Turkey is an interesting case. It is an Islamic State close to the
connecting corner between the three continents of the old world:
Africa – Asia – Europe. Actually it took the place that Greece held in
antiquity, and the Byzantines and the Ottomans held later on, and the
changes turned into a form of mix-up. Instead of being the link it
could have been, Turkey worked at becoming part of Europe. The Ataturk
revolution was intended to create a secular state but Greek and
Armenian wars, and Europe remembers most the attack on Vienna. With
the fall of the Soviet Union, Turkey had the chance to be leader of
the Turkic States of Central Asia, but it did not make its move in
time. Modern Turkey, had it allowed some form of autonomy for its
Kurdish population, it could have turned into a bi-National Federation
with a Kurdish component to include Iraqi Kurdistan with added appeal
to Europe – another lost opportunity. Today Turkey moves closer to
Islamic Asia – Iran and the Arab States – and it is a Turk that heads
the Organisation of the Islamic Conference and Turkey seemingly
believes it should increase its involvement in the Middle East.
Turkey is an interesting case. It is an Islamic State close to the
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.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon marks territory in Jerusalem the day after the re-start of Palestinian-Israeli negotiations intent on unravelling the yarn of hatred that tied together the previous victims of Arab aggression and present victims of Arab Islamization – be it Sunni or Shi’ia. It is obvious to us that the Palestinians deserve a spot in the 21st Century Sustainable Future for All.
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.
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.
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.
Daniel Kahneman of Israel and Princeton, who established the link Psychology and Economics, will get the US Presidential Medal of Freedom: Israel of a split personality even before watching neighbouring Syria become the Spain of the 21st Century.
Israel’s Professor Daniel Kahneman, 79, who received the 2002 Nobel Prize in Economics, has been named one of the 16 recipients of the 2013 United States Presidential Medal of Freedom, the White House announced Thursday.
The Presidential Medal of Freedom is America’s highest civilian honor, recognizing individuals who have made an especially meritorious contribution to the security or national interests of the U.S., world peace, cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.
The awards will be presented at the White House later this year.
“Daniel Kahneman is a pioneering scholar of psychology. After escaping Nazi occupation [in France] in World War II, Dr. Kahneman immigrated to Israel, where he served in the Israel Defense Forces and trained as a psychologist. Alongside Amos Tversky, he applied cognitive psychology to economic analysis, laying the foundation for a new field of research and earning the Nobel Prize in Economics in 2002. He is currently a professor at Princeton University,” the White House’s statement said.
Born in Tel Aviv in 1934, Kahneman spent his childhood years in Paris. After his family escaped the Nazis, he immigrated to Israel in 1948. Kahneman is professor emeritus at Princeton University’s Department of Psychology and Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, as well as a fellow at Hebrew University and a Gallup Senior Scientist. He is considered one of the world’s foremost researchers in the fields of the psychology of judgment and decision-making, behavioral economics and hedonic psychology.
JERUSALEM — Israel has just embarked, yet again, on U.S.-brokered peace talks with the Palestinians.
Zeev Elkin, the deputy foreign minister and a member of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party, gives it to me straight: “Netanyahu changed his mind. It was some kind of revolution. Ten years ago he was responsible for the decision of our party against a two-state solution.” He continues: “We have a big argument between him and us on this. I respect his position and he respects mine.” And what is Elkin’s position on two states for two peoples? “Now I don’t believe in it.”
Netanyahu is opposed by his own party. He is opposed by the man who is in effect his acting foreign minister. He is opposed by prominent members of his own government, including Economy Minister Naftali Bennett.
Israel has just agreed to release more than 100 Palestinian prisoners as a gesture of goodwill. Elkin says he cannot understand how “to release terrorists and murderers with blood on their hands is something good for peace” but “building a kindergarten in Judea and Samaria is worse for peace.”
The West Bank is referred to as Judea and Samaria by religious nationalists and others committed to holding all Eretz Israel.
The gesture of goodwill comes as Israel Hayom reports that “as of July 1, 2013, the size of the Jewish Israeli population in Judea and Samaria stood at 367,000. In the first half of 2013, roughly 7,700 new residents were added. This is, as noted, a 2.12 percent rise in the population in a six-month period.” So this year, it seems, population growth has been faster in the West Bank settlements than in the rest of Israel.
Do goodwill gestures and settlement expansion make sense? Often Israel’s personality seems split. Its prosperity purrs. Its unease lurks. I listen to friends here. Like Goethe’s Faust, two souls seem to beat within them.
Yakov would be my liberal Israeli composite, an imaginary guy who spends a lot of his week working on a big business project in Turkey (“Don’t believe what you read in the papers”) while developing the killer app that will make his fortune in his spare time. His internal dialogue swings wildly between confidence and disquiet: “Hey, we just sold Waze, a navigation app for smart phones that helps you beat traffic, for over $1 billion to Google and now AOL is paying $405 million for another fruit of Israeli genius — don’t ask me what that does, puh-lease. And, hey, check out the Tel Aviv skyline. See the cranes? This place is Boomland, man. The French are pouring in — they even love our wine!”
Then a darker voice surfaces: “Woke up in a cold sweat. We’re isolated! Same old story, Jews getting blamed for everything. I know we don’t need the European Union, but what’s with cutting off E.U. funding to institutions based or operating over the Green Line? Talk about preempting a negotiation, it’s not like we know where the border is yet…. And Stephen Hawking, canceling his appearance at the Israeli Presidential Conference, how rude is that…. I mean, the Arabs hate us, O.K. The Turks pretend to hate us, O.K. The Persians try their best to hate us, O.K. But we’re part of the West, of Europe, they can’t hate the Jews (again), that’s not O.K.”
Yakov’s mood swings are sharpest over the conflict. A voice says: “I am completely supportive of the peace process — so long as it does not get to a solution. A solution could be problematic. You have to hand it to Netanyahu, by starting the peace process he has made peace. With Obama! Do I accept the idea of two states? Yes I do. Do I want two states? That is a different question … ”
At which point an angry voice will be raised: “Of course you don’t want two states.
Deep inside Yakov there is a white Ashkenazi Israeli liberal, that dying breed. He knows the Jews are not going away; nor are the Palestinians.
Another rebukes him: “You prefer Syria? You prefer Egypt? Our ‘conflict’ is a haven of Middle East stability.”
And that brings us to our own position:
Yes, Israel is troubled but when viewing the neighborhood it is nevertheless an island of peace already.
Syria is fractured many-ways and outsiders are pouring in to bolster their preferred sides. In a short time it will be like in Spain in the thirties – it will be the foreigners fighting each other on Syrian soil – and with the US and Russia backing different sides – if not careful – a major conflagration might occur – right there on the door steps of Israel. Who can dare to tell the Israelis to return the Golan Heights to Syria under such conditions. Do the Palestinians have a dream of becoming another Syria? If there is any chance for the Israelis and Palestinians to get together – this can come only when these two sides decide that the Syrian model is even worse and that a model of Israeli-Palestinian trust – in order to avoid the Syrian model requires the end of Hamas militancy – the closing of the door to the Outside Hezbollah movement and a true attempt at making peace based on aq psychology of the best economic joint interests. This is not just a dream – it is Nobel Prize material indeed. Syria is doomed by the Arab World at large and this ought to be the cause of the awakening of the Palestinians who finally ought to get it that their enemies are not just the Israeli invaders but as well the Arab despots that never cared about them but used them for their own methods of shunning internal criticism of the way they exploited their own States.
The more hopeful look at Egypt, and the 2013 World review of The Spring of the Human Condition. Will it ever come? More so now after the Egyptian Brotherhood showed their ineptess to lead a 21st Century focused country?
July 6, 2013
A Human Spring
LET ME come back to the story about Zhou Enlai, the Chinese Communist leader. When asked what he thought about the French Revolution, he famously answered: “It’s too early to say.”
This was considered a typical piece of ancient Chinese wisdom – until somebody pointed out that Zhou did not mean the revolution of 1789, but the events of May 1968, which happened not long before the interview in question.
QUESTIONS ABOUND. Why? Why now? Why in so many totally different countries? Why in Brazil, Turkey and Egypt at the same time?
We know how it started. In the souk of Tunis, of all places. I have been there many times, when Yasser Arafat was staying in that city. The market always struck me as a happy place, full of noise, eager shopkeepers, haggling tourists and local men with jasmine flowers behind their ears.
It was there that a policewoman confronted a fruit vendor and overturned his cart. He was mortally insulted, set himself on fire and set in motion a process that now involves many millions of people around the world.
The Tunis example was taken up by the Egyptian masses, who assembled in Tahrir Square and eventually overturned their dictator. Then it was our turn, and almost half a million Israelis went out into the streets to protest the price of cottage cheese. Then there were upheavals in Syria, Yemen, Bahrain and other Arab states, collectively known as the Arab Spring. In the US, the Occupy Wall Street movement staged its own Tahrir Square in New York. And now millions are demonstrating in Turkey and Brazil, and Egypt is aflame again. One may add Iran and other places.
How did this come about? How does it work? What is the hidden mechanism?
And especially: why at this point in time?
I CAN think of two interrelated phenomena in contemporary life that make the uprisings possible and probable: television and the social media.
Television informs viewers in Kamchatka about events in Timbuktu within minutes. The huge demonstrations in Istanbul’s Taksim Square could be followed in real time by people in Rio de Janeiro.
Once upon a time, it took weeks for people in Piccadilly Circus in London to hear about events in the Place de la Concorde in Paris. After the battle of Waterloo, the Rothschilds made their killing by using messenger pigeons. In 1848, when revolution spread from Paris throughout Europe, it took its time, too.
Not any more. Brazilian youngsters saw what was happening in Gezi Park, Istanbul, and asked themselves: why not here? They saw that determined young men and women could withstand water cannon, tear gas and batons, and felt that they could do it, too.
The other instrument is facebook, Twitter and the other “social media”. Five young men sitting in a Cairo café and talking about the situation could decide to launch an online petition for the removal of the incumbent president, and within a few days tens of millions of citizens signed. Never before in history was such a thing possible, or even imaginable.
This is a new form of direct democracy. People don’t have to wait anymore for the next elections, which may be years away. They can act immediately, and when the groundswell is powerful enough, it can develop into a tsunami.
HOWEVER, REVOLUTIONS are not made by technologies, but by people. What is it that arouses so many different people in so many different cultures to do the same thing at the same time?
How to explain these simultaneous and parallel symptoms? Commentators use the German philosophical expression, Zeitgeist (“spirit of the times”). This explains everything and nothing. Like that other great human invention, God.
So is the Zeitgeist behind the upheavals now? Don’t ask me.
They are all made by young people of the so-called middle class. Not by the poor, not by the rich. Poor people do not make revolutions – they are too busy trying to feed their children. The Bolshevik revolution of 1917 was not made by the workers and peasants. It was made by disaffected intellectuals, many of them Jewish.
But at root, all these protests express a common disgust with politics and politicians, with a power elite that is seen as remote from ordinary people, with the immense power of a tiny group of the ultra-rich, with a barely understood globalization.
