Thomas Friedman tells the world that the current uphevals in Syria started from lack of water, enhanced by the fast growing population ruled by a represive corrupt regime with outside money fomenting sectarian and religious passions. Then Assad’s cronies bought up the small farms, drilled for water, drove the farmers to the cities where they found it hard to make a living – so they rebelled. They say the drought came from Allah, but the misery from Assad and his Alawites.
Without Water, Revolution.
Published: May 18, 2013 12 Comments
TEL ABYAD, Syria — I just spent a day in this northeast Syrian town. It was terrifying — much more so than I anticipated — but not because we were threatened in any way by the Free Syrian Army soldiers who took us around or by the Islamist Jabhet al-Nusra fighters who stayed hidden in the shadows. It was the local school that shook me up.
Thomas L. Friedman by Josh Haner/The New York Times
As we were driving back to the Turkish border, I noticed a school and asked the driver to turn around so I could explore it. It was empty — of students. But war refugees had occupied the classrooms and little kids’ shirts and pants were drying on a line strung across the playground. The basketball backboard was rusted, and a local parent volunteered to give me a tour of the bathrooms, which he described as disgusting. Classes had not been held in two years. And that is what terrified me. Men with guns I’m used to. But kids without books, teachers or classes for a long time — that’s trouble. Big trouble.
They grow up to be teenagers with too many guns and too much free time, and I saw a lot of them in Tel Abyad. They are the law of the land here now, but no two of them wear the same uniform, and many are just in jeans. These boys bravely joined the adults of their town to liberate it from the murderous tyranny of Bashar al-Assad, but now the war has ground to a stalemate, so here, as in so many towns across Syria, life is frozen in a no-man’s land between order and chaos. There is just enough patched-up order for people to live — some families have even rigged up bootleg stills that refine crude oil into gasoline to keep cars running — but not enough order to really rebuild, to send kids to school or to start businesses.
So Syria as a whole is slowly bleeding to death of self-inflicted gunshot wounds. You can’t help but ask whether it will ever be a unified country again and what kind of human disaster will play out here if a whole generation grows up without school.
“Syria is becoming Somalia,” said Zakaria Zakaria, a 28-year-old Syrian who graduated from college with a major in English and who acted as our guide. “Students have now lost two years of school, and there is no light at the end of the tunnel, and if this goes on for two more years it will be like Somalia, a failed country. But Somalia is off somewhere in the Indian Ocean. Syria is the heart of the Middle East. I don’t want this to happen to my country. But the more it goes on, the worse it will be.”
This is the agony of Syria today. You can’t imagine the war here continuing for another year, let alone five. But when you feel the depth of the rage against the Assad government and contemplate the sporadic but barbaric sect-on-sect violence, you can’t imagine any peace deal happening or holding — not without international peacekeepers on the ground to enforce it. Eventually, we will all have to have that conversation, because this is no ordinary war.
THIS Syrian disaster is like a superstorm. It’s what happens when an extreme weather event, the worst drought in Syria’s modern history, combines with a fast-growing population and a repressive and corrupt regime and unleashes extreme sectarian and religious passions, fueled by money from rival outside powers — Iran and Hezbollah on one side, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Qatar on the other, each of which have an extreme interest in its Syrian allies’ defeating the other’s allies — all at a time when America, in its post-Iraq/Afghanistan phase, is extremely wary of getting involved.
I came here to write my column and work on a film for the Showtime series, “Years of Living Dangerously,” about the “Jafaf,” or drought, one of the key drivers of the Syrian war. In an age of climate change, we’re likely to see many more such conflicts.
“The drought did not cause Syria’s civil war,” said the Syrian economist Samir Aita, but, he added, the failure of the government to respond to the drought played a huge role in fueling the uprising. What happened, Aita explained, was that after Assad took over in 2000 he opened up the regulated agricultural sector in Syria for big farmers, many of them government cronies, to buy up land and drill as much water as they wanted, eventually severely diminishing the water table. This began driving small farmers off the land into towns, where they had to scrounge for work.
Because of the population explosion that started here in the 1980s and 1990s thanks to better health care, those leaving the countryside came with huge families and settled in towns around cities like Aleppo. Some of those small towns swelled from 2,000 people to 400,000 in a decade or so. The government failed to provide proper schools, jobs or services for this youth bulge, which hit its teens and 20s right when the revolution erupted.
Then, between 2006 and 2011, some 60 percent of Syria’s land mass was ravaged by the drought and, with the water table already too low and river irrigation shrunken, it wiped out the livelihoods of 800,000 Syrian farmers and herders, the United Nations reported. “Half the population in Syria between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers left the land” for urban areas during the last decade, said Aita. And with Assad doing nothing to help the drought refugees, a lot of very simple farmers and their kids got politicized. “State and government was invented in this part of the world, in ancient Mesopotamia, precisely to manage irrigation and crop growing,” said Aita, “and Assad failed in that basic task.”
Young people and farmers starved for jobs — and land starved for water — were a prescription for revolution. Just ask those who were here, starting with Faten, whom I met in her simple flat in Sanliurfa, a Turkish city near the Syrian border. Faten, 38, a Sunni, fled there with her son Mohammed, 19, a member of the Free Syrian Army, who was badly wounded in a firefight a few months ago. Raised in the northeastern Syrian farming village of Mohasen, Faten, who asked me not to use her last name, told me her story.
She and her husband “used to own farmland,” said Faten. “We tended annual crops. We had wheat, barley and everyday food — vegetables, cucumbers, anything we could plant instead of buying in the market. Thank God there were rains, and the harvests were very good before. And then suddenly, the drought happened.”
What did it look like? “To see the land made us very sad,” she said. “The land became like a desert, like salt.” Everything turned yellow.
Did Assad’s government help? “They didn’t do anything,” she said. “We asked for help, but they didn’t care. They didn’t care about this subject. Never, never. We had to solve our problems ourselves.”
So what did you do? “When the drought happened, we could handle it for two years, and then we said, ‘It’s enough.’ So we decided to move to the city. I got a government job as a nurse, and my husband opened a shop. It was hard. The majority of people left the village and went to the city to find jobs, anything to make a living to eat.” The drought was particularly hard on young men who wanted to study or marry but could no longer afford either, she added. Families married off daughters at earlier ages because they couldn’t support them.
Faten, her head conservatively covered in a black scarf, said the drought and the government’s total lack of response radicalized her. So when the first spark of revolutionary protest was ignited in the small southern Syrian town of Dara’a, in March 2011, Faten and other drought refugees couldn’t wait to sign on. “Since the first cry of ‘Allahu akbar,’ we all joined the revolution. Right away.” Was this about the drought? “Of course,” she said, “the drought and unemployment were important in pushing people toward revolution.”
ZAKARIA ZAKARIA was a teenager in nearby Hasakah Province when the drought hit and he recalled the way it turned proud farmers, masters of their own little plots of land, into humiliated day laborers, working for meager wages in the towns “just to get some money to eat.” What was most galling to many, said Zakaria, was that if you wanted a steady government job you had to bribe a bureaucrat or know someone in the state intelligence agency.
The best jobs in Hasakah Province, Syria’s oil-producing region, were with the oil companies. But drought refugees, virtually all of whom were Sunni Muslims, could only dream of getting hired there. “Most of those jobs went to Alawites from Tartous and Latakia,” said Zakaria, referring to the minority sect to which President Assad belongs and which is concentrated in these coastal cities. “It made people even more angry. The best jobs on our lands in our province were not for us, but for people who come from outside.”
Only in the spring of 2011, after the uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt, did the Assad government start to worry about the drought refugees, said Zakaria, because on March 11 — a few days before the Syrian uprising would start in Dara’a — Assad visited Hasakah, a very rare event. “So I posted on my Facebook page, ‘Let him see how people are living,’ ” recalled Zakaria. “My friends said I should delete it right away, because it was dangerous. I wouldn’t. They didn’t care how people lived.”
Abu Khalil, 48, is one of those who didn’t just protest. A former cotton farmer who had to become a smuggler to make ends meet for his 16 children after the drought wiped out their farm, he is now the Free Syrian Army commander in the Tel Abyad area. We met at a crushed Syrian Army checkpoint. After being introduced by our Syrian go-between, Abu Khalil, who was built like a tough little boxer, introduced me to his fighting unit. He did not introduce them by rank but by blood, pointing to each of the armed men around him and saying: “My nephew, my cousin, my brother, my cousin, my nephew, my son, my cousin …”
Free Syrian Army units are often family affairs. In a country where the government for decades wanted no one to trust anyone else, it’s no surprise.
