Syria: The tragic space between the unacceptable and the impossible
The Houla Massacre of a week ago in several small Muslim villages near the Syrian city of Homs underscores the tragic circumstances of a civilian vulnerability to brutal violence of a criminal government.
Most of the 108 civilians who died in Houla were executed at close range in cold blood, over 50 of whom were children under the age of 10. It is no wonder that the Houla Massacre is being called 'a tipping point' in the global response to Syrian violence that started over 15 months ago.
The chilling nature of this vicious attack upon the most innocent among us, young children, seems like a point of no return. What happened in Houla, although still contested, seems confirmed as the mainly the work of the Shabiha, the notorious militia of thugs employed by Damascus to deal cruelly with opposition forces and their supposed supporters.
This massacre also represents a crude rebuff of UN diplomacy, and the ceasefire its 280 unarmed observers were monitoring since it was put into effect on April 12. In this regard the events in Houla reinforced the impression that the Assad regime was increasingly relying on tactics of depraved criminality and state terror to destroy the movement that has been mounted against it. Such defiance also challenged the UN and the international community to do more when confronted by such evil, or face being further discredited as inept and irrelevant.
Tragedy or tipping point?
But is not the Syrian situation better understood as a 'tragic predicament' rather than presented as a tipping point that is raising false expectation that external initiatives can somehow redeem the situation? What kind of hitherto unimaginable action plan undertaken by the UN or NATO could hope to stop the violence and change the governing structure of Syria for the better?
There has long existed an international consensus that the Syrian response to a popular uprising should be effectively repudiated, but this awareness was coupled with a growing realisation that there were no good options. Even those who supported the Annan Plan in the UN acknowledged from its inception that it was a desperate last resort with almost no chance of succeeding. Cynics claimed that it was accepted by Assad to gain time, and mute outside pressures.
There was a widely shared sentiment at the UN that it was unacceptable to stand back and watch further crimes against humanity take place, something must be done, but what? Remembering the awful failure of the world to stop the genocide in Rwanda in 1994 or the massacres in Srebrenica in 1995, there existed the feeling that the developments in Syria were building up to a comparable humanitarian catastrophe, already more than 10,000 Syrians had died, that must somehow be stopped.
A scarcity of viable solutions
Diplomacy had been arduously pursued since the outset, originally by Turkey, then the Arab League, and finally by Kofi Annan, the Envoy of the UN Secretary General, each phase with a seeming receptivity in Damascus but clearly without noticeable effects on its violent tactics.
The parties, including Bashar al-Assad sweet talked international emissaries,
announced their willingness to stop the killing and other abuses, and even accepted monitoring arrangements, but then before the negotiators had even left the country the two sides resumed their brutal combat as if nothing had happened, and for this, the opposition led by the Syrian Free Army deserves a share of the blame. In effect, diplomacy has been given multiple chances, and continues to be put forward as the only way to make a difference in the conflict, and yet it clearly lacks the capacity to stop the bloodshed and suspend the political struggle for control of the Syrian state.
This naturally turns our attention to more coercive options. Russia has been blamed for preventing stronger action being endorsed by the UN Security Council. Indeed Russia has used its veto to block such initiatives as the imposition of an arms embargo or sanctions on Syria, and is under great pressure to join the current buildup of support for the exertion of increased outside pressure. Amnesty International, for instance, has issued an appeal to the Security Council to call upon the International Criminal Court to issue indictments against the Syrian leadership for their role in the commission of severe crimes against humanity, culminating in the Houla Massacre.
Making matters worse
Military intervention has been strongly advocated for several months by some irresponsibly belligerent political figures in the United States, most notably by John McCain, but there seems little appetite for such a military undertaking even at the Pentagon, and certainly not according to the court of public opinion. Also Syria has no substantial coveted oil reserves. The logistics and politics surrounding such a proposed intervention in Syria make it an unrealistic option. There is not the political will to mount the sort of major military operation on the ground that would combine regime change with an enforced stability until normalcy could be established by a new national leadership.
Unlike Libya where NATO's reliance on air power turned the tide decisively, if destructively, in favour of rebel forces, this scenario is viewed as not workable in Syria where there continues to exist more public support for the regime and more substantial military and paramilitary resources at its disposal, especially if it continues to receive assistance from Iran. All in all, the military option would likely make matters worse for the Syrian people, increasing the magnitude of internal violence without having the effect of bringing the conflict to a desirable end.
The dilemma exposes the weakness of empathetic geopolitics in a world that continues to be dominated by territorially supreme sovereign states. In the Syria situation this tragic reality is revealed in all its horror. It is unacceptable in a media wired world where events are reported visually almost as they are occurring, or immediately thereafter, there is no way to avert the gaze of the outside world.
It is morally unacceptable to stand by, watch, and do nothing. But the UN lacks the authority and capability to impose the collective will of international society except when it can mobilise an effective geopolitical consensus as it did in Libya (but by way of deceiving Russia and China as to the scope of the response contemplated by the authorization of force in March of 2011). For reasons explained above, plus the lingering resentment due to the Libyan deception on the part of Russia and China, there has not emerged a geopolitical consensus favouring military intervention, and none is likely. Just as doing nothing is unacceptable, mounting a military intervention is unrealistic, and hence, impossible.
Does a solution exist?
What is left to fill the gap between the unacceptable and the unrealistic is diplomacy, which has proved to be futile to this point, but hanging on to the slim possibility that it might yet somehow produce positive results, is the only conceivable way forward with respect to the Syrian situation. It is easy to deride Kofi Annan and the frustrations arising from the repeated failures of Damascus to comply with the agreed framework, but it remains impossible to find preferable alternatives.
If diplomacy is finally admitted to be a deadend as seems so likely it raises serious questions as to whether in a globalising world the absence of stronger global institutions of a democratic character is not a fatal flaw. Moral awareness without the political capacity to act responsively points up a desperate need for global reform, but the grossly unequal distributions of power and wealth in the world makes such adjustments impossible to make within the foreseeable future. And so the peoples of the world go on living in this tragic space between the unacceptable and the impossible. It will take a miracle to close this gap!
Can Turkey balance Iran?
In June 2011 and a few days before the national elections, I attended a workshop in one of Turkey's top universities, the Middle East Technical University in Ankara. The topic was Iran's nuclear programme and Turkey's management of the crisis. Among the participants were a few bureaucrats from the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs and some prominent Turkish academics.
All but an American academic spoke approvingly of Turkish Foreign Affairs Minister Ahmet Davutoglu's initiative of the Nuclear Fuel Swap Deal signed a year ago. The main speaker, an influential Turkish academic, even claimed that the deal was the best course of action ever taken to solve the crisis - but the world, he added, missed it. In reaction to the American academic's doubts, the professor confidently asserted that without Turkey the crisis could not be solved.
We were in the midst of the Arab Spring and it was obvious that the Turkish leadership was entertaining the idea that Turkey could be a model for the Arab World.
I was puzzled. How could the Turkish leaders live with two contradictions the Arab Spring uncovered? First, Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Ahmet Davutoglu had long befriended unpopular Arab rulers, but at the same time managed to polish their images among the Arab masses.
Once the protests broke out in Egypt, however, Erdogan and Davutoglu immediately distanced themselves from Hosni Mubarak. It was a smart move. But, with Bashar al-Assad, the duo were extremely patient. It took longer, but Erdogan and Davutoglu eventually did the same with Assad.
