paradigm in international policy making: there is no peace without development and there is no development without peace. It may sound as a truism. However, it had been ignored during the Cold War between East and West as well as during many years of lukewarm peace between North and South in the aftermath of decolonisation.

Mutual interests

The neglect of this truism had already become clear during the discussions about the conclusions presented by the Brandt Commission in the two reports North- South: A Programme for Survival (1980) and Common Crisis: Cooperation for World Recovery (1983). These reports dealt with issues concerning development, poverty and new relations between North and South, a new international economic order. They reflected a new philosophy: interdependence between nations, mutual dependencies resulting in a common interest of all nations, not only in order to establish recovery, but also to manage development and even to guarantee survival. The reports claimed that all nations shared a global responsibility for world social and economic development. A world public

sector was advocated, parallel to orderly international market operations, in particular in energy, food, trade in general as well as in finance. This was complemented by the statement that there was a need for world institutional reforms. Would all this be possible? Yes, as Willy Brandt said in the preface to the report: ‘One should not give up the hope that problems created by men can also be solved by men’.

This programme has not been implemented. Why not? Maybe the minds were not yet ripe. The confrontation between East West during the Cold War did not create a climate in favour of global cooperation. There was not yet a feeling of global communality.

There was a second reason as well. The world economic recession of the second half of the seventies and the eighties was not conducive to new approaches. Instead countries followed a pattern of adjustment to what was felt as the economic reality. This adjustment took place through expenditure cuts, rather than investments resulting in growth and development. This led to an economic philosophy consisting of elements which were not in accordance with those proposed by the Brandt Commission: market liberalisation, deregulation, a smaller public sector and more reliance on unbridled market mechanisms.

In the second half of the eighties and in the nineties the world has changed drastically. There was the end of the Cold War, followed by a new phase of globalisation. The new chances for world peace after the Cold War were a big boost to world economic growth, benefiting both the US, the countries of the former Soviet Union as well the countries in Eastern and Western Europe. The economies of these countries were benefiting from a fast and intense globalisation following the opening of national borders. There was a new mutuality of peace and economic progress. Could it be extended towards developing countries as well?

###

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

 The following is by now old hat but we decided to post it anyhow – this because it is still the base for understanding the surrealism of the Syria Geneva II meeting that just started with a Montreux, Switzerland,  introductory.

The best reporting we know is that from Matthew Russell Lee reporting from the UN Security Council door:

www.innercitypress.com/syria2montreux012214.html

We believe that Iran belongs to the meeting – so do the Kurds. But Geneva I deemed that the meeting is basically between the Assad government of Syria and a “UNIFIED” opposition delegation that in reality does not exist. The Syrian National Coalition (SNC), that is headed by Mr. Jarba is a Saudi/Qatari pupp.et – they are backed only by half of the Turkey based leadership, and do not include the Kurdish held territory at all. That is the Turks’ contribution to the Syrian/Iraqi mess.
Russia – the other P2 that with the US and the UN is in the driver’s seat of these meetings has its own Islamic problem in the Caucasus and in more central parts of Russia along the Volga river – they like to back the Assad regime for their own reasons but want no part of his other backers like Islamic Mullahs of Iran.

To start making sense Iran will have to come clean on its nuclear dealings with the West – so the US will allow them participation at the Syrian table and this is what we mean by making themselves Salon Clean. Without this there is no progress in their relations with the UN and the West on any issue. They may think that  time is in their favor and might try to play as outsiders against everyone at the Geneva table.

Russia on the other hand does not have the luxury of time – this because of the Sochi winter games and surprise – their internal nemesis are training now in Syria and the US might just decide that if the Russians are not supportive of the West’s goals in the Middle East – why play their ski slopes at all? That would be a terrible set-back to ambitious Mr. Putin.

The drama is thus that nobody gives a damn about Syrian lives when pursuing  their own particular goals and our true cynicism is revealed in the greater interest we saw in the Davos World Economic Forum meeting then in any of the Middle East negotiations.

————————————————————————————-

U.N. Invites Iran to Syria Talks, Raising Objections From the U.S.

The announcement by Ban Ki-moon, the United Nations secretary general, that he had invited Iran to a peace conference to end the war in Syria drew strong objections on Sunday from American officials, who suggested that Iran had not met all the conditions for attending and that the invitation might need to be withdrawn.

At the heart of the dispute is whether Iran has accepted the terms of the talks, which begin Wednesday in Montreux, Switzerland: to establish “by mutual consent” a transitional body to govern Syria. Mr. Ban said he had been privately assured that Iranian officials “welcome” those rules and that they had pledged to play “a positive and constructive role.”

American officials said they had been in regular communication with the United Nations over the requirements Iran would need to meet to be invited, but they appeared to have been caught off guard by Mr. Ban’s hastily organized news conference. They pointed out that Iran had not publicly accepted the formal mandate for the conference, which was agreed upon in Geneva in 2012 and is known as the Geneva communiqué.

“If Iran does not fully and publicly accept the Geneva communiqué, the invitation must be rescinded,” Jen Psaki, a State Department spokeswoman, said in a statement.

Officials in Washington emphasized that Iran had made no such public statement at the time of Mr. Ban’s news conference. It was expected to release one early Monday.

If Iran has accepted the Geneva terms, it would be a sharp turnaround, since it has long insisted that it will participate in talks only if there are no preconditions. Still, such a shift would not necessarily mean Tehran had accepted that President Bashar al-Assad must leave office.

Some 30 countries have been invited to Montreux for what may be a largely ceremonial opening day of the peace talks. Two days later, Syria’s government and opposition delegations will move to Geneva to continue the deliberations, mediated by a United Nations special envoy, Lakhdar Brahimi.