“We could accept the drought because it was from Allah,” said Abu Khalil, “but we could not accept that the government would do nothing.”
Before we parted, he pulled me aside to say that all that his men needed were anti-tank and antiaircraft weapons and they could finish Assad off. “Couldn’t Obama just let the Mafia send them to us?” he asked. “Don’t worry, we won’t use them against Israel.”
As part of our film we’ve been following a Syrian woman who is a political activist, Farah Nasif, a 27-year-old Damascus University graduate from Deir-az-Zour, whose family’s farm was also wiped out in the drought.
Nasif typifies the secular, connected, newly urbanized young people who spearheaded the democracy uprisings here and in Egypt, Yemen and Tunisia. They all have two things in common: they no longer fear their governments or their parents, and they want to live like citizens, with equal rights — not as sects with equal fears.
If this new generation had a motto, noted Aita, the Syrian economist, it would actually be the same one Syrians used in their 1925 war of independence from France: “Religion is for God, and the country is for everyone.”
But Nasif is torn right now. She wants Assad gone and all political prisoners released, but she knows that more war “will only destroy the rest of the country.” And her gut tells her that even once Assad is gone, there is no agreement on who or what should come next. So every option worries her — more war, a cease-fire, the present and the future. This is the agony of Syria today — and why the closer you get to it, the less certain you are how to fix it.
Geneva based The World Meteorological Organization got data from the Arctic (Barrow), Alert (Canada), Izana (Canary Islands), and Mauna Loa (Hawaii) of more then 400ppm CO2. Is human-kind out to self immolate?
Observed concentrations of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere have exceeded the symbolic 400 parts per million (ppm) threshold at several stations of the World Meteorological Organization’s Global Atmosphere Watch network. This is a wakeup call about the constantly rising levels of this greenhouse gas, which is released into the atmosphere by fossil fuel burning and other human activities and is the main driver of climate change. Carbon dioxide remains in the atmosphere for thousands of years, trapping heat and causing our planet to warm further, impacting on all aspects of life on earth.
On May 9, 2013, the daily mean concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere of Mauna Loa, Hawaii, recorded a reading of 400.03 ppm, according to the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Mauna Loa is the oldest continuous atmospheric measurement station in the world and so is widely regarded as a benchmark site in the Global Atmosphere Watch.
Several other Global Atmosphere Watch stations have also reported CO2 concentrations exceeding the 400 ppm threshold during the seasonal maximum. This occurs early in the northern hemisphere spring before vegetation growth absorbs CO 2.
The threshold was first crossed at stations in the Arctic. A monthly average value exceeding 400 ppm was registered at Barrow, Alaska, USA (71.3N) for the first time in April 2012, as well as at Alert, in Canada (82.5N). From the beginning of 2013, measured CO 2. values at another GAW Global station, in Ny-Ålesund, Norway, (at 78.9N) also exceeded 400 ppm. This threshold has now also been crossed at stations closer to the Equator. Izaña, (Canary Islands, Spain), reported daily mean values exceeding 400 ppm at the end of April 2013. This was followed by Mauna Loa, which has been carrying out measurements since 1958.
The Global Atmosphere Watch coordinates observations of CO2 and other heat-trapping gases like methane and nitrous oxide in the atmosphere to ensure that measurements around the world are standardized and can be compared to each other. The network spans more than 50 countries including stations high in the Alps, Andes and Himalayas, as well as in the Arctic, Antarctic and in the far South Pacific.
Carbon dioxide is the single most important greenhouse gas emitted by human activities. It is responsible for 85% of the increase in radiative forcing – the warming effect on our climate – over the past decade. Between 1990 and 2011 there was a 30% increase in radiative forcing because of greenhouse gases. Radiative forcing is calculated relative to the pre-industrial level of key greenhouse gases.
According to WMO’s Greenhouse Gas Bulletin, the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere reached 390.9 parts per million in 2011, or 140% of the pre-industrial level of 280 parts per million. The pre-industrial era level represented a balance of CO2 fluxes between the atmosphere, the oceans and the biosphere. The amount of CO2 in the atmosphere has increased on average by 2 parts per million per year for the past 10 years.
At the current rate of increase, the global annual average CO2 concentration is set to cross the 400 ppm threshold in 2015 or 2016. www.esrl.noaa.gov/gmd/
Full WMO news release, including charts and links, is available at www.wmo.int/pages/
WMO Communications and Public Affairs
A blind UN lets Iran Chair the upcoming U.N. disarmament conference – the Perfect Crime of Irrelevance. The US will not be represented at Ambassadorial level when the Iranian sits in the Chairman’s Chair but will participate in a Saudi paid-for Counterterrorism Board.
Iran will assume the presidency of the UN Conference on Disarmament on May 27 and hold it over four weeks, until June 23, 2013.
The conference chair helps organize the work of the conference and assists in setting the agenda.
The conference was established in 1979 after a special U.N. General Assembly session, and is made up of 65 countries. In the past, the conference and its predecessors negotiated major multilateral arms limitation and disarmament agreements. In recent years it has become paralyzed, with member states often divided even on setting the agenda.
The Conference of Disarmament reports to the UN General Assembly and is billed by the UN as “the single multilateral disarmament negotiating forum of the international community.”
Iran is astate that illegally supplies rockets to Syria, Hezbollah, and Hamas, potentially aiding and abetting mass murder and terrorism. To make this rogue regime head of world arms control is an outrage. Abusers of international norms should not be the public face of the UN.
The UN is not shocked, its officials say Iran’s post is merely the result of an automatic rotation.
The US and others speak up:
Statement by Erin Pelton, Spokesperson, U.S. Mission to the United Nations, on Iran’s Rotation as President of the Conference on Disarmament, May 13, 2013
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York, NY
May 13, 2013
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Iran’s upcoming rotation as President of the Conference on Disarmament (CD) is unfortunate and highly inappropriate. The United States continues to believe that countries that are under Chapter VII sanctions for weapons proliferation or massive human-rights abuses should be barred from any formal or ceremonial positions in UN bodies.
While the presidency of the CD is largely ceremonial and involves no substantive responsibilities, allowing Iran–a country that is in flagrant violation of its obligations under multiple UN Security Council Resolutions and to the IAEA Board of Governors–to hold such a position runs counter to the goals and objectives of the Conference on Disarmament itself. As a result, the United States will not be represented at the ambassadorial level during any meeting presided over by Iran.
another e-mail we got:
So fast forward. We find an ever more aggressive North Korea sharing nuclear know-how with like-minded belligerents, such as Iran and Syria.
When North Korea took the helm, Iran’s representative told the Conference: “I would like to congratulate the distinguished ambassador of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea for the assumption of the presidency and assuring him of my delegation’s full support and cooperation.” You can be sure that the North Korean rep will deliver an equally flowery welcome when Iran dons the crown.
This also isn’t the first time that the UN has appointed Iran to a position of authority wildly at odds with its reprehensible record. In 2010 Iran was elected to the UN Commission on the Status of Women – the UN’s top women’s rights body. Iranian laws that permit women to be stoned for alleged adultery? Irrelevant.
The saddest part of this charade is that these countries and their despotic leaders take sustenance from acquiring such formal trappings and basking in the accompanying diplomatic niceties. The United States is a member of the Conference on Disarmament. We don’t need another administration speech that the “door is still open” but “the window is closing.” With an Iranian poised to preside, we need to leave.
UN Human Rights Chief Navi Pillay is getting worried somebody might figure out she was on the wrong side of history in Egypt. Her latest press statement is entitled: “Egypt risks drifting away from human rights ideals.” D’ya think? So Pillay now has this to say about the legal moves currently unfolding under the human rights tutelage of the Muslim Brotherhood: “I am very concerned that the new law, if adopted in its current form, may leave them in a worse situation than they were prior to the fall of the Mubarak Government in 2011.”