After the Arab Spring Davutoglu changed his visionary guiding principle in foreign policymaking. Now "zero problems with the neighbours" would guide Turkish foreign policy. The Turkish leadership thus solved the first contradiction.
The other contradiction is more serious and yet to be solved. The Turkish leaders have also tried to befriend the Gulf Arabs and the Iranians at the same time. For example, Turkey and the Gulf States frequently exchanged high-level visits in the 2000s. After 40 years, for example, a Saudi King visited Turkey, in fact twice. Turkey increased its exports to the region and was declared to be a strategic partner of the GCC.
Rapprochement with the GCC Arab States did not deter the Turkish leadership from developing closer ties with Iran. Turkey in fact did more than that. For Iran's sake Turkey put at great risk its strategic interests with the United States, the European Union, Israel - and not to mention the Arab World - by engineering the Nuclear Fuel Swap Deal. One month after the deal, Turkey also voted against further UN sanctions on Iran as a non-permanent member of the Security Council.
Is it pure self-interest? In large part, yes. For Turkey, Iran is simply more important than the GCC as a market. Since coming to power, Erdogan and his team have tried hard to open up the Iranian market to the Turkish companies and made decent progress. Trade volume between the two countries increased from $1.25 billion in 2003 to $16 billion in 2011. Erdogan set even a higher number, $30 billion, as a benchmark to be realised in the near future.
On the other hand, the total trade between Turkey and the whole Gulf States is around $11 billion in 2011. Even though Turkey may hope to increase that number in the near future, I am sure, they are realistic about the full potential: Turkey faces tough competition from American, European, and Far East Asian companies and does not get favourable treatment.
Iran is critical to Turkey for other reasons. First, in order to fight effectively the re-strengthening Kurdish terror organisation, the PKK, Turkey must closely work with Iran. Even Iran's inaction is going to trouble the Turkish military. Second, Turkey aims to become a regional energy hub or at least an energy transit country. Iran figures in most, if not all scenarios, for the successful realisation of that aim.
There is also a domestic constraint. The policy of balancing Iran is going to be an extremely hard sell. Even though for quite different reasons all but few societal groups will object to such a balancing.
First, the Kemalists will object to it because such a positioning will involve Turkey unnecessarily with the problems of the Middle East. This will constitute a radical departure from Mustafa Kemal Ataturk's isolationist, independent and peaceful foreign policy.
The ultra-Nationalists, the Leftists and the Socialists will join forces with the Kemalists, not because they are isolationists, but because they are anti-US and anti-Israel. In fact, these groups have long already accused Erdogan and Davutoglu of following too pro-American and pro-Israel policy. So far, their campaign did not seem to persuade the ordinary folks. But, any anti-Iran foreign policy orientation will give credit to their accusations and make these groups even more vocal in their criticisms.
There are other societal groups, who will object to such an anti-Iran orientation. First, there are those Turkish Political Islamists, who get more inspiration from Iran than Saudi Arabia or any other Arab state. These groups constitute one part of the JDP constituency and may shift alliance if Erdogan and Davutoglu appear too anti-Iran. Some of them are already critical of Erdogan and Davutoglu for not cutting all ties with Israel despite Erdogan's fiery rhetoric about Israel.
Second, even anti-Iran religious groups will object to such a re-orientation of Turkish foreign policy. It is not because of their sympathy for Saudi Arabia. Most religious groups in Turkey have strong Sufi orientations and find Wahhabism or Salafism extremely disturbing. These groups, which in fact constitute the overwhelming majority of religious groups in Turkey, will raise strong objections to Turkey taking any side between Iran and the Arab states. In fact, the religious leader of the most influential religious group, Fethullah Gulen, repeatedly warned the JDP leadership of such an adventure.
Finally, most Turks who do not belong to any of these groups are generally very apathetic about the developments in the Arab world. They have quite a simple understanding of the international politics of the Middle East, viewing most Arab regimes as simple puppets of the United States. On the other hand, Iran is, in their view, a proud country standing against the bullies, the United States and Israel. Erdogan and Davutoglu have so far successfully appealed to the ordinary folks' nationalistic impulses, but a strong-anti Iran position might discredit the duo's future appeals.
In short, Turkey is not going to play any balancing role in the epic battle between Iran and the GCC countries. Simply, Iran is too important and most, if not all, Turks will object to such an adventurous foreign policy.
The US learns little from itselfBy:Shahab Jafry
How vested interests trump everything good
Few in Arabia talk about the so-called Arab Spring anymore. In Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and especially Syria, what the western press recently romanticised as revolution has in fact turned out a sweeping victory for the Islamic far right, carefully funded and pushed through by a fast growing Saudi-Qatari alliance within the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). It has been interesting, though, to note how conveniently Washington has greenlighted Al-Qaeda linked jihadi influence in the wake of the Spring, despite its experiences in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan.
John Kerry’s recent visit to the Middle East only confirmed suspicion that the US will influence arms transfer to Syria to the benefit of the rebel army battling President Bashar al Assad’s forces. He made a point of stressing that such shipments would not fall into the hands of the jabhat al Nusra, the Al-Qaeda affiliate also fighting the government. He also said, as did his Saudi, Qatari and Turkish counterparts, that the rebel Free Syrian Army (FSA) needed more arms to offset the increasing muscle of jabhat al Nusra. But nobody made any mention of just who was funding and arming Al-Qaeda associates across the region.
It is no secret, especially for the Pakistani audience, that almost all things Al-Qaeda are traced to the American-Saudi-Pakistani intelligence model that spawned the mujahideen of the Soviet jihad. Since then, these soldier clerics have spread via heavy funding from mostly Saudi based wahabis, whose madrassahs across Pakistan and Afghanistan produced the initial band of global jihadists that subsequently set up franchises across Asia, Arabia and Africa.
Their growing strength captured public attention after 9/11, hence the 12 years (so far) of the war on terror. But official US policy, of destroying Al-Qaeda whenever and wherever it relocates, is not matched by its actions, especially as radical jihadists have spread their influence in the Middle East, Maghreb and the Levant.
It became clear very early in the Spring, particularly in Tunisia and Egypt, that not just the semi-radical Islamic Brotherhood, but also Salafi proper groups would benefit the most from the fall of long standing, US-backed dictatorships. Arab regimes were built on long years of internal repression that did not allow the growth of a moderate political class, which is why varying shades of extreme Islam, nurtured on an ideology of politically motivated jihad, mobilised very quickly to fill vacuums.
For the record, Washington was wrongfooted till the uprisings reached Libya – Hillary called Hosni “practically family” till just a few days before his resignation. And it was not too hard to rally western opinion against “madman of the Middle East” Gaddafi, which is also when US-Saudi interests were increasingly aligned. Gaddafi sat atop light-sweet crude, among the finest quality oil on the planet. For the west, time was right to bring more of that wealth to its corporations, the Exxon Mobils of this world, while for Riyadh, dividing the whole region into Wahabi-Salafi proxies seemed within reach. So Washington conveniently turned a blind eye to Al-Qaeda militias funneled into Libya, funded by Saudi and Qatari petrodollars. It was not until Libya had been handed over to a puppet regime that the depth of Al-Qaeda infiltration started becoming clear.