Diplomats and Middle East analysts say that if there are any breakthroughs, they will take place in Geneva. The negotiations are not expected to yield major results, except perhaps to open up certain parts of Syria to the delivery of humanitarian aid, which has been long denied.

Iran’s participation has been a subject of intense diplomatic wrangling for several weeks. Mr. Ban and Mr. Brahimi have insisted that Iran, given its considerable influence over the Assad government, should be part of the negotiations. So has the Syrian government’s other major ally, Russia.

The United States has long been wary of Iran’s intentions. Tehran has been one of the Assad government’s staunchest political and military supporters, sending arms to Damascus and encouraging Hezbollah, the Lebanese Shiite militia, to join the fight on the side of Mr. Assad.

As recently as last Monday, Secretary of State John Kerry complained that Iran was, effectively, a belligerent in the conflict.

“Iran is currently a major actor with respect to adverse consequences in Syria,” Mr. Kerry said. “No other nation has its people on the ground fighting in the way that they are.”

On Sunday, Ms. Psaki added in her statement, “We also remain deeply concerned about Iran’s contributions to the Assad regime’s brutal campaign against its own people, which has contributed to the growth of extremism and instability in the region.”

Iran’s inclusion has the potential to turn the Syria peace talks into a platform for intensifying Middle East conflicts. Also represented will be Saudi Arabia, Iran’s chief rival.

Andrew J. Tabler, an expert on Syria at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, said Iran’s presence “seems to widen the circle of regional involvement.” But he also noted that Iran and the United States could be expected to hold diametrically opposed views as to whether Mr. Assad must give up power.

“Given that Iranian forces and their Shia militias are deployed on the ground backing up Assad, it means another Assad backer will be present at this meeting,” Mr. Tabler said.

Syria’s political opposition said in a Twitter message that it would not attend unless Mr. Ban withdrew Iran’s invitation.

“The Syrian coalition announces that they will withdraw their attendance in Geneva 2 unless Ban Ki-moon retracts Iran’s invitation,” the Twitter message said, quoting Louay Safi, a coalition spokesman.

The ultimatum came just a day after the coalition, facing a boycott by a third of its members, had voted to send a delegation to the peace talks. The opposition has been under intense international pressure, including from the United States government, to participate.

Mr. Ban said Sunday that he had spoken extensively with Iran’s foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif.

“He has assured me that, like all the other countries invited to the opening-day discussions in Montreux, Iran understands that the basis of the talks is the full implementation of the 30 June, 2012, Geneva communiqué,” Mr. Ban said.

“Foreign Minister Zarif and I agreed that the goal of the negotiations is to establish by mutual consent a transitional governing body with full executive powers,” he added. “It was on that basis that Foreign Minister Zarif pledged that Iran would play a positive and constructive role in Montreux.”

Somini Sengupta reported from New York, and Michael R. Gordon from Washington.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 14th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

The Poet Rumi, a Secular Islam meeting in Florida, an Iranian-American businessman Freydoon Khoie is campaigning for a new Muslim World.

Secular Islam
 
The only way to save Islam is to build Secularist Muslims Societies in Muslim Countries
 
A summit was held a few months ago in St. Petersburg, Florida, USA to promote a “secular version of Islam“. This Summit was an international forum spearheaded by Muslim secularists and was organized and sponsored by the Center for Inquiry in partnership with the International Intelligence Summit.

Many who attended issued a declaration at the end of the summit. While many of the clauses of that declaration are in tune with Islam and its teachings, there were others that clearly are based on faulty and presumed premises (e.g. submitting Islamic practices to criticism or condemnation when they violate human reason or rights). The fact is that mainstream Muslims do not believe that any of it’s teachings violate human rights – rather Islam came and through its principles and teachings, it protected the weak, elevated the status of women, lay down rules for protection of minorities in Muslim lands and many other such principles.

The text of the declaration issued by the “Muslim Secularists” read as follows:

We are secular Muslims, and secular persons of Muslim societies. We are believers, doubters, and unbelievers, brought together by a great struggle, not between the West and Islam, but between the free and the unfree.

We affirm the inviolable freedom of the individual conscience. We believe in the equality of all human persons.

We insist upon the separation of religion from state and the observance of universal human rights.

We find traditions of liberty, rationality, and tolerance in the rich histories of pre-Islamic and Islamic societies. These values do not belong to the West or the East; they are the common moral heritage of humankind.

We see no colonialism, racism, or so-called “Islamaphobia” in submitting Islamic practices to criticism or condemnation when they violate human reason or rights.

We call on the governments of the world to:

Reject Sharia law, fatwa courts, clerical rule, and state-sanctioned religion in all their forms; oppose all penalties for blasphemy and apostasy, in accordance with Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human rights; eliminate practices, such as female circumcision, honor killing, forced veiling, and forced marriage, that further the oppression of women; protect sexual and gender minorities from persecution and violence; reform sectarian education that teaches intolerance and bigotry towards non-Muslims; and foster an open public sphere in which all matters may be discussed without coercion or intimidation.

We demand the release of Islam from its captivity to the totalitarian ambitions of power-hungry men and the rigid structures of orthodoxy like it is practiced in Iran.

We enjoin academics and thinkers everywhere to embark on a fearless examination of the origins and sources of Islam, and to promulgate the ideals of free scientific and spiritual inquiry through cross-cultural translation, publishing, and the mass media.

We say to Muslim believers: there is a noble future for Islam as a personal faith, not a political doctrine; to Christians, Jews, Buddhists, Hindus, Baha’is, and all members of non-Muslim faith communities: we stand with you as free and equal citizens; and to nonbelievers: we defend your unqualified liberty to question and dissent.