THE SAME mechanism that makes these revolutions possible also produces their outstanding weakness.
The model was already apparent in the Paris events of May 1968. These started with a student protest which was joined by millions of workers. There was no organization, no common ideology, no plan, no overall leadership. Activists gathered in a theater, debated endlessly, giving voice to all sorts of possible and impossible ideas. In the end there were no concrete results.
There was a certain spirit. Claude Lanzmann, the writer and director of the monumental film Shoah, once described it to me this way: The students were burning cars. So every evening I spent a lot of time finding a secure place for my car. Until I suddenly said to myself: What the hell! What do I need a car for? Let them burn it!
This spirit lingered for some time. But life went on, and the great event was soon just a memory.
This may happen again now. Again the same thing is happening everywhere: No organization, no leadership, no program, no ideology.
<strong>The very fact that everyone has a voice on facebook seems to make it easier to agree on “against” than on “for”. The young protesters are anarchist by nature. They abhor leaders, organizations, political parties, hierarchies, programs, ideologies.
You can call a demonstration on facebook, but you cannot hammer out a joint ideology that way. But, as Lenin once remarked, without a political ideology there is no political action. And he was an expert on the art of revolution.
There is a great danger that all these huge demonstrations will fade away some day – Zeitgeist again – without leaving anything behind, except some memories.
This has already happened in Israel. The mass demonstrations had some influence on this year’s elections, but the new parties are indistinguishable from the old ones. New politicians have taken the place of old politicians. But nothing real has changed. Neither on the national nor on the social level.
IN ANY democracy, real change can only take place through new political parties which enter parliament and make new laws. For this you need political leaders – now, in the era of TV, more than ever. It is not enough to generate a lot of steam – you need an engine to make the steam do useful work.
The brotherhood has failed. Power, after decades of persecution, went to their heads. They threw away caution.
Instead of building a new state on moderation, compromise and inclusion, they could not wait. So they may lose all.
The democratic revolutionaries have yet to prove that they are able to lead a country – in Egypt or anywhere else. They may yet launch a world-wide Human Spring. Or they may leave nothing behind, except a vague longing.
It’s up to them.
Bill Keller, critical Executive Editor of the New York Times 2003-2011, is now free to write his mind as in-house Op-Ed Columnist. His most recent articles are about the Revolt of the Rising Class – a look at Turkey, Brazil, and the Mandela depth as example for Obama.
Keller is the son of former chairman and chief executive of the Chevron Corporation, George M. Keller. Bill Keller attended the Roman Catholic schools St. Matthews and Junípero Serra High School in San Mateo, California. After graduating from Pomona College in 1970, where he began his journalistic career as a reporter for the campus newspaper called The Collegian (later called The Collage), he was a reporter in Portland with The Oregonian, Congressional Quarterly Weekly Report, and at Dallas Times Herald.
Keller joined The New York Times in 1984 and served in the following capacities:
* Reporter in the Washington, D.C. bureau (1984–1986)
Keller won a Pulitzer Prize in 1989 for his reporting on the breakup of the former Soviet Union (USSR).
Keller was one of the leading supporters of the 2003 invasion of Iraq, explaining his backing for military action in his article ‘The I-Can’t-Believe-I’m-A-Hawk Club’. Two days after the invasion, Keller wrote the column ‘Why Colin Powell Should Go’ arguing for US Secretary of State’s resignation because his strategy of diplomacy at the UN had failed. In contrast, Keller was much more sympathetic to Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, describing him as the ‘Sunshine Warrior’.
Keller spoke on July 6, 2005 in defense of Judith Miller and her refusal to give up documents relating to the Valerie Plame case.
Keller is reported to have refused to answer questions from The Times public editor, Byron Calame, on the timing of the December 16, 2005 article on the classified National Security Agency (NSA) Terrorist Surveillance Program. The Times series of articles on this topic won a Pulitzer Prize. The source of the disclosure of this NSA program has been investigated by the United States Justice Department. The NSA program itself is being reviewed by the Senate Judiciary Committee as to whether it sidesteps the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, and after The Times articles, the Administration changed its procedures, allowing for more safeguards and more Congressional and judicial oversight.
Keller discussed the deliberations behind the Times’ decision to publish the story in a July 5, 2006 PBS interview with Jeffrey Brown that included a discussion of the issues involved with former National Security Agency Director Admiral Bobby Ray Inman.
ISTANBUL — IN the upscale Istanbul suburb of Bebek, at 9 p.m. sharp, the diners began drumming on the tables or tapping their wineglasses with forks. The traffic passing along the Bosporus chimed in with honking horns and flashing headlights. It was a genteel symphony of solidarity with the protesters who a few days earlier were confronting fire hoses and tear gas in the heart of the city and elsewhere around Turkey.
Related – Premier of Turkey Seeks Limits on Abortions (May 30, 2012)
What is happening in Turkey is not “Les Miserables,” or the Arab Spring. It is not an uprising born in desperation. It is the latest in a series of revolts arising from the middle class — the urban, educated haves who are in some ways the principal beneficiaries of the regimes they now reject.
The vanguard in each case is mostly young, students or relative newcomers to the white-collar work force who have outgrown the fearful conformity of their parents’ generation. With their economic wants more or less satisfied, they now crave a voice, and respect. In this social-media century, they are mobilized largely by Facebook and Twitter, networks of tweeps circumventing an intimidated mainstream press.
But morale does not improve. There is a new alienation, a new yearning, and eventually this energy will find an outlet. In some way, different in each country, the social contract will be adjusted.
In China and Iran and Russia, where the regimes are more established in their ruthlessness, the discontented may have a longer wait. But watch Turkey. How Turkey, as a partner in NATO and a bridge to the tumultuous Islamic world, finds its new balance has both practical and symbolic significance for the rest of the world.
The United States has long embraced Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan as the model of a modern Muslim reformer. The Turkish prime minister, during his decade in power, has tamed the army of its coup habit, raised the standard of living dramatically, offered an olive branch to the separatist-minded Kurds and demonstrated — alone in the region — that Islam is compatible with both free elections and broad prosperity. When civil war sundered neighboring Syria, Erdogan (braving the disapproval of an electorate that tends to be more isolationist) condemned the brutalities of President Bashar al-Assad and hosted camps for hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees. Both George W. Bush and Barack Obama have doted on Erdogan. The Islamist prime minister proudly sent three of his four children to universities in the U.S.
By fostering economic growth, by keeping the army in its barracks — and by not messing too much with secular lifestyles — Erdogan has won some grudging support from the worldly elite that originally viewed him and his more pious Islamic following as a lurch back to the Ottoman Empire.
Those days of urban skirmishing, which began at the end of May with a pointless and heavy-handed police crackdown on a sit-in at the disputed park, have opened many eyes to Erdogan’s intemperate and intolerant side — his tone-deafness, his tendency to regard any criticism as a grave insult, his conspiracy theories.
So the fact that the rising class has chosen this moment to run out of patience seems to be Erdogan’s bad luck. It may also be Turkey’s good fortune.
But as Sinan Ulgen, the head of an Istanbul think tank, points out, Erdogan is more vulnerable than the autocrats of Iran or Russia, who have oil revenues to float them through a crisis. Turkey’s prosperity — and in large measure Erdogan’s popularity — depends on foreign investment and flocks of tourists. The crackdown on protesters dented Erdogan’s approval ratings; more threatening to his tenure, it spooked investors, emptied hotels and sent the Turkish stock market into a tailspin. “Yes, the protesters have something to lose,” Ulgen told me. “But so does Erdogan.”
For the long-term stability of Turkey, it would be good to have a robust political opposition advocating a pluralism that protects both the devout and the secular. In the meantime, it may be up to Erdogan to save Turkey from himself.
GATHERING valedictory material on Nelson Mandela as he faded in a Pretoria hospital the other day, I came across a little book called “Mandela’s Way.” In this 2010 volume, Rick Stengel, the ghostwriter of Mandela’s autobiography, set out to extract “lessons on life, love and courage” he had learned from three years of immersion in Mandela’s life.
A bit much, yes? Well, Stengel was hardly alone back then in awarding the American president a stature he had scarcely begun to earn. The Nobel Committee, which had awarded its peace prize to Mandela for ending the obscenity of apartheid, bestowed that honor on Obama merely for not being George W. Bush.
Different men, different countries, different times. Perhaps even Mandela — who was more successful liberating South Africa than governing it — could not have lived up to the inflated expectations heaped on Obama. But it is interesting to imagine how Obama’s presidency might be different if he had in fact done it Mandela’s way.
Mandela, in his time on the political stage, was a man of almost ascetic self-discipline. But he also understood how to deploy his moral authority in grand theatrical gestures. Facing capital charges of trying to overthrow the state in the Rivonia Trial, he entered the formal Pretoria courtroom dressed in a traditional Xhosa leopard-skin cape to dramatize that he was an African entering a white man’s jurisdiction. And then he essentially confessed to the crime.
In 1995, Mandela, newly elected president of a still deeply divided country, single-handedly turned the Rugby World Cup — the whitest sporting event in South Africa, long the target of anti-apartheid boycotts — into a festival of interracial harmony. He was, in short, the opposite of “no drama.”
Mandela understood that politics is not mainly a cerebral sport. It is a business of charm and flattery and symbolic gestures and eager listening and little favors. It is above all a business of empathy. To help win over the Afrikaners, he learned their Dutch dialect and let them keep their national anthem. For John Boehner, he’d have learned golf and become a merlot drinker. “You don’t address their brains,” Mandela advised his colleagues, and would surely advise Obama. “You address their hearts.”
Mandela was a consummate negotiator. Once he got you to the bargaining table, he was not going to leave empty-handed. He was an expert at deducing how far each side could go. He was patient. He was opportunistic, using every crisis to good effect. He understood that half the battle was convincing your own side that a concession could be a victory. And he was willing to take a risk. I don’t envy Obama’s having to deal with intransigent Republicans or his own demanding base, but Mandela bargained with Afrikaner militants, Zulu nationalists and the white government that had imprisoned him for 27 years. By comparison, the Tea Party is, well, a tea party.
Mandela usually seemed to be having the time of his life. Perhaps this is because (sadly for his family) the movement was his life. He shook every hand as if he was discovering a new friend and maintained a twinkle in his eye that said: this is fun. We’ve had joyful presidents — Bill Clinton, Ronald Reagan. Obama more often seems to regard the job as an ordeal.
Mandela, above all, had a clear sense of his core principles: freedom, equality, the rule of law. He changed tactics, shifted alliances (one day the Communist Party, another day the business oligarchs) but never lost sight of the ultimate goal. In fairness to Obama, Mandela had a cause of surpassing moral clarity. The American president is rarely blessed with problems so, literally, black and white. And if Obama leaves behind universal health care and immigration reform — two initiatives that have consistently defeated previous presidents — that will be no small legacy. But tell me, do you have a clear sense of what moral purpose drives our president?