But that did not stop a repeat performance in Syria, where the ruling Alawi regime – an offshoot of Shia Islam and strategic partner of Iran – was declared fair game in the drive to “liberate” the country. And once again the Sauds, aided by the Qatari royal family and Turkey’s ruling party, flushed the country with jihadists from across the world. Even the Pakistani tribal insurgency lost a bunch of precious Arab fighters to the Syrian cause, where they found US backed momentum far more to their liking than military action and drone bombardment in the AfPak region.
Now the Syrian civil war has entered its third year, turning the country into a proxy sectarian battle field, and threatening to spill over into the wider neighbourhood. For the US, Bashar’s fall will weaken Iran and Hezbollah, dealing the proverbial kiss of death to the long standing anti-Israeli resistance. And for the Saudis, it will counter Iran’s Shia allies, expanding the Wahabi kingdom’s sphere of influence. Yet sending more arms to aid the Syrian rebellion will invariably play into the hands of extremist Al-Qaeda forces, which are the most potent among anti-regime militias.
American and Saudi funded rebel training camps in Turkey and Jordan are reminiscent of the mujahideen camps on the Pak-Afghan border not long ago. In destroying the Middle East’s last Baathist dynastic dictatorship, Washington and its friends in Riyadh risk plunging the whole region into an expanded theatre of Al-Qaeda insurgency that will aim to hit Israel on one side, Iran on the other, and one which will not spare its Saudi patrons, who are, after all, American allies in the region. It will not be long before the Israelis understand the magnitude of the threat from Al-Qaeda just as it strengthens across the Golan Heights, and realises that for all its faults, the Assad regime was the lesser evil so far as Israeli interests were concerned. There will be no bigger proof of how little America learns from its own mistakes.
The writer is Middle East correspondent, Pakistan Today.
Obama’s blatant partiality
Rewards for Israel, threats for Iran, Syria and Hezbollah
Barack Obama’s first destination at the start of his second tenure was Israel. The US President was under fire during the election campaign for ignoring Israel. The powerful Israeli lobby in Washington is still pressurizing the administration to do more for Israel even if it implies further depriving the Palestinians of their rights. The visit was apparently aimed at reassuring the newly elected Benjamin Netanyahu who had supported Mitt Romney during the campaign that with Obama in power once again, Israel’s interests would be fully safeguarded. In what Netanyahu called a key development, the leaders announced new talks on extending US military assistance to Israel for another 10 years past the current agreement that expires in 2017.
Those who had hoped that the appointment of Chuck Hagel as Defence Secretary was reflective of a change in Obama administration’s policy towards the Middle East would be disappointed. Obama had nothing for Iran, Syria and Hezbollah except warnings and threats. For Israel were reserved approbation and rewards. The speech that Obama delivered before a youth gathering in Jerusalem was one part Zionist ideology and one part real talk, observed a British daily. While sharing Netanyahu’s concern about Iran’s nuclear activity, Obama endorsed Israel’s right to defend itself as it deemed fit. This was an encouragement to Israel’s aggressive designs. Obama has raised with Netanyahu the bogey of Syria’s chemical weapons. He has repeated warnings to the Syrian government to keep them off the battlefield and out of the hands of groups such as Hezbollah. On the issue of the illegal Israeli settlements Obama actually backtracked. During his first tenure he had required putting a freeze on the activity. This time he told the Palestinians not to make the issue a precondition for peace talks. This is in fact a hint to Israel to continue the activity.
Obama talked a lot about peace in the Middle East. The word actually occurs 22 times in the speech he delivered before the Israeli youth. But there was not a word about a new plan to bring Israelis and Palestinians to the negotiating table. Obama reiterated what he was doing for Israel, The security relationship between the two countries was never stronger, he observed. There were more exercises between the two militaries, more exchanges among their political, military and intelligence officials than ever before. The largest program to date to help Israel retain its qualitative military edge was already in place. Despite all the leverage that these measures provide it, Washington was not willing to put pressure on Israel to end the illegal settlements. Nothing was given to the Palestinians. They were however required to give concessions. This is thoroughly immoral.
The visit is likely to raise the anti-US sentiment in the Middle East. What is more, it would strengthen the extremists.
Pope’s call for dialogueMarch 24, 2013 .
Pope Francis I called upon the Roman Catholic Church to intensify its dialogue with Islam. This gesture is a welcome step from the Vatican, particularly because while talking of dialogue with various religions he especially saw the need to build bridges with the Muslim world. He referred to it as dialogue between one end of the world and the other while recognising the fact that both are growing closer and more interdependent than ever before.
The Muslim world should positively respond to this gesture especially positively. A hand extended in friendship must always be grasped with warmth. Pope Francis I while addressing foreign ambassadors made it clear that the links of friendship should be built. In his address he also condemned the spiritual poverty of the developed world and insisted on dialogue with atheists also. It is heartening to note that the first challenge the Pope has taken up to meet after his election to the high office is to encourage interaction and dialogue. The world today, rent asunder by extremism and misunderstood notions of religious struggle, is crying out for a healing hand. People instinctively are kind and understanding, but misinterpreted religious zeal can position one as the enemy of the other. Pope Francis has sent a message of peace, which other religions and spiritual leaders would do well to emulate and encourage in each of their communities for the safety and security of a better tomorrow.
Syrian crisis halts Persia’s influence
March 27, 2013
Abid Mustafa 0
Lately, Iran has made headline news in a variety of ways. The Jewish entity regards Iran as an existential threat, the West continues to fret over its nuclear programme, the Gulf Corporation Council (GCC) bitterly complains about Tehran's interference in Bahrain and Yemen, and Syrians blame Iranian forces for the slaughter of civilians. Yet, there is one piece of news that has only attracted a cursory mention and that is Iran's influence in the region is waning.
The Levant and Iraq is where Iran's influence is diminishing at a spectacular speed and eroding its ability to influence regional politics. The pivot for this transition is Syria. At the beginning of the revolution, Iran staunchly stood by its ally Assad. Tehran bolstered Syria's economy with enormous amounts of aid and strengthened Assad's forces with the elite Iranian commandoes to brutally suppress the uprising.
On October 1, 2012, The "Times" newspaper reported that Tehran had given $10 billion to prop up Assad and his floundering regime. The revelation clearly demonstrates the value Tehran places on supporting Assad, despite the huge economic toll of international sanctions against the Iranian people.
In the summer of 2012, Tehran struggled to keep a lid on its clandestine military activities in Syria, and eventually the activities of the Quds Force became so pronounced and widespread that Tehran finally acknowledged its military operations in the country.
In September 2012, the Iranian Revolutionary Guards commander, Brigadier General Mohammad Ali Jafari, said: "A number of Quds Force members are present in Syria and Lebanon.......we provide (these countries) with counsel and advice, and transfer experience to them."
As the Syrian jihadists draw near towards surrounding Damascus, Iran's billions of dollars and military assistance in propping up Assad appears insignificant - a wasted effort. Amongst Sunni jihadist, Iran has negligible influence and this is worrying the Iranian leadership, as it struggles to grapple with the situation. It is faced with a strategic choice whether to continue to embrace the Alawite faction and their militia, the Shabiha, after falling from power or to embrace the Sunni jihadists, who deeply despise the Iranian regime.