Then see also:
Saudi Arabia heads UN counter-terror efforts
Saudi Arabia is the Chair of the UN’s Counter-Terrorism Centre Advisory Board. Well, it does know a lot about terrorism – as a major player in the realm of training, financing and indoctrinating terrorists. Saudi Arabia has also ratified the terrorism treaty of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, which defines terrorism to exempt hitting Jewish or American or any other target while engaged in “armed struggle against foreign occupation, aggression, colonialism, and hegemony, aimed at liberation and self-determination.” So how did Saudi Arabia come to Chair the UN “counter-terrorism” group? The UN website unabashedly informs us that they bought it: “In 2011, through a voluntary contribution of the Government of Saudi Arabia, the United Nations Secretariat was able to launch the United Nations Counter-Terrorism Centre (UNCCT).” The Obama administration responded by joining their Advisory Board.
The State Department’s recent release of its human rights report on Saudi Arabia contains the following statement under the heading “anti-Semitism:” “There were no known Jewish citizens.” Judenrein Arab states?
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has swung into action on Syria – to criticize Israel for destroying Hezbollah-bound weapons on Syrian territory. The threat to international peace and security, and specifically to Israel, from weaponry switching hands and moving across borders from Syria grows more dire day-by-day. The UN chief thought the right response was to ask “all sides” (ie Israel) to “exercise maximum calm and restraint” – and respect Syrian “national sovereignty and territorial integrity.” Since when was murdering 70,000 + and arming organizations committed to attacking a neighboring state, an internal sovereign affair?
Richard Falk addresses AUB audience
Terrorist sympathizer and UN Human Rights Council expert Richard Falk had a busy week in the Hezbollah stronghold of Beirut, following his obscene remarks on the Boston terror attacks. On Thursday of last week he delivered the annual Constantine Zurayk Lecture at the American University of Beirut. He entitled his speech “Rethinking the Future of Palestine: Beyond the Two State Consensus,” and argued against the two-state solution for ending the Palestinian Arab-Israeli conflict because at this moment in time it is “obsolete.” Iranian TV has now posted a video about Falk’s performance. Similar to the justifications he made for “resistance” at the time of the Boston terror attacks, Press TV reports that Falk “praised the resistance of the Palestinian people, considering it as the only means to address their suffering….Dr. Falk argued that…the only way to address the ordeal of the Israeli occupation is through global mobilization of support for the resistance….” In addition to direct support for terrorism – aka “resistance” – Falk told the reporter: “Israel can’t live in peace and security with its neighbors…It is a pariah state endangering the Middle East…and the U.S. is an accomplice.” Zurayk was a well-known Arab nationalist who spent his career arguing how the battle against Israel can be won and giving directions for “the road to final and complete victory.” He is heralded for coining the term “al-nakba” – the now entrenched reference to the creation of the state of Israel as a “catastrophe.” Some call him the grand-daddy of the insidious political plan of “catastrophology.” It is clear why Falk would be the recipient of the Zurayk honor.
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.
Qatar is leading at the UN an Arab effort to punish Canada for its principled pro-Israel stand by asking for the removal of ICAO Headquarters from Montreal. How about moving some more UN offices to Doha?
Some Arab nations are making an effort to isolate Canada at the United Nations in retaliation for the Canadian government’s pro-Israel stance.
Qatar is working to gather votes from 115 countries to relocate the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), which determines global rules for airplane transportation, from Montreal to the Middle East by 2016. In addition, Arab UN ambassadors met in New York on April 23 to discuss Palestinian issues, and discussed ways to rally support against the Canadian government among international organizations.
Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s government is known for his staunch support of Israel and maintains a close relationship with the Israeli government. In April, Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird stoked Arab anger by meeting Israeli Justice Minister Tzipi Livni in eastern Jerusalem, an area where the Palestinians dispute Israeli jurisdiction.
Joseph Lavoie, a spokesman for Baird, said Canada will “fight tooth and nail” to keep the ICAO in Montreal. “Canada will not apologize for promoting a principled foreign policy,” Lavoie said, according to the Daily Globe and Mail.
Comment from Mel
The United Nations headquarters and its overfed diplomats have earned deportation to the Middle East.
The enemies of Western Civilization have not earned the right to enjoy its benefits.
New York and Montreal are too good for them.
Let’s find out how they like eating and swimming in sand!
Introduction to a Green Economy:
27 May – 19 July 2013
In order to provide interested stakeholders from government, business, civil society and academia with an introduction to the green economy concept UNITAR in partnership with UNEP, ILO and UNIDO is delivering the e-learning course “Introduction to a Green Economy: Concepts and Applications”, 27 May to 19 July 2013. Participants will learn about different concepts and facets of the green economy, including its contribution to addressing climate change. Special attention is given to global, national and sector-specific challenges and opportunities to advance low-carbon, climate resilient and socially inclusive development. Additionally, participants will begin to acquire basic skills for applying the green economy concept in an economic, policy-making and personal context.
The ability of national actors to act on the green economy is key for effective policy making and achieving tangible results. To address this challenge UNITAR is working closely with UNEP, ILO and UNIDO in a new Partnership for Action on Green Economy (PAGE), focusing on national capacity development.
Comprehensive information and registration details are available at:
Registration is open until 17 May 2013.
Please feel free to disseminate information about this course through your networks, and don’t hesitate to contact us (firstname.lastname@example.org) should you need any further information.
The UNITAR Environmental Governance Programme Team
The concept of a green economy is receiving increasing international attention, as countries explore new patterns of development that take into account economic, social and environmental sustainability considerations. The recent UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20), June 2012, reaffirmed the role of a green economy in achieving sustainable development. The ability of national actors to act on the green economy is key for effective policy making and achieving tangible results. To address this challenge, United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) is working closely with UNEP, ILO and UNIDO in a new Partnership for Action on Green Economy (PAGE), with a focus on national capacity development.
In order to provide interested stakeholders from government, business, civil society and academia with an introduction to the green economy concept UNITAR, together with PAGE partners, is delivering an interactive e-learning course from 27 May to 19 July 2013.
The course targets groups and individuals that are interested in obtaining a general understanding about the green economy concept and latest developments. They include:
• Civil servants in national Ministries, provincial departments and local authorities
• Diplomats from Permanent Missions and Ministries of Foreign Affairs
• Environmental managers in private sector and civil society organizations
• Faculty, researchers and students
• Interested citizens
Participants will learn about different concepts and facets of the green economy, as well as global, national and sector-specific challenges and opportunities to advance low-carbon, resource efficient and socially inclusive development. Additionally, participants will begin to develop basic skills for applying the green economy concept in a real world economic, policy and/or personal context.
After completing the course, participants will be able to:
The course pedagogy is adapted to professionals in full-time work. Participants are provided with the opportunity to learn through various experiences: absorb (read); do (activity); interact (socialize); and reflect (relate to one’s own reality). The total number of learning hours is 40 over an 8 week period. During weeks 1-5 the reading of an e-book is complemented by a range of learning activities and experiences that include interactive exercises, discussion forums, and an applied case study. Weeks 6-8 are reserved for wrap-up and completing course assignments.
COURSE FEE AND REGISTRATION: The course participation fee is 600 USD. For details please contact the
Registration deadline: 17 May 2013.
United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR)
Palais des Nations, CH-1211 Geneva 10, Switzerland
UN and World Economic Forum seek shining examples of financing for climate-friendly investment.
Bonn, Geneva 12 April 2013 – Beginning today through the end of May, people and institutions can submit examples of financial innovations for
The secretariat of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), in partnership with the World Economic Forum, has opened a call for applications for “Momentum for Change: Financing for Climate-friendly Investment.“
The entries must relate to activities that are currently being implemented or have already been completed, and are scalable and replicable.
The initiative is designed to inform governments, investors, businesses, public finance agencies and the media about practical ways and means to
Pointing towards the fact that climate change can be seen as both a risk and an opportunity for business, UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana
“Clean energy investment is on the rise and the need to adapt to climate
The initiative takes place in partnership with the World Economic Forum’s
“We cannot address climate change without unlocking private finance,” said
The most inspiring, innovative, successful and motivational activities selected as Momentum for Change Lighthouse Activities will be presented
Entrants can apply from 12 April to 31 May 2013. All entries that
About Momentum for Change
About the UNFCCC
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Learn more about Green Growth
Learn more about Momentum for Change at <momentum4change.org>
It would help if the UN could accept the idea of need for self criticism – specially on issues of “NEVER AGAIN” – as its record on Rwanda hampers its effectiveness when on-going wars are being considered.