The desalination revolution
How Israel beat the drought
This country was on the brink of water catastrophe, reduced to running relentless ad campaigns urging Israelis to conserve water even as it raised prices and cut supplies to agriculture. Now, remarkably, the crisis is over.
By David Horovitz February 26, 2013,
Until a couple of years ago, Israeli radio and TV regularly featured commercials warning that the country was “drying out.”
In one of the most powerful TV ad campaigns, celebrities including singer Ninet Tayeb, model Bar Refaeli and actor Moshe Ivgy highlighted the “years of drought” and the “falling level of the Kinneret.”
As they spoke plaintively to camera, their features started to crack and peel — like the country — for lack of moisture.
So compelling was this ad, so resonant its impact, I hadn’t actually realized it was no longer on the air. Alexander Kushnir put me straight. “We decided it simply wasn’t justified to alarm Israelis in this way any longer,” said Kushnir, who heads Israel’s Water Authority.
How so? Israelis don’t need to watch their water use any more? Isn’t this region one of the world’s most parched? Haven’t we been warned for years that the next Middle East war will be fought over water?
Kushnir’s answers: Yes, Israelis must still be wise with their water use. Yes, emphatically, this is a desert region, desperately short of natural water. And yes, we have indeed been worried for years about the possibility of water shortages provoking conflict.
But for Israel, for the foreseeable future, Kushnir says, the water crisis is over. And not because this happens to have been one of the wettest winters in years. Rather, he says, an insistent refusal to let the country be constrained by insufficient natural water sources — a refusal that dates back to David Ben-Gurion’s decision to build the National Water Carrier in the 1950s, the most significant infrastructure investment of Israel’s early years — led Israel first into large-scale water recycling, and over the past decade into major desalination projects. The result, as of early 2013, is that the Water Authority feels it can say with confidence that Israel has beaten the drought.
Alexander Kushnir, head of the Water Authority (photo credit: Courtesy)
Speaking to The Times of Israel from the authority’s offices in Tel Aviv, Kushnir identifies that refusal to “rely on fate” as the key to a genuine strategic achievement — a rare, highly positive change in an age and a region where most of Israel’s challenges appear to be worsening, not receding, much less disappearing.
“How did we beat the water shortage? Because we said we would. We decided we would,” says Kushnir, a big man with a warm smile and a robust Russian accent. “And once you’ve made that decision, you build the tools to reduce your dependence. We’re on the edge of the desert in an area where water has always been short. The quantity of natural water per capita in Israel is the lowest for the whole region. But we decided early on that we were developing a modern state. So we were required to supply water for agriculture, and water for industry, and then water for hi-tech, and water to sustain an appropriate quality of life.”
The National Water Carrier — which takes water from the Sea of Galilee (Lake Kinneret) south through the whole country to Beersheba and beyond — exemplified Israel’s ambition. Contemplated even before the modern state was founded, its planning and initial construction were “a dominant feature of the first Ben-Gurion government — an unprecedented investment,” Kushnir notes. “It stressed our desire to achieve a different reality.”
Carrying almost 2 million cubic meters a day nationwide, that supply line, together with water from underground aquifers, kept Israel watered through the 70s. By the 1980s, though “we had a bigger population, bigger needs and the natural resources were overstretched. So we experimented with a small desalination plant in Eilat. And we began recycling purified sewage, and bringing industry into purifying water.”
“Use any superlatives you like,” urges Kushnir, to describe the fact that, today, “over 80% of our purified sewage goes back into agricultural use. The next best in the OECD is Spain with 17-18%. It’s so justified energy-wise, and environmentally as well.”
But even these innovations weren’t enough to meet the needs of an ever-growing population through the 1990s and into the 2000s, the more so when the rains failed. Average rainfall in Israel is about 1.2 billion cubic meters. But in relatively dry years, it can sink to 900 million.
As the gulf between available water resources and needs widened, Israeli agriculture moved away from water-intensive crops and pioneered enormously improved efficiency, with trailblazing drip irrigation techniques. Israel also increased the use of brackish water in agriculture. And all that still wasn’t good enough. “We knew we had to be careful not to hurt our natural resources,” says Kushnir. “Ultimately, we had no choice but to reduce the supply of natural water to agriculture, and to increase prices, which hurt our agricultural sector.”
Plainly, this was no long-term solution. Elsewhere in the region, poorly managed countries were over-drilling, over-using, and risking major damage to natural sources. “In Syria, for instance, they drilled wells everywhere and destroyed aquifers,” he says. “They had irrational, erratic water management and a lack of government policy.” Even before two years of civil war began, Syrians turned on their taps and got nothing most days of the week.
“By 2000 our balance was really strained,” says Kushnir. “We would have had to cut back drastically in agriculture or industry or home use and we weren’t prepared to do that. We didn’t want to switch off the water to a population in Israel which has enough problems to deal with.”
The solution was desalination, on a major scale — the third phase in a water revolution that had begun with the water carrier and continued with recycling. The first large desalination plant came on line in Ashkelon in 2005, followed by Palmahim and Hadera. By the end of this year, when the Soreq and Ashdod plants are working, there’ll be five plants — built privately at a cost of NIS 6-7 billion (about $2 billion).
Israel uses 2 billion cubic meters of water per year — which is actually a little less than a decade ago, as efficiencies have been introduced in agriculture (which uses 700 million), and water-saving awareness has permeated. Of that two billion, half will be “artificially” manufactured by year’s end — 600 million cubic meters from those desalination plants, and 400 from purified sewage and brackish water.
“We’re not the world’s biggest desalinators,” notes Kushnir, “but no one has made the shift so fast to a situation where half of its water needs are filled from ‘artificial’ sources. And it means we are now ready for the next decade, without dramatic dependence on rainfall fluctuations.”
Kushnir regards this as a remarkable achievement — “a lesson for the rest of the world,” he says, “or at least those many parts of the world that are grappling with variants of the difficulties Israel has overcome.”
So the “Israel’s drying out” ads have gone off the air, and the panicked warnings are over. But that doesn’t mean Israelis should now wash their cars with sloshing abandon, shower for hours, or hose their lawns (if they’re lucky enough to have one) day and night.
“In our region, you always have to save water,” Kushnir stresses. “There has to be intelligent water use. But I’m not going to scream at people anymore.”
The campaigns were demonstrably effective; they reduced water use by at least 10 percent, Kushnir says. “In 2000, it was 100 cubic meters per person per year. Nowadays it’s 90. That saved us a desalination plant.”
But Israel can afford to relax, at least a little. “Our job is to ensure that when you turn on the tap, water comes out,” says Kushnir. “Well, we’ve done that. People have to continue to be smart. This isn’t London or Washington, DC. You have to use water as appropriate to our region. There has to be awareness that water is a precious resource, and we have to manufacture much of it, and that costs money. The manufacture also creates carbon dioxide and that affects the environment. So, I’m not trying to scare the public. You want water, here’s water. Use it. Use it as you want, but use it wisely.”
Where does Kushnir stand on global warming? Does he see it impacting annual rainfall? “There are dramatic changes in water fall,” he responds. “We need to be prepared for graver, longer droughts. If we see global warming having more of an effect, we’ll have to increase the desalination factor. If not, we’ll stay at the current fifty-fifty.
“Personally,” he goes on, “I’m a bit skeptical that global warming is a consequence of human activity. There is partial proof that human activity has exacerbated it. [But] it might be normal fluctuations. Remember,” he adds, “I’m supposed to be skeptical when I decide where to spend our billions.”
For all the announced success, should we be concerned that it might have come too late — that desalination should have been implemented earlier, reducing the heavy pumping from the Kinneret and the aquifers?
“Yes, we could have started desalination earlier. The damage to our natural resources would have been lighter,” Kushnir agrees. “We came very close to the black lines in the aquifers and the Kinneret which could have caused multi-year damage. Did we do harm? I hope not. But we’re moving away from the black lines now, even from the warning red lines. The immediate refilling and rehabilitation of the Sea of Galilee looks nice, but the aquifers are the key and we’re still 1 billion cubic meters to the optimal levels. Yet we’re legitimately optimistic.” (As of late February, the Sea of Galilee was at 210.24 meters below sea level, its highest level in seven years, which is a healthy 2.65 meters above the “lower red line” and 1.56 meters below the “upper red line” — the point at which the lake is considered full.)
At the same time as desalination has supplemented natural sources, he adds, Israel has also become more efficient in the collection of rainfall. “As we improve, our aquifers will refill. Our springs will fill up. Then we’ll really have done our bit.”
What about the rest of the immediate neighborhood, those who work with Israel, and those who are hostile to Israel?
Kushnir says Israel supplies an annual 100 million cubic meters in total to the Palestinian Authority (30 million) and to Jordan (70 million), in line with formal agreements. He says the PA has failed to develop all the infrastructure necessary to maximize available water, and would reach “reasonable, appropriate levels” if it did so. “They can take quite a lot from the eastern aquifer. There are natural sources they didn’t develop. It’s detailed in the interim agreements.” He also says that among Jewish settlers in the West Bank, water use is similar to that inside sovereign Israel.
Kushnir says he meets with the head of the PA’s water authority, Dr. Shaddad Attili. “We speak to them all the time and we tell them how we managed, including by purifying sewage.”
Attili, for his part, last October accused Israel of charging “extortionate” prices for the water it supplies, and the PA has claimed that Israel’s refusal to let it drill in various locations above aquifers, as well as disappointing results from the developments it has introduced, force it to continue to depend upon those Israeli supplies.
“Our water market is no longer subsidized by the state,” Kushnir responds, “not since 2007.”
As for Jordan, Kushnir says the two countries work together effectively. Ever since the Israel-Jordan border demarcation was adjusted under the 1994 peace accord, Jordan has allowed Israel to maintain its drilling facilities inside what became Jordanian territory in the south, “and we help them in the north.”
It was King Abdullah’s father Hussein who would warn about water shortages prompting the next Middle East war. As far as Kushnir is concerned, the Israeli-Jordanian working relationship where water is concerned assuages any such worry. “There is such good mutual respect and interest,” he says. “We help each other. [Relatively speaking,] they have water; their challenge is how to deliver it. There’s the Red-Dead project where we can argue about the specifics. They’re thinking of desalination in Aqaba. They have a plan for use of brackish water. They can solve their problems overall, and we’ll be happy to help.
Beyond Jordan, though, has the fear of drought-stoked conflict disappeared? Israel, Syria and Lebanon have long contested water rights, and intermittently accused each other of abuses. Gaza faces acute water shortages.
“We know that geostrategic changes in the region can endanger our water sources,” Kushnir allows. “We certainly can’t afford to give up our natural resources.”
Treading delicately, Kushnir notes that, despite the new successes, the Dead Sea, for instance, is “missing billions of cubic meters.” One day, he muses, “Jordan, Syria, Lebanon and Israel could potentially redirect the waters of the Litani River,” in Lebanon, to begin to address that challenge. “Of course, he adds, with magnificent understatement, “we would have to be in a situation of constructive dialogue.”