An article, entitled "Syria's Fate Hinges on Whom It Hates Most, US or Iran?", in Bloomberg on February 6, 2013, aptly summed up the strategic dilemma for Tehran as: “Thereafter Iran will face a strategic decision: whether to continue supporting a predominantly Alawite militia that represents only a small fraction of Syrian society or to engage the Sunni Islamists, who are poised to wield power in Damascus once Assad falls. Iran's leaders will try to embrace the Sunni radicals, and if that fails, they will work with the Shabiha to prevent the formation of a stable, anti-Iranian order in Syria.”
Equally troublesome for Iran is the spill over of Syria's instability into Lebanon and Hezbollah's precarious position. At the outset of the Arab Revolution, Iran's proxy Hezbollah and its surrogate leader Nasrallah publicly cheered the fall of autocratic rulers in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya, but openly supported Assad and sent armed men to suppress the Syrian people. The hypocritical stance of Hezbollah jeopardised its ability to garner support amongst the Lebanese populace, especially amongst the Sunnis.
Furthermore, the movement was despised by Syrians as aiding and abetting Assad against them, and this prompted the jihadists in Syria to openly warn Nasrallah of dire consequences should he continue to support Assad.
Subsequently, Hezbollah's power has weakened both at home and across the Arab world. A weaker Hezbollah also implies the weakening of Iranian influence in Lebanese politics.
The weakening of Hezbollah-Assad-Iranian axis has been dealt a further blow by the rising wave of protests in Iraq. Sunni dominated areas in Iraq are witnessing a late Arab Spring that is threatening Al-Malki's grip on Iraqi politics. Al-Malki, who has close relations with Tehran, is struggling to contain the Sunni hinterland after the Iraqi soldiers opened fire on unarmed civilians.
Between 2004 to 2008, the Iranian influence and power in Iraq was at its apex. It evoked King Abdullah to comment on the reach and magnitude of Iranian power by using the term Shia Crescent, which described Iranian influence stretching from Damascus to Tehran passing through Baghdad. The other side of the crescent passes through Bahrain, Eastern Saudi Arabia and Yemen. Today, the long reach of Iran is facing an existential threat in Syria, which surely spells the end of the Iranian efforts to create the Shia crescent and ends its ambitions to dominate the Middle East and its supplies of hydrocarbons.
Nonetheless, Iran is not the only loser in the political reconfiguration that will ensue in the aftermath of Assad's demise. The real loser is America. For the past four decades, America has secretly collaborated with Iran in a desperate bid to create a Shia Crescent that would eventually place oil away from the hands of Sunni despots into the hands of the Shia autocrats and mullahs, who, in turn, would be more loyal subjects to America than Sunnis. This also explains why America has been so reluctant to punish Iran over its interference in Lebanon, Iraq and Syria, even though Washington has had ample opportunity to chastise Tehran.
Similarly, America has gone out of it way to assuage Israeli concerns over Iran's nuclear programme. America knows full well that if Iran is subject to any sort of military attack, its influence that stretches from Yemen to Lebanon will fade. By doing so, America's capacity to fashion political solutions and maintain its hegemony in the region would be severely impaired. Brzezinski has warned about such consequences for America should it choose punish Iran. He said: "A war in the Middle East, in the present context, may last for years. High inflation, instability, insecurity.......probably, significant isolation for the United States in the world scene. In effect, the American taxpayer should be ready to pay $5 to $10 a gallon for the pleasure of having a war in the Strait of Hormuz."
Hence, America has little choice but to use Tehran to prop up Assad and hope that its long-term plan of using Iran to control the hydrocarbons of the Middle East via the Shia crescent remains intact.
The writer is a political commentator, who specialises is Muslim affairs and global issues.
Peace deal for Turkey
Turkey-Kurd rapprochement can be a model for Middle East with restive minorities
A call for peace announced by the jailed Kurdish leader Abdullah Ocalan on March 21 reverberated throughout the Middle East. The promised rapprochement between Kurdish rebels and the Turkish government may have set into motion what could be a game-changer in the Middle East. Syria, Iraq and Iran have significant Kurdish minorities concentrated in regions contiguous to one another. The nations have been targets of Kurdish irredentism and, at times, used the Kurdish card to Turkey’s detriment when mutual relations, as is the case today with Syria and Iran, have been tense.
An accord with the leading rebel group Kurdistan Workers’ Party, PKK, when combined with Ankara’s cozy relationship with the Kurdish autonomous region in Iraq will provide Ankara greater leverage with its neighbors to the south and east as well as remove a major blot on Turkey’s democratic record.
PKK supreme leader Ocalan’s statement on the Kurdish New Year, calling for an immediate end to PKK hostilities against the Turkish state and withdrawal of PKK fighters from Turkey to the Kandil Mountains by August was the result of painstaking negotiation underway at least since October.
By and large the Kurdish population has welcomed Ocalan’s announcement of a ceasefire, visible in the celebratory atmosphere in Diyarbakir, the unofficial Kurdish capital of Turkey, on New Year’s.
Ocalan’s statement appealed to several camps in Turkey: By explicitly abandoning the idea of a separate Kurdish state, Ocalan sought to set at rest the misgivings of Turkey’s ultranationalist and Kemalist segments. By harking back to the ideal of Turkish-Kurdish unity during their “1000-year-long coexistence in Anatolia under the flag of Islam based on brotherhood and solidarity,” Ocalan appealed to the Ottomanist sentiments of the ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) observant Muslim base.
The ball is now in Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s court. Erdoğan is arguably the most popular leader in Turkey since the legendary Ataturk. If any Turkish leader can sell a deal, which realistically must be based on a quasi-federal structure of the Turkish state while delinking Turkish identity from its current narrow ethnic definition, he can do it. Ending the Kurdish insurgency and putting an end to terrorism, would assure Erdoğan’s place as a great statesman in Turkish history.
By committing himself to implementing the deal with Ocalan, he will ensure support of the Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party, BDP, for a new constitution that would guarantee minority rights and redefine Turkish national identity, but at the same time establish a presidential style of government that he favors. AKP and BDP together have enough votes to pass a draft, even if the other two major parties in Parliament –Republican People’s Party, CHP, and Nationalist Action Party, MHP – oppose it. Such a draft when put to vote in a referendum will almost certainly pass, given the popular base of AKP in the country and the support of Turkey’s Kurds who form about one-fifth of the population.
More is at stake for Turkey on successful implementation of this agreement than a prime minister’s reputation. First, by incorporating the Kurdish minority into the body polity, Turkey would end discriminatory treatment of the Kurds by denial of their ethnic distinctiveness – all the more essential when Turkey is undergoing democratic consolidation.
Second, Turkey has faced increasing tensions with neighbors to the east and south – Syria, Iraq and Iran – especially since the outbreak of the Arab uprisings in early 2011.
While the Kurds in Syria and Iran continue to be restive and chafe under oppressive control of authoritarian governments, those in Iraq have carved out an autonomous region for themselves in the Kurdish north, thanks to the US 2003 invasion. Even so relations between Erbil, capital of the autonomous region, and Baghdad remain tense because of the acrimony over disputed regions, especially oil-rich Kirkuk, and distribution of oil income.