On Rwanda Genocide, UN Silent on Its Own Role, So ICP Asks, Duhozanye Answers
By Matthew Russell Lee
UNITED NATIONS, April 9 — When the UN invited two Rwanda genocide survivors to speak on April 9, commemorating 19 years after UN peacekeepers left in the face of mass murder, one expected the “lessons learned” to also be about the UN.
But the formal presentation asked Daphrose Mukarutamu, founder of the Duhozanye organization, and her fellow survivor only about reconciliation in the country. The UN Women panelist, Nahla Valji, spoke about the gacaca courts.
But in terms of “Never Again,” what of the UN’s own performance, its abandonment of the victim, even helping the genocidaires to escape into Eastern Congo?
As we have noted, current chief of UN Peacekeeping Herve Ladsous in 1994 as Deputy Permanent Representative of France advocated for and facilitated this rescue of genocidaires, through “Operation Turquiose.”
Ladsous refused to answer Inner City Press questions about his role, then refused to answer ANY questions from Inner City Press, including about rapes by the Congolese Army, his partners.Video at On Tuesday night, the UN did not ask about these issues either. So Inner City Press did. YouTube video as above.
Daphrose Mukarutamu replied with dignity that members of Duhozanye have testified in Arusha against those who committed the genocide, and the government is trying to track more down.
But what of, for example, Callitxe Mbarushimana, who while working for UNDP in 1994 used UN vehicles and radios to kill at least three dozen Tutsis, including Florence Ngirumpatse, the director of personnel at UNDP’s office in Kigali?
The UN let him keep working for them, in Angola where he was not even language qualified, until he was outed in 2001 working for the UN in Kosovo. Even then, he was paid an additional $35,000.
After Inner City Press’ question, and Daphrose Mukarutamu’s answer, a participant hissed to Inner City Press, do you think that question elevated the discussion?
It had to be asked. It should have been in the introduction. It should have been in Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s canned statement over the weekend. And it will continued to be asked.
Duhozanye is composed of, and cares for, genocide survivors, now focusing on those who are aging without family members to take care of them. They want to start a retirement community. The event was strangely lacking in contact information for them. But we suggest an Internet search: Duhozanye. And check out, as well, Callitxe Mbarushimana and the history of Herve Ladsous, while you’re at it.
Footnote: the UN Department of Public Information, the evening’s host, does some good programs, and surely will do more. But they should have included some mention of the UN’s own role.
And, just within UN Headquarters itself, they should be more forthright about how and why they raided the office of Inner City Press without consent or even notice on March 18, and how photographs they took were leaked to BuzzFeed.com on March 21. The Rwandan mission is aware of what DPI did, even referred to it on UNTV earlier this month. Accountability, high and low. Or impunity?
The Saudis – they have Oil and a Subhuman Regime. A Saudi Islamic Judge just ordered a man surgically paralyzed according to Islamic Law (literally an eye-for-an-eye) and they were allowed to buy the Motiva Refinery of Texas – biggest in the United States. Shell Oil seems to be their partner in business and Shell Oil is now dancing to their tune. The US Department of State has just acknowledged that there might be a problem indeed.
Reports of Saudi Paralysis Sentence (Taken Question)
Office of the Spokesperson
April 5, 2013
Question: What is the U.S. response to reports that a Saudi judge gave a court order for a prisoner to be surgically paralyzed?
Answer: If these reports are true, they would be incredibly disturbing. We expect the Saudi Government to respect international human rights norms. We regularly make this point as part of our bilateral dialogue.
By CLIFFORD KRAUSS
The Motiva refinery in Port Arthur, the largest in the United States, ensures a bigger market for Saudi crude and a stronger global voice for the kingdom.
This can now be seen in context!
‘Shell to dump energy firm over its ties to Israel’
Australia’s Woodside Petroleum has a 30-percent interest in Israel’s Leviathan natural gas field
April 5, 2013, 3:28 pm 2
THE HAGUE (JTA) – Royal Dutch Shell declined to comment on reports that it will divest its stake in an Australian energy firm because of that firm’s investment in Israel’s gas fields.
According to the RTL Dutch television network, a spokesperson for Shell said on Wednesday that he had no comment on a report by the Commonwealth Bank of Australia which said Shell would likely dump its 23.1-percent stake in Australia’s Woodside Petroleum.
The report said Shell planned the move to avoid the risk of boycott by Arab countries following Woodside’s agreement to purchase a 30-percent interest in Israel’s Leviathan natural gas field. RTL reported that Shell’s stake in Woodside is worth more then $7 billion.
Last year, Shell said that involvement with Woodside was “incompatible” with Shell’s “long-term plans.”
The MALDIVES once our poster-island – now the gate to hell. Can you imagine – a 15 year old rape victim, by her step-father, accused for having sex outside mariage? A Civilized World Reaction – THIS OUGHT TO BE A TOURISM KILLER.
It’s hard to believe, but a 15-year-old rape survivor has been sentenced to be whipped 100 times in public! Let’s put an end to this lunacy by hitting the Maldives government where it hurts: the tourism industry.
The girl’s stepfather is accused of raping her for years and murdering the baby she bore. Now the court says she must be flogged for “sex outside marriage”! President Waheed of the Maldives is already feeling global pressure on this, and we can force him to save this girl and change the law to spare other victims this cruel fate. This is how we can end the War on Women – by standing up every time an outrage like this happens.
Tourism is the big earner for the Maldives elite, including government ministers. Let’s build a massive petition to President Waheed this week, then threaten the islands’ reputation through hard-hitting ads in travel magazines and online until he steps in to save her and abolish this outrageous law. Sign the petition and forward this email to everyone:
The Maldives is a paradise for tourists. But for women there, it can be hell. Under harsh interpretations of sharia law, women and children are routinely punished with flogging and house arrest if found guilty of extramarital sex or adultery. It’s nearly always the women who get punished, not the perpetrators. A staggering one in three women between ages 15 and 49 have suffered physical or sexual abuse — yet zero rapists were convicted in the past three years.
Winning this battle can help women everywhere, as the Maldives government is right now running for a top UN human rights position – on a platform of women’s rights! Global outrage has already forced President Waheed to appeal the sentence in the 15-year-old’s case. But that’s not enough. Extremists inside the country will force him to abandon further reforms if international attention fades. Let’s tell the Maldives that it stands to lose its reputation as a romantic tourist hot spot unless it changes its attitudes to and laws about women.
If enough of us raise our voices, we can get President Waheed and his MPs to face down the extremists. The president is already on the back foot over this shameful, tragic story – let’s seize this moment to prevent more horrifying injustices against girls and women. Sign the petition, then send this email widely:
Avaaz members have fought many battles in the global war on women. In Afghanistan, we helped protect a young woman who bravely spoke out about her horrific rape; in Honduras, we fought alongside local women against a law that would jail women using the morning-after pill. Let’s now protect the women of the Maldives.
With hope and determination,
Jeremy, Mary, Nick, Alex, Ricken, Laura, Michelle and the whole Avaaz team
Maldives girl to get 100 lashes for pre-marital sex (BBC)
Maldives government to appeal flogging of rape victim (Dawn, Pakistan)
Rape victims punished, failed by Maldives justice system (Minivan news, Maldives)
Judicial statistics show 90 percent of those convicted for fornication are female (Minivan news, Maldives)
Suggestions for The White House – galvanize the public with a CARBON TAX, that requires building “governing coalitions” in the center – rather than “political coalitions” that can get you elected but little else after that. President Obama does not run for re-election and can turn America’s large majority into the real winners.
It’s Lose-Lose vs. Win-Win-Win-Win-Win
by Thomas L. Friedman
Published by New York Times on-line: March 16, 2013
This Painted Graph catches our attention but we wonder what it means – given content, potentially some new shape, and potentially new colors, it could be the publicity weapon for new campaigns. A majority of Americans, we are sure, by now understand that the good life in the future will be a life based on sustainability, and will be paid for by the citizenry as a whole.
ONE of my favorite quotes, writes Thomas Friedman, about the state of U.S. politics was offered a couple years ago by Gerald Seib, a Wall Street Journal columnist, when he observed that “America and its political leaders, after two decades of failing to come together to solve big problems, seem to have lost faith in their ability to do so. A political system that expects failure doesn’t try very hard to produce anything else.” That’s us today — our entire political system is guilty of the “soft bigotry of low expectations” for ourselves.