Before any of us is a member of the Umma, the Body of Christ, or the Chosen People, we are all members of the community of conscience, the people who must choose for themselves.

——————————————————

 

FREYDOON KHOIE
I was born in April 1949, to a middle class family in Iran and raised in Tehran. I really believe that being an entrepreneur is in one’s genes as I realized my love for business, independence and hard work at a very early age of 14, when I dropped out of high school and started working in number of fields until I started my first serious business at age 23 by forming IPC Engineering company in 1972 and quickly built my engineering team to design, and build industrial projects in Iran’s golden age when the whole country was under construction. By 1975, I had 34 staff and $1,280,000 revenue which was a serious money in those days. To qualify for bigger projects, I formed joint venture partnerships with couple of American companies and visited the United States for the first time. Upon arriving in New York, I could not believe the vast difference between America and Iran. After few months and in my second visit, I decided to set up a branch office in Los Angeles to use it as the source of technology and knowhow and trading, but only two years later the national catastrophe in the body of so called Islamic revolution hit my beloved Iran and devastated everything that was good and lovely and replaced it with utter ugliness, terror and violence and destroyed our chances and hope of building a new, modern, industrialized and civilized Iran. The rest is history and our country has continued to decline ever since.

Now reluctant to return my country under the tyrannical regime, I formed Sood Industries in Los Angeles, and started my CNC machine tools business. The Registered Trade Mark was FreeMax Precision Machine Tools. By 1990, we had expanded into PC business, and we were selling IBM PCs to our customer base in California to CAD/CAM software sector which was a bundling strategy with our CNC machine tools to capture greater market share, and this led me into computer business which I took it one step further and decided to build my own PC brand and since East Asia was the place to go for cheap labor, I picked Singapore as our production base. By now, I had sold my IPC company in Tehran and had become an international entrepreneur.

In 1990, I established IMI Electronics in Singapore and started building IMI Computers into a global PC brand. Our principle activities involved the assembly, packaging, marketing and sales and distribution of microcomputer-based products as well as application specific products such as point-of-sale terminals and network systems. IMI’s broad product lines were distributed under “IMI” brand, through a wide network of appointed distributors and dealers to more than 38 countries around the world.

With $53 million confirmed orders for 1994 and projected sales of $80 million for 1995 and growing sales subsidiaries in Europe, Middle East, and our own East Asian markets, Australia and Iran, the company was attacked by a $2 billion conglomerate IMI PLC., ( a UK based Company) alleging Trade Mark infringement and after a protracted legal tussle and plenty of dirty tricks by them, we lost the and I learned a great lesson in trade mark protection. I restructured the company under UBIQ Computers and relocated our operations to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and Brisbane, Australia and a year later in 1997 I sold the company and started planning my next move.

In 1997, having been away from Iran for 24 years, I decided to go back and explore business opportunities. The arrival experience was horrific. Finding my flourishing and rapidly progressing country of 1975 in a state of utter repression, poverty, depression, chaos and criminality was much painful but still I was hoping to find a way to help our people in any way possible. In my first month, I realized that the national car – Paykon – had no air conditioning and people in the heat of Tehran’s horrible summer were suffering. My quick research indicated that there was a niche market which I jumped on the opportunity and few months late I formed Neekon Automotive in Tehran, and invited Japanese Sanden Corporation to design an application specific A/C for Paykon and in matter of months I launched an aggressive marketing campaign and started selling our A/Cs, but just as I was warned by friends, the corrupt elements in the government owned Iran Khodro, the manufacturer of Paykon, attacked my company, demanding that I should give them our technology, and making all kinds of threats that if I refuse they will prevent us doing business. I could not believe my eyes that bunch of thugs and criminals were actually in charge of our greatest industries like Iran Khodro, Ministry of Industry, Ministry of Commerce that so blatantly and openly acted like communists and crushed private sector initiatives. After couple of years of confrontations I realized that everything said about this regime was true and the only solution for saving Iran was and is a total abolition of the Islamic Republic Constitution and removal of the state from power and establishing a new, multi-party, secular and modern democratic political system. So I closed down my businesses and decided to relocate to Dubai in the year 2000 right after our son was born.

I found Dubai to be absolutely the best of both worlds. A wise and forward looking leadership, tolerant and open minded had turned Dubai into a model state for all Muslim countries as center of excellence. The first thing I did was to establish Maxam Publishing House to produce two monthly English business magazines: The Middle East Entrepreneur and Digital Executive, and decided to get settled in this beautiful, business friendly, corruption free, dynamic country and since then I have built number of companies that form the Khoie Group today. Having identified the construction boom in Dubai and UAE, I formed such companies as Khoie Power, Khoie Trading, Khoie Properties, Khoie Education, Khoie Industries, and Khoie Media with variety of ventures and projects in the service of community and by 2011 we reached our $1 billion market valuation and growing.

In the meantime, like all other nationalist Iranians, I have been watching with deep concern the disastrous mismanagement of our country and her continued social and economic decline and political isolation and I have lend my support to the progressive green movement and other pro-democracy forces seeking change and reform in Iran to put an end to the mullah’s tyrannical rule and establish a secular, liberal democratic political system in which individual liberties, free market and peace are guaranteed to all citizens.