Turkey has acted not only as economic lifeline of the landlocked Iraqi Kurdish region, but also as its primary political supporter in disputes with the Shia-dominated government of Baghdad. Statistically, Turkey has become Iraq’s largest trading partner for the simple reason that 90 percent of northern Iraq’s trade is conducted with Turkey. Turkish companies in construction and other sectors have become ubiquitous in Iraqi Kurdistan. The close relationship between Turkey and the Kurdish Regional Government has helped immensely in convincing both Ankara and the Kurdish leadership in Turkey that beneficial relations between the two are not only possible but imperative.
Syria’s relations with Turkey deteriorated dramatically in the summer of 2011 when Ankara decided to throw its support behind the anti-Assad opposition and became principal base for the armed opposition as well as the chief conduit for the supply of weapons to insurgents within Syria. With the Syrian regime’s control shrinking, Damascus decided to pull its forces out of parts of northern Syria contiguous to Turkey populated by Kurds, in part to teach Turkey a lesson: The vacuum was largely filled by the Democratic Union Party, or PYD, the Syrian branch of the PKK considered hostile to Turkey.
From Ankara’s perspective, a deal with the Turkish PKK was essential to neutralize the threat of Syrian Kurdistan becoming a haven for PKK fighters similar to the Kandil Mountains in Iraqi Kurdistan. With KRG pressing PKK to give up its fight, it would have been convenient for the PKK fighters to move to PYD-controlled safe havens in Syria to continue attacks on Turkish targets.
Erdoğan’s deal with Ocalan, if implemented honestly and successfully, is likely to turn Syrian Kurdistan into a friendly entity much like Iraqi Kurdistan.
Tehran, though plagued by Kurdish separatism, has extended assistance and refuge to PKK fighters when its relations with Turkey have been tense. This was the case from 1979 to 2002, when the AKP came to power in Ankara and began improving relations with Iran for both economic and strategic reasons.
Turkey’s good relations with Iran were aided by the improvement in Ankara’s relations with Damascus, Iran’s principal Arab ally, during the past few years thanks to Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu’s policy of “zero problems with neighbors.” However, in 2011, Iran and Turkey split over Syria: Turkey supported the opposition to the Assad regime while Iran continued to be the regime’s principal supporter.
The Turkish decision to allow NATO to position an anti-missile defense system in southeastern Turkey aimed, despite Turkish denials, at Iranian missiles bound for Israel and other western targets, also hurt Iranian-Turkish relations. Consequently, it was reported that Iran was once again reviving support for PKK. A deal with Ocalan therefore indirectly strengthens Turkey’s hands against Iran as well as Syria – all the more essential as tensions between Iran and Turkey have increased in recent months over competing aims in Iraq. Iran supports Nouri al-Maliki’s Shia-dominated government, and Turkey supports Sunni Arab opponents of the Maliki government as well as acting as the patron-saint of the KRG in Erbil.
The Ocalan-Erdoğan deal, therefore, brings advantages to Turkey that go well beyond its borders. The devil is, of course, in the details about which not much is known so far. One hopes that the Turkish government acts with sagacity, indeed with magnanimity, when implementing the agreement even if some parts may not be palatable to ultranationalist hardliners. Acting otherwise will be shortsighted for nothing less than Turkey’s strategic future rides on successful implementation of this agreement.
The writer is University Distinguished Professor of International Relations, Michigan State University, and adjunct scholar with the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding. This article also appeared on YaleGlobal.
Kurds and Turks: End of war?
March 27, 2013
We are at a point today when the guns will fall silent and ideas will speak,” declared Abdullah Ocalan, leader of the Kurdish insurgency in Turkey, on March 21, 2013. “Turks and Kurds fought together (in the World War I), and launched the Turkish Parliament together in 1922. The basis of the new struggle consists of ideas, ideology and democratic politics.” And with that, he declared a cease-fire.
Ocalan has declared cease-fires before, but the Turkish government made no substantial concessions on Kurdish rights so the fighting resumed. Nor is “democratic politics” a phrase you would readily link to Abdullah Ocalan, who tolerates no dissent in the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), the organization he created thirty years ago to fight for independence from Turkey. But this time really may be different.
After three decades of low-level guerilla war in southeastern Turkey (about a thousand deaths a year), both sides have concluded that they cannot win: the Kurds cannot win their independence, and Turkey cannot crush the armed Kurdish resistance to its repressive rule. So Ocalan has stopped demanding independence and now talks about local self-government, Kurdish language rights, and an end to repression.
The other thing that’s different this time is that Ocalan has actually been talking to Turkey’s prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, since last October. Not face-to-face, of course, but Ocalan has been held prisoner on Imrali island, about two hours south of Istanbul, ever since Turkish agents captured him in Kenya in 1999, so it has been easy for Erdogan’s intelligence chief, Hakan Fidan, to go back and forth between the two men.
There is every reason to believe, therefore, that Ocalan’s cease-fire declaration, though apparently unilateral, was really coordinated between the two leaders. In which case the next steps that Ocalan promised — the release of prisoners by both sides and the withdrawal of the 3,000 PKK fighters in southeastern Turkey into the adjacent parts of northern Iraq — were presumably agreed in advance too.
This is not a process that will eventually lead to the emergence of an independent Kurdish state. That goal, promised to the Kurds by the victors at the end of the World War I, has been the dream of four generations of Kurds, but it is no closer than ever.
To bring all 30 million Kurds into a single, independent state would mean redrawing the borders of four major nations — Turkey, Iran, Iraq and Syria — and that is not going to happen. But Kurds already have full self-government (including a powerful army) in northern Iraq, and the Syrian Kurds have effectively thrown off Damascus’s rule in the east of that country, so a lesser Kurdish dream now seems almost within the realm of the possible.
That would be a large area, still divided by national borders but with free movement across them, where the Kurds of the whole region could live, work and teach their children in their own language. More than half that area would be in southeastern Turkey, so the deal that Ocalan and Erdogan may make, if things work out, is vital to this project.
There was never any real chance that a Kurdish state could be carved out of Turkey: the population in the southeast includes a large minority of Turks, and there are now millions of Kurds living in western Turkey (including an estimated three million in Istanbul). But Turkey is a democratic country, and full civil and language rights for Kurds would give them a very large say in how the Kurdish-majority parts of the country are run.
That is what is now on the table, and Ocalan seems content with it. Why would Prime Minister Erdogan (who quite recently said that he would have liked to see Ocalan executed) be interested in making the deal with the man?
Erdogan is currently trying to get a new constitution through Parliament. He has two major aims: To prevent future military coups, and to remove the anti-religious elements in the document that have restricted any political expression of Islam since the founding of the republic ninety years ago. He also wants to strengthen the presidency, now a largely ceremonial office, since he plans to run for president next year.
Ocalan has no objections to any of that. All he wants in a new constitution is full equality for the Kurds and their language. Since the new constitution requires a two-thirds majority in parliament, and Erdogan will not have that majority without the support of the main Kurdish party, the Peace and Democracy Party, both men can only get what they want if the deal goes through.
Long-lasting marriages have been built on less promising foundations. This time, at long last, Turkey may finally get around to recognizing the rights of the 20 percent of its people who speak Kurdish. If it does, a long war will end, Erdogan will gain enormous political credit — and a post-modern version of the traditional Kurdish dream will start to come to life. (Courtesy: Arab News)
‘United States of Muslims’
‘‘The revolution was effected before the war commenced. The revolution was in the minds and hearts of the people; a change in their religious sentiments of their duties and obligations. This radical change in the principles, opinions, sentiments, and affections of the people, was the real American revolution."