I raise this now because it strikes me as crazy that one of the obvious solutions to our budget, energy and environmental problems — the one that would be the least painful and have the best long-term impact (a carbon tax) — is off the table. Meanwhile, the solution that is as dumb as the day is long — a budget sequester that slashes spending indiscriminately — is on the table.
Shrinking the tax deduction for charity is on the table. Shrinking Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid for the poor are on the table. But a carbon tax that could close the deficit and clean the air, weaken petro-dictators, strengthen the dollar, drive clean-tech innovation and still leave some money to lower corporate and income taxes is off the table. So the solutions that are lose-lose and divisive are on the table, while the solution that is win-win-win-win-win — and has both liberal and conservative supporters — is off the table.
Writing in this newspaper in support of a carbon tax back in 2007, N. Gregory Mankiw, the Harvard economist, who was a senior adviser to President George W. Bush and to Mitt Romney, argued that “the idea of using taxes to fix problems, rather than merely raise government revenue, has a long history.
The British economist Arthur Pigou advocated such corrective taxes to deal with pollution in the early 20th century. In his honor, economics textbooks now call them ‘Pigovian taxes.’ Using a Pigovian tax to address global warming is also an old idea.
… Those vying for elected office, however, are reluctant to sign on to this agenda. Their political consultants are no fans of taxes, Pigovian or otherwise.
Republican consultants advise using the word ‘tax’ only if followed immediately by the word ‘cut.’
Democratic consultants recommend the word ‘tax’ be followed by ‘on the rich.’ ”
Yes, to win passage of any carbon tax, Republicans would insist that it be revenue neutral — to be offset entirely by cuts in corporate taxes and taxes on personal income. But maybe they could be persuaded otherwise.
In an ideal world, you would have 45 percent go to pay down the deficit so that we don’t have to cut entitlements as much — appealing to liberals and greens — and have 45 percent go to reducing corporate and income taxes — to encourage work and investment and appeal to conservatives. The remaining 10 percent could be rebated to low-income households for whom such a tax would be a burden.
According to the Center for Climate and Electricity Policy at the nonpartisan Resources for the Future, a tax of $25 per ton of carbon-dioxide emitted — through the combustion of fossil fuels used in electricity production, commercial and residential heating and transportation — “would raise approximately $125 billion annually.” This $125 billion “could allow federal personal income tax reductions of about 15 percent or corporate income tax reductions of about 70 percent, if all carbon tax revenues were used to replace current tax revenues. Alternatively, the federal deficit could be reduced by approximately $1.25 trillion over 10 years” — roughly what we are trying to do through the foolish sequester. Such a tax would add about 21 cents per gallon of gasoline and about 1.2 cents per kilowatt-hour of electricity. It could be phased in gradually as the economy improves.
Experts believe that the mere signal of a carbon tax would get companies to become more energy efficient. And that’s the point. As part of any grand bargain — which will have to include spending cuts and tax increases — introducing a carbon tax into the mix makes all kinds of options easier and smarter.
Alas, right now both sides are trying to inflict maximum pain on the other, rather than framing the debate as: “Here’s the world we’re living in; here’s what we need to thrive; and, if we cut and tax here, we can invest in these 21st-century growth engines over here.” Our goal is not to balance the budget. It’s to make America great.
SO how come the best ideas are off the table? (Blessedly, Representative Henry Waxman, a Democrat of California, is now working to get some kind of carbon tax on the table.) Several reasons, argues Adam Garfinkle, editor of The American Interest and author of a smart new e-book, “Broken: American Political Dysfunction and What to Do About It.”
First, because our democracy today is perverted more than ever by deep-pocketed lobbies and oligopolies. So, “in order to get and stay elected today, you have to raise huge sums of money from corporations, wealthy individuals and dues-laden unions,” Garfinkle notes, and all that money leads to “twisted decision-making at the high-politics level” and “regulatory capture” at the bureaucratic-administrative level.
The fossil fuel, auto and power companies have bought a lot of politicians to block a carbon tax.
The only way around them, argues Garfinkle, would be for leaders to galvanize the public, but that requires building “governing coalitions” in the center rather than “political coalitions” that can get you elected but little else after that. Obama is belatedly trying to do that; the Republican Party hasn’t even tried. “This is what real leaders do,” said Garfinkle. “They change the conversation.” They don’t just read the polls; they shape the polls.
But we can’t put this all on lobbyists. It’s also our generation. “We’re the most self-indulgent generation in American history,” argues Garfinkle, always demanding more services than we’re ready to pay for. “Too many of us want to be unbound by broader social obligations, but the network of those obligations creates the moral ballast that makes good governance possible.”
As Nathan Gardels and Nicolas Berggruen note in their insightful book, “Intelligent Governance for the 21st Century: A Middle Way Between West and East,” we prefer a “Diet Coke culture — sweetness without calories, consumption without savings and safety nets without taxes.” No wonder anything hard or smart is off the table. We pushed it there.
While in Vienna Leaders of the UN meet to Glorify An Alliance of Civilizations, but are tripped by Mr. Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Prime Minister of Turkey, at the UN in New York there is talk about incitement as an impediment to understanding. Consequences of the Turkish medling are unclear.
At the UN in New York, Ambassador Ron Prosor of Israel,
Presents Remarks for Incitement Event
February 28, 2013
Ladies and gentlemen,
It is an honor and a privilege to welcome you to this important conference. This event is an extraordinary opportunity for us to meet in the halls of the United Nations – and share our collective insight on combating global incitement.
First and foremost, I would like to thank the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs for organizing this conference.
I’d especially like to thank Ambassador Dore Gold for leading our discussion this morning. Dore not only has nerves of steel when it comes to diplomacy, but also a gold standard when it comes to peace and justice.
I’d also like to welcome Yossi Kuperwasser, Director-General of Israel’s Ministry of Strategic Affairs, who is not only a great strategist, but also a dear friend.
Finally, I’d like to welcome Ambassador Alan Baker. As his name implies, Alan has a true gift for baking the right amount of charm and legal thinking to form the perfect recipe for diplomacy.
Ladies and gentlemen,
64 years ago, the United Nations ratified the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. The convention was written with the horrors of the Holocaust still fresh in the mind of the international community. One of the Convention’s key provisions made it a crime to “directly and publicly incite” to commit genocide.
Last August, Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad went on public television and insisted that (and I quote), “the very existence of the Zionist regime is…an affront to all world nations.” He called on “all human communities to wipe out the Zionist regime from the forehead of humanity.”
One does not need the analytical skills of a literature professor to detect the incitement to violence in these statements.
Yet, in the face of this explicit cry to destroy a UN member state, the UN barely said anything. And most of the world did not even utter a single word.
Their silence is deafening. And it is because of that silence that we are here this morning.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Terrorism does not begin with an attack on a bus or a raid on a village. That is how terrorism ends.
Terrorism begins when its perpetrators are indoctrinated with words and thoughts of hate.
It begins when prominent sheikhs claim that that it is a “sacred duty” to slaughter Christians – and that it is “not a taboo” to rape Christian women.
It begins when Ayatollah Abdollah Javadi-Amoli, a cleric based in Iran, tells his students that homosexuals are subhuman, inferior to even dogs and pigs.
It begins when people like Maulana Fazlur Rehman, a prominent Pakistani imam, tells his thousands of viewers on public television, (and I quote), “When the Jews are wiped out, the world will be purified, and the sun of peace will begin to rise.”
This is the kind of incitement that is poisoning the hearts and minds of the next generation, day in and day out. In classrooms, textbooks, and houses of worship across the globe, children are being taught hate instead of peace; violence instead of tolerance; and martyrdom instead of mutual understanding.
As technology evolves, so does the threat of incitement. Twenty years ago, Hutus in Rwanda used radio stations to label Tutsis “cockroaches” – and identify individual Tutsis to be publicly slaughtered.
Today, as we speak, Al Qaida splinter groups are publicizing terror attacks on Twitter – and turning their perpetrators into jihadi celebrities.
In the new millennium, we face a new frontier of terrorism. Extremist groups have exploited the internet and viral videos to spread the virus of incitement.
Yet, while our enemies have embraced the technology of the future, our thinking about terrorism remains mired in the past.
Contrary to conventional wisdom, counter-terrorism does not just mean combating terrorists wherever they seek to strike. It does not just mean dismantling terrorist infrastructure – and going after those who finance and support it.