For all that Israel’s new water health is legitimately hailed as a remarkable achievement, that utopian vision — of Jordan, Syria, Lebanon and Israel engaged in “constructive dialogue” — would seem beyond the foreseeable ambitions of even the most skilled and optimistic of rainmakers.
In the Middle East a present days STONE AGE is preferable to the ongoing finger-on-the-trigger performance (small arms) and immensely better then the introduction of Weapons of Mass Destruction – this despite what some say on the internet or mass media.
Saturday, May 18, 2013
The Stone Age
A few weeks ago a military judge, Major Amir Dahan, acquitted four Palestinians of the charge of “attempted murder by throwing stones at vehicles”. He stated that “throwing stones can, under some circumstances, have the character of a lethal offence, carrying the near certainty of a danger to human life – but under other circumstances it might be no more than a prank without the potential of serious damage, by a young person who had barely crossed into the age of criminal responsibility”.This verdict angered Housing Minister Uri Ariel of the Jewish Home party, who said in the beginning of last week: “This is no way to render judgment in Israel. It is about such things that we daily utter the prayer “O restore our judges, as of old”. We should not tolerate even one stone. We must not forgive even one stone . A stone kills”.Later this week, the head of the party joined Ariel. The well known Naftali Bennett, Minister of Economy, made a public call to change the rules of engagement so as to allow soldiers a much lighter trigger finger when facing Palestinians, since “travelling the roads of Judea and Samaria has turned into hell.”The press tycoon Shlomo Ben-Zvi, who a few months ago bought the failing “Ma’ariv” paper, also joined the fray. Already for several days the Ma’ariv headlines are mainly concerned with the stone age which had descended on the West Bank. Ma’ariv devotes pages upon pages to the cry of the settlers, stridently demanding that soldiers finally start shooting and killing stone throwers. The paper’s reporters gathered the shocking testimonies of soldiers asserting that their hands are tied behind their backs by the military orders. “The best guys, the best fighters, salt of the earth”, reporter Chen Kutas- Bar called them.
Also columnist Adi Arbel of the Institute for Zionist Strategies added his own account of a terrible event he had witnessed. Last week, at noon of the celebrated Jerusalem Day, several VIPs of the Israeli right wing camp went to the settler enclave at the heart of Silwan Village, to get there the Moskowitz Prize from the multi-millionaire Irving Moskowitz – the well known settler patron who for this occasion left for two days his flourishing gambling business in California. It happened that on their way to this event, the settlers and their friends went through the Palestinian neighborhood of A-Tur on Mount Olive, where a boy of about 18 threw a stone at their bus. And alas, laments the Zionist strategist, nothing happened to this boy , no policeman and no soldier thought of pulling a weapon and opening fire on him. Adi Arbel’s sad conclusion: even after 46 years, East Jerusalem is not under Israeli sovereignty. Well, with that I am not going to dispute.
And what about when settlers gather alongside the highway and throw stones at each passing Palestinian car? What happens when they aim a whole barrage of stones at a school bus full of Palestinian girl pupils and wound some of them? Should that, too, be treated as a case where even one stone could not be tolerated or forgiven, because “a stone kills”? Is that also the kind of situation where the rules of engagement should be changed and soldiers’ fingers become more loose on the trigger? Or perhaps this is exactly the case where stone-throwing is indeed no more than a prank without the potential of serious damage? Well, it’s no use to pose too many questions to the honorable minister Uri Ariel and to the honorable minister Naftali Bennett and to Ma’ariv publisher Shlomo Ben-Zvi and his well-trained reporters.
By coincidence or not, it was just this week that a military court was hearing the case of a soldier who did not feel that his hands were tied and who had no particular problem to tighten his finger on the trigger. On 12 January this year – just in the midst of the Israeli elections campaign in which hardly anyone mentioned the Palestinians – this soldier (whose name is not published) was stationed in South Hebron Hills at a point where Palestinians are habitually trying to cross into Israel and find work. Many of them do succeed in their attempt. Unfortunately for the 21-year old Uday Darwish of the town of Dura, this particular soldier did open fire and he was hit and died a few hours later in the hospital, his funeral attended by thousands.
This particular soldier did not assert that army regulations had bound his hands. “This is the first time I encountered a shooting event, it never happened to me before. I never before got to such a situation of standing in front of 30 people I don’t know. Earlier we had been on the border of Egypt where a lot of Sudanese were passing we were always warned that in any group of Sudanese who come to Israel there is the hazard that one would be wielding a stabbing knife or wearing an explosive belt or something like that. ” (As a matter of fact, among tens of thousands of Sudanese who arrived in Israel until now there had never been any such case…)
The Prosecution wants to treat this case severely, and therefore impose a full nine months’ imprisonment and also demote the soldier one notch, from Staff Sergeant to an ordinary Sergeant. However, the soldier’s attorney, Yechiel Lamesh, asked the court to content itself with a term of three months, since “We should send a message to the fighters who risk their lives for us. We should understand and make it clear to them that to err is human and that an error, even a severe one, need not draw upon them the full severity of the law .” The defense attorney also asked that his client not be demoted, so as not to hurt the honor and dignity of this fighter of the Israel Defense Forces.
So, what the appropriate punishment for a soldier who shot and killed (not on purpose) a Palestinian worker who was going to sustain his family? Three months, or nine months, or something in between? Will he be demoted by one notch, or would the court take care not to hurt his honor and dignity? The Court is to convene again at the end of the month and make clear if they take up the prosecution’s case or that of the defense.
But what about one who did not shoot and did not kill anyone and who in the first place refused to join the army of occupation and wear its uniform and swear allegiance to it? One who altogether refused to get himself into a situation where he would stand armed in front of thirty people whom he has never seen before and have their lives and deaths at the mercy of his finger on the trigger? What is the proper punishment for such a crime of refusal? Half a year? A year? Two years? That is not yet clear.
Half a year has already passed since Natan Blanc arrived at the IDF Recruitment Center on his call-up date, November 19, 2012, and provided the recruitment officer with a detailed and reasoned letter setting out the reasons for his refusal to enlist. Half a year in which he is going in and out of Military Prison 6, in and out, in and out, in and out and in again.
The army chose not to bring him to a military court, whose proceedings are held in public and where the defendant can have a defense attorney and set out legal arguments and also express from the dock a conscientious and principled position. Instead, Natan Blanc is being repeatedly brought before a military officer who had been authorized to serve as a Judging Officer. A trial by a Judging Officer is a much simpler and easier affair – without the presence of any public, without lawyers and without witnesses and without any complicated legal procedures. Court is held in the normal office of the Judging Officer, with nobody present except the judge and the defendant, and usually lasts all of three to five minutes. In exceptional cases it can drag on up to ten minutes. Natan Blanc has already passed through very many such mini-trials, being sent to jail sometimes for two weeks, sometimes three weeks, sometimes a month. Each time he gets out of jail and is given another order to enlist and returns again to the office of the Judging Officer. So far he already accumulated 150 days behind bars, which is definitely not the end.
Yesterday, Friday, May 17, 2013, Natan Blanc celebrated his twentieth birthday behind bars at Military Prison 6 in Atlit. The activists of the Yesh Gvul movement came in the afternoon to celebrate with him on the mountain opposite the prison, whose summit was seen from the prison yard by several generations of refusers since the first Lebanon War in 1982. “Let’s celebrate! Come with your friends, bring refreshments and party accessories, especially those which can be seen or heard from very far: balloons, ribbons, signs, noise makers, whistles etc. ” was written in the invitation. On Tuesday there will be another demonstration, held in front of the Defense Ministry in Tel Aviv, and the case of Blanc also gets increasing international attention.
Blanc told the military officers and judges that, once released from the army (and jail) he is going to do civilian service at the Magen David Adom medical rescue service. But when is that going to happen? The office of the IDF spokesman was not very forthcoming “A person liable for military service, whose application for exemption on grounds of conscience is denied, must perform a term of military service as set out in the Defense Service Act. One who refuses to do would be treated in accordance with the regular procedures.” Period.
It may very well that the soldier who killed Uday Darwish will be set free earlier.
BUT WHAT ABOUT THE FOLLOWING:
Ministers blast violence at ultra-Orthodox rally
Deputy finance minister calls protesters’ actions at demonstration against draft law ‘shameful’ and a crossing of ‘all the red lines’ – 10 policemen injured by these draft-refuseniks from the ranks of those claiming the Jewish religion. Are their stones any different?
May 17, 2013,
Deputy Finance Minister Mickey Levy on Friday slammed ultra-Orthodox demonstrators who took part in violence at a Jerusalem rally Thursday protesting the universal draft law, claiming that their behavior “crossed all the red lines.”
Levy posted on his Facebook page that the injuring of 10 policemen by the protesters was shameful and unacceptable. He further stressed that the government would continue to promote equality in the burden of army service, and would work against extremists who want to “preserve poverty and discrimination.”
Our website has proposed that geopolitics are headed to a new structure were it is needed to have a billion people in order to be considered a World Power. As such we proposed that besides China and India, the other World powers will be -
- an Anglo-American Block led by the US and that will include also the UK, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and as well Mexico and Japan;
- an Islamic Block led by Turkey or Indonesia that will stretch from Mauritania to Indonesia;
- and a block “Of the Rest” that will be led by Brazil and include, with a few exceptions based on the US led Trans-Pacific Partnership (the TPP) , Latin America, Africa, the SIDS, parts of Asia.
We see the recent news of Brazil defeating Mexico for the leadership of the WTO as an important step in above direction.
Brazil Wins Leadership of the World Trade Organization
Brazilian Roberto Azevêdo has been chosen over Mexican candidate Herminio Blanco as the newest director general of the World Trade Organization (WTO) on May 7. El Palenque, AnimalPolitico’s debate forum for experts, discusses the effects this win will have on Mexican diplomacy, Brazil’s role in trade liberalization, and the prominence of the BRICS on the world stage. Azevêdo will be the first Latin American to head the WTO.
The Financial Times wrote May 7, 2013:
So, Roberto Azevêdo, Brazil’s candidate for director general of the WTO, has pipped his rival Herminio Blanco of Mexico for the job.
But there is still a question to be answered: Who won? The man or the country?
Between Azevêdo and Blanco, there may not be much to choose. Both have impressive credentials. Azevêdo, a career diplomat in one of the world’s most polished diplomatic services, has been Brazil’s ambassador to the WTO since 2008. He knows the organisation inside out. Blanco is a businessman steeped in trade, a trade consultant who was formerly Mexico’s trade minister and its chief negotiator during preparation of the North American Free Trade Agreement.
If the race was between two technocrats, it must have been a photo finish.
But what if the WTO members voted for the country, not the man? Then, it was a matter of chalk and cheese. Disgruntled Mexicans – whose pride will have taken a severe knock – will call this a victory of protectionism over free trade.
It will also be a victory of the developing world over the developed one.