This was the view expressed by none other than John Adams - the first Vice-President in the history of the United States, later to be the country's second ever President - when looking back at the American revolution against British colonial subjugation. As one of only two US presidents to have signed the American Declaration of Independence in 1776, he remains a figure enshrined in US history as one of its political and ideological founding fathers instrumental in lying the foundation of the USA as it is today.
At a time when the Muslim world is up in flames, with cries of anguish echoing across Muslims from Syria to Burma and from Palestine to Kashmir, such a statement uttered two hundred years ago resonates louder today than it did to the newly created land of opportunities.
For the Muslim Ummah today has entered a new political era following the revolutionary Arab Spring. For decades dictators kept power firmly in their own hands are now shaken off their positions and tossed aside, bringing in new faces to represent the Muslims in much of the Middle East.
But the winds sweeping in this political transformation have not subsided and rather continue unabated, with each week bringing new paradigms to the equation. Despite monumental upheavals in key strategic Middle Eastern countries, such as Egypt and Libya, the desire for a reform reflective of their wants and aspirations remains unfulfilled.
Replacing of dictators with democrats, that supposedly now representative the views of the people, has in effect produced no change whatsoever in the actual political framework of these countries. The reality is that the establishment, mainly made up of the country's military figures and representatives of foreign powers - are still very much firmly in control.
Therefore the same pseudo-colonial policies, which serve only the interests of these classes at the expense of the masses, remain in force.
In this backdrop, the political earthquake to hit this geo-strategic nucleus of the world has now shifted its epicentre to Syria, a land from which change has traditionally gathered momentum and eventually has engulfed its surroundings. It is here, finally, the Muslims have on the whole collectively seen through the false victories presented by nationalistic based democratic groupings, like the current Syrian National Coalition (SNC).
A decisive opportunity now exists for the Muslims to put forward a political platform that will finally deliver on a system that is reflective of Islamic rules and legislation from across the fields of economics, judiciary, social norms, ruling and education. Indeed the Muslims of Syria now remain committed in their stance to elect and account a leadership that will govern observing the sovereignty of the Almighty, as has been the case in this land and beyond for hundreds of years, albeit the contemporary period of direct and indirect colonial rule.
Under a non-nationalistic based Islamic ruling system, the land and people of Syria will suddenly find themselves in a very unique and powerful position. With the Arab Spring producing a domino effect throughout the region on the back of a common emotion, the emergence after nine decades or so of an Islamic political entity will have an even rapid and greater effect in transforming the political landscape throughout the Wider Middle East and eventually to as far as Indonesia to the East, the Maghreb to the West, much of Africa to the south and into Europe itself in the form of Turkey.
Such a seismic potential for change exists since the thoughts and emotions across the Muslim world are unified in their outlook and share a common origin which is Islam. Moreover, all other nationalistic based unity models, both interstate and intrastate, have failed to produce strong and cohesive political blocks that can go the distance. The brief Arab unions and republics formed in the sixties in the Middle East are testament to this, as are local provincial insurgencies like the Baluchistan separatist movement of Pakistan.
A political union drawing upon the Islamic heritage of the region will not just be an artificial entity based just upon temporary strategic benefit. Rather it will actually revert these countries back to their default position of existence, since traditionally these lands have always been unified under one political bloc for centuries, right up to the early part of the twentieth century.
Such a seismic potential for change exists since the thoughts and emotions across the Muslim world are unified in their outlook and share a common origin which is Islam. Moreover, all other nationalistic based unity models, both interstate and intrastate, have failed to produce strong and cohesive political blocks that can go the distance. The brief Arab unions and republics formed in the sixties in the Middle East are testament to this, as are local provincial insurgencies like the Baluchistan separatist movement of Pakistan. A political union drawing upon the Islamic heritage of the region will not just be an artificial entity based just upon temporary strategic benefit. Rather it will actually revert these countries back to their default position of existence, since traditionally these lands have always been unified under one political bloc for centuries, right up to the early part of the twentieth century. Given the Muslims across the various Islamic countries today all have the same aspirations for themselves and their children - to develop into obedient and practicing Muslims, to turn to one Qibla, to travel to one destination performing the same rituals at least once in their lives, and in doing so worshiping the one God and in the manner prescribed by the final Prophet (saw), which they all believe in and follow in letter and spirit - for them then to look beyond their artificial boundaries by dissolving their borders and amalgamate once again into one strong unified community, will not be an alienating concept at all. Whether a cab driver in the streets of Tunis, Lahore or Jakarta, he will share the same grief and rage at witnessing the carnage and daily bloodshed across the Muslim world and will cite the same historical heroes from Islam, from Khalid Bin Waleed (ra) to Salahuddin , as the personalities that are needed today to rescue the Ummah. Therefore such a political unification across the Islamic world would not be something so revolutionary as it may appear on the surface, since unifying states across various forms of economic, judicial and political fronts is in fact a common practice amongst many contemporary global powers; the Soviet Union, European Union, United Kingdom and the United States of America - all have the term 'Union' or 'United' in them and they have all achieved this despite a lengthy and bloody history of internal strife. So if these powers have achieved unity, whilst having to overcome such gaping differences amongst their populations, then the Muslim world too can do so, and do so far more easily and efficiently since the Muslims already have an illustrious historical precedence of brotherhood and political unity. And in such a larger, centralised political union lies great advantage for the Muslim world. Drawing upon the example of none other than the USA again, we find that when in 1776 the independence of America was declared in Philadelphia by America's founding fathers, the newly independent states set out to begin a new life free from British and French exploitation under an umbrella of a loose confederation.
Given the Muslims across the various Islamic countries today all have the same aspirations for themselves and their children - to develop into obedient and practicing Muslims, to turn to one Qibla, to travel to one destination performing the same rituals at least once in their lives, and in doing so worshiping the one God and in the manner prescribed by the final Prophet (saw), which they all believe in and follow in letter and spirit - for them then to look beyond their artificial boundaries by dissolving their borders and amalgamate once again into one strong unified community, will not be an alienating concept at all.
Whether a cab driver in the streets of Tunis, Lahore or Jakarta, he will share the same grief and rage at witnessing the carnage and daily bloodshed across the Muslim world and will cite the same historical heroes from Islam, from Khalid Bin Waleed (ra) to Salahuddin , as the personalities that are needed today to rescue the Ummah.
Therefore such a political unification across the Islamic world would not be something so revolutionary as it may appear on the surface, since unifying states across various forms of economic, judicial and political fronts is in fact a common practice amongst many contemporary global powers; the Soviet Union, European Union, United Kingdom and the United States of America - all have the term 'Union' or 'United' in them and they have all achieved this despite a lengthy and bloody history of internal strife. So if these powers have achieved unity, whilst having to overcome such gaping differences amongst their populations, then the Muslim world too can do so, and do so far more easily and efficiently since the Muslims already have an illustrious historical precedence of brotherhood and political unity.