True counter-terrorism means disrupting the ecosystem of extremism in which terror thrives. It means advancing education that teaches coexistence and peace. It means speaking out against clerics who preach bigotry and intolerance, even when it is politically inconvenient.
And most importantly, it means recognizing the danger inherent in simple statements of prejudice. In the right hands, these words can be as dangerous as a sword or a suicide belt. The Jewish people know all too well that before a nation is dehumanized by the barrel of a gun, they are dehumanized by words and thoughts of hate.
Just as the international community has an obligation to bring terrorists to justice, it must also pursue those who build the foundations of terror by teaching children to detest and despise.
We have already lost an entire generation to incitement. Today, those of us here proclaim, loudly and clearly, that we cannot afford to lose another.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Israel knows full well how indoctrination can poison the well for peace.
Just south of Israel’s border, in Gaza, the Hamas government has created an atmosphere of extremism that vilifies Israelis and Jews to the next generation.
Gaza Kindergarten graduations feature “terrorist dress-up,” where five-year olds stage plays that glorify jihadists and suicide bombers.
Families in Gaza watch public television sermons featuring Hamas ministers like ‘Atallah Abu Al-Subh, who recently claimed that (and I quote) “the Jews are the most despicable and contemptible nation to crawl upon the face of the Earth.”
Incitement is no less prevalent under Abbas in the West Bank as it is under Hamas in Gaza. Under the PA, students learn history from textbooks that glorify terrorists – and learn geography from atlases that erase Israel from the map.
Sports facilities, streets, and public buildings are named after terrorists, such as Dalal Mughrabi, a woman who led an attack on a bus that killed 38 Israeli civilians – including 13 children.
Imagine if the Norwegian government named a playground after Anders Breivik – or if the US named a park after Charles Manson.
What kind of message would it send to the children who play there?
Official PA television—the PA’s PBS—airs programs that feature children as young as six reciting anti-Semitic and violent poems. Just months ago, for example, a little girl recited a poem that claimed, (and I quote) “[Christians and Jews] are inferior, cowardly, and despised.” Three days earlier, on a different program, another young girl insisted that (and I quote), “Our wars are for the Al Aqsa Mosque, and our enemy, Zion, is a Satan with a tail.”
This is apparently what passes for “educational television” under the Palestinian Authority.
From cradles to kindergarten classrooms; from the grounds of summer camps to the stands of football stadiums, messages of extremism are everywhere in Palestinian society.
In the international community, there is no shortage of individuals to lecture Israel about what it must do for peace. Yet these same “human rights advocates” stutter, mumble and lose their voices when it comes to criticizing Palestinian incitement.
Ignoring words and thoughts of hate does no favors to the Palestinian people. It does no favors to families who seek to build better lives for themselves and their children. And, perhaps most importantly, it does no favors to Palestinian leaders who advance the language of peace instead of the dogmas of hate.
Laying the groundwork for a stable peace in our region will not happen overnight. But those who would like to foster better relations between Israelis and Palestinians must start by speaking out against incitement in Palestinian society. The next generation—both Israeli and Palestinian—deserve no less.
Ladies and gentlemen,
An ancient Jewish proverb teaches (and I quote):
(in English – Death and life are in the power of the tongue.)
or “The instruments of both death and life are in the power of the tongue.”
We have clearly seen how extremists use words to create a culture of death. It is now time for those of us in this room to create a testament to life.
Lies, myths, and half-truths assume a life of their own if they go unchallenged. Their repetition is like Chinese water torture. Drop after drop, ideas that were once considered unthinkable become mainstream. All of us have a responsibility to publicly and vocally challenge these statements.
Today, we commit ourselves to speaking out against incitement.
Today, we proclaim that the best weapons against words of hate and discord are words of tolerance and understanding.
Today, we insist that silence cannot be an option in the face of expressions of extremism across the globe.
For the only way to dismantle an ecosystem of terror is to show zero tolerance for the indoctrination that causes it to thrive.
I want to thank you all for joining us today. Together, let us combat incitement and bigotry in all its forms – and replace words of hate with words of coexistence, mutual understanding, and peace.
AT THE SAME TIME IN VIENNA:
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday, February 27, 2013, described Zionism as a “crime against humanity” on par with anti-Semitism and fascism.
Speaking in Vienna at a United Nations event devoted to dialogue between the West and Islam, Erdogan decried rising racism in Europe and the fact that many Muslims “who live in countries other than their own” often face harsh discrimination.
“We should be striving to better understand the culture and beliefs of others, but instead we see that people act based on prejudice and exclude others and despise them,” Erdogan said, according to a simultaneous translation provided by the UN. “And that is why it is necessary that we must consider — just like Zionism or anti-Semitism or fascism — Islamophobia as a crime against humanity.”
On February 27, 2013, speaking before a Vienna forum of the Alliance of Civilizations, Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan called Zionism, the movement founded in 1897 for Jewish self-determination, a “crime against humanity.” He likened Zionism to anti-Semitism, fascism, and Islamophobia.
The Turkish leader’s comments, made at the official opening of the fifth UN Alliance of Civilizations Global Forum, drew harsh criticism from UN Watch, a Geneva-based watchdog group monitoring anti-Israel bias and human rights abuses at the organization.
“Erdogan’s misuse of this global podium to incite hatred, and his resort to Ahmadinejad-style pronouncements appealing to the lowest common denominator in the Muslim world, will only strengthen the belief that his government is hewing to a confrontational stance, and fundamentally unwilling to end its four-year-old feud with Israel,” UN Watch said in a statement.
The group also criticized UN chief Ban Ki-moon — “who was present on the stage yet stayed silent” — for not condemning Erdogan’s remarks.
“We remind Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon that his predecessor Kofi Annan recognized that the UN’s 1975 Zionism-is-racism resolution was an expression of anti-Semitism, and he welcomed its repeal,” the statement said.
UN General Assembly Resolution 3379, which was adopted by a vote of 72 to 35 (with 32 abstentions), stated that “Zionism is a form of racism and racial discrimination.” Due to US pressure, it was revoked in 1991.
AH! YES! This is crystal clear Anti-Zionism in the Islamic world is a form of Anti-Semitism which is blatant Racism. So, being a Muslim Turk that expresses an opinion that Anti-Zionism is OK because he says that Zionism is Racism means that he does not accept the notion that Jews are entitled to a piece of land like the Turks are entitled to a piece of land – P.M. Erdogan declares by saying this that he is a racist and as such has no business sitting at a meeting on tolerance. Having accepted him as a leader of this Alliance Of civilizations was thus a wrong move.
Sure, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon had to sit out that moment in order to express his rejection of the Erdogan statement – as did Rabbi Arthur Schneier and others present.
GENEVA, Feb. 28 – UN Watch expressed shock over anti-Jewish remarks delivered by Turkish prime minister Tayyip Erdogan at a UN summit for tolerance, and urged UN chief Ban Ki-moon — who was present on the stage yet stayed silent — to speak out and condemn the speech. The Geneva-based human rights group also called on Erdogan to apologize.
Speaking yesterday before a Vienna forum of the Alliance of Civilizations, a UN framework for West-Islam dialogue, Erodgan called Zionism, the movement founded in 1897 for Jewish self-determination, a “crime against humanity,” likening it with anti-Semitism, fascism, and Islamophobia. Click here for video (minute 8:00 to 8:30); click here for Turkish news report.
“We remind secretary-general Ban Ki-moon that his predecessor Kofi Annan recognized that the UN’s 1975 Zionism-is-racism resolution was an expression of anti-Semitism, and he hailed its repeal.”
UN Watch urged all members of the Alliance’s High Level Group — including Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Rabbi Arthur Schneier and Professor John Esposito — “to denounce remarks that fundamentally contradict the very purpose of a forum supposedly dedicated to mutual tolerance.”
“Erdogan’s misuse of this global podium to incite hatred, and his resort to Ahmandinejad-style pronouncements appealing to the lowest common denominator in the Muslim world,” said Neuer, ”will only strengthen the belief that his government is hewing to a confrontational stance, and fundamentally unwilling to end its four-year-old feud with Israel.”
Quotes of Erdogan’s Feb. 27, 2013 Speech to 5th UN Alliance of
Civilization Global Forum, from Turkey’s Hurriyet Daily News:
Civilization Global Forum, from Turkey’s Hurriyet Daily News:
“In a similar fashion, I must state that rising racism in Europe is a serious problem for the Alliance of Civilizations Project,” Erdo?an said, adding that the “disrespectful” attitudes to Muslims in certain countries hurt consciences.