 

He posted:

Our 21st Century Challenge for Iran
It is impossible to reform and stop oppression, corruption and terrorism in Iran because the regime structure is originally designed to survive on corruption and it is rotten from its rootsIran’s 1979 Revolutions was more or less something like Russia’s Communist Revolution of 1917 in which Lenin and his partners in crime promised the poor workers and peasants that they had nothing to lose but their chains and the whole world to gain.
Read more
Khamnei’s Islamic Republic of Horror
What was the Original Intention of the 1979 Revolution in Iran? What are the Function and Purpose of a Government?It is refreshing to re-visit Ayn Rand when she wrote over seventy years ago about the function and purpose of government: “If physical force is to be barred from social relationships,
Read more
Pro-Democracy Iranians are shocked to see that President Obama seems to be Harsher to Members of Congress than to Khamnei’s terrorist regime
The White House’s threat to veto a bi-partisan Iran sanctions bill, which was introduced today in the Senate is confusing everyoneA bipartisan group of Senators has introduced carefully considered legislation intended to increase sanctions to prevent Khamnei’s terrorist to build nuclear weapon and stop its gross and brutal Human Right violations,
Read more
Bible translation into Persian language completed after 18 years of work
This is without a doubt the best thing that has happened to the faithful people of Iran since the first translation of the Bible into Persian language in early ChristianityI have studied the Holy Bible, Quran, Avesta and other Holy books for over 38 years and as a Christian I am convinced that God has a clear and specific plan for the faithful people of Iran
Read more
Voltarian Muslims and Hyper-maniac Hezbollah
How the few hired radical Islamist mercenaries are destroying the good name of IslamThe millions of innocent Muslims who involuntarily left their homeland to escape extremist Mullahs’ tyranny and oppression and migrated to such liberal and advanced economies like France, Britain, Germany, Holland, and other western and northern European countries
Read more
How Egypt is showing the Path of ‘how to’ achieve a True Democracy in the region
Only a Benevolent force can transform primitive states into a genuinely Liberal Democratic oneIt is a sheer naiveté to imagine that old nations like Iran, Egypt, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Iraq and others like them, could become liberated states overnight by so called Islamist revolutions
Read more
Giving ‘Democracy’ a Bad Name
Turkmenistan Votes in First Ever Multi-Party Legislative Polls!!!Turkmenistan, located on the north east border of Iran, was part of the Persian Empire. The Turkmen people were originally pastoral nomads and some of them continued this way of life up into the 20th century, living in transportable dome-shaped felt tents.
Read more
Pluralism: a key challenge of the 21st century – Kofi Annan
“If diversity is seen as a source of strength, societies can become healthier, more stable and prosperous.”In a speech at the Global Centre for Pluralism, in May 2013 Kofi Annan discusses the challenges of governing plural societies, promoting inclusive democracy in Iran, Kenya, and the moment at which Syria’s deadly conflict could have been averted:
Read more

————————————==============————————

Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi

Jal?l ad-D?n Muhammad Balkh?, also known as Jal?l ad-D?n Muhammad R?m?, and more popularly in the English-speaking world simply as Rumi, was a 13th-century Persian poet, jurist, theologian, and Sufi mystic.

 

—————————–——————————

 

Rumi – Quotes
“Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.”

? Rumi
“Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing there is a field. I’ll meet you there.When the soul lies down in that grass the world is too full to talk about.”

? Rumi


“If you are irritated by every rub, how will your mirror be polished?”

? Rumi


“The minute I heard my first love story, I started looking for you, not knowing how blind that was.
Lovers don’t finally meet somewhere. They’re in each other all along.”

? Rumi
“What you seek is seeking you.”

? Rumi
“The wound is the place where the Light enters you.”

? Rumi
“Sell your cleverness and buy bewilderment.”

? Rumi
“You were born with wings, why prefer to crawl through life?”

? Rumi
“Don’t grieve. Anything you lose comes round in another form.”

? Rumi
“Dance, when you’re broken open. Dance, if you’ve torn the bandage off. Dance in the middle of the fighting. Dance in your blood. Dance when you’re perfectly free.”

? Rumi
“When I am with you, we stay up all night.
When you’re not here, I can’t go to sleep.
Praise God for those two insomnias!
And the difference between them.”

? Rumi
“When you do things from your soul, you feel a river moving in you, a joy.”

? Rumi
“Ignore those that make you fearful and sad, that degrade you back towards disease and death.”

? Rumi
“Knock, And He’ll open the door
Vanish, And He’ll make you shine like the sun
Fall, And He’ll raise you to the heavens
Become nothing, And He’ll turn you into everything.”

? Rumi
“Forget safety.
Live where you fear to live. Destroy your
reputation. Be notorious.”

? Rumi
“My soul is from elsewhere, I’m sure of that, and I intend to end up there.”

? Rumi
“In your light I learn how to love. In your beauty, how to make poems. You dance inside my chest where no-one sees you, but sometimes I do, and that sight becomes this art.”

? Rumi

Secular Islam
 
The only way to save Islam is to build Secularist Muslims Societies in Muslim Countries
 
A summit was held a few months ago in St. Petersburg, Florida, USA to promote a “secular version of Islam“. This Summit was an international forum spearheaded by Muslim secularists and was organized and sponsored by the Center for Inquiry in partnership with the International Intelligence Summit.

Many who attended issued a declaration at the end of the summit. While many of the clauses of that declaration are in tune with Islam and its teachings, there were others that clearly are based on faulty and presumed premises (e.g. submitting Islamic practices to criticism or condemnation when they violate human reason or rights). The fact is that mainstream Muslims do not believe that any of it’s teachings violate human rights – rather Islam came and through its principles and teachings, it protected the weak, elevated the status of women, lay down rules for protection of minorities in Muslim lands and many other such principles.