And in such a larger, centralised political union lies great advantage for the Muslim world. Drawing upon the example of none other than the USA again, we find that when in 1776 the independence of America was declared in Philadelphia by America's founding fathers, the newly independent states set out to begin a new life free from British and French exploitation under an umbrella of a loose confederation. But the shortcomings of such an alliance were soon exposed as these states still faced an existential threat from such marauding global European powers of the time, since individually they could not muster up the finance or might to resist these nations.
It was thus just thirteen years later in 1789, that the leaders of these states convened once more for yet another major milestone and proceeded to dissolve the earlier Articles of Confederation and instead ratified a strong central federation with a new United States constitution, ushering in the presidential republican system that exists till this day. It was only with such a cohesive union that this newly established entity became financially, militarily and politically strong enough to stand up to the then dominant powers of Europe and in time become a major global power in the world itself.
Today Muslim countries lie scattered and under subjugation in a similar fashion to the colonies of America prior to the formation of the United States. By themselves, they stand little chance in withstanding the might of Western powers, busy in the loot and plunder of their natural resources and strategic assets in conjunction with the corrupt puppet rulers of the land.
Thus only an Islamic based political unification, between the various countries of the Muslim world, would offer an excellent option of collating individual strengths into a superior collective strength. Such a strong central Islamic government would then have at its disposal the unified armies from across the Islamic world, and would control enough strategic geographical points and assets, such as waterways, ports, natural resources and industrial complexes, to withstand any foreign aggressor.
Indeed the shape, this unification of the Islamic states would have to take, would be where the idea of individual nationhood is done away with and instead where each state or group of neighbouring states would then function as an administrative province within this greater Islamic political authority.
Arab leaders: Do they ever think of future?
Mahboob A. Khawaja, PhD
On April 22, most nations want to celebrate the Earth Day, but this symbolic celebration is fraught with perpetuated ignorance about the Planet Earth and its life-giving and life-maintaining role, value of Human Life, the origin of Man and Humanity and the purpose of life in relation to the earth and the greater Universe, most often obsessed with inhuman political indoctrination of basic human percepts. Many leaders of divided consciousness and perverted ego hold annual war celebrations as if wars were a product of human happiness and prosperity.
Likewise, the Earth Day is fast losing its essence and purpose when there is too much planned killings and destruction of mankind in progress in the name of democracy and freedom. “These are the times that try men’s souls,” wrote Thomas Paine in Common Sense - the clarion manifesto for the independence of America. Joseph Lewis (at the dedication of the Thomas Paine statue in Paris, January 29th, 1948), narrates that “a little more than half a century ago, the great Robert G. Ingersoll predicted, at the conclusion of his eloquent tribute to Thomas Paine, that “a few more years, a few more brave men, a few more rays of light,” and mankind would venerate his memory. The few years have passed. The brave men have appeared, the light has broken through, and today is proof that mankind is beginning to pay homage to him who said, “Independence is my happiness, and I view things as they are without regard to place or person. My country is the world; and my religion is to do good……this statue is to be both a symbol and a beacon, a symbol of the eternal principles of justice and humanity of which Thomas Paine was so preeminently a representative, and a beacon to guide mankind in the solution of the problems that menace their peace and happiness.”
The global academia and intellectuals must initiate critical insights, what went wrong with the human thinking and global system of modern states and governance. Man (both male and female) is the chief creation of God on Earth with defined purpose of life, role and accountability. But the systems of States do not consider the exclusive material and spiritual domains of life for systematic order, development of laws, justice and human relationship to Earth and the splendid Universe. It is rudimentary and often without any sense of rational perspectives to look at Man, nature and value of moral, material and spiritual factors to maintain a comprehensive perspective of life. It has been done before in human experience. During the eight centuries (700-1500) highly prosperous and successful era of Muslim civilization in al-Andulus (Spain), Islam was the moving force to establish sustainable relations between man and the universe to articulate change, human progress and contributions towards modern human civilization. But with the oil discovery and the delusional aims of social and economic prosperity, Arabs lost the originality of thinking power based of knowledge and wisdom derived from the Al-Qura’an to maintain normalcy and progress in human endeavors. Despite enormous petro wealth kept in Western banks and used for inhuman exploitative purposes, Arab leaders and countries have no influential place of reason and stability in the global political affairs. Generation after generation, Arabs have been submerged into other entities by the Western masters. So-called liberal democracy had no listing of Arabs and Muslims as suitable creatures for progressive role-play in international community. Humanity in the West shrinked from intelligence to stupidity, whereas, Charles Darwin (Origin of the Species), was uplifted and honored, man (“insaan”) was degraded from all the possible entries of making the human civilization whereas, Islam focused on the man (“insaan”) as the primary object of change and progressive development. Alexis Carrel (Man the Unknown, 1936) appears to affirm the Islamic perspective on human development:
“Certain forms of modern life lead directly to degeneration….in the poor as well the rich, leisure engenders degeneration. Cinemas, concerts, radios, automobiles and athletics are no substitute for intelligent work. We are far from having solved this momentous problem of idleness created by prosperity, modern machinery or unemployment. By imposing leisure upon man, scientific civilization has brought him great misfortune. We are incapable of fighting the consequences of indolence and irresponsibility as cancer and mental diseases……after all the purpose of civilization is not the progress of science and machines, but the progress of man.”
The Arabs, once pioneer of knowledge-based advanced civilization lasting for eight centuries - the longest period in human history, are the victims of a delusional oil-pumping economic prosperity imported as marriage of convenience forged between the tribal Arab rulers and the Western industrialized world - more so, the USA and Britain. Throughout the 20th century and well into the 21st century, the oil richness failed to deal with emerging social, moral, intellectual and political problems. Instead with militarization of the region, increasing bloodbaths depicts a havoc political spectrum. Living without roots and reason, Islam enriched the Arabs to become global leaders of a progressive civilization, but the oil enhanced prosperity transformed them into ‘camel jockeys’ and object of hallow laughter after dinner jokes across the Western culture. Money cannot buy wisdom, honor and human integrity. The bogus “war on terrorism” could not have happened if the Arab leaders - the frontline bogyman of the US Empire had rational mind, intellectual capacity and integrity to challenge the most irrational and cruel act in human history. If the Arab leaders had any knowledge, understanding and sense of responsibility of the future and of the devastating short and long terms impacts of this bogus war, they should have challenged the American policy or sought advice from Muslim intellectuals and scholars to assess the crisis situation for reasonable alternatives.
Throughout the oil exporting Arab world, the contemporary rulers have turned out to be complacent in the US -Israeli strategic plans for the future of the Middle East. Most rulers appear to be missing the essential human conscience - the hub of Islamic characteristics of human beings to see the unfolding political and economic realities on the ground. None of the leaders have ever come out to represent the public conscience on the issue of Palestine and the establishment of an independent homeland for the people of Palestine. With the exception of Egypt under President Morsi, the Arab world is devoid of critical thinking, reasoning and proactive leadership or leadership of any kind to make the presence felt in the global political arena.
The NY Times reported (May 29, 2012) that President Obama maintains a ‘kill list’ and personally reviews it to issue the strike order, when and where. Michael Hampton “Do American Approve Mass Murder” (Information Clearing House: 6/14/2012) notes that “The reality widely reported worldwide but rarely in the US media is that all too often these strikes kill innocent civilians in addition to, or even instead of, the intended targets.”