The new book by Gil Troy , coincidentally, describes US Ambassador to the UN, Former US Senator, Moynihan’s fight to remove one blotch of Anti-Semitism from the UN that Turkey‘s Prime Minister is trying to revive now. We covered the book release earlier, and now we must note that reviving the issue ahead of US Secretary of State John Kerry’s trip to the Middle East, starting with talks in Turkey, may be a sign that Mr. Erdogan wants to show the Arab world that he is more Arab then the Arab’s themselves – not a good sign for talks of any of the Middle East issues, and clearly no advantage to the Alliance of Civilizations understanding of tolerance, and as we will report further from our having been in Vienna for that meeting as well, not a good sign for the future of Turkey‘s intent to be considered as part of Europe as well.
Wednesday, January 30th, 2013
A Faceless Teenage Refugee Who Helped Ignite Syria’s War.
Bryan Denton for The New York Times
A boy now living in Jordan, who was part of a group whose arrest and torture helped start Syria’s uprising.
By KAREEM FAHIM and HWAIDA SAAD
Published: February 8, 2013
AMMAN, Jordan — In a listless border town, the teenager goes unnoticed, one of the hundreds of thousands of refugees who have fled the Syrian civil war, dashing across villages and farms to land in Jordan, just five miles from home.
But this young man carries a burden — maybe an honor, too — that almost no one else shares.
He knows that he and his friends helped start it all. They ignited an uprising.
It began simply enough, inspired not so much by political activism as by teenage rebellion against authority, and boredom. He watched his cousin spray-paint the wall of a school in the city of Dara’a with a short, impish challenge to President Bashar al-Assad, a trained ophthalmologist, about the spreading national revolts.
“It’s your turn, doctor,” the cousin wrote.
The opening episodes of the Arab uprisings are growing more distant, the memory of them clouded by fears about what the revolutions have wrought. In Egypt’s chaos, activists talk of a second revolution, and in Tunisia a political assassination this week has imperiled one of the region’s more hopeful transitions. Then there is Syria, where tens of thousands of people have been killed, hundreds of thousands have fled the country and the idea of the nation itself is disappearing amid cycles of sectarian bloodshed.
That war’s brutality has made it difficult to recall, let alone celebrate, the uprisings’ beginnings. After the graffiti, the teenager and his friends were arrested and tortured, setting off demonstrations that, looking back, were the first days of the civil war. Two years later, the boys remain mostly unknown, none celebrated like Mohamed Bouazizi, the fruit seller whose self-immolation started the Arab uprisings, or Khaled Said, the young man whose beating death at the hands of the Egyptian police helped start a movement for change.
Some of the boys from Dara’a are refugees, like the teenager in Jordan, now 17, who agreed, along with his father, to speak as long as his name was not revealed. They said they were protecting relatives left behind in Syria, but their reluctance also came from shame: the boy’s father had given him up to the police, to spare a second son, and the teenager informed on three of his friends to try to avoid the torture he suffered anyway.
Given all that has happened, to his family and his country, the teenager said he had no regrets. “Why should I? It’s good that it happened,” he said during a meeting arranged by other refugees from Dara’a. Speaking of Mr. Assad, he said, “We found out who he really is.”
It began with the graffiti.
The government, nervous as leaders were being toppled around the Arab world, reacted furiously to the slight, arresting the teenager and more than a dozen other boys and then torturing them for weeks.
The boy’s relatives, neighbors and hundreds of others in the city gathered for protests demanding the release of the boys. Security forces opened fire on the crowds. They calculated that zero tolerance would head off an escalation. They were wrong.
The details of the teenager’s story could not be independently corroborated, but its outlines matched accounts by a few of the other boys from Dara’a who have spoken about that period. Three former residents of the city, including two who lived in the same neighborhood as the teenager and his family, confirmed that he was among the boys arrested in March 2011.
Recounting those days, the teenager said he passed a sleepless night after his cousin’s acts of defiance. It was not just the graffiti: the cousin had set fire to a new police kiosk the same day in another act of lashing out. The teenager and his friends did not talk much about politics, but the language of dissent was everywhere on satellite television. Small protests had begun to flare in Damascus. “It was the right time,” the teenager said.
The next morning, he noticed intelligence agents at a school and had little doubt about why they were there. “We knew what we did,” he said.
Over the next few days, the police, the military and the military police roamed the city “day and night,” storming the homes of suspects. The teenager said he went into hiding. “I thought it would pass,” he said. But it did not.
When the police finally knocked on the family’s door, the officers threatened to take a different son. If the father gave up the teenager, the agents promised, he would be held for only a few days. The father complied and took his son to the local security headquarters. The boy started crying, and begging to be taken home. But the father left his son behind. “You are to blame for anything that happens to him,” his wife said when he returned home.
The abuse began as soon as the teenager arrived at a prison in the town of Suwayda, where he was beaten during his interrogations. “Are you the one who wrote it?” the interrogator asked, more a demand than a question.
The teenager said he dropped out of school when he was 8. “I don’t know how to write,” he told the interrogators for three days until, desperate for the abuse to stop, he confessed to spray-painting the phrase, though he had not. He also gave up the names of three other boys who were there that day. Within two weeks of the arrest, the father received a call to go to Dara’a Omari Mosque for a protest, in part to demand the release of the boys. About 10 people had already gathered there. The father said he and the other parents were convinced that if they did not protest, “they would have taken more children.” The demonstration grew, and soon he saw most everyone he knew in the city.
It is impossible to say how things might have turned out had the Assad government taken a more accommodating stance toward the protest. Activists from Dara’a still insist that the pressures could have been contained, compromises reached, even after years of violent repression. Any such hope quickly passed as the deaths began to mount.
“People became uncontrollable,” the father said.
Sometime after the protests in Dara’a started, the father heard that the boys would be freed. The teenager, unaware of the spreading revolt, said he was put on a minibus with other boys from Dara’a and sent home. When he arrived, his father said, “I didn’t recognize him.”
His son fled to Jordan about a year ago, where he spent his time looking for work as a day laborer, and dreaming about returning to fight the government in Syria.
About two months ago, he heard that his cousin who wrote the graffiti and somehow managed to avoid arrest had joined the rebels as a fighter — and had been killed.
A Coup at The UN Correspondents’ Association in New York – The Board found a way to set aside the Constitution and replace itself with a hand-picked slate and did not allow for alternatives. A UN body perfected method to dispose of Democracy. We have here an insider’s report.
Unimpressed by UN Press, As Regime Handpicks Successors, Arab Spring in Winter.
By Matthew Russell Lee
UNITED NATIONS, December 23, 2012 – One question raised by the Arab Spring is whether a dictatorship has ended, if the regime gets to handpick its successors while calling it reform or even, new blood.
While what will happen in Syria remains to be seen, along with the UN’s role, at the UN itself on Friday there was a microcosm seen.
From 4 to 5 pm in the Dag Hammarskjold Library Auditorium, the UN Correspondents Association executive committee called a vote to override the UNCA Constitution, ostensibly legitimating not holding elections as required by December 15.
They extended their terms into January, while saying they would not meet or take any action other than run the postponed election.
They have said that this postponement is to attract “new blood” into the UNCA leadership after a year that saw attempts at censorship and dis-accreditation, a decrease in meetings, briefings and advocacy, culminating in a loss of over 40% of the press corps’ space in the UN.
Immediately after the abruptly curtailed meeting, the executive committee unlocked their glassed-in announcement board and posted their candidates for each of the top six positions, complete with endorsements by the two outgoing officials.
The speed with which the nomination board was opened, filled and then locked again was witnessed by Inner City Press as it covered UN budget negotiations in an otherwise empty press area.
This floor of cubicles was a reduction, presented as temporarily, to what had long been the media’s space at the UN. Now there is further reduction, further atrophy and decay.
There is only one candidate for each position — North Korea style. Four of them would hold the same positions as in 2012. In UN-ese, this is ironically called a “clean” slate election, one with no opposition.
The outgoing treasurer, who got her employer Voice of America to ask the UN to dis-accredit the Press saying she had the support of her colleagues from Reuters and Agence France-Presse, has given her endorsement to a successor treasurer, who served as an executive committee member “at large” in 2012.