Mexico, which has free trade agreements with 44 different countries, is the new poster child of developed world policies at work in the developing world. Brazil has free trade agreements with nobody, and has shown a tendency to renegotiate what agreements it does have as soon as they become inconvenient – not least its auto agreement with Mexico. Many developing countries – in Africa and Asia as well as in Latin America – will have felt the Brazilian was much more likely to protect their fledgling manufacturers and farmers than was the Mexican. Many of those countries, especially in Africa, already have closer ties with Brazil than they do with Mexico.
In an interview with Reuters, Azevêdo played down the issue of nationality:
To those who say that, under Azevêdo, the WTO will lose sight of its mission to promote free trade, others will reply that it never had one in the first place.
But Tuesday’s decision will make a big difference. No matter how pure a technocrat he is, Azevêdo will find it hard to fend off the influence of Brasília. It was the Brazilian that won, and not the Mexican.
Related FT reading:
SO, WE WILL SAY – THE FT AGREE WITH OUR POINT OF VIEW THAT THE US CANDIDATE – MEXICO – LOST TO THE CANDIDATE OF THE THIRD WORLD – THAT IS OUR TRUE SIXTH WORLD – WHO WILL STAND UP TO THE BIGGER BOYS OF THE OTHER FIVE WORLDS – SPECIFICALLY THE US – WHO BLATANTLY USE THE INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZATIONS FOR THEIR OWN GOOD – EXCLUSIVELY!!!
FURTHER NEWS OF RELEVANCE TO THE NEW WORLD IN THE MAKING:
Former President Bill Clinton announced on May 6 that the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) would be expanding to Latin America in December 2013, with its first meeting set to launch in Rio de Janeiro. He was joined by Rio Mayor Eduardo Paes in making the announcement at the mid-year meeting for his annual conference.
President Dilma Rousseff announced the start of a small business ministry on May 6, saying that government banks will provide up to $7,500 to small businesses in 2013 and will reduce the public loan interest rate from 8 percent to 5 percent beginning on May 31. “The question of small business is indispensable for the country’s future and present,” said Rousseff. Brazil’s estimated 6 million micro and small businesses accounted for 40 percent of the country’s 15 million new jobs from 2001 to 2011.
Brazil plans to hire approximately 6,000 Cuban doctors to work in the country’s rural areas, said Brazilian Foreign Minister Antonio Patriota on May 6. The Federal Medical Council–a Brazilian doctor’s organization–questioned the island nation’s medical qualifications, but Patriota called Cuba “very proficient in the areas of medicine, pharmaceuticals, and biotechnology.” President Dilma Rousseff began the talks in January 2012, and both countries are currently consulting with the Pan American Health Organization to move forward.
The International Monetary Fund’s May 2013 Regional Economic Outlook predicts Latin America’s growth to increase approximately 3.5 percent by the end of the year. But, in an article for The Huffington Post, Director for the IMF’s Western Hemisphere Department Alejandro Werner questions whether countries in the region will be able to “adjust policies to preserve macroeconomic and financial stability” after the near-future external benefits, such as easy external financing and high commodity prices, begin to decline.
Volcanoes and Geysers Could Fuel Chilean Energy
Chile will partner with New Zealand to develop its deep exploration drilling and to develop its geothermal energy production. Chile is home to 20 percent of the world’s active volcanoes, which can be harnessed for geothermal energy. However, only 5 percent of the country’s electrical power is attributed to renewable energy resources, reports IPS News.
The Pacific Alliance Creates a Legislative Committee
Heads of Congress from Pacific Alliance members Chile, Colombia, México, and Perú signed an accord to form a Pacific Alliance Inter-Parliamentary Committee on May 6, reports La República. The committee would serve as the legislative arm of the Alliance by developing a framework to approve free trade agreements and distribution of goods, services, and capital under the Alliance. The committee will be officially presented to the Alliance at a legislative session in Chile in June.
Washington to Host Chilean and Peruvian Presidents
Chile’s President Sebastian Piñera and Peru’s President Ollanta Humala will visit Washington D.C. in June to discuss economic relations with President Obama. Piñera’s visit will take place on June 4, and Humala will visit one week later on June 11. The agenda will likely touch on negotiations with the Trans-Pacific Partnership, as all three countries hope to develop closer economic ties to Asian markets.
This website argued for years that Turkey could have enhanced its world position by allowing enough slack to its own Kurds establishing itself as a bi-National State – Turkish-Kurdish and absorb the Kurdish areas of Iraq, Iran, Syria, as well. They did not – and now Erdogan tries to go for what he thinks is within his reach.
While Abdullah Ocalan, leader of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) pursues the cease-fire plan with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the PKK is also involved in a subtle power struggle across Turkey’s borders. This struggle is being played out by the PKK’s efforts to check the influence of Massoud Barzani, president of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, over leadership of the Kurds. By engaging in the Kurdistan Region’s messy pre-election politics and supporting the opposition Change Movement (Goran), the PKK is attempting to stifle a third mandate for Barzani, while stirring local criticism of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG). These PKK interventions are unlikely to alter the status quo in the region — at least for the forthcoming elections — however; they are fueling political fragmentation and creating additional challenges to regional stability.
Indeed, rivalries between the PKK and Barzani’s Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) are nothing new. During the Iraqi Kurdish civil war of the 1990s, the PKK and KDP engaged in armed conflict against each other, as well as the KDP against the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK).
The Ocalan-Barzani competition re-emerged after the Syrian civil war broke out, and as different Syrian Kurdish groups backed by the PKK and its affiliate, the Democratic Union Party (PYD) vied for power with the KDP-supported Kurdish National Council. This rivalry continues with Barzani tied to Turkey and attempting to court Syrian Kurdish youth groups and independents away from PYD influence.
Still, Barzani and Ocalan reached a tacit agreement after Ocalan’s imprisonment in 1999, which allowed the PKK to relocate in the Kandil Mountains in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. The KRG also tolerates the presence of thousands of PKK supporters in the Makhmour Camp, where they have been residing since 1994 as political refugees. Moreover, despite the rapprochement between Erbil and Ankara, Barzani has affirmed that “the period of Kurds killing Kurds is over” and that the KRG Peshmerga would not engage militarily against the PKK or any other Kurdish group. These efforts have led to a mutually peaceful coexistence between the KDP and PKK, despite the distinctly different ideologies and regional relationships each has developed, particularly with Ankara.
The last six months, however, have seen a shift in PKK tactics inside the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. Whereas the PKK leader in Kandil, Murat Karaliyan, had previously indicated his willingness to work with Barzani in 2009, he now opposes electing him to a third term as president. The PKK is using its networks and social media to incite local opposition against Barzani and the Iraqi Kurdish parties. For instance, it is encouraging local populations in the Iraqi Kurdish-Iranian border town of Halabja to criticize the KRG and Barzani for lack of services. One of the PKK websites has inflammatory photos and remarks about Barzani’s leadership, as well as other KRG political party leaders.
This shift reflects a reaction to Barzani’s growing power — including his close ties to Erdogan — and his claims or ambitions to become a leader of all the Kurds, expressed in Kurdish as “president of Kurdistan,” which the PKK rejects.
More specifically, the PKK shift coincides with the illness of Jalal Talabani, president of Iraq and leader of the PUK, which has further weakened the PUK and limited any serious competition for the KDP and Barzani’s power. In fact, the rump of the PUK — known as the “Gang of Four” — may have called for a separate list in the planned September elections to reflect its differences and attempts to challenge the KDP. Yet the PUK leadership continues to support and depend upon Barzani as president, particularly as a financial patron.
This is why the PKK is now calling for a “Kurdistan supported by Goran.” Goran remains the only secular Kurdish nationalist party that seeks to remove Barzani from office while pressing for a parliamentary and not presidential system for the region. Goran also has indicated its support for the PKK and affirmed the PYD as the representative of the Kurds in Syria, posing another direct challenge to Barzani and the KDP. The PKK-Goran alliance also is based on shared concerns about Turkey’s regional power and the need to check Erdogan’s influence over Iraqi Kurds and in Syria.
It is unlikely that the PKK will weaken the deeply rooted patronage networks inside the Kurdistan Region that will assure Barzani power and KDP and PUK influence for years to come. Many people, particularly the youth, may support the PKK as true Kurdish nationalists and back Goran; however, they also have been co-opted by the increasingly generous handouts and comfortable lifestyles made available to them by the KRG in recent years. Many others are disinterested in politics altogether or unwilling to pay the consequences of being linked to the opposition.
Still, PKK engagement in Iraqi Kurdish politics matters because it reveals the growing complexity of the trans-border Kurdish problem and the PKK’s political agenda to change the status quo. This challenge will not only be about advancing Kurdish nationalist rights in different states, but clarifying who will represent Kurdish interests and what form these nationalist interests should take. Whatever the outcome, these struggles will likely create a wide opening for more deal-making between Kurdish groups and regional states, keeping the Kurdish nationalist movement fragmented from within and across borders.
Denise Natali holds the Minerva Chair at the Institute for National Strategic Studies (INSS), National Defense University where she specializes in Iraq, regional energy issues and the Kurdish problem. The views expressed are her own and do not reflect the official policy or position of the National Defense University, the Department of Defense or the US government.
Al Monitor gives us the main News from the Near East: To solve Syria – Iran, Israel, Jordan, Qatar, Turkey will have to talk about a political solution. If this is not possible there will be no other easy way.
from the Hooshang Amirahmadi for President of Iran campaign.
After the 1979 revolution, a clandestine nuclear weapons research program was disbanded by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, who considered such weapons forbidden under Muslim ethics and jurisprudence. Small scale research into nuclear weapons may have restarted during the Iran-Iraq War, and underwent significant expansion after the Ayatollah’s death in 1989.
Iran’s first nuclear power plant, Bushehr I reactor was complete with major assistance of Russian government agency Rosatom and officially opened on 12 September 2011. Iran has announced that it is working on a new 360 MW nuclear power plant to be located in Darkhovin.
The Russian engineering contractor Atomenergoprom said the Bushehr Nuclear Power Plant would reach full capacity by the end of 2012. Iran has also indicated that it will seek more medium-sized nuclear power plants and uranium mines in the future.
In November 2011, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Board of Governors criticized Iran after an IAEA report concluded that before 2003 Iran likely had undertaken research and experiments geared to developing a nuclear weapons capability. The IAEA report details allegations that Iran conducted studies related to nuclear weapons design, including detonator development, the multiple-point initiation of high explosives, and experiments involving nuclear payload integration into a missile delivery vehicle. A number of Western nuclear experts have stated there was very little new in the report, that it primarily concerned Iranian activities prior to 2003, and that media reports exaggerated its significance. Iran rejected the details of the report and accused the IAEA of pro-Western bias. and threatened to reduce its cooperation with the IAEA.
Former United States Secretary of State Henry Kissinger recalled in 2005, “I don’t think the issue of proliferation came up.” However, a 1974 CIA proliferation assessment stated “If [the Shah] is alive in the mid-1980s … and if other countries [particularly India] have proceeded with weapons development we have no doubt Iran will follow suit.”