The text of the declaration issued by the “Muslim Secularists” read as follows:

We are secular Muslims, and secular persons of Muslim societies. We are believers, doubters, and unbelievers, brought together by a great struggle, not between the West and Islam, but between the free and the unfree.

We affirm the inviolable freedom of the individual conscience. We believe in the equality of all human persons.

We insist upon the separation of religion from state and the observance of universal human rights.

We find traditions of liberty, rationality, and tolerance in the rich histories of pre-Islamic and Islamic societies. These values do not belong to the West or the East; they are the common moral heritage of humankind.

We see no colonialism, racism, or so-called “Islamaphobia” in submitting Islamic practices to criticism or condemnation when they violate human reason or rights.

We call on the governments of the world to:

Reject Sharia law, fatwa courts, clerical rule, and state-sanctioned religion in all their forms; oppose all penalties for blasphemy and apostasy, in accordance with Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human rights; eliminate practices, such as female circumcision, honor killing, forced veiling, and forced marriage, that further the oppression of women; protect sexual and gender minorities from persecution and violence; reform sectarian education that teaches intolerance and bigotry towards non-Muslims; and foster an open public sphere in which all matters may be discussed without coercion or intimidation.

We demand the release of Islam from its captivity to the totalitarian ambitions of power-hungry men and the rigid structures of orthodoxy like it is practiced in Iran.

We enjoin academics and thinkers everywhere to embark on a fearless examination of the origins and sources of Islam, and to promulgate the ideals of free scientific and spiritual inquiry through cross-cultural translation, publishing, and the mass media.

We say to Muslim believers: there is a noble future for Islam as a personal faith, not a political doctrine; to Christians, Jews, Buddhists, Hindus, Baha’is, and all members of non-Muslim faith communities: we stand with you as free and equal citizens; and to nonbelievers: we defend your unqualified liberty to question and dissent.

Before any of us is a member of the Umma, the Body of Christ, or the Chosen People, we are all members of the community of conscience, the people who must choose for themselves.

The declaration obviously was critiqued by many Muslim organizations. Your thoughts and analysis on the declaration are welcome.

 

###

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

 

As Obama dithers, Egypt ramps up its nuclear options.

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


January 9, 2014

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

And no one seems to be paying attention.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

###

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

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

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

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

 

Longtime Sharon associate calls on parties to close peace deal

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Was Sharon’s disengagement plan a mistake?

 

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

 

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

 

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

Translator(s)Danny Wool

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Was Sharon’s disengagement plan a mistake?

 

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

 

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on December 23rd, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

BREAKING NEWS FROM ISRAEL:

Turkey relaxing stance on Israeli compensation for Gaza flotilla victims?

Deal would mean upgrading of diplomatic relations, exchange of ambassadors, and end to claims against Israeli military officers and soldiers.

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

December 6, 2013 – The Nikkei Asian Review

Iran gets an early Christmas gift: Turkey.

YUZO WAKI, Nikkei columnist

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu (left) and his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif meet Nov. 27 in Tehran. © AP

 

TOKYO — Old rivals Turkey and Iran are drawing closer together as Ankara tries to regain lost influence in the Middle East.

Oil supplies have also waned in Turkey as the Syrian conflict has dragged on. Instability in Egypt, which saw Islamist President Mohamed Morsi deposed July 3, added to Turkey’s problems.

 Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu visited Tehran Nov. 27 after an interim agreement on Iranian nuclear development was signed Nov. 24 in Geneva by Iran, the U.S. and other world powers. “Now is the time for cooperation,” Davutoglu said. ”The dialogue between two regional powers such as Turkey and Iran, who share an historic relationship, will not only enable our region to gain stability, but also prevent the negative effects of conflicts.”

     Davutoglu and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif called for Syrian President Bashar Assad and rebels to reach a ceasefire before an international peace conference convenes late January in Geneva.

And now for something completely different

Teaming up with Assad’s ally Iran is an about-face for Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. He had called on Assad to step down and has supported the Syrian opposition. The shift has been in the works for a while. Zarif on Nov. 1 met Erdogan, and the two said they were ready to cooperate to bring peace to Syria.

Erdogan still believes that Assad should resign. But there is little possibility of change to the current Syria situation. The U.S. government of President Barack Obama gave up the idea of attacking Syrian government forces because of their use of chemical weapons. A diplomatic solution to the conflict is now being sought.

Syrian opposition forces have been influenced by al-Qaida, a terrorist organization. They are together trying to establish a “mini-Islamic state” in the region that straddles the Iraq and Syria borders.

Suppressing extremists and maintaining a Syrian national framework is a common strategic interest for the U.S., Europe and the Middle East.

Turkey has strengthened its political presence in the Middle East since the start of the “Arab Spring.” A series of unexpected events, however, such as the summer ouster of Morsi, have conspired against Ankara. Turkey risks becoming a loser in Middle Eastern diplomacy.

No problem

Another factor behind Turkey’s shift in its foreign policy is a domestic movement pushing for a return to “zero-problem diplomacy,” under which conflicts with neighboring countries are minimized. The policy was previously advocated by Erdogan, who since 2011 has tried to take a more active role in the domestic affairs of neighboring countries.

Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) is Sunni. When events take on a more sectarian tone — as they did with the Syrian conflict — Turkey’s relations with the Shiite-led Iranian and Iraqi governments have soured.

Davutoglu visited a Shiite sanctuary and met with Iraq’s top Shiite cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, when he went to Iraq. Turkey is also seeking to cooperate more with the Kurdistan Regional Government in northern Iraq and mend ties with the government in Baghdad. Relations with Iraq have soured since Turkey supported Sunni forces in in the country.