(The representative of a Voice of America affiliate has declared for an “at large” post, along with an examiner who refused to answer questions about what work he did for the Committee: this is what’s called new blood.)
The “colleague from Reuters,” previously viewed as president in waiting, has decided to remain slightly behind the throne as first vice president.
The outgoing president he advised has endorsed a successor, whose views of the year of censorship and documented dis-accreditation attempts are not yet known. In Yemen, Saleh-nominee Hadi has incrementally broken from the past. But this is the UN — so we’ll see.
Footnote: Launched on December 7, 2012, the Free UN Coalition for Access, FUNCA, has begun advocating not only on media space but more importantly, impartial accreditation, fair treatment and freedom of information.
We think that this latter point is of highest importance. The UN ought to allow access to Press Conferences to the new forms of Media – the so called Social Media, the NGO connected Media and even Government officially sponsored Media.
This will bring in those that know the topics being presented and posses the most read outlets. In most cases outlets that are run as not-for-profit and do not hide behind fake fronts.
The UN accreditation system, in co-huts with the big papers of the old media, neither want to let in political opponents (the UN Member States on the record) nor free wheeling investigative social media (the old established but dying papers that struggle to create their own internet outlets).
Matthew Lee, our contact on these matters, has quitr a few points in his favor when he investigates above.
Egyptian Dissident Begins Peace Mission to Israel. Maikel Nabil is a Tahrir Square hero, a formerly imprisoned for 3 years because of Human Rights advocacy and campaigner for Peace with Israel, he was released after 10 months thanks to an international uproar in his favor.
GENEVA, Dec. 22 – As reported this weekend by the New York Times, Maikel Nabil, one of Egypt’s most famous human rights dissidents and democracy bloggers—a former political prisoner who is also his country’s most outspoken supporter of peace with Israel—has arrived in Jerusalem on a peace-building mission, where he will deliver university lectures, meet with leading public figures and peace activists, and visit the Palestinian territories.
Mr. Nabil’s trip is organized by UN Watch, a Geneva-based non-governmental organization that works at the United Nations to promote universal human rights and Arab-Israeli peace. Founded in 1993, UN Watch is headed by Alfred H. Moses, a distinguished attorney who served under U.S. President Bill Clinton as ambassador to Romania and Special Presidential Emissary for the Cyprus Conflict.
“UN Watch is honored to facilitate Maikel’s peace-building mission, which couldn’t come at a more crucial time for the region,” said executive director Hillel Neuer.
“After years of calling for peace,” said Mr. Nabil, “I have realized that practicing peace is more important than talking. My visit is a message from the Egyptian peace community that we have had enough violence and confrontation and we want this to end.”
Neuer called Mr. Nabil “a brave student who sacrificed his freedom—and almost his life—for the cause of democracy, tolerance and peace between Arabs and Israelis. He is a true hero who inspires hope around the world, a role model for young people who want to advance peace and human rights.”
Mr. Nabil was a key figure in Egypt’s Tahrir Square revolution. He was convicted for the crime of “insulting the Egyptian army” and thrown into prison with a three-year sentence.
In jail, Mr. Nabil was subjected to beatings, torture and abuse. Ten months later, on January 24, 2012, after a “Free Maikel” Twitter campaign captured the support of millions worldwide, and after his 130-day hunger strike, Mr. Nabil was released.
In a Times of Israel article announcing his trip, Mr. Nabil highlighted his special relationship with UN Watch.
“UN Watch,” he said, “the human rights organization based in Geneva, played a role in defending my freedom when I was imprisoned in Egypt last year for 10 months for defending human rights. Its director, Hillel Neuer, is known for his scathing attacks on dictatorships in the UN Human Rights Council. He is a very brave person, and a good friend, said Mr. Nabil.
UN Watch led a campaign of thirty human rights groups and actvists for Nabil’s release, petitioning top UN officials and the Egyptian government, sparking wide coverage in the Egyptian and international press, including Le Monde.
Law professor and human rights advocate Irwin Cotler, a Canadian MP and board member of UN Watch, was Mr. Nabil’s international legal counsel.
Shortly after his release, UN Watch brought Nabil to testify before the United Nations Human Rights Council, where he slammed Egypt’s regime.
Nabil also headlined the 2012 Geneva Summit for Human Rights, organized by UN Watch with 20 other human rights NGOs. Click here for video.
or Geneva Summit for Human Rights, March 2012.
From his report: — “Today I visited Rabin’s grave. My total respect to a leader who gave his life for us to live in Peace.” - Maikel Nabil, Egyptian dissident, Dec. 21, 2012.
Amazingly, it took 40 years since the Stockholm 1972 Conference on the Human Environment to make finally UNEP into a Global Organization – a home for all of Humanity – all UN Member States and complete Non-Governmental participation as well.
Now the questions are – will UNEP speak for Science and the Global Environment rather then bow, as until now, to the few leading Member States interested in keeping it low and far?
Back in 1972 it was sent off to far away Nairobi so it would not impact the ongoing in New York or Geneva. The result was indeed that the Environment continued to be left out from discussions of the Development and Social Agendas.
The UN celebrates now: “United Nations Environment Programme Upgraded to Universal Membership Following Rio+20″ and that is not funny. They also say now:
Will ECOSOC – the Economic and Social Council – be allowed now to embrace this newly empowered UNEP and be upgraded to a body that is UNIVERSAL as well, and deals with Sustainability including all three legs of SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT – the Environment, Social Development and Economic Development? This at a time that sees the closing of the useless Commission – the UN CSD?
Will the new UNEP be charged to promote SUSTAINABLE ENERGY in the UN effort to provide Energy-4-All, the post RIO+20 other effort that will have its hub in Vienna? Sustainable Energy and the Global Environment are the twin pillars that will hold our arch to Future Generations.
Entrepreneurship as a driver of Development in the new Millennium is the topic of a first resolution of its kind adopted by the UN, and in another first it was submitted by Israel at the head of 98 co-sponsors. The Arab States opposed the resolution because it was spearheaded by Israel and one wonders how it is that Qatar hosted the Doha Conference that was tasked to develop a better future for the planet. Will the Arab Spring be deprived of growth, because of a clash of intransigence? Growth comes from renewal and hope.
Without having to say that Israel is right, it is very clear that the UN is all wrong when it comes to Israel, and this provocation ought to be a warning that the UN General Assembly and all UN Agencies, should be by-passed when a real attempt at Peace will be initiated on the basis of an initial three States structures.
Hypocrisy at the UN – 2012 edition:
Non Democratic States oppose “country-specific” resolutions — and then adopt 21 such resolutions aimed at Israel.
Numerous U.N. country delegates gave impassioned speeches Tuesday November 27th objecting to resolutions criticizing the murderous regimes of Iran, North Korea and Syria, saying they rejected the very notion of singling out countries.
Right after that they proceeded to adopt a resolution — which many of them co-sponsored — singling out Israel.
According to a UN Watch report, featured on Canadian TV and now all over Facebook, there will be a total of 21 such one-sided resolutions targeting the Jewish state in this session of the U.N. General Assembly — and only 4 on the rest of the world combined.
Here were the objections supposedly made in the name of high principle, from the U.N.’s Nov. 27, 2012 debate:
Yet right after they opposed action on Iran, Syria, and North Korea, all of their principled objections to “country-specific” measures, “politicization,” and “selectivity” quickly went out the door.
Instead, each of the countries listed above went on to vote and adopt a U.N. resolution slamming Israel for alleged actions that “severely impede the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination.”
Suddenly, Belarus and Venezuela declined to ask the U.N. to engage in any “dialogue” with the country concerned.
Needless to say, there will be no U.N. resolutions this session supporting the Jewish right to self-determination, nor that of the Kurds, Tibetans, Basques or Baluchis.
Those who truly care for the noble principles of the U.N. Charter — namely, its guarantee of equal treatment to all nations large and small — should be decrying this perversion of justice.
That is exactly what the government of Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper has done, time and again, while no foreign minister in the world has been more outspoken this year against U.N. wrongdoing than Canada’s John Baird. When it comes to moral clarity at the U.N., follow the North Star.
Tragically at the U.N., however, too many delegates follow the herd, the largest vote-trading blocs, and the largest oil-producers, no matter how many tyrants and mass murderers among them. They choose to go along to get along.