The Shah also signed a nuclear cooperation agreement with South Africa under which Iranian oil money financed the development of South African fuel enrichment technology using a novel “jet nozzle” process, in return for assured supplies of South African (and Namibian) enriched uranium.
Those days also Israel was working with South Africa and we would not be surprised that there was Israeli-Iranian Cooperation as well.
Following the 1979 Revolution, most of the international nuclear cooperation with Iran was cut off. Iran has later argued that these experiences indicate foreign facilities and foreign fuel supplies are an unreliable source of nuclear fuel supply.
The United States cut off the supply of highly enriched uranium (HEU) fuel for the Tehran Nuclear Research Center, which forced the reactor to shut down for a number of years, until Argentina‘s National Atomic Energy Commission in 1987–88 signed an agreement with Iran to help in converting the reactor from highly enriched uranium fuel to 19.75% low-enriched uranium, and to supply the low-enriched uranium to Iran. The uranium was delivered in 1993.
Since that time Iran’s nuclear ambitions are daily in the News.
TEHRAN – Iran’s political landscape has become increasingly divided during controversial President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s second and final term. But as a diverse array of candidates to replace him takes shape, nearly all the contenders seem united on one thing: attacking the president’s legacy.
The eventual winner of the June election will wield influence over the direction of negotiations on Iran’s nuclear program, a topic of immense importance to the U.S. In Iran, however, the biggest election issue is the sagging economy, and most among an emerging list of about 20 candidates argue that it has been harmed as much by Ahmadinejad’s tenure as by international sanctions.
The growing field of hopefuls is generating fresh popular interest in an election that few believed would be competitive just a short while ago. That is in large part because candidates must be approved by Iran’s Guardian Council, a powerful body of clerics and jurists, half of whom are appointed by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
Iran’s traditional conservative factions — known as principlists for their loyalty to the founding principles of the Islamic republic — make up the largest number of expected candidates. But instead of a field limited to conservatives, who once counted Ahmadinejad among their ranks but came to see him as a threat to their dominance, a number of candidates who many analysts believed would sit out for fear of not passing the strict vetting process have stepped forward.
Reformists, who have seen the modest social gains and improved foreign relations achieved during previous President Mohammad Khatami’s eight-year reign evaporate under the current administration, are lining up against the president.
Among them is the lead nuclear negotiator under Khatami, Hassan Rowhani, who announced his candidacy Thursday. The entrance of Rowhani, a cleric and one of the few moderate voices still prominent in Iran’s ruling system, diminished the likelihood that Khatami or former President Hashemi Rafsanjani — both allies of Rowhani — will run again, as had been speculated.
Three conservative former members of Ahmadinejad’s Cabinet, including former Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki, have announced their candidacies and are also running on anti-Ahmadinejad platforms.
Ultraconservatives, led by Ayatollah Taghi Mesbah Yazdi, who was long seen as Ahmadinejad’s staunchest supporter in the clergy but is now among his most vocal critics, have not yet announced their candidacies but are expected to do so soon.
Touting slogans such as “Improvement and Justice,” “Victory of Honesty over Wealth and Power” and “Government of Ethics,” many candidates are targeting the millions of disenchanted Iranians who believe the Ahmadinejad years were a time of economic mismanagement, fraud within the banking system and a misguided foreign policy that has left Iran even further isolated from the international community than it already was.
In contrast, Ahmadinejad’s team — which is so far fielding two candidates — has adopted the slogan “Long Live the Spring,” a phrase variously interpreted as an exhortation to keep his faction in power and a reference to the movements that have toppled regimes in the Arab world.
An election season with high voter turnout has always been the preference of Iran’s ruling clerics, who consider participation as proof of popular support for their system. But a major concern of principlist and ultraconservative hardliners is that a high turnout might favor their adversaries.
According to official counts of the 2009 election, two reformist leaders won more than one-third of the vote. Their supporters and international observers assert that the total was much higher, however, and most agree that those who backed the reformists are unlikely to vote this year for any of the principlist candidates, who favor conservative social policies rooted in Quranic law.
This could create an opportunity for another reformist candidate or one backed by Ahmadinejad, whose circle has moved away from Islamic rhetoric in favor of a more nationalist tone.
With the principlists fielding the most candidates so far, there is a growing possibility that they will split each other’s votes, opening an easier path to victory for either a reformist or one of Ahmadinejad’s allies.
“A distribution of votes between our candidates will lead to defeat,” Ayatollah Nasser Makarem Shirazi, a leading conservative cleric, said in an interview with the Fars news agency last week. “The result of division between those loyal to the revolution will be defeat. It would be good if (principlists) create a coalition and zoom in on one person with the rest becoming helping hands.”
US energy firm Noble Energy, which is the largest operating partner in Israel’s Tamar Gas Field, has stated that the company has already started to work on possibly launching an energy project between Turkey and Israel, according to Today’s Zalman.
The two regional powers have recently moved to normalize ties after a falling out over the deaths of nine Turkish nationals during a routine raid on a flotilla in 2010.
Company CEO Charles Davidson said in a statement that the possibility is being discussed by the company to pipe the newly discovered Israeli gas to Turkey.
“We are targeting two-fold growth in the upcoming five years. We are planning to double our production as well as our reserves and cash flow,” Davidson said recently while visiting to Israel.
Jordan potash firm in talks with Israel to buy gas
Monday, 18 February 2013
Jordan’s Arab Potash Company (APC), one of the world’s largest potash producers, is in talks with an Israeli firm to buy gas to power its plants and reduce production costs, the government said on Monday.
“The APC is in contact with its Israeli counterpart through the American oil and gas firm Noble Energy to examine the possibility of importing gas,” the ministry of energy said in a statement.
“The gas available in the Dead Sea area is a clean and inexpensive source of fuel and the company seeks to use it for its factories on the Dead Sea. But no agreement has been reached so far.”
APC’s main shareholders are the Jordanian government, which owns around 26 percent, the Potash Corporation of Canada with 28 percent and the Saudi-based Arabian Mining Company with 20 percent.
The firm has said its 2012 net profits fell 34 percent to 198.8 million dinars ($280 million), mainly because of lower global demand and high fuel costs.
Egyptian gas covers 80 percent of electricity production demand in Jordan, which imports 95 percent of its energy needs.
But the daily gas flow to the energy-poor kingdom has dropped from 250 million cubic meters (8.8 billion cubic feet) to around 130 million cubic meters after repeated pipeline attacks on Egypt’s pipelines.
Had Turkey made its internal peace wilth their Kurds, and moved on to incorporate the Iraqi Kurds, then the Syrian Kurds, then the Iranian Kurds – that would have been a National policy of a bi-National State that would have helped them also in their relations with the EU. But that is a future lost and now we see a revival of old oil policy instead.
Turkey, Iraq, and Oil
by Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi
Though the pace of growth of the Turkish economy has slowed significantly, one of Ankara’s priorities over the coming years is to meet the country’s growing energy demands. The clearest solution is to diversify suppliers of oil and gas, with the autonomous Iraqi Kurdistan (KRG) area being one potential source for such fuels.
Had you asked me a few months ago about the Turkish policy on acquiring energy resources from the KRG via an independent pipeline project and against the will of the Iraqi central government, I would have said that Ankara was still ambiguous on the matter, but now it seems clear that the Turkish government under Prime Minister Erdo?an intends to move forward with such plans.
The first sign of an advance in the framework of an informal commercial deal between the KRG and Ankara on this issue was a report by Ben Van Heuvelen for the Iraq Oil Report. Relying on the testimony of “multiple senior Turkish officials,” Heuvelen reports that the terms would include “stakes in at least half a dozen exploration for the direct pipeline export of oil and gas from the KRG.”
Multiple other sources can be used to confirm Heuvelen’s report. Following the visit of KRG premier Nechirvan Barzani in Ankara to meet with Erdo?an on March 26 where the two leaders apparently agreed to begin implementing the energy cooperation plan, the Turkish opposition party CHP attempted to launch a no-confidence motion in parliament against Foreign Minister Ahmet Davuto?lu on account of the energy deal with the KRG. The no-confidence motion failed.
CHP member Osman Korutürk claimed that a pipeline agreement in particular contradicted Davuto?lu’s declared principle of “zero problems” with neighboring countries, noting the objections of Baghdad and Washington to the development of energy ties between the KRG and Turkey without the Iraqi government’s consent.
The Turkish premier’s response to this initiative by the CHP, which is similarly opposed to Ankara’s firm anti-Assad stance vis-à-vis Syria, was to indicate that the issue should be taken up with Energy Minister Taner Yildiz, who proceeded in a speech to acknowledge the idea of maintaining Iraq’s unity as one of the top priorities of Turkish foreign policy, while arguing that the KRG had a constitutional right to develop energy ties with Ankara and is entitled to 17% of Iraq’s budget as per a 2006 agreement between Arbil and Baghdad.
In a subsequent interview with CNN Turk, Erdo?an invoked many of the same points as Yildiz in arguing that Turkey had the right to make energy agreements with the KRG, adding that under Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, there is no real unity in Iraq anyway.
The point about the KRG’s budget share of 17% — invoked by Erdo?an and Yildiz — is key to Turkey’s official justification for moving forward with developing energy ties with the KRG unilaterally while also claiming to uphold Iraq’s unity. Ankara’s reasoning appears to be as follows: through developing energy ties, KRG will boost its oil production and therefore in terms of Iraq’s overall revenues, the KRG will be contributing 17% and thus match its share of the budget.
At present, the budget share to which the KRG is entitled is well above the autonomous region’s oil output as a proportion of Iraq’s revenues, the overwhelming majority of which comes from the oil industry. Baghdad’s complaint — as reflected in the words of Abdullah al-Amir (the chief advisor to Iraq’s deputy minister for energy affairs) — is that allegedly, only a third of KRG oil revenues reach the central government.
This complaint is not necessarily divorced from reality. In truth, the Turkish government’s official justification for implementing an energy agreement with the KRG while claiming to uphold Iraq’s unity is specious.
Notice that in the interview with CNN Turk (as I have pointed out above, but was omitted in the English reports), Erdo?an said that there is no real unity in Iraq anyway. At the same time, it should be emphasized that Ankara still does not support actual Kurdish independence.
Rather, the goal is to make the KRG a virtual client state of Turkey while ensuring that the autonomous region at least remains nominally part of Iraq. As Ben Van Heuvelen pointed out to me, this goal is “almost explicit policy” on the part of Ankara.
In turn, Zaab Sethna draws an analogy with the Turkish-occupied territory of northern Cyprus, in relation to which Turkish officials are now pressing Israel not to develop natural gas deals with the Cypriot government without incorporating Ankara into the negotiations. Aware of Baghdad’s disapproval of dealing with the KRG unilaterally, the Turkish government appears to be trying to pursue a rapprochement with the Iraqi government anyway: perhaps to induce it to accept the Turkey-KRG agreement. The rapprochement initiative began with a meeting between Davuto?lu and Iraq’s Vice-President Khudayr al-Khozaie at the Arab League Summit in Doha at the end of last month, in which a desire to restart friendly bilateral ties was expressed — something that Khozaie acknowledged on his return to Baghdad.