For Turkey, which relies on imports for energy, cooperation with neighboring oil producers such as Iran and Iraq is crucial. The country also welcomes international moves to ease sanctions on major trading partner Iran. The U.S. and Europe had imposed harsh sanctions on Iran because of its nuclear development program.

“Even if it were not possible to match the previous levels of (crude oil) imports (from Iran),” said Taner Yildiz, Turkish Minister of Energy and Natural Resources. “I believe our purchases could go up to 130,000 to 140,000 barrels per day” from the current 105,000, he added.
The Turkish government also said that the Nov. 24 international agreement enabled banks to resume remittance and settlement with Iranian financial institutions.

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

 

 

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on October 29th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Exactly a year ago, a record 9.41 foot storm surge flooded Battery Park, Lower Manhattan, Staten Island, Far Rockaway, and Breeze Point, Long Island. New York City tunnels and subways were out of service for weeks, power outages closed schools, hospitals, community centers and whole neighborhoods. Overall there were $64 billion monetary damage, 72 casualties, and more then 6 million displaced.

This was the second deadliest and most destructive hurricane in the history of New York. Though as per NOAA – the Deadliest Hurricanes in the US happened in 1900 – the Great Galveston Hurricane that claimed 8,000-12,000 victims and the 1928 Okeechobee Lake Hurricane that claimed 2,500 – 3,000 lives but seems to have cost $180 Billion in today’s dollars. By comparison, Katrina cost 81 Billion. The overriding question the panel put out for itself was if we learned from past Hurricanes and are better prepared for the future ones? Let me say already here, that by the time of the Q&A it became clear that the preparation must be done in major part by us – that is the communities at large – and not just wait for a Government intervention that if it even comes will be delayed at best.

The panel, organized by Mehmet Kilic, Director of the center for Global Affair of the Institute was led by Ambassador Narinder Kakar (of Turkish Nationality) who after 30 years at UNDP, is now IUCN and the Costa Rica based UN Univercity for Peace representative to the UN. He gave the UN background on climate change.

He was followed by Dr. Thomas Chandler and Ms. Meg Sutton from The Earth Institute of Columbia University; Mr. ndrew Martin who is the Response Coordinator for FEMA in the New York Region, and Mr. Martin Cetiner who is Vice President for International Affairs of a Turkish NGO active in humanitarian aid in 103 countries www.KimSeyoKuu.org.tr

Mr. Kakar gave examples from South East Asia showing how preparation is leading to decreasing numbers of casualties though there was enhanced storm and flooding activity. He kept saying that Climate Change is the defining issue of our times and Adaptation to Climate change is the most imediate move to avoid hazards. Other needed activities are for mitigation.

His examples included the earlier start of seasonal bush fires in Australia’s New South Wales, and the Failin Cyclon of the coast of India where anticipation, food storage and early evacuation of 900,000 people has helped reduced – in the cyclon case the number of casualties from 10,000 to 15.

Dr. Chandler mentioned that Munich Re estimated that the weather risks in America are the highest in the world. He compared these to what happened in Cuba and it cannot be said that the US is well prepared for Climate Change effects. The FEMA manager was then in no position to make the audience feel any better.

The New York City free distribution daily newspaper – amNEWYORK had several pages today “City rebuilds to withstand next superstorm but much still needs to be done.” same for new Jersey where Governor Christie wants to build storm surge barriers and artificial dunes to protect the shores. Until then there is no answer in fact.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on October 23rd, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

  • Diplomats: Iran Nuke Overture More of a Promise than an Offer – George Jahn
    Diplomats familiar with the Iran nuclear talks say significant gaps remain between what the Iranians offered and what the six negotiating powers seek. Two diplomats said the chief advance achieved at Geneva was not detailed Iranian concessions, but Tehran’s apparent willingness to engage – a departure from previous Iranian refusal to even discuss most of the other side’s demands.
    The demands on Iran from the six powers include a halt on enriching uranium to 20%, disabling enrichment operations at the underground Fordo facility, a cap on how much enriched material Iran can produce and stockpile, the removal of Tehran’s supply of 20%-enriche d uranium and stricter UN supervision of its lower-grade enriched uranium stockpile, and a halt in construction of a reactor that will produce plutonium.
    Abbas Araghchi, Iran’s deputy foreign minister, predicted Monday the nuclear talks could take as long as a year. On Tuesday, Gen. Masoud Jazayri, the deputy chief of staff of Iran’s armed forces, warned, “Iranian diplomats will never give in to the oppressive West.”  (AP-Denver Post)
  • Saudi Arabia Set for Diplomatic Shift Away from U.S.
    Saudi Arabia’s intelligence chief has said the kingdom will make a “major shift” in dealings with the U.S., a source close to Saudi policy said on Tuesday. Prince Bandar bin Sultan told European diplomats that Washington had failed to act effectively on the Syria crisis and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, was growing closer to Tehran and had failed to back Saudi support for Bahrain when it crushed an anti-government revolt in 2011, the source said. (Reuters-Guardian-UK)
  • Israel Distances Itself from Diplomatic Confrontation with Turkey – Sevil Erkus
    Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesperson Yigal Palmor said Tuesday that a Washington Post story by David Ignatius claiming that there were intense “spy wars” between Turkey and Israel “does not serve any Israeli purpose.” He said the information that Turkish intelligence had disclosed to Iranian intelligence the identities of up to 10 Iranians who had been meeting in Turkey with their Mossad case officers was not leaked from Israel.
    “Israel wishes to stay away from public polemics with Turkey….Was it leaked by Israel? I can confidently say: Of course not.”&n bsp; (Hurriyet-Turkey)
  • Thirty Years Later, a Bombing in Lebanon Still Echoes (BBC)
    On October 23, 1983, bombs exploded in Beirut, killing 241 U.S. service members and 58 French paratroopers.
    Soon afterwards, the multinational force of American, French, British and Italian soldiers pulled out of Lebanon. And the survivors of the attacks tried to get on with their lives.
  • Iran’s Defense Minister Behind the 1983 Attack on the U.S. Marin e Barracks in Beirut – Brig.-Gen. (ret.) Dr. Shimon Shapira (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
    Brig. Gen. Hossein Dehghan was commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard force in Lebanon at the time of the 1983 bombings.
    Instructions for the attack on the multinational forces were issued from Tehran to the Iranian ambassador to Damascus, who passed them on to the Revolutionary Guards forces in Lebanon and their Lebanese Shiite allies in Hizbullah.
    The attacks were carried out by a special operational arm that acted under the joint direction of Tehran and Hizbullah, headed by Imad Mughniyeh.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 16th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