The Boston marathon bomb blasts this week and killing of the three innocent people and injuries to approximately 176, again innocent people, the US news media went out of norms to depict the tragedy in dramatic superficial settings and blame game. Even on the first day of bomb blasts and without any evidence, it speculated “Middle Eastern connection” “al-Qaeda” link envisaged and readily available from the Israeli news reporting. Crime against humanity in America is a crime everywhere else if something of this havoc proportion is done to the innocent victims. A week prior to the Boston tragedy, US led NATO killed 11 innocent children and tow women in Eastern Afghanistan. The children were of 1 year to 8 years of age. Across the Western world only the BBC showed their pictures, silent lined up bloody bodies and nothing else. None of the American networks even mentioned about this inhuman crime, pursued under the Obama’s presidency and “Kill List.” Killing of the other innocent civilians in other lands is a business as usual. How strange, the world’s only superpower cannot see the mirror of its own crimes? Did Obama shed any tears for the 11 innocent Afghan kids murdered by his air force in Afghanistan? Or were those Afghan infants not of the same ethnicity or not human beings of the same class to deserve due mourning by all concerned? Undoubtedly, America needs rethinking about its own role and actions across the globe unless it waits to see the end-game - what happened to all the empires claiming to be post powerful on the earth? Do American public care about the on-going massacres of civilians in other lands? Michael Hampton (“Do American Approve Mass Murder” ICH- 6/14/2012), observes: “So we come full circle. Only a minority of people show any concern over Obama’s killing of innocent people abroad in the name of the war on terror (oops, we aren’t supposed to say that anymore).
Perhaps the people who approve of the drone strikes simply don’t know. Or perhaps, like Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.), they don’t care. “I am not concerned,” he said.”
We live in one Planet Earth. What happens in America or in the remote jungles of Botswana and or the rugged mountains of Afghanistan or the bloody streets of Damascus, Baghdad and Fulligah, it is vital to global interests and cannot be ignored because American tv networks do not portray it. According to the Divine revelations, the Earth keeps record of all the human activities. The Earth is a living entity, not dead. What happened to countless previous powerful Empires and civilizations? To all concerned, their artifacts and deadly remains do tell the real story. Most were destroyed by natural causes but the Earth remains in tact, not by the legislative power of any States of the UN membership but certainly by the Will of God. It operates and maintains balanced life for all regardless of ethnicity, color, creed, religions and nationalism. Should we not care how we live, utilize and draw lifelong gains from the Earth? We the humans need to reflect on our thinking and behaviors how do we relate to Earth? It is an indivisible comprehensive relationship. The answer should help us to balance our life.
America and some of the oil producing Arab rulers are collaborating in warmongering. They are unaware of short-long terms consequences of warmongering to societal thinking, behaviors and sustainability. America is in a grip of crises, one after another as legal and political repercussions of the continued wars against Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. The war mentality has not changed under Obama’s presidency and much intended political stunt “Yes We Can.” America is bankrupt in moral, financial, political and intellectual domains. Over the centuries what was evolved and built by its historical thinkers, philosophers and political leaders, has been undermined and destroyed by George W. Bush and Barrack Obama just in a decade. Paul Craig Roberts (“Truth is Offensive”, ICH: 4/2/2013) provides a unique insight to American political psyche, not previously explained by other contemporary intellectuals:
“Most Americans go along with unaccountable murder, torture, and detention without evidence, which proclaims their gullibility to the entire world. There has never in history been a population as unaware as Americans. The world is amazed that an insouciant people became, if only for a short time, a superpower. The world needs intelligence and leadership in order to avoid catastrophe, but America can provide neither intelligence nor leadership. America is a lost land where nuclear weapons are in the hands of those who are concerned only with their own power. Washington is the enemy of the entire world and encompasses the largest concentration of evil on the planet.
Where is the good to rise up against the evil?”
Are the contemporary Arab dictators the reason for decadence of the Muslim people and culture? Surely, when common folks live in hues and cries, they fail to think positively of any vital spectrum of life. Was the petrodollar a conspiracy (“fitna”) to disconnect the Arab people with the Islamic civilization? Ironically, how the few tribal leaders could have managed the time and history on their own unless large segments of the masses were complacent in making the tragedy? The contemporary global affairs warrant intelligent and competent leadership not kings, not military dictators or fatty and dull prince occupying splendid palaces away from the people. Leaders manage the crisis when facts of life warrant change and adaptability to the future. Often crisis unite people of reason but not the Arab rulers. Notwithstanding the requisites of reason and honesty, many Arab rulers are collaborating with the US-Israel warmongering against Iran. Time will tell how some of the Arab leaders deserve the wrath of God for supporting the global warlords. There are no Arab public institutions of THINKING and no leaders to lead. One wonders, why the earth never felt any weight of the oil pumping Arab leaders.
All the monsters of history could be traced amongst absolute rulers. They look at masses with insane satisfaction and wicked temperaments as if they are somewhere from another planet to ruler another species - the egoistic cult turns into kind of cancer that consumes their mindset, body and will power. Arab authoritarian leaders are not open to reason or listening and learning until they are forcibly phased out as happened to so many in recent months. In view of the unstoppable cycle of political killings and daily bloodbaths in so many Arab states - Syria, Iraq, Yemen and spill-over to other oil producing Arab nations - and reactionary militancy against the authoritarian rule and dismantling of the socio-economic infrastructures - is the Arab world coming to its own end because of the sadistic authoritarian rulers? The Arab leaders and the masses live and breathe in conflicting time zones being unable to see the rationality of people-oriented Islamic governance, the worst is yet to come, surrender to foreign forces as there are no leaders to think of the future or the Arab armies to defend the people. Once in history, Arabs had moral superiority with the relations of Islam, not any more. When difficult problems erupt, intelligent and competent leaders are always conscious and open to listening to voices of reason for change and reformation. This helps all to manage a navigational change and to solve the problems. Borrowed weapons and corrupt and failed rulers do not have the capacity to extend moral or intellectual security to the Arab masses. Most oil pumping Arab countries are merely satellite of the US Empire.
Professor James Petras (“Networks of Empire and Realignments of World Power”, Dissident Voice, 1/3/2011), explains how the Imperial Networks plan broad scheme of subjugation of the Arab authoritarian rulers to impose its dictates:
“Empire-building is essentially a process of penetrating a country or region, establishing a privileged position and retaining control in order to secure (1) lucrative resources, markets and cheap labor (2) establish a military platform to expand into adjoining countries and regions (3) military bases to establish a chock-hold over strategic road or waterways to deny or limit access of competitors or adversaries (4) intelligence and clandestine operations against adversaries and competitors.
….In either private or state economic and/or military led penetration, in furtherance of empire-building, the strategic purpose is to exploit the special economic and geopolitical features of the targeted country to create empire-centered networks. …..In the genocidal wars in the Middle East, anti-terrorism and anti-Islamic ideology is central…….The unity of purpose of European and US imperial regimes allowed for the peaceful joint takeover of the wealth of the new regions by private monopolies……Imperial Sequences: From War for Exploitation to Exploitation for War….”
(Dr. Mahboob A. Khawaja specializes in global security, peace and conflict resolution with keen interests in Islamic-Western comparative cultures and civilizations, and author of several publications including the latest: Global Peace and Conflict Management: Man and Humanity in Search of New Thinking. Lambert Publishing Germany-May, 2012)
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