Building on these hints of rapprochement, Iraq has now put forward an offer to build an oil pipeline from Basra to Ceyhan in southern Turkey, in which Yildiz has expressed an interest. Even so, if Baghdad is hoping that this counter-offer will dissuade Ankara from proceeding to forge energy ties with the KRG, then the central government is quite mistaken.
It seems most likely that Turkey, like Exxon Mobil with its oil contracts in Iraq, will try to have it both ways by continuing to express an interest in a Basra-Ceyhan pipeline project as well, but could also drop the proposal entirely in favor of continuing to develop the energy deal with the KRG. Further, it is improbable that a compromise will be reached on the issue: a whole series of temporary agreements have arisen in the past on oil disputes between the KRG and the Iraqi central government, but the foundations of the quarrel have never been truly tackled. There is no doubt that the dispute over the budget for this year pushed the KRG to move forward with Ankara in cementing the energy deal.
At present, there is little the Iraqi government can do to stop Ankara beyond saber-rattling rhetoric. A violent confrontation is out of the question, and appealing to Washington to pressure Turkey to reconsider has been unsuccessful.
This failure of persuasion demonstrates the very limited U.S. leverage in the dispute, and while Turkish officials have expressed hope that Washington will eventually take Ankara’s side, they are obviously not pleased that the Americans sided with Baghdad.
From this point follows another conclusion: namely, it is all the more likely that Turkey will continue to resist any future U.S. or wider Western pressure to drop energy and economic ties with Iran amid the sanctions.
Ankara may be diversifying its energy sources, but that does not translate to dropping oil imports from Iran or ending the trade in gold for natural gas. An independent oil and gas pipeline project with the KRG will take years to become fully operational, and there is no reason to assume it is mutually exclusive from continuing energy ties with Iran, just as it is wrong to presume that the KRG will end oil smuggling to Iran just because of an energy agreement with Turkey.
Whatever disagreements Iran and Turkey have about Syria, it is important to note the cases of Iraq-Jordan and Iran/Iraq-Egypt economic ties. Strategic regional outlook is not the same as strengthening economic relations, and so one must avoid interpreting Turkey’s cultivation of energy ties with the KRG as a move away from Iran by either party.
Arabs keep surprising us. Now it seems there is an intent in picking a fight with Turkey and create friction between Turkey and Jordan because of pipelines to take the oil of Iraq to the World Market. The following we picked up April 4, 2013 on the MENAFN in Arabic, but it was not on the English language version.
He and Iraqi Oil Minister Abdul Karim and coffee yesterday that the next few days will witness the signing of the Jordanian-Iraqi transport …
Baghdad warns of Kurdistan oil pipeline to Turkey
Chasing Islamists in the Mountains of Mali, or is it the Dunes? What goes on in Sahelistan – Is this a new Islamistan? Is it a fight for resources? A World of Multi-Partnerships? Will there be an AZAWAD?
Back at the end of January 2013 we posted – based on an article in “Der Spiegel” – that reached us via the UN Wire – that there was in the making an Islamistan, much more dangerous to the West then the AfPak (Afghanistan & Pakistan) region. This will be a Sahelistan ranging from Mauritania to Somalia, right there as a second southern complete layer to the Mediterranean shore Arab States that stretch from Morocco to Egypt. We call this the SAHELISTAN. Its front line is in Mali, Niger, and Chad.
This layer of Islamism is a combination of conservative Islam used as mortar to bind together locally inspired aspirations to free themselves of the Arab century old imposed rulers and like in the Maghreb States and Libya and Egypt, is supported by the religious leaders out of pure opportunism.
Our old posting is:
Now, in Vienna, I realize further the influence of this newly evolving threat and the reality that Europe is happy to let France, the former Colonial power in that region, shoulder the problem by itself. Further, it is France that running its National energy network on nuclear power, is totally depended on the Uranium they get from those countries, while other Members of the EU have no such dependence.
Further, as we noted last month, at the time of the Vienna Conference of the “Alliance of Civilizations” – as shown by the regional division among the Workshops in that meeting, the Central European States have sort of distanced themselves from the Mediterranean States by showing their economic interest as an extension from Central Europe to Central Asia – that is the Black Sea – Caspian Sea and beyond to the other smaller Muslim States that were part of the former Soviet Union. This leaves the Southern EU States to worry about the Muslim MENA region (Middle East – North Africa) and Turkey – if it has to be.
We also suggested a third tier – the Northern tier – and that is the line that connects the Scandinavian countries – Germany – Poland – with Russia.
But that is not where Vienna left this part of the world.
In March I participated further at two wide scope events:
(1) March 11, 2013, the Austrian Institute for International Politics (OIIP) where Editor Walter Haemmerle of the Wiener Zeitung, was the moderator between three Members of OIIP – all Professors at the University but coming from different areas of interest – Prof. Heinz Gaertner – a political Scientist, Prof. Jan Pospisil for the Arab Space – in particular North Africa, and Prof. Cengiz Guenay, for the Near East/ Middle East Space.
The topic was USA – Near East – Mali – in context of Changes of International Applications of Power.
(2) March 21, 2013, the Vienna Institute for International Dialogue and Cooperation (VIDC) - www.VIDC.org – using the space at the Bruno Kreisky Forum for International Dialog – dealt with a more limited topic – and therefore could go down to quite some depth – “Mali: Perspectives for the Political Come-Back.”
The two Malians were – Ismaeel Sory Maiega, Director of the study Center of Languages and African Cultures, and the European Representative of the Tuareg-organized Insurgency MNLA – Mouvement National de Liberation de l’Azawad – National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad, Mr. Moussa Assarid.
Ms. Biloa is also the President “Club Millennium” in Paris – an African Think Tank and training place for leadership.
From the OIIP event:
The issue is the US – it is retrenching from the Reagan – G.W. Bush (the son) days of overextended global involvements – so issues like the insurgency in Mali and other Islamization aspects of North Africa, are to be from now on pure European problems. Even the Middle East will have to take care of itself – the most the US will do is to express encouragement for others to act. Professor Gaertner studied the US elections and his view of the Obama II Administration is very similar to what we wrote on our website. The US is readjusting to the Trans-Pacific Partnership – with China its main focus, so much of what goes on in the Muslim Space will have to be filled in by others. Europeans will have to look across the Mediterranean for their own sake.
Dr. Jan Pospisil did his PhD thesis on US-German military cooperation and then looked at East Africa and Sri-Lanka. Like Prof. Gaertner he sees in Syria the biggest problem for the topic of human rights and both think that this is an area that Austria will pay attention as well. With this background it becomes interesting to note that the Austrian participation in Mali is with 9 people.
Dr. Cengiz Guenay wrote his PhD thesis on “Islam as a political factor in Turkey” and found Libya, Egypt, and now Syria as his main fields of interest and he is called in quite often to explain the situation to the media.
The two main points I marked myself from this discussion were:
A. that Turkey is now a TRADING STATE and will do whatever Mr. Erdogan finds opportune for the literal moment.
B. The World – Instead of Multi-polarity – now it will be MULTI-PARTNERSHIPS.
Then at the VIDC/Bruno Kreisky Forum event we got to know Mr. Assarid a full blooded Tuareg, dressed to prove it, who speaks about the Azawad State they want to carve out from the Northern half of Mali – the five towns – Timbuktu, Lere, Hombori, Gao, and Kidal. His bio says he is a writer, journalist and comedian – living in Paris since 1999. He has appeared on TV in several series as actor. He was saying that the Tuaregs have a National movement that is secular. They are not part of an Islamic uprising and their problem is rather that the other side – the present government in Bamako – that took over from an elected government by military coup – is the one that may help the North Africa Al-Qaeda – not the Tuaregs.
Listening to him, and to his opponent, Professor. Maiega, who is an intellectual – head of a Bamako Institute to promote indigenous languages and African Civilizations, it seems that in effect both of them are more interested in traditional African culture then in Islam, and in effect it is France’s interest in holding on to its previous Colony that is the most problematic aspect of this entanglement. Is it all because of the Uranium, coal, and other natural resources found in Mali? Will this move on to Niger and Chad? What would happen if Mali is allowed to split amicably into two States? Could this be worse then seeing it unravel in fighting that allows other groups to mix the boiling pot?
The French say they want to bring down their fighting troops from 4,000 to 1,000 by the end of April, and have by that time trained the Mali government troops, and the West African troops, that offered to help. I say – Do not hold your breath – I say.
The problem with the desert people maybe much more complicated then what was presented. There is money to be made from those natural resources, and from kidnapping people for ransom. The desert is big and people rather unemployed – so the few can muster the rest, and bamboozle with religion cooked up with social, ethnic, tribal arguments to boot – this works in a world that thinks very little of terrorism, as an accepted tool for those that feel downtroden, and the passage to the world here-after as a move to step up an imagined personalized ladder.
Recent History as reported today – April 1, 2013: The fighting reflected the difficulty of securing Mali after a French intervention in January that pushed the rebels out of their northern strongholds.
“Things are quiet this morning. The markets are open, traffic is on the streets, and people are out of their houses,” Timbuktu resident Garba Maiga said by telephone.
Malian military sources said soldiers were sweeping parts of the town to ensure there were no remaining rebel fighters.
At least one Malian soldier was killed in the clashes, along with more than 20 insurgents, according to a government statement on Sunday night. Residents said at least five civilians were killed in the crossfire.
An army spokesman said that groups of rebels had entered the town after setting off a suicide car bomb at a checkpoint, diverting the military’s attention.
Paris is keen to reduce its current 4,000-strong troop presence to 1,000 by the end of the year as it hands over its mission to a regional African force.
By coincidence – the following arrived in our Inbox and I find this relevant as it stresses US-Senegal relations. Senegal is a Muslim State.
04/01/2013 03:58 PM EDT
Remarks at Luncheon in Honor of Four African Democratic Partners.
William J. Burns
Martin Van Buren Dining Room
March 29, 2013
Good afternoon. It is truly an honor to be here today with all of you. I want to thank Assistant Secretary Carson for hosting this luncheon. As you know, despite our best efforts to change his mind, Johnnie is leaving the State Department after a nearly four decades of exemplary public service. We are all deeply indebted to Johnnie for his leadership and stewardship of the U.S.-Africa relationship.
I would like to welcome President Banda of Malawi, Prime Minister Neves of Cape Verde, Foreign Minister Ndiaye of Senegal, and Foreign Minister Kamara of Sierra Leone. It is a pleasure to host you here at the Department of State.
Like Johnnie, I am an Africa optimist. I am an optimist because the tide of wars and civil strife is receding. I am an optimist because the continent continues to make steady progress in political reform — more than half of the countries in Africa have embraced democratic, multiparty rule and elections and term limits are now widely accepted norms. And I am an optimist because Africa’s growth rate will soon surpass Asia’s and seven of the world’s ten fastest growing economies are African.