Thanks to Olympic lifting by US Secretary of State John Kerry, with perhaps some secret help from the EU, finally direct negotiations between the Israelis and Palestinians were started in Jerusalem this past Wednesday. Right immediately, the day after, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon appeared in the region to remind the two sides that the UN was also part of that now inactive Quartet were the fourth player is Russia – a clear structure built for inaction. Just think what the UN has achieved in all other miserable places in the Middle East – this like Syria, Lebanon, and now fast moving Egypt.

In Syria there is already a number for the dead well above 1.000,000 and in Egypt, without large efforts, that number can be surpassed. So, the UN Secretary General comes to the place that is these days the most peaceful in the region and marks territory.

It is just possible, that behind closed doors, the Israelis and the Palestinians of the West Bank under the Abbas leadership, may indeed be planning an agreement in order to avoid the ISLAMIZATION that is killing the region. It is in the best interest of the two sides to compromise behind closed doors and allow for a process of normalization and economic Sustainable Development in the spirit of the 21st Century to be presented later to the World at large. This clearly without the need of bickering sessions at the UN. No problem – when we reach that stage, the UN will be allowed to bless on the final agreed results. But the UN is no place to obtain any practical results.

—————————————————————————————-

Israeli Defense Minister to UN Sec. General: ‘The Only Stable Thing in the Middle East is the Lack of Stability’

August 16, 2013
Reports Zach Pontz

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon meets separately with Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu and President Shimon Peres in Jerusalem, August 15, 2013.

Then Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon met Friday August 16th in Jerusalem with United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and warned him of the dire security situation in the region.

“The only stable thing in the Middle East is the lack of stability,” Ya’alon said.

He added that Lebanon based terror group Hezbollah was Iran’s main weapon against Israel, and warned Ban that the Israeli government has detected Hezbollah activity near Israel’s northern border, in violation of UN Resolution 1701.

“This organization is a state within a state. They get weapons from Iran and Syria,” he said.

“I think today everybody understands that the root cause of the instability in the Middle East and beyond has to do with the convulsion that is historic and cultural in nature of which the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is merely one of many, many such manifestations,” said Netanyahu.

Ban thanked Netanyahu for his effort to restart peace talks, saying, “I’m here to urge all the leaders to continue along the path to peace and to underscore a shared commitment to walk together to make 2013 a decisive year for Israel-Palestinian peace and peace in the region.”

During his meeting with Ban, Peres also addressed the security situation in the region within the context of the Israeli-Palestinian Authority peace talks.

“Peace is a real need for both parties, none of us have an alternative. The overall situation in the Middle East is quite bleak and if we can achieve an agreement between us and the Palestinians it is good news in a region that needs good news,” he said.

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

In the meantime – as reported by Avi Issacharoff – the same day:

In Egypt – The military claims that armed Muslim Brotherhood supporters opened fire on the soldiers, killing close to 50 and injuring dozens more. Each side recruited the television channel that supports its agenda. The Muslim Brotherhood was backed by Qatar’s al-Jazeera, which broadcast pictures of corpses and injured protesters in an endless loop, while al-Arabiya, which is funded by Saudi Arabia and the UAE, which support the Egyptian military, screened a video of supposed Muslim Brotherhood activists wearing masks and firing at unseen targets.

As expected, the bloodshed was condemned by prominent figures in the Arab world and by various political parties in Egypt. Leaders such as Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh — former Egyptian presidential candidate, and a former Muslim Brotherhood activist in his more distant past — who strongly opposed Mohammed Morsi while he was president, criticized the army and their excessive use of violence. Representatives of the extremist al-Gama’a al-Islamiyya organization, the al-Wasat Party and countries such as Qatar, Turkey and Iran, condemned the Egyptian military as well. And to top it all, Vice President Mohamed ElBaradei, who was one of the first to stand by the military when protests against Morsi began on June 30, submitted his resignation.

The war for Egypt’s future has returned to international headlines and the Muslim Brotherhood is now demanding that el-Sissi be removed from power in order to restore peace. It is highly unlikely, though, that this will happen any time soon. Right now, Egypt is headed towards the unknown.

The days of Mubarak’s trial-and-error policies and mixed messages are over.

The army has entered a new era of all-out war against Islamic forces in Sinai and against the tunnels connecting the peninsula to Gaza, while at the same time, it is exerting force against the Muslim Brotherhood inside Egypt. The problem is that there are limits to the force and violence that can be applied, as the situation in Syria underlines. The Syrian army has been unable to suppress the opposition against Bashar Assad even as the death toll exceeds 100,000. Unlike in Syria, though, large portions of the Egyptian population support the military’s harsh policies.

Even as violence continues throughout Egypt, the army continues its efforts to destroy Jihadist headquarters in Sinai. Egyptian armed forces attack from the air and the ground and have managed to hit dozens of targets in the last week alone. The problem is that the number of armed activists that identify with al-Qaeda’s ideology is estimated at 3,000. It will be a long time before the Egyptian army will be able to declare victory in Sinai.

In Lebanon – Any four-year-old kid in Lebanon, and certainly in the Shi’ite community, knows who was responsible for Thursday’s attack in Hezbollah’s Dahieh stronghold of Beirut that killed at least 18 people. You don’t need to be an intelligence operative or a Middle East analyst to recognize that extremist Sunni groups operating as part of the Syrian opposition made good on their promise to strike at Hezbollah and its supporters on their home turf.

This was a response to the dominant involvement of Hezbollah in the fighting against the rebels in Syria. On Thursday evening, the “Brigade of Aisha” even issued a statement of responsibility to make it crystal clear to Hezbollah why it carried out the car bombing.

Yet despite this, a whole host of Lebanese politicians, not all of them Sh’iites, rushed to charge that Israel was involved – allegations ridiculous and in Lebanon too are considered an insult to the intelligence — even when they come from President Michel Suleiman, who claimed that the blast bore the fingerprints of the Israelis, or from Druze leader Walid Jumblatt, a Middle East’s great opportunists, who leveled similarly ridiculous charges.

These politicians, including Suleiman, are worried that an attack like this will prompt a particularly violent Hezbollah retaliation. In pointing the finger at Israel, they are trying to manufacture a common enemy for all Lebanese. Suleiman, who only days ago demanded the disarming of Hezbollah, understands that an attack like this in Dahieh could eventually lead to a complete takeover by the Shi’ite Hezbollah in Lebanon and a cleaning out of all pockets of opposition — be they Sunni extremists or rival politicians.

Like many in Lebanon, Suleiman recognizes that the Syrian civil war, which has intermittently seeped into Lebanon, escalated to a still more dangerous level for his country. It was notable that the internet site of Hezbollah’s TV station Al-Manar was quick to publicize comments by the organization’s number 2, Naim Kassam, who said that Israel is deterred from confrontation with Hezbollah “and checks itself before risking any aggression against us.” This was Hezbollah telling all those politicians, and its own people, that, no, Israel isn’t the problem right now.

So, again, the UN Secretary-General is in Israel to mark Territory, but what has he done to bring attention AND ACTION to the problems of Syria, Lebanon, and Egypt – did he campaign in Saudi Arabia and Qatar to get them to stop pushing Islamic extremism?

Also, in Nairobi, Kenya, an airport fire took place on the anniversary of twin blasts at US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania that killed 224 people in 1998.

Kenya has also seen terror targeted at Israelis. In 2002, terrorists blew up an Israeli-owned hotel in Mombasa, killing 13, and launched an unsuccessful attack on an Israeli plane departing from the airport there.

In May of this year, two Iranians were jailed for life for planning massive bombing attacks on Jewish, Israeli and Western targets in Kenya. Defense lawyers claimed that Israeli security official interrogated the two while in Kenyan custody. Kenya and Israeli security agencies have a long history of cooperation, dating back to the Entebbe hostage crisis in 1976.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 12th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


Our View: ‘Historic’ MoU with Israel must be followed through with actions.

Cyprus Mail, Monday, 12th August, 2013


YESTERDAY’S signing of the memorandum of understanding on energy and water resources by Cyprus, Greece and Israel was hailed as ‘historic’ and in a sense it was. There has never before been such an agreement by the three countries and many view it as the start for greater co-operation and stronger relations.

Israel’s minister for energy and water resources, Silvan Shalom spoke this prospect on Wednesday. He said: “The fact that we are here shows that we do not only work well on (issues concerning) water, but it’s also about geopolitics, strategy and political issues among the three countries.”

President Anastasiades appeared on the same wavelength. In a speech at the opening of a fifth desalination plant, which Israeli companies had helped build, he said the common energy interests could become “the driving force for an enhanced partnership between our two countries.” He also invited Israel to commit to exporting its natural gas from Cyprus’ LNG facility, which is still at a very early planning stage.

While the good intentions exist, so far, most plans of co-operation exist in the realm of theory, nothing tangible having been decided, let alone agreed. The memorandum provides a framework for exploring the feasibility of joint projects – one envisages linking the three countries through an underwater electricity cable, a second would involve an underwater gas pipeline linking the Eastern Mediterranean to Europe via Greece and the third relates to LNG storage facilities in Cyprus. But these projects might not even be viable – feasibility studies would have to be undertaken.

There is no shortage of ideas for co-operation. During Shalom’s visit there were also reports that the Israeli Electricity Company had proposed to supply Cyprus with cheaper electricity through an underwater cable. And when Cyprus started to produce cheap electricity, the flow could be reversed with Israel buying power from the island. Such an arrangement would make the agreement for the temporary supply of natural gas, that the government is currently negotiating, unnecessary.

While plenty of proposals are floating about, it was only a memorandum of understanding that was signed yesterday. There is a very long way to go before any of the plans take shape and are implemented. When this happens, we can talk about historic agreements, geopolitics and strategy, but at present such talk seems premature. What can be said was that yesterday’s signing of the memorandum was an important first step – a declaration of intent – but the words need to be followed by actions if the ‘historic agreement’ billing is to be justified.

——————-

We understand that Muslim held Northern Cyprus is interested as well to participate in these programs which would mean a step away from their total dependence on Turkey and perhaps a step towards normalization of relations between them and Greek Cyprus.

###