The credit for this transformation belongs to leaders like you and courageous citizens across the continent. Looking back over the past two decades, the United States is proud of its modest contribution and steady support.
President Clinton worked with Congress to pass the African Growth and Opportunity Act, which helped create hundreds of thousands of jobs in the region. President George W. Bush created the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, and the Millennium Challenge Corporation, programs that saved millions of lives and brought hundreds of thousands of Africans out of poverty. Over the last four years, President Obama has built on this foundation by forming partnerships based on mutual respect and responsibility with governments, entrepreneurs, youth, women, and the private sector to strengthen democratic institutions, spur economic growth, promote opportunity and development, and advance peace and security.
Each of you illustrates the potential of these partnerships.
President Banda – in one year, you led Malawi out of a deep abyss, moving swiftly to stabilize the economy and elevate human rights. And as you did, the United States was pleased to restore its partnership with your government, including lifting the suspension of our $350 million MCC Compact. We look forward to continuing to work together further to strengthen Malawi democracy, address hunger and improve food security.
Prime Minister Neves – under your leadership, Cape Verde reached middle-income country status, joined the WTO, attracted significant foreign investment, and solidified its social safety net. We value our cooperation on maritime security and in countering narcotrafficking and are pleased to launch a second five-year MCC compact to accelerate economic growth.
Senegal is one of the United States’ strongest partners and a leading democracy in Africa. We applaud the Senegalese government’s commitment to improve governance, regional security, and bilateral cooperation. We deeply appreciate President Sall’s efforts for peace in the Casamance and his leadership on peacekeeping and regional security.
Last year, Sierra Leone held fair, free, and credible elections. We thank President Koroma and his government for their commitment to strengthening Sierra Leone’s democratic institutions. Predictably, the economy responded to your efforts, expanding by 30% in 2012. Let me also note our deep appreciation for your government’s troop contribution to the Somalia peacekeeping force.
There is no doubt that we face many challenges in the coming years – from the Horn to the Great Lakes, and the Sahel. This is why our partnership has never been more important. Fortunately, it has never been stronger.
Thank you very much.
According to the Scottish explorer and scientist Robert Brown, Azawad is an Arabic corruption of the Berber word Azawagh, referring to a dry river basin that covers western Niger, northeastern Mali, and southern Algeria. The name translates to “land of transhumance“.
On 6 April 2012, in a statement posted to its website, the MNLA declared the independence of Azawad from Mali. In this Azawad Declaration of Independence, the name Independent State of Azawad was used (French: État indépendant de l’Azawad, Arabic: Dawlat Azaw?d al-Mustaqillah).
On 26 May, the MNLA and its former co-belligerent Ansar Dine – an Islamist group linked to Al-Qaeda – announced a pact in which they would merge to form an Islamist state; according to the media the new long name of Azawad was used in this pact. But this new name is not clear – sources list few variants of it: the Islamic Republic of Azawad (French: République islamique de l’Azawad), the Islamic State of Azawad (French: État islamique de l’Azawad), the Republic of Azawad. Azawad authorities did not officially confirm any change of name.
The MNLA has unveiled the list of 28 members of the Transitional Council of the State of Azawad (Conseil de Transition de l’Etat de l’Azawad, CTEA) serving as a provisional government with President Bilal Ag Acherif to manage the new State of Azawad.
The Economic Community of West African States, which refused to recognise Azawad and called the declaration of its independence “null and void”, has said it may send troops into the disputed region in support of the Malian claim.
Ansar Dine later declared that they rejected the idea of Azawad independence. The MNLA and Ansar Dine continued to clash, culminating in the Battle of Gao on 27 June, in which the Islamist groups Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa and Ansar Dine took control of the city, driving out the MNLA. The following day, Ansar Dine announced that it was in control of all the cities of northern Mali.
On 14 February 2013 the MNLA renounced their claim of independence for Azawad; it asked the Malian government to start negotiations on its future status.
All of this points at a very confusing situation that in effect backs what we heard at the meeting of March 21, 2013 here in Vienna.
Above map suggests that the presence of Tuaregs which were nomads, is not limited to the north of Mali alone, but they are found in neighboring States as well. The history of the region involved wars that extended to Algeria and to larger Morocco. The area was part of empires that existed in Timbuktu and Gao.
Under French rule
After European powers formalized the scramble for Africa in the Berlin Conference, the French assumed control of the land between the 14th meridian and Miltou, South-West Chad, bounded in the south by a line running from Say, Niger to Baroua. Although the Azawad region was French in name, the principle of effectivity required France to hold power in those areas assigned, e.g. by signing agreements with local chiefs, setting up a government, and making use of the area economically, before the claim would be definitive. On 15 December 1893, Timbuktu, by then long past its prime, was annexed by a small group of French soldiers, led by Lieutenant Gaston Boiteux. The region became part of French Sudan (Soudan Français), a colony of France. The colony was reorganised and the name changed several times during the French colonial period. In 1899 the French Sudan was subdivided and the Azawad became part of Upper Senegal and Middle Niger (Haut-Sénégal et Moyen Niger). In 1902 it was renamed as Senegambia and Niger (Sénégambie et Niger), and in 1904 this was changed again to Upper Senegal and Niger (Haut-Sénégal et Niger). This name was used until 1920 when it became French Sudan again.
French Sudan became the autonomous state of Mali within the French Community in 1958, and Mali became independent from France in 1960. Four major Tuareg rebellions took place against Malian rule: the First Tuareg Rebellion (1962–64), the rebellion of 1990–1995, the rebellion of 2007–2009, and a 2012 rebellion. This alone should tell the world that the situation is not stable and that it can be adjusted only if autonomy is granted the Tuareg region.
In the early twenty-first century, the region became notorious for banditry and drug smuggling. The area has been reported to contain great potential mineral wealth, including petroleum and uranium.
On 17 January 2012, the MNLA announced the start of an insurrection in Azawad against the government of Mali, declaring that it “will continue so long as Bamako does not recognise this territory as a separate entity”.On 24 January, the MNLA won control of the town of Aguelhok, killing around 160 Malian soldiers and capturing dozens of heavy weapons and military vehicles. In March 2012, the MNLA and Ansar Dine took control of the regional capitals of Kidal and Gao along with their military bases. On 1 April, Timbuktu was captured. After the seizure of Timbuktu on 1 April, the MNLA gained effective control of most of the territory they claim for an independent Azawad. In a statement released on the occasion, the MNLA invited all Azawadis abroad to return home and join in constructing institutions in the new state.
The National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA) declared Azawad an independent state on 6 April 2012 and pledged to draft a constitution establishing it as a democracy. Their statement acknowledged the United Nations charter and said the new state would uphold its principles.
In an interview with France 24, an MNLA spokesman declared the independence of Azawad:
In the same interview, Assarid promised that Azawad would respect the colonial frontiers that separate Azawad from its neighbours; he insisted that Azawad’s declaration of independence had international legality.
No foreign entity recognised Azawad. The MNLA’s declaration was immediately rejected by the African Union, who declared it “null and no value whatsoever”. The French Foreign Ministry said it would not recognise the unilateral partition of Mali, but it called for negotiations between the two entities to address “the demands of the northern Tuareg population [which] are old and for too long had not received adequate and necessary responses”. The United States also rejected the declaration of independence.
The MNLA is estimated to have up to 3,000 soldiers. ECOWAS declared Azawad “null and void”, and said that Mali is “one and [an] indivisible entity”. ECOWAS has said that it would use force, if necessary, to put down the rebellion. The French government indicated it could provide logistical support.
On 26 May, the MNLA and its former co-belligerent Ansar Dine announced a pact to merge to form an Islamist state. Later reports indicated the MNLA withdrew from the pact, distancing itself from Ansar Dine. MNLA and Ansar Dine continued to clash, culminating in the Battle of Gao and Timbuktu on 27 June, in which the Islamist groups Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa and Ansar Dine took control of Gao, driving out the MNLA. The following day, Ansar Dine announced that it was in control of Timbuktu and Kidal, the three biggest cities of northern Mali. Ansar Dine continued its offensive against MNLA positions and overran all remaining MNLA held towns by 12 July with the fall of Ansogo.
In December 2012, the MNLA agreed on Mali’s national unity and territorial integrity in talks with both the central government and Ansar Dine.
Most are Muslims, of the Sunni or Sufi orientations. Most popular in the Tuareg movement and northern Mali as a whole is the Maliki branch of Sunnism, in which traditional opinions and analogical reasoning by later Muslim scholars are often used instead of a strict reliance on ?adith (coming directly from the Mohammed’s life and utterances) as a basis for legal judgment.
Ansar Dine follows the Salafi branch of Sunni Islam, which rejects the existence of Islamic holy men (other than Mohammed) and their teachings. They strongly object to praying around the graves of Malikite ‘holymen’, and burned down an ancient Sufi shrine in Timbuktu, which had been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The people living in the central and northern Sahelian and Sahelo-Saharan areas of Mali are the country’s poorest, according to an International Fund for Agricultural Development report. Most are pastoralists and farmers practicing subsistence agriculture on dry land with poor and increasingly degraded soils. The northern part of Mali suffers from a critical shortage of food and lack of health care. Starvation has prompted about 200,000 inhabitants to leave the region.
Refugees in the 92,000-person refugee camp at Mbera, Mauritania, describe the Islamists as “intent on imposing an Islam of lash and gun on Malian Muslims.” The Islamists in Timbuktu have destroyed about a half-dozen historic above-ground tombs of revered holy men, proclaiming the tombs contrary to Shariah. One refugee in the camp spoke of encountering Afghans, Pakistanis and Nigerians among the invading forces.
A Circumcized 9,000 years old Ritual Phallus, made of Anatolian or Georgian obsidian stone, found in a dig between Haifa and Carmiel. What does that mean when talking about ownership of the Holy Land.
Archaeologists have uncovered remnants of a Stone Age culture on the route of a planned rail line in northern Israel, including obsidian arrowheads and fertility objects like a stone phallus and a carved depiction of female genitalia.
The oldest ruins at the site date to 9,000 years ago, the Israel Antiquities Authority said, but it was still inhabited thousands of years later. The location was excavated in a salvage dig ahead of the construction of new train tracks from Haifa to Carmiel.
The findings include the most complete buildings from that time discovered so far in Israel, and some of the oldest evidence of organized legume agriculture in the Middle East, archaeologists Yitzhak Paz and Yaakov Vardi said in a statement.
The objects discovered at the site also show that residents traded with faraway cultures, they said.
“The large number of tools made from obsidian, which is not found in Israel, shows trade ties with Turkey, Georgia and other areas as long ago as this period,” read the statement, released earlier this month.
The fertility objects, like the small stone phallus, “also represented the fertility of the land,” they said. The archaeologists link those findings to a civilization that existed in what is now Israel between 5500 and 4500 BCE.
The civilization, known as the Wadi Rabbah culture, was named for the first site at which it was discovered northeast of Tel Aviv in the 1950s.